Friday, 1 May 2009

Beyond The Frame: Vedic Master

©Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

I'm resuscitating the Beyond The Frame feature on The Travel Photographer blog, which today shows-off one of my favorite photographs from my February photo-expedition in Kerala. One of photo shoots was inside an ancient Vedic 'gurukul' (or training/boarding school, and very similar to the Buddhist monasteries for novitiates), where we were treated to a demonstration of this way of teaching sacred Vedic scriptures.

It is an ancient Indian educational system, which is currently being rejuvenated with the assistance of the Indian government. The young boys who populate the Vedic school usually belong to a caste of Keralan Brahmins, and are responsible to carry on the age-old tradition of chanting Vedas during religious rituals or functions. The chanting is learned by practice, and nothing is written down.

The rhythm of the Vedic chants is followed by the young boys' moving their bodies in cadence to the verses, which reminded me how the Buddhist novices recite their mantras, or how the Islamic students recite the Qur'an at their madrasas.

The photograph is of one of the Vedic masters keeping a watchful eye over the youths, while they're chanting the verses.