Veda Pathasala in India

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Nov 5 22:49:30 CST 2002

On Tue, 5 Nov 2002, Srikrishna Ghadiyaram wrote:

> Hari Om !!
> I am considering sending my son who will be completing his 8 th year in Feb
> 2003, to a Veda Pathasala after his Upanayanam.

If we are to keep our dharma vital and healthy more parents should be like
you.  Bravo!

> I am in search of a Veda
> Pathasala in India where there is opportunity for modern education. Do any
> of you know such places ?

The most traditional pathashalas teach only Veda.  Their goal is total
mastery over the text to the exclusion of all else.

> I came across the following web links to a pathasala organised by  Kanchi
> Mata in Kilambakkam village near Chennai. Web link references are given
> below. But, I do not know any thing about the quality of CBSE school
> there. Looks like, the CBSE school is a Sankara vidyalaya. I do not know
> how good the facilities are in the CBSE school or even the Veda pathasala.

This is very interesting though the writeup gives a bit of a mixed
message.  i.e. "...For one thing, while certain practices like
"Sandhyavandanam" would be followed, there would be no restrictions on
food, hair style, etc." and "...The emphasis would be on learning
Brahmanical values, which were on the decline, rather than on mere
ritual...By the time he comes to school leaving stage, he
would be well versed in one Veda Sakha, karmanushtanas and pooja kramas"
I don't know if that is the journalists' fault or if the school is really
confused.  But it is an interesting experiment which should be watched
carefully as some kind of synthesis like this will be of the utmost
importance in the future.

> Obviously these are concerns to me. My son has been in US since he was 2
> months. I am concerned that the style and care should not affect his well
> being.

What does he think of this?  Obviously you will have brought him up with
Dharmic values but you have to be careful.  What we need is people who are
dynamic and energetic in their pursuit of holy knowledge.  If your son
feels he is being forced into it it could create resentments that would
negatively impact his enthusiasm in the future.  I still don't know what
kind of magic they did but my parents never made me feel like it was a
chore to learn about Gujarati culture.

> My mother tongue is Telugu (though my son does not know enough Telugu,
> unfortunately), and this school is in a Tamil area. As such I would prefer
> where there is more Telugu, though it is not the first criterion.

Even if they are enthusiastic, someone who has only lived in America is
going to feel some "culture shock" and it will be worse if he has a
foreign language to deal with also.  Besides I can't believe that Andhra
doesn't have some excellent pathashals of its own.

> Some one told me that the Veda Vidyarthis in the Tirumala Tirupati
> Devasthanam (TTD) Vedapathasala are not cared for till 10 AM until the Veda
> teacher comes there, and after he leaves after 5 PM. The very young kids of
> 5 to 7 years are on their own struggling to wash their clothes, and other
> cleaning etc. They do not seem to have any other modern education. This is
> what I am precisely interested in avoiding.

Unfortunately this is true in many cases this is true.  Many learned
shastris do not believe in engaging in laukika work yet they do not want
to "sell the Vedas" either.  And they do not want to refuse an entitled
student either.  The neglect is not by design but where is the money to
come from?  This creates a vicious cycle in which those who can make a
livelyhood elsewhere do so and only orphans or the unemployed are left to
carry on the duty of learning.  You can imagine this does not bode well
for the long term health of our Dharma.  The Dharmic public must step up
and take up their responsibility of supporting those who sacrifice so much
on their behalf.  If all those people who sit around and congratulate
themselves on how ancient and profound our culture is would actually _DO_
something about keeping it going, we wouldn't have this problem.

I would like to make a couple of other observations.

First, why not send your son to a good school (with a dharmic
atmosphere--you don't want to give mixed messages) in a locality you are
familiar with and engage a tutor to give your son regular instruction in
Dharmic subjects before and after school?  Essentially that's what the
Kilambakkam school is doing anyway.  Plus you could help financially
support some vidwan that way.  You could even do that in America depending
on the location (but you would get more choice and better standards in

Second, don't worry so much about the secular education.  my father is a
professor of Sociology engaged in teacher-training and last semester he
had one class made up of Hasidic (ultra-orthodox) Jews.  They have
"pathashalas" called Yeshivas where they study Jewish subjects almost
exclusively (just the minimum secular subjects required by law which in
the US is not much.) until their mid-20's.  Then some of them go to
college to get job skills like the ones in my fathers class. My father
noticed they don't have any intellectual problems to any greater degree
than the non-hasidic students.  Sometimes they have cultural adjustments
to make but they seem to do fine there too.  If your son has a good mind,
he will be able to jump right back in to an American environment with a
minimum amount of fuss even after years of studying Sanskrit only.

Third, if you are going to give your son advanced education, make sure you
also increase your level of knowledge.  Becuase psychologists know that
situations where the youngsters are smarter than their elders can cause
family turmoil especially during the teenage years when all children think
they are smarter than their parents. :)

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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