An black & white audio slideshow video of the Vadakke Madham Brahmaswam Vedic Institute in Thrissur, Kerela, India where young novices spend five years learning the Vedic chants of this religious order. Photographed & recorded in March 2012.
Description:Vadakke Madham Brahmaswam, Thrissur in Kerala is one of the most ancient Vedic Institutions in India, established by Sri. Hasthamalakacharya, a direct disciple Sree Sankaracharya, for propagating and promoting Adwaitha Vedantha Philosophy. About four hundred years ago the then Swamiji, who was the ... moreVadakke Madham Brahmaswam, Thrissur in Kerala is one of the most ancient Vedic Institutions in India, established by Sri. Hasthamalakacharya, a direct disciple Sree Sankaracharya, for propagating and promoting Adwaitha Vedantha Philosophy. About four hundred years ago the then Swamiji, who was the Head of the Institution could not find a suitable successor and the institution ceased to be a monastery and was converted later into a Vedic Maha Vidyalaya.
Vadakke Madham Brahmaswam , the traditional Vedic Institution at Thrissur, Kerala is imparting Rigvedic studies for the last hundreds of years. It is one among the most ancient institutions in India. Those teach Vedas with prestine purity from its very formation. It is situated at the heart of Thrissur, close to the Vadakkunnathan Temple. Formerly this institution was aimed at the study of Rigveda (In details with Prakrthipatha and Vikruthipatha) only. Recently, Yajurveda and Samaveda also being taught here. The Vedic students are availing modern education also along with traditional training and teaching.
It is well known and deep rooted belief that the great Advaitha Philosopher, India had ever produced, the Adi Sankara of Kalady had established four Madhas at different parts of India for the propagation of Vedantha/ Advaitha philosophy. It is believed that following the path of this great teacher, His four disciples established four Madhas under a single roof at Thrissur and they were; 1. The Thekke Madham by Padmapadacharya. 2. The Idayil Madham By Thodakacharya. 3. The Naduvil Madham by Sureshwaracharya. 4. The Vadakke Madham by Hasthamalakacharya.
These monasteries were aimed at the propagation and popularisation of Vedantha. They were under the control of the Swamiyars- the Samnysins installed at each Madham, the chief patron if that institution.
Each Madham had enormous wealth in the beginning. They encouraged Vedic Studis also in different ways.
The Birth of Brahmaswam Madham.
In course time, about 400 years ago, the head of the Vadakke Madham endowed a substantial portion of the sprawling agriculture lands, buildings and other properties belonging to that institution to a Vedavidyalaya. A committee was constituted for its proper working. This led to the formation of Thrissur Yogam of Vedic Scholars. It constituted of about 400 Namboothiri families having Vedadhikara. The Vadhyan and Thrissur Yogam together was elected as the trustees of this Vedic School. The then swamiyar did not nominate his successor and hence Vadakke Madham ceased to be a monastery and fully developed into a Mahaveda Vidyalaya, ensuring the continuity to Vedic Teaching, formerly started by Changaliyottu Namboothiri at the Bhakthapriya temple, Thrissur. Thus this institution came to be known as Thrissur Brahmaswam Madham. Now, it has been developed as a Vedic Research Centre and traditional Vedic Teaching is going on here.
Formation of Thirunavaya Brahmaswam Madham
At a later stage, some members of the Brahmaswam Madham, Thrissur established a parallel Vedic Institution on the banks of Bharathapuzha at Thavanoor near Thirunavaya, Malappuram District. The Namboothiri families adjacent to this place formed “Thirunavaya Yogam” and started Rigvedic teaching there. This institution also developed into a Mahavidyalaya in course of time and acquired vast property and fame. It has given birth to several Vedic Pandits. But it is not working properly for want of students and teachers.
The two institutions attained fame and prestige as great Vedic and spiritual teaching centres in due course of time. They received support and protection from the rulers of that time. The Vedic learning was in highly flourishing position at that time, in Kerala. Gradually, the two institutions developed academic jealousy which had a positive result that great Vedic Pandits were produced from both sides. There is slight variation in the chanting method and accents in between the two schools.
In 1911, a dispute was arose between Vadhyan and members of Thrissur Yogam. The Vadhyan surrendered the management of Madham totally to Yogam in the presence of Maharaja of Cochin. He entrusted the administration of Madham to the Devaswam Commissioners. Till July 1949 it was under the government rule. It was during this period that Madham authorities decided to teach Samhitha there and for that three Vedic teachers and one Sanskrit teacher as the head of institution were appointed. Later, a democratic system of management took the shape by passing of Bye-laws for the management in the general body of members of the Yogam. More teachers were appointed under the scheme and the institution attained a new outlook. The Government had over-all control on the institution under the Hindu Religious Endowment Scheme.
Till about 1930 AD, the Samhitha portion of Rigveda was taught traditionally, in the students own house, by his father or other elders. After completing the Samhitha portion the students joined Brahmaswam Madham for higher studies like Pada, Krama, Jata and Ratha. From 1951-52 onwards, a new curriculum was started, according to which the core of the system is the study of Rigveda- both Prakruthi and Vikruthi Pathas using the principal swaras. Along with this as additional system, private tuition has been given to Languages (Sanskrit, Malayalam, and English), Science, Social Science and other subjects. Thus while the student’s acquire mastery in Rigveda Samhitha, they are exposed to the school curriculum also, having equal in status to the scheme of Vedic studies. After completing the study of Rigveda Samhitha, by rote, the students appeared as private candidates for school examinations and join higher classes in schools and complete their secondary education in schools. Thus they were free to bring up their own future. This system helped many students to acquire higher degrees, professional qualifications and doctorates after studying Rigveda traditionally. There are several Such scholars who had attained high positions in Vedic chanting and modern education. It is very fascinating to notice that the proper study of Prakruthi and Vikruthi Padhas of Rigveda will enable the student to develop high memory power, which will be a treasure throughout his life.
It was a time honoured tradition that Namboothiri youngsters, after the Samavarthana should observe Bhajan at the premises of Lord Vadakkunnatha for at least one year. The devotee should go to the temple morning and evening and offer worship during this period of Bhajan. They have to partake the food (Nivedyam) offered to the presiding deity at the temple. Usually Bhakthapriya temple provided food to these Namboothiri youngsters. So they collected together there in the night and leisure hours. They made use of this time for the study of advanced courses, like Padapadha, Kramapadha, Jatapadha and Rathapadha. It was Changaliyottu Namboothiri who imparted such courses, for the first time. Thus this temple became a Vedic learning centre. Those who acquired mastery in the above mentioned advanced Vedic courses should be given the title- ‘Vadhyan’, and was held high position among others. This informal study of Pad-Krama-Jata and Rathapadhas became formal as the study centre had been shifted to Brahmaswam Madham.
According to some scholars, there was a Padhasala at Thrikkanamathilakam, during the reign of Chera dynasty, which was considered the origin of this Vedic Institution. Later in 8th Century AD, it was shifted to Bhakthapriya temple at Thrissur. It is also said that father of Adi Sankara, Sivaguru had studied Veda residing Bhakthapriya and offered worship to the deity at Vadakkunnathan temple.