The 200 skin heads who wear white dhoti-kurta and recite shlokas at Kartarpur, about 12 kilometres from here, aren’t from ancient university Nalanda but Punjab’s only Sanskrit school, founded in 1970.
Guru Virjanand Gurukul Mahavidyalaya attracts students from Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, and all over Punjab. Affiliated to Gurukul Kangari University, Haridwar, the Kartarpur college gives them free lessons and hostel. Sanskrit is the medium of conversation here.
The day at the college starts with at 4am yoga and ‘yagna’, followed by regular classes from 8am to 2pm. “The starting class has become so good that now they even quarrel in Sanskrit,” principal Udyan Arya said pointing to a Class-6 student. A boy from Bihar said in Sanskrit that he always wanted to study the language. The institution has 15 teachers.
“Sanskrit creates its words, while other languages acquire them,” said the principal. “We say ‘chalwaak’ for mobile and ‘antarjaal’ for the internet. It’s a myth that studying Sanskrit will kill Punjabi, when Punjabi originated from Sanskrit.”
Asked to explain the shaved heads of students, Arya said: “They are required to do this at admission, to keep their focus on studies.” A Sanskrit student, he said, will never commit suicide.
“Sanskrit is value education. Studying the language makes you strong psychologically, so our students never fall into drugs.”
The intake is through an entrance examination. This year, the college had 300 applicants, of which 30 got through. Four students are from Nepal.