Prof. Gauri Mahulikar’s University Tour in the US began in Buffalo, NY, where she had friends to visit. Walter Hakala, the Director of South Asia Studies in SUNY Buffalo (State University of New York in Buffalo) had enthusiastically invited Gauriji to speak to his Department and planned a lovely program. On Friday, September 6, 2019 Gauriji spoke at the Asia at Noon program. (See their site for flyer) Hakala had requested Prof Mahulikar to speak on Sakuntalam, as his Literature class was studying the Kalidasa text. Prof Mahulikar made a one-hour presentation on “Symbolism and Suggestion in Sakuntalam” followed by Q&A. The hall was full with nearly fifty attendees. Most were students of Prof Hakala as well as other professors and students.
Since the literature students were not versed with Sanskrit, Gauriji spoke on Kalidasa’s treatment of love themes and compared them with the different cultural ethos of Persian/Sufi love themes. She discussed how the Indian dramatists, following the regulations of Natyasastra, don’t write tragedies like Laila Majanu. Prof. Hakala had related Sakuntalam to the Hindu movie Taal in informal conversation, Prof Mahulikar brought in comparisons with Bollywood movies Qayamat se Qayamat tak and Ek Duje ke Liye. She also talked about the thread of union-separation-reunion in the works of Kalidasa with examples from Sakuntalam, Meghadutam, Vikramorvasiyam, Malavikagnimiytram and Kumarasambhavam; 5 out of 7 of his compositions.
The talk was very well received by the Prof Walt Hakala and the audience, mostly students of SAS and some faculty. Following the talk was a Faculty Luncheon with Prof. Hakala and two other faculty. Strong connections were made with Dr. Rebecca French, a practicing lawyer and researcher in Buddhism and Anthropology, and Dr. Nicolas Bommarito, Professor of Philosophy, with focus on Buddhism and morality. latter two visit Buddhist sites in India often and were invited to visit CVV.
Prof. Hakala had also arranged a meeting with John Wood, the Interim Provost for International Education of BU, who took Prof. Mahulikar and Prof. Hakala to meet the President of SUNY Buffalo, Dr. Satish Tripathi. Dr Tripathi was very interested in hearing about CVV programs and that a Gurukula was being run under the same roof. He recollected that years ago his grandfather ran a gurukula of 15 students in Varanasi. I also told about our minor courses and suggested that their students could do short term courses in summer. The meeting ended after exchanging cards and taking pictures.