for The Hindu on April 5, 2013
The Brahmins of Mathur and Hosahalli lead a Vedic lifestyle, chant the Vedas and keep Sanskrit alive.
Mathur is a tiny village on the banks of the perennial river Tunga. It is near Shimoga in Karnataka. It has a population of around 1500. Situated in its inner circle are about 256 Brahmin houses in a square type agraharam. It is an agrarian village, which has arecanuts as the primary crop and one acre of it yields a net profit of Rs 90000 on an average per year.
It is one of the two villages in India where Sanskrit is the official language. The villagers speak a dialect called Sanketi, which is a mixture of Sanskrit, Tamil and Kannada. It has no written script. They read only in Devanagiri script and some in Kannada.
It all started around 500 years ago, when scholarly Brahmins migrated from Pudukottai in Tamil Nadu and settled here along the river bed of Tunga as was customary. King Krishnadevaraya, the then ruler of this place, wanted to donate land to these Brahmins, which they refused because accepting Dhaanam would mean accumulating sins. They felt the sins of the King would pass on to them. They only accepted charity from other Brahmins. So the ruler sent his emissary dressed as a Brahmin and donated vast tracts of land to them on which the arecanuts are now grown.
The entire village is a square, like a typical Mada street, with a temple. This area is called Brahmanaru Mane. Great respect is shown by the rest to these Brahmins. There is a village paatashala, which teaches chanting of Vedas in the traditional way, especially Krishna Yajur Veda along with other ritualistic rites from Bodhayana sutras and Aabhasthamba sutras. Other rituals for yagnas are conducted for learning purposes.
Read more: http://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/tale-of-two-villages/article4581221.ece