Weekend Gurukul at the School of Bhagavad Gita at Salagramam Ashram aims at revamping the gurukul concept
A Zen-like tranquility enfolds the School of Bhagavad Gita at Salagramam Ashram, in the outskirts of the capital city, as you are led through naturally-lit corridors to a central courtyard where a Champaca tree meets the sky in the middle of a pond flitting with fish. To think that very soon this spacious green environment will ring with the laughter of little boys and girls roaming free as the weekend inhabitants of the ashram, completes the picture.
Long ago, a gurukul was a place where children shaped their lives. The Weekend Gurukul at The School of Bhagavad Gita aims at revamping the concept, which died in post colonial India, to suit a new generation of children. It isn’t about rising at the crack of dawn to chant mantras in Sanskrit. Rather, awareness is the lesson in every action here.
“The lessons will be a part of everything the child does once he has checked in for the weekend. Learning to save electricity, water, environmental and civic awareness will all gradually become instinctive,” says Ambili Ramnath, chief coordinator, Weekend Gurukul.
The lessons are broken down and remoulded to allow children to relate with them easily. That’s just one side of the deal. There are a host of activities to engage youngsters while they are there, from music and dance lessons to yoga, trekking, theatre and even a film club. Experts have been roped in to teach participants. The Dhananjayans, both dancers, musicians Pandit Ramesh Narayan and B. Arundhati, and naturalist-wildlife photographer-filmmaker Suresh Elamon are among those who form a part of the Weekend Gurukulteam. “There are certain times in life when it isn’t the marks scored but your personality that matters. An interest in activities like cricket says a lot about qualities like sportsman spirit and being a team player,” says Suraj M., a coordinator at the ashram.
Charity begins at home, as do values and manners. But in an age of latch-key kids where the focus is mostly on a good academic record and endless trips to tuitions/coaching classes, these are the little things that go amiss. “When the British left, we adapted their Western school of education. Save for a few gains like English language education, it did not try to integrate India’s practice of values and self-awareness into the system. Alternative schools are still a minority here. The Weekend Gurukulis being started with the hope of bridging the gap,” says Sreeja, administration head of the ashram.
The programme will be inaugurated on August 4.
This is a certificate programme split into three terms of four months each. Participants are required to register and then check into the ashram latest by Friday night. They can leave on Sunday after lunch. The strength for each year is limited to 40 where two batches of 20 children each will attend classes every alternate weekend. The classes are for children in the age groups of nine to 13 and 14 to 17.
Keywords: School of Bhagavad Gita