The spiritual gift of India to the world has already begun. India's spirituality is entering Europe and America in an ever increasing measure. That movement will grow; amid the disasters of the time more and more eyes are turning towards her with hope and there is even an increasing resort not only to her teachings, but to her psychic and spiritual practice. -- Sri Aurobindo (from the message broadcast on the eve of August 15, 1947)

Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Vedanta University is an opportunity of a millennium for Odisha

In less than three months we have created a sizable compendium on Vedanta University, mostly based on information collected from the web. They are available in the page http://www.facebook.com/vedantau . Given below are the links to important parts of that collection.
Please share this with your friends in FB or otherwise and urge them to explore it. We need to spread this information so that more and more people (especially from Odisha and India) are aware of the benefits of this university and its importance to Odisha and India and are not swayed by misinformation spread by some vested interests. This is an opportunity of a millennium for Odisha and we must not miss this.
1. http://bit.ly/vedantau-radio : A radio interview of the main architect of Vedanta University. It was done by a radio station in the US in 2007. It will tell you everything about the university and the motivation behind it.
2. http://bit.ly/vedantau-video2 : A video interview of Anil Agarwal by Charlie Rose of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) of USA. He talks about the Vedanta University and how it came about. 
3. http://bit.ly/vedantau1 : A 43 page pdf document by me titled "Vedanta University: Its importance to Odisha and India." This document address the significance and importance of Vedanta University for Odisha and India through the following points.
In addition it addresses the following frequently asked questions (FAQs):
4. http://on.fb.me/vedantau-s1 : Why Vedanta University is important for Odisha? A statement by Dr. Dhanada Mishra, Bhubaneswar.
5. http://on.fb.me/vedantau-s2 : Vedanta University – Will You Gain? A slide presentation by Devasis Sarangi, Bhubaneswar
6. http://on.fb.me/vedantau-s4 : Vedanta University is an academic question. An appeal to Odisha academics by Professor S P Misra, Bhubaneswar.
7. http://on.fb.me/vedantau-s5  : Why we need Vedanta University in Odisha? A statement by Manmohan Dash, currently at Bhubaneswar.
8. http://on.fb.me/vedantau-s6 : Why Vedanta University is important for Odisha? A statement by Sujeet Jena, originally from Puri, Currently in Sydney, Australia
9. http://on.fb.me/vedantau-s7 :  I am propagating the project. What will I get? Umashankar Das (currently at Bangalore) answers questions posed to him on his support for Vedanta University.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Market colonization of the virtual public sphere

XIII International Conference
Forum on Contemporary Theory, Baroda in collaboration with Department of English and Cultural Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh
Theme: The Virtual Transformation of the Public Sphere
15-18 December 2010 Venue: Hotel Parkview, Chandigarh, India
Program-Schedule
Thursday, 16th December Venue: Banquet Hall (Upper)
Friday, 17th December
Fifth Session (Plenary) Venue: Banquet Hall (Upper)
9:00 – 10:00 am Chair: Ravina Aggarwal
Speaker: Lewis R. Gordon, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Philosophy, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA
    Topic:  “Market Colonization of the Virtual Public Sphere?”
Sixth Session 10:00 – 11:30 am Venue: Board Room
A3: New Media, New Identities Chair:    Deepti Gupta
a)     Vipan Pal Singh, “Media Culture and the Construction of Postmodern Identities”
b)     Nizara Hazarika, “Inventing the Self in the Public Domain of Cyberspace: A Cyberfeminist Perspective”
c)      Charulata Singh, “New Media Technologies and the Cultural Shift: Changing Dimensions of Public Sphere and Identities”
d)     Balaji Ranganathan, “The Virtual World and the Reconstruction of the Self”
B3:      Virtual Realities/Real Consequences Chair: Jaspal K. Singh
Venue: Conference Room
a)     Kalpana Purohit, “Being In-Between Two Worlds”
b)     Ankit Gandhi, “Online Blogging Communities Threatening Real Life Relations”
c)      Jyoti Rane, “Honour and Killing - Community Public Sphere vs. Public Sphere of a Nation State”
C3:  The Virtual Construction of Culture Chair: William D. Pederson
Venue: Banquet Hall (Lower)
a)     Shweta Rao, “Virtual Kitchens: Food and Community in Media”
b)     Alankar Kaushik, “The Public Sphere and Media: Vernacular Television Networks”
c)      Ankita Sharma, “Media and Degeneration of the Public Sphere: A Critique of the Ad World”
Seventh Session (Plenary)  11:45 – 1.00 pm
Chair: Javeed Alam Venue: Banquet Hall (Upper)
Speaker: Akeel Bilgrami, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy and Director, the Heyman Centre for the Humanities, Columbia University, New York, USA
Topic:  “The Mentality of Democracy”
Eighth Session 2.00 –3.30 pm Venue: Conference Room
A4: New Media Sexualities Chair: James Winchester
a)     Bini B.S., “The Public Spheres of Vicarious Fulfillments: Live Sex on the Internet and the Performative Dynamics of Body and Sexuality”
b)     Dibyajyoti Borah & Ratan Deka, “Social Networking, Sexuality of the Closet and the Second Life”
c)      Golam Rabbani, “Media and Peeping Tom Culture: Disorienting Public Spectacle in the Evolution of Voyeurism”
d)     Sunita Manian, “New Media Erasing Boundaries or Erecting Barriers?: Gay/Transgendered vs. Kothi/Aravani
B4:      The Location of Literature
Chair: Rumina Sethi Venue: Banquet Hall (Lower)
a)     Marie Fernandes, “Reconstruction of Galeta from White Marble to Mechanical Cyborg”
b)     Supriya Agarwal, “Modernity and Gender in Shashi Deshpande’s Urban Novels”
c)      Urmil Talwar, “The Dialectics of Private and Public Spaces in the Poetics of Marginality in The Survivor
C4: Representations 2        
Chair: Anil Raina Venue: Board Room
a)     Geetanjali Bhagat, “Ironic Juxtaposition of Media, Ethics, Politics and Public Sphere: A Critique of Peepli Live
b)     Sanchita Choudhury, “Bāul Fusion Music Emerging as a New Genre in the Domain of Fusion Music Fuelled by Media of the Milieu”
c)      Rajyashree Khushu-Lahiri, “Stories of a Lifetime: New Media and Orality”
Ninth Session (Plenary) Venue: Banquet Hall (Upper)
3:30 – 4.30 pm Chair: Bishnu Mohapatra
Speaker: R. Radhakrishnan, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of California at Irvine, USA
Topic:  “Public Spheres and the Challenge of Self-Reflexivity”
Tenth Session (Plenary) 4:45–6:30 pm Venue: Banquet Hall (Upper)
Gurdial Singh’s Novel Unhoye (The Survivors) Chair: Gour K. Das
Speaker: a) M.L. Raina, Former Professor of English, Panjab University, Chandigarh
Topic:             “Modern, Postmodern, Pre-Modern: What Survives in The Survivors?”
Speaker: a) M.L. Raina, Former Professor of English, Panjab University, Chandigarh
Topic:             “Modern, Postmodern, Pre-Modern: What Survives in The Survivors?”
Speaker:        b) Rana Nayar, Professor and Head, Department of English, Panjab University,                      Chandigarh
Topic: “On Translating Gurdial Singh’s Unhoye
Speaker:  c) Gurpal Sandhu, Department of Panjabi, Panjab University, Chandigarh
Topic:     “Decentring Reality: Self, Tradition and Modernity”


Saturday, 18th December
Eleventh Session 9.00 –10.30 am   Venue: Board Room
A5: Blog/Twitter Politics Chair: Kanika Batra
a)     Soni Wadhwa Kar, “The Promise of the Sindhi Websites”
b)     Amy Parish, “Stuff White People Like, Blogging and the ‘Racialisation’ of White Subjectivities”
c)      Sumedha Iyer, “Twitter and the Public Intellectual”
B5: Literature and Technology Chair: Lovelina Singh Venue: Conference Room
a)     Manju Dhariwal, “A Vision of Virtual Sphere in Kafka’s ‘Penal Colony’: Its Relation with Introna’s ‘Obligation’”
b)     Nipun Kalia & Kriti Kalia, “From Ink to Pixels: Literature in a Digital Avatar”
c)      S. Sridevi Selvaraj, “A Study of Mediated Internet Literature – A Facet of Electronic Communities”
d)     Urjani Chakravarty, “Relevance Theory and New Media: Interpreting Pattern Change in Literary Criticism”                                                      
C5: Open Questions, Or, the Jury is Still Out on the New Media
Chair: Manju Jaidka Venue: Banquet Hall (Lower)
a)     Smriti Singh, “From an Imagined Community to a Virtual Community: A Borderless World”
b)     Aruni Mahapatra, “Sharing or Stealing? Some Reflections on Piracy and Ethics Today”
c)      Lovleen Bains, “Is New Media Helping or Hurting the Growth of Literacy?”
Twelfth Session 10.45–12:15 pm Venue: Banquet Hall (Lower)
A6: “Are We Socially Networked Yet?” Chair: Akshaya Kumar
a)  Mallika V. Kumar & P. E. Thomas, “Anonymity and Online Interaction – A Thematic Perspective”
b)  Sanghamitra Sadhu, “Fashioning the Self on the Sites: Plausibility of a Virtual Public Sphere”
c)   Mashrur Hossain, “2b/X2b=?: IM & d trnsloc8ing f a virtual sphere”
d)  Sukhdeep Ghuman, “The Ever-expanding Sphere of Cyber Communities”
B6: The Pedagogical Imperative Chair: Timothy Allen Jackson Venue: Board Room
a)     Pankaj Roy, “The Virtual Transformation of the Public Sphere: Media’s Role in the Growth of Learning”
b)     Meenu Gupta, “Virtual Worlds A Contemporary Pedagogical Reality of Teaching and Learning”
c)      Meeta Chatterjee Padmanabhan, “Some Real Problems Faced in the Virtual World of Online Learning”
d)     Rich Rice, “Writing for Life: Narrow­­­­­­­­­­­­­­–Casted Mass Convergence and the Consumption of Newly–Mediated Knowledge”
Thirteenth Session 12:15 – 1:15 pm Venue: Banquet Hall (Lower)
Open Session & Valedictory Chair: Prafulla C. Kar

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What a miracle it is that things work at all

Inward Christian Soldiers! from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob (Robert Godwin)
Interesting that early Christianity spread in part by virtue of the sadistic violence visited upon its adherents… Once Christianity became the state religion and the era of persecution ended, a new kind of "interior martyrdom" emerged, as serious seekers fled to the desert in order to find God in the solitude of the heart. These souls engaged in a kind of extreme seeking that is also difficult for us to comprehend. I mean, it's one thing to join a monastery and become part of an interior community, but they didn't exist until much later.

Then again, perhaps there are spiritual challenges and temptations in our day that people from even one hundred years ago couldn't imagine. Most of us will never know what amounted to constants among pre-modern people, including hunger, disease, war (up close and personal, not in a distant land), chronic pain, constant loss, and early death.

Thus, for any thinking person, the utter futility of the world must have seemed quite obvious. It's the same with the Buddha's advice -- it wasn't nearly as difficult to detach from the world when the world had so little to recommend it. What was one giving up, really? Few had any possessions, any private property, any aspirations, anything to read, or anything to do except subsist.

So in an odd way, the present world undoubtedly requires its own kind of spiritual athleticism in order to transcend it, since the temptations and distractions are so much greater. In a way, the more fulfilling the world is, the more pain there is. How did people in the past endure the routine loss of a child? I would guess that infant mortality was so high, that the vast majority of parents had lost at least one child. Nowadays, this constitutes a tragic minority. Indeed, even a miscarriage is an occasion for grief, whereas I can't imagine premodern people giving it a second thought.

As I speculated in the book, this must have affected the way the premodern psyche grew and developed. We now know that the psyche is formed on the basis of attachment to early objects, and that any kind of disruption in the attachment process leaves emotional and cognitive scars for life.

Of course we can never know with certainty, but there is good evidence that prior to modernity, parents didn't invest a lot of emotional energy in their children until there was a good chance they'd survive infancy, so I don't see how this could not have resulted in what we would call schizoid (i.e., detached), depressed, or paranoid personalities (i.e., bitter, distrusting, and angry people) on a widespread basis.

For us, the modern world is so alluring that we can forget all about transcendence. It gives the illusion that it can fulfill us, but this is a promise that it can never keep. Unconsciously, this attachment to the world probably just makes us feel less secure. In a perverse way, the more secure we actually are, the less secure we may feel, because we expect things to go perfectly. We can come enticingly close to controlling most of the variables in our lives -- which only makes it more maddening that in reality we are promised nothing.

I am sure this is what animates the angry and hysterical control freaks of the left. They always wants to make things "better," with no appreciation of what a miracle it is that things work at all. They have no earthly conception that the optimal will never be perfect, and that in pursuing perfection, they will only engender the sub-optimal. Their attempts at control always generate chaos, for which they recommend more of the same.