Where the voice of south is not heard

Students at Sri Ahobila Math Veda Patasala in Chennai. -- Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

Students at Sri Ahobila Math Veda Patasala in Chennai. -- Photo: K.V. Srinivasan  

CHENNAI, AUG. 14. Southern States account for a large number of Veda Patasalas. But those who run the traditional schools say that their voice is not heard at the Centre.

Though the number of students in Patasalas is going up in the south, the representation of Vedic scholars from the south in the governing council of the Ujjain-based Maharishi Sandipani Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratishthan, an autonomous body for the promotion of Vedic studies under the Union Human Resources Ministry, is not much," says N.K. Vasudevachariar, secretary of Sri Ahobila Math Veda Patasala, West Mambalam, Chennai. V. Rajagopala Ganapathigal, who runs Sitharama Gurukulam for about 10 years, says the feeling that the south is neglected is widely prevalent.

"Varanasi, once considered the seat of Vedic learning, has lost its status. Compared to the north, the south has more Patasalas and new institutions are coming up, says M. Subbaraman, executive trustee of the 41-year-old Veda Rakshana Nidhi Trust, which provides financial assistance to numerous Patasalas. He says the southern States have about 400 Patasalas.

Even the establishment concedes that the south has outscored the north.

`No discrimination'

"Most of the Patasalas are in the south," says Omprakash Pandey, secretary of the Pratishthan. But he hastens to add that the issue of representation has to be addressed by the Ministry as "the matter is beyond my powers."

Prof. Pandey says that when it comes to the release of funds, his institution does not discriminate among the Patasalas on a regional basis. "We follow well-laid out norms," the official says.

He also agrees that the amount of honorarium and stipend is low. At present, a full-time teacher is paid Rs. 5,500 a month or Rs. 6,500 a month depending on the qualifications. The Patasalas demand that it be increased to Rs. 10,000. Similarly, a full-time Vedic student should be given a stipend of Rs. 1,000 instead of Rs. 500. The Pratishthan has taken up the matter with the Ministry.

Another complaint from the south is that the two proposed Vedic research centres are to be set up in New Delhi and Allahabad. Prof. Pandey's reply: "It is all only in the formative stage. Anyway, I will take this to the notice of the Ministry."

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