Friday, 18 May 2012

Mattur: A Village Where People Converse in Sanskrit

Mattur, a culturally rich village on the banks of the river Tunga in Karnataka, is now famous across India as the 'Sanskrit village'. Here, even the vegetable vendor speaks in Sanskrit. Villagers use Sanskrit here for their day to day conversation and not just during poojas. Yes, Sanskrit is the language of the commoner in this village.



Mattur Village
It was unbelievable for me. In school, I merely use to get pass marks in Sanskrit and in India there is a village where people speak Sanskrit as a native. I still can’t believe till I saw Bajaj advertisment in TV. This is a traditional village with a difference.



Like me, many of majority of Indians may think that Sanskrit, also known as Devabhasha (language of the Gods), is a dying language, but it thrives in a few pockets.
Sanskrit is the language of Gods need not apply to Mattur. Enter Mattur, and your senses are assailed by a host of sights that is eccentric in its fusion of the picturesque and the quixotic. Soft and dulcet, a conversation sounds like a Vedic recital. Though it is a journey, which began about 500 years ago, Sanskrit has been modified as per the modern needs here by Samskrit Bharati. As one enters the village he is greeted with ” bhavatha nam kim? (What is your name?), “coffee va chaayam kim ichchhathi bhavan? (What will you have, coffee or tea?). The pronunciation of “Hari Om” instead of ‘hello’ and “katham asti” instead of ‘how are you?’ are common here.


Signboard in Sanskrit

Everybody-men, women, children, literate or illiterate-freely speaks Sanskrit. Even the Muslim families speak Sanskrit without hesitation and as comfortably as is spoken by the Hindus. Their children are found in the streets reciting Sanskrit shlokas. Even while fighting and playing cricket in the grounds children freely speak Sanskrit. When one walks down a few places from the school where one touches the ratha veethi (car street) and graffiti on the walls what grabs the attention is: “Maarge swachchataya virajate, grame sujanaha virajante” (Cleanliness is as important for a road as good people are for the village). Other slogans like ‘keep the temple premises clean’, ‘keep the river clean’ and ‘trees are the nation’s wealth’ are also written in Sanskrit and painted on walls reflecting ancient values. There are families who have written on their doors-‘You can speak in Sanskrit in this house.’ This is basically to tell the visitors that in case they are fluent in the language they can talk to them in Sanskrit.


Sholkas Written in Sanskrit on Walls
Yet another surprise is that many domestic articles at home are all identified with Sanskrit names – something very common in all homes in Mattur. So is the case with grocery stores, where all bottles and bags bear Sanskrit labels.

History:

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. History has it that the Vijayanagar emperor gifted Mathoor and neighbouring Hosahalli, known as centres of learning for Sanskrit and Vedic studies from time immemorial, to the "people" in 1512. The gift deed inscriptions on copper plates have been preserved by the archaeology department. The journey back to its Vedic roots started for the village in 1981 when Sanskrita Bharati, an organisation that promotes the classical language, conducted a Sanskrit workshop in Mattur. It was attended,among others, by the pontiff of the Pejawar Mutt in nearby Udupi. Inspired by this village where Sanskrit survived as a spoken language, the seer reportedly exclaimed, “A place where individuals speak  Sanskrit, where whole houses talk in Sanskrit! What next? A Sanskrit Village.


Mattur Village Mentioned in Newspaper

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.
Apparently, it has given birth to more than 50 software engineers, most of who had come back from the 6 hour journey to their new homes in India's silicone city, Bangalore (Bengaluru). Mathoor has produced over 30 Sanskrit professors who are teaching in Kuvempu, Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore Universities, besides many software engineers. Among the illustrious personalities from the village are Mathoor Krishnamurthy of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bangalore, violinist Venkataram, and gamaka exponent H.R. Keshavamurthy.

Isn't it amazing Mattur is in Karnaataka and people speak sanskrit instead of  karnataka's local language Kannada. That's the reason we call our country as " Incredible India".

Image Via

30 comments:

  1. Wow...so much to know from you about this place Mattur. Have seen that ad on TV many times, but wasn't aware that the people their officially speak sanskrit.They are holding up the roots of India in them.

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  2. Amazing!
    How does one get there? How far from Bangalore/Mangalore?

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  3. Thanks for sharing. Interesting to know about these facts.

    http://chroniclesofraviakula.blogspot.com/

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  4. That's an awesome piece, Ruchita. That there was a place in Karnataka that speaks Sanskrit, was news to me.

    Btw, you should check this out - http://dnambiar-travelblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/awesome-travel-bloggers.html

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  5. how absolutely fascinating. i used to listen to the news in sanskrit on all india radio and try and brush up my grammar, but this is at an altogether different level. thanks for sharing.

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  6. truly amazing!! we are such a rich country in terms of culture and heritage!!!

    am sharing this on my FB page on less known destinations!!

    http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.in/

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  7. Knew of this place from before but your write-up was fresh enough to hold me enthralled, Ruchita! Great post.

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  8. Yes, I had heard about this place through the Bajaj ad.

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  9. wow..this was very informative..nice post!!

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  10. Amazing piece! Never knew of the place, truly fascinating, Ruchita :)

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  11. wow info..thanks for sharing !

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  12. I've heard of the place and of course remember it from the ad :) I should keep away from it, since I don't know Sanskrit at all.. or perhaps, I can take you as my guide.

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  13. thaks 4 the info will check out the place soon

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  14. Wow!! What an interesting article Ruchita!!

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  15. Nice... But I will be totally lost in this village. I neither speak Sanskrit nor Kannada

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  16. really well written. liked it!

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  17. I had heard about this village, but this is the first time I'm seeing a real video of a conversation. Amazing! A visit to Mattur goes into my to-do-before-I-die list. :)

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  18. wowzzz.....awesome.....India should be kept Sanskrit as India's second language not English.....:))

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  19. wowzz..... Incredible ....!! India should be kept Sanskrit as second language of India replace of English....:))

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  20. OMG.. i cnt believe this...

    http://www.beingtraveler.com

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  21. Our govt should provide more n more funds n facilities 2 dis schools n gurukuls through out da country 2 preserve our rich culture n heritage

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  22. Our govt should provide more n more funds n facilities 2 dis schools n gurukuls across da nation 2 preserve our rich culture n heritage

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  23. Is it only Brahmins who speak or others too? i am curious to know. We have the tendency to say 'all' ignoring many in the lower rungs of the society.!

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