Considering the fact that there was not a single centre of Vedic research in the eastern part of India and the consequent difficulties experienced by the scholars interested in the subject, the Department of Sanskrit of Rabindra Bharati proposed in 1980 that a School of Vedic Studies be founded in this University. The proposal was again supported at the Seminar on “Vedic Studies : Retrospect and Prospect” conducted by the Department in 1983. Later on, Professor Ramaranjan Mukherjee, when he became the Vice-Chancellor of Rabindra Bharati, took the matter up with the University Grants Commission for favourable consideration. As a result, the School of Vedic Studies came into existence in 1989 through the approval and financial assistance of the UGC and the Government of West Bengal.
The School was formally inaugurated on July 10, 1990, by Shri Benoy Krishna Chowdhury, the then acting Chief Minister of West Bengal, and Professor Syed Nurul Hasan, the then Chancellor, kindly sent his blessings on the occasion. He was pleased also to express the hope in his convocation address delivered on May 10, 1991, that the spread of Vedic Studies in the country resulting from functioning of the School in the University was likely to liberate the human mind, lay the foundation of scientific thought and generate holistic attitude enabling the present and coming generation of India to reject obscurantism, narrow-mindedness, intolerance, and parochialism.
As recommended by the UGC Visiting Committee in its report, the object of the School of Vedic Studies is “to promote studies in the field of Vedic literature and also to make available the results of these studies to the public. The school shall sponsor lectures, hold seminars and help in conducting doctoral or post-doctoral research in the thrust area viz. Vedic Studies, and also collect and preserve manuscripts, record traditional Vedic recitations, publish a journal and bring out other publications.”
The School has its own building, a specialized library, equipment and facilities for conducting research. At present the academic staff consists of :
1. Professor Nabanarayan Bandyopadhyay, Director
2. Dr. Bhaskar Nath Bhattacharyya, Reader
3. Dr.(Mrs.) Soma Basu, Reader and
4. Research supporting staff of four Project Assistants / Fellows.
On completion of the first five years of the School, the University requested Professor Ramaranjan Mukherji, Chancellor, Kendriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati, to visit the School and submit a report on its functioning and future prospects. Professor Mukherjee in his report has been pleased to articulate his satisfaction on both these aspects and also recommended creation of permanent positions of core-staff at the research assistance level. He observed of the functioning of the School:
“After exchange of ideas with teachers and the staff, the undersigned has come to the conclusion that the School of Vedic Studies has been able to justify its existence and has actually made considerable progress in the project entitled ‘The Cultural Index of Vedic Literature’… The undersigned has every reason to believe that under the leadership of a scholar of the stature Dr. Samiran Chandra Chakrabarti, the School of Vedic Studies will be able to blossom forth soon as a magnificent temple of learning, generating new fund of knowledge in the area of Vedic Studies.”
In the year 1997, the IX Plan UGC Visiting Committee headed by Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan was satisfied with the progress of the School and recommended its upgradation as a Zonal Level Advanced Centre. The UGC has accepted the recommendation in 1999 and sanctioned grants for the purpose.
The UGC has also approved a major project entitled “Studies on Scientific Thoughts and Components in Vedic Literature” which has started functioning w.e.f. 8.6.2004. The following staff appointed on contract basis have been working from time to time:
1. Dr. Pradip Kumar Majumdar, Professor of Indian Astronomy.
2. Dr. Ranajit Kumar Saha, Professor of Vedic Sciences.
3. Dr. Soma Basu, Lecture in Vedic Science (upto 20.6.2007)
4. Dr. Alpana Chowdhury, Lecturer in Indian Astronomy. (upto 26.7.2007)
5. Smt. Sutapa Roy, Junior Research Follow (upto 24.1.2007)
The School is going to develop a Vedic Museum. Many audio cassettes, audio CDs, multimedia CDs, video cassettes relating to the recitation of different Vedas and performance of Vedic rites and rituals have been collected for preservation as well as demonstration. A rare number ofimplements (yajhayudhani) used in a Soma Sacrifice held at Somnath, Gujarat are among interesting collections of the School. Preparing Vedic Garden and an Observatory in near future are also in progress.
All possible help will be extended to persons and institutions interested in Vedic studies. Regional needs will be taken into due consideration and attempts will be made in order that the School may grow into a meaningful Centre for Vedic research. Co-operation towards realization of the goal will be greatly valued and thankfully acknowledged.