Day 10, Session 1: Round Up
Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh
The great seer-poets – Vyasa, Valmiki, and Kalidasa – have a great emotional connect with the readers. The fear of getting lost, the fear of being unrecognized – these melt away upon reading these classics. We have the great solace of agreement and enjoyment. This gives us belongingness without burden and thus we develop a joyful indebtedness towards them. Dr. Ganesh reminded the participants that if one can enjoy something, it becomes new and if one cannot enjoy something, it becomes old. In this sense, our great epics and the works of Kalidasa are ever-new. The scope of art is far bigger than the scope of material reality and therefore the focus is on possibility rather than probability. After all, the world is ruled by emotions and not by intellect.
Dr. Ganesh spoke about one of his experiences when he was a visiting faculty at NIMHANS in Bangalore, lecturing about Indian philosophy and culture. The vice-chancellor, who regularly attended his lectures, once told him that in modern psychology, the focus is more on finding out why someone has an unstable mind and how to help him or her get back to normal; it has rarely been on understanding sane minds and the nature of happiness.
These great poets have so much to give to the readers. For instance, reading a Sanskrit play is fulfilling in itself, for even the stage directions are included in the play in the form of poetry. Unlike modern plays, which can only be enjoyed when enacted on stage, the Sanskrit plays give enjoyment upon reading. The great poets help the readers transcend the fast-paced life, thus connecting us with our own selves. They give us not only the experience of pure joy but also inculcate in us immense emotional resilience.
Dr. Ganesh mentioned that the Indian Council of Philosophical Research has befittingly supported this Summer School because it is philosophy that is at the root of these epics. The composers of these works were philosopher-poets. While the philosophy in the West is driven by enquiry, our philosophy is aimed at ananda. Philosophers like Shankara, Ramanuja, and Madhva have extensively quoted from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata; so also Nageshabhatta, Kumarilabhatta, Appayyadikshita, Nilakanthadikshita, etc.
Dr. Ganesh concluded by saying that if we wish to transfer this to our next generation, it is possibly only through experience transfer and not by the transfer of information.
Day 10, Session 2: Valedictory
After an invocation song by Trisha Udumudi, CIF Trustee N M Sundar welcomed everyone. The academic coordinator of the Summer School, Arjun Bharadwaj, presented the academic report of the ten-day workshop.
Arjun mentioned that the idea for the Vyasa-Valmiki-Kalidasa summer school came up after Kalayoga (Summer School 2016) in a discussion with Swami Advayananda. While the previous year’s workshop dealt with the basics of aesthetics, this year’s workshop was an elaboration of that theme by using practical examples from literature. Who better than Vyasa, Valmiki, Kalidasa, and Gunadhya for such an undertaking!
Arjun pointed out that the purpose of Indian philosophy and classical art is the pursuit of joy. While the Joy that is derived from the pursuit of philosophy is an eternal one, the joy from pursuing the arts, although ephemeral gives us a glimpse of the former. Rasananda therefore serves as an empirical proof for the existence of Brahmaananda and gives us confidence that the latter is something that can be actualized in our lives. Vyasa, Valimiki and Kalidasa are not merely poets, but are seer-poets, they are rishis. Vyasa, the philosopher, earned his name as he reorganized the Vedas, which form the bedrock of Indian culture and philosophy. He was the author of the Bhagavad-Gita, an integral part of his epic. His creative genius made him integrate his philosophical background with a keen observation of human emotions to give birth to his magnum opus, the Mahabharata. The Ramayana too has several passages that touch upon Vedanta. Kalidasa has eulogized the trimurti – Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva in his works and sees oneness in them; they are but manifestations of sat-chit-ananda, the para-brahman. Arjun observed that it is thus apt for a philosophical research council such as the ICPR to fund the summer school and expressed his gratitude for their generous grant.
The works of Vyasa, Valmiki and Kalidasa find their relevance today as they delineate universal human emotions. Several generations of humans have gone but the nature of their emotions have remained the same. As long as our emotions are relevant to us, the work of these poets find their relevance. Arjun pointed out that the very fact that so many participants had assembled and their interest in studying the works sustained for ten days was a sign of the joy derived out of reading the works of these poets. Although Gunadya’s work, the Brhatkatha is lost today, his tradition has remained in the Indian cultural spirit. It is like the lost river Sarasvati, whose presence is felt in spirit at the confluence of two rivers, as a third, hidden river. Panchatantra, Hitopadesha, Jataka tales, and other works are reflections of Gunadhya’s work. Valmiki, Vyasa, and Gunadhya are like the three great rivers – Ganga, Yamuna, and Sarasvati; and Kalidasa is the boatman who, with his creative genius, helps navigate through their works and explore their depths.
Arjun spoke about the contribution of the resource faculty as well as the guest faculty. The resource faculty were: the academic director, Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh; Shashi Kiran B N; and Arjun Bharadwaj. The guest faculty included Ramaa Bharadvaj, Dr. Nagavalli Nagaraj, Nirupama and Rajendra, and Smt. Anupama Hosakere. Hari Ravikumar (Consulting Editor: Philosophy, Prekshaa) was the observer of the Summer School, who prepared summaries of each day's sessions and posted the same on Prekshaa. Apart from performance from the faculty members, there were performances by the participants, who numbered more than 55. The Kavyasamskritam sessions conducted by Shashi and Arjun in tandem helped participants appreciate Sanskrit poetry better and stressed about the aesthetic value of the Sanskrit langue and helped get rid of some of the illusions people have about Sanskrit. The workshop also included a day trip to the Hill Palace in Tripunithura.
Certificates were handed over to all the participants and the valedictory ended with Dr. Arundhati Sundar offering the vote of thanks.
Cover photo courtesy Chinmaya International Foundation.
Team Prekshaa was privileged to be the academic partner to the Summer School and share the summaries of each day's session on the website.