The proceedings of the international conference on Mahabharatam held at Tirupati from 7th to 11th January 2014

The proceedings of the international conference on Mahabharatam held at Tirupati from 7th to 11th January 2014

The international conference on ‘Mahabharatam’ (ICM) was held at Tirupati from 7th to 11th January 2014. It was to be held in September 2013 but postponed two times due to the Samaikyandhra (unification) agitation[1] after the announcement of the bifurcation of the State into two as “Telingana” and “Seemanthara”. Of course, this agitation was going on here even in July 2013, when I came to attend the 42nd session of the conference organized by the Indian Association for American Studies[2] and hosted by the department of History of Sri Venkateswara University. The delegates were accommodated at Vishnu Nivasam, just opposite to the Railway station.

Vishnu nivasam - details

Vishnu nivasam – details

In fact at that time it was announced that it was postponed indefinitely. Then after a long time, the organizers announced to the registered delegates that it would be held in January 2014. In fact, it was rather continued after the 38th session of Andhra Pradesh History Congress (held on January 4th and 5th, as I could notice, as nothing was changed except the banners, as everything remained the same[3].

Oriental research Institute building

Oriental research Institute building

The ICM was organized and conducted by the Oriental Research Institute (ORI) of Sri Venkateswara University in collaboration with the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD). The delegate fees for the outstation delegates was Rs 1,500/- and for local delegates Rs. 1,000/- At room.no.530, one representative of the organizers, Sri Buwaneswaran was sitting and distributing the room keys after collection of caution deposit of Rs 500/- towards the lock and keys. From Vishnu Nivasam, they were taken to the building where the ORI is situated, that is nothing but the same building where the Department of Ancient history, culture and archaeology is also there that hosted the APHC session. The delegates were divided into Sanskrit, Telugu and English with prefixed numbers denoting the language in which the papers were presented.

The delegates were divided into Sanskrit, Telugu and English with prefixed numbers denoting the language

The delegates were divided into Sanskrit, Telugu and English with prefixed numbers denoting the language

A Souvenir containing the abstracts of the papers was published and distributed to the delegates.

Kit collection desk

Kit collection desk

The delegates had come from the different states of India, however, I could not find any foreign delegate, though one summary-paper was found in the souvenir[4].

Sri Jayendra Saraswati, Peetathipati of Kamakoti Mutt came to bless the conference.

Acharyas and VIPs on the stage during the inauguration

Acharyas and VIPs on the stage during the inauguration

The inaugural session of the five-day conference conducted under the joint aegis of Sri Venkateswara University’s Oriental Research Institute (ORI) and Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) saw “inspiring speeches” of bringing in cultural renaissance by popularising the epic at the the Srinivasam Hall on 07-01-2014 (as reported by “The Hindu”). As I could notice the students of the local colleges were more than the delegates as happened in APHC. But for the presence of the three Acharyas, the proceedings remained the same during the inauguration function.

Acharyas and VIPs on the stage during the inauguration

Acharyas and VIPs on the stage during the inauguration

SVU Vice-Chancellor W. Rajendra in his presidential address felt that the Indian society was yet to realize the full potential of the Mahabharata, though the spiritual message in various texts had come out in the form of management lessons. Briefing about the conference, he invited the delegates. He came with his wife just like other government officials. Probably, they were eager to get blessings of the Acharyas came there.

Mahabharat Tirupati inauguration - courtesy The Hindu

Mahabharat Tirupati inauguration – courtesy The Hindu

ORI Director V.Venkataramana Reddy explained the conference objectives. He invited –

  1. Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, pontiff of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam,
  2. S.A.R.P.V. Chaturvedi, founder of Sri Ramanuja Mission Trust and
  3. Kandukuri Sivananda Murty  besides others in Sanskrit, Telugu and English and

sometimes singing also i.e, his inviting speech was in Sanskrit reading from his notes.

Sri Jayendra Saraswati was given traditional welcome with Purnakumbam

Sri Jayendra Saraswati was received after coming out of his vehicle

Sri Jayendra Saraswati was received after coming out of his vehicle – Venkata Ramana Reddy can be seen.

Jayendra Saraswati surrounded by the delegates and others

Jayendra Saraswati surrounded by the delegates and others

Sri Jayendra Saraswati surrounded with delegates and others

Sri Jayendra Saraswati

Sri Jayendra Saraswati

Sri Jayendra Saraswati coning towards the Srinivasam Hall.

Sri Jayendra Saraswati was given traditional welcome

Sri Jayendra Saraswati was given traditional welcome

Sri Jayendra Saraswati was given traditional welcome

Sri Jayendra Saraswati was given traditional welcome

Sri Jayendra Saraswati was given traditional welcome

Sri Jayendra Saraswati was given traditional welcome with Purnakumbam.

Sri Jayendra Saraswati was given traditional welcome with Purnakumbam

Sri Jayendra Saraswati was given traditional welcome with Purnakumbam

Sri Jayendra Saraswati was given traditional welcome with Purnakumbam and taken inside the hall.

Coming to the podium

Coming to the podium

Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, pontiff of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam[5], called the grand epic a ‘colossal container of divine wisdom’ which should be passed on to posterity with the wisdom intact. “We have to make short moral stories from Mahabharata for the benefit of children. As western education does not augur well for the country, it is essential to bring the wisdom to the reach of children in order to bring the nation on a virtuous path”, he said. He elaborated talking in Telugu, “In Mahabharatam everything is there. Children should be taught about Mahabharatam. Then only our nation would develop, people change and prosperity come. I told that I would come here and I have come here to inaugurate the conference. I bless the proceedings of the conference”.

Lamping by Sri Sadananda Murthy

Lamping by Sri Sadananda Murthy

Calling India the ‘cradle of spiritual civilisation’, S.A.R.P.V. Chaturvedi, founder of Sri Ramanuja Mission Trust, spoke on making available the spiritual values enshrined in epics in simplified form for the benefit of the unlettered masses. “Mere appreciation of the content is of no use. One must have faith in it, draw inspiration from it and undergo transformation”. He pointed out that Bhagawatgita can be understood in the following three axioms:

  1. Charanam vraja = “You surrender” Lord Krishna says.
  2. Karishye vachanam tava = “I follow according to what you say” Arjuna resp;onds surrendering.
  3. Ma suchaha = “I protect you” Lord Krishna auures.

While narration of epics is easy, inculcation of values is a challenging task, he said. He was delving upon many points, mostly, of spirituality, but very verbose. He was talking taking more time than others and also delving on so many other issues. The organizers and others tried to prompt and perhaps, he had to stop. Realizing the hint, he stopped his speech. But, suddenly, he stood up and started going away from the stage. His followers sitting behind also moved away with him. However, Sri Jayendra Saraswathi honoured them with the shawls. Some local papers also reported about his sudden exit, as “staging some sort of walk out”.

S.A.R.P.V. Chaturvedi, founder of Sri Ramanuja Mission Trust, spoke on making available the spiritual values

S.A.R.P.V. Chaturvedi, founder of Sri Ramanuja Mission Trust, spoke on making available the spiritual values

Daguru Kandukuri Sivananda Murty, Peetathipathi, Sri Saiva Maha Peetham and Spiritual orator gave the key-note address[6]. His speech deviated from his printed one appearing in the souvenir, but delving much on the matter that was well-known to all. He was still harping on the same old issues that were based on the hypotheses and theories.

Welcome to Acharyas and VIPs at the entrance of Srinivasam Hall

Welcome to Acharyas and VIPs at the entrance of Srinivasam Hall

TTD Executive Officer M.G. Gopal spoke on the identity crisis facing mankind. “Having completed a full circle, the technologically-advanced man is now looking to spiritual solutions to treat the ills plaguing the society”, he said, hinting at the need for a new stream of knowledge touching both the realms. Talking in English and congratulating the organizers, he pointed out that the present generation might think and ask what is the use of reading epics, puranas etc., therefore, they should be taught and inculcated the values enshrined in them.

News cutting report

News cutting report

Then Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, pontiff of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam blessed the speakers on the podium with Angavasthirams.

Sectional view of the audience during the inaugural function

Sectional view of the audience during the inaugural function

SVU Rector M.A.K. Sukumar, Registrar K. Satyavelu Reddy and SVU College of Arts principal D.Kirankranth Choudary were among the participants[7]. Speakers at the international conference on ‘Mahabharatam’ on 07-01-2014 (Tuesday) gave a clarion call to educationalists, researchers and policymakers to use the essence of the grand epic ‘Mahabharata’ to make the society a better place[8]. In general, they were repeating the same ideas, points and subject-matter again and again, instead of conveying something new attractive to the young audience gathered there.


[4] Nicolas de Jenne, The Contribution of French Indologist Smt Madeleine Biardeau (1922-2010) to Mahabharata studies, p.19

[5] He himself organized an international conference on Mahabharatam in 2003 in Chennai for six days. Many delegates had come from the SEA countries presenting papers. Dr R. Nagaswamy was the co-ordinator.

http://www.hindu.com/2003/12/25/stories/2003122505590800.htm

[6] It is printed in the souvenir, pp.1-5 of the introduction.

[7] The Hindu, TIRUPATI, January 8, 2014,

6 Responses

  1. […] The proceedings of the international conference on Mahabharatam held at Tirupati from 7th to 11th Ja… […]

  2. useful information, your comments excelled as more than
    a news editor.

  3. Definitely, Mahabharata has been a living epic of India and it contains everything that is required for Indians.

    Now also, Indians have to learn a lot from it.

    Historical studies could be updated with the critical edition of Mahabharata, as it could solve many riddles of Indian history.

  4. Thank you.

    Have you attended this conference?

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