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'Arabs are very intelligent and ahead of Indians'

Says Barkatullah Varsity VC as the International seminar on ‘Arabic Panchatantra and Indo-Arab Cultural Relations’ gets underway

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 12:24:46 PM, Pervez Bari,

International seminar on ‘Indo-Arab Cultural Relations’ in Bhopal: A three-day international seminar on “Arabic Panchatantra and Indo-Arab Cultural Relations” is starting here in Bhopal from.... Read Full

Bhopal: Prof. Ravindra Jain, Vice Chancellor of Barkatullah University, Bhopal, has said that Arabs are very intelligent people and are ahead of Indians. They took full advantage of the literature in Sanskrit and Hindi which flourished in India during the period of the Rig-Veda and Upanishads (from 1500 B.C. to 500 B.C.).


Prof. Jain said the Arabs translated Panchatantra (five chapters), the oldest collection of Indian fables, into Arabic in the 8th century from the Pahlavi language (literary Persian) which was christened as "Kalīlah wa Dimnah". In fact Panchatantra was originally written in Sanskrit by a great Hindu scholar, Pandit Vishnu Sharma. However, it was lost and perished in sands of time after being translated into Pahlavi language in the 6th century.     


Prof. Jain was delivering his presidential address in the three-day international seminar on “Arabic Panchatantra and Indo-Arab Cultural Relations” which got underway here in Bhopal on Tuesday. The highlight of the seminar is the participation of two Arab ladies professors from Kuwait namely Dr. Laila Khalf Al-Sabaan and Prof. Laila Usman amongst others.


The seminar is being orgnised by Barkatullah University, Bhopal and its inaugural function was presided over by Barkatullah University Vice Chancellor Prof. Ravindra Jain. while Maulana Mohammad Saeed Mujaddadi (Peer Saeed Miyan), Rector Dar-ul-Uloom Taj-ul-Masajid, Bhopal was the chief guest at the inaugural function.


Prof. Jain lamented that India had such fine literature which is giving impetus to Arabs’ literature but we Indians are not taking benefit from it.


“We should have an open mind and adorn ourselves with the literature of other languages flourishing in the world, especially from Arabic literature and adopt  human values of Arabs”, he remarked. This would a long way in strengthening the Indo-Arab relations, he added. He hoped other universities of the country would follow suit in cementing Indo-Arab relations by adhering to "Kalīlah wa Dimnah " literature.


Prof. Jain expressed his happiness while releasing a book "Kalīlah wa Dimnah " jointly authored by Dr. Mohammad Hassan Khan, Head of the Arabic Department of Barkatullah University and Ms Ayisha Rais, Dean Faculty of Arts, analyzing whatsoever has been written on Panchatantra the world over. He congratulated them for their feat in educational field which would be beneficial to many in the times to come.


Maulana Mohammad Saeed Mujaddadi speaking on the occasion said the Panchatantra. is essentially connected with one of the branches of science known by the Indians as the 'Nitishastra' which in Sanskrit means “A book of wise conduct in life”.


Maulana Saeed said it attempts through the characters of animals to teach us, how to understand people, bow to choose reliable and trustworthy friends, how to meet difficulties and solve problems through tact and wisdom, and how to live in peace and harmony in the face of hypocrisy, deceit and many pitfalls in life, he opined.


Dr. Laila Khalf Al-Sabaan, Professor of Arabic Literature in Kuwait University, who was the Guest of Honour, and Prof. Ayisha Rais also spoke on the occasion.


Earlier, Dr. Mohammad Hassan Khan threw light on the aims and objectives of the seminar. He said according to the German translator Johannes Hertel of Das Panchatantra (1914), there are 200 versions of Panchatantra in fifty non-Indian languages. Panchatantra started its journey before 570 AD with an initial version of Pehlavi (Persian) during the reign of Emperor Khosro Anushirvan (550-578 AD) of Iran.


Dr. Hassan said a Syriac version entitled "Kalilag Wa Dimnag," became available, followed by an Arabic version rendered by Abdallah Ibn al-Maqaffa with the same title in 570 AD. Like Arab numerals that were borrowed from Hindus, the Arabic version of Panchatantra became the parent of all European versions, known generally as the fables of Bidpai.


He said Panchatantra was translated into Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Armenian, English, Slavic languages, Hebrew, Malay etc., between eleventh century and eighteenth century. Thomas Irving translated it into English from the Arabic Kalila Wa Dimnah and it was published by Juan de la Cuesta, Newark, Delaware in 1980. All ancient civilizations had their folktales, but it was only in India that story telling developed into an art. It was here that Persians learnt this art and passed it on to the Arabs, he added.


Dr. Hassan informed that from the Middle East, they found their way to Constantinople and Venice. Finally, they appeared in England and France. Even as they changed hands and assumed different local colours, they did not lose the Indian touch.


"So, we have seen how the Indian stories won their way into the literature of other nations", he concluded.


Dr. Hameedullah Nadwi, Reader in Arabic Department of the University, proposed vote of thanks


Among the Indian scholars who would be presenting their papers include Prof. Abdul Ali & Prof. Kafeel Ahmad (both Aligarh Muslim University), Prof. Abdul Qadir Jafari & Prof. Fayyaz-ul-Huq (both Allahabad), Prof. Manzoor Ahmad (Kashmir), Prof. Mustafa Shareef (Osmania University), Prof. Abdul Majeed, Prof. Jameel, Prof. Iqbal Hussain & Dr. Jahangeer (both Hyderabad), Sr. journalist Arif Aziz & Dr. Iftekhar Masood (both Bhopal) etc.


The Panchatantra is a rare book, for in no book will one find philosophy, psychology, politics, music, astronomy, human relationship, etc., all discussed together in such a simple and yet elegant style. This is exactly what Pandit Vishnu Sharma had in mind, to give as much knowledge to the princes as possible. And no doubt not only the princes but also millions of listeners and readers for the last 2,200 years have benefited from this most unique book.







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