Posts Tagged ‘kozhikode’

The 6th Vedic workshop held at Kozhokode, Kerala India from 7th to 10th 2014

January 14, 2014

The 6th Vedic workshop held at Kozhokode, Kerala India from 7th to 10th 2014

Bhaskaran Nayar. T. P. Mahadevan

Bhaskaran Nayar. T. P. Mahadevan

The sixth international Vedic workshop [hereinafter mentioned as SIVW for brevity] was held in Kozhiokode from January 7 to 10 2014 and there have been a lot of publicity in the Indian media and internet by the interested and involved carried on. Ironically, in facebook[1], twitter[2] and blogs[3] also there have been entries, but when I asked for or tried to get more details they could not give. Incidentally, there has been some opposition to the workshop, as I could note from the internet search[4]. As I could not attend it, because of the clashing of dates with the international conference on Mahabharata [mentioned as ICMB] in Tirupati from 7th to 11th 2014. In fact, I was eager to note how the non-Indians could have acted and interacted in the proceedings of the Vedic workshop. So I just started enquiring and gathering details about it. During the ICMB itself, I was discussing about SIVW with the hundreds of Sanskrit Pundits, professors and scholars came there to present papers. Particularly, I interacted with the research students from Rastriya Sanskrit Vidhyapeeth, Tirupati who registered with the ICMB more than 170. Very few knew about it, but they did not want to attend for many reasons. When enquired, they gave the following:

  1. The delegate fees was very high, perhaps half of the salary they receive in teaching Sanskrit in schools and other places.
  2. They cannot get leave, as they have already in their jobs.
  3. Even if they forego salary cut etc., their Masters / Gurus / Employers did not encourage.
  4. They are not familiar with the Vedic studies, as they have chosen different topics for their M.Phil, Ph.D research and dissertation.

Of 100, only few – two   from Chennai, one from AP and another from Pondicherry know him[5]. Ironically none of the Sanskrit Pundits, scholars and professors responded that they do not know him even after showing his photograph!

Elizabeth Tucker, Cezary Galewich

Elizabeth Tucker, Cezary Galewich

Non-Indian or Foreign domination in the 6th Vedic Workshop conducted in India: This observation is made for the purpose of Vedas, Vedic studies and Vedic research carried on in India and outside. When Max Mueller translated Vedas without seeing or coning to India, and other translators also did, reservations were expressed about their quality of translations. In spite of such doubts expressed and mistakes pointed out, their printed books were, are and being printed, sold and filled in the libraries of Universities, colleges and even in Sanskrit schools. When critical editions have been published for Ramayana and Mahabharata, none has done for Vedas. About the dates of Vedas also none has fixed conclusively, yet different dates are followed for research and historical purposes. Under such circumstances only, this aspects is noted and discussed. The Doctors / Professors who chaired the sessions have been as follows as per their programme:

Vedic workshop - old photo

Vedic workshop – old photo

  1. Masato Fujii,
  2. Michael Witzel,
  3. M. G. S. Narayanan
  4. Alexander Lubotsky
  5. Didhiti Biswas,
  6. Mislav Ježić,
  7. Patrick Olivelle,
  8. Joanna Jurewicz,
  9. Cezary Galewicz,
  10. S. A. S. Sarma,
  11. Michael Witzel ,
  12. Kiyotaka Yoshimizu,
  13. Joel Brereton,
  14. C. M. Neelakantan,
  15. Jarrod Whitaker.
  16. Renate Sohnen-Thieme,
  17. S. S. Bahulkar,
  18. P. Bhaskaran Nayar
Micheal Witzel, F B J Kupier, Fredrik Kortlandt

Micheal Witzel, F B J Kupier, Fredrik Kortlandt

Of the 18, only 6 have been Indians, i.e, 33% and 67% been non-Indians. So, in India, I have to take that even in subjects on Vedas, 2/3rds scholars had to be from outside India and dominate the show. However, the chantings, rites, rituals, rites etc., have to be done by Indians and the non-Indians would go on photographing, videographing, commenting, criticizing and even recommending that such and such rituals should have been performed like this and not like that.

Demonstration of Veda chanting in progress at 6th international workshop on the Vedas at Iringal Artand Crafts Village, Vadakara, on Wednesday 08-01-2014

Demonstration of Veda chanting in progress at 6th international workshop on the Vedas at Iringal Artand Crafts Village, Vadakara, on Wednesday 08-01-2014 (Coutesy – The Hindu)

Experimental “Yagnas” conducted for research: In fact, traditional Vedic scholars say that chantings, rites, rituals, rites etc., can be performed only for the purpose and not for demonstration, fun or observation, as being done in laboratories. No doubt, scholars like Frits Staal could have recorded “The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar”. Yagnas are conducted in different parts of India, even in homes depening upon the exigencies, but they are not publicized. Nowdays, just for publicity, some sort of “Yagnas for Peace” are conducted. In Kerala, the conduct of different Yagnas have been reported and attracted by the foreigners. At every time, the “sacrifice of animal” had become a controversial issue[6]. Doing Yoga by persons and getting benefits is different from doing Yoga by somebody and that is watched by others either directly or through film or on TV. Such seeing cannot bring any benefit. Here, in the case of “Conduct of Yagnas” for experimental purposes and shooting them, carrying to aboard and screen them as proof, this is the way Yagnas are conducted in India or were conducted 5000 years ago.

map-Simplified plan of the sacrificial area.with abbre.details

map-Simplified plan of the sacrificial area.with abbre.details

Reenacted, demonstrated and imitated Vedic representations could be taken as original, authentic and accurate: Here, in 6th Vedic workshop, Brahmins were asked to chant Vedas and recorded by the foreign researchers. Ironically, the Brahmins were questioned by Brahmins only or act as interpreters, while the foreign delegates were watching, photographing, and videographing. When mantras are meant for chanting at a particular time, place and purpose and they are done for the purpose demonstration, exhibition and display, how the real effect could be produced is not known. In Tamilnadu, the DK-fellows were imitating some of the rituals to show that they could also do without believing God, religion etc. Later, under the guise of Rationalist Society etc., some people started doing such rites. Thus, now for the purpose of International Workshop, such reenactments are carried on. Therefore, the reality is not there, but only, some sort of dramatic performance is taken as real.

Map used by the priests to lay out the sacrificial area -Barsi 2001

Map used by the priests to lay out the sacrificial area -Barsi 2001

Vedic chanting at odd hours: Nowadays, Yoga has become some sort of international business. Even non-Hindus started claiming that it is not Hindu. Thus, we have many Yoga-experts, teachers and gurus of US, Europe and even Arabia. The poor Christian and Muslim authorities many times have to take contradicting stands about their respective believing clergy turning into heathen or kafiri mode. Of course, in Tamilnadu, ot the land of “Dravidas/Dravidians”, Karunanidhi has already accepted and started doing Yoga, that too, from a “Aryan” master! So here also, Vedic job-workers have started doing their work on request or contract basis. Amazing and wonderful programme has been chalked out to accommodate them to chant according their tune.

For example, there were programs like this[7]:

Sl.No

Time

Program

4 08.45 – 09.1508-01-2014 Assembling in the Veda chanting hall 
5 09.15 – 10.15 Rgveda chanting session – Kerala tradition
8 11.30 – 12.30 Sāmaveda chanting session – Kerala tradition 
9 12.30 – 01.30 Yajurveda chanting session – Kerala tradition
11 02.30 – 03.00 Sāmaveda chanting session – Tamil tradition in Kerala
22 03.45 – 04.1509-01-2014 Akshara Sloka demonstration (only Sanskrit and Manipravaala slokas)

How these chanting would demonstrate the reality of chanting, the chanters and the listened within half-an-hour before lunch, after lunch and at odd hours.

(To be concluded)


[6] Frits Staal, The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar, Motilal Banarasidas, New Delhi, 2001, Vol,II,  pp.464-468.

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International Conferences on Mahabharat held at Tirupati and Vedic Workshop at Kozikode – contrasted in the Indian context – 2014

January 13, 2014

International Conferences on Mahabharat held at Tirupati and Vedic Workshop at Kozikode – contrasted in the Indian context – 2014

The sixth international Vedic workshop

The sixth international Vedic workshop

International Conferences on Mahabharat held at Tirupati and Vedic Workshop at Kozikode: The sixth international Vedic workshop [hereinafter mentioned as SIVW for brevity] was held in Kozhiokode from January 7 to 10 2014 and the international conference on Mahabharata [mentioned as ICMB] in Tirupati from 7th to 11th 2014. As the former had attracted Sanskrit and Veda researchers and writers from universities across the world[1] with 111 delegates, the latter attracted more than 600 registered delegates with paper presentation. Besides theoretical deliberations, Veda chanting had been a special feature of the workshop, event coordinator Vinod Bhattathiripad and programme core committee members M.G.S. Narayanan, former chairman Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), and P. Bhaskaran Nayar of Lincoln University, U.K., said at a press conference in Kozhikode on Saturday (04-01-2014). The workshop began with chanting of Rigveda by Parvathy, who the organisers said, was the only female Rigveda chanter in Kerala. However, there have been many Hindu women chanting Vedic mantras living in India even today. But, an impression has been created that women should not read or are not allowed to read Vedas. The ICMB was inaugurated with the presence and blessings of the following:

  1. Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, pontiff of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam,
  2. S.A.R.P.V. Chaturvedi, founder of Sri Ramanuja Mission Trust and
  3. Kandukuri Sivananda Murty, Saiva mutt.

The first three postings of the conference have been posted under captions as follows and their internet links are given in the footnotes:

  1. The proceedings of the international conference on Mahabharatam held at Tirupati from 7th to 11th January 2014[2].
  2. The International conference on Mahabharatam held at Tirupati from 7th to 11th January 2014 – the proceedings (2)[3].
  3. The Mahabharatam conference concluded at Tirupati on 11th January 2014 that started on 7th – the proceedings (3)[4].
The sixth international Vedic workshop -Gateway Hotel

The sixth international Vedic workshop -Gateway Hotel

The Gateway Hotel and Vishnu Nivasam: While the delegates of SIVW stayed at the five star hotel, the delegates of ICMB were accommodated at the Vishnu Nilayam comfortably. The registration / delegate fees was Rs. 6,000/- for SIVW (four days)[5] and Rs. 1,500/- for ICMB (five days). SIVW was the first international Vedic workshop to be hosted by India, as claimed by the organizers, but Indians wonder as to why such claim should have been made, as if India hosts now. The other Vedic workshops were held at[6]

  1. Harvard University, USA (in 1989, organized by Prof. Michael Witzel),
  2. Kyoto University, Japan (in 1999, organized by Prof. Y. Ikari),
  3. Leiden University, The Netherlands (in 2002, organized by Prof. J. Houben and Prof. A. Griffith),
  4. University of Texas, Austin, USA (in 2007, organized by Prof. P. Olivelle and Prof. J. Brereton), and
  5. Centre for Eurasiatic and Afroasiatic Studies (CEAS), Bucharest, Romania (in 2011, organized by Prof. J. Rotaru).

The ICMB was organized by the Oriental Research Institute (ORI) of Sri Venkateswara University and Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams (TTD). The Vedic workshop in Kozhikode reportedly focused on Vedic texts and rituals, scholarly interpretations of Vedic texts, Vedic traditions of Kerala, and the recent resurgence of interest in the Vedas in the West. While 14 scholars from universities and research institutes in the U.S. and 12 from Japan had confirmed participation, five Vedic experts were expected from France and four each from Germany and the United Kingdom[7], thus the press went on reporting. On the other hand, ICMB provided space to students, research scholars, Vedic experts, researchers and Indologists.

Wooden utensils used in Vedic rituals

Wooden utensils used in Vedic rituals

The details given by the SIVW website: The workshop committee members comprised the following:

  1. Prof. M. Witzel (University of Harvard, USA)
  2. Prof. Shrikant Bahulkar, Pune, India
  3. Prof. Yasuke Ikari, Kyoto University, Japan
  4. Prof. Julita Rotaru, Centre for Eurasiatic and Afroasiatic Studies (CEAS), Bucharest, Romania

The core committee members were as follows:

  1. Dr. P. Bhaskaran Nayar, Lincoln University, UK
  2. Prof. M. G. S. Narayanan, Former Chairman, Indian Council of Historical Research
  3. Prof. C. M. Neelakantan, Former Professor (Veda), Sree Sankaracharya  University of Sanskrit, Kerala, India
  4. Prof. C. Rajendran, Professor (Sanskrit), University of Calicut, Kerala, India
  5. Dr. P. Vinod Bhattathiripad, Chief Co-ordinator, www.namboothiri.com

Advisors to the core committee were –

  1. Prof. Cezary Galewicz, Professor, University of Krakow, Poland
  2. Prof. T. P. Mahadevan, Professor, Howard University, USA

It appears that these committees are just like any other conference to control the proceedings, as I have been noting for more than 40 years after attending many national and international conferences. The program details of SIVW are available here[8].

Kozhiokode and Tirupati: To quote Elst, “Kozhikode (Calicut), Kerala, India. This is the town where Vasco da Gama first landed in 1498, thus starting the colonial entreprise in Asia”, whereas Tirupati has been a place of pilgrimage centre where all categories of Indians used to come for darshan of Sri Venkateswara. Of course, the Portuguese colonialists tried to loot this temple also as per the recordings of othe non-Indian sources. The University of Calicut, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and IIT Kanpur sponsored their scholars to the conference. Delegates from the University of Michigan also attended. The    Chief coordinator of the conference Dr Vinod Bhattathiripad told Deccan Chonicle that 15 delegates from various universities in the country would present papers. Only 80 papers were accepted by the committee[9], implying that papers were also rejected, but the grounds not known. The major universities sent the delegates at their own expenses reducing the financial burden of the organizers, he said. But, in a poor country like India, when the organizers had already decided to host “Vedic workshop” in five star hotels, how the question of “financial burden” plays a role is intriguing. The organizers decided to conduct the workshop in the country of Vedas where the spirit is still alive to provide an ‘on ground’ experience of Vedic practice and direct interaction with practicing scholars, he added.  In Tirupati, more than 600 papers were presented accommodating students, research scholars, Vedic experts, researchers and Indologists.

Indians do not know Michael Witzel but Veda Vyasa: The views of Koenald Elst, one of the delegates can be read here[10]. His comments are interesting[11] for Indians in contrast to what other non-Indians who write about Indian issues. His pointed out that “……….Michael Witzel, Wales professor of Sanskrit at Harvard. For quite some time now I have taken my distance from the counterproductive Hindu habit of treating him as a hate figure”. Good, but 99% of the Hindus do not know about Koenald / Koenraad Elst or Michael Wizel and therefore, it is surprising to know about “Hindu habit of treating him as hate figure”. As I was attending the International conference on Mahabharatam at Tirupati, I could not attend, but I was mentioning about him with many Sanskrit Pundits, scholars and professors from the Universities of Baroda, Pune, Calcutta, Tiruvanathapuram, Andhra, Madras, Pondicherry etc. Of 100, only few – two   from Chennai, one from AP and another from Pondicherry know him. Ironically none of the Sanskrit Pundits, scholars and professors responded that they do not know him even after showing his photograph!

OIT, AIT and Indians: As OIT and AIT were dominating the SIVW, they were also haunting and daunting sizeable modern students and researchers of ICMB. However, ICMB  papers have been affected ideologically with political influence and compulsion, though in person they do not agree with such Aryan-Dravidian dichotomy. As now the knowledge is open and accessible to all through modern gadgetry, and they could come to their own conclusions, no lecturing, tutoring or propaganda affects them. In that way, it appears the scholars, experts and Pundits of SIVW have been still under the clutches of OIT and AIT controlling their thought processes.

(To be concluded


[1] The special correspondent, Scholars to attend Vedic workshop, The Hindu dated January 5, 2014, Kozhikode edition