Mandi : Indian Knowledge System and Mental Health Applications (IKSMHA) Centre at IIT Mandi inaugurated the ‘Mind, Brain, and Consciousness Conference 2023, today, 14th December 2023. The event aims to stimulate robust discussions among scientists and philosophers on consciousness, along with exploring various interventions from Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS) for cognitive wellness and mental health.
This groundbreaking three-day conference attracted scholars from diverse fields, including neuroscientists, psychologists, AI and robotics researchers, physicists, mathematicians, biologists, computer scientists, as well as traditional scholars and practitioners of Indian Knowledge Systems.
The inaugural event of MBCC 2023 was graced by the presence of the Hon’ble Member of Rajya Sabha and Padma Vibhushan, Dr. Sonal Mansingh, who served as the Chief Guest. Other distinguished guests included Dr. BVRC Purushottam, IAS, Secretary-Rural Development, Uttarakhand, Prof. Stuart Hameroff from the University of Arizona, USA, Dr. Antonietta Rozzi from the University of Bologna, Italy, Dr. Anirban Bandopadhyay from NIMS, Japan, Prof. K Ramasubramanian from IIT Bombay, and Sh. Chitravina Ravikiran, a senior Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, along with other dignitaries attended the event.
In the context of the Mind, Brain, and Consciousness Conference (MBCC) 2023, the Hon’ble Chief Guest, Dr. Sonal Mansingh, posed an intriguing question during her plenary session, titled ‘Could Perception be the second name of Maya?’. The question implied a philosophical exploration into the nature of perception and its potential connection to the concept of Maya.
During her talk, Hon’ble Chief Guest delved into the idea that our understanding of the world through perception could be subject to illusions or distortions, mirroring the illusory nature associated with Maya.
This thought-provoking session aligned with the broader themes of the conference, which seeks to explore diverse perspectives on consciousness, including those derived from Indian Knowledge Systems. It encouraged participants to contemplate the intricate relationship between perception, consciousness, and philosophical concepts deeply rooted in Indian traditions.
Distinguished by its holistic approach, the Indian Knowledge System (IKS) offers a unique perspective transcending the limitations of physicalist and reductionist paradigms in modern science. MBCC 2023 aims to showcase interventions drawn from yoga sutras, Sankhya, Ayurveda, and other traditional texts. These interventions, encompassing practices such as yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, and Indian performing arts, are posited as potential keys to unravelling the mysteries of consciousness.
During his keynote speech, Prof. Laxmidhar Behera, Director, IIT Mandi, spoke about ‘Reflections from Indian Knowledge Systems perspective.’ His presentation delved into prevailing theories of consciousness and provided a distinctive perspective rooted in Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS).
During his keynote address, Prof. Behera emphasized, “An untangled mind is like a spiritual mirror that reveals consciousness.” The aim of his talk was not only to acquaint the audience with established theories but also to enrich their understanding by incorporating unique insights and philosophical underpinnings from Indian Knowledge Systems. This session served as a thought-provoking introduction to diverse perspectives on consciousness, encouraging a holistic approach that integrates both traditional and contemporary viewpoints.
Dr. Varun Dutt, the Event Coordinator and Chair of IKSMHA at IIT Mandi, provided an insightful overview of the program for MBCC 2023. The conference will center on engaging discussions and talks covering a range of topics, such as the origin and nature of consciousness and conscious experience, the challenges and limitations that modern science faces in addressing the hard problem of consciousness, alternative perspectives from Indian Knowledge Systems, and holistic solutions for understanding consciousness, including mind-body non-dualism through empirical investigations.
The event will feature plenary talks by leading experts, parallel sessions for paper and poster presentations, and brainstorming panel discussions. These activities will engage the participants in a dynamic exchange of ideas, fostering collaboration between diverse fields of study.
During the plenary talk, Sh. Chitravina Ravikiran, a senior Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, delved into the theme of ‘Unleashing the Talent Within.’ Offering an insider’s insights, the session discussed strategies for conquering and befriending the mind and body through consciousness. The talk aimed to provide guidance on translating one’s potential into substantial contributions.
Other Distinguished Keynote Speakers & Themes of the MBCC 2023 include:
- Prof. Stuart Hameroff (University of Arizona): Delving into quantum theory and consciousness
- Dr. Antonietta Rozzi (Bolzano University, Italy): Yoga and Consciousness in Education
- Prof. K. Ramasubramanian (IIT Bombay): Understanding Science and Technology in Indian Knowledge System – Origin, Benefits and Limits
- Dr. Martin Fleming (BIHS Florida), Dr. Anirban Bandyopadhyay (NIMS, Japan), Mr. Bob Cohen (BIHS Florida)
- Prof. Ramana Vinjamuri (University of Maryland): Presenting cutting-edge research in neuroscience and consciousness
Partnered and sponsored by: The Ministry of Education, Hospinedica Group, AISECT, ForeExcel, Ultimate Energy Resource, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Aerobe, Institute for Science and Spirituality, Indian Knowledge Systems, Bhaktivedanta Institute, and IIT Mandi iHub and HCI Foundation, MBCC 2023 aims to foster a vibrant dialogue among scholars, transcending traditional disciplinary boundaries. The conference is not just a meeting of minds but a convergence of diverse perspectives, each contributing to the shared goal of unraveling the mysteries of consciousness. This unprecedented gathering promises to be a milestone in the ongoing pursuit of knowledge and understanding the intricacies of the human mind.