“All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.”
- Swami Vivekananda
Unity in diversity and the expression of unity in various forms have remained the central thought of Indian culture. Indian culture is not that which belongs to one particular group of people placed under some geographical limits. Indian culture is human culture based on the principle of righteousness or Dharma which seeks unity in diversity. What we call unity in Diversity is spiritual unity in behavioral diversity.
Of all the cultures of the world known to man, Indian culture is perhaps the oldest and according to many historians, the mother of all cultures. In spite of it being so old, Indian culture is still vigorously alive, moreover, this culture maintained unbroken continuity from Vedic times to the present day. This indestructible unity and unbroken continuity of Indian culture are derived from its deep spiritual foundations. Spirituality is indeed the master-key of the Indian mind; the sense of harmony, seeing Unity in diversity, feeling of Oneness is native to Indian thinking and way of life.
India is undoubtedly one of the richest countries in terms of the diversity of its cultural heritage. Indian Tribal Culture speaks volumes about the diversity of the country. In spite of the innumerable regional, social and linguistic diversities of the country, there has always been a basic unity in Indian culture.
Indian tribal people, through their language, traditions, customs and integrated world-view, play a key part in constructing the cultural heritage of India. The traditional and cultural distinction of each tribal community has made them distinguishable from each other and their cultural and traditional heritage add colour and variation to the Indian culture as a whole. Their rich cultural and human value system contains the powers to maintain the cultural bio-diversity. But, unfortunately, they are under estimated, misjudged, and historically marginalized. Their land, culture and heritage, which are established in more eco-socio-religious context through oral traditions are yet to be recognized.
Mananeeya Eknathji, founder of Vivekananda Kendra, used to say that the beauty of this country is its diversity. ‘Apparently there is diversity. The beauty of this diversity is that there is an underlying unity. So long as we preserve this unity, this diversity is a beauty. If we misuse this diversity then there would be only misery.’
Since its inception, it has been the concern of Vivekananda Kendra to appreciate the uniqueness of the various communities, while simultaneously nurturing the threads of harmony and unity. With an objective to bring out the underlying unity of our diverse cultural traditions and to foster better understanding and exchange of our cultural heritage, Late Mananeeya Eknathji Ranade, the founder of Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari, envisaged the VKIC (Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture) at Guwahati, for North East Region where the diversity is very much manifested and is more pronounced.
Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture at Guwahati, Assam - A cultural nerve center, Intellectual fountainhead and an integrating force in the North East India.
The north eastern region has a distinctive identity in the cultural map of India. With concentration of a number of tribes, they form a majority in most of the North-eastern states. Among the indigenous communities, there are more than 120 Scheduled Tribes, most of whom are traditional inhabitants of the hill regions, which make up over 70 per cent of the total area. Nearly every indigenous community can be considered as a repository of a distinctive body of knowledge, cultural traditions, social institutions and technologies, which have evolved over a long period of time. Wisdom and knowledge embedded in the eco-socio-religious-cultural life of the folk people of this region is often astounding. Despite impressive social and economic changes, the indigenous communities, tribal and others, still retain a great deal of the pristine elements of their age-old life-styles.
With a mission to establish the unity among all these diversified sections of the North-Eastern states by identifying the uniqueness of every single community and the distinctive elements of their time-tested tradition, customary practices and institutions on the one hand and on the other hand, highlighting the role played by indigenous beliefs and practices in maintaining order and harmony between man-man, and man-nature in different settings , The Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture [VKIC] was established in 1993 at Guwahati, Assam. VKIC has been instrumental in fostering peace, communal and social harmony and promoting the spirit of universal brotherhood in India’s troubled Northeast through its multifarious activities - Seminars and Symposium, Research, Documentation, thought–provoking lectures workshops, publications and activism to:
- Understand the richness of our traditional systems
- Identify the unifying elements and practices that bind us
- Provide meaningful continuity to these practices in a fast-changing complex lifestyle
- To be relevant in time – culture is the basis of sustainable development and hence Development through Culture and
- To promote confidence of and cooperation amongst communities
The eastern region of India is home for rich cultural heritage, nature-friendly way of life, enduring social institutions and traditional technologies. These have been shaped and nurtured by many tribal and non-tribal social formations inhabiting different parts of the region.
Of the vast section of Indian tribes, a significant number of tribal communities live in the Eastern region of India. The diversity of the tribal communities of East India is evident from their myths, legends, tales, proverbs, songs, dances, beliefs, rituals, ceremonies, arts and crafts which determines their course of lives. Residing basically in the mountainous terrains, they have been striving to uphold their indigenous traditions and customs from any foreign influence.
But, of late, the rich socio-cultural heritage of the tribal and other indigenous people of the region is getting eroded and lost forever, mainly through factors and forces of exogenous change. Spread of consumerism and western values, destruction of lands and livelihoods with widespread industrialization in the region are rapidly intruding into the lives of once-isolated people with drastic effect on their way of life. The forces of modernization are a constant threat to the community bond and cultural web of life of these communities. It is in this context the work of Vivekananda Kendra Academy for Indian Culture, Yoga and Management (VK AICYAM), Bhubaneswar has been envisaged and planned to extend the activities of VKIC in the states of Eastern region viz- Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh as well as in Andhra Pradesh and Telengana.
Through multifarious activities at VK Academy for Indian Culture, Yoga And Management (AIKYAM), Bhubaneswar, efforts will be made to:
- To bring forth the unique attributes and traits of the different communities living in the states of Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, AP and Telengana and nourish the commonalities.
- To enrich, promote and strengthen the cultural traditions and art forms and bring out the underlying unity of their diverse traditions and heritage.
- To understand and identify not only their different problems but the integrative forces in their life bringing out the vital linkages in their cultural fabric.
- To formulate development plans with a view to harmonise tribal needs with regional and national interests.
Activities Planned: * Seminars, conferences and workshops. * Research, Documentation and Publications. * chairs and Fellowships, Students and Scholarships, Awards and Lectures. * Any other activity to Develop and promote the rich diversity and uniqueness of various communities in the eastern region.
This represents the effort on the part of Vivekananda Kendra to preserve and protect our rich cultural heritage and to bring it closer to the lives of the people