Monday, July 11, 2016

Learning and Growing with Dr. Ravindra Panth

After serving as the Director of Nava Nalanda Mahavihara (Deemed University, NNM) for 16 long and fruitful years, Dr. Ravindra Panth retired on 31st May 2016. Among his many contributions as the Director of Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, I would like to mention a few initiatives made by Dr. Panth of which, fortunately, I was also a part.

Dr. Panth took over as the Director of Nava Nalanda Mahavihara in year 2000.  Interactions with local community and visiting many of the neighboring villages, he realized that hundreds of villages of Nālandā and other adjoining districts like Gayā, Jehānābād, Seikhpurā, Patnā, Aurangābād that makes the ancient Magadha is replete with unprotected and undocumented ancient remains. This tangible heritage in forms of sculptures, artefacts, mounds etc from Buddhist period were under threat. Community living with the heritage was helpless and ill equipped to protect the vast heritage. At the same time the policy makers, government agencies and other stakeholders were ignorant about the ground realities.
Dr. Ravindra Panth (extreme right) explaining the exhibition to Hon'ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi (Bodhgayā, 5th sept, 2015). Also in the picture, H.E. Governor of Bihār Shri Ram Nath Kovind &  Hon' Minster, GoI, Shri K. Rijiju  

Friday, July 1, 2016

Legacy of 7th CE Monk Scholar Xuanzang on Google Cultural Institute (GCI)

Xuanzang Memorial (XM) was conceived in 1957 with the dual objective of commemorating the visit of 7th CE Chinese monk-scholar Xuanzang to ancient Nālandā University and establishing a research institute to research and promote the works of Xuanzang. Nava Nalanda Mahavihara (Deemed University, NNM) was established in 1951 with a view to revive the cultural tradition of ancient Nālandā University and for international links, particularly with the Buddhist countries. It was felt that NNM is the rightful inheritor of the legacy of Xuanzang. Therefore, Xuanzang Hall was handed over to NNM in the year 2000.

NNM has initiated research based projects, ‘Mapping of Nālandā, Rājgir and around’, ‘Engaged Buddhism’ and ‘Revival of the Ancient Buddhist Pilgrimage in Bihār’ to document the works of Xuanzang. The research work of the NNM is intended to satisfy the complete cycle of the value chain in relation to the tangible and intangible aspects of the works of Xuanzang, mainly research as the production of new knowledge; transference as the way of making this knowledge useful and relevant in protection and promotion of the heritage, and diffusion as a means of taking this knowledge to the masses. 
Based on its research project, NNM has developed three exhibits that have been published on Google Cultural Institute (GCI).
1.      Xuanzang’s Travel in Bihār
2.      Travels of Xuanzang (629-645 CE)
3.      Xuanzang Memorial, Nālandā

1. The exhibit ‘Xuanzang’s Travel in Bihār’ is about the pilgrimage of Xuanzang to many sacred places in Bihār that are associated with Buddha and his prominent disciples. The exhibit has pictures and description of the sacred places visited by Xuanzang.
Screen shot of  title page