The culture and civilisation of Bharat is tied to the tradition of ages, not years or centuries. Norms of this huge culture are visible in every corner of this land, but for the pursuit and practice of them, one has to walk on the path of hardships. A person, who rediscovered the history, giving a new dimension to its culture, is Padmashri Dr Vishnu Sridhar Wakankar, known by the name of Haribhau Wakankar. Haribhau was born on May 9, 1919 Born in a village named Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh. From childhood itself he received the Sanskaras of various languages and cultures, which later became the foundation of his life's work. Haribhau devoted his entire life to reviving the cultural tradition of Bharat.
He established the Department of Archaeology and Museum at Vikram University, Ujjain. This became an important centre of providing Bharatiya perspective to the field of sculpture and arts.
There is a very old and widespread tradition of fine arts in Bharat. The reflection of our rich arts is always reflected in our paintings, dance and music. By bringing the artists associated with these arts together under one umbrella, Haribhauji, along with some of his associates, laid the foundation of 'Sanskar Bharati' on the auspicious day of January 11, 1981 and nurtured it as a General Secretary for life. The emblem of Sanskar Bharti depicts the imagination of Haribhau. The 'Chakra', the symbol of Sanskar Bharati, is derived from the chariot cycle of the Sun Temple of Konark, but he has created the feeling of moving by slightly slanting this chakra.
Along with being a painter, Haribhau was also a master archaeologist, committed historian, visionary Orientalist, ardent explorer, sharp numismatist, classical sculptor, meticulous archival researcher, original thinker, linguist, scrip-writer and above all a very sensitive social activist. During his lifetime, he discovered more than 4000 rock shelters in Bharat, Europe and America, and did an authentic study. Out of which the most important one is Bhimbetka – rock shelters located on a small mound about 80-75 km from Bhopal.
In 1956, while going from Bhopal to Nagpur, Haribhau noticed the creation of different looking stones located on the mound. On asking, it was found out that there are many caves here and this place is known as Bhimbethka. For about fifteen years Haribhau kept coming to Bhimbetka every Saturday and Sunday and discovered many of these 737 rock shelter. Many evaluations have proved that the existence of human community in these rock shelters has been more than 1000 years ago.
The periodography of rock paintings of Bhimbetka has been determined from the late Stone Age to the historical era. In these paintings the hunting scenes, war scenes, person pictures, animals and birds, pictures based on such diverse subjects are seen. It is due to the untiring loyalty of Wakankarji and his immense diligence that this treasure has become the point of Bharateeya civilization. UNESCO granted it the status of world heritage site in the year 2003.
Haribhau was very proud of Bharateeya culture and of being a Bharatiya. Probably for this reason, Haribhau started the research expedition of Vedic Saraswati River from the archaeological point of view for the first time.
This journey of a total of 4000 kilometers started from Adibadri in Haryana on November 20, 1985 and ended a month later at Somnath, on December 14, 1985.
During the journey, Haribhau and his companions came to know about the Saraswati River through stories and songs while interacting with the local people. These people also kept informing local people and practitioners of history about their search work.
Wakankarji, Moropant Pingale ji and other companions kept telling them about the Harappan culture, the natives of Arya Bharat, the antiquity and splendour of Bharat.
In this way fearless, Wakankar ji would reveal his views and enlighten the local people as well as the historians. In his words, the gesture and distraction of showing immense love towards the country and the antiquity of Bharat to the world is clearly visible.
Another discovery and preface by Dr. Wakankar ji made him a global oriental vision. He discovered the place where the Tropic of Cancer Local longitude (which was the ancient Bharatiya time meridian) intersects at Dongla village, 30 km from Ujjain. He proposed that Dongla should now be recognized as the world zero longitude point.
He also compiled thousands of currencies. Haribhau's industrious efforts show new generations the mirror of Bharat's rich history and quadrupled our pride in the country.
Seeing the incomparable contribution of Haribhau, he was conferred with the Padma Shri by the Government of Bharat in the year 1975.
His humble nature, investigative vision, the nature of sharing archaeological knowledge from the youngest child to the old never diminished.
In this great work of Haribhau, his wife Laxmiji Wakankar had been an outstanding contributor. In 1973, the marriage of Lakshmi Vahini and Haribhauji was completed and thereafter she supported her husband wholeheartedly at every step.
In the last years of his life, he suffered from dementia, yet his work was not interrupted. He had an important speech in Singapore on April 3, 1949 and suffered a heart attack and passed away the same day. When this sad incident happened, even at that time, Wakankar ji was drawing the scene which was seen from the window of his room.
Like a true seeker of culture, a real Karmayogi not expecting the fruit, he remained attached to his work till the last moment of life. This great personality waved the flag of Bharatiya culture with pride all over the world. Haribhau introduced the vast richness of our history not only to Bharatiyas but to every history lover of the world. With his great work, Haribhau will remain immortal in the pages of history and in our mind.
(The Writer is a convenor of Dr Vishnu Shridhar Wakankar Birth Centenary Celebration Committee)