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Vortrag: “Transformative Harmony” in Agrarian Society: the Case of 17th Century Tamil Villages

Am Freitag den 1. Juni spricht Dr. N.K. Kumaresan Raja, Assistenz-Professor am Department of Politics & International Studies der Universität Pondicherry, über das Konzept der Transformativen Harmonie im ländlichen Indien.


DR. Kumaresan Raja on „transformative harmony“:

The very term “Transformative Harmony “might sound that it’s a neo-cosmopolitan connotation, transcending the Modern Concepts of Ethnicity, Alienation, Identity Crises etc. It is a matter of concern for scholars working on ethnographic studies on Indian context that there is an inevitable crisis of epistemological space to contextualize “oriental understanding” on a canvas of Occidentalism. Though one can arrive at a synthesis between the two, namely, the west and east, there are fundamental differing approaches in appreciating the praxis, which hardly has come to light. For instance, the western notion of “Rights” was best conceived as “Duty “in oriental setting.

This presentation is all about one such praxis of social harmony in Ancient Tamil Culture on “Transformative Harmony” – a perfect harmony that existed in living and occupation style and also appreciating the accommodation and assimilation of all sects of the society. To demonstrate this, I have drawn heavily from a 17th Century Called “Ramalinga Swamy” and also support from the Classical Literature of Tamil Language such as collection of “Ettuthogai” and “Pathupaattu” (well appreciated by western scholars like G.U.pope and Caldwell as literary treasures). There were instances that the entire village mourned for a loss of life of a single household, there were instances that not only the rights of animals were protected ( the case of ‘Sibi Chakravarthy’, ‘Manu Needhi Cholan’), there were also instances that the rights of plants were also spoken (“Vaadiya Payirai Kandapodhellaam vaadinen”by Vallallar). Thus the basic notion of equality of the 17th century Tamil Villages were essentially not quantitative but qualitative, rather geometric equality and not numeric. To add further, even the geometry was not Euclidean geometry but a case of Projective Geometry. Hence even the practice of Vegetarianism was pragmatic and not dogmatic.

Through this presentation, I wish to illustrate the Social Harmony of Medieval Tamil Society and the division of labour, land and other possessions and the highest degree of cosmopolitanism they exhibited and also try to debate the reason, why this intellectual tradition vanished in the midway that the contemporary Tamil Society is socially and religiously deeply fragmented.

Wann? Freitag, 01.06.2012, 16-18 Uhr

Wo? Institut für Ethnologie, Oettingenstr. 67, Raum C 007