Ancient intellectual traditions show the way forward

JU News Desk
Published: November 2016

Seminar organised by Centre for Ancient History and Culture (CAHC) looks at history from a fresh perspective

ancientancient-1A recent conference at Jain University’s Knowledge Campus witnessed a confluence of intelligentsia working on exploring ancient traditions of India in a contemporary context with students of culture and traditions and professionals looking forward to nuggets of wisdom from the vast ocean of Indian texts that were written centuries ago. The three-day conference was organized by the Centre for Ancient History and Culture of the University of the University. Chief Guest for the occasion was Prof. Y. Sudershana Rao, Chairman, Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi and the Guest of Honour was Dr. B.V Subbarayappa, Former President, International Union of History and Philosophy of Science. Dr. Chenraj Roychand, President, Jain University Trust presided over the inaugural session.

Dr. N. Sundararajan, Vice Chancellor, Jain University welcomed the gathering. He remarked that the Centre was a very significant idea mooted by Dr. R. N. Iyengar, Director CAHC. “The theme chosen by CAHC for the seminar is truly exalting and has the capacity to act as a bridge between the ancient Indian traditions and the younger generation.”

Traditionally, anything ancient is considered to be the preserve of historians but Dr. Iyengar offered a new dimension to it while giving an overview of the seminar. “The culture and history belongs to everyone in this country and not just the historians. No one denies the role played by historians in preserving a nation’s identity but history has a far greater reach and goes much beyond culture when we look at it in the context of intellectual questions.”

an-2an-3The debate on Aryan theory came to the fore during the address by Dr. Rao. He presented a critical assessment of the theory and pointed out that apart from the existence of similarities between Asian and European languages, there is no evidence to support it. He also emphasized that historians and scientists should come together for development of meaningful understanding in both the domains on areas that are nebulous.

Keynote address by Dr. Subbarayappa expounded on Ancient Indian texts and their contributions towards creating a harmonious existence between the outer shell of man and his inner spirit. “The ancient Indian texts gifted to the world the idea of body and mind in accord and the two together in accordance with the nature.”

Dr. Roychand in his address stressed on the significance of scientific traditions. “We have a rich cultural tradition but India, also has a very opulent intellectual tradition. And, it is important to delve into history to find it. This seminar would no doubt help to do the same.”

During the three days of the seminar 18 enlightening discussions took place leaving the participants with an instructive tapestry of unique insights. Prof. M. Danino shared his expertise and experience on Harappan Roots of Some of the Indian Knowledge Systems and Rediscovery of the Sarasvati River. The first day of the conference also covered the importance of mathematics in Jaina traditions and calculus inlaid in prose and poetry by Prof Padmavathamma, Retd. Professor, University of Mysore and Prof. K. Ramasubramanian, Professor, IIT Bombay respectively.

The presentations on the first day were followed by a mesmerising puppet play by directed by Anupama Hoskere. The string and rod puppets narrated a tale from Mahabharata and was set in Upanisadic times.

an-1The next day dawned with some of the most stunning insights on origin and growth of astronomy in India by Prof. M. Vahia from TIFR, Mumbai. The presentation explored evolution of astronomy and its impact on other areas of learning for human beings. Prof. Alex Hankey, Distinguished Professor, SVYASA University shed light on the Biophysics of Meditation in light of Complexity Biology. This was followed by a session on Avadhana, tradition of parallel processing by Dr. R Shankar exploring the traditional Indian art form.

The third day of the seminar delved into the realms that were new to several participants. Beginning with a presentation by Prof. K.S. Kannan from CAHC, Jain University which shed light on the cryptographic poetry in Sanskrit, it presented another insightful day dedicated to understanding intellectual traditions practised thousands of years ago. The science behind raga music expounded by Dr. R N. Iyengar, the simulating aspects of Harappan Civilization presented by Prof. Mayank Vahia and relevance of Pannini’s in the contemporary context by Prof. Amba Kulkarni from the University of Hyderabad, brought forth some of the most intriguing ways in which the ancient Indians dealt with knowledge and used it for the benefit of all. These musings were followed by a refreshing presentation on how Information Technology can leverage Ancient Intellectual Traditions on a sustainable scale by an IT Professional Mr. S. Viswanath. The day was concluded with a panel discussion where the future steps to be taken in the direction of in depth investigation of ancient traditions was debated successfully.