Rishihood University, India’s first social impact university, on Thursday, inaugurated a Centre for Human Sciences on the university campus. The centre has been set up to spread the teachings of Sri Aurobindo, the Indian Knowledge System and knowledge contained within the Sanskrit language to resolve present-day issues and attain the spiritual unity of mankind.
The inaugural ceremony began with divine chanting, followed by lighting of the lamp and launching of the centre’s website. Head of the centre Dr Sampadananda Mishra delivered the welcome address, where he highlighted the centre’s vision and focus areas. Shri Shobhit Mathur, vice-chancellor of the university, spoke about the university’s goals and how the new centre would carry forward its mission of producing modern rishis.
The event was graced by the presence of three esteemed guests. Dr Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, the vice-chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, was the chief guest; Dr Anirban Ganguly, director of the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation and member of the BJP’s National Executive Committee, delivered the keynote address and Dr Jayanti Ravi, IAS officer, Gujarat Cadre batch of 1991, currently serving as the Secretary of Auroville Foundation, was the guest of honour.
Besides studies on Sri Aurobindo, the centre also wants to promote academic engagement on the works of such luminaries as Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda among others. As a part of the Rishihood University culture, the programme began and ended by observing a minute’s silence.
Dr Mishra, in his opening remarks, said, “Sri Aurobindo is somewhere missing in academia. There’s a great need for amplifying the academic activities and engagements around the study of the luminary’s life and works. This is an attempt that we took here at Rishihood University starting with the 150 hours course, panel discussions, and webinars providing clarity and contextualisation for Sri Aurobindo’s works.”
In the keynote address, Dr Ganguly motivated students by speaking about the life and legacy of Sri Aurobindo and pointed out how Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy was applicable to all areas of life and different branches of knowledge. Dr Ganguly said, “A university is to be established for all times and ancient India had many such universities. Unfortunately, during the flow of history, a massive disruption happened wherein Indic knowledge centres were targeted for destruction. India’s quest for becoming a knowledge society was interrupted. But today, that quest is resumed by universities like Rishihood.” Dr Ganguly also stressed that the spiritual core of India’s freedom movement promoted by Sri Aurobindo should be contextualised and prepared for academic discourse at the centre.
This was followed by an address by Dr Ravi. She spoke about the need for replacing the idea of competition with the idea of collaboration and highlighted the importance of cognitive nutrition in the development of knowledge and perception. Dr Ravi also spoke of reclaiming what one truly believes to be one’s own and Sri Aurobindo studies and other branches of study in the Human Sciences.
The event concluded with a speech by Dr Pandit. She stressed the importance of building strong narratives and expressed her best wishes for the newly formed centre. Dr Pandit said, “Unless hard power matches soft power, a state cannot expect to become a ‘smart’ power. India is an emerging global power and any global power needs narratives because you don’t win only at a security level. The whole idea of a nation as ‘Bhavani Bharati’, as understood by Sri Aurobindo, can be the foundation of such narrative building. The newly inaugurated centre is a step towards that goal.