National seminar on Indian Poetics

This three-day national seminar was organized by IFIH and co-sponsored by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (New Delhi) and Indian Institute of Advanced Study (Shimla). It was held on 24-26 January 2003 at Sriperumbudur (Tamil Nadu).

The inaugural session started with a welcome address by Michel Danino (convener, IFIH), who introduced the background to the seminar, its organizer and sponsors. Prof. Prema Pandurang (Founder, Kshetropasana, Sriperumbudur, where the seminar was conducted), gave an inaugural address on “Poetic imagery in the Bhagavad Gita.” Prof. Kapil Kapoor (Professor of English literature and Sanskrit, Jawaharlal Nehru University) then delivered the keynote address, Ananda, Saundarya and Indian Poetics”. This keynote address was printed in a booklet released on the occasion of the seminar, containing another paper by Prof. Kapil Kapoor, “Sanskrit Literary Theory: a Rejoinder to Eleven Objections”, and a paper by Prof. K. V. Raman, “Divyaprabhanda Recital in Vaishnava Temples”.

There were eight academic sessions spread over three days. The presentations may be broadly categorized as follows :



Theoretical foundations of Indian poetics




“Authorial Intention – Indian Perspectives” by Dr. C. Rajendran (Professor of Sanskrit, Calicut University).




“Bhakti Chuvai – Bhakti as Aesthetic Emotion” by Dr. T. Vaithamanithy (former Professor of English & UGC associate, Madurai Kamaraj University)


Sadharanya and its Philosophical Implications” by Shri A. V. Subramanian (Sanskrit and Tamil scholar)




“The Propriety of Metres in Sanskrit Classics” by Prof. M. Narasimhachary (former Professor of Vaishnavism, University of Madras)




“Neither Amnesia Nor Aphasia – Continuity and Change in the tradition of Indian Poetics” by Dr. A. K. Singh (Professor and Head, Dept. of English and Comparative literature, Saurashtra University)




“The Indianness of Indian Poetics” by Prof. Vishnu Narayan Namboodiri (poet and former Professor and Head, dept. of English, University College, Thiruvananthapuram)




“The Concept of Relicism In Indian Poetics” by Shri S. Ram Mohan (writer and editor)




“Sanskrit / Telugu Poetry and Neeti Shastra” by Dr. Pappu Venugopala Rao (Associate Director General, American Institute of Indian Studies, Chennai)






Indian poetics as a vehicle of Indian culture




“The Tale of Savitri – Oral Narrative, Epic Recordation and Symbolist Presentation” by Dr. Prema Nandakumar (litterateur, writer and critic)


“Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi” by Shri T. A. Venkateswaran (poet)


“Ancient Oriya Poetry – an Aesthetic Expression of Indian Spirituality” by Smt. Mamata Dash (poetess)


“Philosophy of Odia Sarala Mahabharata” by Dr. Siniruddha Dash (Professor & Head of Dept. of Sanskrit, University of Madras)


“Morals in Odia Bhagavata” by Dr. Mamata Mishra (Sanskrit & Oriya scholar)






Sources of Indian poetics




“Unknown Sanskrit Poets of Tamil Nadu – Epigraphical Gleanings” by Dr. Chithra Madhavan (Research Fellow, Ministry of Culture, GOI)

“Poems from Copper Plates” by Smt. Charu Madhavan (Sanskrit scholar)
“A New Commentary on Kavyaprakasha” by Dr. A. Ramaswamy Iyengar (Sanskrit scholar and Director, Chinmaya International Foundation, Veliyanad)





Educational aspects of Indian poetics




“The Teaching of Poetry and National Integration” by Dr. D. Raja Ganesan (Professor and Head, Dept. of Education, University of Madras)


“Aesthetics in Education” by Dr. S. Venkataraman (Principal, Dr. R. K. Shanmugam College of Arts and Science, Kallakurichi)


“Temples and Poetry” (with visual presentation) by Dr. R. Nagaswamy (former director of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu, and former vice-chancellor, Kanchipuram University)


“Appreciation of Indian Poetry: an Attempt to Sensitize Students” by Prof. S. Swaminathan (former Professor, IIT-Delhi and Director, Sudharsanam Centre for Arts and Culture, Pudukottai)


“Nursery and Primary Education” by Dr. Sumathindra Nadig (poet & former Chairman, National Book Trust)


“Nursery Rhymes in Telugu” by Dr. G. Siva Kumar (teacher and writer)


In addition to the last category, an afternoon session presided over by Dr. Nanditha C. Krishna (Director, C. P. Ramaswamy Aiyar Foundation) discussed didactic aspects of the teaching of poetry and addressed questions such as how to make a student responsive to poetry and benefit from it.

Throughout the seminar, lively and informative debates took place following each paper, in which members of the audience (on average about 50 scholars and teachers) frequently participated.

The valedictory function, on 26 January afternoon, was located in Chennai city and attended by over 100 people. Presided over by Dr. Prema Nandakumar, well-known litterateur, it began with the projection of the film The Genius of India. Prof. K. V. Raman (former Professor and Head, Dept. of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Madras), then spoke on “Integration of Sanskrit and Tamil Poetry in South Indian Temple Tradition”; Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, Bharata Natyam scholar & dancer (who had just been awarded the Padma Bhushan), spoke on “Poetry of Tirukkural Set to Bharata Natyam”, with the accompaniment of a video demonstration.

The Seminar ended with a vote of thanks by Ms. Nicole Elfi on IFIH’s behalf.

During the seminar, two evenings featured visits by the delegates to nearby temples : the Sriperumbudur temple (Sri Ramanuja’s birthplace) and the Kailashnath temple of Kanchipuram. The visits were accompanied by the scholarly comments of Prof. K. V. Raman in relation to temple architecture and history, Tamil hymns and poetry. At Kanchipuram, the delegates also visited the Museum of the C. P. Ramaswamy Aiyar Foundation, which has preserved and vividly displayed numerous local artefacts depicting folk lifestyles and traditions of the region.

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