“Kashi Tamil Sangamam” to uphold the Spirit of “Ek Bharat Shreshta Bharat”
To rediscover, reaffirm and celebrate the age-old links between the Tamil culture and Kashi (Varanasi) that has existed since centuries, a month-long “Kashi Tamil Sangamam” is being organized in Varanasi (Kashi) from 16th November to 19th December 2022, during which academic exchanges – seminars, discussions etc are being held between experts/ scholars on various facets of the two ancient manifestations of Indian Culture, with focus on bringing out the links and shared values between the two.
The Kashi-Tamil Sangamam is supposed to serve as an ideal platform to understand the unity in India’s civilizational assets through two historic centres of knowledge & culture. The central government believes that such an understanding is essential to uphold the Spirit of ‘Ore Bharatham, Unnadha Bharatham’ (Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat).
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi says, “The Kashi Tamil Sangam is a programme I am particularly enthusiastic about. It will be a celebration of the spirit of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat and will also celebrate the beautiful Tamil language as well as culture.”
With a collective vision to celebrate the unity in diversity of our nation and to ignite the sense of togetherness among the diverse set of communities, religions and ethnicities, Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat programme (EBSB) was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31, 2015.
While ancient and traditional knowledge systems exist across all regions of India, across all ages and in multiple languages, Tamil Nadu and Kashi, and the area around it, are two of the oldest and most important of such centres. Both these centres have been fountainheads of knowledge in the intellectual, cultural, spiritual and artisanal realms.
The broad objectives of Kashi Tamil Sangamam are as follows:
• Bring the two Knowledge and Cultural traditions closer
• Create an understanding of our shared heritage
• Deepen the people-to-people bond between the regions
At the end of the Sangamam event, people of Tamil Nadu shall get an immersive experience of Kashi and the people of Kashi shall also get to know the cultural richness of Tamil Nadu through a healthy exchange of knowledge sharing experiences – events, visits, conversations, etc.
As part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, Kashi-Tamil Sangamam will further strengthen the common experience, appreciation and bonds amongst the people of Tamil Nadu & Varanasi.
Varanasi, known popularly as Kashi in Tamil Nadu, is one of the oldest living cities of the world, endowed with a civilizational and cultural continuum that is unparalleled. Knowledge, philosophy, culture, devotion to Gods, literature, Indian arts and crafts have all flourished in this holy city.
Tamil Nadu on the other hand is another cradle of culture, arts, crafts, literature, with a wealth of knowledge available in Tamil language, which is the most ancient language in the world.
What is more important is the fact that these two manifestations of Indian Culture, though geographically distant, have had deep and vibrant links over centuries. Knowledge seekers from near and far used to come to Kashi, and places in and around like Prayagraj, Ayodhya, Gorakhpur, which are internally connected as Knowledge Hubs.
Similarly, in Tamil Nadu, places like Kanchipuram, Puducherry, Madurai, Thanjavur, Rameshwaram, Srirangam, Kanyakumari, Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Tamraparani River have been excellent knowledge centres/ Ghatikasthanas and have contributed for various ancient industries like shipbuilding, pottery, weaving, idol making, river dams, mining, warfare, weaponry etc.
The ancient connection between the two centres of knowledge is evident in many walks of life like similar themes in literature, presence of the name of Kashi in every village in Tamil Nadu etc. Many households in Tamil Nadu adopted the name of Kailasanatha and Kashinatha for naming their children, like those who are living in Kashi and Uttar Pradesh.
Hence, exploring and rediscovering the links between these two centres can lead to the creation of important bodies of knowledge both in the intellectual and practical realms.
Knowledge, philosophy, culture, devotion to Gods, literature, Indian arts and crafts have all flourished in Kashi on the banks of the Holy River Ganga. Besides, Kashi has given impetus to the quest of freedom and patriotic fervour to Rani Lakshmi Bai and Mahakavi Subrayamanya Bharati and others.
Saint Kumaragurupara from Sri Vaikundam, Tuthukudi District of Tamil Nadu had excelled in bargaining with Sultanate of Kashi with audacity and drove a lion to his courtyard to get back the Kedarghat and a place for consecration of Vishweshwara Lingam. He has written “Kashi Kalambakam” a grammatical composition of poems on Kashi. King Adhiveera Rama Pandiyan of Pandya Dynasty dedicated a Shiva Temple at Tenkasi of Tamilnadu after his pilgrimage to Kashi , whose ancestors have established Sivakasi. He wrote “Kashi Kandam” of Skanda Purana in Tamil poetic verses.
The Sangam thus is a unique learning experience for students, scholars, academics, practising professionals, etc. on various facets of Indian Knowledge Systems, medicines, Education & Training Practices, Arts & Culture, Language, Literature, etc.
To ensure that the benefit of these discussions reaches the actual practitioners of these knowledge streams, attempts are being made that in addition to experts, common practitioners from various groups from different parts of Tamil Nadu can be brought for an 8-day visit of Varanasi and its neighbouring areas. Such groups had been identified including students, teachers, literary (authors, poets, publishers), cultural experts, professionals (practicing arts, music, dance, drama, folk art, yoga, Ayurveda), entrepreneurs, (SMEs, start-ups ) business people, (community business groups, hoteliers,) artisans, heritage related experts (archaeologists, tour guides, bloggers etc) spiritual, rural, sampradaya organizations.
In addition to the above, the art, culture, cuisine, handlooms, handicrafts etc of Tamil Nadu are being exhibited, and cultural performance like Bharatanatyam dance, Carnatic music / Tamil music, Tamil folk music, Nadaswaram music concert, Thevaaram thiruvaasagam in Tamil music form, Debate on Kamba Ramayana, Villu-paattu, Bommalaatum, Silambaattum, Kaavadi Attam, Karagam, Pattimandram, Tamil folk dances Karagattam, Poikkal Kuthirai, Thappaattam etc are organized in specially designated locations for people of Varanasi to savour.
All told, Bharatiya way of life is a continuous exploring and understanding the unique manifestation of common civilizational treasure among the citizens in the country. It is the pathway to experience the rich and proud heritage of India that no country in the world can showcase.