Senior citizens benefit from Sarma Sastrigal's commitment.

Much is said about preserving the Vedas and Patasalas are started to initiate children into learning the same. It is a service that the teachers do with dedication. There are people who are making quiet contribution in this field. One such person is Sarma Sastrigal, who teaches Vedas to senior citizens on Sunday evenings. The group of a dozen learners assemble in his modest flat in West Mambalam and the house reverberates with their chanting.

One of the learners, a retired Government officer, said that Sarma Sastrigal taught the Vedas with phonetic exactitude uncorrupted by any interpolation. This is the way, he added, Vedas have been preserved from time immemorial in our country. Sarma Sastrigal, a performing priest in Chennai, said it was a portion from the Aruna Prasna from Yajur Veda, a chapter containing 133 paragraphs known as Surya Namaskar that he was teaching them at the moment. In a brief chat he highlighted the essence of teaching.

Are there rules to be followed in the recitation?

“Yes. Certain regulations and aspects known as varna, swara, and maatra must be observed,” said Sastrigal. “Impure intonation or wrong accent just cannot be brooked,” he emphasised

Can Vedas be learnt using cassettes or CDs?

Sastrigal ruled out learning through CDs. “Out of misplaced enthusiasm many try to learn Vedas by listening to recorded devices. Nothing can be more injurious. The learning of Vedas should be only from a guru. Mechanical devices cannot correct mistakes that one is sure to make initially without being even aware, and these will then become permanent.

Intonation and diction have deep meaning and even deeper vibratory effects, and should not be treated lightly,” he said.

Sastrigal is indeed doing yeoman service by fulfilling the desire of senior citizens, who in their twilight years wish to get acquainted with a precious slice of our heritage. He teaches young beginners too and can be reached at 94443 80973.

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