Monday, August 16, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 57 (Vol #4) Dated 16 Aug 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 57 (Vol #4) Dated 16 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 318 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 updated constantly)
{Note: In these talks, PeriyavaaL is talking about Educational Institutions of yore, which were bigger than a single Guru Kulam, of the size of a School or College or even University, 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.}

458. Aalayam & Vidya. I talked of conduct of classes in the temples. I have to explain this a little more. About a thousand years back, ‘Later Day Sozha Dynasty’ was on the ascendant, while the influence of Pallava and Pandya kingdoms were on the wane! Vijayalayan was the King who pioneered this revival of Sozha-s. He was followed by Parandakan, Rajarajan and Rajendran, as kings of the Sozha-s, who spread their dominance over the whole of South India. More than the area wise spread of the empire, their name, fame and culture spread far and wide. During the time of Pallava-s the temples constructed were of small and medium sizes. During the Sozha-s’ reign big and huge temples were constructed. Simultaneously there was much progress in education, crafts, sciences, and fine arts of music, dance and drama! The beauty of it all was that, these progresses instead of being individual spikes at random were all conceptually centred on the idea of devotion to and celebration of God, around these massive temples that came into being!
459. Directly in the temples were these schools established. In many of the Siva Aalaya-s we see even today what is known as, ‘VyakaraNa Daana Mandapa-s, which were meant to conduct Sanskrit Grammer classes. These temples were huge, covering many acres of land and so could easily accommodate many of the social and cultural activities. This proved to be the ideal location for centres of higher education. In places like Chidambaram and Tanjavur temples, flush with the inside of the outer periphery walls, you can see even today two storied constructions known as ‘Thiru Churtru MaLigai’, where these schools were housed and classes conducted. In these buildings were also located the ‘Saraswathi Bandaar’ or libraries. Bandaar in Sanskrit and Hindi means a store or depot and Bandaari is a Store Keeper. In the King’s court Dhana Bhandaari was the Finance Minister and Dhaanya Bhandaari was responsible for agricultural produce. Such a one would ensure continuous supply, unlike these days when we have to lodge a complaint daily! So if you had a store for Saraswathy, the very God for all knowledge, it had to be a library and nothing else!
460. Because these schools were located within the temples, it does not mean that only subjects related to religion were taught. I told you only a few minutes back that there was a separate hall for Grammer classes. Somehow, it so happened that all education in our culture was directed towards discovery of the reality without ever forgetting the ultimate reality of Godliness. So, all general education was for this main purpose of awakening a natural awareness. So a temple was not only a source or spring of divinity but also of knowledge! All that teaching was within the premises of a temple including Ayur Veda. So, a temple was also a medical college, where the physical as well as spiritual therapy was available.
461. All these stories clearly indicate the high ideals and standards of what was education in ancient India. Many things in it are based on my personal research into books, scriptures and stone / metal plate inscriptions. I am myself quite surprised at the enormity of the findings, that have fallen into place like a jig saw puzzle finally resolving itself! You may be aware of the Ellora where temples have been created by carving into sheer rocks of monumental sizes with astounding craftsmanship. Amongst them the most famous is the Kailasa Nathar Aalayam, which instigates a feeling of deep admiration and awesome wonder, in the minds of the onlooker.
462. The chief Sthapathy (that is architect) of this temple wished to create another such master piece, it seems. Reportedly when he started, he was suddenly overcome with wonder at his own earlier creation and felt that he cannot do it again! He tried and failed to make any progress. He visited the Kailasa Nathar Aalayam again. He was nonplussed as to whether he did it himself or it was some other alien power that got it done through him! This fact is recorded for posterity in what is known as the Baroda Copper Plates in The Indian Antiquity, Vol. XII pages 228 to 230. It says, “booyas tataaviv krutou vyavasaaya haane: etan maya katam aho krutam it-yakasmaat / kartaami yasya kaly vismayam aapa silpi ”. Like that Shilpi, I am also wondering as to whether it was me who had done all that!
463. Simultaneously I am also aware of the fact that it is a matter to be ashamed of and not something to be proud about! It is just pathetic that what was widely prevalent in our country for about 2,000 years from the Fourth Century Before Christ, till as late as the 15th Century A.D., was just not known to me, who holds the position of a Jagat Guru of the Hindu Religion! The fact that the so called ‘Learned Pundits’ whom I consulted were equally blank and ignorant, is a further indicator of our lack of involvement and commitment to our own legacy! That is also an indicator of how much our standard of education of our own Saastraa-s has gone down to unfathomable depths! All those institutions with the name of Gatika Sthanam-s and those sans that name, which were dynamically resplendent for 2,000 years flying the Indian flag of knowledge high, have all just disappeared from records, memory and conscience of a nation! Can there be a greater ignominy?
464. In our country that is Bharath Desh, when there was no system of transportation existing in the years gone by, people have travelled more than 2,000 miles, from even friendly foreign countries, assembled in Gatika Sthanam-s in numbers exceeding 2,000 for the sake of education, and such a thing has been going on for more than 2,000 years! Then today, is it not ridiculous that there are no worthwhile educational institutions of repute in this country, when all facilities are available for travel and we are making trips to foreign countries for education? That too, for training on subjects such as, ‘Care of Visitors’!
Let 95% of all the topics be considered as too ultra modern in sciences and other such subjects, for us to be experts in. At least there must be some 5% of the topics at the least such as, Study of Religions and Religious Concepts, Grammer, Logic, Ayur Veda, Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy, Engineering, Yoga and such subjects in which we should be able to run courses of authentic International Reputation! Somehow I feel that we have not correctly identified our own strengths in many of these areas! We ourselves have given too much importance to these Certificates of Excellence from outside India and possibly their Dollars and Pounds! Can we not do something about correcting this imbalance at least now?
465. Plan for Educational Excellence. From the time we got released from foreign yoke and got Independence on 15 August 1947, our Indian Government has spent crores of rupees on planning so many things. We also talk much about our Indian Culture. A fraction of that could even now be spent on research of our own Saastraa-s and related studies, at least to revive and regenerate! Slowly such ventures are bound to grow bigger. It is better that such an effort should be as true to the guide lines and restrictions of our Saastraa-s. When we think of the fact that, in the name of reform, all political parties are more interested in exploiting the lack of oneness amongst Hindus, it is better that instead of being Government sponsored, it should be done by people sincerely interested in a revival of our religion and culture!
(To be continued.)



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