SPbU has held the III Indological Conference “India – Russia: Сontexts of mutual understanding – past, present, future”. The event was visited by the Russian and international leading scholars, diplomats, and non-commercial organisations.

In the welcoming speech, the Ambassador of India to the Russian Federation Pankaj Saran said: “Russia has rich experience in studying India. Today we have to understand what place Russian-Indian relations have in the world of global changes and hardships. We should expand our dialogue by going beyond the inter-state collaboration and move towards person-to-person interaction, primarily between scientists and universities”. Pankaj Saran also thanked the organisers of the conference, in particular SPbU that has held the conference this year, as it was usually held in Deli and Beijing.

The declaration of the strategic partnership between Russia and India was signed in 2000, while in 2010 the partnership between Russia and India was granted a “special status”.

Last year, at the Petersburg International Economic Forum President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin met Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, said the Ambassador. They signed the St Petersburg Declaration that is a document that describes the opportunities and principles to develop collaboration between the countries in the world.

The Vice-Rector for Research Sergei Aplonov provided a brief outline of the history of the Indological School at St Petersburg University that has been existing for over 150 years and is now globally recognized. A more detailed account of how Indology and Sanskrit studies have been evolving at the University was presented in the report by SPbU’s Associate Professor Anna Chelnokova.

Sanskrit studies at the University initiated in 1836 when the University invited Robert Lenz who was an indologist, a member of the Academy of Sciences, and Professor of Universität Dorpat (now the University of Tartu). After his death, Sanskrit studies was developed by Professor Boris Dorn who also taught Farsi. In 1858, when the Faculty of oriental Studies was opened, the University also opened the Department of Sanskrit that was headed by one of the first Russian scholars in Sanskrit studies, Professor Kaetan Kossovich. His student was Ivan Minaev, a father of the Indology and Buddhist studies at St Petersburg University. In the early 19th century, Minaev’s followers continued Sanskrit and Pali studies. Among them was Professor Fedor Shcherbatskii, Professor Dmitrii Kudriavskii, and others. In the 1920s, the University introduced new Indo-Aryan languages: Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, and others. The founder was Academician Aleksei Barannnikova who was the head of the Department up to 1952.

In 1937-38 and 1947-48, the University has Professor Rahul Sankrityayan, a famous Indian writer, scholar, public figure, and traveler.  He told about the university in his book 25 months in Russia and autobiographical essays.

Apart from the Indian languages, SPbU also offers courses in ancient, Medieval, and modern history of India, its economics, ethnography, culture, politics, and philosophy. Philology is just one of the areas we are actively developing collaboration in with India. SPbU and Indian universities also have joint projects in sciences, mathematics, and IT. “Such broad collaboration is essential, especially for cooperation between the BRICS countries”, — said Sergei Aplonov.

The III Indological Conference is a step forward consolidating academic societies and advancing Indology in Russia and abroad, says the President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and a member of the Parliament of Indian Vinai Prabkhakar Sakhasrabuddkhe.

The Conference aims to create a draft of the relationship roadmap for the states, says the Coordinator of the Conference from the Indian part and Director of the Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation Dr. Anirban Ganguli.

The Conference features a number of sections that focus on culture, religion, economics, and philosophy of India. It is also concerned with the teaching of Indian languages and cultures, translation, and text interpretation.

Supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of India, the Conference is organized by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (New Delhi), St Petersburg University, and Jawaharlal Nehru Cultural Centre at the Embassy of India in Moscow. The previous conferences were held in Delhi and Beijing. The programme committee is headed by SPbU Associate professor Anna Chelnokova and comprises experts from Russia, India, and Germany.