PALAKKAD: Despite offers of handsome salaries and tempting perks, there is a dearth of teachers (pundits) and students at the veda pathsalas (schools teaching vedas) in the district.
The two veda pathsalas – the Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya Veda Pathsala run by the Veda Rakshana Samithi at Ramanathapuram and the S N Veda Pathsala at Elappully run by the Veda Sasthra Vidya Trust – in the district are finding it hard to get teachers and students.The Pathsala at Ramanathapuram has four teachers while the one at Elapully has just three teachers. “Vedic scholars are in great demand at yagasalas, kumbhabhishekhams at temples, marriage functions and other auspicious occasions. However, at present there is a dearth of them,” Veda Rakshana Samithi president R S Gopalakrishnan said.The veda pathsala at Ramanathapuram now has 51 students, of whom seven are from Himachal Pradesh, two from Maharashtra, one from Karnataka, five from Kerala, one from Chattisgarh and the remaining from Tamil Nadu.Industrialist S N Varadarajan, founder of the Veda Sasthra Vidya Trust, says that it is difficult to get teachers though they have recently doubled the salary.“When I set up the vedic school in 1996, the salary for teachers was `10,000. The amount has been doubled as the vedic scholars are offered an even better package for events and functions. Even the students who have passed out of the institution are reluctant to take up teaching. However, despite this, we have managed to get some dedicated teachers who believe in passing on the valuable knowledge to others,” he said.The vedic school now has 28 students. The Trust provides for their complete expenses, including tuition and boarding costs.“The Maharishi Sandeepani Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratisthan, Ujjain, under the Human Resource Ministry, provides `5,500 for a teacher and `500 for a student as grant per month. However, the teachers are provided three times the amount and a house for their stay while the expenses of students are met through donations”, secretary T V Krishnan said.There are local people who teach in the vedic schools. “I am a Sama veda teacher at Ramanathapuram for the last five years”, says Premkumar who adds that he chose to teach vedas as he wanted to pass on the knowledge to the next generation.The situation is similar in the case of students also. Despite providing free tuition, food, boarding and lodging, these schools find it difficult to get students.“I have come from Simla in Himachal Pradesh and it is Guruji Keerthikant Sharma who brought me here. I am studying Yajur Veda”, 13-year-old Sachin Sharma said.