Revisiting History in perspective of colonial scenario and onward..
Philosophy in pre-colonial India was far from something like an academic discipline as we understand it today; this was very much a part of socially legitimated agenda, and the philosophers had a well defined / secured role to play within the system of socioeconomic hierarchy in different ways.
But colonial India brought a definite end to this socioeconomic structure along with the typical style of thought / knowledge dynamics nourished within that very framework. Perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of colonial response to West in India was about different socially engineered artifacts to substantiating Myths as Truth …, ‘powered’ mainly by different levels of commitments to the framework of Binaries like Traditional-Modem , Secular-Religious , Colonial –National and like .. One of the consequences of these social artifacts was typically about the different ways our Traditional knowledge store ( our collective attitude towards the content of this store !) was started getting redefined in a restructured social context. Of course, ‘What constitutes Knowledge’ is well known to have been redefined quite often in course of History of Civilization right from the beginning … , and keeping this in view , ‘our knowledge“- referred to any cultural origin , seems to be no more than successfully unstable ! But the typical mode of instability, revealed in course of colonial redefinition, compelled us (in Bengal as well as India), for the first time, to make sense of an altogether new Question in our historical perspective yet –
How much of what was ‘traditionally considered to be Knowledge’ can be meaningfully integrated with ‘ another knowledge system of the-then Western origin ” reached India by that time?
Of course, as mentioned before .. , the process of ‘integration and synthesis’ is ongoing feature of knowledge dynamics of any cultural origin ; but the typically compelling nature of this question during colonial period was very new at least in perspective of the Indian scenario during the last 800 years of cultural growth .. Numerous variants of ‘ Answers’ are well known to have been attempted/ drafted ever since as a part of social response , in one or another , to this question ..And different levels of social acceptance of these ‘attempted drafts’ continued to shape, in one way or another, our subsequent history till date. However , what is often overlooked , that , this question refers itself to the issue of epistemic reliability of Western Knowledge also , as , we don’t know even after so many years of debate on foundation of Physical science… how much of our present Knowledge, based on it, can really be claimed to be rock-solid!
Our Mission is intended primarily to start a process of reassessment , from modern scientific perspective , of the Bengali (basically Hindu , as Bengali Muslims were not interested in this question, and Buddhist intelligentsia was virtually non-existent during colonial period ) and subsequent Indian responses ( the varieties of Answers ) to this question which led not only to what is often packaged as Modern Indian Philosophy , but also to a tremendous degree of social engagements . Undoubtedly much of the present Indian situation as a whole is a direct outgrowth of the wide band of colonial responses to this very Question in one form or another .. !!
The reassessment of ‘meaningful integrability’ is fundamentally about developing meaningful norms of comparison between two systems of knowledge.. This calls for , first of all , a reasonably good epistemic sense of the empirical tradition in different Indian systems of knowledge guided typically by characteristic metaphysical superstructures .
The true custodians of reliable information about this metaphysical embryo – possibly unaffected from colonial binaries / redefinition, are undoubtedly the few traditional Pundits located in a few places all over India. They are supposed to be the most authentic voices of the pre-colonial Past.. Apart from these Pundits, the very ambiance of these places of traditional importance can speak about themselves in terms of local myths, presently forgotten Texts shelved in private possession.. , rituals etc. In fact these places had earned their philosophico-cultural identity in course of long response to the ongoing philosophical discourses from time immemorial..
We will visit these Places of traditional importance to capture audio- visually the Pundits speaking in their own ambiance in response to a set of Questionnaire circulated well in advance. We will develop this way a info-bank on the basis of which the Process of reassessment of different levels will be conducted.
Places To Explore:
As a part of first round survey … , we will explore the Places in North and Eastern India like Varanasi and Sarnath in UP , Mithila in North Bihar … , Navdweep in West Bengal … though the distinct marks of decline are quite evident there ; and among the Places in South India , we will explore Tirupati , Sringeri and Udupi to take stock mainly of the Nyaya and Vedanta schools . We will also visit the Buddhist monastic Universities located in Hubli , Karnataka ..