Amrita Darshanam, International Centre for Spiritual Studies (ICSS), in association with Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR), organized a seven-day national workshop on Madhusūdana Sarasvatī’s“Siddhāntabindu” from November 10-16, 2018, at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore Campus.
The workshop commenced with the ceremonial lighting of lamps by Pūjya Swamy Tapasyāmṛta, Prof Kutumba Sastry, Prof. Ramakrishnan, and Dr. Sripad Ghaligi. It was followed by the chanting of traditional Vedic Mantras by Dr. Upadyayula K. V. Sarma, Asst. Professor, Cultural Education, School of Engineering, Coimbatore, and Dr. Naveen Bhat, Asst. Professor, Cultural Education, School of Engineering, Coimbatore, and Asst. Professor, Spiritual Studies. Dr. U. K. V. Sarma extended a warm welcome to the dignitaries on stage and the participants, after which, Dr. Sripad Ghaligi, the Coordinator of Amrita Darshanam, Coimbatore, delivered his inaugural address. He remarked that this workshop was a landmark — the first to be conducted in the Coimbatore campus of Amrita Darshanam — and laid emphasis on the importance of learning the traditional text from traditional teachers, concluding that this was an opportune moment to learn this traditional text in the traditional way. Then, Dr. M. Ramakrishnan, Visiting Faculty, Amrita Darshanam (ICSS), Amritapuri Campus, delivered a lecture on the urgency of redefining the basic conceptual notions of philosophy. Prof. Kutumba Sastry, former Vice-chancellor of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan and former president, IASS, delivered the guest lecture. He discussed the basic concepts presented in the text, Siddhāntabindu. The inauguration concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Naveen Bhat.
The first day of the workshop was conducted by Prof. Kutumba Sastry. He discussed the import of the term ‘thou’ in the mahāvākya, ‘That thou art’. Commencing with the views of Cārvaka on the nature of the Self, he examined different schools of thought. The view of advaita-vedānta was established after refuting all possible objections. Prof. Kutumba Sastry continued his talk until the afternoon of November 11 2018.
After his session, Prof. V. N. Jha, Former Director, Centre of Advanced Studies in Sanskrit, Pune, Founder Chairperson, Special Centre for Sanskrit Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, gave his lecture on 11th and 12th November 2018. He discussed various views on the method of interpretation of the mahāvākya, and expounded the terms such as jahallakṣaṇa and ajahallakṣaṇa. That evening, Amrita Darshanam (ICSS), in association with Nādam, held a Sanskrit musical evening. Prof. Murali Rangarajan, with his two accompanists, rendered beautiful Sanskrit compositions and kept the audience enthralled.
On 13 November 2018, Prof K. Ramasubramaniam, Professor, Indian Science and Technology in Sanskrit, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay, discussed the various theories regarding the nature of the jīva, namely, the reflection theory, the semblance theory and the limitation theory. Prof. K. Srinivasan, Former Principal, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda College, Chennai, began his sessions on the afternoon of 14 December 2018. He discussed the nature of the seer as threefold, as Iśvara, jīva and witness, but explained that these are only due to the limiting adjuncts. He also delved into the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep of the jīva in detail. The order of creation was also discussed and he concluded with the theory of quintuplication of the subtle elements.
On the evening of 14 December 2018, a short trip to a local attraction, the 10th century Chola temple of Perur, was organized. S. Gurumurthy shed light on the history and cultural significance of the temple to an enraptured audience. On the afternoon of 15 December 2018, Prof. Ramachandra Bhat, Vice Chancellor, S-VYASA, explained the theory of triplication upheld by certain advaitic teachers and he concluded that the theory of quintuplication was preferable. The different kinds of pralaya were also explained.
Śri Ananta Sharma, the academic coordinator of the course, conducted extensive revision classes for the participants and clarified the concepts of Madhusūdana Sarasvatī after each session throughout the seven-day workshop. Yoga sessions were also offered for the participants each morning by Śrī Senthil Kumar and Smt Archana Devi. Forty-five delegates from across the country, including New Delhi, Varanasi, Kolkata, Uttarakhand, Pune, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Hyderabad, Pondicherry, Kerala and Karnataka participated in the workshop.
The workshop concluded with the valedictory session presided over by Pūjya Swami Tapasyāmrita Swami, Prof. Rajneesh Kumar Shukla, Member Secretary, ICPR, Prof. Ramchandra Bhat and Dr. Sripad Ghaligi. Dr. Naveen Bhat welcomed the participants and dignitaries on stage and Dr. UKV Sharma read the report of the workshop for the audience. Dr. Sripad Ghaligi gave his remarks on the workshop after which, the chief guest, Prof. Rajneesh Kumar Shukla delivered the valedictory note on the need for intellectual discussions of śāstric texts, the Siddhāntabindu, in particular. Prof. Ramchandra Bhat also discussed the need for deep study of source texts. The valedictory concluded with the vote of thanks by Śrī Pramod Kumar, Asst. Professor, Cultural Education, Amrita School of Engineering, Coimbatore, and Asst. Professor, Spiritual Studies.