There has been a growing interest in Indological studies in almost all Universities and Academic Centres in the East and the West alike. The Centre for Indological Studies and Research of the Institute is also gaining importance in studies and research work in Bharatatattva (Indology). In order to maintain, foster and promote the studies of Indology, the Centre provides guidance to a number of Indian and foreign scholars.
The Centre has been conducting Bharatatattva course since the year 2000. The course aims at giving the participants a deeper understanding of Indology in its spiritual, social, political and economic dimensions. The course has created interest among the public eager to know about the rich heritage of Indian culture, its different facets and also their relevance in today’s context.
This handbook containing the lecturers delivered by the professors renowned in their respective fields in Bharatatattva will be of much help to the participants of the course as a study guide and as a ready reference for those who have completed the course. Those persons who are interested in Bharatatattva in general may also find the lectures useful.
We are thankful to Professor Radharaman Chakrabarti, Smt Monica Sengupta and Sri Pradyot Ganguly for their enormous endeavour to bring out the Handbook. We also extend our thanks to some of the students of Indology who have helped in publishing the volume. Our thanks also to Sri Rajesh Thakkar who has designed the cover page of the Handbook.
Publication of this companion volume to the earlier one on Bharatatattva reflects the progressive accretion of study materials as the course in Indology was being offered at the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture since the academic session 2000-2001. The present compilation is based, as was the previous one, on the lectures delivered by eminent scholars – each in his/her field of specialization.
Admittedly, the course encompasses a vast and variegated field corresponding to the many sided developments in the cultural, spiritual and social achievements of India throughout the ages. Obviously, lectures delivered over a ten-month period can only encapsulate the basic element of this splendid march of a glorious civilization. While essential details are, to the extent possible, incorporated in the lectures, the discourses are mainly focused on the positive and time-tested output of the endeavours going on in this pluricultural land of ours.
Papers presented in this volume deal with the sacred literature of ancient India, the exquisite literary genius that flourished in the post-Vedic period and of course, the rich philosophical tradition so assiduously built up by so many schools of thinkers. To turn to the changing panorama, a section is devoted to the Bhakti movement and the cultural significance of pilgrimage in the Indian context.
As against these developments, the role of social, political and economic agencies also demand special and critical attention. It is really exciting to examine how thoughts and institutions prescribed and, in turn, got conditioned by the practice and customs in their bewildering variety throughout the length and breadth of the country. They also invite a comparison with the modern conditions in which we find ourselves and which arouse an irrepressible wish to restore some, if not all, of what has been left behind.
Carrying as it does all these precious products so lucidly presented by scholars of great standing, the present volume should bring lots of benefit to the interested learners of Indology. Personally I count myself among those fortunate ones to be associated with this programme and particularly for having been given the responsibility of editing the papers, notwithstanding my limited competence. I am grateful to the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture and especially to Secretary Maharaj, Swami Prabhanandaji, for giving me this unique opportunity.
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