Swamy Vivekananda is one of the key thinkers of the colonial era. In contemporary debates around the thinkers of colonial period, Vivekananda commands a different kind of an attention. Some would claim that he is a defender of Hinduism and he is a neovedantic scholar who appropriated western concepts and refabricated it as Hinduism and Vedanta. Others would claim that he represents the continuation of the reflection of the millennia old Indian adhyatmic tradition. There are also people who claim that Vivekananda borrowed ideas from West as well as Indian traditions and branded it as the negotiation of the Hinduism or Vedanta with the modern world. In any case all the three existing groups would use the same material to talk about Swamy Vivekananda. How is it possible that all the three different claims could be made on the same content? The possibility that the same set of texts could be used to offer different reading of Swamy Vivekananda shows nature of problems we have in understanding Swamy Vivekananda. This is also true for many thinkers in the colonial period.
In 2014, when Prof. Rajaram Hegde made an attempt to reread Vivekananda in the background of our research program, he found some interesting ways of dealing with such a problematic situation. His argument goes simply like this, if we read Vivekananda literally, from the terms that he borrows from the western culture, it appears that he is reproducing western description of Indian society. One can easily come to a conclusion that his work is cognitively less interesting and show it as an example of how colonial consciousness gets transmitted. But if you carefully read him, he is bringing the Indian modes of reflection to talk about the contemporary problems and he is taking the help of western concepts to articulate them. The challenge in front of us is to develop it as a demonstrable case, where Vivekananda is using Indian ways of addressing the issues at hand but he is making use of western ideas (Topoi) to talk about them. These workshops will be an attempt to develop this approach further.
In March, April and May 2016 workshops are organised in preparation for the 8th Dharma & Ethic national conference, from 3 to 5 June 2016.