Shail Mayaram (ed): Philosophy as Saṃvāda and Svarāj: Dialogical Meditations on Daya Krishna and Ramchandra Gandhi (New Delhi: Sage, 2014) pp.305
This is a marvellous book. It consists of a collection of essays either delivered at or occasioned by a seminar held from April 28–30, 2008, at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Simla, on the thought of Daya Krishna and Ramchandra Gandhi after these two major thinkers of contemporary India had passed away within months of each other. Contributors to it include Fred Dallmayr (“Figure and Ground: Reflections on Two Exemplary Thinkers”), Anuradha Verravalli (“Ramlīlā: A Metaphysics of the Everyday”), Bettima Baumer (“Falling in Love with a Civilization’: A Tribute to Daya Krishna, the Thinker”), Richard Sorabji (“Gandhi and the Stoics: Squandering Emotional Detachment with Universal Love and Political Action”), Tridip Suhrud (“A Still, Small Voice”), Michael McGhee (“Learning to Converse”), Devasia M. Antony (“Towards a New Hermeneutic of Self-inquiry”), Daniel Raveh (“On Philosophy as Saṃvāda: Thinking with Daya Krishna”), Mustafa Khawaja (“The Dialogue Must Continue”), Bijoy H. Boruah (“The Virtue of Being a Self”), Prasenjit Biswas (“Daya Krishna’s ‘Presuppositionless Philosophy’: Sublimity as the Source of Value and Knowledge”), Ramesh C. Pradhan (“The Moral and the Spiritual: A Study of the Self and the Not-self in Daya Krishna and Ramchandra Gandhi”), Arindam Chakrabarti (“On Missing and Seeming to Miss: Some Philosophical Ramblings on the Subjective/Objective Distinction in Memory of Daya Krishna”), Probal Dasgupta (“Dialogical Investigations on Daya Krishna and Ramchandra Gandhi”), Neelima Vashishta (“The Applicability of Indian Aesthetic Theory of Rasa to Visual Arts: A Rejoinder to Daya Krishna’s Article,‘Rasa—The Bane of Indian Aesthetics’”), C.K. Raju (“The Harmony Principle”), S. Lokanathan (“On Mathematics and the Physical World”), and Shankar Ramaswami (“Matricide and Martyrdom: Cancer and Karm in the Kalyug”). The editor provides an extremely useful Introduction and an Afterword, and Kaplia Vatsyayana provides an excellent Prologue.
This is sumptuous fare and is best not described but tasted. My remarks could be sheer prejudice on my part as I had the honour of knowing both the philosophers being honoured here so let me confine myself to some recollections of how my thinking was enriched by them in the spirit of the book. I have been fascinated by the doctrine of the four Puruṣārthas, because if we chose to pursue only one of them in becomes toxic—Dharma alone leads to fundamentalism, Artha alone leads to fascism and Marxism, Kama alone leads to hedonism and Freudism, and Mokṣa alone leads to otherworldliness and escapism. And I have always felt that in some way, I owe this line of thinking to Daya Krishnaji. Ramchandra Gandhi was my senior in Modern School and my first memory of him is his bowling our School to victory in a cricket match! We often met at the India International Centre but in later life, he did not like the parallel I once drew between Godse and Gandhi when I pointed out that both gave their lives for what they believed in and that both the victim and the assassin died for an undivided India. He liked the idea that I considered the Partition of India a civilizational crime but could not abide my bracketing Gandhi and Godse in any way. For that, I offer him a posthumous apology, chastened by the fact that India and Pakistan are now once again on the brink of armed conflict and that Gandhi was on his way to Pakistan when his peace-making trip was cut short by his assassination, a fact to which he drew my pointed attention.