Scholars, researchers, academicians, legal experts and opinion leaders come together to change the discourse on Jammu & Kashmir at the concluding ceremony of Acharya Abhinavagupta millennium celebrations
The two-day brainstorming sessions on issues related to Jammu & Kashmir concluded on January 7 with the resolve to change the discourse, by presenting and propagating the cultural legacy of Kashmir in the right perspective. In a strategic gathering of academic and legal experts, senior RSS functionaries and political leadership discussed the road map to correct the discourse on the state, which has been distorted by the forces inimical to India's interests. The Vidvat Sangam, the national confluence of scholars, was organised to mark the conclusion of millennium year celebrations of Kashmir's great philosopher Acharya Abhinavagupta.
The Art of Living Foundation hosted the 40-session scholars meet. Sri Sri Ravishankar led the year-long celebrations of Acharya Abhinavagupta, the world-renowned philosopher and the greatest exponent of Shaivism. Exactly, a thousand years ago, it is said, he along with 1,200 disciples walked into a cave in Bheerwah, Kashmir, and became one with Shiva. Today, over 50 universities across the world are conducting research on Abhinavagupta’s works.
Addressing the gathering Sri Sri Ravishankar said true intellectuals are celebrated beyond centuries, and Acharya Abhinavagupta was such an amazing thinker and philosopher. Remembering that his first-ever discourses were based on Shiv Sutras, he said ‘Om Namah Shivay” is a chant that connects India from Kashmir till Rameshwaram. “Today's programme is only the conclusion of year-long celebrations, but Acharya Abhinavagupta's message has to be taken to everyone across India and the world,” he said.
RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Bhayyaji Joshi said there has been a dedicated effort to present a distorted image of Kashmir to the world. “When we say Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India, it is not a political statement at all. It has been an intrinsic part of India in every way for thousands of years. We are celebrating thousand years of Acharya Abhinavagupta, who was instrumental in propagating the basic principles of Bharatiya thought through Shaiv philosophy – from Kashmir in the North to the Southern most areas of Bharat,” he said. “Jammu & Kashmir is the land of Shakti, of Ma Vaishnodevi temple, Kheer Bhawani temple… It has been the land from where teachings on cultural values have emanated. We have to work towards making Kashmir the same land of knowledge, peace and awakening that it was,” Bhayyaji stressed.
‘Time for extensive research & writing’
Senior journalist and executive chairman of Abhinavagupta Millinium Celebration Committee Shri Jawaharlal Kaul describes the year long celebration as a kind of 'festival' to restore the identity of Acharya Abhinavagupta among the general public and academic world. “We wanted that different social, cultural, philosophical, religious, historical, educational organsations start taking interest in this great philosopher of the country. We are happy that many universities have started paying adequate attention towards it and they have decided to start extensive research on him at their own level. There are many non-academic organisations also like Indira Gandhi Centre for Arts and Culture, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan etc which have also decided to join hands in this endeavour,” he said while talking to Organiser.
Union Minister of Human Resource Development (HRD) Shri Prakash Javadekar termed Acharya Abhinavagupta as the “greatest philosopher on the earth”. Addressing the gathering of over 300 scholars, he said Abhinavagupta was the embodiment of Indian thought, which has always questioned established norms and created positive change. “We have been the knowledge destination of the world, even thousands of years ago. Had there been a system of international ranking those days, Indian thinkers would have certainly bagged all the positions from 1st to 10th,” he said, to resounding applause.
True intellectuals are celebrated beyond centuries, and Acharya Abhinavagupta was such an amazing thinker and philosopher. His message has to be taken to everyone across India and the world
Acharya Abhinavagupta questioned the established norms and created positive change. Had there been a system of international ranking those days, Indian thinkers would have bagged all the positions from 1st to 10th
Acharya Abhinavagupta has still not been discussed and researched upon as much as it should have been. There's an imperative need to learn the true characteristics of our history and our philosophies
Abhinavagupta’s philosophy and works constitute the cultural legacy of Kashmir. It has to be researched, understood and popularised in the proper context. His work is as relevant today as it was a thousand years ago
RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sah Sampark Pramukh Shri Arun Kumar said the basic purpose of the two-day meet was to ensure that the issues discussed here become the discourse of the entire nation. The intellectuals, academia, media, decision and policy making institutes should have the issues discussed in these sessions as part of their discourse. “We will make efforts to take the conclusions, arrived at by experts at the meet, across the country. We firmly believe that whatever problems are present in Jammu & Kashmir, the root cause of them are only two: misinformation in Jammu & Kashmir and lack of information in rest of India. So, when there is a lack of information, perception is wrong and this wrong perception leads to wrong decisions. And when decisions are wrong, implementation cannot be right. Now, if we aim to change the basic perspective about Jammu & Kashmir within the state and across the country, we need to usher change at the basic information level itself. For this to happen, correct information needs to reach every corner of the country and based on this a correct discourse should develop about Jammu & Kashmir, and this is the necessity of today,” he said.
“Those who have ruled this country till now had first set up a discourse and based on that discourse they established certain academia and the arguments put forth by this academia are not based on any research, rather those arguments only worked to cement their discourse. Unfortunately, after country’s Independence the discourse that should have been established based on facts and evidence could not be established. I feel that the country should free itself from all kinds of “isms” and should also free itself from the Left or Right Wing camps and set up a discourse based on facts, correct information and evidence. This discourse will be in national interest, will integrate the society and will be in our country’s interest,” Shri Arun Kumar added.
Speaking at the inaugural session on January 6 Deputy Chief Minister of J&K Dr Nirmal Singh said there was a concerted effort on the part of anti-India forces to polarise the people of Kashmir, especially the youth. “Religious factors have nothing to do with this polarisation. The recent turmoil is a case in point. The last three generations of Jammu-Kashmir’s leadership have also continually misled the people of Kashmir. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of scope for creating a positive atmosphere in Kashmir,” he said adding that Acharya Abhinavagupta’s philosophy and his works constitute the cultural legacy of Kashmir. It has to be researched, understood and
popularised in the proper context. His work is as relevant today as it was a thousand years ago. When the youth get in touch with their roots, they will be empowered to thwart the negative forces, he added.
RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sah Prachar Pramukh Shri J Nandakumar said Acharya Abhinavagupta embodied the greatness of Bharat’s saints. “Bharat’s history has been one of constant renaissance. A lot of great people have contributed to our culture, values and ethos. Acharya Abhinavagupta was amongst the greatest such philosophers,” he said. Referring to the constant efforts to sideline and eclipse the evolved Indian philosophies and traditions, he said it was understandable when the British strategically undermined everything Indian in order to effectively colonise. However, it has been tragic that even the leadership of Independent India has towed the same lines, he said. “Acharya Abhinavagupta has still not been discussed and researched upon as much as it should have been. There's an imperative need to learn the true characteristics of our history and our philosophies. India's Sanskriti, its culture is a confluence of the triveni of Veda-Tantra-Yoga. Abhinavagupta is an essential part of this,” he said.
Eight Dialogue Sessions
The Vidvat Sangam included eight simultaneous dialogue sessions on different aspects of Abhinavagupta’s works as also current issues – issues having far-reaching implications vis-à-vis Jammu & Kashmir state. The themes of the parallel seminars on different disciplines included Abhinavagupta and Indian Literature: Classical and Folk; Abhinavagupta and Cultural Studies; Abhinavagupta and Civilisational Studies; Abhinavagupta and Philosophy, Spirituality and Sadhna, Abhinavagupta and Communication and Media; Geo-Polity of Himalayan Region; Jammu Kashmir in History; and Legal and Constitutional Status of Jammu Kashmir. Each of these themes had five sub-themes to be discussed in separate sessions. So, a total of 40 sessions were organised in the two-day meet.
Director of Jammu-Kashmir Study Centre (JKSC) Shri Ashutosh Bhatnagar said the session on “Geo-polity of Himalayan Region” had vibrant discussions by strategic experts and former defence personnel on PoJK (Pak-occupied Jammu Kashmir), CoJK (China-occupied Jammu Kashmir) and Gilgit-Baltistan. The dialogue session on “Legal and Constitutional Status of Jammu Kashmir” involved legal luminaries who discussed the relevance and misuse of Article 370 and Article 35A in the light of recent Supreme Court decisions where the apex court had pulled up the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir for overreaching their ambit on Article 370.
Millennium Year Celebrations
The Acharya Abhinavagupta Millennium Year Celebrations Committee has been celebrating thousand years of Acharya Abhinavagupta since January 2016. Renowned journalist Shri Jawahar Lal Kaul was executive president of the Celebration Committee. The celebrations began on January 4, 2016, as a thousand lights were lit as homage to the Acharya. Many academic and cultural programmes were organised across India in 2016 as part of the celebrations.
“The yearlong Millennium celebrations have evoked tremendous interest and enthusiastic response, not only among scholars and students but also among common people all across India. More than a dozen universities and institutions of art and culture have participated in these celebrations generating a great debate on relevance of his philosophy to modern India. It is, therefore, natural that the concluding event of the year-long celebrations should be celebrated as a multidimensional conference involving hundreds of university teachers and scholars in various fields to meet in Bengaluru and exchange ideas and experiences about this great philosopher and also discuss various aspects of Jammu & Kashmir,” said Shri Jawaharlal Kaul.
Formed in 2011, the Jammu Kashmir Study Centre (JKSC), an independent and objective think-tank dedicated to the study of Jammu Kashmir in its totality and to dispel misinformation and create awareness about facts relating to Jammu Kashmir has been undertaking policy relevant studies on all aspects of the strategically important Indian state and disseminate the outcome of these studies in a right perspective in the public domain. The partner institutions of JKSC for this programme included Sri Sri Ravishankar University, Bhubaneshwar; Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, New Delhi; Indian Council for Philosophical Research, New Delhi and Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication, Bhopal.
(With inputs from JKSC, New Delhi)