Oriental, Conventional and Non-conventional learning programmes in India
Oriental learning programmes
The field of Oriental learning involves courses based on the study of Eastern society, culture, language, history, people, etc. Asian Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Islamic Studies, Sinology, etc., are fields of Oriental Learning. Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes on the above subjects can be classified as Oriental Learning Programmes.
Oriental Research Institutes are institutions specially devoted to Indological studies. Indology is the science of study of culture in all its aspects. With the disappearance of the Gurukula system and the ancient universities like those at Nālandā and Takṣaśilā and also the gradual dissolution of the powerful kingdoms by conquests from outside, it became necessary to evolve a method by which the ancient knowledge and wisdom of the country could be revived and preserved.
It is the Western scholars of the 19th and the 20th centuries who were mainly responsible for this revival, though many scholars also has contributed considerably to it. The work of these institutes consisted chiefly in collecting and collating rare manuscripts in the oriental languages like Prākṛt and Sanskrit dealing with religion, philosophy, literature, grammar, arts and sciences, editing them and publishing them with or without translations and explanatory notes. Where and when such publications are not possible, the manuscripts and other connected materials are preserved by using various modern and scientific devices.
A brief account of these institutions is explained below:
i. Adyar Library and Research Center
The Adyar Library and Research Centre was founded in 1886 by theosophist Henry Steel Olcott. The library is at the Theosophical Society Adyar in Adyar, near Chennai. oday, the library has approx. 250,000 books and 20,000 palm leaves. The library is today among the most important orientalist libraries in the world. The Adyar library is also used by post-graduate students in Sanskrit and Indology of the University of Madras. The University of Chicago is trying to preserve the old works in the Adyar library with modern techniques.
ii. Asiatic Society
One of the good results of the British conquest of India is the deep interest aroused in Indological studies in the Western intellectuals and scholars. The person who gave an institutional framework to such studies was Sir William Jones. He did it by starting ‘The Asiatic Society’ in A. D. 1794. He was an Orientalist of repute and hence was elected its first President. Indian members began to be admitted only as late as A. D. 1829. Rajendralal Mitra was the first Indian to hold the highest office of the President (A. D. 1885).
iii. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute
It is located in Pune. This institute was started in A. D. 1917 at Pune to commemorate the life and works of R. G. Bhaṇḍārkar, a distinguished pioneer of scientific Orientology in India. It is a registered body and is managed by a Regulating Council and also an Executive Board. It is financed by the governments of India, Government of Maharashtra and also the University Grants Commission. By far, the crowning achievement of this famous institute is the publication of the critical and illustrated edition of the epic Mahābhārata. The project was started in A. D. 1919 and completed in A. D. 1966. History of Dharmaśāstra by Dr. P. V. Kāṇe and the critical edition of the Harivanśa are the other two illustrious publications. The institute has its own printing press.
iv. Ganganath Jha Kendriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth
It is located in Allahabad. It was established in A. D. 1934. Formerly, it was known as G. N. Jhā Research Institute. It was started to perpetuate the memory of Gaṅgānāth Jhā who was an eminent Indologist, a great scholar in Sanskrit and a Vice-chancellor of the Allahabad University for nine years. The Institute was taken over by the Government of India in A. D. 1945, placed under the Rāṣṭrīya Sanskṛta Sansthāna of Delhi and renamed ‘Ganganath Jha Kendriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha’. It is mainly a research institute admitting students only for Ph.D., D.Litt. which are the degrees awarded by the Sansthāna. It has modern facilities for research work. It has brought out a number of rare books of Sanskrit and is also publishing a quarterly journal.
v. Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute
It is in Chennai. This Institute was founded in A. D. 1944 in memory of the great savant S. Kuppusvāmi Śāstrī in A. D. 1944. At the initial stage, the Institute was engaged in coordinating the activities of some of the institutions like the Oriental Research Institute and the Madras Sanskrita Academy. Later on, the objectives were expanded in scope to include oriental learning and research in all its aspects. As a part of this, it organizes periodical meetings and conferences, conducts seminars and maintains a good library. It is located within the campus of the Sanskrit College at Mylapore. The Institute runs different courses like M.Phil., Ph.D. and Vidyāvāridhi, they being affiliated to, or recognized by, competent authorities like the University of Madras, Rāṣṭṛīya Sanskṛta Sansthāna and others. It provides all opportunities and assistance to research scholars in Indological subjects from all over India. Among its special activities, the following need to be mentioned:
(a) Classes for teaching spoken Sanskrit
(b) Preparation of a Śaivāgama Kosa
(c) Setting up of groups for special critical studies
(d) Comparative study of texts on the tāla systems in Indian music and so on
Collection and microfilming of valuable manuscripts is another aspect of the Institute’s work.
vi. Madras Sanskrit College
It is situated in Chennai. The College was founded in A. D. 1905 by V. Krishnaswamy Iyer and started working from February 1906. The course it offered was for a duration of five years and was modeled on the traditional methods of teaching. The certificate awarded to successful students was for Viśārada degree, the subjects being Vedas, Vedānta, Mīmānsā, Smṛtis and some allied subjects.
The institution was given recognition by the Education Department of Madras State in A. D. 1907. Later on, in A. D. 1912, it was affiliated to the University of Madras, which introduced Oriental Title Examinations with additional courses of study and new syllabus.
vii. Mythic Society
It is located in Bangalore. It is an institution devoted to the study and research of religion, philosophy, history, ethnology and culture. The Mythic Society of Bangalore was was founded in A. D. 1909, primarily at the initiative of F. J. Richards, the then Collector of Civil and Military Station Cantonment of Bangalore. Starting with a core of just 17 members, the number has now crossed 400. The library of the Society has a very good collection of books of about 36,000 volumes including rare and valuable books and also manuscripts, acquired from various sources, like the personal libraries of many savants. It includes the back-numbers of many well-known journals on subjects pertaining to Indology. Some of the rare books in its collection include the ones published in the 17th, the 18th and the 19th centuries.
The books and the manuscripts are in various languages like Sanskrit, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi and also some foreign languages such as French and English. The Society is also publishing a journal entitled Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society since A. D. 1909 itself. It contains the research papers read at the meetings of the Society. The other specialties of the Society are:
(a) A portrait gallery of eminent personalities closely associated with it since its inception
(a) Endowments in memory of scholars
(b) Conducting seminars and symposia on Indological subjects
(c) A training course in research work
(d) A certificate course in the history of the Karnataka State
(e) Exhibitions on our cultural heritage
(f) Felicitations of scholars
(g) Hosting All India conferences of academic bodies and so on
(h) The Mythic Society’s contribution to oriental studies is significant.
viii. Oriental Institute
It is situated in Baroda. This institute was first founded at the instance of Sayyāji Rao Gāyakvāḍ, the third by the then dewan in A. D. 1893 with a small collection of manuscripts and printed texts. It formed a part of the Sanskrit section of the central library of Baroda. The now famous Gaekwad’s Oriental Series was started in A. D. 1915. The Kāvyamimāmsā of Rājaśekhara was the first publication. Under the orders of the Baroda Government, ‘The Oriental Institute’ formally came into being in A. D. 1927. The translation branch of the Education Department of the State was amalgamated with the Institute in A. D. 1931. When the M. S. University of Baroda was established in A. D. 1949, the Oriental Institute became its constituent. The Institute got its own building in A.D. 1958.
The Institute published a critical edition of the Rāmāyaṇa which has been widely acclaimed. Work is now in progress on the critical editions of Viṣṇupurāṇa and the Mārkandeyapurāṇa. About fifty works are under preparation by different scholars to be published in due course. The Institute has the potentiality into being developed as a big center for South Asian studies.
x. Oriental Manuscripts Library
It is situated in Tiruvanantapuram or Trivandrum. It started in A. D. 1911 as a department of the Government of Travancore and then it was amalgamated with the Manuscripts Library of the Kerala University in A. D. 1940. It has a collection of over 50,000 manuscripts in Sanskrit, Malayālam and other languages. It is publishing two journals, one in Sanskrit and the other in Malayālam. The Library has also published books on Astronomy, Indian Music and other similar subjects.
xi. Oriental Research Institute
It is in Mysore. Chamaraja Wodeyar, the Mahārāja of the erstwhile Mysore State, who was a staunch admirer and follower of the values of life, founded this Oriental Institute in A. D. 1891. It was then known as ‘Oriental Library’. Its centenary was celebrated in December 1990. When the University of Mysore was established in A. D. 1916, the Institute was placed under its jurisdiction. A committee of very eminent scholars started managing its library and the associated activities. The Institute is concentrating mainly on the collection of valuable manuscripts of treatises in Sanskrit and Kannada, preserving them and publishing some of them in due course. The year A. D. 1909 has been cherished in its annals since Dr. R. Shama Sastri discovered, edited and published the hitherto unknown treatise, the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya for the first time. At present the Institute has 66,000 manuscripts, with arrangements for microfilming them. It has in its library 25,000 printed books also in various Indian languages.
Starting with the publication of the Āpastambasutra in A. D. 1893, and the Ādipurāna in Kannada of the great poet Pampa
xii. Oriental Research Institute
It is located in Tirupati. The temple town of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh is not only a place of pilgrimage but also a place of Oriental learning. The management of the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthānams has been spending a part of the surplus funds for the propagation of education and spread of religion and culture. As a part of this, the Oriental Research Institute of Tirupati came into being in A. D. 1941. When the Sri Venkateshwara University was started in A. D. 1954, Tirupati became its seat. The Institute was handed over to it in A. D. 1956.
xiii. Sanskrita Academy
It is in Chennai. The Sanskrita Academy of Chennai was started in A. D. 1927 in the Senate Hall of the Old Senate building of the University of Madras by Paṇḍit Madan Mohan Mālavīya. The well-known savant Kuppusvāmi Sāstri was chosen as the first president. It is also conducting free Sanskrit classes and awarding scholarships to deserving students studying Sanskrit.
xiv. Sanskrita Sahitya Parishat
It is situated in Kolkata. This institution owes its origin to a handful of Sanskrit pundits with limited financial resources but endowed with unlimited love and zeal for the rich heritage of the country. Founded in A. D. 1916 in a tiny rented house, it has now housed its own spacious three storeyed building. It has now become an advanced center of Sanskrit learning and research. It has all aspects of a typical research center viz.:
(a) Teaching facilities
(b) A well-equipped library providing all opportunities for research
(c) Publishing books after carefully scrutinizing and editing the manuscripts
(d) Bringing out a journal of its own
The Pariṣat is publishing a monthly Sanskrit journal of research value. It has also brought out fifty important Sanskrit texts so far. More literature is in the process which will be out in the near future. Work is now under progress on the famous work on Navyanyāya, the Tattva-cintāmani of Gaṅgeśa with the commentary Mayukha. The several Tattvas of Raghunandana[ are also in the process of being published in due course. Other activities of the institution include honoring veteran and great scholars in Sanskrit, organizing dramatic shows in Sanskrit for popularizing the language and conducting classes on German language.
xv. The Government Sanskrit College
It is in Kolkata. The foundation of Sanskrit College was laid during the British regime based on a recommendation by HT James Prinsep and Thomas Babington Macaulay. It was under the auspices of Rt. Honorable William Pit Amherst that John Paskal Larkins Esquire, a scholar of oracular knowledge laid the first foundation stone of the college in 1824. H.H. Wilson, the Secretary to the then British Govt., took a major role in establishing this college to impart knowledge of ancient literature, philosophy, Hindu Law, grammar, Indian Culture and to promote the learning of Sanskrit among British officials as well as the Indians. The transformation of Sanskrit College as The Sanskrit College and University has been done by the Government of West Bengal vide the Legislative Act XXXIII of 2015 and it becomes functioning on the 15th Day of June 2016 with the joining of its First Vice Chancellor Professor Dilipkumar Mohanta.
xvi. Sarasvati Mahal Library
Saraswathi Mahal Library is a library located in Thanjavur (Tanjore), Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the oldest libraries in Asia, and has on display a rare collection of Palm leaf manuscripts and paper written in Tamil and Sanskrit and a few other languages indigenous to India. The collection comprises well over 49,000 volumes, though only a tiny fraction of these are on display. The library has a complete catalog of holdings, which is being made available online. The Saraswathi Mahal library started as a Royal Library for the private pleasure of the then Kings of Thanjavur (see Nayaks of Tanjore) who ruled from 1535 CE till 1675 CE. The Maratha rulers who captured Thanjavur in 1675 promoted local culture and further developed the Royal Palace Library until 1855.
xvii. Vishveshvaranand Vishvabandhu Institute of Sanskrit and Indological Studies
In 1903 A.D., two Sannyasins Swami Vishveshvaranand (on whose name the Institute got its nomenclature) and Swami Nityanand launched a project of preparing Word Indices to the four principal Vedic Samhita and ultimately a lexicon of the same texts at Simla. By 1910 A.D. they were able to publish the Word Indices of the Rigveda Samhita (Sakala recession), the Yajurveda Samhita (Madhyandina recension), the Samaveda Samhita (Kauthuma recension), and the Atharvaveda Samhita (Saunaka recension). A great set back to the project was Svami Nityanand’s passing away in 1914 A.D. After his demise, Svami Vishveshvaranand, anyhow, persued the project till 1918 A.D at Simla and thereafter till 1923 A.D. at Indore. But he found it very difficult to pursue the project further. In the year1923 he shifted from Indore to Lahore, the main centre of Sanskrit and Indological Studies in those days,. There, Swami Vishveshvaranand met Acharya Vishva Bandhu, a young erudite scholar, who was then working as the Principal of the Dayanand Brahma Mahavidyalaya, established under the management of D.A.V. College Trust and Management Society. Swami Ji decided to place the burden of this project on the young shoulders of Acharya Ji, who acceded to the request. After handing over the project to Acharya Vishva Bandhu, Svami Ji felt a sigh of relief. After a few days he departed from the scene.
In the sacred memory of Swami Vishveshvaranand Ji, Acharya Vishva Bandhu established an institution, named as Vishveshvaranand Vedic Research Institute, at Lahore on 1.1.1924. In August, 1947, on the occasion of India.s position the Institute faced a terrible crisis. The Pakistan Government imposed a strict ban on the transfer of the reference Library, manuscripts, publications and academic records of the Institute to India. At this critical juncture putting their life in great danger, Acharya Ji and his associates managed to bring the entire academic and administrative record, as well as the huge reference-cum-manuscript library of the Institute to India, in extremely difficult and dangerous circumstances. Coming to India, Acharya Ji re-established the Institute at its present premises known as Sadhu Ashram, Hoshiarpur, donated by Shri Dhani Ram Bhalla. In November 1947, the Institute re-started its functioning and in no time expanded its activities both in the matter of research and publications. As a result of take-over of all the academic departments of the VVRI by the Panjab University on 1.7.1965, a new Institution under the name Vishveshvaranand Institute of Sanskrit and Indological Studies (VIS&IS) with Acharya Vishva Bandhu as its first Honorary Director, came into being. After the demise of Acharya Ji on 1st August, 1973, the Panjab University renamed the Institute as: “Vishveshvaranand Vishva-Bandhu Institute of Sanskrit and Indological Studies” (VVBIS&IS), in recognition of the meritorious services rendered by him to the Institute for making it an Institution of world-fame.
Conventional learning programmes
These are the traditional programmes such as the regular degree and diploma courses. Conventional learning involves the learning inside a classroom set-up. It does not make use of modem technology in learning.
Non-conventional learning programmes
As the name suggests, these programmes involve the use of modem technology. With the development of technology, students now have the option to enroll in online courses, where they can learn from videos and handouts available online. Certificates can also be generated upon completion of the course. Different degree, diploma, and certificate courses available in MOOC form can be categorized as non-conventional learning programmes.