City launchpad for Buddhist heritage revival

Express News Service, July 18, 2005

Kolkata, India -- As part of the ministry of culture?s drive to create awareness among people and simultaneously preserve the cultural heritage of India, the ?National Seminar on Buddhist Literary Heritage in India: Text and Context? kicked off today at the Asiatic Society museum.

The two-day programme is organised by the National Mission for Manuscripts, Government of India, and is coordinated by the Calcutta University Manuscript Resource Centre (CUMRC). ?The aim of this seminar is to transmit the nation?s culture from one generation to another.

Buddhist literary texts are a major part of this culture, and a discussion on their subject matter and condition will go a long way in bringing people closer to their heritage. We have to repeatedly evaluate and re-evaluate the intellectual treasures acquired by our predecessors through great perseverance,? said Dr Ratna Basu, coordinator, CUMRC.

The seminar is funded by the ministry of culture, and is the first of a series of lectures and seminars planned by it throughout the country. ?We are extremely proud of the fact that Kolkata was chosen as the place from which to kick-start this national programme,? said Basu.

Twenty eminent scholars of Buddhist literature and culture, from India and abroad, will deliver lectures during the two days of the seminar. Some of the topics dealt with will be ?The cultural impact of Buddhist heritage in India?, ?Buddhist canonical literature and its branches? and ?Buddhist literature through lesser known texts?.

Those involved in the seminar hope to contextualise Buddhist literature. ?The Buddhist literary texts open up a window into a living culture. They are imbued with a perennial philosophy that is relevant throughout the ages,? said Anurag Chowdhury of the Vipasana Research Centre, Igatpuri.