Universal Atlas Cultural Institute "Vishva darpana"

 Established September 11th, 2008
(drawing of Varanasi and the Ganga River)
 
"Mirror of the World"

We are witnessing growing exchanges between cultures and places once deeply separated, large-scale industrialisation, political changes and economic development, the increasing dominance of techno-scientific knowledge, the speed of communications, climate change and migrations around the world. These elements make the landscape of reality more and more dazzling, confusing and indecipherable.

Facing a world at once concentrated and fragmented, any  tradition  - in the West or the East, in the North or the South- where whatever ordinary form of knowledge is perceived as insufficient and precarious, beyond the level of specialisation  reached.  However acute it may be, our sight suffers from constant disorientation, and - in  the face of the multiple, frenetic solicitations that it receives - of an indirect state of blindness.

In a such a scenario, India can offer – thanks to its deep spiritual resources and its still partially unexplored cultural heritage - new opportunities for thinking of different ways of perceiving things,  while at the same time when India itself is in the midst of radical changes which are bringing it closer to the West.
 
Tha name "Vishva darpana" means "mirror of the world", "speculum mundi"


Why Varanasi (Benares)

In the Hindu tradition, the city of Benares can be considered the symbolic and religious heart of India: it has long been considered the place best able to gather within itself the entire cosmos, all things visible and invisible, near and far, local and foreign. It is, in the end, a universal city. The destination of endless pilgrimages, it boasts - not by chance - a wealth of maps to guide its visitors.  As Benares has been destroyed  a number of times in the course of its history, these maps - with their temples, divinities and itineraries -  do not reproduce any real place. They are quasi-imaginary maps: spiritual guides whose aim is to help visitors to find their way in the invisible microcosm represented by Benares.


The "Vishva darpana" Institute and Its Objectives

The "Vishva darpana" Institute in Benares is set up with a similar goal: to draw a map, an inter-cultural, inter-disciplinary, universal Atlas to draft a path, to be an enlightening guide in our pilgrimage of discovery and creation throughout the world.  An Atlas made up of images – visual, acustic, affective, emotional, intellectual and religious: as images represent the stamp of the concentrated and fragmented condition of the world today, images can give us back a version of it, finally re-moulded according to our integrated internal and external perception of life.

The "Vishva darpana" Institute promotes research and initiatives in the areas of cross-cultural dialogue, economics, history, and social, scientific, artistic and religious issues, health promotion, spiritual well being, literature and philosophy, environment and sustainable development, to cite only some important areas of activities.

Moreover, it promotes youth development issues, with specific humanitarian activities and scholarships for local youth.


Cultural and Youth Development Program
The activities of the Institute include, as a start, 5 complementary groups:
1. Activities related to didactic events
2. Education: Study and Research Scholarships for local students
3. Humanitarian activities, including financial and personal support for young people
4. Activities related to the archives              
5. Activities related to exhibition, publications, research.
 
(The "Vishva darpana" Institute by the Ganga river in Varanasi)

Supporters and promoters of the Institute are local and foreign individuals and institutions.

The Institute is a not-for-profit institution; proceeds from its activities will be re-invested into the Institute.