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HRD ministry reconstitutes Philosophical Council, brings students in

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New Delhi: Human and Resource Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani reconstituted Indian Council for Philosophical Research (ICPR). Through the reconstitution, it ropes in Sanskrit students, a former BJP member of Legislative Council in Karnataka, a retired IPS officer who has turned to Hinduism and believe in a massive approach and a scholar who is related to an organization claimed to have place Lord Rama’s actual date of birth.

This reconstitution of Council which was approved on 22 Feb 2016 added 12 new members, including four Sanskrit scholars.

The last Council term expired in Oct 2015 where Prof Siddheshwar Bhatt, a philosopher, and sanskritist was nominated as Chairperson to precede reputed educationist Prof Mrinal Miri.

The other members introduced on board are Prof SR Leela, a BJP nominated MLC within Karnataka in 2014 who is also a Sanskrit scholar and former head division of Sanskrit, Banglore College, Prof Hare Ram Tripathi from Delhi’s Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, and Prof Om Prakash Pandey who is a former HoD Sanskrit and Prakrit languages, Lucknow College.

Prof K Aravinda Rao, a retired who served as DGP in Andhra Pradesh also may be a part of ICPR. He presently working as the Director of Hyderabad-based Advaita Academy. Rao wrote books like ‘How you can inform Hinduism to child?’ and ‘Analysis of Jnanam within the Upanishads’.

Prof V Kutumba Sastri is an exceptional member of Philosophical Analysis Council, who is a former VC Somnath Sanskrit University. Sastri  is also a member of Institute of Scientific Research on Vedas (I-SERVE), which claimed to have put an exact date to the several events from Ramayana and Mahabharata including God Rama’s exact date and time of birth.

The opposite members on board the council are Prof Kusum Jain, former professor & HoD of Philosophy, Rajasthan College, Prof Jatashankar Tiwari, former professor & HoD Philosophy, Allahabad College, Prof X P Mao, professor of Philosophy, North East Hill College, Prof R C Sinha, former professor & HoD Philosophy, Patna College. That aside Prof Dharmanand Sharma, former professor and HoD philosophy, Chandigarh College and Prof Naresh Kumar Ambastha, HoD philosophy, PKRM School, Dhanbad and Dr Rajaram Shukla, professor Vaidic Darshan, BHU Varanasi are additionally on the reconstituted ICPR Council. This council will additional co-choose one other 4 eminent philosophers.

ICPR is a physique of famed philosophers, social faces and government representatives that evaluate the progress of research in Philosophy, sponsors and tasks of analysis in Philosophy by institutes.(Inputs from agencies)

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Buddhist Monk Losang Samten Uses Colors to Spread Message of Peace

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

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Samten
Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten uses colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism. VOA

According to one estimate, there are a 5 quintillion, 5 hundred quadrillion grains of sand on earth, a number so large it must be approaching infinity. This makes sand an appropriate medium for the construction of spiritual images of the universe.

Former Buddhist monk and Tibetan scholar Losang Samten does just that, using colored sand to build mandalas, circular images filled with complex iconography, which have great meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Tibetan monks have created mandalas over the centuries from a variety of materials. Before sand, they used crushed colored stone. VOA

Decades of mandalas

Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama.

“When I was a teenager, age of 17,” he told VOA, “I had a privilege to enter His Holiness Dalai Lama’s monastery … in India. I have been studying sand mandalas ever since then. So it’s a long time.”

VOA found Samten painstakingly layering grains of colored sand at the gallery of the Philadelphia Folklore Project. The particular mandala he was working on was the mandala of compassion, or unconditional love.

Far from random designs, mandalas have been perfected over centuries.

“These are uniquely designed many, many, many, many, many years passing to an artist to another artist to another artist to another artist,” Samten said. “The color has a meaning, the shape has different meanings. Not my design; it didn’t come out of my own idea.”

When Samten created a sand mandala at the American Museum of History in New York in 1988 at the request of the Dalai Lama, it was the first time the 2,600-years-old ancient ritual art was seen outside of monasteries. Since then, Samten has made sand mandalas in museums, galleries and universities across the U.S. and many parts of the world.

“They are used to enhance the spiritual practice through image and meditation, to overcome suffering. Mandalas represent enlightened qualities and methods which explain this path, making them very important for the spiritual journey,” Samten wrote on his web site.

Nothing is permanent

Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. They lived in a refugee camp for years.

Now Samten travels around the world to find sand in various colors. He also dyes sand in watercolors.
Samten, in his mid-60s, learned the craft at the feet of the Dalai Lama. VOA

“In the winter of 1959, [we] crossed Mount Everest, it took us two months to cross,” he told VOA. “You cannot travel during the day and so scared and not enough food not enough clothes. I was age of 5. I saw, I mean unbelievable dead bodies, people dying without food. I became a monk at age 11 when I was in school, refugee school.”

Samten left monastic life in 1995 and became the spiritual director at the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia. He says the patience of the creative process, can lead observers to find calm determination within themselves.

“When I am doing this mandala at universities and schools, many kids came to me, (saying) ‘when I saw you doing the sand mandala, that help me so much to finish my education, patience …’ I have a lot of stories,” he said.

Monk Samten
Samten was born in Tibet. When he was a young boy, his family escaped to Nepal fleeing Chinese Communist control of his homeland. VOA

Beauty comes and goes

After a sand mandala is completed, it is dismantled ceremoniously.

“Dismantle has many different reasons,” Samten said. “… One thing is, dismantle is a beauty, whatever we see as a beauty on the earth, never be everlasting as a beauty and impermanent, impermanent, comes and goes. It’s like a season.”

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Or like sand, ever changing in the wind.

Samten often invites children to participate in the ceremony.

To gallery visitor Traci Chiodress that was part of the charm of the event.

“I think it’s powerful to see something so beautiful created, and then taken apart, and to be done in a community with a group of people of different ages,” she said. “I just think it’s an important type of practice.” (VOA)