August 23, 2006

Advance publicity

Re: Jyotirmaya Sharma: Hindutva (revisited) by Jyotirmaya
on Tue 22 Aug 2006 10:46 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
Debashish, I suspect you haven't read my book and are commenting on the basis of Mr. Carlson's `review' of my book. In my book, I have never even indirectly imputed that Aurobindo Ghosh was a Hindutva votary. The book is about the ideas that went into making of political Hindutva. In other words, it is about genealogy of ideas, rather than suggesting that so and so was a Hindutva votary or any such nonsense. Moreover, the book contains attributions not only to the Bande Mataram period but takes the story upto India's independence and Sri Aurobindo passing on. There are two things being conflated here. One is my inadequate research, a charge not even worthy of rejection. The second is my perspective, which I am more than happy for people to disagree with. But it is a perspective, not a `misunderstanding' as you suggest. Since, I do not think that philosophical texts ought to be hostage to a single understanding or interpretation. As for his continuing engagement with `otherness' and modernity, I have dealt with it exhaustively, within the parameters of my perspective.
Let us take an example. Hitler and the Nazis used Nietsche's thought for their own purposes. It does not make Nietsche a fascist. Modern scholars would dismiss the whole thing as appropriation. I go a step further. I ask the question whether it is possible to write a poem preaching communal hatred and then attributing it to Kabir? This is how the Kabir tradition developed. People made Kabir's metaphysics their own, wrote poems and used the signature line of Kabir (kahat Kabir suno bhai saadhow). Yet it is not possible to write a poem that partakes of Kabir's universe and preach hatred or support priesthood, for instance. Why? This is because the metaphysics does not lend itself to such an appropriation. In the case of Sri Aurobindo, all I have suggested in the book is that whether it was the period of revolutionary terrorism or the period as a Maharshi in Pondicherry, there are aspects of Sri Aurobindo's thought that forms the genealogy and patrimony of political Hindutva as we know it today. It simply cannot be dismissed as a simple instance of appropriation, which is the line Mr. Peter Heehs also tends to take. Whether Hinduism is not fossilised, or whether it is an evelving cultural/spiritual corpus or not, this is a subject which I shall try to have my say in a book published next year.
by Debashish on Tue 22 Aug 2006 11:42 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link Jyotirmaya, I do not believe that any text is immune to the abuses of history. That Kabir has not lent himself to misappropriation by either Hindu or Muslim fundamentalists is due indeed to his explicit social metaphysic in the matter of religion, but this does not mean that he could not or will not be misappropriated by other interests ready to exploit the ambiguities of his texts. These ambiguities may not yet have surfaced because the social occassion for them to surface has not yet arisen but that is merely a coincidence of history. No one can predict what will happen to his/her texts outside of their explicit polemics and before holding someone responsible for contributing to a genealogy of political ideas it is proper hermeneuic practice to establish what were the central social and philosophical concerns of such a person and what was the genealogy of ideas constituting his/her texts. I have seen the charge of "unwitting patrimony" applied in a number of cases lately such as with Nietzsche and Nazi Germany, Okakura and Japanese hyper-nationalism and Vivekananda (and now Sri Aurobindo) and Hindu fundamentalism. In all these cases, the question is seldom asked or answered what were the central or explicit concerns of such individuals and what the ambiguities in their texts meant to them and their times. The alternate genealogies of "Hindu" need first to be explored before the patrimony of the genealogy of "Hindutva" can be accurately attributed. Debashish

No comments:

Post a Comment