[INDOLOGY] Next India Studies Webinar by Prof Neelima Shukla-Bhatt this Friday 7pm IST

Professor Pankaj Jain पंकज जैन, Ph.D. pankajaindia at gmail.com
Tue Sep 20 15:11:49 UTC 2022

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*Rasa in Moral Journey: Aesthetic Dimensions of Ethical Action in
Friday, Sept 23rd, 2022
7 pm IST

Gandhi’s thought on non-violent political action and his programs for
social reconstruction have
been subjects of scholarly debates, often sharp, for long. More recently,
visual and literary
representations of Gandhi that remind people of the meanings of an
extraordinarily complex life
have also received attention (Ramaswamy 2021). Little consideration,
however, has been given to
Gandhi’s own aesthetic sensibility informed his moral journey. The general
perception of
Gandhi is as a man of action with a utilitarian approach even to art and
literature. Yet as he
expresses at the end of his “autobiography,” he saw his “Experiments with
Truth” as a source of
rasa (aesthetic delight). Scattered throughout his writings are references
to ethical actions as things
of beauty and avenues to reach perfect harmony. His almost obsessive stress
on simplicity also had
an aesthetic dimension. Art historian Stephanie Chadwick compares Gandhian
aesthetics with the minimalist art of American painter Barnett Newman in
the early to mid-
twentieth century. Chadwick suggests that even though the two men never met
in their aesthetics
they share a concern for inclusiveness and equality (Chadwick, 2014). The
fascination with Gandhi
as a public figure may see ebb and tide in the coming times. What an
exploration of his writings and
exchanges give us a glimpse into is something personal and deeper – an
understanding of a moral
journey intricately tied to an aesthetic journey. In my presentation, I
will discuss how Gandhi’s
writings reflect a search for the unity of truth, goodness, and beauty.
They suggest that in his
journey, moral action was a path to realize that unity. In Gandhi’s view,
moral action, in fact, was in
service of the goal of experiencing rasa.

Neelima Shukla-Bhatt is a professor of Religion and South Asia Studies at
Wellesley College,
Wellesley, MA, USA. She obtained her Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from
Harvard University in 2003.
She is the author of Narasinha Mehta of Gujarat: A Legacy of Bhakti in
Songs and Stories (2015) and
co-author with Surendra Bhana of A Fire that Blazed in the Ocean: Gandhi
and Poems of Satyagraha
in South Africa, 1909-1911 (2011). She has published numerous articles in
peer-reviewed books
and journals focusing mainly on the devotional poetry of medieval India and
women’s religious

Thanks and regards,
Pankaj Jain, Ph.D., पंकज जैन <https://www.flame.edu.in/faculty/pankaj-jain>
Head, Humanities and Languages
Chair, The India Centre <https://indiacentre.flame.edu.in/>
Professor, Philosophy & Religious Studies
FLAME University
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