‘Dialogue leads to clarity of vision’: writes J Nandakumar on ‘Lokmanthan-2016’ Conclave at Bhopal
Perpetual churning is the very basis of Bharateeya philosophy. Healthy discussion and creative dialogue have played a great role in the progress of this great nation. Distinctiveness of our knowledge- tradition is marked by its unique nature of imparting wisdom. It was neither a one- way affair nor a two- way lane. Yes, the mode and form of Bharatiya communication has always been multifaceted. The whole society takes part in it; not only that, the nature too is taken into the consideration. Hence, our style of Samvaad is comprehensive, and to understand it properly, we’ve to see and feel it in its totality.
Another important aspect of our Samvaad tradition is the concept about its utility or the end result. Our ancient and modern Rishis have always stated it categorically that ‘this is not merely for the sake of debate, scoring a point, or winning at any cost, but for knowing and let to be known’. This win-win factor is to be taken into consideration whenever we think about the rich Knowledge- tradition of Bharat.
Great thinker and writer Fred Dallmayr had categorically observed the strength of Bharateeya method of dialogue. Without mincing his words, while comparing western cosmopolitan ideas with classical Indian method of interaction, he showed the way to west how it should cleanse cosmopolitanism of traces of imperialism and unilateral hegemony. He says, ” This effort is likely to be more promising of success if it can find parallels in non western traditions. Such traces can be found in the classical Indian notion of the universal Brahman”. Another significant observation is about a different and healthier relationship between humanity and nature goes like this; “I argue in favour of a differentiated wholeness or holism, a wholeness which neither smothers distinctions in a totalising oneness nor separates or divorces them from each other. Such an outlook can find considerable support in Asian traditions of thought, especially in the Upanshidic notion of ‘Brahman’, the Indian philosophy of Advaita Vedanta.” (Return to Nature)
As it has been mentioned in the beginning, our intellectual deliberations or Manthan (Churning) has always been a societal phenomenon. In that sense, Lokmanthan has an indomitable relevance. This will be the Colloquium of those who think, and act accordingly. True representatives of our society are going to ponder over the nation and the issues that it is faced with. The simplest and the most meaningful definition of a nation is, ‘A nation is a group people having common characteristics like culture, custom, lifestyle, and belief -system attributed to it’. As far as our nation is concerned, it is completely true. We have been one neither because of any totalitarian ruler, nor because of any Constitution or any common language. We were and are on, because we are a people having a common culture, tradition and custom. This commonality of our culture is manifested in the life of our ordinary people. Dr Ambedkar had stated it succinctly in his book, ‘Caste in India’: “It is the unity of culture that is the basis of homogeneity. Taking this for granted, I venture to say that there is no country that can rival Indian peninsula with respect to the unity of its culture. It has not only a geographical unity, but it has over and above all a deeper and a much more fundamental unity- the indubitable cultural unity that covers the land from end to end”.
Beauty and strength of this ‘Indubitable cultural unity’ is that it reflects in each and every facet of our National life. Right from the mundane, secular matters to the lofty spiritual aspects, the underlying oneness can be felt. The uniqueness of our eternal Bharateeya spirit can be experienced from our attitude towards the environment, to the concept of sublimation and final emancipation of human life. In the songs sung by farmers, while sowing seeds and gathering yields in their fields, in the rhythms of the marching soldiers, and everywhere one can perceive the pulse of the nation clearly. Hence sister Nivedita said in her seminal work, “The web of Indian life: “Eating and bathing- with us chiefly selfish operations- are here great sacramental acts, guarded at all points by social honour and the passion of purity.”
So is the case of literature, drama, music, festivals, celebrations and everything else. Only thing, we need vision to find the unifying factors. It is not all that easy to find out the subtlest ingredients which bind us together, the cementing force that strengthens us. For that clarity of vision and intellectual churning are necessary. Here comes the importance of Lokmanthan. Here, in this colloquium, from top level intellectuals to down to earth practitioners, we are coming together. Philosophers and artists are putting their heads together to find out the ways and means to empower the society. Scientists and artisans are going to live under one roof to ponder over our country and her future, our times and our condition. In that way, it would be an unique experiment.
Along with the aforesaid aspects of our intrinsic strength that keep us united, there are the divisive forces working overtime to debilitate the Nation. We’ve to be aware of those dangerous trends growing in our society. Mainly, two segments are active in the disintegrating exercise. First one is the continuing effect of the colonisation that derailed our crucial intellectual system. As Dr Kottari had said in his Educational Commission report, the centre of gravity of our education has been shifted towards Europe. The main task of our educationists is to bring back it into our nation and make it Bharat-centric. But the strangest part of the whole story is, after 70 years of our independent life, we are still in search of a True national educational policy. See the force and impact of the colonial mindset in the most crucial area of our national life, the education. No need to elaborate much about other fields like history, social sciences, art, literature and Jurisprudence, etc. So it is our duty as well as moral obligation to search for a way out and formulate the modus operandi to decolonise the Indian minds.
Next one is the divisive ideology and activities of the forces, the votaries of the outdated class struggle theology. They are well versed in unearthing our differences and constructing fault lines between the so-called classes. It is not a difficult task to point out the outward differences among men. Colour, body structure, dress, language, place of stay and birth cannot be same. But these Marxian theologians, posing themselves as great intellectuals, are trying to derive sadistic pleasure by raking up these flimsy and trivial matters. They are trying to create chaos and confusion in the society through an ideology that is defective in theory and dangerous in practice. Further, they have no love lost for Bharat. For them, Bharat is not a single nation, but a conglomeration of many different nationalities. And Stalin, from whom Indian Communists drew inspiration during his lifetime, and even later, wrote in 1925: “Nowadays India is spoken of as a single whole. Yet there can be hardly any doubt that in the case of a revolutionary upheaval in India many hitherto unknown nationalities, each with its own language and its own distinctive culture, will emerge on the scene. And the part played by the Indian Communists during the Chinese aggression against Bharat in 1962, is still vivid in our memory.
We believe in the philosophy of integration, not collision. We do follow the path of expansion, not contraction. Through every endeavour of our life, especially in the matter of intellectual deliberations, we are striving to expand our universe of existence. In that strenuous exercise our traditional habit is to surpass all sorts of little identities and merge with the larger identity. This is our age- old method of self- improvement and the way of liberation. In this Vichar Vimarsh we’re discussing these aspects in their minute details.
We, as a nation, are passing through a crucial period in the history of mankind. We’ve already turned into a nation of youngsters. Even otherwise, our nation is ancient and, at the same time, ever youthful. This large youth population is going to determine the destiny of our nation and, no doubt, of the world, too. When I say, the world too, it is not out of any narcissist tendency, and the words of the British historian, Arnold Toynbee, bear ample testimony to what I have said. He said: “So now we turn to India. This spiritual gift, that makes a man human, is still alive in Indian souls. Go on giving the world the Indian examples of it. Nothing else can do so much to help mankind to save itself from destruction. There may or may not be one single absolute truth and only one single ultimate way of salvation. We do not know. But we do know that there are more approaches to truth than one, and more means to salvation than one. This is a hard saying for adherents of the higher religions of the Judaic family (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) but it is a truism for Hindus. The spirit of mutual goodwill, esteem, and veritable love … is the traditional spirit of the religions of the Indian family. This is one of India’s gifts to the world.”
The most inspiring part of this development is its inspirational and aspirational nature. Our youngsters are enthusiastic, confidant and industrious. They are the hope of our future. The need of the hour is to anchor their bubbling enthusiasm on the bedrock of our eternal and time-tested philosophy. They have to be saved from the confusions brought about by the divisive forces. It doesn’t mean that something alien to their intellectual makeup is going to be imposed on them. Lokmanthan is to provide them a platform to think about themselves and their surroundings. It is giving them an opportunity to find out the means for the integral development of the nation and theirs too. Hence the focus and target of this whole exercise is certainly our enthusiastic youth who are brimming with inspiration as well as aspirations of the highest degree.
In short, Lokmanthan, a Colloquium of ‘Nation First’ Thinkers and Practitioners is a public discourse platform to share, brainstorm and perorate on contemporary issues of the country that not only influences home but also the world. ‘Confluence of evolving nationalism, aspirations, social justice and harmony through empathy and sensitization culminating into social mobility using development as an instrument’ is the moving Mantra of the national convention. Four main subjects will be discussed in the Lokmanthan. Each plenary session will be followed with six parallel sessions. Along with that two topics are selected for panel discussions.
- Healthy life and holistic life style.
- Vox Populi. People in Democracy: Role & Status-
Several open stages are provided for the artists to showcase their genius. Cultural programs like Kathakali, Kalari, Tayambaka, BharatNatyam, Drama will be performed in the night.
Plenary sessions are as follows:
Decolonizing Indian Minds
Rulers from alien civilizations like the Mughals and British represented an alien ethos. By deliberate design, the British created an elite class who developed a taste and temperament closer to Europe during their stay of more than one and half century in the Indian subcontinent. They presumed a superiority of European culture and introduced an education system whose purpose was to disconnect the Indian people from their own roots, inhibiting the confidence in oneself and one’s culture and civilization. This was the advent of intellectual slavery in India. Even after political independence, the stranglehold of the colonial intellectual tradition continued, as is obvious in our social life, art, literature and also in the country’s political structures.
The first plenary session intends to review the dominance of the colonial influence and intellectual traditions on our mind and thinking. The contrived ideas of foreign lands will lead to influenced social life and culture, destroying the concept of diversity of this civilization and cement the skepticism towards our identity. No country or culture can play any meaningful role with a slave mentality. There is need to interweave confidence in Indian knowledge system and dismantle the colonized attitudes, behaviour and their side effects.
Rashtriyata (Nationality) in Neo-liberalism and
Although the idea of nation is presented as a modern concept, its core of cultural belongingness is as old as human civilization. The long process of commonality and kinship ultimately got crystallized in the form of a nation and nationalism across the world.
The on-set of neo-liberal globalization presumably mounted an assault on any such long lasting bond. However, juxtaposing the idea of nationalism and neo-liberal globalization championing a borderless world raises many debatable arguments. The recent example of Brexit exhibits that neo-liberal imperatives have made people acutely conscious of their nationalism. However, some thinkers argue that nationalists could employ neo-liberal policies for nationalist reasons. Can commercialization and economics uproot the sentiments of national identity or co-exist, is the question to be addressed.
Identity, Aspirations and National Integration
Every society and nation has its own way of progress. When things change, thinking evolves, new social and cultural understanding develops, conflict and comparisons with past becomes very natural. New experience and accordingly our behaviour pattern could be coined as modern which is not necessarily rejection of past. Modernity is a reflection of continuity with change. Experimentation is human nature and it is this characteristic which invites changes in our social, cultural and behaviour patterns. Art, music, literature, tradition and pattern of knowledge all are impacted and influenced by mutual interactions. It’s a sign of an open, progressive and democratic society. Interactions, influences and exchange of ideas impact our aspirations from self, society and nation. However, awareness of a commonality in our identities and aspirations gives direction and meaning to our togetherness as a nation. An introspection to identify our identity, aspirations and connect to our roots vis-à-vis the psychological and physical impact of the West needs discussion and deliberation.
Role of Art, Culture, History and Media in Nation Building
India has a rich tradition of diversities. It is not confined only to the field of social life but also extends to culture. Our concept of diversity is not in conformity with the Western idea of diversity. There, it is considered in terms of identity and every cultural current, dialect, language, social variations, sects, and diverse philosophies are perceived as a counter- narrative of unity. However, Indian culture replete with diversities is the foundation of her evolution, contestation and variations which are as natural as blowing of wind and flowing of water.
To celebrate these diversities without binding them in identity, to strengthen national integration and idea of India is a challenge before the thinkers of the country. Incepting manipulated traits and traditions into social, cultural, religious realms of over past few centuries of history, Western philosophy and propagation of those beliefs by animated intellectuals has germinated the politics of identity that is proving to be detrimental to the core idea of unity in diversity. The natural consequence of this offered space to reactionary forces on one hand and status quoist elements of feudal mindset on the other has lackluster the concept of cultural civilization over the years. Bringing back the natural and deserving of our old civilization is therefore a task before thought leaders, social activists, and intellectuals of the country through their influence in all walks of life including art, folk, literature and religious faiths.
For details: http://www.lokmanthan.org/