Our identity is shaped by the environment in which we live, the culture we experience and the literature we read. But should our race or gender define what and how we think? Should we instead strive for the freedom to criticise within a scientific and rational framework? We at Vichaar Manthan believe it is time to examine these ideas through the lens of sustainability.
Is Indian History Truly ‘Indian’?
Much of our identity is tied into our perception and understanding of our own history, do we ever step back to consider who or what has constructed this history? Or does this even matter? In 1978, Edward Said took the academic world by storm with the publication of Orientalism. Said and subsequent scholars of the postcolonial world have forcefully argued for the centrality of power relations in the construction of knowledge and historical narratives. To what extent is our understanding of India’s past simply a product of the colonial project? What does it mean to decolonise India’s history? If knowledge is simply a product of power, can we ever step out of the “coloniser’s gaze”? Come and join us as we grapple with the impact of India’s colonial past on our ‘idea of India.’
Seeing the Literature from the Scripture
Imagine if the Gita was read and experienced as a profound piece of literature, much in the same way as we might read the works of Kalidas, or Shakespeare, or Tolstoy. Imagine if we took the historicity out of the Bible and Qur’an and re-interpreted them as literature from an ancient past that gives us much to contemplate and discover. Are the world's religions too vested in reading texts as scripture, which act as their source of power and legitimacy, when in fact these ought to be taken as literature and freed from religious dogma and interpretation? Come and explore this nuanced and controversial topic.
Is science the vehicle for progress?
Scientific enquiry is fundamentally an enquiry into the nature of reality and therefore truth. From the age of Enlightenment onwards, scientific enquiry has been the primary method for establishing the truth and advancing knowledge. Recently, however, the postmodern worldview has begun to view science and scientists as the gatekeepers of the knowledge-power dynamic, stating that scientific enquiry is no longer a vehicle for progress but something to be overthrown in favour of ‘intuition’ or other methods of knowledge production. What is the scientific method, and how is it actually meant to be deployed in our search for the absolute truth? How can our understanding of dharma act as a guide for us in our pursuit to build a better world through scientific discovery? Join us.