Amrita Darshanam – International Centre for Spiritual Studies, in collaboration with the South Zone Cultural Centre, Thanjavur, organised a 3-day National Seminar on "Temples: Symbolism, Art and Architecture", on January 5-7, 2018, at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bengaluru. The seminar aimed at bringing reputed scholars together and creating a platform for academic discussions related to the different aspects and dimensions of Indian temples.
The inaugural session started off on 5th January with traditional Vedic Chanting, invocatory prayer and a welcome speech by Arjun Bharadwaj, Assistant Professor, Spiritual Studies, Bengaluru. Dr. K.S Kannan, Former Director, Karnataka Sanskrit University, delivered the key note address. He spoke at length about the evolution of the temple from the Vedic culture and how it has laid the foundation for Indian civilization. He pointed out how temples have been the locii of India, have held the socio-economic fabric of the society together and have also served as storehouses of all classical learning and arts. Br. Dhanraj, Director, Bengaluru campus, stressed on the importance of temples for today’s society and spoke about the Brahmasthanam temples established by Sri Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), Chancellor, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. The inaugural ceremony had experts and participants from different parts of India.
The list of experts who spoke included Dr. R Nagaswamy, Founder and Ex-director, Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department; Dr. Krishnan Namboodiripad, Dr. Umapathy Acharya, Director at Institute of Sacred Architecture in Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu; Dr. S. A. S. Sharma, Research Scholar, Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient (EFEO), Centre de Pondichéry; Dr. M. G. Sasibhooshan, Historian and Archaeologist; Dr. K. K. Rama Murthy, Archaeologist (Retired), ASI; Dr. Satya Murthy, Director, Academy of Archaeology and Sciences of Ancient India; Dr. C. B. Patil, Dr. Karuna Vijayendra, Independent Research Scholar, Bengaluru; Dr. Shobha Shashikumar, Adjunct Faculty, Department of Performing Arts, Music and Dance, Jain University; Dr. Meera Nathampally, Sri Gnanananda and Dr. Ramanujan.
The topics presented by the scholars included temple architecture, yāmaḻa rituals, virtual reconstruction of temples, temple arts, dance as seen in temple sculptures, Kerala temple murals, temples as engineering marvels, temple conservation and traditional sculptors’ perspective of making of a temple. The seminar also had fifteen participant papers, which were selected by an expert committee. Motlial Banarsidass, a renowned publisher put up a book exhibition during the seminar.
Several faculty of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bengaluru Campus, joined hands in helping organise the seminar. Br. Prasanth, Assistant Professor, Spiritual Studies, Amritapuri, and Seminar Co-convenor, was the driving force behind all the activities related to the seminar. Dr. Vishwanath Guha, Ananta Sharma B. G., Assistant Professor, Spiritual Studies, Bengaluru, and Manjushree Hegde, Assistant Professor, Spiritual Studies, Coimbatore, formed the core of the organising committee.
The seminar concluded on 7th January with a valedictory address by Arjun Bharadwaj. The proceedings of the seminar will be published in the form of a book and a CD by Amrita Darshanam.