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Concept of Time

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The Seminar of Kala (time) was the third in the series of the Indira Gandhi national Centre for the Arts programmes exploring a single unified theme which is universal, cuts across cultures, periods of history, religions, disciplines, and which manifests itself in thought, language, artistic expressions and reflects experience, inner and outer.

The first of these was "Space". Through the Sanskrit words Kham and Akasa, both the exhibition and the seminar explored the many dimensions and levels of the perception of space, inner and outer.

A volume based on papers read at the conference was released to coincide with the seminar on Kala (time), entitled concepts of Space – Ancient and Modern.

The second was Akara (Form). A seminar and an exhibition explored the nature of Akara, especially in its dimension of the relationship between the articulated silent sound with the mind, the articulated word, and the written word. The art of writing as script and calligraphy from diverse cultures was presented in the exhibition. The seminar and workshop discussed and demonstrated the relationship of sound and writing, manual and technological skills, the language of form in iconography and calligraphy and computers.

The third in the series, Kala (time) explored the many dimensions of time, in the sciences, humanities and the arts in diverse systems of thought and cultures. Once again as in the case of "space" the objective and subjective, the absolute and the relative, the eternal and the temporal, the transcendental and the immanent, the dimension-less and the measurable, the experimental and the cognitive were the key concerns.

Series of preliminary workshop were held leading to the culminating inter-nation seminar on Kala. These included "Temporality and logical structure, an Indian perspective" jointly organised by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies, New Delhi, and another called Srsti organised in collaboration with Jadavpur University, and a third on the conception of Time in Buddhist Tradition hosted jointly with Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Saranth. Two volumes on these workshops were released at the time of the Seminar.

The Sciences have explored the notions of Time both as measure and beyond measure at macro and micro levels of astronomy and micro-biology. So have systems of speculative thought and philosophy. Time as point or duration, as stillness and movement, as arrow or circle, as concentric or conical in form, has been of perennial concern. Geological, biological rhythms have pulsated through matter, and the swan of the mind (manasahamsa) as spirit has flown beyond Time. Time as joiner and bridge-maker, as inspiration for artistic expression from architecture, music, sculpture, painting, films and movement and as the experience of the ever present NOW , transcendental and immanent have engaged theoreticians and practitioners saints, politicians historians, social scientists and artists. The Seminar on Kala (time) was a minuscule replication of this global preoccupation with the concept in the past and present. The present volume comprises most of the papers presented at the conference, also not a record of most meaningful and engaging discussions took place at the conference. It was clear that despite the universal acceptance of the primacy of Time on Earth, it meant different things to different disciplines, even to civilisations and cultures. Thus the establishment of a vocabulary of dialogue was the first demand made on the participants. There were moments of high intensity and of cold resistance, of charged excitement of communication and sharing and the lofty isolation of singular positions. Gradually there was a sense of community because in the limited time of five days the vast oceans of time with countless dynamics of the underwater life of the concept had been revealed. Each participant and the group of most sensitive human beings were embraced by time lived and breathed and were joyous in experiencing the mystery and magic in the dexterity of the performances of the musicians and dancers and the films.

Editing a volume of the papers presented at the Seminar has been difficult task. The concentrated energies of the Seminar had dispersed. To recreate those in the revised texts of the papers was not easy. With persuasion most participants responded, others had moved to other pastures. Despite reminders it was not possible to get full texts, or written record of oral presentation. Consequently these had to be excluded or in some cases included only by the outline of their argument and not the full text of the paper.

In the case of the space volume some of these difficulties were encountered but they were not imponderables.

Also, the Kala (time) seminar was followed by Prakriti (Nature) he fourth in the series of IGNCA’s international Seminars. Preoccupation in physical time with the series of these Seminars and the five volumes resulted in pushing back in time, the Time volume. I regret this, and would like to offer my apologies for the delay.

Despite the delay and the frustration of not being successful in making this all inclusive, I hope the participants and the readers will find rich and varied material for deep reflection and stimulation. Although many volumes have been written on Time and there is a magnificent contribution for the Society for Study of Time, perhaps this volume is unique and will hold its own place. A comparison with the discussion on time in recent critical writing in many disciplines and this volume will perhaps make it evident that perhaps few other publications bring together a deep reflection on Time from so many different points of view, specialized disciplines as also attempts at unfolding the layers and processes of time in creativity of the arts.

I would like to once again thank all the participants who made the event possible and gave so much of themselves freely and generously. It was a more meeting of "Minds" and "hearts" in the end rather than the intellect for now the cold intellectual positions on time dissolved and melted into the warmth of human communication.

The presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the conclusion to deliver the valedictory was benediction. He spoke from the depth of experience and wisdom rather than knowledge. All received the address with grace, and I and my colleagues as host and organisers were gratified and fulfilled. So thank hyou all again, delegates, artists and my colleagues and Sterling Publishers for seeing it through the Press, specially Mrs.V.Kumar and Pawan Kalia, my young colleagues in the IGNCA.


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