The green Shimoga district of Karnataka has this tiny hamlet located on the banks of the perennial river Tunga, known as Mattur. It makes me so proud to introduce Mattur to you people today, yes Mattur is one of the very few places across the globe where residents still converse in the classical language of Sanskrit! Yes it’s true, enter any home in Mattur and the resident of that home will greet you in Sanskrit. Mattur is known for the usage of Sanskrit language for their day-to-day communication; however the general language of the state is Kannada. So get ready to explore this interesting village in India, Mattur.
World’s Last Sanskrit Speaking Village
The villagers of Mattur, lead a Vedic lifestyle. They converse in Sanskrit and use this very language as their general language for communication. The villagers of this tiny village have ensured to keep this ancient language alive, and the result is that Sanskrit seems to be flourishing all around in Mattur.
Just in case you visit this place, here are some common translations to help you understand the resident of Mattur better when he \ she greets you in an eloquent and poetic way.
- What is your name? – Bhavatha nam kim
- How are you? – Katham asti
- What will you have, coffee or tea? – Coffee va chaayam kim ichchhathi bhavan
Mattur, A Sanskrit village – When Did This Journey Begin?
Making Mattur what it is today is a call which was taken by the residents of Mattur from their heart. Let’s travel back to the year 1981, the vedic roots started since then. Sanskrita Bharati, is an organisation which promotes classical language, they conducted a 10-days workshop on Sanskrit in this village. This workshop was attended by all the villages very eagerly and also by the seer of the Pejawar Mutt in nearby Udupi. When Seer saw the villagers eagerly take part in the unique experiment to preserve Sanskrit, he said “A place where individuals speak Sanskrit, where whole houses talk in Sanskrit! What next? A Sanskrit village!” The villagers get all the credit for making Sanskrit the primary language of the village.
Mattur’s Twin Village, Hosahalli
Hosahalli is Mattur’s twin village; Hosahalli also shares similar qualities of Mattur. Located across the bank of the Tunga River, both these villages are referred together. In fact, Mattur and Hosahalli are also known as twin sisters. Mattur and Hosahalli are popularly known for their rigorous efforts to support Gamaka art.
Gamaka Art – This is a very unique form of singing and storytelling in the state of Karnataka.
Mattur and Hosahalli are two of the very rare villages in the country where Sanskrit is the primary language spoken by all residents. Sanskrit is the dialect of the majority of the 5,000 residents of this village situated around 8 kilometres from the Shimoga District.
8 Interesting Facts About Mattur
1. Mattur Built Like A Agraharam
The entire village of Mattur is built square in shape. Typically like a agraharam, where there is a central temple and a village pathshala (school).
2. The Pathshalas & The Students
At Mattur pathshala the Vedas are chanted in a very traditional way. There is a five-year course for the students to learn this language meticulously under the careful supervision of village elders.
3. Crash Courses
Yes you read it right, over the years, many students from across the globe have also stayed at Mattur to undergo the crash courses at the pathshala to learn the Sanskrit language.
The students studying at the pathshala’s in Mattur, collect old Sanskrit palm leaves. They expand the script written on the leaves on computers and rewrite the damaged text. They do this to make it available to the common people in the form of publications.
5. Almost Everyone Speaks Sanskrit Fluently
Yes everybody in Mattur speaks Sanskrit fluently. Be it the vegetable vendor, the priest or the young children, almost everyone here understands Sanskrit. Most of the people speak the language very fluently. It would not be an unusual sight to see a group of elderly people reciting Vedic hymns by the riverside. Well even the young men flaunting their bikes would be seen conversing in the ancient language. The most interesting sight would be to see young children quarrelling and playing around speaking the Sanskrit language flawlessly.
6. Sanskrit Graffiti
If you visit Mattur you would see Sanskrit graffiti all around the walls of the houses. There are slogans painted on the walls. These slogans are ancient quotes like – “Maarge swachchataya virajate, grame sujanaha virajante” means Cleanliness is as important for a road as good people are for the village. Some people proudly write “You can speak Sanskrit in this house” on their doors.
7. Sanskrit Develops An Aptitude For Maths And Logic
You will be surprised to know that the schools in Mattur have few of the best academic records in the entire district. The teachers of Mattur believe that learning Sanskrit actually helps the students develop an aptitude for maths and logic.
8. Almost One IT Professional Per Family
Many of the young people from Mattur have gone to the abroad to study engineering or medicine. This village boasts at least one software engineer in each and every family! Isn’t that great?
Presently over 30 Sanskrit professors have been produced by this litte village who are teaching in Kuvempu, Bengaluru, Mysore, and Mangalore universities. Adding further this village is also the home village of several illustrious personalities, like Mathoor Krishnamurthy of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bangalore, violinist Venkataram, and gamaka exponent H.R. Keshavamurthy.
With the concept of learning foreign languages, many schools in India have totally removed Sanskrit from their curriculum. But is that right? It is believed that the Vedas actually can help to understand and lead fuller lives as it teaches about how to lead a better family life, to understand the metaphysical aspect of life.
Having something more to share about Mattur? Do let us know your thoughts on this, we would be glad to hear from you too.
Featured Photo by michael-day