"It gives me immense pleasure to be present here in the historical and yet modern city of Pune, the cultural centre of Maharashtra and present the prestigious Punyabhushan Award.
It is indeed a unique civilian award, which blends well with the great cultural tradition of Pune city.
I always look forward to visit this historical city of Chhatrapati Shri. Shivaji Maharaj and salute this greatest king of India. Whenever I visit this city, I draw inspiration from the rich heritage of the city, nourished by the great nationalists, social reformers and educationists.
Pune has always been a centre of patriotism, equality and education and attracted people from all over the country. The Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi had described this Punyanagari as the ‘bee-hive of social workers’.
On this occasion, I sincerely offer my homage to the great social reformer-couple, Mahatma Jotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule; one of the tallest leaders of India’s movement for independence, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak; great liberal thinkers Justice Mahadeo Govind Ranade and Dr. Gopal Krishna Gokhale; renowned Orientologist Dr. R. G. Bhandarkar; educationist Dr. Dhondo Keshav Karve and social reformer Maharshi Vitthal Ramji Shinde and many more leaders.
I am also happy to note that the citizens, who had made an exceptional contribution in different fields at the national and international level, are being recognized and felicitated from time to time. These felicitations are meant to inspire others.
I appreciate the endeavours of ‘Punyabhushan Foundation’ to commemorate the memory of the greatest ‘trio’ of our freedom struggle-- Shahid Bhagatsingh, Sukhadeo and Rajguru. I am aware of the fact that Hutatma Rajguru comes from Rajgurunagar in Pune District.
It is commendable on the part of organizers to remember and honour the sacrifices made by our freedom fighters in this function today. We owe our freedom to them. I take this opportunity to salute these great warriors of nationalism and countless unsung heroes, who laid down their lives for the freedom of Mother India.
I am also glad to know that stalwarts like, Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Dr. Banoo Coyajee, Dr. R. N. Dandekar, Shri. Shantanurao Kirloskar, Shri. B. K. S. Iyyengar, Shri. Mohan Dharia ji, Dr. Jayant Naralikar and many more were recipients of the Punyabhushan Award earlier. The recipients of the award have made commendable contributions to their chosen fields and made every Indian proud.
On this occasion, I specially congratulate Dr. G. B. Deglurkar, for being the recipient of the Punyabhushan Award for his long-standing contribution to the field of the Indian Archaeology through the world renowned Deccan College Post graduate and Research Institute.
Respecting the Guru, recognizing the talent and merit is part of Indian culture. It is central to India’s rich traditions. Rewarding an achiever with a medal or prize money is to inspire others to do well in their respective fields.
As you are aware, Archaeology and Archaeological sites are the bridges that connect the present with our past. Archaeology is a fascinating subject that enhances our understanding of history through hard evidence. Because of this characteristic, it can be more credible than any other human science.
Archaeology plays a significant role in revealing different facets of the past. It is the primary source of information for prehistory and proto-history and it is very useful in revealing different facets of the past to the mankind. I believe that it has tremendous potential to ‘reconstruct’ and ‘re-correct’ history.
Archaeology helps in bringing to light the diversity in varied cultures and civilizations. It helps in discovering not only the ‘other’ civilizations but also in rediscovering our ‘own’ selves.
Disciplines like archaeology play an invaluable role in making us rediscover our roots by connecting us with our past.
India is a vast and culturally-rich nation. As on January, 2019 we have more than 3,600 monuments of national importance protected and preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). These archaeological sites are relics of our past and symbols of our cultural expressions. Our glorious history is embedded in these structures.
History and culture belong to everybody. People’s participation is essential in strengthening the Government’s efforts in conservation of important archaeological sites.
It is the responsibility of every citizen of the country to protect and preserve the monuments and pass on them to future generations.
Public sector companies, private sector firms as well as individuals must be encouraged to adopt sites and take part in the preservation of our heritage.
Notable NGOs like the Aga Khan Trust have undertaken restoration of monuments in few cities. Similarly, the conservation and restoration of the Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple at Srirangam was undertaken by the government with the help of donors.
There is also a need to create greater awareness about these monuments and their importance among the students. Schools and colleges must organize visits by students to nearby archaeological and historical monuments and also involve the students in regular Cleanliness Drives at those monuments.
Indian civilization is one of the oldest and unique in many ways. In a historical evolution, Col. Meadows Taylor of the early nineteenth century did pioneering work on the archaeology of India. His interest, however, remained more concentrated on the south Indian Megaliths. However, Alexander Cunningham in 1861 and Robert Bruce Foote in 1863 began their explorations and recording of prehistoric antiquities of the country in the subsequent period. The Archaeological Survey of India was established in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham, with a view to initiate archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in India.
With the advent of the Archaeological Survey of India, thousands of historians were attracted to study Archaeology as well as Indology. Just to mention, Legendary Archaeologist B.B.Lalhas done enormous contribution to the field of archeology with excavations that cover a wide range -- from Paleolithic times to early historical. Also, from this very city of Pune- Dr. R. R. Bhandarkar, Dr. H. D. Sankalia, Dr. R. N. Dandekar, Dr. S. B. Deo, Dr. M. K. Dhavalikar, Dr. Z. D. Ansari, Dr. Smt. Shobhana Gokhale, Dr. Nagaraja Rao, Dr. M. S. Mate, made an exceptional contribution to this specialized field, though it originated and evolved in European countries in the 19th and 20th centuries .The discovery of the Harappan civilization is an excellent example of the immense potential in archaeology as a discipline. And in light of this, I consider that Dr. Deglurkar too belongs to this exclusive club of the stalwart Archaeologists and their glorious tradition.
I therefore have no hesitation in holding especially Pune’s Deccan College and Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in high esteem, next to the Archaeological Survey of India, for playing a pivotal role in promoting Archaeology, Sanskrit scholarship and Museum Studies in India.
I am highly impressed particularly by Deglurkar’s discoveries through excavations in different parts of India. When he excavated identical ivory dolls respectively from the sites at ‘Bhokardan’ in Jalna district of Maharashtra and ‘Pompeii’ in Italy, he conclusively established the presence of Roman tradesmen in this region during Satvahana rule. Similarly, Dr. Deglurkar made an everlasting contribution to the field of ‘Iconography’ too.
In light of the recent advances in the field of archaeological studies, many historians, Sanskrit scholars and archaeologists belonging to different schools of thought in India have been debating for a long time whether Ramayana and Mahabharata are ‘itihaas’ or ‘kaavya’.
I feel that the time has come to bring together various academic disciplines such as history, archaeology, anthropology, iconography, epigraphy and sociology. I am sure that this kind of multi-disciplinary approach will enable us to establish a strong correlation of the literature, history and archaeological data. I am sure that this approach will help us to make a fundamental contribution to textual and archaeological study of the epics of India.
I hope that the historians and archaeologists, who follow Sanskrit tradition, will take up this challenge and enable us to unearth the hidden details of the past with more concrete evidences and give a new direction to our illuminating historical and cultural heritage.
Mark Twain, one of the most celebrated authors and humorists from America beautifully described our country. I quote: “India is the cradle of human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, grandmother of legend, and great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only” (unquote).
The city of Pune has shown light to the country on many occasions. I am sure, Pune will live up to the great legacy of high quality of educational, cultural, historical and social institutions and provide an impetus to undertake research in Indology, Sanskrit and Ancient History.
I once again congratulate Dr. G. B. Deglurkar for receiving the prestigious Punyabhushan Award and thank the Punyabhushan Foundation for inviting me to this function this evening. My special thanks to the learned audience of Pune for their presence today evening.