bows in hand, girls of Panini Kanya Mahavidyala, Varanasi, are not only
challenging the 5,000-year-old laws of Manusmriti (that women cannot
perform religious rites, chant hymns and read Vedas), but are also
showcasing perfect example of self defence to the contemporary world.
The 40-year-old 'Gurukul only' for girls has been imparting knowledge in
Sanskrit, Astyadhyayi, Vedas, vedic hymns, Science, Indian philosophy
and karmakands. At the same time, ample training in self defecnce and
warfare is given to the girls in the residential school based on ancient
methods of teaching.
Archery, swords, daggers, javeline, lathi, horse riding girls of this
Gurukul have kept alive the ancient methods of war games and at the same
time are overshadowing modern world with their self defence skills that
also includes karate and martial arts.
Dharmavati Arya, a student, has won accolades in the field of archery.
Her calm nature and depth of knowledge in her eyes do not give even a
clue that this young girl has mastered archery at national level. She
was recently invited by Tata Archery Academy, Jamshedpur, for advanced
training in the sport at international level. "I can hit the object with
my arrow by looking at the object in the mirror (this act was practiced
by Arjun of Mahabharat)," says 22-year-old Dharmavati.
"By the time girls reach 18-20 years, they know all the warfares. As
the Gurukul is based on Agra Shishya Shiksha Pranali (seniors teaching
juniors), they pass on the knowlegde to the little girls and in this way
we revise our art," says Jyoti Arya, a student of Acharya (Post
Graduation) who has also crossed many 'swords' with her contemporaries
from other other 'gurukuls' of the country. Little girls, Akriti (13)
and Kasturi (14) have mastered two handed swords and knives while some
of them have mastered the art of art of archery performing yogasans.
They can also offer flower garlands to guests with a click from their
bow and arrow and can produce dance drama with the sounds of their
According to Jyoti, apart from applying the art as self defence, girls
of the Gurukul have been participating in various warfares that are held
in the country during special occasions. Rani Laksmi Bai, being the idle
of for these girls, holds special importance and they perform regulary
at Jhansi every year when during the celebration of the birthday of the
Acharya Dr Priti Vimarshini, teacher of warfares who herself studied in
the same Gurukul, says: "There are several tales of self defence.
Madhuri Arya, a student of the Gurukul, jumped off from a running train
chasing a thief and came back safely. Similarly Dharmvati Arya has
solved many cases of eve teasing on roads."
"Girls here do not panic while walking alone on roads and when trapped
in problematic situations. Instead, they fight hard and emerge
victorious.I believe it is very important to have these skills in this
times when we do not know who might turn out to be our enemy," added
At present, around 80 girls are residing at the Gurukul. Out of them,
60 know the art of self defence and warfares and they practice it daily
on the premises of the Gurukul in the evening. The minimum age to enter
the ancient system of education is nine years. However care is taken
with their age groups and matching war sports. Eyebrows were raised on
the methods of the Gurukul as according to Manusmriti, law code of
Hindus, women and Shudras (dalits) were not supposed to attain priest
hood and learn Vedas. Moreover the Gurukul follows on Vedic system
instead of the caste system. Girls from different regions of the country
having different caste, including dalits, and some special guests from
foreign lands study here.
In his message, Swami Avimukateshwaranand Saraswati, the desciple of
Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, appreciated the Gurukul and
the Panini temple describing it as one of its kind which would attract
others towards the Indian culture.
A local resident Anand Kesari says: "We invite girls of Panini Kanya
Mahavidyalaya during our religious functions to perform Vedic mantras
every year. The way they perform rituals is highly appreciating and
accepted by all."
"The Vedic methods of these girls is very effective," says Rahul
Srivastava, a resident of Pandeypur. According to him, the 'karmakand'
(all 16 sanskars) performed by these girls at various homes of city is
so very methodological that his family always invites these girls for
offer religious rites at different occasions.
According to Acharya Priti, the girls were also invited by chief
minister of New Delhi to enchant Vedic mantras at a programme organised
by the Delhi government.