Ujjain: About 60 delegates from across the country and abroad will participate in the 23rd three-day Congress of Rock Art Society of India (RASI) starting from Friday at Hotel Ashray under the joint aegis of RASI and Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) and Wakankar Sanskratik Anveshan Nyas (WSAN). The event is being organised to mark the birth centenary of Padma Shri Dr VS Wakankar, who is known as the father of rock art discipline in India.
RASI general secretary Prof Giriraj Kumar (Agra) on Thursday told media persons that rock art is the manifestation of humans’ understanding of nature and perceived reality, his behaviour and living in different periods of human development right from the beginning of Stone Age. Thus, rock art is a reflection of human mind, thought processes and efforts made for understanding the reality through the journey of development.
It presents the human spirit of adventure and creativity, living life full of energy, enthusiasm and happiness, meeting the challenges with passion to overcome them, discoveries and inventions made at different stages of human development. It manifests the strong human spirit of celebration of life in perfect harmony with nature and the philosophy of life developed in this process. This philosophy of life matures in due course of time and culminates in the form of Vedant philosophy in the Upanishadas in later Vedic period. According to him, rock art sites are found in the lap of nature in deep forest and valleys, deserts and plateaus which are home of a variety of flora and fauna.
Rock art has been created on the bare surface of rocks in different geological and climatic zones right from the Himalayas in the north to the Nilgiris in the south, Eastern Ghats in the south east and Western Ghats in the south west, in the Aravallis and desert of the west and in the offshoots of the Himalayas in the east.
However, the major concentration of rock art is found in the Vindhyas in central India and in the Satpuras and Deccan Plateau associated with it in its south. Thus, India is one of the major countries having the richest treasures of rock art in the world.
Shedding light on the objectives of the RASI Congress, he said it include work on rock art with missionary zeal and continue the legacy of Dr Wakankar; scientific study and documentation of the vast rock art heritage of India, identify many more important rock art heritage sites from different parts of our country and make right efforts to get their nomination as the UNESCO world heritage sites; connecting the people with this wonderful heritage of mankind in every possible manner and popularising it in the world and protecting this priceless rock art heritage for the posterity, the primary and major task to be dealt with.
WSAN secretary Dr Dileep Wakankar informed that 2018-19 is the birth centenary year of Dr VS Wakanar commonly known as Haribhau. He is credited with the discovery of painted rock shelters of Bhimbetka (near Bhopal), the track of the now lost river Saraswati and the exact spot at village Dongla (near (Ujjain) where Tropic of Cancer passes through. He also discovered ancient settlements of Kayatha, Dangwada and Runija under Ujjain district.
Dr Dileep said revival of the memories of Haribhau so that the new generation could know more about him, his personality and contributions and to revitalise research on rock art and discuss various options for progress of work so as to establish Indian rock art on the world map were the objectives of the Congress.
Culture subjects ignored
During the press conference, ICHR chairman Prof AB Jamkhedkar (Mumbai) said that since culture and education are concurrent subjects for both Union and state governments, these are almost sidelined for a long time. According to him, seven departments are covered under culture which including archaeology, museum, archives, gazetteer, library, teaching of fine arts and performing arts. But hardly five per cent of budget as against the budget of education is allocated for these departments, he added. The veteran academician said that issues like conservation of heritage, excavation work, etc, are generally ignored and the policies and programmes of different governments and this was the main reason that no much advancement has been noticed in these fields.
India needs to protect its own resources
Erwin Neumayre, a researcher and delegate from Austria said that like Australia and South Africa, India have a lot of rock paintings due to different reasons. “These paintings have been survived due to geological and agricultural reasons,” he added. He asserted that India would have to protect its own resources and it is much for both humanity and habitat. He said that India is a fast growing economy, but housing and mining may harm the things and, thus, it’s a high time that significant lands and covers should not be allowed to become waste land.