President Kovind praises Indology in Czech Republic

Prague [Czech Republic], Sept 9: President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday said that Indology not only brought India and the Czech Republic together, but made an enormous impact in the making of a modern India.

Addressing a gathering of students, Indologists and faculty members of Charles University, President Kovind said that Indology helped rediscover India’s rich past and triggered a cultural awakening.

“It (Indology) enabled India to imbibe and assimilate modernity without letting go of its cultural roots. From Vidyasagar to Vivekananda and Tagore to Mahatma Gandhi, one finds that the socio-cultural modernisation of India was built upon a foundation that emphasised an organic synthesis of the eastern and western thought. Indological studies continue to bind the world into that universal family where there are no barriers and no walls,” he added.

The President underscored that although Indology began almost two centuries ago with the study of Sanskrit texts, its scope widened and spread across today’s world.

“The field of Indology exemplifies how specialists across disciplines often come together to offer a deeper understanding of Indian culture and civilization. Remote sensing studies of the Ghaggar-Hakra basin have changed our understanding of the Harappan civilization and the role of a lost river -Saraswati – that once flowed in those plains and was celebrated in Vedic literature. This wonderful cooperation among different disciplines presents a great opportunity to rediscover aspects of ancient Indian wisdom that can solve many of our contemporary problems,” he elucidated.

President Kovind expressed optimism that Yoga and Ayurveda were receiving overwhelming support and interest in the Czech Republic. He recalled Nobel laureate and national poet Rabindranath Tagore’s “thought-provoking speech” at the campus of the Charles University.

“As I speak here, I feel proud to be at such a great seat of knowledge. It delights me that Rabindranath Tagore, our national poet and one of the greatest sons of India, once came to this very campus and delivered a thought-provoking speech, captivating many. He is the one who called Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, ‘Mahatma’ or ‘the Great Soul’, first. I have just had the honour to illuminate the life and legacy of our Father of the Nation and pay my respects,” he continued.

The President underlined that Indology has a very old tradition in Prague, starting with the establishment of a chair in Sanskrit, at the university in 1850.

Reminiscing Tagore’s visit to erstwhile Czechoslovakia in the 1920s, President Kovind further said, “Professor Lesny was one of the founding fathers of the Czech school of Indology and a friend of Rabindranath Tagore. He was the first European Indologist who translated Tagore’s poetry directly from Bengali instead of using English translations. On the invitation of Professor Lesny, Tagore visited erst-while Czechoslovakia in 1921 and 1926. Tagore’s interaction with the scholars in Czechoslovakia left a deep impact on them.”

The President underscored that the installation of Tagore’s bust in Prague and naming a tram station “Thakurova” after him, is a homage to the national poet and his poetic genius.

Speaking on the historical ties between India and the Czech Republic, President Kovind said, “It is interesting to trace the history of interaction between our two countries. It goes much before the links established by Indologists. It may amuse you but about millennia back, the Kingdom of Bohemia and India had a flourishing trade in spices and silk. On that shared past, today we have built a strong contemporary partnership.”

The President also extended an invitation to the Czech Republic leadership to participate in the worldwide celebrations of the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2.

He went on to say that about 500 Indian students are pursuing their studies at various universities in the Czech Republic and most of them are working as lecturers and scientists.

While addressing India-Czech Republic Business Event earlier, President Kovind had invited Czech companies to take advantage of the opening of defence manufacturing sector in India and set-up joint ventures to produce for the domestic market.

This is the first visit by an Indian President to the Czech Republic in 22 years after former President Shankar Dayal Sharma had visited the European nation in 1996.