The vision that inspires Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram
Individuals, Institutions and Nations have perished for want of a true and proper vision. No amount of affluence or military prowess can sustain them, if they have lost the vision. History of great nations bears testimony to this.
This is equally true about Centres of learning and institutions of creative intelligence. So long as the vision remains clear, the energy and dynamism needed to sustain them will continue to get generated and recharged.
Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram was born out of a great vision. Its feet are rooted in the past, but its sight is riveted on the future. Its horizon is global, but perspective is Indian with focused attention on Kerala. It is inspired by the Indian traditional respect for the quest for knowledge. It aspires to keep that quest alive and ever glowing.
India had always been the knowledge- destination of the world. The most famous Universities flourished in India much before the modern western Nations learned how to read and write. Thakshasila and Nalanda and quite a few others were great centres of learning where knowledge thirsty students flocked from faraway lands. Even at the regional levels there were smaller Universities – smaller in size, but not in calibre. These had their hey days much before Oxford & Cambridge had come into existence. American Universities are of much later origin.
Ancient Indian Universities grew up out of the vision of great Rishies, Sages, Saints and Scholars. Supported and patronized, not only by Kings and Emperors, but also by the surrounding community that virtually worshipped knowledge – The Goddess Saraswathy, they grew from strength to strength. It was the ardent faith of the people that knowledge is superior to wealth. “Nothing will refine and purify man better than true knowledge”, asserts Bhagavad Gita.
Acquisition and propagation of knowledge were not the only objectives of such centres of learning. To elevate and enlighten the people of the rest of the world was equally India’s concern. “Make the whole world great and noble” was the motto before the Sages and Saints of our Nation. With out-stretched arms they welcomed people from across the world to come and learn their lessons from Bharat. They kept the nation’s door open for such seekers and offered them warm hospitality.
They were embodiments of self-confidence and justifiably proud of their wealth of knowledge. Knowledge made them also humble. It taught them to see the limitations of their own knowledge. They knew very well that knowledge was not the monopoly of any country, be it their own. So they exhorted “Let noble thought come from the entire world”. Thus it was all a matter of give and take; but a general survey of the history of the world shows that India was the giver par excellence. She was the Jagad Guru, and the world acknowledged her as such. She was also like the Mother for the rest of humanity.
According to famous Historian, Will Durant:“ India was the mother of our race and Sanskrit the mother of Europe’s languages. India was the mother of our philosophy, of much of our mathematics, of self-government and democracy. In many ways Mother India is the mother of us all”.
With hoardes of barbarians descending on the great Nalanda University and putting it to fire and sword along with the community of its alumni, darkness was to engulf India. But that was not to happen so. A new light was lit by the divine hand of India’s destiny. The Bhakthi movement, believed to have originated in the south, swept across north India and kept the Bhakthi-Jnana combine, alive and vigorous. A host of God-intoxicated poets and singers, bards and preachers, traversed the entire length and breadth of India, quietly but effectively countering foreign cultural aggression.
The real challenge came with the western, particularly British, imperial domination. Worse than the cruel economic exploitation and political domination was the colonial indoctrination by foreign masters through a well-contrived educational system, built on the debris of India’s past and age-old network of education. It was meant to colonize the mind and brain of young India, with the help of the Christian missionary zeal backed by imperialists’ might and wealth. But again the genius of India rose up through a number of renaissance movements, each of which started its own educational institutions which sought to instill the spiritual and cultural vitality of India among the young generation. Arya Samaj, Sree Ramakrishna Mission, Brahma Samaj, Theosophical Society etc where some of them. The Gurukul Kangri. Santhi Nikethen and Viswabharathi, Rishi Valley schools, Sri Aurobindo centres of education, Benaras Hindu University, the network of national schools and colleges, etc where national efforts to manifest the soul of India through various ways and means, styles and systems, each in its own way, but all radiating the same spirit. Science and technology also received a new impetus through great patriots and scientists like Jamshadji Tata, Sir C.V. Raman, J.C. Bose, and Ramanujam. There was a great upsurge inspired by national pride, even under the shadow of imperialist oppression. All these contributed to the might of the freedom struggle.
But with the advent of freedom- and partition- there was a retreat from the national and cultural stand. Almost all the great institutions and endeavours gradually declined for want of support. Even Sanskrit language languished. Imitation of the west became the accepted standard. Universities multiplied, but they were more or less shadowy imitations of western models.
The same system and approach continue with added momentum even today. About this drastic, if not tragic, transformation the less said the better. It can be cryptically stated that a new westernized India is flourishing at the cost of the original intellectual and cultural Bharath.
This trend has to be reversed if Swaraj is to have any meaning, if India is to play her due role among the comity of nations. A wave of intellectual awakening, inspired by genuine Indian spirit must steadily sweep across India.
It is a good augury that many big and small efforts in this direction are surfacing all over. It is only natural that many of them are small and unpretentious. But the day is not far off when there will be a mighty conflagration of all these nationalistic endeavours which will brighten the horizon with true and genuine Indian knowledge.
According to the Bharatheeya view, real knowledge, like consciousness, is one and integral .The various departments of knowledge are only partial glimmerings of this one light of integral wisdom. They have to be approached integrally, not compartmentally. The western approach of “inter-disciplinary research” on the contrary, treats various disciplines as separate entities, almost independent and autonomous. It is only for pragmatic and utilitarian purposes that they are put together to produce certain effects. Vichara Kendram on the contrary is inspired by the Indian perspective of one supreme light expressing through diverse media. This Unitive Vision will be the basic contribution of Vichara Kendram for the study and Research it proposes to undertake.
Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram now celebrating its Rajatha Jayanthi, is a very very humble attempt in this direction. Its claim might appear grandiose. Only natural. But we submit; we must believe in the potentiality of great ideas, we should remember that mighty banyan trees are born out of tiny seeds, we should recollect the Confucian statement that the longest march begins with the first step, it is well and truly said “low aim, not failure, is a crime” Let us aim high and work hard to realize it. The vision that inspired Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram is to protect and promote the great tradition of Indian knowledge for the building up of a better – ideal-world order.
The Bharatheeya Vichara Kendram, founded and located in Kerala, is committed to keep a tryst with the destiny of the State. Kerala is unique. It is a land of paradoxes. It is full of diversities and complexities. It is microscopic India. All the problems that plague India have their counterparts in this small state of Kerala. It can be compared to a laboratory. If we can find a way to resolve the problems of Kerala, that will serve as a model for the rest of India.
Kerala has a great tradition of reconciling differences and harmonising diversities. It believed and practised the noble Vedic dictum: “ Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadhanthi” But, of late, this genius for harmony has become feble, almost extinct. We indulge in petty quarrels, frittering and dissipating our human and natural resources. The teachings of Renaissance leaders like Sree Narayana Guru have been mischievously hijacked by self-serving politicians.
There is need for a second Renaissance movement. If should begin at the Thought level. We must invoke the latent pride in Kerala, which has manifested time and again through great personalities. They are our national heroes, not caste, communal or sectarian leaders. Ways and means must be discovered to harvest the abundant resources of Kerala. Through productive economy, suited to the soil we must check the tide of migration of young and brilliant Keralites by giving them coveted opportunities within. All these require a broad consensus cutting across minor differences. In short, Kerala must recapture its own identity, evolve a common mind and merture, a common vision and an agreed path to move forward. Bharatheeya Vichara Kendra aims at nothing else, and nothing less. Rajatha Jayanthi and inauguration of the “Bharatheeya Institute for Advanced Study and Research” is the appropriate occasion to reaffirm this faith and commitment.
From 1982 to 2007 has been a journey of remarkable achievements for the Kendram. From this year of its Rajatha Jayanthi Celebration, a new brilliant chapter is being added. The approval of, and association with the Maharshi Dayanand Saraswathi University adds a new and vigorous dimension to its onward march; there is going to be a confluence of two cultural streams, essentially similar, one from the land of Sree Narayana Guru and the other from Maharshi Dayanand Saraswathi, leading to a cross- fertilization of ideas with far reaching beneficial consequences for all concerned. Both the Maharshi and the Guru were epoch makers, great revivors of the ancient Indian spirit, fully aware of the fast-changing situation and its needs and demands.
This new collaboration will mark the beginning of a dynamic initiative to effectively meet these needs and demands. “Bharatheeya Institute for Advanced study and Research” (BIAR), we hope and believe, will be the instrument for such a great consummation.