Few takers for Vedic education
Vedic education offered in specialized institutions across the State seems to be facing tough times these days, going by the drastic fall in admissions and an alarming rise in dropouts. With no good career prospects for pandits, and with girls disinclined to marry tufted scholars of these hallowed institutions, some parents of Brahmin boys are not putting their children in Vedic institutions.
Visakhapatnam: Vedic education offered in specialized institutions across the State seems to be facing tough times these days, going by the drastic fall in admissions and an alarming rise in dropouts. With no good career prospects for pandits, and with girls disinclined to marry tufted scholars of these hallowed institutions, some parents of Brahmin boys are not putting their children in Vedic institutions.
Although the AP Brahmin Corporation has been promoting Vedic education through various means, including scholarships, boys are not evincing interest in well-rounded Vedic education. Vedic courses are quite tough, with the pass percentage in examinations being very less. In the present scenario, only the few who have settled as pandits encourage their boys to settle down as Vedic scholars.
Vedic education, as its stand today, starts with a four-year Kramapati (Smartham) programme, followed by eight-year Ganapati programme. The Ganapati will have to initially complete one of the four principal Vedas: Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda. Later, the Ganapatis will have to complete the remaining three Vedas to be progressively called Dwivedi (completing two Vedas), Trivedi (three Vedas) and Chaturvedi (four Vedas). However, since year 2000, the numbers of Ganapatis have been coming down, while there are no Trivedis and Chaturvedis.
This being so, educated girls in the community are not coming forward to marry Vedic scholars who are into paurahityam (priestly duties). Many Vedic scholars have remained bachelors as some of the parents of Brahmin girls are also not showing interest these days to perform marriage with Vedic scholars.
"This trend is damaging the Hindu culture. According to the Upanishads, the Vedic scholar must have completed at least one Vedam from the four. As there is no encouragement, both financially and socially, Brahmin boys are moving to several other kinds of work, including as a cook and other professions. The main reason is that Kramapatis (four-year Smartha Purohit) are attending to various priestly duties, while the authorized Ganapatis are not being offered good money.
In good old days, landlords and zamindars were a big boon to Vedic scholars. These days there is no encouragement from the government. However, the TTD is recruiting Ganapati and appointing them to some temples that promote Veda Parayana. But, the wages are not encouraging," a senior Dwivedi, K Raghava Sarma, observes.
A sizeable number of Vedic schools across the State are run by the TTD as well as Devasthanams of Simhadri Appanna, Annavaram Satyanarayana Swami, Dwaraka Tirumala, Srisailam and other institutions. Some of the Brahmin welfare societies are also running such schools. Alas! Few students continue their education after the Kramapati course. Almost 75 percent of the students are leaving Vedic schools after completing Smartham.
The Endowments Department is not having any reliable data that gives a complete picture of Vedic students in the State. "One should not look at the issue as something that only concerns the profession of Brahmin youth. It is a tough time for the Hindu culture. A state-level Vedic Parishad should be set up and the government must extend the body financial support after appointing regular employees.
On the contrary, recently the government cut the wages of purohits working in rural temples. If the situation is like this, who will come into Vedic educations? Parents should re-think and convince their girls to marry Vedic scholars," suggests Anaparthy Srinivasa Sarma, a Ganapati.
Disturbingly, the numbers of Trivedis and Chaturvedis in the State are coming down. According to information available with the TTD, there are not more than 20 Chaturvedis and 35 Trivedis in the State. Forced to maintain families with insufficient incomes, some of the pandits have started various other businesses. Earlier, those businesses were part-time and now purohityam has become part-time, while other businesses have grown to be full-time occupations.
"After completing eight-year-long exercises, the students are not successfully passing the Ganapati examinations. The examination is very tough. During the past one and half decade, the pass percentage has remained between 12% and 15 %.
The AP Brahmin Corporation, as a part of its efforts to promote Vedic education and preserve culture, did propose to give Rs 1 lakh to a girl who marries a Vedic scholar. However, the State government did not approve the scheme," one of the senior officials in the government revealed.
By VKL Gayatri
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