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London seminar on Sharda civilization

16 Aug 2019

London seminar on Sharda civilization
A cultural and historic perspective
“Sharda Civilization: A Cultural and Historic Perspective” was the topic of the seminar held in London, on July 20 last, at the William Barry Theatre, West London University. It was organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Study Centre (JKSC, U.K).
The seminar had a distinguished panel of speakers from various global locations, including London, New York, New Delhi and Singapore.
Shri Vinod Tikoo, a JKSC volunteer, facilitated the seminar and outlined the key purpose of the seminar viz., to inform the audience from the subcontinent, listeners in the UK and global Diaspora on the following aspects of Sharda.
To provide a background on the religious, linguistic, historic and cultural significance of Sharda Peeth.
To talk about the engineering and technology of story-telling unique to Sharda opularizeg.
To elaborate the relevance of Sharda as a temple-based ancient centre of high learning.
To raise awareness on civil society efforts towards preservation and restoration of the centre and initiatives to restart the exchange and opening of the pilgrimage route to Sharda for devotees.
The proceedings began by lighting of Diyas in reverence to Sharda Devi, by distinguished ladies from the Jammu and Kashmir, including Faria Attique, Urmila Kaul, Manu Khajuria, Shafalica Bhan Kotwal and Anupama Handoo.
Shri Ravinder Pandita, convener of Save Sharda Committee, who has been making efforts, in this direction,, spoke about the civil society initiatives on both sides of the border and government-to-government dialogue on opening the pilgrimage route to Sharda, using the existing cross LoC permit mechanism. He opularize the need for the preservation and restoration of the Sharda heritage and the temple complex.
Shri Rakesh K Kaul, author of the book The Last Queen of Kashmir, spoke on the historical and academic background of Sharda Peeth and explained how its impact was not limited to the region of J&K but across the Indian subcontinent and even as far as China, drawing parallels to the use of science and technology for story telling in the Sharda civilization. He explained how Panchtantra was a great technology of story-telling that emanated from Sharda Desh (Kashmir).

An academic assessment was undertaken on the role of Sharda in shaping languages as well as the present-day Mutt systems in the subcontinent by Shri Sridhar Chityala (Trustee Shingeri Sharda Mutt NA) and Dr SS Toshkhani ji. Shri Chityala also provided an overview of the links between the temple and the culture of the region including its reverence to south of India.
Speakers included Mr Sajjad Rajai and Mrs Faria Attique ji, civil society activists from PoK based in London, who spoke on how Sharda was the common cultural heritage of all people from the state of J&K on both sides of the border.They opularize that the region needs to reclaim its historical identity to ensure that the diversity, heritage and culture of the region is preserved and nurtured.
Dr Gautam Sen spoke about the academic relevance of Sharda in the context of Taxila and Nalanda as the great trilogy of academic centres of excellence in the sub-continent. He also opularize the need to revive the culture of academic excellence and research for society.

The seminar concluded with a joint declaration on urging administration in Pakistan for the preservation and restoration of the Sharda temple complex and opening/reviving the ancient Sharda Peeth Yatra, on the lines of the current Kartarpur corridor and requested the respective Governments of India and Pakistan to provide the necessary support in this regard.
JKSC (UK) is linked to its parent organisation which is an independent and objective think-tank dedicated to the study of Jammu and Kashmir in its entirety. It was established in 2011 to undertake policy-relevant studies on all aspects of the important state of India and to disseminate the outcome of the same in the correct perspective.