written by Shri Shriniwas Khalap, Goa.
There is a village in remote interiors of Goa, on the bank of River Kushavati, called Rivona. As per history, its original name was Rishi Vana, a forest where Rishis reside. It is well known for its Buddhist caves.
Recently Rivona became the talk of the town all over Goa when one day all of a sudden the Prime Minister of India Modi made a phone call in the village to congratulate a 16-year-old boy Priavrat Patil.
What made the Prime Minister of India call Priyavrat Patil was that this young handsome teenager had cracked one of the most difficult exams in Sanskrit. This makes him one of the topmost scholars of Sanskrit.
Some days back I was in Margao with a friend for some work. The person I was to meet was at Quepem. So we went there. After the work, my friend said why not go to Rivona to meet the Patil gurujis.
When we reached Rivona it was quite dark and already the cyclone Nisarga was approaching. There we met Mrs. Patil. Their house itself was the first revelation. It was not just a house. It was a Rishis ashram. You could feel you are seating there and all of a sudden Shri Ram would enter with his huge bow or Shri Krishna with his flute, anytime.
The young man and his father were not at home. So Mrs. Patil called her son on his mobile. The very first thing I noticed was this lady who was talking to us in fluent Konkani and Marathi was talking with same fluency to her son in Sanskrit.
Pryavrats father Mahamahopadhyaya Davdutt Patil and his mother together run a Sanskrit Gurukul in this village. It’s a small institution with 30 or so resident students. Not many in Goa may know about it but the President of India and the Prime Minister of India know who they are and what work they do. This small unaided school is one of the topmost Sanskrit research centre.
Gurukul is an entirely different kind of study system. Unlike our regular schools here boys and girls are dedicated to studying their given topics. They reside in the house of their guru, do community work, learn life skills and at the same time specialise in their subject.
Learning Sanskrit in the traditional way is no joke. There are no classrooms or books. You totally memorise a book like a song. When asked you sing the entire book page by page, paragraph by paragraph, word by word without making a single spelling or pronouncing mistake, knowing each and every meaning of the word in the same tone and at the same pitch. Every word is a mantra.
The Gurukul admits boys after 7th standard and girls after 10th. There are no other criteria. Students come from all over the country. Education is free. No fees. The school is run by public charitable trust in public donations.
The course is of 6 years and in these 6 years, you learn 3 topics. Sanskrit Vyakran, Mimansa and Nyaya. That is grammar, interpretation and art of debating. That’s it. If you are a pass out of this small unaided institute not affiliated to any board or university, all the universities in the country will come rushing to you, requesting you to head their Sanskrit Department.
Remember this is not a Veda Pathshala. They don’t teach Vedas or Shastras or Upanishads. They teach you Ph.D. level Sanskrit. If you learn it all the knowledge of gods is open to you. Who doesn’t want the keys to heavens gate in this life itself?
In life, if you are a Hindu, you may not go to any temple ever. But do something for the preservation of Vedas. Dharma is not about hating other religions. It is about finding your way to God through the hardships in life!
Shriniwas Khalap

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