On January 9, 2019, a special lecture on the topic “Sri Aurobindo and Renaissance in India” was organised at Sri Aurobindo Society. The invited speaker for this event, Dr. Kundan Singh has a rich academic experience of teaching and research in the fields of psychology, philosophy and Sri Aurobindo Studies in various institutions in the USA.
In this first part of his talk, Dr. Singh briefly speaks of the prejudicial colonial narrative on Indian civilisation and culture prevalent in the 19th and 20th centuries, which led Sri Aurobindo to give a strong rejoinder through several of his essays. These are now compiled under the volume ‘The Renaissance in India and Other Essays on Indian Culture.’ The speaker argues that the prejudicial nature of some of the academic discourse on India continues to this day, in newer forms and with newer terminology. This is what makes Sri Aurobindo’s strong defense of Indian civilisation and his forceful response to William Archer’s baseless and uninformed criticism of Indian culture highly relevant to this day.
Dr. Kundan Singh makes an important argument that some of the existing ideologically-driven narratives on India and Indian culture hamper the work of Indian renaissance, and gives an example from some of his recent work which systematically challenged the extremely prejudicial and Hinduphobic nature of textbooks being used in California schools.
~ Beloo Mehra