Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Poet Sriharsa is a deep-delved philosopher

Poet Sriharsa is a deep-delved philosopher. His Naisadhacarita, even with its epical characteristics, forms a philosophical profile. This literary composition addresses itself to a critical review of social norms and ethics. Romanticism of the Nala-Damayanti-episode reigns superb; yet other factors of life are also taken into account in the greater perspective of human existence.
Sriharsa has not dilated upon all the topics of all the Indian philosophical systems; still his philosophical purview provides a general survey. Various philosophical notions are compressed and communed with the literary matter of the epic. No sequence is seen in the philosophical allusions and they are found scattered in over two hundred and thirty verses of different cantos.
For the philosophical affluence with scriptural influence, Canto-XVII is really remarkable. Some definite items of almost all the systems, theist and atheist, spiritual and non-spiritual, orthodox and heterodox, are traced with unfailing philosophical focuses. This significant canto forms an excellent index of Sriharsa’s dexterous genius, originality and inviting innovations in the philosophical sphere.
It may be observed that with the infusion of philosophical phenomena, Sriharsa’s aim is to suitably embellish the aesthetic status of his literary work and to sincerely evince his philosophical acumen as well. He has successfully designed his poetic art with the philosophical features noticeable not only in plain illustrations, but also in many a double entendre.
Sriharsa’s eruditions on all the philosophical systems are very well marked and the sublimity of Monistic Vedanta has been maintained in the Naisadhacarita. Literary merit has not been belittled by the philosophical concepts inserted into the literature; rather it has been enhanced, since they have been contextually and befittingly utilized as some favourable figures of speech without causing any levity of meaning and without marring the literary beauty of the epic.
Bearing, though unsystematically, the outlines of diverse philosophical aspects, from Carvaka upto Vedanta in a bird’s eye-view, this literary epic appears as an epitome of Indian Philosophy weighed carefully by the poet-philosopher Sriharsa. Through the scriptural and canonical connections, all the thoughts signify the cultural heritage of the vast country of India and Indianness.
Brief Sketch of the Philosophical Study : In the present volume accomplished with ten chapters, Chapter First embodies Introduction regarding general observations on Sriharsa and his writings.* In Chapter Second, the heterodox materialism of Carvaka has been assessed.* In Chapter Third, views of Sankhya philosophy have been summarized.* Concepts of Yoga philosophy have been discussed in Chapter Fourth.* Mimamsa philosophy has found a place of discourse in Chapter Fifth.* Chapter Sixth deals with the tenets of Bauddha philosophy.* In Chapter Seventh, doctrines of Jaina philosophy have been brought to the philosophical disquisition.* Chapter Eighth plays a principal part in comprising the concepts of Nyaya-Vaisesika philosophy.* Vedanta philosophy has been critically construed in Chapter Ninth.* Chapter Tenth forms the concluding review on the epic from different angles.* Depicting the literary theme of love, poet Sriharsa has looked into the inner sense of life through various philosophical topics in his Naisadhacarita.
* * [ For details, please see My above-mentioned book “Philosophical Reflections in the Naisadhacarita.”] * * * Posted by Dr. Harekrishna Meher at 8:20 PM Some extracts are presented here from my book “PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTIONS IN THE NAISADHACARITA”, By : HAREKRISHNA MEHER " Courtesy : http://hkmeher.blogspot.com" / meher.hk@gmail.com

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Horsemanship, swordplay, singing, dancing, speaking, and writing

Return to Renascence Editions Defence of Poesie (Ponsonby, 1595) Sir Philip Sidney
Renascence Editions publication was transcribed, with an introduction, notes, and bibliography, by Risa S. Bear for the University of Oregon, September-December 1992. Contents: Introduction Defence of Poesie Notes Bibliography A note on the WWW edition...It was Sidney's belief that the best way to slow the advance of the Spanish empire on the Continent was to attack the colonies of Spain in the New World. He arranged, in 1584, to sail with Sir Francis Drake on such an expedition but was recalled by the Queen at the last moment and made governor of Flushing, in the Netherlands...
The Defence of Poesie
Sidney's famous essay is said to be a response to an attack on poetry and stage plays, which had been dedicated to him without his permission, by Stephen Gosson, a former playwright: The Schoole of Abuse, 1579. Another reply, inferior but interesting, had been published by Thomas Lodge in 1580...
There is one aspect of the Defence, however, that has been often noted only in passing, and often dismissively, and as I feel it is Sidney's main point I will attempt to throw a little light on it. Sidney is conscious throughout his defence that it is fiction he is defending, and that his strength lies in attacking the privilege generally accorded to "fact." He says that "of all writers under the Sunne, the Poet is the least lyer"; that is, the practitioners of what we now call the academic disciplines are regularly betrayed by their literalism, while the poet, who is under no illusions, freely creates "fictional" statements as true as any other, and the truer for not being asserted as literal. Sidney's approach is characteristic of Renaissance humanism, and more closely akin to modern semiotic theory than is generally appreciated.
Renaissance education came to specialize in rhetoric at a time in which political and economic power came to be concentrated in the courts of princes. This can hardly be a coincidence. Every courtier was trained to the art of sprezzatura, of skill in seeming effortlessness in horsemanship, swordplay, singing, dancing, speaking, and writing, so as to catch the eye of those higher in the hierarchy, and especially that of the prince. Self-presentation has always been and remains the first move in the game of self-advancement, but for the Renaissance in general and Elizabethans especially, "fashioning a self," to echo Spenser, was an obsession. Peter Ramus and the humanist rhetoricians provided a timely operating environment for such pursuits, because their foregrounding of the provisional status of any assertion helped the courtiers to understand self-image as a work in progress rather than as a cynical device.
The Defence of Poesie reflects the humanist education which Shrewsbury and Oxford had given to Sidney, and reflects on the rhetorical aims of self-presentation with which an underemployed Elizabethan gentleman would undertake such a work. It follows the rules and outline of a standard argument: exordium, proposition, division, examination, refutation, digression, peroration; and does so with a spirit and style that must have done its author great credit in the eyes of his contemporaries. The Defence serves almost as a copia of Renaissance theory, for Sidney brings every available gun to bear on his objective: Pliny, Musaeus, Homer, Hesiod, Orpheus, Linus, Amphion, Livius Andronicus, Ennius, Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch, Gower, Chaucer, Thales, Empedocles, Parmenides, Pythagoras, Phocilydes, Herodotus, Virgil, Xenophon, Tremellius, Junius, Tyrtaeus, Lucretius, Manilius, Pontanus, Lucan, Cicero, Heliodorus, Plato, Aristotle, Cornelius Agrippa, Horace, Terence, More, Erasmus, "Dares Phrygius," Plautus, Euripides, Phocion, Sannazaro, Boethius, Persius, Plutarch, Pindar, Tasso, Ovid, Dio Cassius, Ariosto, Scaliger, Bembo, Bibbiena, Beze, Melancthon, Fracastorio, Muret, Buchanan, Hurault, Juvenal, Surrey, Spenser, Sackville, Norton, Apuleius, Demosthenes, Landino, and both Old and New Testaments are all cited in support of his position, which as every critic will tell you is that poetry is useful because it delights as it teaches, a view that dates back to Horace and beyond.
The venerable tradition of didacticism, and Sidney's heavy reliance upon it in the Defence, has sometimes led to a tendency to dismiss the Defence as derivative: "not a very original theorist," says Hazard Adams in Critical Theory Since Plato (154). Adams himself, however, notices something that "sounds modern" in Sidney's argument that the poet "nothing affirmeth, and therefore never lieth." He perceptively compares Sidney on this point to I.A. Richards, but concludes that the comparison will go nowhere because "Sidney does not have a modern theory of language" (154). While it is obvious that Sidney had not the advantage, in his education, of having read Ferdinand de Saussure and his successors, I believe it is a mistake, on the basis of our own historical chauvinism, not to seek the implications of Sidney's argument, and to callously assume that Sidney did not himself see some of those implications. Nor was Sidney alone in so seeing; Renaissance humanists, of whom Sidney was one, understood not merely formal rhetoric but epistemology and even ontology in terms of appearances.
Throughout the period, diagrams appeared in books, such as Andrew Borde's The First Book of the Introduction to Knowledge [1542], or Robert Fludd's Utriusque Cosmi Historia [1616], relating the Ptolemaic cosmology to the idea of a "great chain of being" in which the cosmos is arranged as a hierarchy in which each successive level downward in the hierarchy contains entities which are analogies of entities in the preceding level; to begin to understand the world view of those who produced these diagrams, it may help to visualize ourselves not as "made in the image of God" in the sense that we are independent objects that resemble God, but are actual depictions of God, like paintings. In this view, nature is not divided from God in the way in which we are accustomed, after Descartes, to think, but is something more like a thought or imagination in the mind of God. As imago dei, we reflect our Maker in all that we do, and most of all in doing what our Maker does: to make, especially by imagining. To attempt to improve one's image is then not the dishonest activity which an Enlightenment materialist assumes it to be, but in imitatio dei, is to participate in the creative activity of the Cosmos. Such a world view will hold that all epistemological practice will be mimetic in procedure, and this is in fact what Sidney tells us early on:
There is no Art delivered unto mankind that hath not the workes of nature for his principall object, without which they could not consist, and on which they so depend, as they become Actors & Plaiers, as it were of what nature will have set forth. So doth the Astronomer looke upon the starres, and by that he seeth set downe what order nature hath taken therein. So doth the Geometritian & Arithmetitian, in their divers sorts of quantities. So doth the Musitians intimes tel you, which by nature agree, which not. The natural Philosopher thereon hath his name, and the morall Philosopher standeth uppon the naturall vertues, vices, or passions of man: and follow nature saith he therein, and thou shalt not erre. The Lawier saith, what men have determined. The Historian, what men have done. The Gramarian, speaketh onely of the rules of speech, and the Rhetoritian and Logitian, considering what in nature wil soonest proove, and perswade thereon, give artificiall rules, which still are compassed within the circle of a question, according to the proposed matter. The Phisitian wayeth the nature of mans bodie, & the nature of things helpfull, or hurtfull unto it. And the Metaphisicke though it be in the second & abstract Notions, and therefore be counted supernaturall, yet doth hee indeed build upon the depth of nature.
"By that he seeth set down what order nature hath taken therein." The sciences map the patterns of their objects of inquiry. The poet has the advantage over these, says Sidney, in that he creates a meta-map, or seeks to re-present the mind itself ("first nature") in which nature ("second nature") is but a thought. Poetic imagination brings forth a model on which readers or audiences can build their own characters for the better: it
worketh, not onely to make a Cyrus, which had bene but a particular excellency as nature might have done, but to bestow a Cyrus upon the world to make many Cyrusses, if they will learne aright, why and how that maker made him.
It is this poetic mold from which so many Cyruses can be formed that Sidney refers to as architectonike, the science of sciences. The argument between the philosopher and the historian which Sidney vividly describes is a battle for the honor of being taken for the prescribing artist. The philosopher gives precepts but does not map them onto the world; the historian gives a picture of the world, but cannot by mere description point us to the precepts which would bring it into harmony with the divine mind; the poet then takes away the honor from them both by relating the precepts to the world, mapping "should" onto "is," as it were:
Now doth the peerlesse Poet performe both [the work of the philosopher and the historian], for whatsoever the Philosopher saith should be done, he gives a perfect picture of it by some one, by whom he presupposeth it was done, so as he coupleth the generall notion with the particuler example.
The poet's "presupposition" makes no assertion of fact, though it is important to note that it does imply an assertion that the model presented is, if "rightly" done, exemplary. Every practitioner of an "art" or "science" proceeds by mimetic activity, in observing and then in proceeding through metaphor to represent to society what has been observed. Only the poet (here, creator of fiction, or literary practitioner) trades in metaphor itself rather than in its product. This is not strictly true, even for Sidney, for he admits that the priest or preacher takes precedence in such trading. But he does not admit that theologians work in anything "better" than metaphor; instead, he refers to David and Jesus as poets, and suggests, albeit obliquely, that all didacticism is dependent upon a merely posited and purely metaphorical world view. A simpler way to put all this is that there is unfortunately no alternative to simply taking our belief in God, the cosmos, our earth as we perceive it, and our society as we experience it, on faith and not as anything known directly in and of itself. The lines drawn ("coupleth") in mental space between "notion" and "example" are the very stuff of which all knowledge, Sidney implies, is made.
Sidney hammers this point home by his argument on "lies." Poets are accused of lying, since there is no necessary connection between their models and observed phenomena. His reply is that in all the other arts, the assumption is made that models re-present observations accurately; but this is never so. Therefore he can assert
that of all writers under the Sunne, the Poet is the least lyer: and though he wold, as a Poet can scarecely be a lyer. The Astronomer with his cousin the Geometrician, can hardly escape, when they take upon them to measure the height of the starres. How often thinke you do the Phisitians lie, when they averre things good for sicknesses, which afterwards send Charon a great number of soules drowned in a potion, before they come to his Ferrie? And no lesse of the rest, which take upon them to affirme. Now for the Poet, he nothing affirmeth, and therefore never lieth: for as I take it, to lie, is to affirme that to bee true, which is false. So as the other Artistes, and especially the Historian, affirming manie things, can in the clowdie knowledge of mankinde, hardly escape from manie lies.
The argument is at first glance specious. Of course fictions are false; that is what fiction means. Our common sense (empiricist) assumption, which has gained ground greatly since the age of Hobbes and Newton, is that while Sidney's point is well taken, in that our technicians have as yet gotten the facts wrong, but he must be joking, for the facts are nevertheless there, and they will get them right eventually. But I believe Sidney is serious here. He says, "in the clowdy knowledge of mankinde," with no qualifiers. That he does so provides us with the crux of his argument.
From Petrarch on, the assumption of scholars during the Renaissance was that the centuries from the fall of Rome until their own time were a "dark age," in which the great knowledge of the ancients fell into disuse; it was their mission to recover something of the glory of Greece and Rome by recovering and mastering their literature and "arts," or, interchangeably, "sciences." History, Philosophy, Mathematics, Astronomy, and Medicine were among these, as were painting and sculpture, music, and the production of literary works, especially epic, tragedy, comedy, satire, lyric, pastoral, and other forms, which some authorities gathered together under the heading of "poesie." A student in England in the age of Ascham and Wilson could expect to be exposed to a wide range of "arts" and literary and historical works under the curriculum--an adaptation of the medieval trivium--by which means students had for centuries been taught grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic. Although this curriculum was often taught under the implicit assumption that it formed a seamless and perfect whole, it contained a contradiction that produced (and still produces today) considerable friction among thinkers and artists. Plato had regarded rhetoric as a highly suspect art, productive of immorality. He argued for dialectic to be used in its place, which he defined as the science of understanding (architectonike) as oppposed to merely convincing; he desired that the conclusion of a syllogism be true of the world to which it refers (Theatetus, Sophist, Phaedrus, Republic). Aristotle had made a place for rhetoric within dialectic by claiming that dialectic is simply the use of complete syllogisms to understand truth while rhetoric is the use of partial syllogisms to attain specific ends, such as convincing a jury of one's innocence, regardless of one's actual guilt (Rhetoric).
But attacks against the primacy of dialectic had been made, notably by Peter Ramus, whose doctoral dissertation was on the topic "everything Aristotle said was wrong." Ramus chose to invert Aristotle's position and upheld that dialectic is but a part of rhetoric, thus re-privileging rhetoric as the architectonike, or science of sciences, as it had been formerly held by the Sophists to be. Ramus' insight was that an assumption generally made by dialecticians is that true premises can be found upon which to base the complete syllogisms that are intended to lead to true, that is, ontological, knowledge. Ramus's system of logic, unlike that of Aristotle, assumes that a premise is always only posited, and any conclusions based on it are likewise only posited.
The empiricist view is that the senses report a "real" or literal world that is like our conception of it. The empiricist view of language is that words refer to objects in a "real" world, and that metaphor is a distortion of reference, so that a word can be used out of its proper context in order to make a useful statement about another kind of object in another context. Thus, we can say of a wise prince: "behold Cyrus!" -- transferring reference from the real Cyrus who was wise onto someone who is not Cyrus, but whose wisdom we wish to praise. Sidney calls our attention to the unsupportable assumption in the phrase "real Cyrus." What real Cyrus? Historians cannot show us one; they are only repeating what they have heard. Their Cyrus is posited only. This realization undermines the empiricist view of language and suggests that contrary to what we expect, all reference is metaphorical. It is our insistence on literality that is the distortion, for the literal is only metaphor that we have agreed among ourselves to regard as somehow non- metaphorical. This idea is at the root both of the effectiveness of the art of rhetoric and of our uneasy but continued acceptance of it. Plato sought an immaterial reality, Aristotle a material one; Sidney suspects that neither can be found by us, but at best a model of a posited model, or copy of a posited copy (Plato's nightmare) can be fashioned and tested. This utilitarian view is the basis of rhetorical theory, and can be traced from the Sophists through Scaliger, Ramus, and the humanists, to Sidney, to Milton, to the reaction to the Enlightenment in Coleridge's criticism, and in our own time to suggestions made by C.S. Peirce, William James, Karl Popper, Owen Barfield, W.V. Quine, Benjamin Lee Whorf, Stanley Fish, and many others.
Why, then, do critics feel that Sidney "does not have a modern theory of language"? The answer is that he does not follow through on his own insight but applies the very principle he has just refuted, that of the common-sense privileging of literality, in his criticism of the current drama; of it he complains that
Now you shall have three Ladies walke to gather flowers, and then we must beleeve the stage to be a garden. By and by we heare newes of shipwrack in the same place, then we are too blame if we accept it not for a Rock. Upon the back of that, comes out a hidious monster with fire and smoke, and then the miserable beholders are bound to take it for a Cave: while in the meane time two Armies flie in, represented with foure swords & bucklers, and then what hard hart wil not receive it for a pitched field.
The complaint here is of the English habit of paying little or no attention to "unity of place." Sidney believed, along with Lodovico Castelvetro and others, that Aristotle had proscribed dramatic action beyond one circuit of the sun. The name of Aristotle as the authority behind the notion of "unity of time" could hardly be ignored. Greeks in the time of Aristotle regarded physical presentation in drama (and dance) as a sacred activity, and it was as important not to do confusing things with time as it would be not to get the words of a spell out of sequence. Literality mattered; one cannot move twenty years in one's own body, so one's "stage" body ought not to do this either; it is an insult to the persona inhabited by the actor to be treated quite so cavalierly. Renaissance critics sensed that jumping the action from one location to another involved the same problem as jumping it from one time to another; if we cannot get from the garden to the battlefield in three minutes ourselves, we should not have our actors do so. But in English drama, eighteen hundred years after the drama described by Aristotle, the tabu against representing a long story as nimbly with one's body as Homer was free to do with his words has largely disappeared. The actors engage our imaginations only, are visual as well as auditory metaphors, and the audience can provide narrative unity itself by the use of memory. Though Sidney does not see that his own destruction of literality points to the success, rather than failure, of the native theatrical tradition, he provides a glimpse of the solution even as he argues mistakenly for the literalism of observing the unities:
...you shall have Asia of the one side, and Affricke of the other, and so mannie other under Kingdomes, that the Player when he comes in, must ever begin with telling where he is, or else the tale will not be conceived.
The players know what they are about. When they come in, they say:
Viola: What country, friends, is this?
Captain: Illyria, lady.
The tale is immediately conceived.
The charge that Sidney's theory of language is not modern is misdirected. He is accurate in his assessment of language, and goes astray only when adopting a poetics that runs counter to his own theory. In Twelfth Night, which our unfortunate Sir Philip did not live to witness, we have both the refutation of the literalist theory with which he was saddled, and the confirmation of the metaphorical theory he so brilliantly elucidated. In refutation, we easily conceive the three months of the action, and its movement from seacoast to palace, street, and garden; the work is unified by its being a kind of land voyage of discovery, or rather recovery, of the losses that were sustained on the high seas. In confirmation, the play is, as Sidney recommends, an invention that is eikastike, and not phantastike, in that it figures forth good things, showing its Viola as one who should be emulated and its Malvolio as one who, perhaps, should not, though he never lacks his humanity. And these are inventions all, the "lies" of the poet. Yet if anyone should call Viola a lie, would we not give them the lie-direct? She lives in our minds, and not necessarily in our minds alone: so far substantially is she worked, not only to make a Viola, which had been but a particular excellency, as nature might have done, but to bestow a Viola upon the world, to make many Violas, if we will learn aright why and how that maker made her!
We all use metaphors, says Sidney, for we cannot communicate our various knowledges without them, literal reference being a prerogative of a higher Nature than that we are born to. But to some of us it is given to not merely use metaphors, but to create them. If, says he, we are so blinded by our literality that we must condemn our metaphor-makers out of hand, then we bring upon ourselves the curse of oblivion, for our memorials are necessarily constructed entirely of metaphor:
...and when you die, your memorie die from the earth for want of an Epitaphe.
The Defence of Poesie cannot be charged with lack of modernity until its linguistic premise can be shown to have been superseded. This has not yet occurred. Risa Stephanie Bear, 1992

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Intentionality can enter into a relation with the sublime

In their infamous article “Against Theory,” Knapp and Benn Michaels argued that if you happened across a reproduction of “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal,” and you decided that no purposive being was responsible, the illusion of meaning would vanish. In its place, you would merely have the curious presence of shapes resembling words...
Speaking of aleatory things, I will end by pointing out that intentionality can enter into a relation with the sublime, something already suggested by the image of someone writing in anticipation of the surf. The Aeolian harp did not die out with Coleridge; John Cage created aleatory music by having multiple radios playing simultaneously on stage (as Hofstadter notes). To a greater or lesser extent, the aleatoric artist sets the parameters for the work, and these more blatantly open constructions take the place of the more conventional standards for achieved communication.
We can use the Lilliputian, almost kindly language of accident to describe this aleatoric movement, or we can use the High Romantic vocabulary of wreckage and death. Regardless, we should not fail to see that Knapp and Benn Michaels have put Wordsworth on the beach in order to erase Wordsworth, and to erase Einstein on the beach, and finally to exorcise the sand and waves themselves: the haunting poet, the living sea.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Like Edgar Allan Poe, Sri Aurobindo wants the creation of Supernal Beauty

The poet does not waste time in “crude earthiness and muddy thrills” or incurable littleness” of “trivial amusements” or “ petty wraths and lusts and hates” ; he does not probe the world for mere sense appeal, nor does he try to turn “lust into a decorative art”. Rather, he seeks to present the world “that exists in the idea, the imagination and vision,” and attempts at “going beyond” the known. He promotes the cause of “the soul’s search for lost Reality”.
In Sri Aurobindo’s literary order poetry is a means of spiritual expression that “helps to open the consciousness.” The spiritual realizations of a poet get here a more real, dynamic and intimate nature than the physical things present. The imaginative activity, said to be the personal experience of the poet, is carried far beyond the personal self and its private perspectives, and what is expressed is the intuitively experienced truth, the truth of the universal human soul. It is the mimesis of human activity not as it is but as it can be in its ideal best. Transformation of the self to the soul, and of the soul to the greater soul, is the pervasive tone and thrust of poetry. The process involves an understanding of the evolution of the spirit in harmony with all things and the expression of the crises and conflicts on the way.
Imagination in its highest form is spiritual and is made to delineate the patterns and processes of inner evolution, reflecting “the fundamental passion of humanity for something beyond itself, something that is a dim foreshadowing of the divine urge which is prompting all creation to unfold itself and to rise out of its limitations towards its Godlike possibilities.” The poet, to Sri Aurobindo, is a seer and a revealer of truth who addresses himself to the inner senses; he struggles for a heightened, meaningful psychic identity with his unrestricted imaginative range, and opens the inner sight in us, feeling himself its intensity first. He tries to understand the content of his consciousness by turning within and the creative process admits of interpretation of the quotidian perceptual experiences, the ideas and impressions, through imagination. Every poet has a powerful interpretative and intuitive vision of Nature and life and man, says Sri Aurobindo. He transmutes the material observed into vision or poetic insight and his poetic expression, words and rhythm, gets the spontaneous form of his soul, innate, inspired and revealed, with the high emotion and radiant intuition and the “force of vitality.” He does not withdraw from life but lives life by the light and power of the spirit. He shows preference not for the fleeting or momentary, but for the everlasting, eternal, and tries to realise the immortal spirit, the infinite conciousness in him. He searches the world through and within him; he seeks to symphonize the natural and the divine, the outer and the inner, the limited and the absolute, the mental desires and the fullness of peace and eternity.
Vision is the raison d’etre of poetry as conceived by Sri Aurobindo, the nuclius of poet’s creation; other elements like moods and attitudes, tone, thought, theme or argument, imagery, rhythm and language group round the vision to accommodate and amplify it. A poet is a seer because he can envision and interpret experiences that may have external association but internal effect, vision and reason merging into one. The ideas come from within and from above and the cause of expression is within, as Coleridge in his Biographia Literaria also suggests. The poet can write only when there is a “genuine expression or coming of power to write,” when his spiritual imagination or the power of insight (which Emerson calls “a very high sort of seeing”) is active, when there is the Keatsian “spark of divinity”, the intelligence that comes from God . The intuitive seeing or the vision is the shaping spirit of imagination. What is Shelley’s “expression of the imagination” in poetry is Sri Aurobindo’s expression of the spiritual, which is the expression of the Overmind, an intermediary between the mind and the supermind.
Poetry to Sri Aurobindo is a part of Sadhana, “a means of contact with the Divine through inspiration.” The idea is closer to that of Aristotle, who says in his Rhetoric that poetry is an inspired thing. It is not mundane as it expresses the ideal of the inner being. The self-effective language confers on it a spiritual character when the sound and the sense conjoin and “there meets the unity of a divine rhythmic movement with a depth of sense and a power of infinite suggestion welling up directly from the fountain-heads of the spirit within us,” when the poet reveals the truth of the spirit itself, capturing the effects in poetry of what the Vedic poets considered as mantra (incantation), expressing their own realization as well as the realization for others, enkindling the spiritual within and bringing out the effective vision” in words “illumined and illuminating”; it is writing with God’s voice, sound and silence wending his poetic progression to create a vision of the spirit.
Explaining the mantric quality in poetry, Sri Aurobindo writes:
“Its characteristics are a language that says infinitely more than mere sense of the words indicate, a rhythm that means even more than the language and is born out of Infinite and disappears into the Infinite and the power to convey not merely some mental, vital or physical contents or indications or values of the thing it speaks of, but its value and figure in some fundamental and original consciousness which is behind them all. "
The mantric effect in poetry is the intensest spiritual effect; it is the expression in a state of perfect identity with the object. Referring to the same inner structural harmony, V.K.Gokak points out that in the rhythmic revelation of Reality that mantra is lies the “closest possible union of music and meaning, of thought and image, of sense and suggestion, of imagination and intuition.” ... autorocket.org

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dood Paard offers a gorgeous picture of the public's futility in the face of injustice and suffering

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Two Plays Reveal the Evolution of Avant-Garde
Farewell, Dionysus! by Tom Sellar October 9th, 2007 7:03 PM
The tumultuous 1960s, with its bacchanals and revolutions, adopted Euripides' Bacchae as its main myth. In iconic stagings like the Performance Group'sDionysus in '69 or the Living Theatre's Paradise Now, theater unleashed the Dionysian spirit of that ancient play, celebrating intoxication, fleshly pleasures, and social liberation. The 21st century, on the other hand, has terror and destruction-from-within. Our tragedy is Medea. At its center lurks the defiant, stealthy foreigner—a witch who practices dark arts and excels at poison making. Medea destroys her children and future to exact violent revenge on a wealthy nation-state that humiliates and frustrates her: a disenfranchised and betrayed outsider.
This post-9/11 dimension comes to the fore of Dutch ensemble Dood Paard's beautiful and sly medEia (presented briefly at P.S. 122), even though it was originally created in 1998. If you could get past the sing-song vocals of three Dutch actors reciting abstract text, there were huge rewards: medEia is one of the smartest, most disarming theater pieces I've seen in recent years. From the opening moments-—when bright white lights catch us in an alarming glare while the pure strains of Maria Callas carry us away in transcendent bliss—we have to look and listen in unusually intent ways. This sequence goes on for minutes, as the Dood Paard trio (Kuno Bakker, Manja Topper, and Oscar van Woensel) stand upstage gazing at ropes, wooden masts, and layers of fallen white canvas sails. "I am so sad/So many tears I wept today," they whisper, speaking as the Chorus.
The three remain fixed in place during each of four scenes, but for each section move closer downstage. They breathlessly unravel Euripides' tale, but completely without affect. In Van Woensel's semi-linear text, the three actors share and alternate roles. They inhabit characters' thoughts and words, but also speak from a remove-—as if they're recalling something, or cautiously imagining the rage and struggle of dispossessed souls like Medea. "I was a woman in a country/far, far away from your world," they whisper, "that world of money/And economics/And war/My country was different."
Rather than just focusing on Medea herself, Dood Paard offers a gorgeous picture of the public's futility in the face of injustice and suffering. "I can't do anything but watch," the Chorus laments, "I can not act/'Cause I'm no actor/I belong somewhere else."
Three times they stop, race for a slide projector, and fire mortar rounds of images at the white sails. The photos are ordinary scenes from around the globe: houses, mountains, people, cities, sky. "I can hear all the thoughts/of all the people/All over the world," they say. By showing us these collected snapshots of a wide, shared world, Dood Paard-—the name means "Dead Horse"—invites us into a collective search for reassurance. What can be done to keep suffering outsiders from turning to revenge? Like the Chorus, we leave struggling to find a voice and role.
According to Caravaggio Chiaroscuro, Gian Marco Lo Forte's new biographical music-drama now at La MaMa, Caravaggio often painted in the grip of those Dionysian spirits—fueled by wine, song, and lust for his muse, Mario (Matt Nasser). The young genius-to-be (Duane Boutté) arrives in Rome penniless and naïve but soon wins fame, lighting up the town as well as his canvases. When rivals attack him for his sexuality and dark complexion, the outsider-artist lashes out, committing murder. Unfortunately, Lo Forte's leaden libretto lurches back and forth into Italian, sometimes mid-sentence—a cloying device. And director George Drance finds surprisingly few visual pleasures for a piece about a revolutionary painter. The cast gallivants gaily in cardinal cloaks and peasant frocks, shouting and indicating in scenes underscored by violin, recorder, and acoustic guitar. It makes for one of those evenings at La MaMa when it feels like the 1960s never ended. But to me, at least, this kind of ensemble melodrama has dated and expired, like a discarded myth.
send a letter to the editor More by Tom Sellar Death to the Unchaste Europe's Muslim women—and the men who murder them. Two Islam-themed plays at St. Ann's Warehouse. Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas's Coming-of-Age Play Blind Mouth SingingBlind Mouth Singing The Dark Secrets of the Belgian Avant-Garde Or, How Director Ivo van Hove Rehearses Molière's The Misanthrope The Summer of My German Epic Wagner, Mongols, capitalist art! A conversation with Lincoln Center Festival artistic director Nigel Redden The Cynic Brit Howard Barker on power, art, and dissent

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Theatrical wrongheadedness

Classical Indian Tradition Bumps Up Against London Businessmen By CLAUDIA LA ROCCO
nytimes.com: October 8, 2007
But then, serious wasn’t the order of the evening, as was obvious from the start with the American premiere of “Quick!” by Srishti-Nina Rajarani Dance Creations. That piece abused eight classical Indian dancers and musicians by having them flash their feet and vocal cords to enact a day in the life of harried London businessmen. In this age of complex transcultural and immigration issues it’s unfortunate that the choreographer, Nina Rajarani, working with two very distinct worlds, presented such a clichéd metaphor.
Another United States premiere, an excerpt from the South African Via Katlehong Dance troupe’s “Nkululeko,” offered a similarly rousing ending, mixing percussive dance forms with high-energy music and flashy costumes. And while a stone-throwing pantomime offered a hint of complexity, as with “Quick!,” the dance was pleasurable only on a kinesthetic level, and only at times.
Camille A. Brown’s solo, “The Evolution of a Secured Feminine,” has plenty of charms, from fleet, voluptuous movement to Ms. Brown’s ability to play the sexy funny woman. But on Friday she seemed intent on torpedoing those charms through an excess of mugging. If you’re going to dance to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, you’ve got to play it a little cooler. Still, “Evolution” leaves an impression.
Elisa Monte’s 1979 duet, “Treading,” has been saved from its essential blandness in recent years by the superb Alvin Ailey dancers Clifton Brown and Linda-Denise Fisher Harrell. As danced here by Tiffany Rea and Matthew Fisher of Elisa Monte Dance, this atmospheric study, to Steve Reich music, neither pleased nor bothered. It just passed.
The polarizing ballet choreographer Jorma Elo can always be counted on to please and bother. An excerpt from his recent “Brake the Eyes,” performed by the Boston Ballet, had me firmly in the bothered category, from its fussy, overwrought movement sensibility to the silly score, which set Mozart against an ominous gonging and non-sequitur snippets in Russian. So much dancing, so little satisfaction.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

“Four years of freedom” are civilization’s only chance to get to him

Revisiting the Canon Wars
By RACHEL DONADIO NYT: September 16, 2007
The invasion of politics has been particularly notable in the literature curriculum. On campus today, the emphasis is very much on studying literature through the lens of “identity” — ethnic, gender, class. There has also been a decided shift toward works of the present and the recent past. In 1965, the authors most frequently assigned in English classes were Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, Dryden, Pope and T. S. Eliot, according to a survey by the National Association of Scholars, an organization committed to preserving “the Western intellectual heritage.” In 1998, they were Shakespeare, Chaucer, Jane Austen, Milton, Virginia Woolf and Toni Morrison. The most-assigned living authors were Morrison, Alice Walker, Maxine Hong Kingston, Salman Rushdie, Thomas Pynchon and Philip Roth. (Roth himself may not be so pleased with the company. His forthcoming “Exit Ghost” includes a character’s rant about a library display: “They had Gertrude Stein in the exhibit but not Ernest Hemingway. They had Edna St. Vincent Millay but not William Carlos Williams or Wallace Stevens or Robert Lowell,” the character says. “Just nonsense. It started in the colleges and now it’s everywhere. Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison and Toni Morrison, but not Faulkner.”)
But many scholars see these changes as part of a necessary evolution. To Michael Bérubé, an English professor at Pennsylvania State University and the author of “What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts?” (2006), the changes have been particularly beneficial in American literature, which has seen the most canon revision in part because it never had a very stable canon to begin with. “The old guard had very little to offer in the way of serious intellectual argument against the reading and teaching of ... Olaudah Equiano or Djuna Barnes or Zora Neale Hurston, so the canon of the past two or three centuries got itself revised in fairly short order,” he wrote in an e-mail message. “Only the Department of Surly Curmudgeons still disputes that we’re dealing with a usefully expanded field.”
Reading lists, though, are a zero-sum game: for every writer added, another is dropped. One can debate the changing fortunes of writers on the literary stock market, but it’s clear that today the emphasis is on the recent past — at the expense, some argue, of historical perspective. As Alan Wolfe puts it, “Everyone’s read ‘Things Fall Apart’ ” — Chinua Achebe’s novel about colonial Nigeria — “but few people have read the Yeats poem that the title comes from.” ...
Some say this kind of identity-based thinking is at odds with the true purpose of education — something canon traditionalists can misunderstand as badly as their multiculturalist opponents. “What Americans yearn for in literature is self-recognition,” said Mark Lilla, a professor of political philosophy and religion who just left the University of Chicago for Columbia. “That’s where the conservatives went wrong. The case for the canon itself isn’t a case for book camp and becoming a citizen in the West.” Wrestling with difficult, often inaccessible works is “the most alienating experience possible,” he continued. “When you read Toni Morrison, there’s no alienation. It affirms your Americanism.”
Bloom believed education should be transformative — that it should remove students from the confines of their own backgrounds to engage with books that open up new realms of meaning. “He told students that they had come to the university to learn something, and this meant that they must rid themselves of the opinions of their parents,” Bellow wrote of Ravelstein/Bloom in his novel. “He was going to direct them to a higher life, full of variety and diversity, governed by rationality — anything but the arid kind.” In “The Closing of the American Mind,” Bloom himself wrote that a liberal education should provide a student with “four years of freedom” — “a space between the intellectual wasteland he has left behind and the inevitable dreary professional training that awaits him after the baccalaureate.” Whether students today see college as a time of freedom or a compulsory phase of credentialing is an open question. From Bloom’s perspective, “the importance of these years for an American cannot be overestimated. They are civilization’s only chance to get to him.”

Kala Vikash Kendra at Cuttack was started by Babulal Doshi

India Orissa Cuttack
Kala Vikash Kendra
Situated at Cuttack near the river Mahanadi and Barabati Stadium, the Kala Vikash Kendra offers training in Indian dance forms and music. Started by Babulal Doshi, a social activist, it is affiliated to Indira Kala Sangit Viswavidyalaya and Akhil Bharatiya Gandharv Mahavidyalaya Mandal, Maharashtra. Classes are imparted in Hindustani vocal, Odissi vocal, violin, sitar, pakhauj, tabla and Odissi dance up to the post-graduate level.
The college has a mini demonstration stage–cum-auditorium, a museum, a research wing, a library, a conference hall, and a stage-cum-auditorium with a seating capacity of 820 people. A girl's hostel is attached.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Deleuze has been adopted as an evangelist, and his merging of poetry and philosophy will serve as a way forward for the aesthetic

Like Bakhtin's carnival, Dillon's "medieval postmodernism" (to paraphrase Michael Trachtenberg) dethrones the King, if only for a day. "We do not need argument anymore," it seems to be saying, "for we have perfected the art of saying nothing with words." It is, of course, deficient, because it is still plagued by the vestigial scholarly apparatus of introduction, body, conclusion. In other words, it still pretends to be saying something. But perhaps this chaff, this heritage of earlier days, can be the foundation of new cathedrals. The basilica was shaped like a cross; the later Gothic churches retained the vague outline of this shape with hardly a hint of its original reference. But how much beautiful expression could be drawn from these irrelevant transepts, these fading narthexes!
The postmodernism of the future will embody the spirit of Gothic religion. It will say to us humble seculars: do not trouble yourself with the interpretation of Scripture, for you have other cares and you will get it wrong anyhow. Enjoy, instead, this brilliant, shining monument, which embodies our faith and elevates the heart of everyone concerned! Deleuze has been adopted as an evangelist, and thank God for that; his merging of poetry and philosophy will serve as a way forward for the aesthetic, as an inspiration and as a basis.
For it is merely prejudice to reduce philosophy to argument. If nothing remains to be said, then is it not a greater crime to say something and thus be banal, than to say nothing at all and thus offer the reader some fleeting but fundamental joy? The alternative is politics, the reduction of philosophy to harangue--and this is dangerous and vile in an age which has lost forever the art of rhetoric. Let our structures be ungrounded by such plebeian appeals. We must cultivate consciously the art of saying nothing, but saying it beautifully. That is our only justification. Posted by Greg Afinogenov at 4:04 PM Labels:

Because a poet must forge an original poetic vision

The Anxiety of Influence
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry (ISBN 0-19-511221-0) is a book by Harold Bloom, published in 1973. It was the first in a series of books that advanced a new "revisionary" or antithetical approach to literary criticism.
Bloom's central thesis is that poets are hindered in their creative process by the ambiguous relationship they necessarily maintained with precursor poets. While admitting the influence of extraliterary experience on every poet, he argues that "the poet in a poet" is inspired to write by reading another poet's poetry and will tend to produce work that is derivative of existing poetry, and, therefore, weak. Because a poet must forge an original poetic vision in order to guarantee his survival into posterity (i.e., to guarantee that future readers will not allow him to be forgotten), the influence of precursor poets inspires a sense of anxiety in living poets.
Thus Bloom attempts to work out the process by which the small minority of 'strong' poets manage to create original work in spite of the pressure of influence. Such an agon, he asserts, depends on six revisionary ratios, which reflect Freudian defense mechanisms and the tropes of classical rhetoric. Later books, especially Kabbalah and Criticism and A Map of Misreading connect each ratio to the Kabbalah.
Prior to writing this book, Bloom spent a decade studying the Romantic poets of the early nineteenth century. This is reflected in the emphasis given to those poets and their struggle with the influence of John Milton. Other poets analyzed range from Lucretius and Dante to Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, and John Ashbery.
In The Anxiety of Influence and other early books, Bloom claimed that influence was particularly important for post-enlightenment poets. Conversely, he suggested that influence was not as much of a problem for such poets as Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. He since has changed his mind, and the most recent editions of The Anxiety of Influence include a preface claiming that Shakespeare was troubled early in his career by the influence of Christopher Marlowe.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Prabhulal Garg decided to revive and breathe new life in Indian Classical Music and bring it to the common man

Home > Founded in 1932, at Hathras, India, Sangeet Karyalaya was originally known as Garg and Co. It was the the time of the British Raj, and Indian Music lay far away from the masses, closeted in palaces and temples, with access limited only to the rich and affluent. The wisdom accumulated through centuries of deep learning and evolution lay locked in books far beyond the reach of the common man, in the libraries of the nobility. It was within such a background of adversity that "Kaka Hathrasi", Shri Prabhulal Garg, decided to revive and breathe new life in Indian Classical Music and bring it to the common man. He engaged in extensive research, detailed study and mammoth investigations on this great art form. He painstakingly gathered works of the great artists and kings in Sanskrit, Hindi, English, Marathi, Gujarati and Urdu in one forum from all over India.The classics of Indian Music were beyond the comprehension of the average man and hence Kaka Hathrasi analysed and rewrote the classics in the language of the layman.

To make music reach out into every household and make it an integral part of the lives of people, Kaka Hathrasi published a monthly magazine "SANGEET" in the year 1935. The magazine elaborated on the nuances and intricacies of the classical art forms including the forms of Dhrupad, Dhamaar, Bhajans, Geet, Ghazal, Thumri, Tarana, Quawwali, Folk Music, Taals, Dance and Film Music. An essential part of the magazine was the regular appearance of biographies of famous and not so famous musicians, lyricists and artists. Sangeet Karyalaya's endeavors bore fruit and gradually Indian Music moved out of the exclusive preserves of the privileged few and slowly weaned itself into the homes of the masses. The man on the street was now familiar with terms of music and literature, musical instruments, musicians, dancers and other artists. "SANGEET" had carved a niche for itself. The overwhelming response and enthusiastic popularity of Sangeet Karyalaya paved the way for other musicians and music lovers to create similar institutions and publish music classics. VOCAL MUSIC INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC DANCE THEORY & HISTORY OF MUSIC ABOUT US CONTACT US

Monday, October 01, 2007

For Sri Aurobindo it was the source of vitality and change, openness for question and experiment

Indian Philosophic Prose in English Dr. Sumita Roy
The use of English for the exposition of Indian philosophy has opened up new avenues of interpretation involving pluralistic responses and redefinitions growing out of already existing tenets. Beginning as it does with the predominantly zealous missionary approach, which was an attempt by thinkers such as Carey, Marshman, Ward, Monier-Williams and others to find footholds for Christianity, through the memorable episode of European philosophical responses to India represented by Hegel, Schelling and Schopenhauer, followed by the Orientalists of the stature of Muller and Farquhar responding to the neo-Hindu inclusivism of Ramakrishna, Keshab Chandra Sen, Vivekananda and such others, to the later engagement and preoccupation with ideas of Indian philosophy by eminent Indians for social reform and national and cultural revival - the dimensions of Indian philosophic prose in English spread over areas as diverse and extensive as politics, religion, sociology, economics, ethics, culture, spirituality and so on, thus putting an end to narrow, authoritarian, critical tenets prescribed for the study of philosophy. Also, here the foregrounding of English as a language of discourse where the original Sanskrit is no longer privileged offers an important shift in the politics of Indian thought.

The continuing tension between Western responses and indigenous interpretations, the conceptual frames formulated to accommodate Western assumptions in order to invest Indian thought with a sense of universal acceptability, the impact of Indian philosophic and religious texts on the Western consciousness, and their global dissemination due to the use of English have considerably altered the philosophic and religious maps of the world.

Considering this, it is interesting to approach the issue in question from the perspective of New Historicism. In his seminal work The New Historicism Reader (published in 1994 by Routledge) Aram Veeser gives the five fundamental assumptions of New Historicism thus:
1) every expressive act is embedded in a network of material practices;
2) every act of unmasking, critique and opposition uses the tools it condemns and risks falling prey to the practice it exposes;
3) literary and non-literary ‘texts’ circulate inseparably;
4) no discourse, imaginative or archival, gives access to unchanging truths or express unalterable human nature; and
5) a critical method and a language adequate to describe culture under capitalism together participate in the economy they describe.

The present paper attempts a survey of the New Historicist perspective of Indian philosophic prose in English based on these assumptions.
Embedded Texts: Written and Non-Written
The expressive acts of Indian philosophy from its earliest oral tradition - the Vedas, Vedanta, Puranas, Itihasas, Yoga, Mimamsa, bhakti poetry and music - have been influenced by and in their turn have also influenced the dominant material practices of their respective ages. Coming to the origin and development of Indian philosophic prose in English over the last two centuries, the discussions generally begin with Raja Ram Mohan Roy, whose contribution most often acclaimed is largely restricted to the field of political and social activism. This marginalizes the fact that these had their foundation in his vast acquaintance with Hindu philosophic texts which he commented upon in English. Till recently his writings have failed to receive due recognition. The quality of embedded­ness indicated by Roy’s Vedanta Chandrika and such other works is as obvious as it is in Vive­kananda’s thoughts on the Upanishads and the Bhagavadgita. Gandhi’s use of ahimsa, the dominant ideal of Jainism, to give direction to the nationalist movement, Tilak’s reinterpretation of the Bhagavadgita in justification of the lesson of violence for justice taught to Arjuna, Dayananda Saraswati’s ‘purification’ of Vedic knowledge for inculcating a temper of self-confidence and his insistence on the universal global significance of the Vedic teachings are all illustrations of one crucial idea: in all of these philosophy was a response to the external challenges of life.

Philosophy as an academic discipline was more or less the forte of British intellectuals teaching in India. One of the first notable Indian representatives of the academic aspect of philosophy and its concepts was K. C. Bhattacharya, who was followed in this task by his son Kalidas, his student R. V. Das and his admirers G. K. Malkani and T. R. V. Murti.
Subversion and Conformity
Though much of this early philosophic engagement was a subversion, directly or indirectly, of English hegemony, it is noteworthy that the basic act of condemnation also involved an act of conformity. For instance, European models of philosophic discourse were widely accepted and emulated. Ram Mohan Roy’s particular hermeneutic system appeals to and reflects upon different traditions, simultaneously appropriating the alien while he asserts himself to be against the alien.

Though the terms ‘Renaissance’ and ‘Reformation/Revival’ have been commonly associated with the rise of Indian philosophic prose written in English, the term ‘neo-Hinduism’ is preferred in academic contexts. This brings to the fore the debate about suitable terminology and lexicographic problems which received much attention from thinkers such as Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. The Sanskrit exclusivism and the vernacular popularized by the Pali canon brought out ideas such as Buddhism being the fulfilment of Hinduism and the approach to ancient systems through the concept of practical Vedanta. Similarly the support of Hindu orthodoxy by people like Madan Mohan Malaviya resulted in the uplift of untouchables, who were then designated as ‘harijans’, the people of God.
Fluidity of Discursive Truth
Philosophy was no longer merely metaphysical speculation aimed at bringing out the intellectual brilliance of thinkers; instead it gained ethical and social currency. It acquired an imaginative and symbolic dimension, became more descriptive and contemplative. For instance, the literary masterpieces of Bankim Chandra underlined the philosophic ideal of anushilana (repeated practice); Rabindranath Tagore, in his turn, advocated a personalistic absolutism and considered beauty and harmony of God’s creative act as a fitting subject for both literature and philosophy.

The source of inspiration in the case of Devendranath Tagore was his own heart, in contradistinction to the privilege given to revelatory scriptures by other Brahmos. Here the fourth of Veeser’s assumptions comes into play because both imaginative and archival discourse shows the alterable nature of truth. Keshab Chandra Sen borrowed from Christianity, while Vivekananda categorized the West as materialistic/pragmatic and the East as spiritual/impractical. Aurobindo attempted to establish the identity of Hinduism not by return to the past nor by asserting its timeless validity; for him it was the source of vitality and change, openness for question and experiment. Coomaraswamy spoke in defence of tradition in Hinduism through his criticism of Radhakrishnan, who, he felt, had failed in the task of actualizing and modernizing the tradition, as had several others. Krishnamurti did not show allegiance to any particular philosophic system or tradition and spoke of spiritual truths as lying deep within oneself, to be realized by one’s own effort. It was the unique privilege of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Ramana Maharshi to bring an experiential dimension to the expression of philosophic truths. The tolerance and universal dimension of Ramakrishna’s spiritual message and the silence of Ramana, which is as eloquent as his words of wisdom, bring new levels of truth to philosophic discourse. But, of course, this was not the last word. It has been said that Vivekananda’s use of the teachings of his guru Ramakrishna was styled in his own peculiar way to suit his purpose, for his ideas of mass-education and philanthropy were not directly mirrored in the teachings of Ramakrishna.
Discourse as Participation
Talking of the last of Veeser’s assumptions, the long engagement of thinkers all over the world with Indian philosophy imparts it a market value not far to seek. The appearance of Vivekananda at the Chicago Parliament of Religions in 1893 was the beginning of Indian thought’s taking root in American soil. At the outset it was ‘Vedanta and the West’ but by the turn of the last century the juxtaposing conjunction ‘and’ had been replaced significantly by a preposition of involvement - ’in’ - so that now one speaks of ‘Vedanta in the West’. Popular forms such as Transcendental Meditation, International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), and personalities like Rajneesh, Mahesh Yogi, Swami Rama and others have captured the Western imagination.

Radhakrishnan, notwithstanding his alleged lack of originality, was one of the most successful spokespersons for neo-Hinduism in the West - as memorable as he was persuasive. His relentless crusade began with his objection to the European verdict of ethical deficiency in Hinduism in addition to its unsuitability to scientific progress. B N Seal went a step further and upheld the potential of Hinduism to bring about a European renaissance. Bhagavan Das articulated the opinion that philosophy should not be an end in itself as it was in Europe - a more or less intellectual engagement. He advocated the need for a practical philosophy helpful to man and society. P R Damle viewed the future of Indian philosophy as one of revival and constructive exposition of non-monistic and non-idealistic systems of thought. In all of these, the attempt is to make philosophy acquire a saleable value and the oft-repeated attempt to justify it in scientific terms of reference is just one more attempt in this direction.

Finally, it is significant that the terms darshana and tattvajnana, which are often used synonymously for philosophy in India, are pointers to the fact that philosophy has always been a mode of living, viewed as a perception that gives life its balance. Since philosophy is only one of the modes of presenting Indian thought to the world, it has to be seen in conjunction with literature, art and other areas of intellectual endeavour. As the New Historicist contention underlines, literary and non-literary texts circulate inseparably and therefore a complete picture is one which keeps all modes of presentation in view before any conclusive documentation is given shape.