Bindu Puri's research while affiliated with Jawaharlal Nehru University and other places

Publications (20)

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This essay will suggest that Sri Aurobindo thought it was necessary to achieve a freedom/svaraj in ideas to revive the old world mind of India which had simply lapsed under the weight of an ideational subjection to colonialism. Drawing from K. C. Bhattacharya’s 1928 piece entitled Svaraj in ideas the essay attempts to unpack Sri Aurobindo’s distinc...
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Sri Aurobindo spoke about the nation, the state and the ideal of human unity. Whether Rabindranath Tagore had read Sri Aurobindo or not, it is clear that his arguments against the nation-state came fairly close to Sri Aurobindo’s position on the state. This essay will attempt to bring out these similarities and discuss their positions on the ideal...
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This chapter will move away from the more apparent differences between Ambedkar and Gandhi to examine the differences between their conceptions of memory, history and itihaas. While the modern discipline of history involves “measure” and a third-party judgement of the past; Itihaas or it so happened, is a retelling of what happened in the past with...
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This chapter moves beyond a discussion of the conflicts and the incommensurability between Ambedkar and Gandhi’s contrary understandings of the self, community, justice, history and the ‘it’ so happened of itihaas. The chapter brings out insights about why it might be necessary to countenance the theoretical and practical possibilities for extendin...
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The introductory chapter to this book on the Ambedkar–Gandhi debate will bring up three important questions, answers to which, underlay the conflicts between them. These are questions about the relationship between the present and the past and can be spelt out as follows; can one access the past from the standpoint of the present; How should one re...
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Gandhi and Tagore were both sensitive to the complex ways in which religious and cultural beliefs were interwoven in diverse ways in the lives of individuals and communities. They had given much thought to the relationship between moral-religious culturally diverse people. Gandhi was no stranger to the conflicts caused by cultural and religious plu...
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Re-thinking the plurality of religions is meaningful only to the extent that one is fastidious and self-conscious in recognizing it to be unfinished, a project in the making, as it were. It is here that one might find Liberalism to be wanting given that it offers, what it considers, the best possible response to religious plurality. This Chapter ma...
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This paper will consider the ideas of absolute equality and absolute difference that are part of Gandhi’s vision on the plurality of religions. It will fall into three sections. The first section is entitled “Thinking samadarshana through samabhava-Gandhi on “equimindedness” and religious ‘others’”. It will seek to bring out the central ideas in Ga...
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Liberal theory and practice rests upon, and constantly re-affirms, a division between the secular/rational and the religious/faithful aspects of individual life. This paper will explore the philosophical implications of an alternative Gandhian understanding of the role of faith and reason in individual life. The paper will argue that M K Gandhi tho...
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This paper is in conversation with Richard Sorabji’s reading of the Gandhi Tagore debate. On Sorabji’s account freedom was an important issue in that debate as Gandhi was unable to appreciate Tagore’s emphasis on individual freedom as creativity. While I agree that freedom was an important issue, I argue that Gandhi understood and employed the reso...
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This chapter examines Akeel Bilgrami’s argument that Gandhi rejected universalizability, moral principles and criticism as incompatible with ahimsa. On this view, Gandhi was a relativist about truth and thought that truth was an exclusively moral notion. Gandhi’s debate with Tagore poses a philosophical challenge to this interpretation. For that de...
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The Tagore–Gandhi debate was the second of the trilogy of the Gandhian debates with Savarkar, Tagore and Ambedkar. This chapter argues that engagement with criticism was fairly central to Gandhi’s life and thought. The chapter offers a detailed account of the major issues raised across the four phases of the exchange between Gandhi and Tagore. Duri...
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Tagore raised objections against Gandhi’s emphasis on taking vows/vratas to obey shastric injunctions and the related practice of tapas/austerity. This chapter examines Gandhi’s central moral ideas—his list of virtues, the primacy he accorded to ahimsa, the centrality of tapasya and the insistence on bodily purity. Though Gandhi considerably reinte...
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The substantial differences between Tagore and Gandhi came from their differently negotiated relationships to tradition and modernity. However, they shared a sense of wonder in living life in an enchanted cosmos. Gandhi saw enchantment in truth and Tagore saw enchantment in nature. Gandhi heard the voice of truth as an “inner voice” and Tagore hear...
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This review discussion examines two recent works on Gandhi, Richard Sorabji’s Gandhi and the Stoics: Modern Experiments on Ancient Values, and Ram Guha’s Gandhi Before India. The review makes the point that we can see Gandhi’s unusual philosophical method at work if the two books are read together. Sorabji has argued that it is essential to underst...
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This chapter discusses Gandhi’s conception of swaraj as self-rule and home rule. It also analyses Tagore’s understanding of individual freedom as the freedom to reason in the context of Kant’s understanding of the Enlightenment as being constituted primarily by the individual’s freedom in the public use of his/her reason. The chapter concludes with...
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This chapter brings out Tagore’s insights about the possibilities of untruth in Gandhi’s conception of the proper means to truth. Tagore raised four serious concerns—uncritical self-assurance about the truth of particular moral convictions, demand for unquestioned individual obedience to moral rules, the ascetic denial of ordinary life and possibil...
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This essay discusses Rawls distinction between the reasonable and the rational in the context of the liberal effort to establish the priority of the right over the good. It argues that inarticulacy about the good makes it difficult for Rawls to find arguments in support of a minimal conception of the reasonable overlapping consensus. The essay exam...
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Tagore and Gandhi shared a relationship across 26 years. They argued about many things including the means for the attainment of swaraj/freedom. In terms of this central concern with the nature of freedom they came fairly close to an issue that has perhaps dominated the (European) Enlightenment. For the Enlightenment has sought to clarify what is m...
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This paper makes an attempt to philosophically re-construct what I have termed as a fundamental paradox at the heart of deontological liberalism. It is argued that liberalism attempts to create the possibilities of rational consensus and of bringing people together socially and politically by developing methodologies which overcome the divisive nat...