Inside JGU 2019 - Issue 4 (April)

Centre for Social and Political Research, and Jindal School of Liberal Arts & Humanities hosts public lecture on Absolute Equality and Absolute Difference: Gandhi on the Plurality of Religions

The Centre for Social and Political Research, and Jindal School of Liberal Arts & Humanities hosted a public lecture on Absolute equality and Absolute difference: Gandhi on the Plurality of Religions by Professor Bindu Puri, Centre for Philosophy, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi on 18 April 2019 at JGU.

About the Speaker

Bindu Puri is a Professor of Philosophy at the Centre for Philosophy, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. She is also currently the Chairperson of the Centre. Her main interests in philosophy are in the areas of political philosophy, moral philosophy and contemporary Indian philosophy. She is a leading scholar on the thought and practice of Mahatma Gandhi. Professor Puri has published extensively in edited anthologies and philosophical and interdisciplinary journals. She has authored two books: Gandhi and the Moral Life (2004) and The Tagore-Gandhi Debate: On Matters of Truth and Untruth (Springer Publications in the series: Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures, January 2015). She has also edited five books including Mahatma Gandhi and his Contemporaries (IIAS Shimla 2001). She has co-edited (with Heiko Sievers) Reason Morality and Beauty; Essays on the Philosophy of Immanuel Kant (Oxford University Press New Delhi 2007) Terror, Peace and Universalism. Essays on the Philosophy of Immanuel Kant (Oxford University Press New Delhi 2007) and Living with Religious Diversity (Routledge India 2016) with Sonia Sikka and Lori Beaman. She has presented numerous papers at national and International seminars. Professor Puri has lectured extensively at Universities in India and abroad and has delivered the annual ‘M K Gandhi lecture on Peace and the Humanities 2017’ for the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Council of Ottawa, Canada and the Johnson and Hastings lectures at the University of Mount Allison, Sackville, Canada for the same year.

Abstract

This lecture 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, religiosity and religious ‘others’”. It will seek to bring out the central ideas in Gandhi’s thoughts on the plurality of religions. In this context there will be a brief examination of the difference between Gandhi’s arguments for absolute equality and the liberal position on religious toleration. The second section, entitled, “The religion that stays in all religions – Truth and God”, will elaborate Gandhi’s reasons for thinking of different religions as absolutely equal. The third section, entitled “The truth-untruths of religious others and the duty of resistance: difficulties with a relativist reading of Gandhi.” will recapitulate the different strands of the argument in the lecture and bring out the implications of ahimsa as love as it transforms resistance to what one thinks of as the ‘truth-untruths’ of religious ‘others ‘in a plural context. It will also take issue with an important contemporary reading of Gandhi, that of Professor Akeel Bilgrami, that reads Gandhi’s position along the lines of a “thorough going relativism about Truth”