"Kabir and his Times" lecture by Prof. Purushottam Agrawal at Teen Murti House, Teen Murti Marg > 3pm on 25th November 2011

Time : 3:00 pm0

Entry : Free (Seating on First-Come First-Served basis)

Place : Seminar Room, Nehru Memorial Museum & Library ( NMML ), Teen Murti House, Teen Murti Marg, New Delhi
Venue Info :  Events About Map | Nearest Metro Station - 'Race Course'
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Event Details : The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library cordially invites you to The Public Lecture ‘Kabir and his Times’ by Prof.  Purushottam Agrawal, Union Public Service Commission, New Delhi

The Speaker : Prof. Purushottam Agrawal, formerly Chairperson, Centre of Indian Languages, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; Chief Advisor, Hindi Textbooks (classes VI-XII), NCERT, New Delhi (2005-07). He started his career at Ramjas College, University of Delhi (1982-90). He also edited and published “Jigyasa”, an inter-disciplinary academic journal (1983-84).  He was very active, rather public face of the Sampradayikta Virodhi Andolan - a movement against Communal Politics- in the late eighties and early nineties.
He has served as Visiting Professor at Faculty of Oriental Studies, Cambridge University, and at El Colegio de Mexico (National College of Mexico, Mexico City).
Prof. Agrawal has won Devi Shankar Awasthy Samman for “Teesra Rukh”, 1996, and Mukutdhar Pandey Samman for “Sanskriti: Varchswa aur Pratiroadh”, 1997. His latest book ‘Akath Kahani Prem Ki: Kabir Ki Kavita aur Unka Samay’ (2009) was awarded the First Rajkamal Kriti Samman.  His other publications include- Kabir:Sakhi aur Sabad (A collection of Kabir’s poetry with an analytical introduction), Shivdan Singh Chauhan (A monograph in “Makers of Indian Literature” series published by Sahitya Akademi, Delhi), Majbooti Ka Naam Mahtma Gandhi (published version of annual Gandhi Lecture, delivered on 2nd October, 2005  at  Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi), Nij Brahma Vichhar: Dharma Samaj aur Dharmetar Adhyatma (Essays on religion, spirituality and philosophy), Vichaar ka Ananta Ananta (a collection of theoretical and cultural essays).
Prof. Agrawal served as chief advisor (2003-06) of the ‘Peaceful co-existence in South Asia’ project of the Aman Trust, Delhi.  As a consultant to Oxfam, India (1998-2002), he organized inter-faces of scholars, creative artists and social activists as part of the Violence Amelioration and Mitigation Project (VMAP). Of particular value have been the interfaces between Kabir-panthis and the scholars of Kabir, and conferences on the question of social identities and a dialogue on Spirituality without Religion.
Member, Union Public Service Commission of India, New Delhi since July 2, 2007.

Abstract : In the process of creating the asymmetry between the enlightened modern West and the unenlightened colony, recent historians of India often have regarded Kabir and other persons who do not fit this model as exceptions who were ahead of their time and hence were marginalized by their contemporaries and made little cultural impact. In contradictory fashion, many historians have also de-individualized and essentialized Kabir as a member of this or that group: as an illiterate artisan, as a Muslim, or as a Nathyogi.
Against the scholarship informed by the colonial episteme, I have read Kabir and his times on the basis of contemporary vernacular sources. My reading brings him out as a self-determined individual whose poetry expresses the ineffable story of his own spiritual quest and his quest for the ontological essence in humans in the process of which he castigated false pretense in the costume of religious and social righteousness. Far from being just obtained from the family tradition, Kabir’s ideas resulted from a self-conscious engagement with various discourses.
Against the view of several recent scholars, I have argued that Kabir had a direct relationship with Ramanand and that the currently dominant image of Ramanand is a twentieth-century construct derived from sectarian conflicts. I have shown that the early date generally assigned to Ramanand is a modern fabrication and that a historical relation between Ramanand and Kabir is more probable than improbable.
It is anachronistic to read Kabir as a marginalized voice. The prestige and influence he enjoyed despite his humble origins cannot be ignored. With the advent of colonial modernity and the resultant dissociation of sensibility, he was of course later marginalized, along with the whole intellectual tradition of vernacular modernity. This tradition is not persistently opposed to the intellectual discourses in Sanskrit or Persian, but nonetheless has carved out an autonomous existence. Its interaction with ‘great’ tradition was responsible for the creation of what I call the ‘Public Sphere of Bhakti’ and the emergence of vernacular modernity of India. This vernacular modernity is also associated with a social and religious movement that has been called ‘non-caste Hinduism’.
Western modernity created its own notion of a static, caste-bound Indian tradition, and this in turn led to a distorted understanding of Kabir and his times. My work seeks to question and challenge this understanding.

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"Kabir and his Times" lecture by Prof. Purushottam Agrawal at Teen Murti House, Teen Murti Marg > 3pm on 25th November 2011 "Kabir and his Times" lecture by Prof.  Purushottam Agrawal at Teen Murti House, Teen Murti Marg > 3pm on 25th November 2011 Reviewed by DelhiEvents on Friday, November 25, 2011 Rating: 5

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