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Tirupati Vedic schools open doors to Dalits

Tirupati Vedic schools open doors to Dalits

Author: Sreenivas Janyala
Publications: Indian Express
Date: February 5, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/tirupati-vedic-schools-open-doors-to-dalits/419320/

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has opened the doors of its prestigious Vedic schools to Scheduled Caste and non-Brahmin students. Considered sacred, admission to Vedic schools was restricted only to Brahmins and the TTD's decision goes a long way in its attempt to shed its image of a caste-rigid organisation.

TTD Board chairman D K Aadikesavulu Naidu said the Scheduled Caste students could now take admission in the Sri Venkateshwara Vedic Pathasalas and they would be imparted Vedic education without any prejudice. The TTD has also decided to support the SC students after they learn the Vedas by giving them a stipend of Rs 1 lakh which will help them till they find employment.

TTD public relations officer Ram Pulla Reddy said the TTD believes in equality and oneness of all and has decided to open the doors of the Vedic schools to everyone. "Already several students have taken admission. The first student, Pavan Kumar, applied from Tirupati itself," he said.

The TTD runs a Vedic University besides one school at Vedagiri at Tirupati and one at Hyderabad. The Vedagiri school at Tirupati was established more than a century ago.

Last July, in a rare gesture, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam had decided to take idols of the world's richest God to several Dalit villages in the district not only to provide them a glimpse but also to enable them to worship Him right in front of their homes. Named 'Dalit Govindam', the initiative that has become immensely popular now involves Dalits in prayer rituals and ceremonies without any prejudice or cutting costs.

Aadikesavulu Naidu says these initiatives are aimed at drawing the SCs into the mainstream. He said the Board was also considering constructing Lord Venkateshwara temples in Dalit villages if land is allotted by the village. A special fund of Rs 5 lakh for construction of each temple is being set aside for this purpose.

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