“Seminar On The Vedic Period” Organized By India Discovery Center - Part I
Ravi Nene and C. Gopinath
(This article is sponsored by Masala Art)
In an early January morning, eighty people gathered at the historic Bemis Hall in Lincoln, MA, to attend the “Seminar on the Vedic Period.” The event was organized by the newly formed non-profit organization India Discovery Center, led by Dr. Bijoy Misra of Harvard University. The audience included language scholars, vedic reciters, history professionals, scriptural researchers and many others of varied interests. The day-long program explored the culture and knowledge of the Vedic Period, broadly defined as the period from earliest times to 700 AD, as revealed through textual and archaeological evidences. It was the second seminar in a series of eight seminars that the Center wishes to organize in its discovery journey. For the writer, the seminar of January 21 was an eye opener to realize India’s magnificent Vedic heritage.
The program commenced with an invocation recitation of sections of Taittireeya Upanishad, by Mr. Ramakrishnan Anantakrishanan, a local Sanskrit scholar, using the prescribed intonation for Vedic recitations. After Dr. Misra’s introduction to the activities of the India Discovery Center, Ms. Srilakshmi Srinivasan, accompanied by Dr. Ravi Mosurkal on the keyboard, rendered a musical production of Naasadeeya Suktam, an initial attempt to do so. Other recitations were presented through the seminar by Dr. K. Kodandapani (SriRudram), Mr. Giri Bharathan (ArunaPrashnah) and Dr. Firoze Jungalwalla (Avesta Gatha).
Pandit Krishna Bhattar from the Sri Lakshmi Temple, Ashland, initiated the seminar with a book worship followed by a lecture on the Vedic practices. He pointed out the prevalence of Vedic thoughts in the current practices in Hindu households. He emphasized the particular contribution of Vedic thinking to draw our attention to the different stages and events in life.
Mr. Thomas Burke gave a tutorial on “Vedic Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit”. He analyzed the Vedic Sanskrit from the Indo-European philological research and showed various unsolved pieces of the puzzle. He discussed the Paninian grammar and the development of Classical Sanskrit using the methods of Panini and Patanjali.
The themes and speakers were introduced by Dr. C. Gopinath. The presentations were along six tracks- (i) Reshma Ghanekar, Geography and People, (ii) Prem Nagar, Language and Literature, (iii) V. Ramapriya, Philosophy and Religion, (iv) Paromita De, Art and Culture, (v) Bijoy Mishra, Science and Technology and (vi) Raghavendra Sarangpurkar, Economy and Politics.
IDC had organized a book display on Vedic literature and posters from the earlier seminar on Indus Period.
After lunch, Dr. Govardhan gave an update on the India Discovery Center and announced the next seminar “Classical Period 700BC-200BC” to be scheduled for September 23, 2017 at Bemis Hall. Dr. Sajed Kamal invited all to participate in the “IDC Object Design” process where the goal would be to create a hundred museum-quality objects to be used for education and classroom lecture.
At the end, all presenter along with Mr. Burke and Pandit Bhattar joined in a Q&A session. The questions covered the Vedic language, the use of Sanskrit and the current use of the Vedas.
The Chief Guests, Mr. Thomas Burke and Pandit Bhattar, were presented with mementoes for their contributions to the study and promotion of Sanskrit, and in maintaining the Vedic tradition. Ms. Preeti Nagar presented a musical rendering of the hymn Hiranyagarbhasuktam from the Rgveda. Many members of the audience joined in the singing of the universal prayer “sam gacchadhvam” at the close of the seminar.
The seminar ended with a vote of thanks offered by Mr. Sanjeev Tripathi on behalf of India Discovery Center. Various members of the community came forward to help make the event. Dr. Chandrika Govardhan and Mr. Sanjeev Tripathi helped arrange the lunch and the hospitality. Ms. Bhavani Vakineni and Mr Jeevanadhar Ramapriya helped in the registration and guest services. The seminar brochure was supported by Mr. Chandu Shah. Parking services were supported by Mr. Janmenjay Shishupal. Mr. Sachin Bhate was instrumental in the set-up of audio facilities. Mr. Janmejay Shishupal, Mr Sachin Bhate and Mr Chow-Chin Chuang helped in recording the event in pictures. Mr. Leo Rousseau assisted with capturing the video. IDC expressed thanks to the officials at the Bemis Hall in the town of Lincoln for the accommodation with the facilities.
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