The Mahabharatam conference concluded at Tirupati on 11th January 2014 that started on 7th – the proceedings (3)

The Mahabharatam conference concluded at Tirupati on 11th January 2014 that started on 7th – the proceedings (3)

 

Manohar (the driver), K. V. Ramakrishna Rao (myself), Venkatesh (transport coordinator)

Manohar (the driver), K. V. Ramakrishna Rao (myself), Venkatesh (transport coordinator)

The first two postings of the conference have been posted under captions as follows and their internet links are given in the footnotes:

 

  1. The proceedings of the international conference on Mahabharatam held at Tirupati from 7th to 11th January 2014[1].
  2. The International conference on Mahabharatam held at Tirupati from 7th to 11th January 2014 – the proceedings (2)[2].

 

On the last day of the conference, the vehicle came to Vishnu Nivasam by 8.40am and the transport co-coordinator Sri Venkatesh, as he himself introduced so, had been indifferent in informing the delegates about the schedule. He said that the persons in Room.no.530 were informed about it and they would have in turn informed the delegates in the rooms. By 9.00 slowly the delegates started coming out. The Bengali group came from Calcutta immediately started enquiring about “Tirucchanur” and went away leaving only dozen delegates to reach the conference venue. The dozen delegates were taken to the venue for breakfast and further proceedings of the day.

 

Vishnu Nivasam - the majestic, grand and God's gift, where the delegates were accommodated

Vishnu Nivasam – the majestic, grand and God’s gift, where the delegates were accommodated

Last day paper-reading sessions (11-01-2014): The crowd, seen at the breakfast, was not seen at the paper-reading session. In fact, one of the organizers was questioning the registered delegates of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Tirupati as to why and how they were coming and going without attending the sessions[3]. As few paper-presenters were there, there was delay in deciding to hold the sessions. Therefore, all the three sections were decided to be held at nearby places instead of the printed schedule. Thus, the Sanskrit and Telugu sections continued at the ORI Hall and SVU Arts block Auditorium and the English was accommodated at one class room of ORI, first floor. 5-7 delegates were at the “Sanskrit”, 10-12 at the “English” and more than 50 in the “Telugu” sections. Neither of the Sanskrit or the Telugu paper presenters never cared to brief about their paper in English.  They were interested in presenting papers and going away. Only the outstation delegates (Calcutta and Chennai) were present to listen to them till valedictory function.

 

Narashiman, Gynana Prakash and others can be seen after breakfast on 11-01-2014

Narashiman, Gynana Prakash and others can be seen after breakfast on 11-01-2014

Narashiman, Gynana Prakash and others can be seen after breakfast on 11-01-2014 – the place of paper-presentation was discussed.

The building where Sanskrit and English sessions were held on 11-01-2014

The building where Sanskrit and English sessions were held on 11-01-2014

The building where Sanskrit and English sessions were held on 11-01-2014 – here, five institutes / centres have been accommodated – Department of Ancient History, Culture and Archaeology, ORI, Centre for Gandhian Studies, Centre for Human Rights and Centre for Peace and non-violence.

Delegates standing to go after confirmation of the hall

Delegates standing to go after confirmation of the hall

Delegates standing here and there to go after confirmation of the hall.

4-5 delegates sitting in the Sanskrit section on 11-01-2014 morning

4-5 delegates sitting in the Sanskrit section on 11-01-2014 morning

4-5 delegates sitting in the Sanskrit section on 11-01-2014 morning before the paper-presentation started.

4-5 delegates sitting in the Sanskrit section on 11-01-2014 morning during paper-presentation

4-5 delegates sitting in the Sanskrit section on 11-01-2014 morning during paper-presentation

4-5 delegates sitting in the Sanskrit section on 11-01-2014 morning during paper-presentation – the position did not change! The delegate who was sitting was now presenting his paper.

The sectional president Dr Krishna Reddy came by 9.48 am and thus he apologized for the delay and started presenting his paper

The sectional president Dr Krishna Reddy came by 9.48 am and thus he apologized for the delay and started presenting his paper Dr Krishna Reddy came by 9.48 am and thus he apologized for the delay and started presenting his paper “Influence of Mahabharat on inscriptions”. 

Dr Krishna Reddy came by 9.48 am and thus he apologized for the delay and started presenting his paper “Influence of Mahabharat on inscriptions”.

Krishna Reddy presenting paper at the English section

Krishna Reddy presenting paper at the English section

Krishna Reddy presenting paper at the English section – the sitting audience can also bee seen. Only 8 delegates were there and all were paper presenters!

Telugu section was held at SVU Arts block Auditorium where 34 delegates were there

Telugu section was held at SVU Arts block Auditorium where 34 delegates were there

Telugu section was held at SVU Arts block Auditorium where 34 delegates were there and it continued up to 1.30 pm. The paper-presenter was virtually giving some sort of religious discourse! Dr Sri Sayee Kamalakara Sharma was chairing the session.

Audience / delegates sitting at the Telugu section on 11-01-2014

Audience / delegates sitting at the Telugu section on 11-01-2014

The view of the audience from the podium and behind the paper-presenter at the Telugu section.

Audience / delegates sitting at the Telugu section on 11-01-2014

Audience / delegates sitting at the Telugu section on 11-01-2014

Audience / delegates sitting at the Telugu section on 11-01-2014 – another view.

Dr Mukharanna started but suddenly concluded!

Dr Mukharanna started but suddenly concluded!

Dr Mukharanna started but suddenly concluded! – he was presenting a paper on Swami Vivekananda and Bhagawat Gita.

The sticker pasted on the car provoked me and its presence here!

The sticker pasted on the car provoked me and its presence here!

The sticker pasted on the car with “International Conference on Mahabharatam” and “Dharmo rakshcita raksitaha” logo provoked me and its presence here!

The valedictory function was to be held at 11.00 am

The valedictory function was to be held at 11.00 am

Sessions started slowly, but completed by noon: The sectional president Dr Krishna Reddy came by 9.48 am and thus he apologized for the delay and started presenting his paper “Influence of Mahabharat on inscriptions”. Here, I asked him about the Aihole inscription mentioning about the date of Mahabharat, as he did not mention it. He accepted about the inscription. Two days back, when I pointed out about it, Dr Kiran Kranth Chaudary refuted that there was no such inscription[4]. Therefore, I questioned (Dr Krishna Reddy here) and he said the inscription was there. Of course, I too know that it is there. The point is why Dr Kiran Kranth Chaudary should have denied its existence.  Then, others followed the suit, but, they took more than 20 and 30 minutes, whereas, hitherto only 5 to 10 minutes were given. It is ironical that the abstract, discourse-sermon type papers were given more time and they went on reading without looking at the audience, talking repeating what others had already said, singing verses, showing off their eloquence of Sanskrit and Telugu languages instead of giving importance to the subject matter. Such type of scholars, pundits and sermonizers came in traditional dress with all paraphernalia, but wasted time in addressing the organizing to chairman and others and tanking all. After five minutes, they started introducing their subject matter, which was just rehash and then started reading their papers!

Vyasa Mahabharatam sidelined: None (with the exception of a few out of more than 500) bothered about the Vyasa Mahabharatam or the critical edition of BORI[5]. In the Telugu session, more than 90% depended upon only Telugu version and reciting telugu verses and poetry also. Some of them were performing some sort of religious discourses. Therefore, their presentation could not go with the textual, contextual, chronological and historical perspectives. One scholar at the Telugu session pointed out the irrelevance of the papers presented due to the lacking of authority, as the paper presenters resorted to present some sort of apocryphal stories. The rehashing exercises led to compound, confound, confuse, mix, and remix so many things without any plan or plane of reference in any angle. Had they followed the critical edition, the presentation would have led to some new interpretations, discoveries and solving the historical puzzles. Incidentally, in spite of the label “International Conference”, no foreign delegate was found, as has already been pointed out. Coming to the level of “National Conference”, the papers presented in Sanskrit and Telugu could not be followed by the delegates who do not follow or understand these two languages. In fact, the proceedings of the international conferences have to be conducted in English for understanding. Even national conferences have to be conducted in English, as delegates from different states of India do not know Sanskrit and Telugu[6].

 

1.Prof Samudram Lakshmayya, Special Invitee. 2.	Dr Kiran Kranth Chaudary. 3.	Dr Sathiyavelu Reddy, Registrar, Chief Guest.

1. Prof Samudram Lakshmayya, Special Invitee.
2. Dr Kiran Kranth Chaudary.
3. Dr Sathiyavelu Reddy, Registrar, Chief Guest.

The valedictory function held on 11-01-2014: The valedictory function was to be held at 11.00 am and the conference was to be wound up by lunch, but for the reasons (of course, the organizing director of ORI suddenly fell ill), it was started by 2.42 pm and concluded by 4.16 pm. Unlike the inaugural function, it was confined to the Senate Hall, where English section was held. Only the following were there to conclude the conference with the valediction:

 

  1. Prof Samudram Lakshmayya, Special Invitee.
  2. Dr Kiran Kranth Chaudary.
  3. Dr Sathiyavelu Reddy, Registrar, Chief Guest.

 

  Kiran Kranth Chaudary, Samudram Lakshmayya, Sathiyavelu Reddy addressing at the valedictory function

Kiran Kranth Chaudary, Samudram Lakshmayya, Sathiyavelu Reddy addressing at the valedictory function

Sri Gynana Prakash invited the delegates, informing that the Director Venkata Ramana Reddy suddenly developed fever running to 1040C and thus, he could not attendand asked Dr Kiran Kranth Chaudary to conduct the proceedings of the valediction. He was expressing that the conference went on smoothly and quickly without knowledge, deliberations went on well in all sections, and the food was tasteful for all delegates and so on. He congratulated the ORI members and staff for the successful conduct of the conference. He requested the delegates to point out the lapses, if any, so that they could be set right in future conferences.

Registrar’s generalized speech: Sri Sathiyavelu Reddy spoke that he understood that a lot of discussion had taken place in the proceedings. Recalled about the Acharyas important messages given during the inaugural session about the Mahabharat. He thanked the Director Venkata Ramana Reddy and his team for the successful conduct of the conference.

 

The view of the audience attending the Valedictory function out of more than 600 registered delegates

The view of the audience attending the Valedictory function out of more than 600 registered delegates

Advice to the researchers by the Special Invitee: Samudram Lakhamayya in his speech pointed out some nuances of Mahabharat critically. Expressing that “the Vedas are proof”, he said, “do thing that is applicable to human-beings and not any other thing” i.e, doing good thing to humanity is welcome in any form. Thus, the conduct of the conference was also a good thing, as Vedas had prescribed. “As Valmiki claimed that his work would be there as long as the mountains, rivers and other are on the earth, Vyasa also said as long as the human and moral values are there, his work would continue on the earth. We all know that the Mahabharta enlarged to the present version. Ramayana contains 24,000 verses, Mahabharat – 1,00,000 and Puranas – > 4,00,000. When modern facilities were not available, how could they have composed, written down and preserved among the humanity? Whjen 40 lakh soldiers were standing face to face to fight, how the two persons Krishna and Arjuna could have gone on discussing about philosophy on the battle field? Therefore, the Bhagawatgita was interpolated one into Maharabharata. Who gave authority to enlarge the text? God himself, because, Vyasa himself did that as per the directions of God for the welfare of the humanity[7]. Krishna claimed that he was Vyasa. Therefore, researchers should investigate the Mahabharat to bring out more truth about it, instead of worshipping it as “Panchama Veda”. (The Fifth Veda). [In fact, he has given the research methodology for the researchers in choosing the source material, consulting the primary sources and then come for paper presentation[8]].

 

Another view of the audience attending the Valedictory function out of more than 600 registered delegates

Another view of the audience attending the Valedictory function out of more than 600 registered delegates

The feedback, reaction and response of the delegates: As decided, he started calling names of the chosen delegates from his list to come and feedback. When the feedback, reaction and response of the delegates were called for, the following responded as follows:

 

Dr Mrs Ratna Basu, Calcutta: Her speech had been full of appreciation [Generally, those who were taken care of would not criticize the organizers, as has been the practice and I have been noticing this more than 35 years attending more than 500 national and international conferences, seminars, workshops etc.].

 

Yet another view of the audience attending the Valedictory function out of more than 600 registered delegates

Yet another view of the audience attending the Valedictory function out of more than 600 registered delegates

Dr Sri Sayee Kamalakara Sharma: He pointed out that more than 600 papers were presented and urged that they should be brought out in the form of book, after separating them into different groups. As many papers had been repetitive and not up to the mark, they should be thoroughly scrutinized, reviewed and edited before publication. Those papers which were not properly presented should be sent back for revision and resubmission. If some topics were left out, papers can be invited and included in the book. Just like the Mahabharata conference conducted for five days, a conference on the Puranas can be conducted and for 18 days, as each Purana could be discussed for one day [He was conducting the Telugu section and appreciating all paper presenters and papers positively. When I pointed out the critical edition should be followed to avoid repetition, chronological confusion etc., he defended that even for the Telugu versions critical editions should be prepared and papers presented. Except these two, the following delegates have responded differently as could be noted from their speech].

 

Yet another view of the audience attending the Valedictory function out of more than 600 registered delegates

Yet another view of the audience attending the Valedictory function out of more than 600 registered delegates

Dr Mrs Malayavilasini, Visakapatnam: “Really, it was strange that the conference was held for five days, when the marriages completed within five hours nowadays. Here, for paper presentation, it was unfortunate that only 5 minutes were given that was not at all enough[9]. If the organizers had already decided that only 5 to 10 minutes would be given for presentation, then they should have been asked to come with such summary earlier to comply with the time limits. Not only time factor, but also quality of papers was not good, as many papers delved upon the same subject again and again” [perhaps. She was given 5 to 10 minutes and thus, she pointed out, but, this has been the experience of others also. I was also given only the same time, though I touched upon historicity of Mahabharat].

 

Dr Mrs Sathyavani, Chennai: “One should tell that all is good, but also should tell that everything is not good. Therefore, I decided to tell the drawbacks observed in the conference, for which I seek the apology and indulgence from the organizers. I sat in all the Telugu, Sanskrit and English sections, but I found that paper-presenters were simply going out, the moment their papers were over. They should have courtesy to sit back and listen to others also. They should not behave in such manner, as if others did not have work or they were also in urgent and thus could have gone away, instead of sitting and listen to others. If anyone wanted to chide me on this account, he can and come do so, she challenged. Many papers were presented without any references or sources, ironically papers presented based on the stories of cinema, drama, TV serials and so on” [But, sizeable papers presented had been just on such topics without caring for the original source].

 

Sri Khetrapal Reddy, Student: “Many papers appreciated that Mahabharat contained everything and so on, but its other side also should subjected to study. He asserted that Mahabharata contained many blunders, mistakes and incorrect things, which also should be subjected to study and discuss. Claiming that he was questioning others in the session pointing out such blunders, he wanted that they should be distinguished for research separately” [he was talking something tangentially or keeping something in mind that was not revealed explicitly].

 

The other side of story of accommodation of papers: Responding to the criticism of the quality and quantity of the papers, Dr Kiran Kranth Chaudary confessed that there was a lot of pressure from VC, Registrar and others to accept papers of particular individuals and they had to accommodate. In fact, as I pointed out already, on p.no.101, there were 7 names listed, but their titles missing / not appearing, obviously, they did not sent or their names listed and accommodated, because they happened to be VIPs, e.g,  – the Liasion officer of Southern Railways, Managing Director of BASIL, Bangalore[10]. Even on last day, they received papers and they had to be accommodated them accordingly. Another representative of the organizers clarified that the recedived papers had been listed subject wise only, as could be noted from the “Schedule” booklet, but the papers received late, on spot-registration  and as well as from the “recommended categories” only disturbed the schedule confusing the subject wise categorization. Also, there were delegates, who wanted them to be accommodated on a first slot, so that they could present paper and go away on the pretext that they had to leave immediately, as they had to catch their train or bus.

 

Leaving Tirupati: After the valedictory session, the left-out delegates disappeared immediately as usual. The outstation delegates were waiting for the bus. They were informed that first the bus would come at Senate Hall then they informed it would come the venue where the valedictory function was held, but they were asked to go to the place where food was served. Sri Gynana Prakash contacted the driver and informed that the bus would come within ten minutes. After 15 minutes, some other person came and informed that the bus would come within 15 minutes! Already it was 4.50 pm. As the time was ticking away and my train was at 5.55 pm, I decided to take an auto and go. I went to Vishnu Nivasam by taking an auto, vacated the room immediately, retuned the key, and proceeded to station to catch my train. Sri Mukkaranna (a lecturers in Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidhyapeeth and nowadays I am meeting him in APHC etc) accompanied me till the train started moving.

Myself- sitting in the front row, taking photos and writing down the notes of the proceedings including this!

Myself- sitting in the front row, taking photos and writing down the notes of the proceedings including this!


[3] When enquired, it was learnt that they were working as teachers etc., in different organizations, schools etc. and as they did not give leave, they had to come for presentation and go away.

[4] He presented a paper on the sculptural representation of “Kritarjunaiyam” and dating thereof, chairing session at the Senate Hall. At that time, I asked him about the inscription and dating of the sculptures.

[6] Most of the proceedings were conducted in Telugu and the speakers also delivered their speeches in Telugu.

[7]  8,800 verses attributed to VyasaBharata with 24,000 verses as recited by Vaisampayana, and finally the Mahabharata as recited by Ugrasrava Sauti with over 100,000 verses.

[8] My comments are given in the square brackets.

[9] As mentioned elsewhere, some took more than half an hour, even though their papers had been of repetitive nature, rehashing and uninteresting.

[10] Perhaps, they might have sponsored something or donated for the souvenir etc.

3 Responses

  1. The frank and bold views expressed by the delegates are welcome and should be eye-opener for the organizers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: