“ Can you all see me?” asked Sheila Dixit of the audience as she positioned herself behind the rather high lectern on the rostrum before she addressed the jam-packed Plenary Hall of the Vigyan Bhawan. It was the inaugural session of the three-day International Veda Sammelan that the Chief Minister of Delhi was addressing as the Chairperson of the Delhi Sanskrit Academy. Her sense of humour in having a dig at her diminutive figure indeed amused the Sanskrit scholars who had come from all over the world. Some chuckled and some laughed. Indeed everyone was aware of her giant-size status in the political arena and her acumen in winning elections every time the opposition tested her popularity at the hustings. Anyway, here she was wearing a different hat, the Vedic one.
It was Dr Karan Singh, the Philosopher-King as per the concept of Acharya Chanakya of Bharat and Plato of Greece, the aging but energetic and suave former Prince and Sadre Riyasat of Jammu and Kashmir, later a Union Minister in the Indira Gandhi cabinet, who walked away with the cake. He charmed the audience comprising men and women, young and old, tilakdhari pundits and jeans clad youngsters with his chanting of Ved mantras, recitation of shlokas and sprinkling of spice on the goings on in the Sansad despite exhortations from the Upanishads inscribed in bold letters at the entrance to the Central Hall. He referred to the inclusiveness of the Vedic Philosophy where prayers are said for one and all; never of a segment of the society. He recited:
“AYAM NIJ PAROVETI, GADANA LAGHU CHETSAM
UDAR CHARITANAM TU VASUDHAIV KUTUMBAKAM”
What more one needs for guidance in making the world a global village?
The Vedic scholar in him was manifest in his words and deeds. He recounted all that he had done to make Sanskrit a language par excellence in reaching one and all on a pan-Indian basis. May be on an international plane thereafter, he added.
Now it was Sheila Dixit’s turn to recount what all the Delhi Government had done to popularize the Dev Bhasha and making it a Lok Bhasha. The founding of the Delhi Sanskrit Academy was just the right step in the right direction. She had nice words to say about the good work being done by Dr Shashi Prabha Kumar, the Vice-Chairman of the Sanskrit Academy, Head of the Sanskrit Department in the Jawaharlal Nehru University. An Arya Samajist and a Sanskrit scholar of repute, Shashi Prabha had been introducing the guests in between in Sanskrit and her melodious voice attracted the attention of the entire audience.
Dr Dharmendra Kumar, Sachiv of the Sanskrit Academy received lavish praise from the Chief Minister herself for making the present Confluence a grand success. Indeed Dharmendra Ji had been burning the midnight oil night after night planning and paying attention to the minutest details. The good result was there for everyone to see. By the way, he is a product of the Arsh Gurukul run by the Arya Samaj and his fluency in chaste spoken Sanskrit is a legacy of the Vedic tradition stated by Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati, founder of the Arya Samaj and a socio-religious reformer of repute of the 19th century Bharat.
The participation in the Ved sammelan by a large number of ladies and their erudition is a legacy of the Great Rishivar, Dayanand Saraswati who brought the Vedic knowledge out of the closets and made it available to the entire humanity without discrimination on basis of sex, caste or creed, region, race or religion. Ms Nandita Shastri of the Panini Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Vedwati Vaidik, Dr Shashi Tewari, not forgetting Dr Shashi Prabha Kumar are some of the jewels in the crown of Sanskrit who were born and brought up in the Vedic way of life as propounded by Maharishi Dayanand. Lack of space forbids me from enlarging the list of women Vedic scholars who presented papers reflecting their erudition.
Dr Dharmendra Kumar presented two scholars who were slated to present special programmes. Professor Roop Kishor Shastri , Sachiv of the Sandipani Rashtriya Ved Pratishthan, spoke from his heart and indeed touched the hearts of large audience. He is also a product of the Aarsh Gurukul and was Head of the Ved Vibhag of the Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya before taking up the present assignment. An ardent Arya Samajist himself, he takes pains in popularizing the VEDAS all over the country by opening appropriate teaching-learning institutions from Kashmir to Kany Kumari and Kamrup to Kutch. He has been painstakingly getting funds released from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India to give handsome scholarships to deserving Sanskrit students.
Prof Roop Kishor narrated his experiences in the field and exhorted others to follow suit. He spoke in Hindi to reach the wider audience of students assembled there who had love for Sanskrit but were yet to attain the high proficiency to speak or understand the fluently spoken Sanskrit. The change of language paid rich dividends and the listeners flocked to him as he descended the rostrum.
Mr Justice Mukundkam Sharma who demited office of Chief Justice of a High Court has great love for Sanskrit. He attends all conferences and seminars for promotion of the language. However, since he expressed his thoughts in English, the listeners said that it went over their heads.
Dr Uma Vaidya, Vice-Chancellor of a University in Nagpur made a power presentation on popularizing Sanskrit and making it the lingua franca of the masses of Bharat. Her suggestions were well received by the audience. Some of the projects are still at the experimental stage and we await the findings with baited breath.
Professor Kiran Walia the Education Minister of the Delhi Government thanked the scholars who had come from far and wide to participate in the International Conference and were set to present their papers in the post-lunch session in various committee rooms. Prof Kiran Walia made a welcome announcement of opening a Sanskrit Pustakalaya where scholars may visit and read rare but valuable books at their convenience. The project will cost two and a half crore rupees that stands sanctioned. She said that she had the Chief Minister’s nod to announce that it would be named as UMASHANKAR DIKSHIT PUSTAKALAYA. The old timers may recall that the man of erudition and a lover and promoter of Sanskrit was a Union cabinet minister for many years and was known for his integrity and efficiency.
The Inaugural Session came to a close with a Vote of Thanks by Dr Dharmendra, the moving spirit behind this colossal project of organizing the International Ved Sammelan under the auspices of the Delhi Sanskrit Academy. The finale was the Rahtra Gaan, Jana Gana Man. May ISHWAR shower His blessings on the Sanskrit Academy so that the Amrit Bhasha becomes language of the masses.
AUM SHANTIH SHANTIH SHANTIH
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