Photos by Tor
Review by Willard Van De Bogart
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The Royal Thai Embassy in cooperation with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations hosted the 2nd Seminar on Indo-Thai Historical and Cultural Linkages on 21 and 22 August 2006 at the Royal Hotel, Bangkok Thailand.
The first Seminar on Indo-Thai Historical and Cultural Linkages was held on 5 and 6 September 2005 at the India International Centre, New Delhi.
"The Seminars are visualized as an acedemic exercise preparatory to the establishment of a Thai Cultural Centre in New Delhi. The main objective of the Seminars is to analyze and outline the uniqueness of Thai culture and its contribution to the formation of a global Asian civilization as an equal partner with India for at least two thousand years of the recorded history.
Thailand is a sort of bridge (not in a metaphorical, but in a real, physical sense) which links China, mainland Southeast Asia with Indonesia, Australia, and Madagascar. In other words since time immemorial she connects the Indian Ocean with the Pacific and provides a cultural and commercial corridor for connecting peoples of distant lands.
We expect that from the deliberations of these seminars a blueprint of our proposed Thai Cultural Centre will emerge, which could mirror the unique cultural identity of Thailand, the image of Thailand as the custodian of ASEAN cultutal heritage, and her long-standing cultural partnership with India.
We also expect that the deliberations of these seminars will be helpful identifying the linkages in the field of religion, art-archaeology and language as essential components for building up a future programme of close cultural cooperation between India and Thailand".
Sachhidanand Sahai and Neeru Misra
A personal perspective:
The Honorary Professor, Dr. Satya Vrat Shastri, made the comment at the closing remarks of the seminar that the seeds have definitely been sown for the metaphorical tree, which will grow and bear fruit for the establishment of the Thai Cultural Centre in India. But, before I review the seminar and lead up to the closing session where Dr. Shastri contributes more words of wisdom I want to explain how it was that I happen to attend the seminar.
I was invited to attend the seminar in Bangkok by Dr Sahai, and had no prior knowledge of the ground work that had taken place to bring the 2nd seminar to Bangkok. I traveled to Bangkok from Nakhon Sawan where I have been teaching English for the last three years at Rajabhat University. In my free time I travel to the 5th century temple Vat Phu in Champassak, S. Laos. It was through my research with the ancient city of New Kuruksetra in Champassak, Laos that I learned of Chhom Kunthea's research with King Devanika's stele at Vat Luang Kau dated 456CE. The translation of this stele was done by George Coedes. It was Kunthea who referred me to Dr. Sahai, and consequently led to my attending the seminar. Dr. Sahai told me, however, that our meeting in Bangkok was more than just a meeting but a divine cosmic moment. After attending all the sessions I have to agree that this was more than just a seminar, but a holy setting (a tirtha) where the most esteemed scholars from India and Thailand made a pilgrimage to deliberate on the establishment of the Thai Cultural Center in India, and pay respects to Lord Buddha and the ancient Indian gods.
Gallery of Seminar Attendees
Dr. R. Panth
Dr. Sachidanand Sahai
Willard Van De Bogart
Ambassador Royal Thai Embassy
Dr. Sachidanand Sahai
Willard Van De Bogart
The word auspicious is the most appropriate word to describe this seminar. Several scholars came directly from India to join their Thai collegues to present there research and findings over a two day period which clearly demonstrated the close relationship of India and Thailand over the last two thousand years.
In the opening remarks it was pointed out that very few of the present Thai population know little if anything of the influences that India has played on the rituals, languages, and architecture of Thailand. Likewise, it was also pointed out that in India today most people do not know anything about Thai culture and in fact the Thai language is no where taught in a University in India.
Consequently, the 2nd Seminar on the Historical and Cultural Linkages between India and Thailand was organized to bring together scholars versed in history, art, architecture, human migration patterns and languages. Clearly the scholars who presented their research are the most esteemed in the world on the heritage of India and Thailand. The seminar was rich in content as well as an affirmation of the historical and cultural linkages between the two nations.
Truly these scholars are preserving the ancient history for future generations to come, and with their guidance will encapsulate those historical and cultural findings in the Thai Cultural Center to be established in New Delhi very soon.
The need for a Thai Cultural Center in India
Few if any of the laity in India or Thailand are aware of their long standing relationship which the two nations share.
The exchange of papers by the scholars was a way to ensure that the latest developments and findings gained from sanskrit, pali and Khmer inscriptions, archaeological discoveries, and ancient trade routes could be deliberated to bring to light the deep relationship between the two nations.
For me, the seminar was a most opportune experience to sit among the most esteemed and renown scholars who are not only preservers of the historical legacy of the two nations of India and Thailand but also scholars who are trying to create a Thai Cultural Center which can demonstrate how these two ancient cultures have been intertwined for thousands of years.
Other perspectives on art and architecture: