Forget the west. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (BVB) aims to promote and propagate Indian culture among them. As they say, a person without knowledge of his or her origin is a tree without roots, so if you wish to get familiar with your culture, then Bhavan is the right place for you. From a small foundation started by politician, writer and educationist KM Munshi on November 7, 1938, the institution has grown into an intellectual, cultural and educational movement with 112 kendras in India, eight overseas centres in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Portugal, South Africa, Kuwait, Mexico and Australia, and 280 constituent institutions, besides a number of affiliated colleges.
Bhavan’s Delhi kendra, inaugurated on May 16, 1957, introduces you to various facets of India like language, science and art. Ashok Pradhan, director, Delhi kendra, says “Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan stands for the reintegration of Indian culture (among youngsters) while imbibing the best of modernity. Blending human values with a scientific temper is Bhavan’s motto across all its institutions in India and abroad.”
Despite the fact that Indian languages, a repository of rich literature, are being abandoned in favour of English, Shri Shankaracharya Mahavidyalaya at Delhi kendra conducts Sanskrit classes at two levels — saral (simple) Sanskrit and higher Sanskrit. The three-year saral Sanskrit course consists of five levels — balbodh, prarambha, pravesh, parichaya and kovid. Classes in higher Sanskrit have four levels spread over five years—poorva madhyama, uttara madhyama, shastri and acharya. Bhavan annually confers a cash reward of Rs. 50,000 for original writing in Sanskrit language.
To inculcate interest in scriptures, it also conducts Geeta examinations. Apart from teaching Sanskrit, the institute offers intensive courses in French, Japanese, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, German and Arabic besides English at its Jawaharlal Nehru Academy of Languages.
The Institute of Astrology at the Delhi kendra encourages scientific pursuit of the discipline. It runs a three-year programme (Jyotish Alankar, Jyotish Acharya followed by one-year research). On completion of the Jyotish Alankar and Jyotish Acharya course, the students are awarded certificates. Seminars are held on every fourth Sunday of the month at 4.45pm, in which research papers published in the Journal of Astrology are discussed. Bi-annual seminars held along with the convocation are compulsory for Jyotish Acharya and research classes.
New centre on the block
The centre of Indology, latest venture of Bhavan, arranges lectures for the benefit of its researchers and to enable them to develop a holistic view of Indian heritage. Some of these are open to the general public too. At present, the centre conducts a one-year diploma course in holistic living, which is open to any person over 16 years of age who can read, write and understand English and Hindi. The course is divided into three certificate courses of a duration of 12 weeks covering five modules — introduction to holistic living, yoga, naturopathy, occult sciences and astrology.
Kala Bharati is Bhavan’s cultural wing that imparts training in fine arts and offers one-year certificate courses in Hindustani classical music (vocal), Hindustani light classical music (vocal), instrumental music (tabla, harmonium, sitar etc), Bharatanatyam and kathak (for beginners).
The institute regularly holds workshops, seminars and symposiums on diverse subjects such as diet, health, happiness, religion, archaeology and music which help students in exploring career opportunities. Other sections have courses on management, electronic media, animation, computer hardware etc. The Bhavan’s public library has 6743 books and 567 members. The membership is available at Rs. 50 annually.
Varsity on the cards
With institutes across the world, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan is all set to be a university in the near future. “We have about 3,00,000 enrollments every year and the number is increasing. A private university in Gujarat is on the cards but currently we are planning to come up with a new kendra in Oman. Like all our overseas kendras, this, too, is for people of Indian origin,” says PN Santhana Gopal, joint director, BVB (headquarters), Mumbai. The institute is starting three new courses — school education and management, creative writing in English, early childhood care and education in partnership with Indira Gandhi National Open University.
Idli/sambhar; vada sambhar; chana vada; upma; poha; samosa; biscuits; rajma rice; roti subzi, raita; chhole rice; custard; kheer; fruit juice; lassi; nimbu pani; tea/coffee/cold coffee; cold milk