Oriental Studies in Globalised World Face More Challenges

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Srinagar, Oct 01: Terming the Valley of Kashmir as a repository of great pluralistic culture and ethos Governor of Assam J B Patnaik has urged for critical editing and publishing of rich manuscripts preserved in various centres of Kashmir and Ladakh.

Giving his presidential address at the 46thsession of All India Oriental Conference JB Patnaik who is also the General President of the Conference said “The state of Jammu and Kashmir has a rich storehouse of manuscripts preserved in its various centres. The manuscripts are in all languages, Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic. In its Ladakh region monasteries have massive collections of manuscripts on Buddhism. It would be great idea to critically edit them and publish them for the benefit of posterity. The learned orientalists present here would do well to apply their mind to it.”

Patnaik said that the tradition was very much in vogue during the British period of taking up the critical edition of a manuscript in consonance with the well-established norms “with a detailed introduction for various degrees of the University needs to be revived.”

“This will provide necessary incentive to younger scholars to learn old scripts which are slowly becoming unintelligible because of the number of those who can read them dwindling by the day. This is particularly true of Kashmir whose old Sarada script has few, if at all, who can decipher it. At the same time it will equip them with the critical faculty to collate and constitute the text and decide about the relative chronology of the authors for which perusal of the relevant literature would be a desideratum,” said Patnaik.

He added “A lot remains to be done in the field of excavation The recent knowledge gathered from excavations of Harappa sites made many scholars to establish the view that the Aryans did not come from outside and that they were the natives of India.”

Patnaik said that certificate and diploma courses need to be introduced in Linguistics, Pali, Buddhism, Prakrit, Jainism, East Asian studies and West Asian Studies, in all the Universities of India in their language departments so that the younger generation can have a full view of it only when they have knowledge of something of each that would also contribute to the synthetic growth of society which he said is the crying need of the hour.

Praising Kashmir for its literary contribution Patnaik said “Kashmir has contributed enormously to Indian literature. Its noteworthy contribution is in four fields, history, grammar, poetics and literature. Western scholars have often said that Indians had been lacking in historical sense. Infact there are no works in the ancient period that can truly be said to be historical except the Rajatarangini of Kalhana.” Patnaik praised Head of the Department of Sanskrit Prof S. Razdan for holding the conference with such a huge participation of delegates from outside state.

While inaugurating the inaugural session of the Conference Minister for Higher Education, J&K State AG Malik said “There is a need for coordination between the institutes of oriental studies and organization and various departments of the University like Iqbal Institute of Cultural Philosophy, Sheikh-ul-Alam Centre, Sanskrit and other such departments so that research is done on the great works of orientalists and their contribution to the society.”

“Besides” Malik added “There is also the need to present the huge and extensive study material which would be presented during the 3-day conference to the relevant quarters with recommendations which would bring to fore those areas where focus is needed to improve the overall academic and research atmosphere in higher institutes of learning.”

Speaking on the occasion Vice Chancellor University of Kashmir Prof Talat who was presiding over the inaugural session said that it is a matter of great pride for the University of Kashmir to host the 46thsession of the All India Oriental Conference which has brought around 3000 delegates from different regions, linguistics, cultures and corners of the country together on a single platform.

Prof Talat said “I would like to use this opportunity to apprise the delegates and executive members of AIOC about the rich heritage of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and I would like to suggest them to hold one of the sessions of AIOC in Ladakh region in future which has a great Buddhist culture.”

Renowned Orientalist, Prof. Finn Thesien who delivered the key note address on “Oriental studies in a globalised world” said that the biggest challenge which the contemporary orientalists are facing today is to preserve the rich culture, tradition and ethos of the great civilizations of the world and the contribution which the orientalists of the past have made in reviving the glory of these civilizations.

Others who spoke on the occasion include Prof Satyavrata Shastri, Prof Hamidi kashmiri and Prof Ved Kumari Ghai.

Several Sanskrit publications were also released by the dignitaries on the occasion.

Earlier welcoming the delegates, head of the Department of Sanskrit Prof S. Razdan said “The department received 2300 abstracts on various subjects related to the Oriental Studies. The objective of the seminar is to bring fragmented studies in various oriental learning on the same platform.”

“The All India Oriental Conference has served as the national forum of scholars interested in orient logy over the last nine decades since its inception in year 1919. The University of Kashmir is honored to host this mega event for second time, after a gap of 48 years,” added Prof Razdan.

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