Message of Mahakavyas is a four-day conference conducted by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bengaluru in association with ISKCON Bangalore. The conference was held from June 17 to June 20, 2016 at the Multi-Vision Theatre located on Hare Krishna Hill, Rajajinagar, Bengaluru.
The purpose of the conference is to invite scholars from across the country to come and present their view to on all the major works which are in the form of Mahakavyas (Epics).
This is the fourth consecutive year that a national conference was jointly conducted by ISKCON Bangalore and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. The earlier three conferences were held with the aim of spreading the messages of the Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas. 150 scholars had taken part in these three conferences and 158 distinctive papers had been presented with an in-depth discussion of the subject.
The four-day conference began on June 17, 2016 with the recitation of prayers and verses from Mahakavyas. Prof. Maha Mahopadhyaya Reva Prasad Dwivedi, Renowned Scholar, Varanasi inaugurated the event.
Speaking on the real essence of the epic, Prof. Reva Prasad said, “The crux of epics is in the message of the Vedas. Alankara is not mere embellishment. It is the complete representation of what has been expressed. So the completion in expression ending up with completeness of experience is the essence of the kavya.”
Mahakavya or epic is the highest form of linguistic expression. It is characterised by artistic and elaborate descriptions of beauty of the nature, love, battles and so on.
Chief guest Dr. Venkatachala Shastry, an eminent scholar from Mysuru, addressed the participants. He said, “Irrespective of space and time, the epic has shaped the history, culture, and the moral character of peoples and their communities in turn being shaped by the ideals and values, the sustainable moral fiber, and the impulses and inclinations of living human communities.”
The literary achievement of any language is estimated in terms of its epics and the values to which they stand for. In Indian tradition, there are five mahakavyas which are designated as pancha-mahakavyas:
- Raghuvamsha and Kumara Sambhava by Kalidasa
- Kiratarjuneeya by Bharavi
- Shishupala Vadha by Magha
- Naishadha Charita by Sri Harsha
In his Keynote Address, Justice B. N. Srikrishna, Retd Judge, Supreme Court of India spoke about the Sanskrit literature, Pancha Mahakavyas and their messages in general. He said, “Mahakavyas are the precious gems of Sanskrit literature that have been handed down to us as part of our glorious cultural heritage.”
Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa, President of ISKCON Bangalore presided over the inaugural ceremony. Speaking about discovering the original intent and context of the creators of Mahakavyas, he said, “It is by discussion and debate that we can make these original contexts and its paramarthik and vyavaharik intents that are hidden behind these linguistic expressions to surface up so that we can understand the experiences of the author in its true richness and its message to the society.”
He further said that the goal of Mahakavyas has to have relevance to the real life in society and not just a work of literary excellence. “This national conference of Mahakavyas is a humble effort through presentations, discussions and debates to churn out from the linguistic expressions contained in these different kavyas, our country’s rich cultural fabric, which is woven out of fine human values of pursuit and practice, of truth, of compassion, of purity, of sacrifice, of regulated material enjoyment, ultimately for the well-being of every living being on earth including progressively leading the soul to the transcendental dimension.”
India’s history is highly inspiring and enriching with astounding variety of epics. There are
- Primary epics or Arsha Mahakavyas,
- Secondary epics known as art and folk epics.
Apart from this, there are numerous epics in most of the major languages of India. All these epics were discussed with a brief introduction to them and highlighting the values to which they stand for.
The conference featured over 50 eminent scholars from different parts of the country who discussed prominent literary works in the form of epics covering 12 Indian languages and even Greek and Latin. They also explored the epic traditions in various languages (Tulu, Kodava, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, Kannada, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Persian, and Urdu).
Valmeeki Ramayana, Vyasa Mahabharata, Ramacharita Manasa, Raghuvamsa and Kumarasambhava of Kalidasa, Shishupalavadha by Maagha, Vikramarjuna Vijaya, Harishchandra Mahakavya, Bharatesha Vaibhava are some of the Indian epics discussed in the conference.
The conference also featured sessions on epics from other countries like Illiad and Odissi by Homer, Divine Comedy of Dante and the Folk epics of the East, Central Asia and Middle East.
Dr. Chiranjeev Singh (Bengaluru), Sri Narahalli Balasubramanya (Bengaluru), and Prof. Ramachandra R (Mysuru) participated in the events as guests and spoke on what mahakavyas meant to them. Sri Stoka Krishna Dasa, Vice President, ISKCON Bangalore presented a guest lecture on Proper Approach to the Ramayana and Mahabharata according to Srila Prabhupada.
The event included sessions on chanting based on Mahakavyas, dance dramas (Gopi Geetham, Kamba Ramayana), musical renditions and vocal concerts based on Mahakavyas.
Sri M Veerappa Moily, Member of Parliament and former Chief Minister of Karnataka, participated in the Valedictory Programme on June 20, 2016 and addressed the gathering. He analyzed different incidents in the epic Ramayana with respect to the five principal values: satya, dharma, shanti, prema and ahimsa.
The Chief Guest, Dr. Manu Baligar, President of Kannada Sahitya Parishad, said that Ramayana and Mahabharata contain universal and eternal principles that deal with holistic development of human beings, ideal family system, ideal administration and also messages like complete surrender to God.