Tuesday, August 10, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 54 (Vol #4) Dated 10 Aug 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 54 (Vol #4) Dated 10 Aug 2010.

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by Periyaval of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are proceeding from the second para on page number 301 of Vol 4 of the Tamil original. The readers are reminded that herein 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too, mostly. These e-mails are all available at http://Advaitham.blogspot.com updated constantly)
{Note: In these talks, PeriyavaaL is talking about Educational Institutions of yore, which were bigger than a single Guru Kulam, and possibly bigger than a school, with a number of teachers, curriculums and syllabuses. These were called variously as Gatika or Gatikai or Katika or even Kadigai. As per English grammer rules, a pronoun can be spelt differently based on the pronunciation. In these translations, I am sticking to Gatika and Gatikai.}

427. In Karnataka, in the 11th and 12th Century A.D., there have been such educational institutions called ‘Gatika’ as revealed in stone inscriptions, referred in Epigraphica Karnataka volumes. In the second half of the 12th Century, there was one Tribhuvana Mallideva ChoLa Maharaja, whose stone carvings are to be found in Hemavathi Doddappa temple in Kamakondana HaLLi in Tumkur district. In this it is given in the Kannada language that there is a NoNambeswara Swami temple in the Gatika Sthana that a village was bequeathed to some recipients. Near Mysore in Mandya district, in a place known as HeLagere, a Saasanam by one Siva Maraman, a Prithvi Konkani king, has been found. It is about making a donation of land to one Madava Sarma of Hari Dasa Gothra, one of the students or staff of a Gatika of a thousand students. I am quoting from Epigraphica Karnataka of Mandya Taluqa, Vol III, page 108, which says, “gatika sahasraya haridasa gothraya madhava sarmaNe”.
428. There is a stone cutting of Chennaraya Pattinam of the year 1442 A.D., i.e., the middle of 15th Century. First look at the date of the inscription. We have come a thousand year from the story of the early 4th Century, in which we observed the movement of King Mayura Verma from Karnataka going to Kanchipuram for studies, with his Guru! In the intervening period, a number of Gatikas have come up in Karnataka. In one of the stone carvings of this period, it is stated that the Gatika was started in the Badrapada month of Dundubi year. Instead of saying just Gatika Sthanam, it adds more respectful aura by calling it ‘Gatika Ashrama’! As the Guru Kula of the ages gone by, evidently this institution was also run in the cleanest manner.
429. In the ChoLa (Sozha) Kingdom too, they believed in maintaining the highest standards of religious studies, somehow the word Gatika is missing. But inTanjavur district, in Vembartrur there were great Pundits of erudition in a school by the name of ‘Gatika Sthanam’, as noted on the wall north of the ‘sanctum sanctorum’ of Thiruk Kazhith Thittai, Vedapuriswarar Aalayam by the first Rajendra Sozha. This is the southern limit of these ‘Gatika Sthanams’.
430. When I started talking about Gatika-s, I mentioned the name of one Amalanandar of Devagiri, (the author of Kalpa Taru in which I found a reference to Gatika). His place is named Doulatabad in Maharashtra. He talked about Gatika as there must have been such an organization in his place or during his time of the middle of the 13th Century, the fame of the Gatikai at Kanchipuram should have reached so far away! We can presume that in that institution, they must have taught Atharva Vedam too that, in passing a question is asked, “Don’t you know what is taught in the school in Atharva Veda about the defining characteristics of how a Sanyasi is supposed to be?”
431. OK! So far we have been talking about Gatikai as an educational institution. I also mentioned that it has a meaning of a ‘Nazhigai’, a measure of time of 24 minutes in Tamil! Now, let us come to this connection. Is there any connection between the word Gatika and Gatikaram and Kadigaram (the Tamil words for a clock or the Wrist Watch or Timepiece?) Instead of answering this important question, I am simply going on praising my own research work, as though I have studied through so many inscriptions! Let me start this chapter!
432. Gatam means a pot, as you all know. A smaller pot is a Gatika. Lata becomes Latika and Patra becomes Patrika, likewise. But, what is the connection between a pot and a school? I also pointed out the connection as to how; ‘Katikai’ has some relation to ‘Nazhigai’, a measure of time. In the times gone by, time was measured by the drops of water coming out of a pot, drop by drop. So, you got Gatikai to indicate the time of ‘Nazhigai’, from which you arrived at ‘Gatikaram’ for a watch or timepiece! “So OK, it is alright! Still, you have not clarified as to how you got it connected to a school? Does it mean that even in the olden days the students were so bored with studies that, they were all the time looking at the time?” You must be tempted to ask this question, as a corollary. But evidently we cannot be flippant in talking about the very serious subject of education! So, what is the logic?
433. There is a place by the name of SoLingar, earlier known as SoLa Simha Puram also known as SoLalingapuram! There is a hill with a temple of Nrusimha Swami. That hill was also known as Gatikachalam or Katigai Malai. That is a place where even if you happen to stay for a period of just one ‘kadigai’ or ‘Nazhigai’- by the power of the resident God Nrusimha Swami, all your problems of whatever variety, will vanish, they say. But this information did not in any way satisfy my research.
434. Then there was this Tamil literary piece known as ‘Naan MaNik Kadigai’. I looked for the meaning of the word ‘Kadigai’ in it. I was told that here, the word ‘Kadigai’ has a meaning of small pieces. Since the literary work contained poems of four lines each and each line was an aphorism of wisdom. Still, this in no way clarified as to how the word Kadigai or Gatika could mean an educational institution.
435. I searched a lot, here, there and everywhere. Asked many learned people. It remained an enigma. The futile search only increased the urge to solve the riddle somehow. In the end I got the answer to my question. As I got the first reference about Gatika in Kalpa Taru, a book on Uttara Meemaamsa, the connection to educational institutions was found in a Poorva Meemaamsa book. I was happy about the fact that the necessary clarification came from within the Saastraas and that too in one of the 14 Chatur Dasa Vidya Sthanams!
436. One of the most important authority on Poorva Meemaamsa was Kumarila Bhatta. He has written a book ‘Tantra Vaartikam’. In it, in the portion known as ‘Kalpa Sutra AdhikaraNam’, there is a sloka (1-3-6). We are not concerned with the meaning of the sloka. In it there is this phrase, “gatika marga vruttishu”, which is important! From the 4th Century A.D., I was showing you how for the next thousand years, there have been evidences for the presence of such educational institutions in many parts of our country, with pride. Now I am quoting the very words of Kumarila Bhatta, a contemporary of Adi Sankara Bhagawat PaadaaL, as evidence of the fact that, education was well organized as far back as 2000 years, in India! That is, in the 5th Century B.C., there were educational institutions with a team of instructors with multiple courses, curriculum and syllabuses, in which Vedas and Saastraas were the main subjects with the 14 Vidya Sthana-s!
437. In Hinduism, it was Adi Sankara Bhagawat PaadaaL who brought order and institutionalised the religion. But in its educational field we had grown from single Adhyaapaka Guru Kulam-s to what was run by a team of Teachers, even then. ‘Necessity was the mother of invention’, they say. In this case as Buddhism started making its presence felt, exponents of Meemaamsaka and Tarka, must have identified the need to counter the spread of that religion by strengthening our own religion! So they must have got like minded individuals who were also well qualified in Saastraa-s together and created these Gatikas!
438. In addition to being so far back in time, Kumarila Bhatta’s statement also indicates the extent and spread of the Gatika Sthana-s. He was in Prayag, now known as Allahabad. From his statement we can make it out that these Gatika-s were part of the ‘run of the mill’ thing. There may have been some other such schools in the West, North and East of Prayag too. Anyhow in South, Gatika Sthanam-s were there right down to Veppathur of Sozha Kingdom. OK, that about settles the issue about the origin, historical time and geographical spread of these Gatika Sthanam-s. But we were on to the logic of its name, were we not? That is what we are coming to now!
(To be continued)



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