TODAY -

Reinventing civilization & spirit

Free Thinker *



Normally I start my morning with reading local dailies but today I have started with national dailies first only to satisfy my inquisitiveness about the unfortunate Chopper crash of CDS. Man or machine or the weather or what? I could not get any hint from the papers despite the recovery of the ‘black box’. Perhaps 3 Services are doing the investigation.

Then I started looking for any other mind-teaser news – I got it from Esha Roy talking to a maverick RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha ; he told her, “the National Mission for Manuscripts was set up to unearth and preserve the multitude of manuscripts “ – our own manuscripts are scattered all over inside and outside the country.

He added 35,000 ancient manuscripts are in the University of Pennsylvania and another 30,000 in Oxford University. Thousands of unread or undeciphered manuscripts are still with the temples in the country. Esha tried to provoke him – how can the manuscripts help contemporary India?

He shot back - Prime Minister has rightly pointed to move away from Euro-centric discourse and turning to an Indo-centric one. These manuscripts will certainly help; the information and knowledge embedded in these manuscripts can be of incredible value to the academia to turn the table.

Few months back we heard of a quibbling proposal to start a Ministry of Civilization and Heritage. Among the idea mongers a discussion triggered off – what is the need to set up such a Ministry?

One scholar maintains that the need for such a ministry is felt when we realize that we were following the western model of civilization in the last 300 years or so. Western domination is now on the wane. The oriental civilizations are on the reckoning once again. It reminds us of the Great Indian civilization or other oriental civilization. Value system must prevail upon the material culture.

Manipur was perhaps a very rare spot where the melting and mixing of culture and civilization took place particularly in the last 1000 years. The traces of Indo-Tibeto-Burman culture are quite evident in our present day life. That shows that we have an undeniable link with these cultures. Unfortunately we are also drawn into materialism of the west.

Our ancient scripts have been destroyed by fire (artificially) and by flood & storm (naturally). Some of our scriptures are lying somewhere unknown from the world.

Those who are still keeping the ancient manuscripts may kindly come out and share the literature for good. I still believe that many of our old scriptures are lying here and there in Assam, Tripura, Bangladesh and Burma. We may explore them as they are our hidden treasure.

Few leaders have acknowledged the urgent need of such a Ministry or Department to take care of the civilization and heritage of this vast country. They think the Ministry of Culture has a very limited role; however the proposed new Ministry will have a wider ambit.

This will cover the civilizational history of the subcontinent and also to establish a link with the present. Obviously, distortions that took place in the modern and medieval period may be corrected accordingly.

Ancient hand written scripts on wooden planks, papyrus, parchment, leaves, bamboo pulps , etc. will of great source of wisdom and knowledge; I really didn’t know the National Mission for Manuscripts (NMM) exists . Those scholars who are aware of the work of NMM might be doing some research . It appears some people have started doing some serious work.

Universities must take initiatives in the collection and study of these manuscripts. Manuscript centres may be set up across the country. We have only touched the tip of the iceberg. There must be a huge granary of manuscripts hidden or lying untouched across the country particularly in temples, old libraries, ancestral puja rooms, family stores etc.

Let us explore and discover them all for the sake of restoring and reviving our ancient pride and prestige.

Frankly speaking we are under tremendous influence of western culture and education. How to eat and drink is still guided by their influence. The use of a fork or spoon was never in our culture. The entire sub-continent uses hand and fingers to eat. We must continue with it proudly; the only requirement is, hands must be cleaned properly at least before eating. We have forgotten that we have our own drinks.

Let us try to get ourselves emancipated from the western alcoholic marque and promote our own brands. Our native spirit should be encouraged by all means. ‘Nisha bandhi’ people are requested to stand up against all kinds of foreign liquors but the local drinks; the whip and warning for the local brew should be “improve the quality up to the global standard” .

Perhaps the present Ministry of Culture may be redesignated as the Ministry of Civilization, Culture & Heritage. Most probably this is a new Ministry coming up both at the Centre and in the States. Anyone who wants to grab it must wait till Holi . Hopefully this new Ministry will protect and promote our own Superstructure, Script, Science, and Soul and of course Spirit too.


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on December 16 2021.



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