These Panini girls can cross swords with anyone

via http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-11-10/varanasi/30381533_1_gurukul-swords-girls published on November 14, 2011

VARANASI: Words of wisdom and Vedas on their lips; swords, javeline, arrows and bows in hand, girls of Panini Kanya Mahavidyala, Varanasi, are not only challenging the 5,000-year-old laws of Manusmriti (that women cannot perform religious rites, chant hymns and read Vedas), but are also showcasing perfect example of self defence to the contemporary world. The 40-year-old ‘Gurukul only’ for girls has been imparting knowledge in Sanskrit, Astyadhyayi, Vedas, vedic hymns, Science, Indian philosophy and karmakands. At the same time, ample training in self defecnce and warfare is given to the girls in the residential school based on ancient methods of teaching.

Archery, swords, daggers, javeline, lathi, horse riding girls of this Gurukul have kept alive the ancient methods of war games and at the same time are overshadowing modern world with their self defence skills that also includes karate and martial arts.

Dharmavati Arya, a student, has won accolades in the field of archery. Her calm nature and depth of knowledge in her eyes do not give even a clue that this young girl has mastered archery at national level. She was recently invited by Tata Archery Academy, Jamshedpur, for advanced training in the sport at international level. “I can hit the object with my arrow by looking at the object in the mirror (this act was practiced by Arjun of Mahabharat),” says 22-year-old Dharmavati.

“By the time girls reach 18-20 years, they know all the warfares. As the Gurukul is based on Agra Shishya Shiksha Pranali (seniors teaching juniors), they pass on the knowlegde to the little girls and in this way we revise our art,” says Jyoti Arya, a student of Acharya (Post Graduation) who has also crossed many ‘swords’ with her contemporaries from other other ‘gurukuls’ of the country. Little girls, Akriti (13) and Kasturi (14) have mastered two handed swords and knives while some of them have mastered the art of art of archery performing yogasans. They can also offer flower garlands to guests with a click from their bow and arrow and can produce dance drama with the sounds of their swords.

According to Jyoti, apart from applying the art as self defence, girls of the Gurukul have been participating in various warfares that are held in the country during special occasions. Rani Laksmi Bai, being the idle of for these girls, holds special importance and they perform regulary at Jhansi every year when during the celebration of the birthday of the brave queen.

Acharya Dr Priti Vimarshini, teacher of warfares who herself studied in the same Gurukul, says: “There are several tales of self defence. Madhuri Arya, a student of the Gurukul, jumped off from a running train chasing a thief and came back safely. Similarly Dharmvati Arya has solved many cases of eve teasing on roads.”

“Girls here do not panic while walking alone on roads and when trapped in problematic situations. Instead, they fight hard and emerge victorious.I believe it is very important to have these skills in this times when we do not know who might turn out to be our enemy,” added Priti.

At present, around 80 girls are residing at the Gurukul. Out of them, 60 know the art of self defence and warfares and they practice it daily on the premises of the Gurukul in the evening. The minimum age to enter the ancient system of education is nine years. However care is taken with their age groups and matching war sports. Eyebrows were raised on the methods of the Gurukul as according to Manusmriti, law code of Hindus, women and Shudras (dalits) were not supposed to attain priest hood and learn Vedas. Moreover the Gurukul follows on Vedic system instead of the caste system. Girls from different regions of the country having different caste, including dalits, and some special guests from foreign lands study here.

In his message, Swami Avimukateshwaranand Saraswati, the desciple of Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, appreciated the Gurukul and the Panini temple describing it as one of its kind which would attract others towards the Indian culture.

A local resident Anand Kesari says: “We invite girls of Panini Kanya Mahavidyalaya during our religious functions to perform Vedic mantras every year. The way they perform rituals is highly appreciating and accepted by all.”

“The Vedic methods of these girls is very effective,” says Rahul Srivastava, a resident of Pandeypur. According to him, the ‘karmakand’ (all 16 sanskars) performed by these girls at various homes of city is so very methodological that his family always invites these girls for offer religious rites at different occasions.

According to Acharya Priti, the girls were also invited by chief minister of New Delhi to enchant Vedic mantras at a programme organised by the Delhi government.

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