Sanskrit for human survival delves into the myriad minded Sanskrit tradition, in theory and practice, unity and variation, origin and dispersal, in India, Asia and the world. It is a hermeneutic exercise to step back to the past, to step forward to the future, and to move back and forth between the parts and the whole/ It explores the surpassing contemporary relevance of this tradition, and stresses the urgent need to reread, retell and renew it, for exorcising the shadow of imminent extinction, hovering over humanity and darkening its threshold.
Kalyan Kumar Chakravarty is internationally known for his publications and initiatives on revitalizing dying connections between community life and habitat; introducing culturally rooted development and resource management strategies; making museums for unmaking museumisation; and, restoring life sustaining meanings and voices, lost through amnesia and aphasia. A Harvard PhD, A distinguished culture and educational administrator and institution builder, Dr. Chakravarty had made seminal contribution for reinventing cognitive categories as dykes against the engulfing tide of technification, homogenization and species extinction.
A Polyvalent Tradition
This volume is dedicated to the relevance and contemporaneity of the Sanskritic
traditions for human survival. The 15th World Sanskrit Conference has been chosen as
the occasion for discussing and exhibiting the ways in which the traditions have been
articulated in a pluralistic manner in diverse scripts, in different spatial and temporal
frames, life ways, arts, rituals, knowledge systems, texts, votive grants, dynastic
inscriptions, exegetical treatises, poetic compositions, prescriptive and normative texts
on organization of human life and affairs, promoted by various religious demonstrations
and belief systems. The way in which the traditions have celebrated the simultaneity
of identity and difference, as obverse and reverse of the same coin, the way human
Malaise: Misuse of Nature
The Sanskritic traditions provide a beacon to benighted humanity, to regain homologic in place of hegemonic values, to realize that human being is only a part, not the
weaver of the web of nature, to promote coexistence rather than co annihilation. These
enable us to see the phenomena of accelerated species extinction, climate change, ethnic strife, genocide, destruction of the co evolutionary interdependence of organic
and inorganic communities, marginalization and impoverishment of the majority of
humanity as consequences of substitution of power centric philosophies for Sanskritic and analogous traditions of companionate and cooperative living. Symptoms of the
malaise resulting from erosion of the Sanskritic traditions are many. Life is being lost in living, wisdom in knowledge, knowledge in information, and exchange value
is being placed over use value. All sacred and ecological values are being reduced to economic and production categories. Contextual, oral, intangible, ecology wisdom traditions, held transgenerationally by custodial communities, are being textualised and commoditized into a procession of simulacra in electronic media in a society of
spectacle, driven by a consciousness industry. Community values of guardianship of natural resources, obligations to ancestors, posterity and spirit are being steadily eroded. The variety and complexity of biological and cultural forms which provide and non human communities are united in life and death, and the potential and kinetic, chaos and cosmos, disintegration and reintegration, converge.
sustenance to human and non human communities are being superseded by
radical simplification. Signs are being divorced from referents, shape from meaning, stage from habitat, arts from life. The non extractive covenant with nature and the sustainable materials economy based on intrinsic, ultimate and transcendental
values, celebrated in Sanskritic traditions, are being superseded by a philosophy of utilization, objectification and appropriation, based on instrumental, proximate and
existential values. It is possible, from the standpoint of the traditions, to question the
particularistic roots of the teleology of technological progress which claims to fulfill its telos, after Hegel, to sublate, absorb and supersede cultures, nourished by the
Sanskritic traditions, as inadequate symbols found in oscillation and fermentation rather than in reconciliation and identity with the itinerary of spirit.
This is a time when human beings have started making use of nature, instead of holding it sacred and inviolable. The diversity and interdependence of species and integrity
of planetary ecosystems are being destroyed by the profligate human approach of mining nature's capital. The more educated and developed the country, the higher its human development index, the more unsustainable its style of production and
consumption, the higher its carbon foot print. There is an unprotected and unequal flow of knowledge and resources from gene rich countries to capital rich countries,
from rural to urban regions, from the unconnected poor to the connected rich, across
the Infobahn. Genetic uniformity is being promoted through hybrid and mono cultural crops, ignoring the danger of such overdependence in case of blight or an epidemic.
One quarter of the human population consumes four fifths of the world's resources,
two fifths of its food resources, and 40% of its annual net photosynthesis production.
The collective right to unfixed ideas, held by majority of humanity in rural hinterland is being replaced by individual, intellectual property right to fixed expressions. In
consequence of the consequent erosion of human knowledge, skill, memories and natural resources, humanity is hastening its own destruction, without the benefit of
a comet shower, nuclear winter or a geological cataclysm. In Swami Vivekananda
words, addressed to sister Nivedita, 'we are like cattle, driven to the slaughter house under the whip, hastily nibbling a bit of grass on roadside'.
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