The Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IITG) recently hosted a day-long conference, titled ‘Vaishnavaite Tradition and Practices of Northeast India.’
IIT Guwahati Remembers Pandit Hemchandra Goswami
This conference was organized in memory of Pandit Hemchandra Goswami, a luminary in the field of Assamese literature and the 4th president of Asam Sahitya Sabha. The inaugural session of the event witnessed the presence of prominent personalities who paid tribute to Pandit Hemchandra Goswami’s enduring legacy.
Prof. U.S. Dixit, the Head of the Center for Indian Knowledge Systems, warmly welcomed the dignitaries and introduced the Center’s activities. He emphasized the Center’s dual focus on researching ancient Vedic knowledge of India and preserving the rich folk traditions of Northeast India.
The chief guest, Dr. Naba Goswami, Chairman of the Pandit Hemchandra Goswami Foundation, and Prof. Krishnamoorthy, Dean of Industrial Initiatives and Special Interactions, presided over the function. Dr. Naba Goswami highlighted the profound influence of Pandit Goswami’s ideology on the cultural and spiritual heritage of Assam. He also drew attention to an ongoing project aimed at imparting science and technology education to children and youth in rural Assam.
The conference delved into the intellectual exploration of various aspects of Vaishnavaite tradition and practices in Northeast India. Prof. (retired) Archana Baruah, IIT Guwahati, delivered an insightful lecture on the concept of Eksarana Dharma and Naam ghar, which serve to strengthen social bonds by breaking down caste and class barriers.
Dr. Rahul Sankhayan Majumdar explored the influence of Neo-Vaishnavism on music, drama, literature, and society at large, shedding light on the enduring impact of this spiritual tradition on various aspects of Assamese culture.
In a documentary titled ‘Yugadrashtra,’ produced by Smt. Swapnali Mahanta, the relevance of Sri Pitambar Dev Goswami’s forward-thinking approach was discussed. Despite leading a traditional institution like Satra, he advocated for the emancipation of women through education, widow remarriage, and compassion towards animals.
Sri. Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, the former Director General of Assam Police, delivered an engaging talk on the journey of the Bhakti tradition in Assam, underpinned by a humanistic approach. He drew examples from his real-life experiences in various Satras across the state, highlighting the tradition’s continued relevance in the modern era.
The conference included three talks by scholars, covering topics such as the conservation of Vaishnavite art forms through the perspective of Namghar, the Customary Rehearsal System of Basanta Raas at Shri Govindaji Temple, and the art of storytelling dedicated to Vaishnavism among the Meiteis and its influence on the oral tradition of Muslims in Manipur. These sessions were chaired by Dr. Rituparna Bhattacharya and Dr. Suvrokamal Dutta, who provided valuable insights and feedback.
The valedictory session featured the gracious presence of Smt. Mrinalini Devi, former Vice President of Asam Sahitya Sabha, as she revisited the roots and survival of the Vaishnavaite tradition in Assam.
A documentary on Pt. Hemchandra Goswami, conceptualized by Dr. Naba Goswami, was also showcased during the event. This documentary explores the history of preserving and propagating Assamese culture and language, providing valuable insights and fostering an environment that encourages the study of Vaishnavaite tradition in conjunction with modern sustainability practices.
The conference was organized under the able leadership of Prof. Sukanya Sharma as the organizing secretary, with Dr. Faladrum Sharma and Dr. Priyanka Tamta serving as joint organizing secretaries. Mr. Partha Pratim Dasgupta, Senior Fellow of IITG TIDF and a corporate sector veteran, was also present at the occasion.
About IIT Guwahati
The Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, established in 1994, completed 25 years of glorious existence in 2019. IIT Guwahati offers a diverse range of programs, including BTech, BDes, BSc(Hons), MA, MDes, MTech, MSc, MS(R), MBA, and PhD, across various disciplines. With its consistent top positions in national rankings and recognition in international rankings, IIT Guwahati stands as a symbol of academic excellence and research innovation in India. The institution’s commitment to critical research initiatives in diverse fields, such as genomics, developmental biology, health care, bioinformatics, and flexible electronics, underscores its leadership in higher education and research.