“Gandhi will ultimately go down in history as the tragic hero of our times,” said Ashis Nandy, writer and political critic.
“Like the 19th century reformers, he could see that people were celebrating his death even before he died. He fought to the end. But he knew that he was totally isolated and that most of his projects had failed,” said Mr. Nandy, on the final day of the Cochin Conference on Metaphysics and Politics in the city on Sunday.
“If you read carefully the account of his last days, you know that he invited death,” said Mr. Nandy during a discussion on ‘The Gandhi-Narayana Guru Samvaad.’ Sree Narayana Guru, on the other hand, was at peace and was reconciled to death. “He was at peace with what he had achieved. There was a kind of balance in his politics, his social intervention,” he said.
The session discussed the meeting between Mahatma Gandhi and Sree Narayana Guru at Varkala against the backdrop of the Vaikom satyagraha. Vinay Lal, writer and professor of history, noted that most accounts of the meeting were highly partisan as they are by supporters of either Gandhi or Narayana Guru.
Prof. Lal said a strand of literature on Gandhi hinted at his 'Advaitan' side. “But on religion, he said that you are your own maker of religion," he said. Gopal Guru, Shankar Ramaswamy and George Thadathil were among those who participated in the discussion.
Other sessions on the concluding day included a paper on ‘Liberation via Buddha and/or Marx: Sankrityayan and Ambedkar’s Voyages’ by Maya Joshi. The paper explored some of the connections between Ambedkar and Sankrityayan, a 20th century writer, traveller and activist.
The conference, the first of which was held in Colombo 2010, brings together eminent social scientists and writers to discuss social, metaphysical, and political problems.