Sanskrit was a language of influence in almost all parts of Asia, including –South, South-east, Inner, and East Asia for about 2000 years. The language was not only considered influential but also followed down the traditional order. The meaning of Sanskrit is referred to as refined speech, which is considered to be a philosophical language in many religions, including –Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Sanskrit was used in poetry, drama, philosophical, technical, and religious texts in the 2nd millennium BCE. Although Sanskrit is listed among the 22 scheduled languages in India, today, it is limited to the rituals conducted in the Hindu religion.
Sanskrit today is mostly used in the chants and the hymns of the Hindu religion. A lot of effort has been put forward to preserve the language, yet one of the twin villages in Karnataka has taken the extra step in safeguarding Sanskrit remarkably.
History of Sanskrit language in Mattur
Nestled on the banks of River Tunga is the village of Mattur at a distance of 8 km from Shimoga. The village is inhabited by about 5000 people consisting of mostly the Brahmin families. The village is infamous for its residents conversing in the Sanskrit language for a day-to-day talk. Also, one of the most shocking parts is –every family in the village has at least one professional working in the software field. Here, in the village, the children are taught the Vedas in Sanskrit language, by the elderly of the village.
The incident dates back to 600 years back when a community belonging to the Brahmin cast from Kerala –the Sankethis came and settled in Mattur village. The community of Sankethi people is indulged in the cultivation of paddy and areca nuts. And they speak the language Sankethi, which is a combination of –Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Sanskrit. The Seer of the Pejawar Mutt was intrigued by the interest shown by the villagers while a workshop was conducted in the village for ten consecutive days. They were excited to learn the language, and Mattur was thus exclaimed as the village where every family speaks in Sanskrit.
Each and every person starting from a vegetable vendor to a Graduate, converse in Sanskrit in Mattur village. One of the most astonishing parts is even the children in Mattur quarrel in the Sanskrit language. All of the signboards, slogans, graffiti, are created in Sanskrit. So much so far, the village has delivered more than 30 Sanskrit professors, who teach in Mangalore, Kuvempu, and Mysore universities.
The ancient tradition passed down to the Modern era
Although the inmates of the village avidly speak Sanskrit, that doesn’t in any way suggest that these fellows clad in white drapes and dhoti, chanting Vedas are distant from the modern world. People here wear T-shirts and ride bikes while handling the Sanskrit palm leaves in one hand, and expanding the software scripts over the computer using the other hand. The perfect amalgamation of technology, along with tradition, can be seen here.
Here, the people practice Gamaka art, which is an ancient art of storytelling while singing songs, yet wear jeans and flaunt their mobile phones on the go. It is evident that Mattur village is in no way detached from the outside world, which is backed by the very fact that a lot of professionals in the IT sector, belonging to the village work abroad.
How to Reach
Mattur is located 8 km away from Shimoga district, which is the nearest location for commuting to the village. You can take a private cab or a bus to reach Mattur village. If you do not belong to Karnataka, you can make use of the nearest airport or railway station to first reach Shimoga and then travel from there to Mattur.
Nearest Railway Station: The nearest railway station to Mattur village is Shivamogga town, which is 10.5 km away from the village.
Nearest Airport: The nearest airport to Mattur village is the Mangalore Airport, which is 195 km away from the village.
Sanskrit is considered to be the deva-bhasha, which means the language of Gods. The language was once thought to be spoken by the scholars of India, and is known to be the roots of many Indian languages, is sadly spoken by less than 1% of the population of India today. In such a scenario, what the people of Mattur are doing is astounding and, at the same time, commendable. They are passing on the language as a form of legacy to their next generations and trying their best to preserve it by all means.
Whosoever is interested to learn Sanskrit is most welcomed by the villagers in Mattur. The ultimate goal here is to keep the flame glowing and not letting the ancient language of India to die anytime soon. So if you are a lover of Indian culture, and would want to adopt the practices of learning and speaking Sanskrit, then this is your place!