The Akhil Bhartiya
Darshan Parishad in India is a national forum of 800 scholars
of philosophy. In 1980, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Amdavad
hosted the silver jubilee of the Akhil Bharatiya Darshan Parishad.
Fittingly, the golden jubilee was also held at the same venue.
The five-day conference, from 24 to 28 November 2004 was inaugurated
by lighting a traditional lamp.
In his inaugural speech, Sadhu Viveksagardas of the BAPS quoted
Arnold Toynbee who said that ‘The only way out of the human
predicament is the Indian way.’ He emphasised that the essence
of all philosophy is the one which aims at realising that the
soul is different from the body.
Dr. Ramjisinh, former president of the Parishad and apostle of
Gandhian philosophy, from Bhagalpur, said, “The Parishad
is not merely an institution. Rather it is an expression of Indian
glory.” He deplored the Indian obsession with the English
language and lack of respect for Hindi and the mother tongue.
Remembering Mahatma Gandhi, he said, “It was a Gujarati
who gave us the national language that is Hindi.”
Thereafter six scholarly Hindi publications authored by scholars
participating in the Akhil Bharatiya Darshan Parishad were inaugurated
by Pramukh Swami Maharaj .
Dr. Siddheshwar Bhat, of the Delhi Vishwavidyalaya, focused on
the meaning of darshan or philosophy in his address, “Philosophy
is not merely an intellectual exercise. It is thinking which inspires
one to better one’s living and achieve the ultimate bliss
of God,” he said. Dr. Bhat emphasised the need for applying
the philosophy to modern life in both personal and social context.
He said that there cannot be contemporary relevance of philosophy
since the Indian philosophy has an eternal relevance. Mapping
out the role of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research,
he said that it should make philosophy relevant to life by identifying
individual and social predicaments and probe the reasons for such
Crowning the inaugural session of the conference, Shri Pramukh
Swami Maharaj said that God incarnates whenever good is eclipsed
by evil. He emphasised the need for purity of thoughts and actions
to make the world a peaceful place to live in. Paying obeisance
to Bhagwan Swaminarayan, he said that Bhagwan Swaminarayan mastered
the Hindu scriptures and philosophy at a young age, who left home
at the age of 11 visiting various religious places throughout
India and finally settled in Gujarat. Bhagwan Swaminarayan defined
dharma in the context of morality. He penned the Shikshapatri
which is a compendium of a code of conduct for his devotees.
The conference featured paper presentations by leading scholars
and group discussions on various philosophical subjects. Some
of the renowned scholars who spoke included Prof. S.P. Dubey (Jabalpur),
President of the Akhil Bharatiya Darshan Parishad, Dr. Devkinandan
Dwivedi, Dr. Negic (Sagar), Dr. (Mrs.) R.K. Sinha (Ranchi), Prof.
S.K. Seth (Allahbad), Dr. Ramjisinh (Bhagalpur) and others.
The special highlight of the 50th anniversary conference was the
day-long series of presentations by the learned sadhus of BAPS
on Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s unique philosophy of Swaminarayan
Vedant. These lectures represented the silver jubilee of the Swaminarayan
Sheshwar Vedant lecture series. The sadhus explained that Bhagwan
Swaminarayan’s philosophy is based on the existence of five
eternal realities – jiva, ishwar, maya, Brahma and Parabrahma
– and hence was markedly different from Ramanuja’s
Vishishtadvait, which accepts only three realities. The scholarly
papers presented by the sadhus justified Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s
philosophy on the basis of the Hindu scriptures. Papers describing
the uniqueness and perennial relevance of the Vachanamrut, the
main scripture of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, were also presented.
Finally, the sadhus talked about the Satpurush as the manifest
human representative of God.
The scholars of the Parishad were impressed by the high academic
quality of the papers presented by the sadhus and acknowledged
Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s unique contribution to Indian philosophy.
In the evenings, various cultural events were organised to entertain
and enlighten the scholars. These included a presentation of devotional
songs by the sadhus, a visit to Akshardham in Gandhinagar and
a cultural programme by BAPS children and youths. The more than
200 philosophers, who were staying at the Swaminarayan Mandir,
were all praises for the lodging and boarding.
The conference was a huge success and its smooth administration
was made possible by the dedicated service of over 100 BAPS volunteers
in every aspect of the conference management, including the accommodation,
transport and catering departments.