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Soil and soul connect with Sanskrit at Melkote[continued]

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Revival begins:

By 1977 Thathachar had persuaded the Karnataka government to commission an Academy of Sanskrit Research. He was given 15 acres in Melkote, if he would set up the Academy; funds for building and running the centre however was not assured. He had to depend on his considerable reputation and energies to raise the money. He took the challenge on. He quit his job as professor and returned home. An adventure awaited him.

Thathachar stood on the windswept ridge allocated for the Academy. Years of deforestation and water run off had rendered it a rock strewn moonscape. From the valley below the wind howled. Most of the stone-stepped kalyanis lay in disrepair. The Academy buildings and research teams seemed far away and impossible.

He began at what he knew. The line of Ananthalvan of which he was the current heir, had always been the chosen one for gathering and bringing various strictly specified flowers for worship. The 'sthala purana' ['local history'] extensively described the flora and fauna of the hills. Thathachar decided to recreate a garden that will hark back to the gentle times.

This was easier conceived than done. It was then that Thathachar re-discovered the Hallikar bulls. These had been Tipu's beasts of burden dragging his guns and carrying his rations and other supplies to war. They have a fine head and their horns crown them well. They are fierce, fast, strong and loyal. It was said Tipu would tie flaming torches to their horns and drive them to speed at nights; it was Tipu's 'shock and awe' play.

Thathachar recruited this proud, handsome, native species for a new enterprise now, and began to breed them. The Hallikars were used to bring soil, water and materials to the Academy site which was up a gentle slope from the temple town. Soil was strategically filled in the hollows between rocks and he began to plant them with jasmines, sampige and other Indian flowering trees and shrubs. As the garden formed in this hard rock place, the professor --without any place to research Sanskrit yet-- began to observe the emerging world around him. He dipped into the texts to learn of 'rishi-krishi paddati' or the system of zero cultivation. His growing Hallikar herd and rising grove meshed with each other and encircled Thathachar. He doesn't take organic material to compost somewhere. He lets material fall where they might. He takes raw dung and piles it over organic matter. There they lie and decompose and create soil again. Today after 24 years of this practice there are 300 species of plants growing in mixed wilderness. There are 26 species of jasmine alone.

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