IIT Roorkee-MITSVS Workshop

Workshop on “How to Study Indic Sources: The Anatomy of Indic Scientific Texts” Organized on 14-15th October 2017 at IIT Roorkee

A 2-day (15-hour) workshop was held jointly by Sanskrit Club at IIT Roorkee and MIT School of Vedic Sciences (MITSVS). Dr Shrinivasa Varakhedi, Vice-chancellor of Kavikulaguru Kalidasa Sanskrit University, Nagpur was the instructor, while Prof. Sai Susarla, Dean, MITSVS, Pune was present to coordinate the workshop.

Rationale: Indic scientific texts have their own beauty and cover an extensive knowledge base. In order to understand them properly, it is necessary to acquire certain tools and understanding of their basic structure. Due to the long disconnect with Samskrit and India’s Vedic knowledge, there is a clear gap between modern Samskrit literature enthusiasts and Samskrit texts. This workshop endeavours to bridge this gap.

Day-I: Prof N P Padhy, Dean of Academic Affairs, IIT Roorkee was the chief guest for the inaugural session, which began with lighting the lamp and simultaneous chanting of Ekatmata Mantra. The workshop started with a brief introduction of all the knowledge resources in Samskrit such as Vedas, Agamas, Shastras, Puranas, Granthas. etc. As Vedas are considered to be the primary source of knowledge in Indic knowledge system, the methodology to understand Vedas was described. Six parts of Vedas, known as Vedangas, were elaborated.

Thereafter, the structure and characteristics of Shastras were described, highlighting the fact that their underlying philosophy is the same as that of modern science, with the addition of a lot more flexibility. Another important feature of Shastras is that they are descriptive in nature, not prescriptive, which means that they do not force the reader to accept a school of thought. Instead, they give certain ways to achieve definite goals. Moreover, they describe the natural behavior of subjects and the ways to deal with them in case of unexpected deviations. The session also explained the fact that unlike modern sciences, Shastras explain things keeping in mind a particular eligible seeker or Adhikari. While describing anything, the needs of the reader are always kept in mind, which is missing in today’s objective science.

The next session elaborated the concepts of Dharmi and Dharma. While, Dharmi is the object around which the description revolves, Dharma is the inherent property of that object. Dharma in this context can be Nirakansha Dharma and Sakansha Dharma. This was followed by a Q&A session and Shanti Mantra.

Day-II: The first session discussed Indian Nyaya Shastra and centuries of Shastrarth tradition. The ancient Indian logic system and the way through which any issue is analyzed is called Mimamsa. The necessary condition to conduct ‘Mimamsa’ of some matter is that there must be a point of dispute, based on certain assumptions. This methodology contains 3 parts; viz. Purva Paksha, Uttar Paksha and Siddhanta. While Purva Paksha denies certain theories with examples and logic, Uttar Paksha replies to the counter-arguments raised in Purva Paksha. Finally, Siddhanta is the conclusion. While explaining the centuries-old Shastrarth tradition, the features of Shastrarth between Adi Shankaracharya and Mandan Mishra were described.

Output: After the exhaustive work of 2 days, workshop participants with no Samskrit background were comfortably able to understand the Samskrit description of Shastrarth tradition. In all, 25 B.Tech. students, including a couple of foreign students, and 5 faculty participated in the workshop.

Certificates were distributed to participants by Prof B K Mishra, Dean of Faculty Affairs, IIT Roorkee, during the valedictory function. He also delivered the keynote address on the occasion. Prof Anil Kumar Gourishetty, Coordinator of Sanskrit Club, IIT Roorkee, delivered the vote of thanks, which was followed by the chanting of Shanti Mantra.