Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Visit To Prabodhini School - A Perfect Indian School

We live in a world, where talking about Hindu culture or tradition is usually frowned upon by the self-declared progressives. I know many people who think Hinduism is full of superstition and upbringing children in a solid Hindu environment is impossible. I also know a few of them blindly aping Europe and America, with an unapologetic message that if the future of a kid has to be bright, a westernized education system is a must, keeping away the ಗೋಡ್ಡು ಸಂಪ್ರದಾಯ (useless traditions) that a primarily Hindu traditional school would offer. Let's not even get into the medium of instruction, as English medium education right from the start is more preferred than Indian languages, in most cases.

Don't get me wrong. I love English. I strongly believe that there are lots of good western values that should be inculcated into a child, during the growing years. Things like charity, cleanliness, social involvement, scientific temper are great things. But aren't there schools which get all these into children, while giving education in a local language, and deeply sustaining the rich Indian (primarily Hindu) culture and tradition?

To my surprise, I was invited to visit one such school for their annual function, as a chief guest. My friend Guruprasad Bhat from Mumbai, got this arranged as his family runs a school called Prabodhini, at a gorgeous place called Kalasa, tucked in the beautiful ಮಲೆ  ನಾಡು (western ghats) area of Karnataka. And to put it simply... I was blown out! The school is run by RSS volunteers, deeply rooted in Indian tradition, and the quality of education is outstanding. Yet, the school treated students from all castes, languages and religions equally, preparing the best batch of future citizen of India.

The family and friends who run this school. 

The serene setting of absolutely charming greenery, where the school is located.

This school is run so well, in spite of no money coming from the government, that it has scored 100% result year after year, this century! In fact, it was started by Mr. Raghavendra Bhatt and family, for a few really poor kids whose parents were busy throughout the day on daily labour. It has expanded now into nearly 800 students capacity!

Coming to the function we were invited for.. They greeted us with traditional Hindu Vedic prayers.

Then we witnessed top class meditation and discipline.

The chanted Bhagavad Gita and other Vedic Shanti mantras. Crisp, clear and fully involved prayers for the ಸರಸ್ವತಿ ವಂದನ (Saraswati Vandana) part. Traditionally students are expected to always begin any major function with Saraswati prayer, invoking the Goddess of education. But off late I see lot of resistance to this citing secularism, which for me is a meaningless argument. How is praying the deity of education against secularism? This Prabhodini school surprised us pleasantly!

Then every part of the day long function fascinated me. The 10th standard children were asked to bring their parents and do ಕೃತಂ ಸ್ಮರ (felicitating the parents, Kritam Smara). The literally worship the parents, thank them for all the support to get them educated till this level, and get their blessing to continue their study further.  All this happens right in front of Goddess of Education, Saraswati.

And, caste or religion is no bar. I saw even Muslim women in their burqa and hijab, participating in this function, happily blessing their sons and daughters for a bright future! The self-declared seculars would get a heart attack seeing this :)

Then the outgoing students (10th standard) are made to take a oath that they would keep up the good tradition, behave well in life, and make their parents proud.
Not only that, the outgoing senior batch is made to hand over ದೀಪ (Diya) to the next batch, asking them to safeguard the tradition and future of the school. Great camaraderie!

The cultural aspect of respecting the elders by touching their feet after award ceremony, was quite visible. I even saw the Head Master following this tradition himself.. Here is the head master taking blessings from the generous Guruprasad Bhat, who has served this school even when away from the town of Kalasa for decades.
Saraswati Mata, the primordial ಪ್ರಣವ (Om) and Bharat Mata were prominently visible in the school, along with 100s of pictures of pictures of great Indian educationists, freedom fighters, spiritual gurus and so on. Students get an overdose of the feeling of nationalism and dedication to Indian society in such a school.

And the dance and cultural event after all the speeches and prize distribution was so special. They covered so many folk dances, story telling, inspirational events... I was overwhelmed as to how deeply the students are rooted in the Indian culture and tradition, while keeping a very good scientific and mathematical temper!

The more interesting part was the boys and girls equally performed in various events, keeping 100% gender equality.

And how can any event happen in coastal and western ghat area of Karnataka, without the colourful ಯಕ್ಷ ಗಾನ - Yaksha Gana costume?
How can they miss Ishwara and family, when they are from a Kalaseshwara town?

Cute girls showing village costume from Karnataka.
And some nice energetic village dances.
And their patriotism..

Their energy levels of drum beating..
Their Karate..

Bhuvaneshwari.. the Karnataka mata.
Ever loving glorious Bharat Mata..
Outstanding acrobatics involving pyramids...
 ಮಲ್ಲ ಕಂಭ - Malla Khambas..

The display of energy, culture and tradition was so overwhelming that I had to think about it for days after that..

Such a school also exists in today's world where children are mostly forced into rote learning, with very little physical activities making them obese, in the highly polluted cities with very little green nature around them, stripping their cultural roots for most part in the name of westernization and/or secularism??

That too in a location which is just one hour walk from this gorgeous hill near ಅನ್ನಪೂರ್ಣೆಶ್ವರಿ - Mata Annapoorneshwari temple at Horanadu!

They are just 10 to 12 KM from a gorgeous trekking spot, high above western ghats.. so high that most vegetation disappears. It's called ಗಾಳಿ ಗುಡ್ಡ or the windy hill.

And when they are just 30 minutes walk from this beautiful ಅಂಬಾ ತೀರ್ಥ - Amba teertha area of Bhadra river..

100% results.. great science education involving computers too.. dedicated staff giving an all round modern education... deeply rooted in India's glorious 5000+ years culture and tradition.. and amidst one of the heavenly locations of the planet next to big mountains and lovely rivers, plus moderate temperatures throughout the year!

I wish you all studied in such a school.. if not, at least your children or grand children. This is as close to the ancient Guru Kula education that you can get in 21st century, as possible :)

Two notes:

1) If you have more time, browse through nearly 300 pictures here:  https://plus.google.com/photos/110981894709471519856/albums/5978739794695073985?banner=pwa

2) Since this amazing school caters to some of the lowest income families, and completely supported by private donors, you can also sponsor children for their studies. Contact @gbhat_ or @KiranKS on twitter. Or just leave a comment and I will have the school management contact you.


  1. @KiranKS Very Good post sir,
    Thanks for gr8 work @gbhat_

  2. Interesting & informative.....nice of you to bring many such facts to public domain....... great work......Vande Mataram

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  5. Kiran - Very good post and great to see value based education is instilled here at the school. Regarding sponsoring students, I would like to know your needs. I represent charity org and our goal is to help needy students for their education. Looks like there is opportunity to partner here. Can we exchange emails more on this? My email id - ms_nayak@outlook.com

    1. Thanks. I provided your email to the trust running this school.

      Good luck!