Monday, December 25, 2017

5th Dr Minati Hazarika Memorial Annual Lecture

5th Dr Minati Hazarika Memorial Annual Lecture

 Dr. Rita Moni Baishya, Associate Professor of Hindi, Gauhati University delivered the 5th Dr Minati Hazarika Memorial Annual Lecture on December 27, 2017 in VKIC’s W.M. Auditorium. She spoke on ‘Assam’s contribution to the Indian Bhakti Movement.’

According to her the Indian Bhakti Movement was a great process that contributed to the religious and spiritual emancipation of a large mass of people. There are many reasons for its emergence and subsequent growth. One of the reasons cited was the threat of Islamic aggression, which was not the main reason. In the literature and philosophy of the movement one can find much more than a mere response to a particular situation.

The men behind the movement dwelled in different parts of India, and through their words, gave us Bhakti, philosophy as well as literature. 

There were many saints and seekers in India of that time among which were Ramananda, Kabir, Chaitanya who had influence over different parts of Bharat. Many of them are well known throughout the country. However, not much is known about Assam’s Vaishnavite Movement in the same way.

There are two main Margs in the broad Bhakti Movement – the Nirguna and the Saguna. Kabir and Jaishi were among the most famous who believed in the former path. There was also a Sufi tradition in which there existed a relation of love between the devotee and the divine.

He celebrated Gyan and Prem, and considered them integral in his literature. Although there is no such consensus it can still be argued that the Vaishnavites of Sankardeva’s time can be considered as a Sampradaya. Like Sampradayas that grew around other Bhakti traditions, the Vaishnavites of Assam do possess common features spelled out in their beliefs and teachings.

When the contemporary Bhakti saints are compared it is seen that Kabir in particular was very critical of some practices of Hindus and Muslims of his times. He possessed a deep social consciousness. Guru Nanak too had a strong message of devotion for his followers which he expressed through his writings in three languages.

Some of the saints did not write books, which can be found today. But Tulsi Das did write at least eight very important books; some of course believe that he wrote more.

What sets Sankardeva apart from his contemporaries was his strong belief in the idea of Bharatvarsha. His significant writings are replete with references to this land. In times much older, Valmiki did write about events in different parts of Bharat, but the notion of Bharatvarsha as a nation finds mention only in the writings of Sankardeva.  He was foremost in mentioning Assam as a part of Bharat. He was the guru of all the Assamese saints and seekers in the Bhakti tradition.

In the sphere of cultural activities, Srimanta Sankardeva was peerless due to his wide range of contributions. Apart from being a great saint in the Vaishnav tradition, he was a social unifier, great poet, painter, actor, and who also wrote songs and developed a dance form. His output and merit in literature is yet to be fully appreciated.

In order to promote an understanding of the Assamese Bhakti Movement, there is a need for it to be understood by more people in the country. One of the ways could be to have the literature of Assam’s Bhakti movement translated into other languages. It is essential that they are made available in Hindi, so that they can subsequently be translated into other Indian languages.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

VKIC Newsletter, April 2017-September,2017

From the Director’s Desk

Human lives have since time immemorial been shaped by forces of Nature, more than by any other power made by their will and efforts. Settlements grew near forest lands where fruits and flesh were not scarce for hunter gatherers. The first of the civilisations took root in the valleys of rivers where water was copious. Long migration routes unfolded through natural mountain passes connecting ancient societies enabling trade and commerce. In India too, natural spaces evolved over thousands of years and created a rich tapestry of community life where Nature determines or influences the rhythm of life. Our Adivasi communities, or Vanbasi communities exemplify such a Nature-reliant, Nature-inspired lifestyle, which from another perspective can be understood as a deeper appreciation of something sublime. Amid their day to day activities they adhere to traditions, rites and rituals which in a way pays obeisance to one forest deity or another. A sense of gratitude towards Nature is evident in even many of their mundane activities.

Today, the scenario is rapidly changing across the world; India being no exception. The winds of globalization and accompanying economic onslaught are sweeping the developing world in particular. Age old practices, centred on reverence towards Nature are being buffeted by forces of consumerism where naturally occurring objects are seen through the lens of resource exploitation. With its extensive experience of building ties with indigenous communities of North East India, VKIC is well appraised about these developments and, therefore, has taken up initiatives which will enable us to have deeper insights about the Nature-Human inter-linkages. One such attempt is to unravel this hitherto ignored treasure trove of knowledge and practices is our ongoing series of lectures on Forest-Community Interface. Through the lectures a number of issues relating to forests, their ecosystem services, degradation of natural landscapes and water bodies and strategies to conserve Nature are coming to the fore. Experts who have worked with such issues have shared knowledge that has led to better understanding of the fact – we all have much to learn from the communities who have dwelled in and around forests since time that predates our oldest written chronicles. It is our hope that VKIC will be able to justify before you how our fate is finally linked to that of the state of our forests and the way we perceive and treat them. 

                                                                                           Dr Parimal Ch. Bhattacharjee

Monday, December 4, 2017

A talk on Sister Nivedita

A talk on Sister Nivedita was organised by Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture at Assam Institute of Management on 4th December at 11 A.M. Mananeeya Shraddha Vays Patil from Mumbai delivered the oration which centered on the subject- "Sister Nivedita and Indian Women"



Sixty eight management students along with four karyakartas were taking part in the event.To spread the message of Swami Vivekananda the book "Vijay Hi Vijay" distributed to the student.