PPRACHIN (SOA Centre for Preservation, Propagation and Restoration of Ancient Culture and Heritage of India)
Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan stands as one of the top-notch universities of India today providing professional education to thousands of students in a plethora of subjects for last 16 years. The University is ranked 15th in the country in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) in 2023 and is counted among the best in the eastern region.
Around 15,000 students from within India and abroad have been pursuing courses in engineering, medicine, dental sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, management, nursing, hospitality and tourism management, law, agricultural sciences and veterinary sciences.
The Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, faculty of medicine of SOA, has emerged as one of the most trusted hospitals in Odisha and neighbouring states. As per the NIRF ranking of 2023, SOA’s faculty of medicine has been ranked 16th in the country while the faculties of legal studies, dental sciences and engineering are placed 8th, 9th and 27th nationally in that order.
While endeavoring to provide its students the best of professional education with state-of-the-art infrastructure and strong focus on academics and research, SOA has also launched a centre dedicated to work for preservation, propagation and restoration of India’s heritage and culture. It is known as SOA Centre for Preservation, Propagation and Restoration of Ancient Culture and Heritage of India (PPRACHIN).
SOA’s belief is that though science and technology are the vehicles which make modern society’s progress possible, it should be done in an environment which is fragrant with art, culture and literature. At the philosophical core of PPRACHIN lies a commitment to mobilize and coordinate expertise to address critical issues of conservation.
PPRACHIN’s main thrust is to undertake various publications and organize workshops/seminars/symposia to provide an understanding and appreciation of the philosophy, aesthetics and beauty inherent in Indian art and culture. Its vision is for a world in which cultural heritage–its preservation, propagation and restoration—is inextricably linked with notions of progress, inclusivity, well-being and stability. The role of culture in science and technology, agriculture, i.e. in all aspects of development and growth, will be emphasized.
Currently PPRACHIN has undertaken some major programmes like:
No. 1- Publication of critical edition of original Sarala Mahabharat
No.2- Digitization of ancients texts and manuscripts
No.3- Ph.D course in Anthropology and Tribal Studies
No.4- Ph.D course in Yoga.
No.5- Ph.D course in Culture Studies
The centre has already brought out critical editions of several ‘parvas’ of the ‘Saroladas Mahabharatha’ authored by the 15th century poet Sarala Das. Sarala Das has been acknowledged as the first great poet of Odia literature. PPRACHIN has sponsored the fresh attempt to prepare a new critical edition of Sarala Das’ ‘Mahabharat’. This endeavour was not confined to the production of the text, but also involved digitization, translation, prose rendering, production of corpora, dictionary and literary encyclopedia of Sarala Das. Through this, an attempt has been made to showcase Odia identity through the literary contributions of the ancient poet.
A critical version of two ‘parvas’ of the Saroladas Mahabharatha containing the ‘musoli’ and ‘swargarohan’ parvas were published by PPRACHIN in April 2021, ‘Karnadi Dasaparba’, ten ‘parvas’ in prose and verse painstakingly put together by and editorial team, were published in July, 2022. ‘Adi Parba’ edition, also in prose and poetry, was released in August, 2023
PPRACHIN has also undertaken some major programmes like digitization. Not much work has been done in this field in Odisha, except efforts made by one esteemed organization Srujanika which has since been taken over by PPRACHIN to enhance the scope of digitization. While the benefit of digital preservation is well established, work on this in India, particularly in Odisha, has not been significant. Such work was initiated in Odisha in 2006 by Srujanika and involved the digital preservation/dissemination of Odia print material. Starting with the digital version of the Purnachandra Odia Bhasakosha released in 2006, now over 10 lakh pages of material including most Odia periodicals published before 1950, several post-1950 magazines and over 6000 books have been digitized. All these materials are being made available on the Odia Bibhaba website (https://odiabibhaba.in) and anyone can read/download these without charge. More material is being added to it on a weekly basis.
It is known that the tribals constitute an important segment of India’s population. The tribes constitute about 9 per cent of the country’s population and in Odisha they account for 22.5 per cent of the state’s population. Time has come to preserve the valuable components of tribal culture in general and that of tribal folklore in particular in a more systematic manner before these became extinct. These are valuable cultural aspects of India which need preservation and promotion. SOA has started a Ph.D. course in Anthropology and Tribal Studies which operates under PPRACHIN.
SOA has also started Ph.D. courses in Yoga and Culture Studies under PPRACHIN. Students are pursuing their Ph.D. in this ancient art and science of healthy living which seeks to bring harmony between mind and body.
For India, an ancient civilization which has embraced technological advancement, the challenge has been to keep in step with the world without losing touch with the nation’s long established cultural values and ethos. The course in Culture Studies seeks to make students look inwards at their own morals, values and belief. This can help them appreciate their own culture.
PPRACHIN had organized a two-day SOA Literary Festival for the first time on February 1 and 2, 2020 in the university campus which was attended by more than 100 eminent literary figures, thinkers, artists and other performers from different parts of the country. The event provided a platform to discuss the contemporary trends in Indian literature. There were panel discussions, talks and workshops around some of the more relevant themes. This interface encouraged new ideas and created an atmosphere for intellectual exchange. It also gave PPRACHIN the opportunity to celebrate the plurality of languages in our country.
Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, in collaboration with PPRACHIN, organised a conclave of tribal writers of India representing 49 tribal languages on the occasion of International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on August 9, 2023 in Bhubaneswar. The two-day programme held in SOA campus included panel discussions, poetry readings, short story reading, talks and performances focusing on relevant themes.
Women Achievers of Odisha (WAO), an initiative of The Prameya, an Odia newspaper, and News7, an Odia television news channel run by SOA, in which PPRACHIN is associated, seeks to felicitate achievers among women in the state in different fields in association with PPRACHIN. This is in line with the ideology of SOA to nurture talents for the benefit of society. There are many women who do exemplary work at the grass root level for the betterment of fellow people, society and mankind as a whole. But they never get recognition due to them. The Prameya, News 7, PPRACHIN and the SOA family decided to identify them, bring them to limelight and honour them so as to motivate others to do good work and contribute to the society.
Under the WAO initiative, around 100 women achievers from different parts of Odisha have been felicitated till now. They were chosen from more than 1500 nominations received within the last three years.
PPRACHIN will be organizing the second edition of SOA Literary Festival in the SOA campus from November 24 to 26, 2023. The festival will feature more than 200 writers, poets, scholars and eminent personalities from different parts of the country.