Vedas are the mother of all the śāstras. It emanated from God Himself as His inhalation and exhalation. The word ‘veda’ means knowledge and is derived from the saṃskṛta root ‘vid’ which means ‘to know.’ vedas are the basis of everything one does in their daily lives and they serve as the guide post to righteous living. According to the ancient wisdom, vedas are the ‘revealed sounds’ that are self-evident and self-authoritative and was heard by the great sages by śravaṇam, thus getting its other name – śruti. ṛṣis or the ancient seers were called as mantra dṛṣṭas, as the distilled wisdom of cosmic knowledge was not composed by them, but was rather visualised and heard by them. That is why vedas are called apauruṣeya – that which is not composed by man. ṛṣis in turn handed this down from one generation to another by verbal transmission. Since time immemorial, the knowledge of the vedas was shared only with deserving students. The guru would test the disciple and thereafter, the sacred teaching would be taught at a gurukulam with the vision to contribute to the revival and proper understanding of sanātana dharma globally; and to spread the advaitic message that unequivocally states ‘All is Divine’.
With this lofty purpose of rejuvenating and enlivening sanātana dharma and taking it to all parts of the world where it truly belongs to, as the universal wisdom, Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai, by acting the Divine will, has established Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Veda Gurukulam at Sathya Sai Grama in Muddenahalli. The purpose of the gurukulam is to promote learning and research in vedic studies, and disseminating its priceless wisdom to all, without any discrimination, while also relating it to the contemporary context. Students, who will be trained in the karma, upāsana and jñāna kāṇḍas of the vedas, will be encouraged to travel across the globe to spread vedantic teachings to all.
Spread across 2.5 acres of land, the veda gurukulam at Sathya Sai Grama exudes the symphony between the beauty of nature and the quaintness of the gurukulam style of living, the effect of which is going to be accentuated by the positive sounds of the vedic mantras. Āchāryas who are adept in the ṛgveda and yajurveda from the Sri Venkateshwara Veda Vijnana Peetham, Tirumala, will be imparting the wisdom of the these vedas to the students. Students will be admitted into the gurukulam after their upanayana or initiation ceremony. They will be provided with accommodation (boarding and lodging) and education – both parā vidya (spiritual knowledge) and aparā vidya (secular knowledge), completely free of all costs, right from the time they join as a student at the primary school level till their university level studies. vedic and vedantic studies will be the prime focus of the gurukulam alongside academic subjects with special attention to English speaking skills for effective communication and computer skills to cope with the modern times. Secular education through the NIOS Board will be imparted to the students to make them eligible for Grade 10 and 12 board examinations, after which university education will also be given to them in the streams of Bachelor of Arts in Vedic Studies and Master of Arts in Vedic Studies.
The holy days of dasarā were used as the most auspicious times to propitiate Gods and Goddesses through homa (fire ritual) at the veda gurukulam, and it also welcomed several dignitaries of the vedic fraternity during this time. Sri Sri Dr Siddheshwaranandagiri Maharaj, uttarādhikārī (successor) of Dattagiri Maharaj Ashram at Bardipur, Telangana in South India, who completed his doctorate in saṃskṛta at Tirupathi and offers services at the pīṭham continuing the avadhūta paramparā (lineage of avadhūta); and Sri Malladi Surya Kiran Sharma who hails from Telangana, presently working as the Deputy General Manager at IDBI Bank (Hyderabad) and also serving as the Trustee of Shankara Seva Samithi and Haridas Dharmic Seva Samithi—proficient in literature, jyotiṣa (astrology), pravacana (talks) and lalitā leela rachana, graced the veda gurukulam. Honourable Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, and Sakala of Karnataka, Mr B C Nagesh also visited the veda gurukulam.
The official inauguration of the first phase of Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Veda Gurukulam took place on the auspicious vijayadaśamī day in the Divine presence of Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai. vijayadaśamī is the day when Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasura; it is the day when Lord Rama executed Ravana and returned back to Ayodhya. Thus, the day marks the triumph of dharma over adharma. Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai graciously inaugurated the gurukulam by offering pūrṇāhuti (final offerings into the sacred fire) in the sacred homa (fire ritual) conducted at the gurukulam premises. The Guest of Honour for the inaugural event was Sri Bachampalli Santosh Kumar Shastry who hails from Dharmapuri, Telangana. He is a renowned Hindu priest, speaker and a writer. He is also known for his pravacana (talks), literature on jyotiṣa (astrology) and Hindu dharma.
Sadguru Sri Madhusudan Sai in His Divine discourse said, “We have so many projects which are going on like hospitals – super speciality and multi-speciality hospitals, schools, university, nutrition programmes, and various other rural development programmes. But of all the projects, veda pāṭhaśālā is closest to my heart and in times to come, I want to see it grow into a vedic university, that will offer various aspects of learning and teaching to the students. This is just the beginning and the initial batch of students are very fortunate to be the first ones to study here. Many batches of students will learn here and this should continue for hundreds of years from now. In the taittirīyopaniṣad, the Guru prays:
āmāyantu brahmacāriṇaḥ svāhā |
vimāyantu brahmacāriṇaḥ svāhā |
pramāyantu brahmacāriṇaḥ svāhā |
damāyantu brahmacāriṇaḥ svāhā |
śamāyantu brahmacāriṇaḥ svāhā |
yaśo jane’sāni svāhā |
‘Let this gurukulam attract brahmacharis (celibates) from all the directions, of all types who have great control over their minds and senses, have discipline and śraddhā in them. May this vedic gurukulam grow in its glory in all times to come.’ This is our prayer to mother Saraswati and Sri Adi Shankaracharya who is adorning the entrance of the veda gurukulam. It is Sri Adi Shankaracharya, who spread the idea of vedas and vedanta in this country. But for him, we would not be what we are today as a country. Our pranams and gratitude to all the great ṛṣis, pandits, mahatmas, who have continued this tradition of vedic teaching and learning for thousands of years. India is one country where vedic education is happening for thousands of years. No other country can claim this. Maybe other countries have education system which is 400-500 or 800 years old at best. But this is thousands of years old. Sri Rama, Sri Krishna—all of them went to veda gurukulam—and so also you (pointing at the students) are going to study in this veda gurukulam. That continuity is what is sanātana (for all times). This alone is permanent; all other things will change. Technology will change. Earlier we used to have trunk calls, then came phones with key pads and now we have touchscreen smart phones. We don’t know what is coming next. Everything else has changed in this world, but this remains as it is.
In this temporary world, vedic education alone is permanent. What is most important to me is you realising your true divinity within. Your education ends when you realise that you are Divine. For me, your education won’t be finished if you learn all the scriptures and graduate from the gurukulam. It will complete only when the jīvātmā and paramātmā becomes one. According to me, that is graduation, till then I would consider you only as uneducated. Therefore, all the students studying in the veda pāṭhaśālā have a great responsibility on their shoulders. Learn everything with utmost śraddhā (dedication), bhaktī (devotion) and with the feeling of ātmasamarpaṇa (self-dedication). In the coming future, this gurukulam will grow into many more such gurukulams, and it will be the responsibility of the students passing out from the portals of this veda gurukalam to look after them.”