Samvidalaya has played an important role since its inception in 2006 in making available a space for study and research on Kashmir Shaivism and related traditions. Due to the pandemic which has also affected Varanasi since its beginning in March 2020, the activities of Samvidalaya, Abhinavagupta Research Library have been interrupted. Considering the present situation we have no choice but to relocate the books between our various branches, vacating the Bhadaini premises with effect from end-of-June 2021.
The books and documents will be distributed among the following institutions: in Varanasi itself the Guptaganga House at Samne Ghat, which is already housing part of the library and has to be re-arranged according to the new function. Secondly, Ishvar Parvat, Phulchatti Village in Uttarakhand, which is the property of Trika Interreligious Trust and has created some space for a branch of the Library. All these activities are presently hindered due to the repeated lockdowns and risk to the health and well-being of our staff and collaborators. Therefore a final schedule for shifting cannot be given at the moment, but we will make an announcement as soon as there is more clarity on the matter.
Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, respectfully and affectionately addressed as Kapilaji, left us on 16th September 2020. What she was both in terms of a great scholar and embodiment of Indian Culture and Art, and in a personal relationship which lasted almost 40 years, when she was my inspiration, my mentor and my guide in our common work at the beginning stages of the IGNCA, can hardly be expressed in a brief obituary. But I will attempt it shortly. In the meantime I am very grateful that Sri N.N. Vohra, President of India International Centre, has kindly agreed to reproduce her obituary here, mainly for friends who do not know Kapilaji or only partially.
Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, who would have been 92 in December this year, passed away peacefully at her residence on 16 September 2020 after a very brief illness. I had known her from around the late 1970s when I came to Delhi to work for the Union government.
After serving the Ministry of Education (differently named from time to time) for nearly four decades, she superannuated in 1986 as Secretary Arts to the Government of India. Actually she never “retired” and was the ruling deity in the realm of arts and culture for over half a century. Trained as a classical dancer, she was a scholar, teacher, researcher, educationist, administrator, and a practitioner who conceived and set up several pivotal institutions to the advancement of higher learning. Besides being the founder Academic Director of IGNCA, and later the Chairperson of this eminent institution, she was responsible for the planning and materialisation of several museums, archival repositories, libraries, et al.
As Director of the India International Centre I worked closely with Kapilaji during the period when she was Vice-President, President and Chairperson of the IIC-Asia Project (subsequently renamed as the International Research Division) and, later, as her fellow Life Trustee. Throughout her long association with IIC she stood firm, literally alone at times, to defend and protect the high values and integrity of the Centre. Arriving around noon everyday she invariably attended all the programmes and remained available to one and all – Staff, Members and the many scholars who came to seek her help and guidance.
As an eminent member of the UNESCO Executive Board, Kapilaji very significantly enlarged her contacts and interactions with the intellectual fraternity, all over the world. While she got seriously engrossed with the larger civilisational issues, she remained intensively involved in crafting practical approaches on how the invaluable corpus of the Indian traditions and systems could be fused with the demands of modernity while particularly ensuring the pluralistic and spiritual foundations of our ancient sociocultural heritage were not eroded. In recent years, she recurringly voiced concern about the growing challenges to the pluralistic dimensions of our social framework.
Kapilaji’s absence shall be missed by all those who had got to know her. Her passing on marks the end of an era.
4 November 2020
Originally published in The India International Centre Diary, August-September 2020, p.11;
re-published with the kind permission by Sri N.N. Vohra, President, India International Centre