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Flood fury shakes Parbhani gurukul

Flood fury shakes Parbhani gurukul

Author: Madhavi Rajadhyaksha
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 17, 2006

Introduction: Water woes follow Chikungunya scare, Bhikhus put up a brave front

It's a two-floor structure that stands apart for more than one reason. Not only is it the only concrete construction amid destroyed mud houses and narrow stone strewn roads in Dhangar Takli village in Poorna taluka, but it also houses a Sanskrit gurukul, the only such residential centre imparting Vedic teachings in the entire district. But nature's fury has no favourites and even the Daji Maharaj Sanskritic Sansthan school on the banks of the Godavari river suffered grave damages during the floods.

The experience has shaken up everyone right from the seven-year-old bhikshus to the 48-year-old Umesh Maharaj who runs the gurukul. "Our vedic rituals require us to be near the banks of the river, so that we can have our daily snan. But the rage of the river this year was unprecedented," said Maharaj, pointing towards cracks on the gurukul's ground floor wall.

"We were out playing when the river water suddenly started rushing into the village," recalls Krishna Kulkarni (10), who rushed to higher ground with others. The inmates spent the night saving their study material and lugging gunny bags of grains to the top floor.

In fact, it is the second tragedy to have struck the gurukul recently. Just last month 40 of the 80 young bhikshus who live in the ashram had to be sent home after the area was struck by mosquito-borne chikungunya infection.

But the damage caused by the floods is worse. "We washed out the walls, got the cows back from the village and are slowly resuming to normal life," said Maharaj. Dhoti-clad youngsters who returned a few days ago are already back to their rigid routine.

The student-monks start their day at 3.30 am reciting the Vedic tomes. As the sun rises, they take a bath near the banks of the river and offer suryanamaskaram. They then proceed with their Vedic recitations, interspersed with academics of the village school.

The only break is a few hours reserved for play in the evening.

Maharaj, who has recently taken the responsibility to re-start the century-old dilapidated Sanskrit ashram in Nanded too, believes life is best lived in close touch with one's culture. "If they can learn 10,500 Sanskrit mantras, they will never have any problem in life's dealings," he said.

Students, who leave the gurukul around the age of 20, later join the mainstream, mostly continuing to impart Vedic teachings in village schools. But sadly, the cultural centre of higher learning is yet to get its worth.

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