Seminar on Sharda Civilization : A Cultural and Historic perspective in London UK
London, UK ,
“Sharda Civilization: A Cultural and Historic perspective” was the topic of the seminar held in London today at the William Barry Theatre, West London University, organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Study Centre (JKSC U.K). JKSC (UK) is linked to its parent organisation which is an independent and objective think-tank dedicated to the study of Jammu and Kashmir in its entirety. It was established in 2011 to undertake policy relevant studies on all aspects of the strategically important state of India and to disseminate the outcome of the same in the correct perspective in public domain.
The seminar had a distinguished panel of speakers from various global locations including London, New York, New Delhi and Singapore.
Mr Vinod Tikoo a JKSC volunteer facilitated the seminar and outlined the key purpose of the seminar viz., to inform and educate the audience from the subcontinent, listeners in the UK and global diaspora on the following aspects of Sharda:
Ø To provide a background on the religious, linguistic, historic and cultural significance of Sharda Peeth.
Ø To talk about the engineering and technology of story-telling unique to Sharda civilisation.
Ø To elaborate the relevance of Sharda as a temple based ancient centre of high learning
Ø To raise awareness on civil society efforts towards preservation and restoration of the centre and Initiatives to restart the exchange and opening of the pilgrimage route to Sharda for devotees
The proceedings began by lighting of Diyas in reverence to Sharda Devi, by the strong ladies from the Jammu and Kashmir region present at the seminar including Faria Attique, Urmila Kaul, Manu Khajuria, ShafalicaBhan Kotwal, Anupama Handoo amongst others.
Mr Ravinder Pandita ji, convener of Save Sharda Committee who has been making tireless efforts in this direction for last few years, spoke about the civil society initiatives on both sides of the border and government to government dialogue on opening the pilgrimage route to Sharda, using the existing cross LOC permit mechanism. A short video produced by Save Sharda Committee was also broadcast to the audience at the seminar. Ravinder ji also emphasised the need for preservation and restoration of the Sharda heritage and temple complex.
Mr Rakesh K Kaul, Author, The Last Queen of Kashmir, spoke on the historical and academic background of Sharda Peeth and explained how its impact was not limited to the region of J&K but across the Indian Subcontinent and even as far as China, drawing parallels to the use of science and technology for story telling in Sharda civilization. Rakesh ji explained how Panchtantra was one of the great technology of story telling that emanated from Sharda Desh (Kashmir) .
An academic assessment was undertaken on the role of Sharda in shaping languages as well as the present-day Mutt systems in the subcontinent by Mr Sridhar Chityala (Trustee Shingeri Sharda Mutt NA) and Dr SS Toshkhani ji. Sridhar ji also provided an overview of the links between the temple and the culture of the region including its reverence to the South of India.
Speakers also included Mr Sajjad Raja ji and Mrs Faria Attique ji, civil society activists from POK based in London, who spoke on how Sharda was the common cultural heritage of all people from the state of J&K on both sides of the border. Both Emphasized that the region needs to reclaim its historical identity to ensure the diversity, heritage and culture of the region is preserved and nurtured.
Dr Gautam Sen spoke about the academic relevance of Sharda in the context of Taxila and Nalanda as the great trilogy of academic centres of excellence in the sub-continent. Dr Sen also emphasised the need to revive the culture of academic excellence and research for the society.
The seminar concluded with a joint declaration on urging administration in Pakistan for preservation and restoration of the Sharda temple complex and opening/reviving the ancient Sharda Peeth Yatra similar on the lines of the current Kartarpur corridor and requested the respective Governments of India and Pakistan to provide the necessary support in this regard.