Importance of culture in relations between India and Iran

Dr Mohd Ali Rabbani, Cultural Advisor at the Embassy of IR Iran and Head of the House of Iranian Culture in New Delhi, is responsible for organizing more than 15 international conferences in Iran and has published more than 50 academic articles in various international journals. He holds a doctorate in history from the University of Religions (Qom, Iran) and was previously editor-in-chief of ‘Society and Culture’ of Iran. He is also in charge of the English quarterly journal ‘Cultural dialogue’ published in collaboration with JNU, Allama Taba Tabaie University (Iran) and Iran Culture House. Before coming to India, he visited Russia, Tunisia, Italy, Spain and Turkey, among other countries. He is an honorary member of the Iran Society Kolkata and will also soon be confirmed as a member of the Indian History Congress.
In this interview, Dr Rabbani talks about the importance of culture in the relations between Iran and India, the importance of the Persian and Sanskrit languages ​​in the relations between the two countries, and the impact of Covid- 19 on socio-cultural issues and the field of art in Iran. Excerpts
Q. As Iran’s cultural advisor in Delhi, what are your priorities for strengthening cultural relations between India and Iran?
A. The culture of the two countries has some common elements and undeniable similarities and has been the main intersection of Iran and India throughout the history of culture and civilization as well as of Islam and Hinduism. India has many cultural and artistic connections and affiliations, which are manifested in literature, poetry, painting, architecture, etc. Therefore, today we are trying to develop interactions between intellectuals and academics from Iran and India through cultural dialogue and academic cooperation, development of religious dialogue between Islam and Hinduism between Iran and India, the development of film cooperation. Cooperation in the field of language teaching and written heritage; it is one of the priorities for the strengthening and development of cultural relations between the two countries. We have tried to provide the bases for the implementation of cultural agreements between the two countries, opportunities and suitable platforms to facilitate interactions and communication between the cultural and artistic sectors, especially in the field of cinema, media , which is one of the important capabilities in both countries.
Q. Please tell us about the activities of the House of Iranian Culture in New Delhi, as well as the importance of culture in relations between India and Iran?
A. Iran Culture House of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Delhi, works on the basis of a cultural agreement between the two countries and is responsible for developing cultural relations between Iran and India on the basis memoranda, cordialities and agreements signed between the two countries. Iran Culture House, New Delhi annually organizes a series of cultural and artistic activities within the framework of these agreed viewpoints.
The historical and cultural relations between Iran and India are considered to be one of the oldest and deepest human relations. No relationship has been as close as the Iranians and Indians among the Indo-European communities. Dozens of books, hundreds of treatises and nearly a thousand articles have been written in Persian, English and other languages ​​on our historical and cultural relations with India. In these relations of several thousand years, India has influenced Iran and Iran has had a great cultural impact on India. The thought, style and hospitality of the Iranian people in terms of theology, poetry, mysticism, wisdom and Sufism are similar to that of the Indian people. Fundamentally, the basis of relations between Iran and India has been cultural for many centuries, and culture has been seen as a facilitator of political and trade relations between the two nations.
Q. How do you assess the current state of cultural relations between India and Iran?
A. Although relations between Iran and India in contemporary times have been accompanied by many political and social ups and downs, this has not disrupted the cultural relations between the two nations with a common historical background, ancient and rich. It is considered that naturally the Iranian nation and the Indian nation have always had a positive attitude towards each other and the will of the two governments has been formed to preserve this common heritage and the continuation of intellectual and cultural interactions. This is one of the vast capacities that exist between the two countries for cultural cooperation. It is hoped that with a better understanding of the benefits that cultural cooperation can bring to the two great nations of India and Iran, a more appropriate communication and cooperation situation can be created.
Q. How do you see the importance of the Persian and Sanskrit languages ​​in the relations between India and Iran?
A. Sanskrit is the ancient language of the Indian people and the religious language of the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, which is linguistically rooted in ancient Persian. The Sanskrit language belongs to the Indo-European language family. The Sanskrit language is very important for the etymology of Persian words. Since the roots of the Pahlavi language are indirectly related to the Avesta and Sanskrit languages, in order to make possible reservations in the Pahlavi literature, the need for this language is felt by linguists. Avesta is an example of Iranian literature and a storehouse of thousands of years of our ancient literature. Although today there is a big difference between Persian and Sanskrit, but the existence of many common and similar words between the two languages, indicates these two theories that the root of both languages ​​was the same. The Rig Veda and the name of India in the book (Avesta) provide further confirmation of this theory.
One of the most important elements of the common and precious heritage between India and Iran is the Persian language, which for many centuries has flowed among the inhabitants of this region like a stream and thousands of poets, mystics and writers have taken sips and compiled extremely important books and works. At present, thousands of volumes of books in Persian on mysticism, literature, theology, commentaries, lexicography, memoirs and history in libraries, cultural and university centers and universities, and all over this vast country speak of the shared history of Iran and India. When the Pahlavi language was the official language of Iran, some Sanskrit books were translated into this language, and when the new Persian language appeared in Iran, it was also accepted in India. Modern Persian has played an important role in the development of the Urdu, Punjabi, Marathi, and Bengali languages. Not to mention that Persian in India has had great poets and writers such as Amir Khusrow, Bidel Dehlavi, Mirza Ghalib and hundreds of other famous and great poets who lived and grew up in India and presented their literary works in this country. .
Q. What steps has the Iranian Culture House taken to strengthen and expand media cooperation between India and Iran?
A. Today, the media play an important role in describing and reflecting the realities existing among nations. In addition to constructive interactions and relations with the media, we intend to provide the media with the necessary content to present the culture of Iranian civilization and society, and to ensure their direct communication and presence in Iran. to better understand Iranian realities.
Q. Tell us about the impact of Covid-19 on socio-cultural issues and the field of art?
A. The emergence of Covid-19 is one of the great challenges of the contemporary era which has had many effects on human life. This phenomenon in Iran, as in other countries, in addition to the loss of life and the death of people who each had a role in society and whose deaths, had many destructive effects on society, including employment. , business and education. He also continued in the fields of art and culture. Of course, it must be mentioned that in addition to the damage that the pandemic has caused to human societies, including the Iranian people, it has also had positive effects and consequences, such as the return home, the importance of family and health, new experiences in cyberspace and digital space were gained, as well as the scientific experience and achievements of our researchers and thinkers in vaccine production. May human beings learn from the Covid-19 phenomenon that life and death are undeniable realities that can be made beautiful and lovable through peace, friendship and mutual love.

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