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Everything about Sanskrit: A Centre of Excellence in Southeast Asia
English  Thai
16th World Sanskrit
Conference 2015, Bangkok

History

Thailand is a prominent country of Southeast Asia, where study related with Sanskrit has been promoted for a long time. Thai and other Southeast Asian languages have strong roots in Sanskrit, which reflects their relationship with Sanskrit from time immemorial. Sanskrit has a deep influence on Thai literature and culture as well. The present Royal Family of Chakri Dynasty here has high regard for Sanskrit learning. The old and leading institutions like Silpakorn University, Chulalongkorn University, Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, Mahamakutarajavidyalaya University and several other universities have included Sanskrit in their study programmes since long.

Silpakorn University is one of the earliest universities where Sanskrit has been taught for more than fifty years. Sanskrit has been included in the curriculum at Bachelorís level of the Faculty of Archaeology since its inception in 1955. The Department of Oriental Languages was established in this Faculty in 1974, and this marked the major inclusion of Sanskrit as its Masterís Degree programme in epigraphy. The Department has so far produced hundreds of students with Masterís degree in Sanskrit and in Epigraphy of Ancient Oriental Languages. In 2000, the Doctoral Programme in Sanskrit was for the first time introduced in the Department, a first ever in Thailand and entire Southeast Asia as well.

In order to promote study and research related to all disciplines related with Sanskrit, Department of Oriental Languages accepted the proposal to establish Sanskrit Studies Centre (SSC) within the framework of the 8th National Five-Year Plan Development submitted by Silpakorn University. On February 20, 1996, this proposal was approved at the 4th Council of Deansí meeting. As a result, SSC was established in the same year. It was initially overseen by the Department of Oriental Languages. Asst. Prof. Dr. Chirapat Prapandvidya, the then Head of the Department, was appointed as the Acting Director of SSC on December 26, 1996 and as the first Director on July 21, 1998 until his retirement in 2001. His successor, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Samniang Leurmsai, was appointed as the next Director for two terms (2001 to 2008). After him, Asst. Prof. Dr. Sombat Mangmeesukhsiri was appointed as Director from June 2008 to December 2011. Then, again Assoc. Prof. Dr. Samniang Leurmsai has joined the same position of Director from December 15, 2011 till present.

Now, Sanskrit Studies Centre is under the Faculty of Archaeology, Silpakorn University (Order No. 5/2549 Dated: 21 June 2006) as a full-fledged status of Dept. Sanskrit Studies Centre is run with the government tiny budget share allocated to the Department of Oriental Languages as well as with small amount of the interest from endowments. To alleviate SSCís financial difficulty, Sanskrit Studies Foundation has been established by a group of philanthropists and academics and it is under the Royal Patronage of H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (Order No. BKK 1688 Dated: 3 December 2007). If sizeable funds can be raised for the foundation, effective running of SSC can be achieved. Generous donation to the Foundation is, therefore, earnestly solicited.

Sanskrit Studies Centre has its own library, which still needs assistance for its development in the form of books, audio-visual equipments, and staff. If nurtured appropriately, Sanskrit Studies Centre would be able to render perfect services in promoting Sanskrit, not only in Thailand but also in the whole of Southeast Asia. Assistance in any form that will contribute to the growth in quality as well as materials is gratefully welcome.

SSC leaping to new academic heights

Sanskrit Studies Centre and the Department of Oriental Languages organized, with great success, an International Conference on ďSanskrit in Southeast Asia: The Harmonizing Factor of CulturesĒ from May 21-23, 2001. The support from the Government of India through the good offices of the Embassy of India, Bangkok, and that of the Indian community in Thailand contributed to the great success of the conference which was attended by many scholars from over 20 countries. Buoyed by its success, and the arrival of international scholars to join the academic programme here, we ventured in 2005 to organize another big academic conference with the cooperation of the parent Department of Oriental Languages. This was also a great success. This International Conference on ďSanskrit in Asia: Unity in DiversityĒ on the auspicious occasion of Golden Jubilee Birth Anniversary of H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Kingdom of Thailand, from June 23-26, 2005. This was the year when we first released the first issue of the SSC Journal as well. The venue was the Imperial Queen Park Hotel, Bangkok which was attended by over 400 scholars from 25 countries and was inaugurated by H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Dr. Samniang Leurmsai, Director of SSC, was the Secretary-General of the conference and Dr. Amarjiva Lochan was its Coordinator.

Before these two academic conferences of high standard, the importance of Sanskrit in this region was recognized by the Government of India. It created a Chair of Visiting Professor in this country and for the first time, Professor Dr. Satya Vrat Shastri was appointed as Visiting Professor of Sanskrit at Silpakorn University by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), New Delhi an agency under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Govt. of India (1988 to 1990). During the period 1994-1998, Dr. Usha Satya Vrat occupied the same post at Silpakorn university.

During 1998-2001, Dr. Hari Dutt Sharma was the ICCR Visiting Professor. In January 2002, Prof. Dr. Radhavallabh Tripathi, was appointed for the same post succeeding him. In 2005, Prof. Dr. Radha Madhav Dash joined here and continued till 2007. In 2008, Prof. Dr. Prativa Manjari Rath who was followed by Prof. Kedar Nath Sharma (2011-2014). Now, at present, Prof. Panduranga Bhatta is Visiting Professor since August 2014.

Sanskrit is the main core subject for those who study Epigraphy here in Thailand and its neighbouring countries. This is because most of the early inscriptions were composed in Sanskrit. Therefore, it is a matter of great delight and satisfaction for us that the number of students who have obtained Master's degree in Epigraphy, Masterís degree in Sanskrit and Ph.D. in Sanskrit from the Department of Oriental Languages up to the year 2012 are as follows:
  • Master's degree in Epigraphy, 210 person (since 1976)
  • Master's degree in Sanskrit, 120 person (since 1988)
  • Ph.D. in Sanskrit, 10 persons (since 2000)
At present 5 staff members of the Department of Oriental Languages, obtained Ph.D. in Sanskrit, from different universities in India (for their details please visit the Faculty). It is a matter of pride that the Department of Oriental Languages in association with Sanskrit Studies Centre has run the Ph.D. course in Sanskrit from June 2000 very successfully as evidenced by the number of Ph.D. We are also proud of the fact that many of our old students are at present teachers of Sanskrit in different institutions in Thailand. Sanskrit Studies Centre is also trying to establish academic links and exchange programs with departments, institutes and universities in India and other countries.

Objectives:

1.To establish a collection of the data on Sanskrit, rare Sanskrit documents, books, and Sanskrit related documents.

2. To be the most significant and important centre for Sanskrit studies and its related subjects with the emphasis on Southeast Asia.

3. To promote academic exchange among scholars, students, and persons interested in Sanskrit Studies both from Thailand and abroad.

4. To be a Centre which would disseminate research and publish them?

5. To offer Thai translation of Sanskrit literary works of all types as well as of philosophical writings.

6.To serve as a Centre which would inspire people for generations and make them aware of the importance of Sanskrit in their culture and civilization?

The NEW BULIDING of the SSC

Following the very pious desire for the donation of a piece of land by Miss Champee Kuanchom, who was impressed with the work done by SSC at the conference ďSanskrit in Southeast Asia: The Harmonizing Factor of CulturesĒ, to the Chaipattana Foundation of His Majesty the King of Thailand on 18 February, 2002, to be the site for the construction of SSCís building, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Samniang Leurmsai, the then Director of SSC, lead a group of people including Miss Champee Kuanchom to have an audience with H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and on this occasion Miss Champee Kuanchom presented the land title deed to Her Royal Highness.

The Government of Thailand allotted the budget of 70 million Baht for the construction of SSCís building in 2006 and the SSC requested for additional fund from the Government of India through the good offices of the Embassy of India, Bangkok, during the term of H.E.Leela Ponuppa. The Government of India allotted the fund of 10 million Baht to join in the construction of SSCís building during the visit to India of Thai Prime Minister Gen. Surayuth Chulanond in 2007. The Foundation stone of SSCís building was laid amid both Vedic and Buddhist chantings on March 9, 2008, which was presided over by the celebrated Thai archeologist and epigraphist Professor Emeritus Dr. Prasert Na Nagara. It was attended by H.E. Latha Reddy, the then Ambassador of India to Thailand.

The Government of Thailand allotted the budget of 70 million Baht for the construction of SSCís building in 2006 and the SSC requested for additional fund from the Government of India through the good offices of the Embassy of India, Bangkok, during the term of H.E.Leela Ponappa. The Government of India allotted the fund of 10 million Baht to join in the construction of SSCís building during the visit to India of Thai Prime Minister Gen. Surayuth Chulanond in 2007. The Foundation stone of SSCís building was laid amid both Vedic and Buddhist chantings on March 9, 2008, which was presided over by the celebrated Thai archeologist and epigraphist Professor Emeritus Dr. Prasert Na Nagara. It was attended by H.E. Latha Reddy, the then Ambassador of India to Thailand.

The SSC is still looking forward to donations and support of 20 million Baht (Rs. 40 million) to give the final touch to its class rooms, to fully furnish the Auditorium of 300 capacity, and developing its landscape around the Building (see PHOTO GALLERY). The five-storeyed building is looking forward to having all the modern facilities for learning Sanskrit. It is expected that this Centre would get about 200 students under several programmes (with the Faculty of Archaeology) in the coming academic year.

The Sanskrit Studies Centre would be hosting the 16th World Sanskrit Conference in 28 June Ė 2 July 2015.

The SSC is not only an indicator to the popularity of studying of Sanskrit and the subjects related to Sanskrit in Thailand but also proves the dedication of local Thai scholars who are making sincere effort to keep the flame of Indian glory burning through Sanskrit.

Present Address:

Sanskrit Studies Centre,
Silpakorn University
8, Thawi WatthanaĖSupab Burut Road,
Thawi Watthana District,
Bangkok 10170

Phone : (66) 2431-5345
Fax :     (66) 2431-5346

www.ssc.su.ac.th
www.sanskrit-thailand.com

The Executive Members of SSC:

Advisor: Asst. Prof. Dr. Chirapat Prapandvidya

Director: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Samniang Leurmsai

Member:
1) Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bamroong Kam-ek
2) Assist. Prof. Dr. Sombat Mangmeesukhsiri
3) Assist. Prof. Dr. Kangvol Khatshima
4) Dr. Chainarong Klin-noi
5) Dr. U-then Wongsathit

Visiting Professor:
Prof. Panduranga Bhatta
Visiting Professor of Sanskrit with the auspices of the Indian
Council for Cultural Relations, Ministry of External Affairs,
Government of India.

SSC Coordinator:
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Amarjiva Lochan
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