Naimisheya Shankhnad: Clarion call to protect India’s cultural continuity

Naimisharanya, a nondescript village in Uttar Pradesh, hosted a unique two-day conclave of intellectuals, artists and academicians on December 7-8.

Honestly, the choice of the venue had left me baffled. I couldn’t figure out why on earth would someone organize an event like this in a seemingly godforsaken place? But when I learnt about its past, it filled me with awe and pain at the same time.

Naimisharanya holds great significance in the Hindu scheme of things. It was once upon time a centre of India’s spiritual awakening. The impoverished village, lying 100 km away from Lucknow, hides in its bosom rich heritage and legacy that had changed the spiritual and intellectual landscape of the country.  It is here on the banks of the serene Gomti river that Ved Vyas had divided the Vedas into four parts. It here that the epic Mahabharatawas first presented before an august gathering of scholars. It is here that eighty-eight thousand holy men drawn from far-away lands, after the Mahabharata war, before the turn of the Yuga, converged to brainstorm and lay the norms for a new social order. 

Naimisharanya is also home to several antique temples. The first Shakti Peeth is situated in the heart of the town. However, what pains one is the poor upkeep of these holy sites.

By organizing the event here, Sanskar Bharati wanted to recreate the same paradigm that the great saints had laid out for mankind.  Titled Naimisheya Sankhanad, the conclave sought to present a cultural narrative that is rooted in the ethos and the spiritual values of the country.  

On the significance of the event, Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi (Chanakya serial fame) stated: “The conclave is a call to our inner conscience to make efforts to reintroduce ourselves to our rich culture. … There is a huge difference between the knowledge handed down to us by our forefathers and our current social behavior…. We often gloss over these differences by taking refuge in the argument that our ancestors were wise people and we have inherited their profound thoughts. We cannot progress unless we resolve these contradictions. Sanskriti Naimisheya is an effort to join the missing links in this broken chain so that our dream of Vasudhaiva Kudumbakam becomes a reality.”

The power-packed two-day conclave deliberated on all aspects related to the cultural life of the country.  Scholars and artists discussed how the country can preserve, protect and promote the rich cultural traditions. 

Among the prominent personalities who took part in the deliberations included UP minister Dr Rita Bahuguna-Joshi, Sonal Man Singh, Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi, Vasudev Kamath, Dr Kuldeep Agnihotri, Dr Leela, Shekhar Sen, Faiyaz Wasif Uddin Dagar, Santosh K Mishra, Dr Ananda Shankar Jayant, Manoj Kumar Shrivastava and so on.

The conclave, inaugurated by Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik, began with a havan.  Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who was present at the concluding event announced Rs 90 crore to develop the religious places in the town and to restore their pristine glory.