The Pathashala (as it was known then) was started about
125 years ago, some time when Param Poojya Shrimat Pandurangashram
Swamiji of hallowed memory was the 8th Mathadhipati of Shri
Chitrapur Math. It was named later as "Shrimat Pandurangashram
Vaidic pathashala" by the 9th Mathadhipati Param poojya
Shrimat Anandashram Swamiji of hallowed memory. The core
objective of this 'Ved Paathshala' was to preserve our rich
Vedic heritage for posterity by imparting Vedic and Vaidic
knowledge to young boys of our Saraswat (Smaarth) community.
The emphasis was on creating competent Archaks and Purohits,
firstly to conduct the day to day rituals, ceremonies such
as Poojas, homas, havans, yadnyas etc. at the math and secondly
to train the younger generation of purohits of our various
temples and also to take care of our scattered community's
need for good Vaidics.
Though initially there was no systematic or set curriculum,
it broadly followed the (Rig) Ruk Shakhadhayi Ashvalaayana
Grihyasootra and the stress was on teaching Shodashasamskar
Prayogs. The subjects covered were and are Rig Veda, Taittiriya
Upanishad, Sandhyavandan, Devata-archan including Rudra,
Pavman, Saptashati, Punyahavachan, Agnikarya, Agnimukha,
Mantrasamhita and Brahmakarma. The vidhyarthis are prepared
well in vidhis such as Naamkaran, Upanayan, Vivaaha, Matruca,
Nandi, Antyeshti, Shraddha and various Shanthis. Along with
this they are taught rudimentary Sanskrit, Jyotishashastra
and the most important (GURUSEVA).
In 1942, His Holiness Shrimat Anandashram Swamiji made it
into a regular pathashala. Ved. Haldipur Ganesh Shastriji
who had been trained in Kashi, was its first Principal.
At present this post is held by Ved. Ulman Gurunath Bhat.
The Vidyarthis are competently taught by 4 senior Archaks
including the Math Purohit and the Math Astrologer. The
Vidyarthis are under constant supervision of 1 full time
resident warden who is responsible for their discipline,
deportment, hygiene and health.
The Pathashala is a residential one. Accommodation, boarding
and tuition are entirely free. The study materials such
as books, notebooks and even clothes are also not charged
for. From day one to the last day of the vidyarthi's stay
in the pathashala every reasonable thing that could conceivably
be required for his well-being (including a library of well
selected books for additional reference) is provided by
Boys 11 years and above qualify for admission. The course
today is spread over 3 to 5 years, 1st year for Archak,
2nd and 3rd for Purohit qualifications. Previously another
2 years were required for Vishisht Purohits but now this
span is devoted to practical experience in the Math and
nearby community temples. The senior vidyarthis are absorbed
in our Swamiji's retinue for specialized Guru Seva and for
exposure to public. They then have the choice either of
continuing in the Math or of returning to their temples
or of taking to Bhattavritti as a profession wherever our
community is spread.
The Vidyarthis are the mainstay of the 4 daily rituals of
||Ashtavadhan Seva (night)
Apart from their rather hectic schedule, they also help out
in the Math's religious ceremonies to gain hands on experience
in conducting these and on the daily catering to and serving
of the constant stream of devotees and visitors. During the
Chaturmas vrata, these vidyarthis take up the brunt of the
workload. We can see them everywhere, right from 5.45 a.m.
cheerfully singing the Suprabhatram, preparing for the poojas,
singing the mantras during the poojas, helping in serving
the food, doing whatever chores are required of them right
up to late hours in the night. This in addition to their studies!
The pre-1950 records of the pathashala are a bit hazy as there
was a paucity of aspirants for the priestly profession. The
course at that time extended to 9 years of rigorous coaching
and training. Between 1950 and 1970, about 50 vidyarthis qualified
as full fledged priests. After 1970, though the duration of
the course was kept at 9 years, unlike before, the vidyarthis
were allowed to follow other educational disciplines along
with this course. Around another 40 vidyarthis completed the
course satisfactorily till the turn of the last century. Thereafter
the duration of the course was reduced and again concentration
was centered on Vaidic studies.
Out of all the vidyarthis in our Pathashala aome are allocated
in rotation to H.H. Swamiji's retinue. H. H. Shrimat Sadyojat
Shankarashram Swamiji's love for the Sanskrit language and
his deep knowledge of the Shastras is well-known. After Swamiji
has taken up the Mathadhipatya of Shri Chitrapur Math, the
Paathshala has got a fillip.
The pathashala has now shifted into new premises, from the
old single, bare and Spartan room to separate class rooms
which also serve as dormitories for the Vidyarthis of the
respective classes. The rooms are spacious, airy, bright and
conducive to intensive studies essential for such a course.
The first part of the aim to make the pathashala a premier
institution of its kind, imparting Vedic and Vaidic knowledge,
is achieved. In order to continue with these efforts the Math
needs to spend a substantial amount (of around Rs. 8,000 to
10,000) on each of the Vidyarthis year after year. Patrons
of our ancient Sanatan Dharma knowledge and traditions can
assist in this task by sponsoring a Vidyarthi's annual maintenance.
Such encouragement to the effort is always sought and is always
We really appreciate these children! Here are a few pictures
of these smiling lads. With the blessings of His Holiness
Shrimat Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji these vidyarthis will
surely blossom into future vaidiks and Shastris of the Math.