Mattur – The Sanskrit Village
I visited Mattur, a small sleepy village located about 320 kms from Bengaluru via Shivamogga (Karnataka), on 1st January 2017 after reading a lot of stuff about this place being the only village or among few villages in India, where all local residents speak only in Sanskrit. I was armed with some basic knowledge of the God’s Own Language before I landed at the village assuming I will bump across people, who may converse with me only in the Mother of All Languages.
Sometimes we have huge expectations based on assumptions, hearsay etc and if those expectations are not met we get really disappointed. And this is what happened to me on the New Year’s Day.
Ensure that you drive slowly as you approach the Mattur village because if you blink, you will certainly miss this place. Secondly if you cannot read the Kannada script its impossible for you to know that you have landed in the Village that speaks Sanskrit. It is because there is only one concrete board that reads Mattur in Kannada, There is no signage available in English, leave alone in Sanskrit (Devanagari script).
Not everyone speaks Sanskrit as we are made to believe. Fortunately I did not try speaking the holy language, while conversing with the locals to seek directions to the Priest’s residence, who was referred to me. Only few pockets in the small village where the Priests reside, is Sanskrit actually spoken though not very much in their day to day conversation. Most of them speak Sankethi language at home, that is similar to Tamil. I was welcomed by one such Priest family to
record few videos on their day to day conversation in Sanskrit. While this was happening, I was overjoyed when a vegetable vendor arrived at their doorstep and the lady of the house rushed to buy vegetables from him. I assumed the conversation will happen in Sanskrit but alas it was in Kannada. I did manage to record few videos while the entire family and their friends gathered at one place and conversed only in Sanskrit. This was the lone bright spot of my trip to Mattur.
It seems Samskrutha Bharathi had camped at Mattur some years ago to conduct Sanskrit workshop or Shibir and that’s when the language started gaining in popularity. It’s certainly not a 100% Sanskrit speaking village as we are made to believe.
I wish Mattur developed as a model Sanskrit village, that lived up to the hype. Maybe it will happen very soon with the rapid spread of Sanskrit in the country.
Acknowledgement: The Priest’s family at Mattur (Shri Avadhani), who were more than happy to allow the video recording, while they were conversing in Sanskrit. They want Sanskrit to spread far and wide atleast through the medium of YouTube. Please click on the 2 images to view the recordings.