Sanskrit village upholds its legacy

via published on January 8, 2011

SHIMOGA: Mattur, a culturally rich village on the banks of the river Tunga, is now famous across India as the ‘Sanskrit village’. Here, even the vegetable vendor speaks in Sanskrit.

But even in Mattur, whose history can be traced back to the 14th century, the language of the Gods was given up for dead. It was a group of elders who, in 1982, broached the idea of reviving Sanskrit. Though ridiculed, they started teaching the basics to children and youth. They organized a 10-day Sanskrit course, with great success. Soon, the number swelled and even homemakers and members of other communities began learning the tongue.

Study of Sanskrit in Mattur begins at the Montessori level, where children are taught rhymes and stories in the language. Sanskrit is a compulsory subject in both primary and high schools of the village. A Sanskrit school has been set up to teach the language to a large number of outsiders who flock to the village to learn.

The village preserved its legacy, handed down by Vedic scholars, who were the original settlers at Palghat in Kerala. They decided to move north and found the banks of the river Cauvery and Tunga most suitable to continue their rituals and traditions. A few settled down in Hassan district, while some reached Mattur and Hosahalli.

Records say that Vijayanagar emperor Krishnadevaraya, who learnt about the settlement of these highly educated scholars in his kingdom, gave the two villages to them as a gift. Ever since, they have not let down their heritage and propagate the Vedas, Sanskrit, music and gamaka. They adopted agriculture as their occupation.

At least 1,000 of Mattur’s 5,000-strong population are well conversant in Sanskrit. Renowned Vedic scholar Markandeya Avadhani, Padmashree awardee Mattur Krishna Murthy and first recipient of the Kumarvyasa Gamaka award Hosahalli Keshava Murthy and others are still cultural ambassadors of the village.

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