Dhvani Workshop, New Delhi (March 4-8, 2018)

Organized by

The Abhyas Trust, New Delhi

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The Abhyas Trust invites applications for a week-long Workshop on the Dhvani Theory from March 4-8, 2018,  at New Delhi.

The workshop will commence with a public lecture by Prof C Rajendran, titled Resonance Beyond: The Aesthetics of Dhvani, at the Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, on 3rd March 2018, at 7 p.m.

About the Workshop

This workshop will principally include a close textual reading of selections from the Dhvanyāloka of Ānandavardhana—the celebrated work on Indian literary theory—together with the Locana commentary of Abhinavagupta. The Dhvanyāloka deals with the entire gamut of signification in poetic language, arguing that great literature always communicates through suggestion (dhvani). Another salient feature of the work is that it offers a broad-based aesthetic theory relevant in other art forms like music, drama and painting. The workshop will focus on select passages of the text and explain its sense in English putting Ānandavardhana’s work in proper perspective. The aim of the workshop is to familiarize the participants with core themes in the text of the Dhvanyāloka so that the necessary theoretical background could be created to explore its aesthetic dimensions, which could broaden their horizons of thought and enhance their artistic sensibilities as creative artists and connoisseurs of art.

Deadline for Application:  Tuesday 30 January, 2018

Program and Faculty

Professor C. Rajendran, University of Calicut, Calicut will be the principal instructor. We are also expecting a few other experts of Indian aesthetics to join us. The morning and afternoon sessions will include the readings of the text in Sanskrit followed by special lectures in the evening by various experts in the field of Indian aesthetics. The seminar will be held in English and readings will be circulated in advance. The workshop will be preceded by a special lecture by Prof Rajendran on the topic Resonances Beyond: The Aesthetics of Dhvani on 3rd March 2018 to set the workshop in motion. This special lecture will also serve as an introduction to the workshop and all participants are mandatorily expected to attend. There will also be an evening lecture by Prof. Parul Dave Mukerji (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi) who will talk about the Indian aesthetics from the lens of comparative aesthetics. Prof. Milind Wakankar (IIT-New Delhi) and Dr. Malcolm Keating (Yale-NUS College in Singapore) will also deliver lectures. A special performance will also be organized during the workshop.

Confirmed Scholar Participants

Prof. Parul Dave Mukerji, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Dr. Mrinal Kaul, Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities, Manipal, Karnataka

Dr. Malcolm Keating, Yale-NUS College in Singapore

Prof. Milind Wakankar, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi

Selection Criteria

Though a rudimentary knowledge of the Sanskrit language on part of the participants would definitely help, the workshop does not presuppose any theoretical background of textual scholarship. We seek interested research students and scholars from across India and abroad. The selection will be made based on the strength of the application. We cannot accept more than 25 participants  and the priority will be given to the applications from research scholars in disciplines or with experience in Sanskrit, Philosophy, Aesthetics, Yoga, Performing Arts, Religion and Literature. There will be a participation fee for all participants. Applicants will be informed about the decision of selection after the deadline of application.

Location and Accommodations

The event will be held at Studio Abhyas, 112 Anand Lok (basement), New Delhi. Centrally located in South Delhi, the studio is close to all the major cultural venues of the capital and easily accessible; it is also close to the Metro line. A registration fee will be charged that includes a working lunch, tea/coffee with snacks for the five days of the workshop. Travel cost will not be reimbursed. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to offer accomodation.

Registration Fees

Registration is mandatory for attending the workshop. No participation without due registration will be allowed.

Regular Participants: Rs. 4000

Student Participants: Rs. 3000

Application Information

Applications should include the following, preferably sent as PDFs:

1. Description of research interests and their relevance to the topic of the workshop (max. 300 words)

2. Brief Curriculum Vitae / resume highlighting relevant skills, experience and training.

Applications should be sent to:

Navtej Johar

(Convenor-Workshop on the Dhvani Theory)

Studio Abhyas

F 27 Green Park, New Delhi 110016

India

email: <info@abhyastrust.org>

Tel +91-981-888-2918

For more information please contact Studio Abhyas

www.abhyastrust.org

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Call for Participation: (ICPR) Workshop on Trika Philosophy of Kashmir, Lucknow (February 15 – 28, 2018)

Workshop on Trika Philosophy of Kashmir

(Reading of Abhinavagupta’s Īśvara-pratyabhijñā-vimarśinī Jñādhikāra: Last Four Chapters)

 The Indian Council of Philosophical Research (ICPR) is organizing a fourteen-day workshop from February 15 – 28, 2018 on Pratyabhijñā philosophy, the epistemological school of the Trika Śaivism. The workshop constitutes the Phase-II of the Level Three annual workshop as part of the four-year programme that aims at studying-in-depth the entire text of the Īśvara-pratyabhijñā-vimarśinī by the celebrated Abhinavagupta on his master Utpaladeva’s Īśvara-pratyabhijñā-kārikā, the path setting prasthāna text of the system. The sole purpose in the  phase-II is to cover the last 4 chapters of the Book on Knowledge called Jñādhikāra. In this part our masters deconstruct the established paradigms of Indian philosophical discourse (specially those of Buddhist logicians) and reconstruct a system of logic defined by life-affirming world-view via core concepts of Prakaśa, Vimarśa, Vikalpa, Vāk et al encompassing within their ambit issues of logic, language, metaphysics and aesthetics, fully underscoring the need of “bringing psychology in accord with metaphysics” (to borrow an expression from Prof. TRV Murti) as integrated within a robust system of philosophical discipline which could be construed as integral dynamic absolutism. Understood in this way, the Vimarśinī claiming to be a Samyak Vyākhyāna (proper and comprehensive exposition) of the original Pratyabhijñā-Kārīkas (a text in the āgamic tradition), offers a counter perspective to the prevalent narrative of Kashmir Śaivism as a tantra-based doctrinal school and projects Utpala and Abhinavagupta as logician-metaphysicians par excellence in their own right.

The workshop will primarily have two parts – namely, reading of the core text and concerted theme lectures covering the issues raised in the text and/or the prima facie stand-points necessary for navigating the text. The basic purpose of these workshops including the one in hand is to prepare the new generation of young Indian scholars in an area which is suffering from the acute scholarship-deficit by enabling them to have first hand exposure to the original thought structure and methodology of the masters through their primary textual articulations.

 The workshop will be conducted at the Lucknow Academic Centre of ICPR by Prof. Navjivan Rastogi, the Course Director and Coordinator, together with other eminent scholars such as Goswami Shyam Manohar ji, Professors K.D. Tripathi, Rajneesh Kr. Shukla, Mithilesh Chaturvedi, Ambikadatta Sharma, Sacchidanand Mishra, Prakash Pandey and Drs. Meera Rastogi, Balram Shukla and others. Besides participants would be encouraged to proactively interact among themselves. For this a few sessions could be exclusively earmarked.

Each day of the workshop will have two academic sessions i.e., from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a lunch break from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The workshop will be open to all those who are interested in Kashmir Śaivism. As such faculty members and research scholars in the departments of philosophy/Indian philosophy, departments of Sanskrit with philosophy as one of its courses (including Sanskrit Universities) and also those who are connected with academic centres and institutions operating in the similar field will be eligible to apply. However preference will be given to the participants of earlier workshops. The candidates must bear in their mind that this workshop constitutes the 2nd leg of a four-year workshop programme. Hence those candidates who have participated in earlier workshops and undertake to participate in future ones as well will claim preference.

Those interested should apply online here.

Deadline for application: 31 October 2017


New Book by Navjivan Rastogi

“Kāśmīra śivādvayavāda meṃ pramāṇa-cintana”: “epistemological speculation in the monistic Śaivism of Kashmir” (pp.14+264) published by LD Institute, Ahmedabad.

About the Book:


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The present monograph opens up a virtually hitherto unexplored area of fertile intellectual tradition of the Trika namely the epistemological. The foremost motivation for the author has been to seek an identifiable Trika model of philosophical enquiry, if there is one. The model, so envisaged, is theorized by him as the Dynamic Theory of Knowledge pivoted on the notion of re- cognition (pratyabhijñā) conceptualized as a rudimentary generalized mode of cognition per se. Spread over seven chapters under two sections plus a large thematic appendix the work seeks to reconstruct system’s precise formulations along the nature and definition of source of knowing and its specific modes, integral instrumentalities and the process mechanisms at work graphically recaptured and represented by seven tabular charts. The whole presentation is contextualized within the Trika ontology and against the inherited traditions of logical discourse.

CONTENTS IN ENGLISH

Part One

Chapter One : Metaphysical sub-stratum

(i) Introduction

(ii) Ontological framework

Chapter Two : Epistemological theorizing

(i) Textual sources

(ii) Meaning of knowledge

(iii) Major concerns of epistemological enquiry

(a) Knowledge of knowledge: self-luminosity

(b) Knowledge not an object of another knowledge

(c) Validity and invalidity of knowledge

Chapter Three : Ingredients of knowing

(i) Knower

(a) Sub-notions of subjectivity

(b) Permanence and apriority

(c) Aesthetic dimension

(ii) Source of valid knowledge

(a) Pramāṇa-dependent establishment of an object (meya-siddhi) and the pragmatic role of epistemological functioning (vyavahàra-sàdhanatà)

(b) Definition of pramāṇa

(c) Dhārāvāhika jñāna (unitary flow of knowledge), pramāṇasaṃplava vis-à-vis pramāṇa-definition

(iii) Valid knowledge

(a) Non-difference between pramāṇa and its result (pramāṇa-phala)

(b) Divergence from the Buddhist view

(iv) The object of valid knowledge

(a) Principle of viṣayatāpatti (objectfication)

(b) Epistemic object intrinsically a universal (ābhāsa)

(c) ābhāsavāda : the sole object of pramāṇa-activity= an ābhāsa (manifestation)

(v) Abādhitatva (non-contradictedness)

(a) non-contradictedness: an essential component of pramāṇa-definition

(b) saṃvāda(“coherence”) and pramāṇa-definition

(c) pramāṇa and purposive action (pravṛtti)

(vi) Original insights of the śaivas

(a) Instrumentalization of the indeterminate perception (prakāśa : luminous immediacy)

(b) Pramā is bāhyatādhyavasāya (determinate apprehension of the externality)

(vii) The meta-epistemological nature of pramāṇa

Part Two (Kinds of sources of knowing)

Chapter Four: Statement of the problem

Chapter Five: Perception

(i) Definition of perception

(ii) Object of perception

(iii) Indeterminate-determinate perception : a dynamic concept

(iv) Types of perception

(a) Sensory perception a. Process of sensory perception

(b) Mental perception

(c) Yogic perception a. Immediacy of awareness : shining of manifestational vividity in awareness

b. The gateway to cognition of an other’s mind is through identification with the other

c. Impact of the Buddhist notion of bhāvaāprakarṣa

Chapter Six: Inference

(i) Inference : dependent and indirect cognition

(ii) Inference as reasoning (yukti)

(iii) Definition of inference

(a) Deterministic causation underlining vyāpti (relation of necessary dependent concomitance) : logical reason (hetu : middle term) redefined

(iv) Constituent parts of inference

Chapter Seven: āgama

(i) Context and background

(ii) āgama as prasiddhi (inherited cognition) (I)

(iii) āgama as prasiddhi (inherited cognition) (II)

(a) Essential unity of all scriptures: sarvāgamaprāmāṇya

(b) Two-fold variety of prasiddhi : the composed and the non- composed

(c) Source of scriptural validity:firm rooting of conviction (vimarśanirūḍhi)

(iv) āgama as śabdana (verbalizing)/pratibhāna (intuitive reflecting)

(a) Triple contextualization of śabdana

(v) āgama as āpti (verbal testimony : authenticity of the perfected being)

(a) Different kinds of the perfected authority

(b) āpti morphosized into prasiddhi

(vi) Investigating the epistemological structure of āgama

(vii) Epilogue

Appendix Manas and Jñānendriyas in Kashmir Śaivism

Bibliography

Word-index


Prof Navjivan Rastogi’s Hindi Book – “abhinavagupta kā tantrāgamīya darśana”

Title: abhinavagupta kā tantrāgamīya darśana: itihāsa – sanskṛti – saundarya aur tattva-cintan Author: Navjivan Rastogi

Publisher: Viśvavidyālaya Prakāśana, Sāgara (Madhya Pradeśa). 2012. Price INR 1150

One of the worst trajectories of what is called ‘Indian philosophy’ is that it has been studied as a ‘thing of the past’. Contemporary philosophers like Daya Krishna have repeatedly emphasized this fact. ‘Indian philosophy’ 

Abhinavagupta ka Tantragamiya Darshan I (dragged)has been studied or understood more in terms of history rather than philosophy per se. What constitutes ‘philosophy’ in South Asia is another completely different question which deserves an exquisitely different platform for a candid discussion. The philosophy in South Asian context needs a closer scrutiny at the hands of ‘philosophers’ rather than the ‘historians of philosophy’. In other words we should learn about the past of philosophy in South Asia, understand it ‘today’, and then analyze and assess how and what can we contribute to it.

This is as true about the philosophy written in Sanskrit texts in South Asia, as it is about the philosophy written in Persian, Arabic, Kashmiri, Hindi-Urdu, Tamil, and other classical and vernacular languages. Is not the plethora of ideas those were born and developed in South Asia as a part of Islamic culture a component of Indian philosophy ? Those old-school scholars who believe that the Islamic, Christian and other cultures are foreign to Indian culture must shed their pseudo-garb of colonial interpretations of Indian philosophy. If we accept their theory then the Vedic philosophy too should be regarded as foreign to India like Islamic philosophy, because the composers of the Vedas also ‘invaded’ the indigenous people of India and imposed upon them the so called Vedic culture. Or, for instance, since Christianity arrived in South Asia much before Islam did – what about the ideas those developed as a part of Christian culture in South Asia ? This is as true in case of many other smaller religious cultures in South Asia as it is about the vast literatures produced in vernacular languages. Were, for instance, Kabir, Ghalib, Lal Ded, or the creative philosophers writing in South Indian languages not philosophers?

Here I will focus on the philosophy of India as discussed in the Sanskrit texts. One of the major reasons for studying ‘Indian philosophy’ as a ‘thing of the past’ is that the Sanskritists in India have studied this philosophy either mostly from philological point of view or simply as knowing about the facts listed in these systems. This, however, does not seem to be the case with the traditional paṇḍit scholarship, where in the majority of the cases as witnessed by me personally, since the tradition is understood as continuing and alive, there is an attempt to make the study of philosophy ‘as the thing of the present’. A critical reflection that evaluates this system engaging with contemporary thinking systems (by contemporary I do not necessarily mean Western philosophy alone) in the Indian sub-continent is what is needed. Is philosophy dead in contemporary South Asia? Are there no contemporary philosophical systems existing in South Asia and if at all there are, how have they evolved from the past and how are they engaging with the present. An attempt to answer such questions will help us in understanding the present of the philosophy in Sanskrit sources or what is sometimes misleadingly called ‘Indian philosophy’.

There were, nonetheless, a few exceptional scholars in the 20th century who besides having training in traditional learning were also equally good at modern scholarship. Professor Kanti Chandra Pandey was one such scholar who combined in himself an erudite philosopher and an informed historian. His remarkable work on Abhinavagupta is a testimony to this combined scholarship. His student Professor Navjivan Rastogi who has authored the book in question is another such rare Sanskrit scholar in whom one can see the reflection of his teacher. Rastogi’s book that is written in terse Hindi language (at least that is what I felt, but I may be wrong since Hindi is not my mother tongue) is a collection of various research papers he has written in his long scholarly career of about fourty-five years. The book is not strictly focusing on Abhinavagupta as Pandey’s work is, for instance, but nonetheless it is certainly addressing Abhinavagupta’s system in a very broader sense. Today, unfortunately, where we witness that the ‘critical’ Sanskrit scholarship is rare in India, this book is coming as a welcome-item.

Rastogi does not only have a remarkably deep sense of Abhinavan philosophy, but he also masters the matters of Kashmirian Śaiva traditions meticulously. He has reflected upon his understanding of Abhinava with an informed depth, and has thrown light on many aspects of Abhinavan research. Today, Abhinavan studies are progressing slowly, but critically. Students of Abhinavagupta all over the world are carefully looking at the scholarship being produced on him. He is easy to be loved, but difficult to be understood. Rastogi’s work is an erudite attempt to introduce and discuss some key features of Abhinavan studies. Abhinava is equally important for both the students of the Tāntirc literature and the poetic aesthetics. Rastogi, equally well versed in both these domains of Abhinavan epistemology, has discussed sections on both these topics in his book.

The book begins with a discussion on the relationship between the Vedic and the Āgamic discourse followed by a historical assessment of the Kashmirian Śaiva systems, evaluation of its philosophical ideas and an analysis of how the contemporary scholars like Gopinath Kaviraj and others were influenced by such systems of thought or vice versa.

As far as the stylistic features of the book are concerned, I think I should not hesitate from making some extremely important points. And these points should be understood as the criticism towards the publisher and not towards the author of the book. I say this because I also had a chance to have a look at the digital version of the press copy that Professor Rastogi had sent to the publishers. In his press copy Rastogi had put the elaborate notes and annotations as ‘footnotes’ and not as ‘end notes’. In my strong, but very candid opinion, I believe all those publishers who encourage the endnotes instead of footnotes, or compel the authors to do so in their books, should be completely abandoned. At least this should be done in Indological publications where we often have to use long notes and elaborate annotations and the publishers convert all these foot notes into end notes possibly because it deprives the main body of the book of its aesthetic looks. At least this is how an indological publisher justified himself while talking to me some years back. I am purposely emphasizing this point because as an indologist myself I am  aware of the deep pain I have to go through searching for all those notes in a book flipping and flapping back and forth just because a publisher (who presumably never has to use the book for scholarly purposes himself) chose an option that could please his eyes. This is completely unacceptable to me, and I request all other indologists not to encourage publishers who may persuade them to convert all the footnotes in their books into end notes. This has been a grave problem with the books published in many prestigious series also and this book also suffers from the same problem. Another minor problem is the font used for the titles of the chapters which instead of being clear and catchy is sometimes deluding to eyes. The publisher should take the serious note of such suggestions.

To conclude, I think, I am not at all a qualified person to review this book. However, I have done so at the request of Prof Rastogi himself. In Hindi, it is indeed rare to find such comprehensive essays of international quality on Kashmirian Śaiva philosophy. I will not try exploring for what reasons this book was written in Hindi, but I earnestly hope that Prof Rastogi’s works those he has chosen to write in Hindi, like this book, would also be translated into English in future. After all, how many people have studied Andre Padoux’s famous work “Vāc” in French, but several generations of the students of Kashmirian Śaiva systems have greatly benefited from its English translation. In the European context same is true about the theorists and philosophers like Foucault, Derrida, Kant, Sartre etc. This book should certainly become available in English.


International Conference: Around Abhinavagupta – Aspects of the Intellectual History of Kashmir from the 9th to the 11th Centuries

International Conference:
Around Abhinavagupta – Aspects of the Intellectual History of Kashmir from the 9th to the 11th Centuries

08.06.2013 – 10.06.2013

Convened by Prof. Dr. Eli Franco and Dr. Isabelle Ratié

Sponsored by:

  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
  • Fakultät für Geschichte, Kunst- und Orientwissenschaften
  • Institut für Indologie und Zentralasienwissenschaften
  • Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig

Free admission, but the audience capacity is limited. For more information, please contact our office.

Conference Venue:
Universität Leipzig, Neuer Senatssaal,
Ritterstraße 26, 04109 Leipzig

Conference Program

Flyer

Poster

Purpose of the conference and its significance for South Asian Studies

Abhinavagupta (fl. c. 975-1025) is arguably the most famous figure among Kashmirian medieval intellectuals, and rightly so: the staggeringly lengthy and refined works of this great polymath deserve to be qualified as exceptional in more than one way. The crucial importance of his contributions to Indian aesthetics (which include a treatise on histrionics and another on poetics) has long been acknowledged, but he has also authored, among many theological works, a huge summa on Śaiva rituals and metaphysics (the Tantrāloka, which constitutes an unparalleled source for the history of Śaiva religions) as well as two brilliant philosophical works expounding one of the most complex, subtle and original philosophical systems ever produced in India, the Pratyabhijñā (“Recognition”) system of Utpaladeva (fl. c. 925-975).

However exceptional Abhinavagupta’s works may be, they are grounded in a specific historical, social, artistic, religious and philosophical context. The conference’s goal is to explore this context and to map out the intellectual background against which Abhinavagupta’s figure has emerged a background no less exceptional than Abhinavagupta himself. For the works of the great Śaiva author, far from being an isolated phenomenon, can be seen as an accomplished expression of a unique intellectual milieu, that of Kashmir in the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries.

In spite of its geographical isolation and limited territory, the valley of Kashmir
(surrounded by high mountains at the western end of the Himalayas, and hardly more than 130 km long and 40 km wide) then witnessed an extraordinary religious, artistic and philosophical effervescence. Not only did poetical and theatrical traditions flourish in the little kingdom: Kashmirian authors (among them the great Ānandavardhana) elaborated theories on poetry and theatre that were to spread far beyond the borders of the valley and are widely regarded as an important revolution in the history of Indian aesthetics. The grammatical science and the philosophical-grammatical tradition had brilliant representatives such as Helārāja, a commentator on Bhartrhari’s Vākyapadīya who was in all probability the son of one of Abhinavagupta’s masters. Buddhism had been present in the valley since ancient times, and while a prominent figure of the so-called Buddhist “epistemological school”, the Kashmiri Dharmottara, probably died at the very beginning of the 9th century, another great Kashmiri Buddhist philosopher, Śaṅkaranandana, sometimes called the “second Dharmakīrti”, seems to have been an older contemporary of Abhinavagupta, who often quotes him with admiration. Brahminical authors were no less active in the valley, and two brilliant Kashmiri representatives of the Nyāya tradition wrote important works during this period: Jayantabhaṭṭa (a 9th-century philosopher but also a fiercely funny satirist who authored a play on religious politics during the reign of king Śaṅkaravarman) and Bhāsarvajña (the author of the Nyāyabhūṣaṇa whose originality is pointed out by Abhinavagupta himself). The valley also hosted many Hindu heterodox movements, both Vaiṣṇava and Śaiva, and the Śaiva traditions in particular developed at that time a rich exegetical and philosophical literature, both on the dualist side (with e.g. Rāmakaṇṭha) and in non-dualist circles (with Somānanda, Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta). Finally, this creative ferment also resulted in a remarkable historiographical perspective, expressed in the 12th century Rājataraṅginī, a chronicle of the kings of Kashmir written by Kalhaṇa.

The cultural history of Kashmir has long attracted scholarly attention, but so far the studies on this topic have either attempted to describe one particular component (Buddhist,1 Hindu,2 linguistic,3 etc.) of Kashmir’s cultural wealth, or endeavoured to give a glimpse of the entire history of Kashmiri culture as a whole up to its most recent developments,4 whereas to the best of our knowledge, no attempt has ever been made to focus on the outburst of intellectual creativity that Kashmir witnessed towards the end of the first millennium. Some of the aspects of this period are better known than others: while our knowledge of Kashmiri Tantric Hinduism, for instance, has greatly improved in the last decades,5 we still know very little, to give but one example, of such an important Kashmiri Buddhist philosopher as Śaṅkarananadana,6 and much remains to be studied as regards both the chronology of the authors who were active in that time and place and the historical development of the concepts that emerged in medieval Kashmir.

Most importantly, recent studies have pointed out that this period of intense creativity can only be understood as the outcome of a series of dynamic interactions between different communities. The conference, by gathering leading scholars in the field who are working on various religious, philosophical and literary as well as social and historical aspects of medieval Kashmir, will provide a unique opportunity to draw an overall picture of these interactions. Alexis Sanderson’s ground-breaking work has shown that what scholars used to call “Kashmiri Śaivism” is by no means a monolithic religious current, but rather, a complex net of various interacting movements dominated by the dualist Śaivasiddhānta.7 In the field of philosophy as well as in that of religious exegesis, the works written in medieval Kashmir cannot be properly understood without taking into account the constant interaction between various competing traditions: as pointed out by Raffaele Torella, the Pratyabhijñā system of the Śaiva non-dualist philosophers, forinstance, is in fact pervaded by notions borrowed from their Buddhist rivals.8More generally, the original features of Kashmiri philosophical systems are the result of a constant polemical dialogue between many different schools of thought that is still in need of a thorough study. These fruitful interactions tend to transcend the categories in which the various types of Indian literature are usually compartmentalized: it has recently been argued that the Kashmiri aesthetic revolution is at least in part the result of what Pocock (following Kuhn) would have called a “paradigm transfer”, in the field of aesthetics, of a model first developed in the field of Vedic exegesis by the Mīmāṃsakas.9 Furthermore, although scholars have already pointed out the many points of contact between the aesthetics elaborated by the Kashmiri poeticians and the metaphysics of Kashmiri Śaiva non-dualism,10 the exact nature of this relationship remains to be determined.

The dynamics of the various interactions that made Kashmir such a lively intellectual center are also to be understood in view of the valley’s peculiar geographical and geopolitical position, and in this regard as well, much remains to be studied: Kashmir played a crucial role during the so-called “second wave” of transmission of Buddhism into Tibet (11th-12th centuries), which was to have far-reaching consequences for the history of Buddhism throughout Asia. The influence of medieval Kashmir on South Indian Śaivism, the circulation of texts from the Himalayan valley to the far South of India and their transmission and interpretation are an equally important and thus far little studied11 aspect of the intellectual history of Kashmir. While enabling specialists of various fields (religious and social studies, history, philosophy, grammar, aesthetics), linguistic domains (Sanskrit, Tibetan) and geographical areas (Kashmir of course, but also Tibet and South India) to share the latest results of their research, the conference will endeavour to trace for the first time the genesis and dynamics of the Kashmiri “golden age” as a whole as well as its impact throughout the Indian subcontinent.

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  1. See e.g. J. NAUDOU, Les Bouddhistes Kaśmīriens au Moyen-Âge, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 1968.
  2. See e.g. Y. IKARI (ed.), A Study of the Nīlamata. Aspects of Hinduism in Ancient Kashmir, Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University, Kyoto, 1994.
  3. See M. KAUL & A. AKLUJKAR (eds.), Linguistic Traditions of Kashmir. Essays in Memory of Paṇḍit Dinanath Yaksha, D.K. Printworld, Delhi, 2008.
  4. See A. RAO (ed.), The Valley of Kashmir. The Making and Unmaking of a Composite Culture?, Manohar, Delhi, 2008.
  5. For an overall view of the most recent findings in this field see D. GOODALL & H. ISAACSON, “Tantric Traditions”, pp. 122-137, 189-191 (notes) and 361-400 (bibliography) in J. FRAZIER (ed.), The Continuum Companion to Hindu Studies, Continuum, London-New-York, 2011.
  6. So far only one of his works has been edited and translated (H. KRASSER, Śaṅkaranandanas Īśvarāpākaraṇasaṅkṣepa, Teil 1: Texte, Teil 2: Annotierte Ūbersetzungen und Studie zur Auseinandersetzung über die Existenz Gottes, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien, 2002). For an account of the latest research on this author, see V. ELTSCHINGER, “Śaṅkaranandana’sSarvajñasiddhi. A Preliminary Report”, pp. 115-156 in F. SFERRA (ed.), Sanskrit Texts from Giuseppe Tucci’s Collection. Part I, Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente (Manuscripta Buddhica 1), Roma, 2008.
  7. See e.g. A. SANDERSON, “The Śaiva Exegesis of Kashmir”, pp. 231-442 in D. GOODALL & A. PADOUX (eds.), Mélanges tantriques à la mémoire d’Hélène Brunner/Tantric Studies in Memory of Hélène Brunner, Institut Français de Pondichéry/École Française d’Extrême-Orient, Collection Indologie 106,Pondicherry, 2007.
  8. See e.g. R. TORELLA, “The Pratyabhijñā and the Logico-Epistemological School of Buddhism”, pp. 327-345 in Goudriaan (ed.), Ritual and Speculation in Early Tantrism, Studies in Honor of André Padoux, SUNY Series in Tantric Studies, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1992.
  9. See L. MCCREA, The Teleology of Poetics in Medieval Kashmir, Harvard University Press, Harvard Oriental Series 71, Cambridge (Mass.), 2008.
  10. See e.g. E. GEROW, “Abhinavagupta’s Aesthetics as a Speculative Paradigm”, Journal of the Oriental American Society 114 (2), pp. 186-208.
  11. See, however, W. COX, Making a Tantra in Medieval South India: the Mahārthamañjarī and the Textual Culture of Cola Cidambaram, 2 vol., unpublished Doctoral Thesis, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilisations, University of Chicago, Chicago, 2006, pp. 173-240 (“Reading and Writing from Kashmir to Cidambaram”).

http://www.gko.uni-leipzig.de/indologie-zaw/forschungprojekte/projekte/konferenz-abhinavagupta.html


The “Pizza Effect” in Indian Philosophy

We all know what “the pizza effect” means. For those who do not, let me elaborate. Pizza was first exported to the United States, processed and reshaped by Americans, and then exported back to Italy thus becoming the popular Italian food. What Italians know or what the world knows today as the Italian Pizza is basically the form that Americans gave it. Likewise what we today know as “Indian philosophy” is mostly the understanding that is significantly influenced by European elaborations. The term “Indian philosophy” used to sound an extremely loaded word to me some years back and our recent course on comparative philosophy has made me realize how significantly hollow this term is. Nonetheless, we cannot but use this expression for want of a better term. In this paper I am going to show how eclectic the term and concept “Indian philosophy” is using a post-colonial method. I will argue that it is only using a comparative method that it is possible to discuss the authentic and holistic “Indian philosophy”. I must say that I have been influenced by what Daya Krishna calls a “comparative ‘comparative method’” and I am trying to use this method in explaining what is “comparative” about the “comparative method”. I think Daya Krishna made assiduous efforts through all his writings on Indian philosophy to take it out of the model of understanding that Europeans had tried to fit it in and what was, under the spell of Orientalism, followed by modern Indian writers of the history of Indian philosophy. In other words European Orientalists made unceasing efforts to understand Indian philosophy from the perspective of Western philosophy. Now since it was this understanding of Indian philosophy that was accessible to modern Indian intelligentsia, the modern understanding of Indian philosophy suffered or in some sense is still suffering from what we call “the pizza effect” here.

In what we are going to discuss in the forthcoming pages, one thing is absolutely clear: the notion of Indian philosophy as we know it today is broadly based on the misconceived notions of European-understanding of it and their Indian followers. In this post-colonial world we want to come out of that colonial hangover and explore what Daya Krishna calls “authentic Indian philosophy”. In fact there is nothing “authentic” about any philosophy at all. Philosophy is beyond “authentic” and “not-authentic”. But here we intend to explore how and why were the ideas manipulated; ideas those grew out in ancient and early medieval India as a part of thought process of the intelligence that used the method of expression as the Sanskrit. In this paper I shall be dealing with India philosophy, nay South Asian philosophy, only in its Sanskrit sources because I also believe that Orientalism has also offered an undue advantage to Indian philosophy of only including within its arena the Sanskrit sources, be it Hindu, Buddhist or Jaina. Philosophy written in any other language barring Sanskrit in what we now know as South Asia does not seem to find a place in books on Indian philosophy. Scholars like Daya Krishna and Andrew Nicholson have also felt this concern vacuum. In my discussion with some commoners from India I have often come across the romantic idea that “philosophy in India is hidden in Sanskrit alone” which to me is outrightly unacceptable. This is the result of the Brahmanic hegemony and I plead for the inclusion of the philosophical works written in whatsoever South Asian languages in the main-stream discourse on Indian philosophy. Now getting back to our point of trying to understand how Indian intellectuals were trying to understand their own philosophical systems , I cannot help but quoting Daya Krishna:

The deepest anguish of the Indian intellectual is that he is unrecognized in the West as an equal, or as an intellectual at all. (p. xiv)

We have already known how the ideologies of the minds of colonized people work and what Daya Krishna points out above is in fact the central theme of how colonized Indian mind was working in making its efforts to understand itself through Other’s eyes. One of the dilemmas of Indian intellectuals writing on “their own” philosophy was that they were writing at a time when India was experiencing a strong cultural flux under the British colonial rule. To illustrate my point and also the one made by Daya Krishna above I add from Bhushan and Garfield:

The failure of recognition is tragic. These philosophers wrote in a context of cultural fusion generated by the British colonial rule in India. They were self-consciously writing both as Indian intellectuals for an Indian audience and as participants in a developing global community constructed in part by the British Empire. They pursued Indian philosophy in a language and format that could render it both accessible and acceptable to the Anglophone world abroad. In their attempt to write and to think for both audiences they were taken seriously by neither”. (p. xiv)

In their recently edited volume titled Indian Philosophy in English From Renaissance to Independence Bhushan and Garfield have brought forward to us the Indian authors who played a prominent role in shaping modern India and its understanding of its own philosophy. This anthology of the essays on Indian philosophy was written by those Indian intellectual of the 19th century who “demonstrate that the colonial Indian philosophical communities were important participants in global dialogue, and revealing the roots of contemporary Indian philosophical thought”. This sounds contrary to what Daya Krishna might have to say;

“Anybody who is writing in English is not an Indian philosopher…..What the British produced was a strange species–a stranger in his own country. The Indian mind and sensibility and thinking [during the colonial period] was shaped by an alien civilization. [The British] created a new kind of Indian who was not merely cut off from his civilization, but was educated in a different way. The strangeness of the species is that their terms of reference are the West ….. They put [philosophical problems] in a Western way. This picture of Indian philosophy that has been presented by Radhakrishanan, Hiryanna and others …..[each of whom is an Indian, writing philosophy in English during the colonial period] is not the story of Indian philosophy. We have been fed on the Western presentation of Indian philosophy, which hardly captures the spirit and history of Indian philosophy…..If I were not to know Indian philosophy myself, I would say that [their presentation] is wonderful, that it presents it clearly, with great insight and understanding. Now I know a little Indian philosophy, I say that they did not……They are not concerned with the problems that Indian philosophers were concerned with.”

These words of Daya Krishna are very challenging for a modern student of Indian philosophy. Being himself an adapt in Indian philosophical literatures he knew how slowly and strongly, but deeply and remarkably the Orientalism has transformed the South Asian minds and what can they see today when they look at their own thoughtful literature. Exploring this deep psychological state of loss and recovery of Self under Colonialism, Asis Nandy says;

Colonialism is also a psychological state rooted in earlier forms of social consciousness in both the colonizers and the colonized. It represents a certain cultural continuity and carries a certain cultural baggage……… It also explains why colonialism never seems to end with formal political freedom. As a state of mind, colonialism is an indigenous process released by external forces. Its sources lie deep in the minds of the rulers and the ruled. Perhaps that which begins in the minds of men must also end in the minds of men (p. 2-3).

It might sound like I am getting off the main theme of our paper, but I want to emphasize the fact that Daya Krishna had understood this problem of the “colonized state of mind” where people simply have fossilized their ‘philosophy’ by regarding it as ancient and thus letting it die deep in the past. In other words, what Indian philosophy is today is that one can study it as a subject of past, say history, but not as a subject of present. And this is one of the major problems when we look at Indian philosophy today. I think we must note Chakravarthy’s comments here:

Faced with the task of analyzing developments or social practices in modern India, few if any Indian social scientists or social scientists of India would argue seriously with, say, the thirteenth-century logician Gaṅgeśa or with the grammarian and the linguist philosopher Bhartṛhari (fifth to sixth centuries), or with the tenth-or eleventh-century aesthetician Abhinavagupta. Sad though it is, one result of European colonial rule in South Asia is that the intellectual traditions once unbroken and alive in Sanskrit or Persian or Arabic are now only matters of historical research for most – perhaps all – modern social scientists in the region. They treat these traditions as truly dead, as history” (p. )

For the serious students of Indian philosophy the challenge is to think how it could be brought out from the dead chamber and make it alive by making people think through it. It sounds indeed so ironical that Indian philosophy is often tagged with the expression “it is more of a way of life”, but it has simply remained confined to its death. A good example could be the state of Indian philosophy in Indian universities today. From my personal experience having been a part of a number of Indian universities, I feel that the courses are designed such that students “know” about Indian philosophy, but do not develop an edge to see what it is. Nicholson further adds;

Students in literary theory today, whether in Calcutta or Cambridge, take more inspiration from Aristotle than from Abhinavagupta. If they are acquainted with Indian philosophy at all, it is regarded only as a historical curiosity, not as a vital philosophical tradition (p. 21).

Daya Krishna had a deep realization of the above mentioned fact and he emphasized that the Indian philosophy should not be regarded as something full and final. In addition to this he also raises another problem related to the various schools of thought belonging to different traditions and the individuals who contributed to these schools or traditions. The problem precisely is that we have never thought of looking at for instance Śaṅkara independently from his tradition. Reading Śaṅkara as a representative of the Advaita Vedānta is simply compromising his personal philosophical genius at the cost of the affiliation with his traditional school. Daya Krishna says:

No distinction, therefore, is ever drawn between the thought of an individual thinker and the thought of the school. A school is, in an important sense, an abstraction. It is a logical construction springing out of the writings of a number of thinkers who share a certain similarity of the outlook in tackling similar problems……Basically, this is the reality of the ‘schools’ of Indian philosophy. Yet it is never presented as such. Śāṁkhya, for example, is identified too much with Īśvarakṛṣṇa’s work, or Vedānta with the work of Śaṅkara. But this is due to the confusion between the thought of an individual thinker and the style of thought which he exemplifies and to which he contributes in some manner. All that Saṁkara has written is not strictly Advaita Vedānta. Nor is all that Īśvarakṛṣṇa has written, Sāṁkhya. Unless this is realized, writings on Indian philosophy will continuously do injustice either to the complexity of thought of the individual thinker concerned, or to the uniqueness of the style of thought they are writing about (p. 14).

This and many other problems persist in Indian philosophy because we never explored the historiography of Indian philosophy in detail. This exercise has only started to begin recently with scholars like Richard King and Andrew Nicholson. For someone like me who is based in textual studies of the Sanskrit sources of Indian philosophy, knowing that Arthur Schopenhauer read the Latin translation of the Upaniṣads which had been translated by French writer Anquetil du Perron from the Persian translation of Prince Dara Shikoh entitled Sirre-Akbar (“The Great Secret”) was a shock. It was a shock because my first teacher of Indian philosophy had told me that I should read Arthur Schopenhauer and Paul Deussen if I really wanted to understand Indian philosophy. Paul Deussen who was highly influenced by Schopenhauer and his ideas about Indian philosophy, had its most direct influence of the nineteenth-century German idealism on the young discipline of Indology through his writings particularly on Upaniṣadas. Deussen played an important role in shaping what we today know as Indian philosophy. He regarded Upaniṣads as unambiguously Vedāntic in their outlook and also claimed that the Sāṁkhya was a school that later grew out of the Upaniṣads. He seriously treated Indian philosophy in a comparative way and made philosophical claims based on insights from Eastern and Western philosophy. His widely read translations of the Upaniṣads had an enormous effect in scholarly opinion of Vedānta in the twentieth century, and it was he more than any one else who was responsible for the opinion that Advaita Vedānta was the genuine representation of the Upaniṣads. (Nicholson: p. 134). Here is exactly where we understand the value of Daya Krishna’s “comparative ‘comparative method’” lies. Deussen used a comparative method to understand Indian philosophy and today we understand that his comparative method needs to be looked through an authentic or a more refined comparative method. Nicholson’s comments about Deussen’s approach are worth a note here;

Despite his recognition that India contained a multiplicity of philosophical voices, not just one, through his historical typology he was able to uphold the notion inherited from Schopenhauer of a “concordance of Indian, Greek, and German metaphysics; the world is māyā, is illusion, says Śaṅkara;-it is a world of shadows, not of realities, says Plato;-it is ‘appearance only, not the thing in itself’, says Kant”. This unified vision of the world’s philosophies championed by Deussen became enormously popular in the twentieth century, and its influence is still felt today” (p. 138).

Deussen was constructing “his” understanding of Indian philosophy surrounding Vedānta system alone. He even thought that the “whole Sāṁkhya system is nothing but a result of the denigration of the Vedānta by means of the growth of realistic tendencies” (p. 136). According to him the Yoga and Sāṁkhya were simply the lower stages of development of the highly polished philosophy namely the Vedānta. We will see later in the paper how his ideas were solely based on the Sarvadraśanasaṃgraha of Mādhava, a fourteenth-century Advaita Vadāntin.

Coming to another issue that Ninian Smart has raised is related to the problem of categorization of the Indian philosophy into the āstika and nāstika schools. This is another example that makes us think how eclectic the categorization of Indian philosophy is. I think this is an important issue and there are many examples one can offer about the inconsistent ways in which this categorization of Indian philosophy has been implements. This concept was vaguely present in the early Sanskrit texts like the Mahābhārata and the Buddhacarita of Aśvaghośa, but the present classification was of central significance to the late medieval doxographers. Uniquely enough a sixth century Tamil text titled Maṇimekalai seems to offer such an idea that culminates in regarding the Buddhist logic as the final school. This text has been completely overlooked by historians of Indian philosophy because it was not written in Sanskrit (p. 149). Haribhadra Suri (eighth century), a Jaina author enumerates the six schools of Indian philosophy as Buddhism, Nyāya, Sāṁkhya, Jaina, Vaiśeṣika, Mīmāṃsā (p. 155). Later, the most famous doxography was composed by the fourteenth century scholar Mādhavācārya in his famous text titled the Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha. He discussed fifteen schools of Indian philosophy in this book using a hierarchical order starting from the materialists and culminating in the Vedānta. Being himself a Vedāntin he propounded that all schools of Indian philosophy culminate in Vedānta. In his opinion only the Advaita Vedānta was the authentic Vedānta, and he regarded the other schools of Vedāntas as the nāstika schools. It was Mādhava’s popular classification of āstika and nāstika that Deussen had inherited, explains Nicholson;

Although it has been praised in the past for the clarity with which it presents philosophical doctrines, for my purposes it is most interesting for its ideological slant, and the techniques and the dominance of Advaita philosophy in the modern period that the Sarvadarśanasaṃgraha has often been considered an accurate depiction of the Indian philosophical schools, so much so that Deussen’s volume on India in his Allgemeine Geschichte der Philosophie is largely based on Mādhava’s text (p. 159).

In conclusion I think in the post-colonial world today we have started realizing where the flaws of our approach and understanding a colonial ideology lies and the comparative method as shows above is a remedy if applied carefully makes us realize that we study Indian philosophy in disguise. In the recent times the philosophers like Karl H. Potter and Alex Watson have advocated for the study of Indian philosophy as Indian philosophy and I think I agree with them in the sense that we should first try to understand the native philosophical systems of any culture without comparing them with the systems those we may already know of. And only after we try to learn the basic skeleton of a system should we we using the comparative method. I would prefer calling the former “the internal comparative method” and the latter “the external comparative method”. In the context of Sanskrit sources it becomes an imperative task to go back to the original Sanskrit texts of Indian philosophy and not depending solely on the understanding of the translations. The time also demands revised translations of the important Sanskrit texts in Indian philosophy so that we cannot be mislead by the Deussenian approach.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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