‘Hinduism founded on ability to engage with modernity’

Shaunaka Rishi Das, director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, gave a lecture on ‘Hinduism and modernity’ in the city.   | Photo Credit: R RAVINDRAN

Plurality and the union of philosophy and theology are what distinguish Hindu culture from the rest of the world, and it is precisely these which are its biggest strengths, said Shaunaka Rishi Das, director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, during his lecture on ‘Hinduism and modernity’ in the city on Thursday.

During the meeting organised at the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, Mr. Das explored issues of freedom, democracy, individualism and secularism in an attempt to explain why and how Hinduism continues to remain a resilient faith in modern times.

The ability of the religion to redefine itself, and evolve, is founded on its openness to engage with modernity in meaningful ways, he said.

Mahatma Gandhi, for instance, used the philosophy of Hinduism holistically to create a revolutionary modern politics for the world at large.

However, he underlined that, since independence, there has been a lack of self-examination and dialogue within the ambit of Hinduism.

“The dynamic faith of Hinduism has fallen prey to trappings of the nationalist ideology which has only limited socio- political discourse,” he said.

Raising more questions, than providing answers, Mr. Das concluded his talk by emphasising the debate should move beyond the binary of pitching Hindusim against modernity. Instead, the quest, he suggested, should be to find a way to bridge Hinduism and modernity meaningfully in current times.

The lecture, presided over by M.A. Venkatakrishnan, head of department of Vaishnavism, University of Madras, also entailed a prize distribution ceremony to winners of the 22 interschool Sanskrit drama competition organised by the foundation.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 12:19:00 PM |

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