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Govind Krishnan’s book Vivekananda the Philosopher of Freedom contests the Hindu Right’s appropriation of Swami Vivekananda and attempts to show that Vivekananda’s religious philosophy, social thought, and ideology are the very antithesis of Hindutva. The book argues that Vivekananda’s interpretation of Hinduism is not only in direct opposition to the various modalities of Hindutva but negates the very possibility of the Hindutva project.
A critical intellectual biography, it looks at Vivekananda the philosopher rather than the spiritual figure. Vivekananda’s thought is approached through contemporary intellectual concerns and its implications drawn out for debates around secularism, democracy and religious pluralism. The books dispel popular misunderstandings of Vivekananda by situating his writings and speeches in its proper historical context. By exploring the historical and socio-cultural conditions of fin-de-siecle America and Europe, the reader is introduced to the proper framework to understand Vivekananda’s social and political ideology. Recent readings of Vivekananda by several academics broadly influenced by critical theory, view Vivekananda’s thought as problematic in relation to Hindu nationalism, gender, caste and minority rights. The book repudiates these critiques and reinstates Vivekananda as a progressive thinker and a universalist.
The book gives an introduction to Vivekananda’s philosophy, with chapters on his metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. It forges a set of conceptual tools with which the reader can approach and understand Vivekananda’s work. It tries to show that the central thread that runs through the multifarious elements of his philosophical, social and political thought is the idea of radical freedom.
Govind Krishnan will be in conversation with professor, Dr. Arul Mani. A Q&A with the audience will follow.
Govind Krishnan V
Govind Krishnan V is a long-form journalist based in Bangalore. In 2014, he received the Red Ink Award for Human Rights reporting. He was shortlisted for the prestigious Einstein Fellowship in 2018. He received the Agha Shahid Ali Award for poetry instituted by Poetry Chain magazine. Govind occasionally publishes academic articles in philosophy and English literature.
As a journalist, he has reported from several states in India, focusing on investigative journalism and human rights. He has written on politics, corruption, science, development, agriculture, religious fundamentalism and crime. He has worked for Fountain Ink, Sunday Guardian and The New Indian Express. His work has also appeared in Scroll.in, Firstpost, Deccan Chronicle and The News Minute.
Dr. Arul Mani is Dean of the School of Languages at St. Joseph’s University, Bangalore. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and has been teaching for over 25 years. His areas of interest include Curriculum Design, Examination Reform, World Literature, Stylistics, The Graphic Novel, Long-Form Journalism and Latin American Literature.