newsletter (fwd)

Mary McGee mm383 at columbia.edu
Thu Feb 13 15:35:02 EST 1997


Someone asked for a summary of the World Sanskrit Conference and I am
taking the liberty of sharing with you a summary written by Dr. Gary Tubb
of Columbia University which will be published in the Spring 1997
Newsletter of the Dharam Hinduja Indic Research Center, Columbia
University.  
---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Fri, 7 Feb 97 11:59:54 EST


World Sanskrit Conference Held in Bangalore
by Gary A. Tubb
Columbia University

The Xth World Sanskrit Conference was held January 3-9 in Bangalore,
India.  This was the Silver Jubilee meeting of the Conference, which is
convened every three years in a different part of the world, and which
had not met in India since the Vth World Sanskrit Conference in Varanasi
fifteen years ago.   

The conference is an activity of the International Association of
Sanskrit Studies, whose President, Professor R. K. Sharma, is also the
Director of the Dharam Hinduja International Centre of Indic Research in
Delhi.  In addition to his constant duties as working president of the
conference, Professor Sharma spoke in his rich and eloquent Sanskrit at
several plenary sessions, and delivered a major address at the Inaugural
Session held in the main hall of the state legislative assembly in the
Vidhana Soudha and attended by the Prime Minister of India and the Chief
Minister of Karnataka.

The academic, cultural, and social programs of the conference took place
mostly in the new facilities of the Taralabalu Kendra, headed by Dr. 
Shivamurthy Swamiji, who was Honorary President of the Organising
Committee.  Over two thousand delegates attended the conference, including
hundreds of scholars from countries outside India.  Academic papers were
presented in concurrent sessions arranged in twenty-two topical sections
covering every aspect of Sanskrit studies.  The academic sessions were
conducted in both English and Sanskrit, with each language accounting for
about half of the papers and discussions. 

The massive job of organizing so much activity had been planned with
considerable ingenuity.  A scheme of assigning each paper presentation
to a particular time slot was designed to make it possible for attendees
to move from one section to another so as to hear selected papers on
different topics during a single session.  

Some of the excellent planning for the conference proved difficult to
execute in practice, when very large numbers of previously unexpected
delegates showed up at the last minute.  The resulting interchanges
added considerably to an atmosphere of vivacity already established by
the presence of marching bands, construction crews, and a live elephant
on full-time duty at the foot of the red carpet leading into the main
hall.  This huge influx may or not not have been partially provoked by
the promise of free food, but it certainly made all the more remarkable
the fact that excellent food and other services were actually delivered
to extensive crowds.  

The presence of such large numbers of Indian scholars at the conference
also helped to make the meeting a uniquely valuable occasion, especially
for the scholars who had come from outside India.  The Pandita Parisad
or session of traditionally-trained Sanskrit-speaking scholars that ran
concurrently with the other academic meetings was exceptionally
vigorous, and lively discussions in both Sanskrit and English between
foreign professors and Indian shastris were frequent in the question
periods following the presentation of each paper.  More generally, the
conference provided unparalleled opportunities for interchange between
scholars of Sanskrit from all parts of the world and with all kinds of
cultural and academic backgrounds.  It was perhaps the largest
international collection of such scholars the world has seen.

The next meeting of the World Sanskrit Conference, three years from now,
will be held in Turin, Italy.







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