Saturday, February 02, 2008

Orissa is worshipping The Mother and Sri Aurobindo on a mass scale

[GANDHI IN ORISSA - Remembering the most remarkable Indian of modern times
Politics and Play - Ramachandra Guha The Telegraph >
Front Page > Opinion > Saturday , February 2 , 2008
Between 1921 and 1946, Gandhi visited that eastern state seven times. He was met and escorted by members of the middle-class, but seen and heard by countless Oriyas of less elevated backgrounds, among them barbers, carpenters, peasants, and labourers...
This book is published in the year that marks the 60th anniversary of Gandhi’s martyrdom. The editor offers it as a homage by the people of his state to the most remarkable Indian of modern times. That it certainly is, but let me end by offering my own homage to the editor. There is one kind of Indian scholar and writer, he (and sometimes she) who writes (and often thinks) in English, and who lives in or at least spends long stretches of the year overseas. There is another kind of Indian scholar, he (and sometime she) who is deeply engaged with the lived experience of the people of the state in which he is based. His knowledge of the culture and history of his province is encyclopaedic — he knows, it sometimes seems, not just every sect and every district in his state, but almost every individual and every stone too.
I suppose I fall firmly in the first category, but it has been my privilege (and good luck) to have known and been befriended by several scholars of the second. Among them are the Bengali Gautam Bhadra, the Pahadi Shekhar Pathak, the Tamil A. R. Venkatachalapathy, the Maharashtrian Sadanand More, and, not least, the Oriya Jatin Kumar Nayak. Whenever I meet or listen to one of these men I am simultaneously awed and humbled. The first sentiment comes from being exposed to the richness of their understanding and experience, the second from the painful awareness of my own inadequacies in this regard.
These scholars are based in their province, but by no means provincial. They are often fluent in English and keep abreast of the latest trends or fashions in global scholarship (although they refuse to be blown away by them). Like Gandhi himself, they are rooted cosmopolitans; like him they demonstrate that a love of one’s language or home state is perfectly consistent with an identification with the larger entity called India, and the still larger entity known as the human race.]
Thankfully, Orissa has since graduated to worshipping The Mother and Sri Aurobindo on a mass scale, and has become a beckon of hope for the whole humanity. [TNM]

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