Vilnius University scholar Vytis Vidūnas receives the 2023 India-Lithuania Friendship Award
A Sanskrit lecturer at the Institute of Asian and Transcultural Studies of Vilnius University, Vytis Vidūnas has been awarded the annual India Lithuania Friendship Award at a ceremony in Rusnė on 22 July.
Mr. Vidūnas has been nominated for his long-time research of the Lithuanian-Sanskrit connections. In 2016, he produced a Sanskrit-Lithuanian glossary containing 108 words that are easily recognisable to a modern speaker of Lithuanian or Hindi. For example, naktis (night), šaka (branch), senas (old), dievas (god) and many others.
The little white book has drawn a great interest in India, with several repeated editions already published. During his visit to India last year, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, presented the glossary as a gift to India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
Mr. Vidūnas dedicated the dictionary to the famous Lithuanian traveller, Antanas Poška, who reached India on a motorbike India at the beginning of the 20th century. Poška had become a source of inspiration and his travel diaries a wealth of knowledge for several generations of Lithuanians interested in Oriental studies.
The ceremony also featured famous traveller and publicist, Vytaras Radzevičius, who shared with the audience his travel experiences from India, as well as celebrated TV journalist, Edita Mildažytė, who has been to India several times and played the master of ceremony at the event.
The India-Lithuania Friendship Award has been presented since 2019. The ceremony traditionally takes place in Rusnė, the home town of Hermann Kallenbach, Gandhi’s closest associate from South Africa’s time. The list of awardees includes Rajinder Chaudhary, India’s former Honorary Consul in Lithuania, a teacher and public activist Vytautas Toleikis, who has conceived the idea of erecting a monument to Gandhi and Kallenbach in Rusnė, an Israeli scholar Shimon Lev, who has produced a monograph on the Gandhi-Kallenbach connection, as well as to the Rusnė community itself.
In 2015, a monument to Gandhi and Kallenbach was unveiled on Rusnė. The sculpture by Romualdas Kvintas celebrates the friendship between people and nations. It was sponsored by the Vilnius-born Indian philanthropist, Dr. Yusuf Hamied, and the Lithuanian Jewish Community.