In Visva-Bharati, dissatisfaction with a conference on the worship of Kali

Elders as well as critics of Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty say religion has never found a place in the secular institution

Elders as well as critics of Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty say religion has never found a place in the secular institution

Visva-Bharati looks set to see more trouble on campus, this time at a conference on the worship of Goddess Kali, with alumni as well as critics of Vice Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty saying the religion has no never found a place in this secular institution.

At 4 p.m. Monday, a lecture titled “The Concept of Kali Worship” is to be delivered by Swami Saradatmananda Ji Maharaj, who is the general secretary of Sree Sree Ramakrishna Ashrama in Kolkata. The event will be held in physical mode – unlike the previous lecture, given online by actor Kabir Bedi – at the University’s Central Library and will be chaired by the Vice-Chancellor himself.

This is not the first time the university has witnessed anger over the choice of lecturers. A section of teachers and students allege that only right-wing ideologues are favored by the VC, and there was a protest on campus when BJP ideologue Swapan Dasgupta delivered a lecture in early 2020.

“Why Goddess Kali suddenly, this too in an institution steeped in Brahmo tradition that does not encourage religious practices? We will surely protest but before that we have to talk to our leaders and also try to understand the motive for such a conference,” said Somnath Sow, who belongs to the Federation of Students of India and studies economics. at University.

When asked why Visva-Bharati – founded in 1921 by Rabindranath Tagore, a Brahmo himself and who preferred to celebrate the seasons rather than religious holidays on campus – should hold a conference on the worship of Kali, the PRO University responded with this statement: “A discourse by a Ramakrishna Mission Maharaj is a religious/academic/intellectual discourse to understand the phenomenon.

Educator Sudripta Tagore, himself a former student of Visva-Bharati and a member of the Tagore family, said The Hindu: “Like other decisions [of the current V-C, who assumed charge in November 2018], such as erecting walls and ruining the academic atmosphere by suspending teachers and students of integrity, this is an attempt to destroy another purpose of this institution. After attacking the academic space and atmosphere, the attack is now on the secular orientation of the institution.

Academically, Visva-Bharati has seen a decline in recent years. Recently, as several other institutions in Bengal were celebrating their positions in the National Institutional Ranking Framework, Visva-Bharati found itself at 3rd from bottom.

Since the creation of the NIRF in 2015, its position has seen a steady decline in the “university” category – from 11 in 2016 to 19 in 2017, 31 in 2018, 37 in 2019, 50 in 2020 and 64 in 2021. This year, however, it stood at 98. In the “overall category”, which includes all institutions such as engineering and medical faculties, Visva-Bharati is ranked 148 – a sharp drop from 97 last year .

Angela C. Hale