Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A tale of two Centenaries

[Hind Swaraj Centenary International Seminar — Welcome to Council
Social Development and Human Civilisation in the 21st Century
12-14 February 2009, India International Centre, New Delhi
Jointly organised by
Council for Social Development, India International Centre, DCRC, Delhi University, CPS, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Nelson Mandela Centre, Jamia Milia Islamia, ISHS, University of South Africa, REGGEN, Federal Flomenance University of Brazil
& Global Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
Several institutions have come together to organise a major international seminar on the occasion of the centenary of Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj. The objective is to take Hind Swaraj as a vantage point and engage ourselves on some of the fundamental questions of our age and try to make a contribution to basic thinking on those issues. The following panels have been proposed to reflect on challenges of the 21st century from the perspective of people of Asia, Africa and Latin America.]

[Hind Swaraj Centenary Commemoration (1909 - 2009) - International Conference
“Hind Swaraj- Gandhi’s Manifesto of Nonviolence, Civilization and Forms of Violence: A 21st Century Agenda for Nonviolence”
* Review of nonviolent attempts against various forms of violence * An action plan for individual, family, community and nation * Presentation of action plan to H H The Dalai Lama with a request to lead a global campaign for nonviolence.
Swaraj Peeth Trust announces on the behalf of a group of eminent thinkers, intellectuals and activists a four-day international conference, 19th November to 22nd November 2009 in Delhi, to uniquely commemorate the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s greatest work, his root text, Hind Swaraj.]

[Gandhi's new assassins Indian Express Tridip Suhrud
14 Feb 2009 ... This year we celebrate the centenary of Hind Swaraj amidst the gloom of global ... The second misreading arises when they seek to reduce Hind Swaraj to a Swadeshi manifesto. Hind Swaraj is a civilisational text. It argues that modernity seeks to make machines as measure of men. It is for this reason modernity is characterised as ‘black age’ or ‘Satanic civilisation.’ The purpose of civilisation for Gandhi is that it should allow each person to know oneself, and so doing we learn to rule ourselves. It is swaraj when we learn to rule ourselves. To rule one self is to be moral, to be just and have a sense of equability towards all religions. Hind Swaraj provides one of the most articulate critiques of the modern tendency to use religious identity as a ground for political mobilisation and violence that it inevitably breeds. Hind Swaraj also provides a fundamental meditation on the question of means and ends. It argues against the modern belief that ends justify the means. For Gandhi means and ends share an inviolable relationship. And therefore both means and ends have to be good, pure and virtuous. Finally, Hind Swaraj is an immensely hopeful text. It seeks not the destruction of England but wishes to rescue Europe from its modernity. It sees this as India’s unique possibility and challenge. The writer is an Ahmedabad based academic]

[100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution (complete text with links)
Richard Carlson on Thu 02 Apr 2009 09:24 AM PDT Permanent Link
As the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origins of Species take place this year, it is easy to overlook the fact that 2009 also marks the 100th anniversary of Sri Aurobindo's first major text on evolution and consciousness. In Process and Evolution and Yoga and Human Evolution (1909) Sri Aurobindo begins to comprehensively articulate his vision of human evolution. Just as Darwin's book became the foundation for a science of evolution, what has been called evolutionary spirituality can be traced back to Sri Aurobindo's work. Many are acknowledging this bicentennial year of Darwin's birth with a reassessment of his work in light of what we now know about evolution it therefore, also seems to be a good time to reassess Sri Aurobindo's vision of human evolution in terms of our contemporary understanding of the phenomena.
Science, Culture and Integral Yoga
This paper seeks to penetrate the language and concepts Sri Aurobindo employs by making explicit a hermeneutic approach that attempts to extrapolate his thoughts from the early 20th century to the present. While interpreting Sri Aurobindo's writing in terms of contemporary theory is wrought with problems, it is essential if we are to develop a platform for dialog between his writings and today's complex understanding of evolution.]

[National Conference on "Psychology, Culture and the Ideal of Human Unity" Oct. 1-4, 2009 Department of Psychology, Delhi University. All communication regarding this conference may be addressed at: Dr. Suneet Varma, vsuneet@gmail.com 6:01 PM
A cursory glance at the history of social movements on the sub-continent reveal that over the centuries, some of the most prominent movements have had a spiritual foundation as their inspiration -- one that emphasizes the oneness of all humanity and which paves the way for lowering barriers along religion, caste, as well as gender lines. In particular, Buddhism as a socio-political movement, the Bhakti movement, the advent of Sikhism, and Gandhiji's mobilization of the masses for attaining independence, stand out as shining examples which enabled people with diverse social identities to come together. In contemporary India, many of the ashrams and spiritual communes provide us with vivid illustrations of people from diverse backgrounds -- in terms of nationalities, race, religion, caste, class, gender and age -- living and working together in great harmony, and at times mingling with local communities promoting inter-dependence. Such places stand out as islands in the ocean of conflict rampant all around us. It appears that the spiritual perspective on social psychological processes may serve to complement the social-identity theory for if inter-group conflicts can be reduced by enlarging the social categories used for identity, the spiritual dimension would serve to capture the experiential dimension of widening the categories which allows us to accept the other (out-group member) as one of us (in-group member)... Sri Aurobindo (1972; p.554) emphasizes that "A spiritual religion of humanity is the hope of the future.]

The dynamics of the ideal of human unity in a post 9/11 world is an immensely complex issue. While hosts of means are marshaled to this noble end, the teleological imperative is often lost sight of. India is yet to play its appointed role in the whole drama and Savitri Erans must prepare themselves to shoulder the burden. [TNM]

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