Articles 2023

34. Outline for a Study on Lokavidya Samaj G Sivaramakrishnan (19/12/23)
33. Reinventing the Indian University Sunil Sahasrabudhey (12/12/23)
32. चिमूर (महाराष्ट्र) – एक अनुभव संजीव कीर्तने (21/11/23)
31. Note for Discussion Girish Sahasrabudhe (31/10/23)
30. Bahujan Samaj and the Politics of Counting Caste G Sivaramakrishnan (25/10/23)
29. बहुजन ज्ञान संवाद सुनील सहस्रबुद्धे (13/10/23)
28. Note on 26Sep2023 discussion Avinash Jha (03/10/23)
27. The Discourse of Pramāṇas Avinash Jha (26/09/23)
26. Sanatana Dharma and Swaraj Chetna Krishna Gandhi (08/09/23)
25. Some Thoughts on Swaraj Dialogue Chitra Sahasrabudhey (01/09/23)
24. Whatsapp, email Conversation: GSRK and Gandhi GSRK, Gandhi (01/09/23)
23. On Swaraj in Our Times J K Suresh (01/09/23)
22 Swaraj Is the Law of Nature Krishna Gandhi (29/08/23)
21. Swaraj: A Law of Nature Girish Sahasrabudhe (15/08/23)
20. Swaraj as a Law of Nature G Sivaramakrishnan (15/08/23)
19. Summary of 08 Aug 2023 discussions Girish Sahasrabudhe (14/08/23)
18. Swarajya – Autonomous Evolution of Communities Krishna Gandhi (13/0823)
17. Swaraj in the Anthropocene Age Krishna Gandhi (08/08/23)
16. Some Foundational Ideas Sunil Sahasrabudhey (07/08/23)
15. Pramāṇatva of Perception: Coherence of Dignāga’s Conception … Avinash Jha (23/07/23)
14. कला, स्वायत्त समाज और सन्त परम्परा गिरीश सहस्रबुद्धे (27/06/23)
13. संत, समाज और कलाकार कृष्ण गाँधी (24/06/23)
12. Some Random Thoughts On Knowledge … G Sivaramakrishnan (06/06/23)
11. Imagining YouTube as a repository of Lokvidya Krishna Gandhi (05/06/23)
10. लोकविद्या कला समागम इंदौर गाँधी, गिरीश (23/05/23)
9. लोकविद्या कला समागम: विचार, आयोजन और प्रारूप संजीव कीर्तने (09/05/23)
8. For 04Apr2023 Meeting Girish (04/04/23)
7. स्वराज ज्ञान पंचायत के लिए विषय चित्रा सहस्रबुद्धे (31/03/23)
6. Some Thoughts on Lokavidya and Contemporary Issues G Sivaramakrishnan (09/03/23)
5. Some Observations on Lokavidya Krishna Gandhi (07/03/23)
4. My Journey Through Lokavidya G Sivaramakrishnan (27/02/23)
3. Revisiting Lokavidya Sunil Sahasrabudhey (18/02/23)
2. Discussion (11-13 Feb 2023) All (13/02/23)
1. On Whatsapp Lokavidya Group and Email Sunil, Girish (17/01/23)


Outline for a Study on Lokavidya Samaj

G Sivaramakrishnan (19/12/2023)

The study is aimed at understanding the present state of the Lokavidya Samaj, that is the Samaj which largely lives by the knowledge, skills, ideas, values, norms that are non-modern, non-western, and not obtained through university education. One may also define the Samaj as largely non-English knowing and /or only vernacular knowing Samaj.
By their present status we mean both the material and non-material status. The material status is measured by their income, style / standard of living, which would include food, clothing, housing, gadgets, other possessions.By non-material status we mean their norms, ideas, attitudes, aspirations, values, etc.

Data on their material condition is proposed to be collected through their school / college going sons/ daughters. This short cut is likely to be simple, time saving, as reliable as the usual method of going house to house and speaking with elder respondents. It has not been tried so far in any study . But it is felt by us to be as effective in obtaining reliable data. In fact this methodological innovation may prove to be more reliable than the direct contact of households. One big advantage of this new way of data collection is that one can obtain large amount of data within a very importantshort time. The cooperation of teachers for administering the questionnaires to students is likely to ensure more reliable data.

Qualitative data would be obtained by meeting with across section of the members of the Samaj by well trained investigators who are largely known to us as research students- cum -teachers. There will be no standard schedule or structured questions. Talking freely to several Lokavidya Samaj members to obtain some insight into their thinking, feelings , with a view to understand their reasons for their actions, or non actions is considered very crucial to know the changes that are in the offing.

The time frame for obtaining data through questionnaires administered to students is likely to be a couple of months, say three months. We may be able analyse the data with software, etc , available today and with professional help.

Qualitative data, in the nature of narratives, will take more time, say about six to nine months at least.

The whole study should get completed in about a year.

Quantitative data is proposed to be collected on the following:
Students would be asked to give the education, occupation of their parents, grandparents on both father and mother’s side. Also, details of siblings’ education , occupation wherever applicable. Data about father’s and mother’s siblings would also be collected to the extent possible. All these information will be collected in a tabular form with only minimum writing required by the respondents.

Data on the material conditions of the student respondents will be similarly collected in a tabular form requiring the respondent to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or just tick the appropriate boxes etc. A lot of information on living conditions, house, amenities, possessions, would be collected.

Questions like “What is your Kula kasabu (occupation of one’s Kula) would be asked to find out how much of these terms, concepts, etc still make sense or known to the present generation.

Some questions about their attitudes, aspirations, are also proposed to be included.

The difficult part of the study would require extensive conversations with a cross section of the Lokavidya Samaj to know their knowledge, skills, their adaptations to changes in the external situations. Their response to events, situations etc. How they view the demands from the external forces, especially technological changes. For instance, it may be interesting to know how they look at EVs becoming more popular and the prospects of petrol vehicles getting out altogether. Those of them who have acquired knowledge to repair, service, two wheelers that run on petrol may face some crisis if EVs replace them. Such situations can be imagined for a variety of products. Just as the leaders in technology anticipate the coming changes, how do lokavidyadhars anticipate the new, novel, changes in life situations? Take polythene bags and plastic revolution. How did they receive them when they were introduced and is there resistance to them, now when they are being told they must stop using them, etc.

There are thus no set of standardized questions in our conversations. Depending on the respondents we will pose such questions that would help us gain an understanding of how confident they feel to face changes that may be coming in a variety of aspects . For example, one would like to know how they look at the fact that now one has to carry a bottle of water to work place, in travel, etc.


A transcript of the entire discussion in weekly meeting of Lokavidya Debates on 19 Dec 2023: pdf


Re-inventing the Indian University

Arguing from a Lokavidya Standpoint
Sunil Sahasrabudhey (12/12/2023*)

*This paper, written in 2009, formed the background of discussions in weekly Lokavidya Debates meeting on 12 Dec 2023. 

The term university here is used to broadly refer to higher education, which includes medical and engineering colleges, law and management schools, mass communication and art schools, research establishments along with of course the regular university. Indian university is an imitation enterprise. It is not located in Indian history, culture or knowledge traditions. It has little connectedness with man and nature of the tropics. Its content, form, styles, methods of work, methods of argument, standards, values, everything is derived from what happened in England and Europe and what happens now in United States of America. The university as such in the West too is not connected with the needs, aspirations or knowledge circumstances of the people there, the imitation product that we have manufactured is further away from our people in all these respects. As a consequence, and concomitantly there is almost complete absence of anything new, creative or innovative in the university here. It is a place of socialisation, opening paths to move into the world of an elite, almost completely urban. Its connection with any kind of knowledge is very tenuous, the defence, atomic energy and space installations notwithstanding. This paper argues that the world has entered an era when it has become possible to change all this. The world has entered a period of massive destabilisation of the world of knowledge, creating conditions for wholesale rejections and grand new initiatives. If we do not re-invent the Indian university now, we are bound to slip further and rot no end. The university so far has been conceived as and is also in practice ‘a place of organised knowledge activity in a sea of ignorance’. Walled campuses have been as far away from the people epistemically as the walled palaces of the kings used to be from the people in respect of the power they commanded. Re-inventing the university, it is suggested here, requires to reconceptualise it as a place of organised knowledge activity located in a sea of knowledge; people, peasants, artisans, health workers, women, artists and variety of others, all being seen as knowledge beings carrying out their daily and specialised activity based on their own knowledge, mostly not derived from the university.

World of Higher Education

Higher education has become extremely expensive and once again therefore, entry into it has become extremely restricted. Some mitigation of this situation is attempted through affirmative action in pursuance of the objectives of social justice, that is through reservation for the backward classes in addition to the already existing reservations for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. However, there is enormous social resistance by students in advanced and professional colleges, most of whom come from the upper castes. It has also been challenged in the courts up to the Supreme Court. This is because there is huge rush for higher education in absence of other pathways for secure, organised and relatively prosperous life. This rush is for the Engineering colleges, Medical, Law and business schools, namely for institutions which promise a future. The regular university teaching the sciences, social sciences and the arts is no more attractive. The obvious reason is that training in these subjects does not lead to employment. But there is perhaps a deeper reason namely, that these sciences and arts no more seem to occupy the apex of the knowledge pyramid.

Globalisation has brought in its wake new values in the sphere of education. Utilitarian principles seem to be in the lead, utility being defined by the needs of the given market and the large corporations. Across Europe there is a movement against the corporatization of the university which generally includes making higher education more expensive, tailoring the content according to the needs of corporations, changing the entry rules, tightening the program and generally taking away the democratic and cultural content of the university. In India there is a strong argument that products of our higher education apparatus are largely unemployable. This is attributed mainly to absence of quality teachers, which is in turn said to be due to teachers’ salaries not being commensurate with salaries in corporations. So goes the argument that salaries of teachers must be increased greatly to attract competence leading to improvement in the quality of teaching, which alone in turn can produce graduates with some competence and so employable. Since due to privatization the increased salaries can come only from the increased fees of students, such an argument inevitably pushes the costs of education upwards, which then demands a credit structure for loans for students from financial institutions, from banks and so on. This is an obvious trap for education to be turned into a handmaiden of financial power. However, slowly but steadily a drift in such a direction can be noticed. It is seen in the new forms of privatization and control in the sphere of education. Even the very expensive business schools and institutes of technology which have become possible by government financing them, now openly argue against ‘government interference’ and express a wish for closer collaboration with the corporations.

Another effect of Globalization seems to be in the demand for ‘high and uniform standards’ across the world. If India has to keep-up in the global race it must have a large number of institutions of very high standard (upgrade old ones and build new ones). This seems to be the most important conclusion of the National Knowledge Commission. This implies that public finance for higher education will largely be cornered by these apex institutions and effectively the university will split into two—the apex institutions and the run-of-the-mill. The former will be catered to by public finance to produce graduates and professionals for the new trans-national economy and conduct research according to the needs of the global market led by the corporations. Whereas the latter will cater to numbers, satisfy the politically correct cannons of social justice and keep meeting the popular demand. It will provide service providers and technicians. In the entire process education is the chief victim. Knowledge and education assume the status of commodity and resource and the entire sector caters to developing institutions which may aspire to be listed on the Stock Exchange.

The Information Revolution

The computer and communication revolution has caused unprecedented changes. The rise of information science and knowledge management is the source of radical changes in paradigm and the old hierarchies in the world of knowledge. Communication techniques are dislodging the technologies of production from the central place they occupied in human life and in understanding the human life. ‘Internet’ and ‘mobile’ use has started defining the meter of progress which was one’s made up of production of steel, fertilizer and power. The job market reflects this shift too. The rise of information as science is tending to change man’s view of himself. There is a tendency developing to see human history in terms of different stages of development of methods of communication and not as it was earlier done in terms of different stages of development of technologies of production. There is a new trend in biological sciences to attempt to see the basic processes as information processes, materially given effect to by the chemical and physical processes and not as it was done earlier to see them as chemical processes resulting into information processing. These are massive changes. They make the science we are familiar with stand on its head. The philosophy that such new understanding entails, may conceptualise the world as mainly consisting of representation and communication, meaning and syntax, simultaneously populated by receptors and emitters. The world of science consists of things and forces in the ultimate analysis. If these are the kinds of changes in paradigm underway, then no wonder the world of knowledge is going through a storm whose causes are rather difficult to pin down.

The internet is another source of the destabilization in the world of knowledge. With information processes recognised as second to none in importance and terrific connectivity produced by the internet, knowledge management seems to emerge as an entirely new element in the world of knowledge. First come into existence as a technique of intra-corporation knowledge management, it has been steadily growing in meaning and presence. As the computer and the internet erase the distinction between knowledge and information, or say turn all knowledge into information or conversely, depending on one’s viewpoint, the world of knowledge expands in an unprecedented fashion. The criteria of legitimacy change, and new hierarchies come into existence.

The criteria of legitimate knowledge are no more the same as they used to be in the Industrial Age. Scientific method, controlled experiment, reproducibility, cohesive incorporation in the existing world of science, certificate by professional bodies and journals no more stand out as requirements to be satisfied for a method, skill or understanding to be accepted as legitimate knowledge. If the piece of information, understanding, technique, skill or practice is usable by the methods of computers and communications, that is if they are organisable by the information technology, then it is legitimate knowledge. In actuality such organisation leads, or is expected to lead, to enhancing market competitiveness. The new candidates in the field of knowledge now, therefore, come from people’s understandings and practices, namely, lokavidya, known in the literature mainly as traditional knowledge. To the new epistemic dispensation, it does not matter as to where and how a piece of knowledge has been produced. Production of knowledge and the methods thereof are not the issue, however important they may be. Thus, information, understanding and practices that were strictly declared unscientific and not proper knowledge have entered the world of knowledge making this world look very different from what it used to be. As a result of this, a fundamental condition that separated ordinary man and ordinary life from the university has broken down. This is where we shall look for the reconstruction of the Indian university.

The hierarchies of the old world of knowledge have also been swept off their feet. The global economy and the Internet have created the conditions to use a market meter for all knowledge. This is a practical meter and theoretically the new outlook refuses to accept any hierarchy in the world of knowledge, save knowledge management, which sits at the top, declares itself a genuine member of the world of knowledge and proceeds to assume the command. It is now knowledge management that would reorder the world of knowledge. When science ruled, now for centuries, the world of knowledge had developed the well-known hierarchies: science at the top, physics within it at the extreme top, life sciences at the lower end, then the social sciences and then the arts, performance, communication, representation and what have you. Even a cursory look at the university shows that it is no more so. Departments of commerce, mass-media and management attract more students than the science departments. There is a rush for investment banking, law and business schools. The engineering and medical rush continues unabated. Places outside the regular university in all these and for training in contemporary art forms have multiplied. The new institutions, private universities do not often have the science and social science faculties. Financial institutions and corporations control the flow of knowledge and resources to their advantage. The idea of truth is a clear victim. The world of knowledge no more has truth seekers of the scientific world. Although lokavidya gets a new recognition, it comes with a price. It must take the shape of the new utensils, be organisable by the computer, that is be softwarable. Sitting at the top of the cyclone in the epistemic world knowledge management sucks in everything of substance into the virtual world. All knowledge that is produced anywhere feeds into it and all knowledge at the site of production stands emaciated and alienated. Knowledge producers thus enter into a fundamental conflict with knowledge managers. This corresponds to the split of the university into the run-of-the mill institutions and the apex institutions. This split is headed to do a great damage to humanity and the struggle against it involves liberating the university from the global trap and relocating it in the society it is a part of.

Lokavidya and the New University

This is a suggestion to reconceptualise the university as a place of organised knowledge activity in the vast bed of lokavidya. Four questions in this respect seem important:

  1. What are the strengths of lokavidya,
  2. What is the nature of this organised knowledge activity, from now on called university knowledge in this section,
  • What is the relation between university knowledge and lokavidya, and
  1. What kind of formal structures and general social support one should think in terms of?

In spite of enormous hurdles through the colonial period, lokavidya has remained the source of spiritual engagement with life as well as the source of strategy for material survival. So the strengths of lokavidya are far too many to enumerate. We shall therefore, recount only those that are directly relevant to the exercise at hand.

  1. Lokavidya houses the knowledge traditions of this civilization.
  2. Lokavidya is always contemporary knowledge, modified, corrected, changed, improved upon and reconstructed incessantly, daily, according to the experiences, needs and the genius of the people.
  • Lokavidya belongs to open society. It resides in ordinary life and serves ordinary life.
  1. All knowledge starts with lokavidya and must return to lokavidya for its ultimate validation.

Traditions are living practices that date back through history and have a logic of change and growth woven into them. What happened in the past and is found recorded in books, but is not a living practice, is not tradition, but history. Lokavidya refers to living practices, in fact praxis in all departments of human life. As the term suggests, its identification today is in contrast to organised knowledge mostly the practice in present day university with respect to any domain from performing arts to science and engineering colleges. The universities teach mostly knowledge produced in the West and also some other knowledge, indigenous as well as of other civilizations, but all formatted and canonised according to the frameworks of European ‘reason’ and the scientific paradigm. Lokavidya has no externally imposed constraints other than those that are there in ordinary life. Since, it belongs to ordinary life it embodies a certain type of continuity. This is the case of knowledge over time showing continuities of real life. This is what enables it to be the knowledge tradition. Also, since it belongs to the open society it necessarily has open-arms existence, welcoming and assimilating all that serves the humankind.

The discourse on knowledge is so asymmetric favouring the economically prosperous and the organized such that by lokavidya people often tend to understand something which may be about the past, about the knowledge that there was. However, this is because the epistemic, economic, political and cultural asymmetries all feed into one-another, reinforcing one-another to shape a highly asymmetric public domain and its semantic characterisers to the complete disadvantage of those who are poor and who have not gone to the school, however knowledgeable they may be.

Since lokavidya belongs to the open society and has an open-handed existence it grows with the times, incessantly changes welcoming the new and rejecting the worn out. It happens through real day-to-day practice in society, it happens guided by the sense of reality, proportion and genius of the people who hold this knowledge and who are at their day-to-day work. In this lokavidya hardly ever uses theoretical guidelines or arguments to reject something or accept a new practice. Considerations are practical and societal. It apportions no knowledge to the dustbin.

All this in a sense makes lokavidya some kind of ‘first’ knowledge and also the last knowledge. So historically speaking all knowledge originates in lokavidya and all knowledge ultimately must return to lokavidya in practice. Knowledge that refuses to do so turns satanic, for it loses its interface with the human criteria. So university knowledge and lokavidya ought to have a friendly dialectic between them to constitute the world of knowledge. For too long has the university belittled lokavidya, but lokavidya and masters of lokavidya do not look at the university as the enemy or the oppressor. This creates the condition for reinventing the Indian university as Gandhi said on the occasion of the inauguration of the National University in Gujarat during the non-co-operation movement in 1921, that he was not asking us to repeat what there was centuries ago but to rebuild based on our tradition and enriched by the later experiences. Lokavidya itself constitutes that incessant rebuilding which is based on our tradition and is enriched by the later experiences. But this rebuilding has a defensive niche, an ambience which is economically depressing. It has no capacity to take risks to represent itself more imaginatively, more colourfully, in more attractive forms. It lacks articulation in accepted canons of semantics in public realm. The need is not that it be part of any grand theoretic framework, in fact it defies such frameworks. The need is of facility for artistic expression, for the flowering of all those capacities of people which have found no occasion to flower in and around lokavidya under the present conditions. Let us reinvent the Indian university to do all this, to reflect a creative genius, to be connected with the people and to serve the people. Let university knowledge be located in a sea of lokavidya like the natural beads in an actual sea. We need such reconstruction of the socio-epistemic process to solve the problems created by the industrial world, namely the problem of destruction of environment and ecology, the problem of pollution, disappearing bio-diversity, climate change and the need of equitable energy use distribution. The only way left is to reinvent the university from a lokavidya standpoint.

New University – The Place

The university ought to be a place of knowledge activity guided by the genius of the people of the region expressed in the epistemic finesse of the technical experts, communication experts, artists, spiritual men and women and the moral highs of the region. A university shall develop methods of expression, articulation, representation, collaboration, co-operation, training and networking with respect to the knowledge in society in that region. It will not be a nodal agency for doing all this. It will develop methods and teach them to whosoever wants to learn, who will have to find the ways of actually doing these things in society.

The university shall not prepare any data bases of knowledge. It should however, in the natural course have information about who are knowledgeable persons in the region. These knowledgeable persons should be frequent visitors to the university in both advisory and participatory functions. The university is not a place of knowledge production which is done in society by the multitudes in the ordinary course of their lives and also in special circumstances by the specially gifted. The university represents a manner of organisation of knowledge in society.

The university will have positive and vibrant relationship with the local market and the institutions of local self-government. The local market will keep the university aware of the actual practices of the people which it can in turn influence through dialogues. Institutions of local self-governance would be expected through a broad government policy to support the university, facilitate the task it decides to do. Both the local market and the institutions of self-governance have a natural privilege to influence the university in ways they deem fit and conversely. These are seen as interaction among equals.

This university will have a philosophical relation with frontiers of knowledge advancing all over the world. This will be realised through a program in philosophy which teaches critical social assessment of (i) the frontline technologies, e.g. information, bio and nano technologies and cognitive sciences, (ii) the new media, advancing art fronts and language, (iii) advances in law, economics and political administration and (iv) lokavidya.

Financial support for the university comes from the government. The functionaries of the university shall have financial assistance commensurate with the well-being of the region.


Note: Ideas expressed in this paper are part of a growing set of ideas in Vidya Ashram, Sarnath, Varanasi. More elaborate treatment of some of these ideas can generally be found in writings of the members and close associates of Vidya Ashram on this website.



चिमूर (महाराष्ट्र) – एक अनुभव

संजीव कीर्तने (21/11//2023)

चिमूर इलाका

  1. घने जंगल, पहाड़, झीलें और विविध प्रकार की वनस्पती के बीच रहने के आदी लोग। इसी में अन्य जंगली जानवरों के साथ जब शेर भी बहुतायत से होते हैं तो इनके बीच बरसों से रहनेवालों की विद्या का प्रकार भी बड़ा दिलचस्प होना स्वाभाविक है। विशेषकर शेरों के बीच सामान्य जीवन बिताने के इनके किस्से बहुत अनमोल हैं।
  2. चिमूर क्रांति का विवरण आप इंटरनेट पर देख सकते हैं। इस क्रांति का प्रभाव सामान्य जन के व्यवहार में दिखता है।
  3. गाडगे महाराज, तुकडोजी महाराज का असर छोटे छोटे गांवों के लोगों पर है। आजादी की लड़ाई में इनकी भूमिका, गांधी, विनोबा, बाबा आमटे जैसे संतों के नजदीक चिमूर रहा है। संत परंपरा जीवित है।
  4. कोयले का भण्डार है। आधुनिक समाज ने शेरों के लिए ताडोबा जैसे रिजर्व फारेस्ट बना डाले और कोयले के लिए बड़े-बड़े थर्मल पावर प्लांट खड़े कर दिए हैं। पोल्यूशन के साथ सभी बुराईयों ने पूरे इलाके को अपनी चपेट में ले लिया है।
  5. इस भूमिका के बीच आज भी लोकविद्या समाज का ज्ञान अपनी खूबियों के साथ, सतत संघर्ष के साथ, धाराप्रवाह में बहते दिखाई देता है। यह महसूस करने के लिए ही सर्वे यानि लोगों के जिंदगी गुजारने की जरुरत है।उनके साथ घटनाओं की शृंखला जब होती है तभी असल बातें खुलती देखी जा सकती है।

चिमूर हाट

  1. चिमूर हाट एक ऐसा स्थान है जहां सभी प्रकार के लोकविद्या समाज के लोग एकसाथ दिखाई देते हैं।पूरे दिनभर रहते हैं और निरंतर कुछ न कुछ सक्रिय व्यवहार में रहते हैं। इस स्थान पर उनसे मेल मिलाप, संवाद, व्यवहार सहज भाव से संभव है और उनके साथ निरंतरता में किन्हीं घटनाओं को गढ़ने में आसानी है। मैं कई लोगों से दोस्ती बना पाया और घटनाओं को अंजाम दे सका। जैसे एक किसान हल्दी उगाता है, रिफाईन करता है, बेचता है, एक्सपोर्ट करता है। उसके खेत में जाने पर अनेक बातें खुलती गई और कई नए दोस्त बनने लगे। किसान की फिर भी गरीबी देख मैं कई बातों पर संवाद कर पाया और लोकविद्या जन आंदोलन के मुद्दे लोगों के बीच रखनें में मज़ा आने लगा। ऐसे ही लुहार, सुतार, दर्जी और अनेक लोगों के साथ अलग अलग मुद्दे पर बातें होने लगी।
  2. विद्या आश्रम से प्रकाशित प्रत्येक साहित्य की सार्थकता मुझे महसूस होने लगी। ज्ञान-पुंज की लोकविद्या-इकाई की बात यहाँ मैंने परखने की कोशिश की और मुझे सच में गांवों के समूहों के बीच के व्यवहार में एक अदभुत ज्ञान-पुंज का एहसास होने लगा।

समझ का आधार

उपरोक्त वातावरण की समझ बनाने में अनेक दिलचस्प घटनाएं होती रहीं। मोटे तौर पर सामाजिक विचार ऐसे बना:

  1. जंगल – कण कण,घट घट में एक ही सत्ता।
  2. कोयला — लोकहितकारी यानि नैतिकता।
  3. शेर –केन्द्रिय सत्ता के स्थान पर वितरित सत्ता।
  4. संत –परपीडा का ज्ञान।
  5. आजादी के दीवाने –त्याग, प्रेम, स्वायत्त अस्तित्व के विवेक से कर्ता की भूमिका में आना।
  6. हाट — लोक संगठन, लोक संचालन, सतत् पुनर्निर्माण, न्यायपूर्ण -खुशहाल -स्वस्थ समाज।

वास्तव में लोकविद्या दर्शन के अनेक आयाम जीवंत रुप में देखने का स्थान यह ज्ञान-पुंज है। इन आयामों के अलग-अलग काम्बिनेशन हाट में महसूस होते हैं। किसी अध्ययन को कैसे करते हैं यह ज्ञान मेरे पास नहीं होने से मैं बिखरे बिखरे तरीके से अपनी बातें रख रहा हूं।

हाट की समझ

  1. बौद्धिक सत्याग्रह, यानि मनुष्य और समाज को नैतिक पथ पर ले जाना।
  2. जन मानस में ऐसे विचार और कार्य आकार लें जिनमें सत्य के दर्शन होते हैं।
  3. हर मनुष्य ज्ञानी है और नैतिक सत्ता का स्वामी है।
  4. हर मनुष्य इस स्वायत्त शक्ति से भरपूर हो तो एक सक्रिय समाज के निर्माण की बुनियाद बनेगी।
  5. हाट वितरित सत्ता या स्वराज के विचार का स्थान है।
  6. एक छोटी भौगोलिक इकाई में रोटी कपड़ा मकान की पूर्ति स्थानीय जन-ज्ञान-खपत को सर्वोच्च प्राथमिकता के साथ पूरा करे।
  7. विभिन्न ज्ञान-धाराओं का मिलन।
  8. व्यवस्था और कार्य की अनेक इकाईयां।
  9. इकाईयों में आपसी मेल के विविध मार्ग बन रहे।
  10. मनुष्य की सामाजिक गतिविधियों को निरंतर सक्रिय बनाए रखना।
  11. केन्द्रीय शासन और बडी पूंजी की दखल मर्यादित करना।
  12. लोकविद्या घड़ी के सभी रास्ते यहाँ मिलते नजर आते हैं।

शायद ऐसे अनगिनत तरीकों से हम इन हाटों को देख सकते हैं। चिमूर के आसपास के लगभग १०० मील के क्षैत्र में नियमित हाट बाजार लगते हैं जिनका आपस में दिलचस्प रिश्ता है।

लोग अनेक तरीकों से इस रिश्तों को निभाते नजर आते हैं। यानि यह केवल व्यापार नहीं पर कहीं ज्यादा गहरी बातों को जिंदा रखने का अदभुत तरीका है जो स्वनिर्मित होते रहता है। जब इसे हम समझते हैं तो नए विचारों की बाढ सी आ जाती है। और क्या लिखूं और क्या नहीं। आप ही लोकविद्या की नजर से इन्हें ठीक से पिरो सकते हैं।

किसी भी अंचल की एक छोटी सी इकाई ज्ञान-पुंज ही होती है। ऐसी छोटी-छोटी लोक-इकाइयां अराजनीतिक समाज का विचार, यानी वितरित सत्ता का विचार, यानी स्वराज का विचार, नए सिरे से गढ़ सकती है ।

चिमूर लोक-इकाई अपने अंचल की हजारों लोक इकाइयों को यही संदेश दे रही है। चिमूर हाट बाजार को केंद्र में रखकर 12 दिशाओं के 12 मील के अंचल के कोई 12 गांवों के लोग मिलकर, यह नई वितरित सत्ता की बात पूरी दुनिया के सामने रख सकते हैं, रख रहे हैं।

चिमूर लोक-इकाई के पास क्या है? जंगल है, कोयला है, शेर है, संतों के विचार हैं, आजादी के दीवानों के विचार हैं, और बेश कीमती वितरित सत्ता का नया विचार गढ़ने का लोक जीवन का जीवंत स्थान है; यानी प्रत्येक शुक्रवार को अपने बल पर सतत चलने वाला चिमुर हाट बाजार है।

चिमूर लोक-इकाई का सामाजिक विचार

जंगल, कोयला, शेर, संत, स्वराज (चिमूर क्रांति) है। हाट बाजार की श्रंखला इस अंचल के सामाजिक विचार को गढते हैं। संगठित ज्ञान, संगठित धन, संगठित विचारधाराएं, संगठित धर्म-संप्रदाय, संगठित कंप्यूटर का ज्ञान, संगठित साइंस का ज्ञान आदि के प्रभाव से बाहर आ कर सोचने का आग्रह है ।

लोकहितकारी सक्रियता में निरंतरता कैसे आती है यह चिमूर हाट में रमनें पर महसूस होता है। जड़-जीव में, कण-कण में, घट-घट में एक ही सत्ता होती है यह भी चिमूर के जंगलों का यहाँ के लोगों से रिश्ता बयां करता है। जब एक ही सत्ता जर्रे-जर्रे में वितरित है तो क्यों किसी की गुलामी करें? चिमूर क्रांति, त्याग, प्रेम और स्वायत्त अस्तित्व का जीता जागता उदाहरण है।

चिमूर लोक इकाई अपने ज्ञान के आधार पर कर्ता की भूमिका में आकर कुछ पुनर्निर्माण की बात भी कर रही है। चिमूर लोक इकाई का कोयला भी लोकहित कार्य में लगाया जा सकता है। यह कोयला यहाँ के लोगों की खुशहाली ला सकता है। न्यायपूर्ण दृष्टि का यह आग्रह है कि चिमूर लोक-इकाई एक स्वस्थ समाज के संचालन और संगठन में कर्ता की भूमिका में तभी आएगी जब उसके पास के संसाधनों का उपयोग कोई बाहरी केंद्रीय सत्ता जबरन ना करे।

चिमूर लोक-इकाई के पास संतों का दर्शन है यानी परपीड़ा का ज्ञान है। इसी ज्ञान के बल पर सत्ता को घर-घर पहुंचाया जाता है। चिमूर लोक-इकाई के पास शेरों को पालने के बजाय शेरों के साथ सहजीवन का ज्ञान है। जड़-जीव के साथ यहाँ का मनुष्य अपने ज्ञान, अनुभव, स्वभाव और कर्तव्यों को हमेशा नया आकार देता आ रहा है, जिससे लोकहितकारी सक्रियता के नए रास्ते खुलते रहते हैं। सहजीवन का यह ज्ञान अन्य लोक इकाइयों को आपस में पिरोता है।

सबसे जीवंत स्थान शुक्रवार का हाट यानी चिमूर हाट बाजार है। समाज में ऐसा कोई स्थान, संगठन, धर्म-संप्रदाय, ज्ञान, विचार नहीं बचा है जिसमें सामान्य से सामान्य लोग अपने ज्ञान के साथ स्वप्रेरित होकर कर्ता की भूमिका में एक साथ नियमित समय, सतत मिलते आ रहे हैं। हाट बाजार मानव की सक्रियता की अमूल्य रचना है। अद्वितीय है। चिमूर हाट बाजार को नैतिकता के मापदंडों पर परखने से पता लगेगा कि यह लोक का जीवंत स्थान, लोक की मुक्ति का रास्ता गढने का जीवंत, जिंदा स्थान है। हाट बाजार केवल खरीदने बेचने का स्थान नहीं है , ना ही यह माल की आधुनिक सभ्यता से जुड़ा है। यह बाजार, लोगों की संवेदनाओं के साथ जुड़ा, हजारों संभावनाओं से भरा हुआ, नैतिकता से ओतप्रोत मानव द्वारा मानव की मुक्ति की बात करने का अदभुत स्थान है।

मंगलवार, 21 नवम्बर 2023 चर्चा के लिए

  1. एक ज्ञान-पुंज लोक इकाई का अनुभव।
  2. पूरे देश में कई जगहों पर ऐसा अनुभव आया है।
  3. मालवा के गांव (पालड़ी) ।
  4. पीथमपूर औद्योगिक परिसर (चायडीपुरा)।
  5. मालवा-निमाड़ के अंचल (खुर्दी)।
  6. झाबुआ – अलीराजपुर के आदिवासी अंचल (वालपूर) अन्य अनेक स्थान है।
  7. लोगों के बीच मुख्य विचार के इर्द-गिर्द अनेक प्रकार के कार्यों को खोलने से कई प्रकार की घटनाएं घटती है। इन्हीं घटनाओं से लोग गहराई से मुद्दे समझने लगते है। घटनाएं बरसों तक अपनी छाप छोड़ जाती है और कालांतर में इस छाप को पुनर्जीवित किया जा सकता है। लोकविद्या जन आंदोलन की अनेक घटनाएं लोगों के स्मरण में हैं। इसमें नए विचारों को जोड़ने के लिए निरंतरता में घटनाएं घटित होती रहनी चाहिए।
  8. किसी ज्ञान-पुंज लोक इकाई का वर्तमान स्वरूप बहुत प्रेरणादाई है। इसी के आधार पर आंदोलन के मुद्दों पर आधारित कौनसी घटनाओं की शृंखला संभव है यह जब महसूस होता है तो रास्ते बनते जाते हैं।
  9. लोगों द्वारा ही आंदोलन होगा और उन्हीं को लम्बे समय तक एक दूसरे के साथ पिरोने की चुनौती है।

हमने लोकविद्या घड़ी की कल्पना से यह प्रयास किया है। पर नाकाफी है। लेकिन कदम दो कदम जरुर आगे बढे हैं। कुल मिलाकर लोगों को मजा आने लगा। और इसी बल पर शायद आंदोलन जिंदा रहता है।



Note for Discussion

Girish Sahasrabudhe (31/10/2023)

[The following is my perception of our discussions in the last two weekly meetings. Also, my opinion on how we need to go ahead.  I will start with an outline of my impression of the broad opinions expressed during the discussion on the 13Oct2023 proposal.]

The proposal for a bahujan knowledge dialogue as a large research program was introduced on 17 Oct 2023 with the background of (i) a reading of the developing  post-caste-based-census scenario as one of a two not entirely unrelated choices for politics of/by the bahujan samaj – either find larger space and say within the system, or follow a path of rediscovery of its initiative based on its own darshan, tradition and knowledge, (ii) a total absence of public debate on alternative forms of social organization and order outside the shell provided by “democracy”, as presumably the only form of governance in a modern society, and (iii) assertion that this was the right time to launch a large research program – a program unlike any in the universities, one situated in ordinary life, one encompassing dialogues like “Varanasi Gyan Panchayat” on one side and “samajon ki kahani, samajon ki jubani” on the other, one demanded by the idea of distributed power and governance – the only form of governance known to bahujan samaj – by swaraj.

The ensuing discussion (17, 25 Oct 2023) addressed several issues: (i) meaning / advisability / propriety of the phrase “bahujan samaj” and absence of any bahujan samaj consciousness; (ii) divisive / partisan nature of caste and desirability / futility / practicality of caste-census; (iii) need to clarify what we mean by bahujan samaj (ordinary people / non-elite, those living by their knowledge, lokavidya samaj), and to speak for the whole society, and for autonomy and swaraj; (iv) need to understand notion of organization in lokavidya thought; (v) large-scale tranformation in lives / livelihood of ordinary / village people / lokavidyadhars and in interrelations among them, and consequent need for a creative rethinking on what lokavidya, and lokavidya samaj are in the contemporary context, and (vi) the fact that the different terms (swadeshi, bahishkrit, lokavidyadhars, bahujan, ordinary, …) refer to the same people, who can be seen in a fundamental sense as being outside, and not as a part of the capitalist system, and need to identify main sources of their strength as the basic need for transformative thought.

We may discuss whether, or not the term ‘bahujan samaj’ is desirable. Much has already said on this in the last two meetings. Or, we may put that aside for the time being and take it up later. We may decide to use different terms too at different places.

But, I think that the question of whether the time is opportune to launch the proposed type of knowledge dialogue as research initiative needs to be fully addressed. It is only indirectly addressedby discussion on problems with ‘bahujan’ and caste-census, and caste – as the suggested name in the proposal is “Bahujan Knowledge Dialogue” and as caste-sensus is highlighted to identify emerging bahujan politics. It needs to be more directly addressed in two ways: as a judgement about developing political situation, and in terms of possibilities it might create for enriching lokavidya thought and knowledge movement.

Much of the established politics engaging the bahujan samaj is focussed on raising demands to enhance ‘their share in the system’. There are, of course, severe limits to this share. That is the only narrow lane leading from established politics to a radical one of reconstruction based on initiative of the bahujan samaj. My personal view is that at this stage the only thing that might perhaps be said about caste-based census is that, if its demand catches up  it may prove to be the most direct test of limits on the admisible share of bahujan samaj.  The air may clear only after state elections.

What possibilities might a “knowledge dialogue as a large research initiative” create for enriching knowledge movement and lokavidya thought? I would suggest that we attempt to conceive of this activity in order  that we are able to

  1. Shift our focus from knowledge for survival to knowledge for reorganization and reconstruction; (a grand extension of “samajon ki kahani, samajon ki jubani” initiative, …)
  2. Directly address the question of creative enrichment of lokavidya thought in the contemporary context; (a grand extension of “Varanasi Gyan Panchayat” initiative, …)
  3. Engage social-political activists and intervene with strength in ongoing debates in order to generate new ones around the whole cluster of ideas that has engaged us for long; (Swaraj Gyan Panchayat, Parivartan Vimarsh, …)
  4. Develop a spontaneous (as against ‘laboured’) expression of knowledge viewpoint in day-to-day matters. (Writing in different languages on our website and other online channels, series in vernacular press (?), …)

The above may not be entirely devoid of a bit of wishful thinking. But, for one, we have been talking about similar things for a while, and for another, it is also based on the overall agreement that emerges from the discussion on the proposal: that we  should maintain our place as knowledge activists and initiative for knowledge dialogue in the new world where focus has shifted from content to organization, and from production to communication, and that there is a need to reformulate and enrich the lokavidya thought in order to carry initiative forward.



Bahujan Samaj and the Politics of Counting Caste

G Sivaramakrishnan (25/10/2023)

  1. What is Bahujan Samaj?  In a simple sense it is the majority of our society. But the connotation given by most who have employed the term seems to suggest that it is much more than a simple majority. One sense in which the term is used is to mean the lower castes including Dalits who constitute about seventy or more per cent of our society. But then there are other questions. So what?  For, it is not clear what one is trying to convey by employing this term. Perhaps one may be saying that though the Bahujan Samaj constitutes the large majority of our society, it does not have power. Bahujan Samaj is also used to convey that Indian society is even today governed by the principles of varna-caste identity. Therefore, any serious politics has to be based on the idiom of caste identity.  When Kanshiram used the expression in the context electoral politics he wanted to convey that Bahujan Samaj can decisively influence electoral outcomes. He is said to have famously remarked that Bahujan Samaj may not win elections but will determine who will win the electoral battle in our democracy.
  2. There is a problem with the conception of Bahujan Samaj which is similar to the concept of class. While capitalism creates a class of workers by the nature of the production process, the working class thus created cannot automatically become a class for itself. That is, the working class does not become class conscious automatically and be able wrest power from the capitalist class. The Bahujan Samaj similarly does not become the force that can shape our society without being conscious of its power. Unlike the working class that can develop the consciousness by the very conditions created by capitalism, such a consciousness, in the case of Bahujan Samaj of Dalits and the lower castes has a catch. Caste identity by its very nature is divisive. The unity achieved by Bahujan for electoral purpose will be so temporary that right from forming the cabinet to the distribution of portfolios each caste or sub caste would begin to quarrel about the loaves and fishes of office / power. Since caste identity is one that basically  emphasises  the separateness of a caste from other castes in terms of status or culture, a Bahujan consciousness is almost impossible to achieve.
  3. There appears to be another connotation to Bahujan Samaj. Ever since a distinction was made between India and Bharat, many of us have been pushing the idea that rural / village India is fundamentally different from the modern, urban, westernised India. Social scientists have always maintained that rural-urban continuum is more realistic than a fundamental separation between rural and urban. There is also strong evidence to suggest that the population engaged in agriculture as a primary activity has declined very significantly and it is not going to be very long before Indian agriculture resembles farming in advanced countries of the West. Thus, identifying Bahujan as farmers and cultivators is not quite valid. It is also a fact that what sustained caste-based community life no longer exists. And hence also a vibrant  Lokavidya that provided sustenance to sizeable ‘industrial’ population of about 20 or more per cent of rural India. With the transformation of Indian agriculture from subsistence to capitalist farming, there has been a virtual disappearance of a number of agriculture related crafts/ occupations. Of course, many of the traditional craftsmen and artisans have adapted themselves to the changes and have become ‘mechanics’ or ‘electricians’ or ‘plumbers’ etc. Hundreds of thousands of them have moved over to cities to join the urban informal sector/ unorganised labour force. While they may carry with them their caste identities, it is quite possible that they will become lumpenised and become the urban mass of poor people.
  4. When the British began counting castes from the first Census of 1871-72 they had set in motion a process of ‘substantialization’ of castes. Castes are meaningful only in the context of a village or a group of villages called Nadu or Khap. They have to be understood in relation to one another, each having a ‘function’ to perform in relation to a ‘whole’. It is in this sense that it is a ‘system’.  Castes have thus a functional unity, to preserve and continue the system.This unity of castes within a locality is what has been called the vertical solidarity of the system (a village or Nadu or Khap). That this system of castes was based on the principle of hierarchy is quite obvious. That it did not ‘exclude’ castes or groups is also obvious because the system required ‘function’ of every caste / group for the maintenance of the ‘whole’. What Marx described as a social revolution set in motion by the British rule of India was responsible for the transformation of castes as substantial, impenetrable, discrete units that have horizontal unity over a large territory and sometimes across country. This can be termed a distortion of caste or a ‘perversion’ of caste. We thus hear of international conference of Brahmins being held in USA or All India Sammelan of Yadavas in Coimbatore!  Buta Singh came to be valorised in Tamilnadu by Dalits once they ‘discovered’ that he was a Dalit!
  5. What we are witnessing in India today is what Andre Beteille  called competing caste inequalities. There is a scarcity of secure jobs that can ensure a good life. The counting of castes is aimed at ensuring that a given caste or a creamy layer among them are able to secure government jobs. Even if we have very accurate numbers for each caste, it is very unclear how that would ensure any more justice to castes for there are no jobs reserved for various castes in the large privatized economy. With outsourcing as the norm, there are fewer and fewer ‘secure’ jobs available. It is thus a moot point if counting of castes in itself can usher in any major change.
  6. It is quite interesting to note that while there is a large support for social justice understood as ensuring education, employment and perhaps health for all sections of our society, the distribution of land has taken a backseat over the years. What was an article of faith with all political actors in the fifties and sixties, namely land to the tiller and land reforms, has virtually disappeared from the election manifestoes of political parties, excepting perhaps the Naxalites. What does this signify?  Perhaps it means land reforms or redistribution of land is no more politically viable. I am not aware of the farmers associations ever being concerned with it in last forty or more years. It means something more significant has happened than what we have been able recognise. India today is more like many of the advanced capitalist countries of the West than it is realised by most of us.



बहुजन ज्ञान संवाद

सुनील सहस्रबुद्धे (13/10/2023)

उपरोक्त विषय पर बात करने के लिए 10 अक्तूबर को सुनील कश्यप दिल्ली से मोहाली आये थे. सुनील कश्यप  बागपत (पश्चिम उत्तर प्रदेश) के रहने वाले हैं. उन्होंने 2007 से 2012 के बीच  बनारस हिन्दू विश्वविद्यालय से बी.ए. और एम.ए. (राजनीति शास्त्र) किया. फिर 2018 तक वहीं रह कर छात्रों के बीच भगतसिंह मोर्चा का गठन किया. वामपंथी साथियों से मतभेद के चलते फिर उन्होंने समता परिवार नाम से बहुजन समाज के नौजवानों का एक संगठन बनाया. इसके बाद Caravan पत्रिका के हिंदी ऑनलाइन प्रकाशन (कारवाँ) में  काम किया. विद्या आश्रम के एक दो कार्यक्रमों में शामिल भी हुए हैं. अभी दिल्ली में मुनीरका में रहकर पिछड़ी जातियों के बीच अध्ययन और संगठन का काम कर रहे हैं.

मोहाली में 10 अक्तूबर को सुनील सहस्रबुद्धे और चित्राजी की सुनील कश्यप से लम्बी बात हुई. फिर 11अक्तूबर को इस संवाद में संदीपा, वैभव और नीरजा शामिल हुए. बातचीत के मुख्य बिंदु निम्नलिखित हैं.

पृष्ठभूमि और प्रासंगिकता:  

  1. बहुजन समाज सामान्य लोगों का समाज है (विशिष्ट जनों का नहीं). इसे अलग-अलग ढंग से जातियों के मार्फ़त, समाज के रूप में, बिरादरियों के मार्फ़त, मुख्यधारा से बहिष्कृत लोगों के रूप में, अंग्रेजी राज के पहले से अस्तित्व रखने वाली सामाजिक संरचनाओं के रूप में अथवा सामाजिक और शैक्षणिक तौर पर पिछड़ों के रूप में पहचाना जाता है. कौन सी पहचान को प्राथमिकता दी जाए अथवा पहचान का वरीयता क्रम क्या हो यह इससे तय होता है कि आप के उद्देश्य क्या हैं,और यह भी कि समाज निर्माण, परिवर्तन और प्रगति के आप के विचार क्या हैं?
  2. बहुजन समाज की सार्वजनिक उपस्थिति, राजनीतिक भूमिका और एक समाज के रूप में गोलबंदी आज एक नए मोड़ पर दिखाई देती है. जन गणना में जाति की पहचान लिखी जाने के अभियान के रूप में यह दिखाई दे रहा है. अंतर्राष्ट्रीय राजनीति में सभ्यता, संस्कृति और नस्ल के मुद्दे बहस में आ चुके हैं. इसलिए अब बराबर के सम्मान और आय के पक्ष में परिवर्तन की राजनीति की दिशा का पुनर्निर्माण आवश्यक है.


  1. यह देश और यहाँ का धर्म बहुजन समाज का है. संत परम्परा बहुजन समाज के विचारों की उत्कृष्ट अभिव्यक्ति है और इसने हिन्दू धर्म को लोक-भागीदारी की बुनियाद पर खड़ा किया. अब हिंदुत्व के नाम से एक नया धर्म इन पर थोपा जा रहा है. अलग-अलग समयों पर ब्राह्मणों, मुगलों और अंग्रेजों ने इन पर राज करने की व्यवस्थाएं बनाईं तथापि इतिहास के अधिकांश काल में बहुजन समाजों के ही राजाओं का राज रहा है. इसका अर्थ यही है कि बहुजन समाज के पास जीवन संगठन, राज और समाज-सञ्चालन का दर्शन रहा है, जिसने हमारी सभ्यता और संस्कृति के कीर्तिमान गढ़े हैं.
    आज बहुजन समाज राजनीतिक दृष्टि से एक दो-राहे पर खड़ा है. या तो वह समाज में बड़े संरचनागत परिवर्तन की ओर आगे बढ़ने का रास्ता चुने या फिर वर्तमान व्यवस्था में अपने लिए अधिक से अधिक जगह प्राप्त करने के रास्ते बनाये. ये दोनों बातें अलग तो हैं किन्तु एक दूसरे से जुड़ी हुई भी हैं तथा समाज से सरोकार रखने वालों के बीच लम्बे समय से बहस का विषय रही हैं और रहेंगी.
  2. बहुजन समाज अपना रास्ता अपने दृष्टिकोण, दर्शन और हितों के जरिये चुने इसके लिए यह आवश्यक प्रतीत होता हैं कि बड़े पैमाने पर इस विषय पर सार्वजनिक बहस हो. यह बहस आज के प्रभु वर्गों के विचारों से स्वतंत्र होना ज़रूरी है और इसलिए बहुजन समाज के दर्शन, इतिहास, राजनीति, और संभावी भविष्य को लेकर विस्तृत शोध व अनुसंधान की ज़रूरत है. यह अनुसंधान विश्वविद्यालय के अनुसंधान से सर्वथा अलग होगा क्योंकि विश्वविद्यालय के अनुसंधान पर पश्चिम की आधुनिक दार्शनिक परम्पराओं और ब्राह्मणों के विचारों का आधिपत्य है और उसमें बहुजन समाज के दर्शन और उनके दर्द के लिए कोई स्थान नहीं है.
  3. इस अनुसंधान का घर किसानों और कारीगरों के बीच होगा, रोज़ की कमाई करने वाले ठेले-गुमटी-पटरी वालों तथा मजदूरों के बीच होगा, बड़े पैमाने पर स्त्रियों के विचारों, कार्यों, अनुभवों में होगा, एक शब्द में कहें तो उनके जीवन में होगा. देश की मुख्यधारा से सबसे ज्यादा कटे हुए आदिवासी समाज के लोग हैं और इस अनुसन्धान में उनके जीवन और तौर-तरीकों का बड़ा स्थान होगा.
  4. यह अनुसंधान मोटे तौर पर बहुजन ज्ञान संवाद होगा, जिसकी एक मूल मान्यता यह होगी कि बहुजन समाज एक ज्ञानी समाज है. तथा यह अनुसंधान उसके ज्ञान को नए समकालीन रूपों में प्रस्तुत करेगा.
  5. बहुजन समाज के व्यावहारिक ज्ञान, वस्तुओं को बनाने के शिल्प और कला से तो सब परिचित हैं तथापि इन दक्षताओं की पृष्ठभूमि में इनका अपना दर्शन होता है. यह संवाद इस दर्शन को सार्वजनिक पटल पर प्रस्तुत करने के रास्ते बनाएगा.

दो दिन उपरोक्त बिन्दुओं पर चर्चा हुई. कारीगर समाजों में जो छोटी जाति के माने जाने वाले लोग हैं उनकी क्षमताओं, सामाजिक परिस्थिति और दर्शन की हैसियत पर काफी बात हुई. जाहिर है सभी बातों पर सब सहमत नहीं थे और यह तय किया गया कि विद्या आश्रम सारनाथ पर 15से 20 दिसंबर के बीच इस बात चीत को आगे बढ़ने के लिए एक बैठक बुलाई जाये. इस बैठक को सुनील कश्यप आमंत्रित करेंगे. इस बैठक की कार्यवाही को एक ऐसे ब्यौरे के रूप में लिखा जायेगा जो और लोगों को पढने के लिए दिया जा सके, कह सकते हैं कि प्रकाशित किया जायेगा.


An English version of the Bahujan Knowledge Dialogue proposal: pdf


Note on 26 Sep 2023 discussions

Avinash Jha (03/10/2023)

It is good we are continuing the discussion this Tuesday and we start with Sunil ji’s interrupted comments. I have put down some comments on last Tuesday’s discussion:

One major point that came up in both Gandhi’s and Sunil ji’s comment is whether ordinary experience is the experience of an individual or of a collective/ensemble. It seems irrefutable that it is the latter. Therefore, we can call it lokavidya – knowledge in society. This experience is a shared body of knowledge, accumulated and cultivated over generations.

What about individual experience then? Of course, as individuals we share in the shared experiences as well. Still, there are new experiences. There is a component of experience which is irreducibly individual. I think Dignaga’s nirvikalpa pratyaksa (nonconceptual experience) points to this aspect of experience. Without this the dynamics of experience will be lost. This is noncommunicable.

As regards pramana, we should remember that we respond to any doubtful knowledge with the question: what is the pramana? Pandit’s response as Sunil ji told us to the question about Ganesh ji drinking milk that ‘There is no example or drstanta’ is a response to that question. Inference or anumana is not valid because there is no example. What about an entirely new phenomenon without examples, as someone raised the question?

Sunil ji also spoke that lokavidya is the benchmark, and not ordinary experience and something about the system being constant before he lost the connection. We will talk about it tomorrow.



The Discourse of Pramāṇas

Avinash Jha (26/09/2023)

Pramān̩a is a discourse of the measure of knowledge. The question here is not ‘what is knowledge’, but rather ‘what are the conditions of truth in knowledge’. In its original form in Nyāya Sūtra it would be more appropriate to say, ‘what are the instruments, means or sources of knowledge’. In the Nyāya Sūtra, ultimate context of knowledge is ‘release’. “Pain, birth, activity, fault, and false knowledge – on the successive annihilation of these in the reverse order, there follows release.” (NS 2) Going in the reverse order, the first step is annihilation of false knowledge. This knowledge is not the knowledge of a specific domain. Pramāṇa is not concerned with some specific domain of knowledge. It is concerned with all knowledge.

While this discourse on means of knowledge originated with Nyāya, with the passage of time it became a part of every philosophical school in India. Each of the darśanas felt it necessary to articulate their own version of pramāṇa theory. Pramāṇa became a discourse of justification which various philosophical or metaphysical viewpoints came to employ for their own justification vis-à-vis the others.

A question can be, and has been, raised at this point. What is the basis of various pramān̩a schemes expounded by various darśanas? How are they justified? If the justification ultimately draws upon the philosophical viewpoints or tenets with which they are aligned, then we are moving in circles. If that is the case, if pramān̩a theories are nothing but logical extensions of respective metaphysical tenets, then the discourse of pramān̩a would be quite lame.

In other words, the question is what justifies the pramān̩a discourse itself. With some exceptions, notably Nāgārjuna and Jayarāśi, this question has not been raised in the tradition. In modernity, this question always casts a shadow over theory of pramāṇa. Let us ask the other related question: What is the criterion which allows for the possibility of different pramān̩a theories, and therefore different philosophical standpoints arguing with each other? Pramān̩a theory did in fact create such a ground for a diversity of darśanas to engage in dialogue and contestation with each other and thus helped in creating a shared universe of discourse which we call Indian philosophy. What made this possible?

We can find a clue to this in the primacy that is accorded to perception among all prāmāṇas in all pramāṇa theories. Even though there is no agreement on the nature of perception, perception is the only pramāṇa accepted by all systems, and it is always the first pramāṇa. Uddyotakara says:

We emphasise perception, for all pramāṇas are (in some way or other) preceded by (sensory) perception.[1]

This primacy of perception translates into the fact that a pramāṇa which contradicts experience cannot be a pramāṇa. Tenth century Buddhist thinker Jñānaśrīmitra makes it explicit in his Apoha treatise:

When something is contradicted by experience, one needn’t think about other ways of proving it, since every means of valid awareness [pramān̩a] derives its power from experience alone. This is because it arises from experience and culminates in it.[2]

Based on these clues, our conjecture is that the starting point of pramān̩a theory is ordinary experience, or rather the truth in ordinary experience. Pramān̩a assumes the truth-bearing character of experience and tries to specify it. Different darśanas come out with different analyses of the truth-bearing character of experience. Pramāṇa theories build a train of arguments between ordinary experience and specific darśanas. At the same time, it is also a questioning of experience in order to determine the exact nature of truth in experience. And this questioning is done from a specific philosophical standpoint. We can say that pramān̩a theory stages a confrontation and reconciliation between the truth of experience and the truth of a darśana.

This is possible if ordinary experience and ordinary language, on the whole, is independent of any particular philosophical system. In other words, we have to recognise that ordinary experience is consistent with a multiplicity of darśanas. Of course, the world of ordinary life is neither unified nor fixed. It changes with time and place. There are contradictions, conflicts and ambiguities in ordinary experience. In a given time and place though, there is large sphere of experience about which there is broad agreement. In other words, there is a realm of experience and knowledge which is lokasiddha, i.e., ‘proven in the world’. Our conjecture is that non-violation of this sphere of conventional or pragmatic consensus, which is the world of ordinary life and ordinary experience, constitutes a benchmark, which enables pramāṇa theories to overcome the alleged circularity. The fact that the loka is neither unified nor unchanging can be seen as a weakness in one sense. Or this could be its strength, which allows the pramāṇa theory to function as it does.

J. N. Mohanty contemplates a similar question in a paper (Mohanty, 1980). He poses the question in terms of relation between the pramāṇa and the prameya, between the epistemological and the ontological. While discussing the difficulty of finding a ‘beginning’ of Indian philosophical systems, he writes:

Should the beginning be in the epistemological theory of pramāṇa or means of knowledge (with which the classical expositions began) from which the ontology, or theory of prameya (or objects of such knowledge) then follows? Or is the theory of pramāṇa itself a consequence of the implicitly presupposed metaphysics? Or, as may appear not unlikely to readers of Sanskrit philosophical texts, do the philosophers begin with ordinary experience and ordinary language, lokānubhava and lokavyayahār, and then unravel their implications by a peculiar combination of description, analysis and transcendental argument?[3]

He gives some examples and states that:

This is not to say that the ontological framework was derived from ordinary experience, but the system tried to validate the framework – perhaps developed a priori – by reference to ordinary experience and usage.[4]

He takes up Nyāya and Advaita to explore the implications of this idea and reaches an intermediate conclusion that “the two theories may be seen as implicates of ordinary language sentences.[5] He refers to Nyāya commitment to “methodology that would be consistent with the implications of ordinary language and ordinary cognitive as well as practical experience”. He assumes though that the Buddhists have no reason to accept ordinary language and experience as authoritative without giving any further argument. We would contest this assertion, or rather qualify it. Mohanty goes on to examine the pre-predicative perception in both Nyāya and Advaita and concludes that ‘extra-systemic evidence eludes our grasp’.[6] What is meant is that certain issues that he examines, like that of pre-predicative perception, are settled by appeal to the system itself rather than to an extra-systemic evidence. Methodological commitment to ordinary experience is no help. After brilliantly exploring some of the issues very germane to our conjecture above, he arrives at a conclusion which he finds unsettling:

Pramāṇas were used to certify the ontology, but the doctrine of the pramāṇas itself was incorporated into the latter.[7]

So indeed, there is a circularity! The conclusion that he stated provisionally at the beginning seems to have been justified:

In fact, it does seem that metaphysics and epistemology, theory of pramāṇa and theory of prameya, depend upon each other; and the use that is made of scriptural text is determined by, rather than determining, these commitments.[8]

He finds that pramāṇa is not ‘the beginning’ of Nyāya system. On the contrary, it is derived from ontology. Our contention is that it may indeed be derived from ontology, but it drops its anchor in experience.

Mohanty’s concern in this paper seems to be the choice among ontologies offered in Indian philosophies and the failure of pramāṇa to provide a conclusive reason, extra-systemic evidence, to prefer one over the others (for which he looks to nirvikalpa in these systems). He presumes that there is a way of judging the standpoints without a standpoint of one’s own. Indeed, the pramāṇas are formulated by different systems in ways which are consistent with their own ontologies. This does not disturb our conjecture. Our problem is different. Despite pramāṇas and ontologies being dependent on each other, how can the pramāṇa theories create the ground for dialogue and contestation among different ontologies? There must be another constraint on pramāṇa theories besides being consistent with their respective ontologies. Pramāṇa theories do not merely postulate sources of knowledge which is in keeping with the requirement of the system. This further constraint arises from the fact that pramāṇa theories must explain the whole range of knowledge that is available to us and not just some extra-ordinary knowledge offered by their own systems. Pramāṇa theory is not contained in the parent philosophical system and yet is one part of the system. Each pramāṇa theory judges all other pramāṇa theories from the standpoint of its own system. In its place, would we want a single pramāṇa theory to stand in judgment over all the others, without being judged itself?

First part of Mohanty’s paper provides excellent articulation of what I am calling my conjecture. After having brilliantly characterised in several ways in which the Nyāya system tries to find an anchor in ordinary experience and ordinary language, he seemed to lose interest in this question.[9] Perhaps because he takes it as a specific characteristic of the Nyāya realist system rather than of pramāṇa theory as such. His exploration of loka is in order to find a beginning of the Nyāya system. He wants to find a ‘beginning’ for Indian philosophical systems. According to him a darśana is a close-knit unit with sharply defined boundaries. He says that “in such a system, it is often a frustrating experience to look for an absolute beginning.”[10] Then he considers pramāṇa as a candidate for this ‘beginning’ and finds it wanting. Then he looks for the ‘given’ which would provide an extra-systemic ‘beginning’ for Nyāya and Vedanta but finds that these ‘givens’ are constructed in terms of the ontology of the same system and thus are not extra-systemic. In this paper, Mohanty does not specify what exactly he means by ‘beginning’. We can surmise that the idea of a ‘beginning’ derives from the Greek arche, or from a kind of Cartesian foundational project, or from Husserl’s own project of philosophy as a rigorous science. Mohanty’s paper seeks a ‘beginning’ for Indian philosophies which can provide a ground for judging among different ontologies which do not have ‘a beginning’ of their own. As we said, he wants to judge the multiple standpoints in Indian philosophy assuming a position outside all standpoints.[11]

Indian philosophies seek their ‘beginning’ in seed texts which are supposed to encapsulate the contents of an insight-full summarising experience (samādhi) or enlightenment. Ordinary life, in contrast, is conceived as without ‘a beginning’. It contains residues of innumerable ‘beginnings’. In other words, ordinary experience and ordinary language reflect within themselves fragments of many philosophical systems. No philosophical system, or system of knowledge, however, can supplant or replace ordinary experience, just as no formal language can supplant or replace ordinary language. Many ‘beginnings’ exist simultaneously in ordinary life and different forms of life get organised around them.

Mohanty’s stance, however, cannot be attributed only to the promise of presupposition-less beginning. Mohanty harbours a discomfort about system-bound nature of philosophical practice in India which is expressed towards the end of paper (Mohanty, 1980). The systems seem to be circular in the sense that a clarification of some part of the system calls upon the conceptual apparatus from the rest of the system. Even when an innovation is introduced, the conceptual integrity of the system is inviolable. Mohanty thinks this prevents dealing with substantive issues; one is always trying to ‘fit’ them into the system. It is as if the system grows around a centre which is the seed text. The circle may keep expanding but it retains an internal circularity among its parts. He contrasts it with the philosophical practice in modern times, where substantive issues are dealt with head on. Origins of such discomfort with the system-bound philosophising can also be seen in his early work on Gaṅgeśa’s theory of truth[12]. After having explored the two apparently opposed theories of svataḥ and parataḥ prāmāṇya in that work he concludes that these theories are incommensurable, rather than opposed to each other. They are talking about different things and may be ultimately complimentary. He seems to attribute this state of affairs to the system-bound nature of argumentation in Indian philosophising, though not in so many words.

We will leave this issue here. According to our conjecture, despite their roots in the parent system, pramāṇa theories transcend their own roots through the methodological requirement of non-violation of ordinary experience. And this is true not only for Nyāya Pramāṇa theory. The very form of a pramāṇa theory assumes truth-bearing character of experience, even if it may be understood differently by different systems. If systems are represented by circles with their seed texts at the centre, then the boundary of the circle represents ordinary experience. There is a well-known essay written by A. K. Ramanujan called ‘Is there an Indian way of thinking?’[13]. He characterises this way of thinking as ‘contextual’. At the end of the essay, one is left with the impression that Indian culture is inimical to dealing with generalities, even though it is not stated explicitly anywhere. To correct that impression, if we were to ask, “Is there an Indian way of thinking about knowledge”, it seems to me that pramāṇa theory encapsulates an answer.

For our part, we will work with our conjecture in showing that even a Buddhist pramāṇa theory with its apparently radical divergence from ordinary experience, still abides with this requirement. Dignāga’s choosing to articulate a Buddhist pramāṇa theory entails a methodological commitment to the world of ordinary experience. To use Buddhist terminology, he must speak from a conventional standpoint. He cannot adopt the parmārthic standpoint of traditional Abhidharma.


Matilal, B. K. (1986). Perception: An essay on classical Indian theories of knowledge. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Mohanty, J. N. (1980). Understanding some ontological differences in Indian philosophy. Journal of Indian Philosophy, 8(3), 205-217.

Mohanty, J. N. (1988a). A fragment of the Indian philosophical tradition: Theory of pramāṇa. Philosophy East and West, 38(3), 251-260.

Mohanty, J. N. (1988b). Phenomenology and Indian philosophy: The concept of rationality. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 19(3), 269-281.

Mohanty, J. N. (1989). Gaṅgeśa’s Theory of Truth: Containing the Text of Gaṅgeśa’s Prāmāṇya (jñāpti) vāda (second revised edition). Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Ramanujan, A. K. (1989). Is there an Indian way of thinking?: An informal essay. Contributions to Indian Sociology, 23(1), 41-58.

Singh, Navjyoti. (1990). Phenomenology and Indian philosophy. Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 7(3), 38-56.

[1] As translated by Matilal (1986, 22).

[2] McCrea and Patil (2010, 49).

[3] Mohanty (1980, 205)

[4] Mohanty (1980, 207)

[5] Mohanty (1980, 213).

[6] Mohanty (1980, 215)

[7] Mohanty (1980, 217)

[8] Mohanty (1980, 205).

[9] There are two of his papers of 1988 (Mohanty, 1988a, 1988b) which deal with the issue of pramāṇa but do not take up the issue of ordinary experience and practice.

[10] Mohanty (1980, 205).

[11] In a critical essay on the International Conference on Phenomenology and Indian Philosophy held in New Delhi in 1988 in honour of J. N. Mohanty, Singh (1990) critiques exactly such an assumption of a position beyond all standpoints by phenomenology when dealing with Indian Philosophy. It includes a critique of Mohanty’s paper (Mohanty, 1988b) cited in the previous footnote which was the opening address of the conference.

[12] Mohanty (1989). First edition was published in 1966.

[13] Ramanujan (1989).



Sanatana Dharma and Swaraj Chetna

Krishna Gandhi (08/09/2023)

Ever since Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Son Udhayanidhi Stalin publicly denounced Sanatana Dharma, a war of words has been unleashed by Hindutva forces on DMK and INDIA (the newly created front of opposition parties). Here we shall attempt to explore the Swaraj Chetna approach to this controversy.

The following points are noteworthy:

  1. The words Sanatana Dharma doesn’t find mention in the Vedas, which are claimed to be the original source of the Sanatana Dharma by the Hindutva elements. In fact, the words “Sanatana Dharma” were coined only in the nineteenth century to denote Hindu Orthodoxy (Brahmanism), as a reaction to the number of reform movements like Arya Samaj and Brahmo Samaj which advocated reforms in the orthodox practices of caste discrimination, untouchability, sati, prohibition of widow remarriage etc…
  2. Even the word Hinduism may not be older than 400 years. It was probably the European colonial powers who came to India, who gave the common name “Hindu” to the diverse groups of faiths that were part of the Hindu tradition. Before that “Hindu” represented only a geographical location. Hinduism or Hindu Dharma included, among others, Vaishnavites, Shaivites, Lingayats, Kabeer Panthis, Raidasis, and followers of various Bhakti traditions native to India, traditionally a country of diverse faiths. There was and is no distinct set of unique practices that could be identified with the “Hindu” faith. Sanatana Dharma, the name assigned to Hindu orthodoxy by its adherents, was just one of the many faiths within the Hindu fold and therefore cannot claim to represent all the faiths within the Hindu tradition. So, the defenders of “Sanatana Dharma” cannot claim to defend Hindu Dharma or Hinduism.
  3. Let us turn to the claim that Hindu Dharma is “Sanatana”. “Sanatana” translates into English as “Eternal”. The Hindu orthodoxy claims its superiority over other faiths on the basis of it being eternal. That is, the laws of Sanatana Dharma are eternal because they are based on the Vedas, which are claimed to hold eternal truths and themselves are claimed to the more than 5000 years old. But historians have assessed the period of Vedas to be around 1500 BCE, much later than the period of Indus Valley Civilization. So, the claim that Vedas are eternal is without any historical basis.
  4. Those who are trying to impose the straight jacket of Sanatana Dharma on Hindu society are the upper caste orthodoxy. The problem is that this upper caste orthodoxy wants to impose its dictates on how the lower castes should live and behave. The assigned role of lower castes as service providers (shudra) is claimed to have been ordained by God, being part of the grand design of human society as a hierarchical pyramid with Brahmins at the top and the scavenger castes at the bottom. This imposition of a role and a rank in hierarchy, not of their own choice, on the lower castes by the upper caste orthodoxy, denies the lower castes any semblance of autonomy or swaraj. It was this praxis of Sanatana Dharma that was attacked by Udhayanidhi Stalin. But it has been projected as an attack on Hinduism by the upper caste orthodoxy. It wants to deny the lower castes even the freedom to protest against the indignities and exploitation they have been subjected to for centuries, and which continue to this day. This denial of autonomy to lower castes by upper castes negates the principle of Swaraj understood as Autonomy of Autonomies and whose cornerstone is the principle of non-domination.
  5. Swaraj Chetna is concerned primarily with the present, not the past nor the future. It is the ontology of human life situated in the current context of human-human and human-nature relationships that gives rise to Swaraj Chatna. This also means that Swaraj Chetna is contextual and limited to the specifics of the chunk of space-time that we find ourselves in.
  6. Laws of nature have their basis in our understanding of the following interactionshuman-human, human-nature and nature-nature. The being and existence of every entity in nature are ordered by these laws. They are not enforced on it by any external agency outside of nature, On the contrary, every entity that exists in nature is endowed with its own inherent characteristics (Swabhava) and it is this that makes it obey particular laws and play certain roles (Swadharma). Neither the Swabhava nor Swadharma of any entity is determined or imposed by any external agency. On the contrary, both are inherent properties of the entity modified by the particular context or situation in which it finds itself placed at any given time.
  7. This ontological basis of Swaraj renders any conception of eternal laws (Sanatana Dharma) prima facie untrue. Laws, especially of human society and its evolution, are relevant and true only within particular contexts of space-time. Trying to extrapolate context-limited laws to regions far removed in space and time.from where they were originally discovered is foolhardy and may even be dangerous.

To conclude, firstly, any conception of Eternal Laws (Sanatana Dharma) will contradict the ontological principle inherent in Swaraj and its context specific character. Secondly, Swaraj understood as Autonomy of Autonomies has no place for domination of one caste (varna) by another caste (varna) which is an essential feature of Sanatana Dharma.



Some Thoughts on Swaraj Dialogue

Chitra Sahasrabudhey (01/09/2023)

    1. For a few weeks now Lokavidya Debates Group has been discussing ‘Swaraj as a law of Nature’. Several written pieces have come out during the debate, and this is my attempt to add to the new possibilities that have emerged in the debate.
    2. I will start by pointing to the first resolution of the Multai Adhiveshan (2014), which said: “Every human being is knowledgeable and has the right to live by his own knowledge. This is a birthright.” I am reminded of the the “Swaraj is my birth right!” pronouncement of Lokamanya. Both these calls pose a challenge to the modern state. In which condition lies their basis? Is there a resonance with the essense of compositions of Rishis, suktas of the Buddha, Kabir’s dohas and radical philosophical compositions of Sants? Do they create possibilities of awakening of man’s chetana and of a sense of autonomy, and inaugurate ways of becoming master of own destiny? It does seem so.
    3. It is not for philosophy to present readymade resolution of problems, but only to create an awareness of a direction, a framework, of obstacles in the path, and of the basis of action needed to resolve them. On the strength of their knowledge, as human beings and the samaj ralley around these calls, philosophy of transformation takes shape. The Lokavidya Andolan is an effort to strengthen this process.
    4. The Swaraj dialogue is surely aimed at transforming the present systems opposed to man and Nature. There is a definite context to this transformation. The rulers appear to be bent on killing ordinary life and on imagining the world without a sense of humanity. Ordinary humans are progressively being robbed of all initiative at decision, action and thought. The environment of destructive wars, anti-people political initiatives, an economic system rooted in loot, open instigation to sow enmities, greed and murder, artificially engineered pandemics like corona etc. has become so overbearing that ordinary men and women find it tougher by the day to build a challenge. The Swaraj dialogue is aimed at breaking this condition of helplessness, and at awakening autonomous capacities, that is at rediscovering activism and humanity.  In this sense, Swaraj Knowledge Dialogue is a process of giving shape to a philosophy of transformation.
    5. Conditioned by its own traditions and ways of life evey samaj develops its own wisdom about the logic, the purpose and the value woven into movement of Nature and into happenings around. This wisdom and knowledge enable it to renew itself as a knowledgeable samaj in every age. An important and concrete context to this is that of its relations with Nature. Those who faced a relatively ferocious ambience came up with philosophical outlooks of victory. Those who lived in relatively milder environments created visions of co-existence. There is a spectrum of philosophical thought between the two extremes. Not to choose between the two, but to explore life with both is the fulcrum of the Swaraj thought. (The moral order of Shiva is similar to this.) This is so not just with ours, but also with many other samaj’s. What distinguishes ours is that here we see the process alive in many ways even today.
    6. Traditions of regarding the Earth, Nature and Srushti as the Mother, and human responsibilities toward Her as moral duty, existed in probably a majority of samaj’s. The non-living and the living was regarded to be born of the same womb and to be cooperating in various ways, and to different degrees, in order to create anew. The diversity in nature was seen as based in a manner of coexistence and cooperation, which respects autonomy of each and ensures creativity of all. This is the heart of Swaraj. This is the condition where values of nyay, tyag and bhaichara bloom. One may christen this condition the Swaraj Law of Nature. These are the transformative values for contemporary human society.
    7. Western philosophers based their thought in human need. Our thinkers thought of progress in terms of perfection of those actions, which strengthen coexistence in synergy with Nature. Duties and responsibilities were viewed in the same light. This was understood as the human way of organizing livelihoods and life. Man had a role in checking disturbances and hurdles in natural processes. Every living, non-living element of Nature was seen as driven by moral forces. Each element maintains its autonomy and cooperates with others, dissolving itself, to create new. With such a worldview, truth, consciousness of other’s pain and non-violence regulate and govern actions of human beings and reveal how to construct arrangements of Swaraj in different times.
    8. The lokavidya thought opened a path to understand this powerful strain in the philosophical outlooks of the bahujan samaj. With it we may be able to understand the needs and aspects of relationship of humanity to Nature in the contemporary context. Our publications have focussed on swarajist values in the social, economic, philosophical, and religious life of the bahujan samaj. We need to direct our efforts at building a deeper and broader contemporary thought around this.
    9. We know that our thinkers of the independence movement thought extensively about Swaraj, which was seen as an order extending from the ‘self’ to the ‘lok’, with presence in religious, economic and political realms. Art, culture and philosopy witnessed extensive writing and reflection on Swaraj. Anand Kumarswamy, Nihar Ranjan Roy, K. C. Bhattacharya, Vinoba, Rabindranath among others exemplify the richness of this tradition. The rulers might have discarded it but not the samaj. Echoes of Swarajist aspirations are seen in the struggles of the last decade and in the farmers’ movement.
    10. Efforts should be made to transform the Swaraj discussions we are engaged in into Swaraj Gyan Panchayat. An essay (Swaraj in Ideas) authored by K. C. Bhattacharya in 1928 may be one of our inspirations.


The original Hindi version: pdf


Whatsapp, email Conversation: GSRK and Gandhi

G Sivaramkrishnan, Krishna Gandhi (01/09/2023)


[GSR Krishnan]

That Nature is law governed is a grand assumption. One might also view Nature as chaotic and meaningless.  One may attribute any meaning one wants to Nature, that it is kindness personified or cruel or mean or vengeful.  There is no intrinsic meaning to Nature. Poets have sung of

an angry moon or a pleasant moon depending on their own moods.  It is the social world that is pregnant with meanings. Sociology was defined by Max Weber as a science that attempts to understand the meanings of human actions. These meanings are of course subjective and hence the challenge as to how can we ‘objectively’ understand these ‘subjective’ meanings.

There are two very broad models of viewing the world or society. One is to assume that there is a grand Order, despite all the conflicts and disruptions. There is an equally grand assumption that conflict is an inherent feature of Nature, society and everything in the Universe. These two theories have more or less circumscribe everything that has been written about society/ culture. These are not ‘facts’ in the strict sense of the term. These are better described as weltanschauung or world views.  They have called the consensus model and the conflict model.

The consensus model of looking at the world has a problem explaining social change.  The conflict model has the problem of accounting for stability and order.

By the way, I was taught in my plus two logic class that the law of Uniformity of Nature and the law of Universal Causation are the postulates of induction or science that have no proof and have to be simply assumed!


There are definitely different ways of looking at the world. But the human mind is always trying to find certain patterns (spatial, temporal) in nature including humans. The laws governing the inanimate world is rather easier to discover but much more difficult for the animate world including plants. The difficulty gets compounded when we go up the ladder of evolution in the animal kingdom. Consciousness has been little underdtood. Given all these, it is undeniable that the greatest minds were always trying to discover the laws of nature, evolution, consciousness, social organisation and behaviour and so on. A conception of nature as chaos, without any pattern or laws, is patently untenable and false. Because the mere act of our living implies that there is some order. We may deny that there is no meaning or grand purpose to life, human life included, but that is a question of what is the future ot what the purpose of life is, which may be beyond human comprehension, it being a question about what is going to happen in the distant future. But a denial of a purpose to life does not imply that there is no order in life as it exists. So, what is comprehensible and within the realm of human perception is the present and its workings. And if we limit our discussion to the ontological aspect of life, we can definitely propose certain laws to explain the observed patterns in nature.

[GSR Krishnan]

The question before us is not whether we should look for Order and Laws in Nature. That I concede has been our pursuit for millennia . But the question actually is: Is Nature law bound or law governed?  My point is  we seek order and see order in Nature. Nature simply exits. It is. There is no intrinsic meaning to Nature. We attribute meanings to Nature.


I think the exercise of reading meanings to life and nature is a futile one. The words “mean” and “meaning” connote a purpose or grand design to nature which is the realm of faith and religion. Without at all going into the “meaning” of nature, we are confining ourselves to describing what exists, as perceived by us. The distinction between “nature as it exists, and “nature as perceived by humans” is irrelevant, because humans are incapable of “discovering nature as it exists”, although in metaphysical terms we can posit such a concept. But our lives and nature will be totally unaffected in the absence of such a concept, which in the ultimate analysis is devoid of any meaning to us humans.

[GSR Krishnan]

How is the distinction between nature as it is and nature as perceived by us irrelevant?  There are millions of stars and planets in the sky. We have carved out a Solar system out of these innumerable objects in the sky and believe that it influences us in many ways. Solar system is our abstraction. All classifications and naming of objects in nature is our doing.


There may be a theoretical distinction between nature as it exists and nature as it is perceived by us. But in practice that distinction is irrelevant. Because we cannot reach nature as it exists directly except through our limited senses and mind, and there is no way we can bypass our senses and mind, (for example by transforming ourselves to other forms of life like fish, eagle, serpent and study nature as perceived by these creatures; and even if we could, the peceptions of nature by these creatures would also be limited by their respective senses and brains) so we cannot practically distinguish between the two. So all our interactions with nature will be based on our perceptions of nature, and not nature as it exists.


[GSR Krishnan]

I was quite intrigued at the end of today’s meeting. I wanted to respond to everyone but couldn’t organise my thoughts / responses properly. Hence this note.

Why or how did we pose the question about Swaraj being a natural law? If I remember right, it was Krishna Gandhi who introduced this. Why? My guess is perhaps he wanted to say Swaraj is like our instincts, one cannot wish it away. This is like saying man is gregarious or pugnacious. I was trying to say that there is nothing ‘natural’ about Swaraj. It is more cultural in the sense that it is an ideal or value like freedom or democracy or equality. It has to be cultivated. It is normative in the sense of it being a product of human society, which alone has a normative order. That is, only human society has ‘right’ and wrong, ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘moral’ and ‘immoral’ and so on.

Budhey went on a tangent, in my view, by bringing in the so-called western distinction between the analytical and the normative and almost accusing those who say Swaraj is normative as guilty of being trapped in Western / bourgeois categories.

In my view human society is unique in the sense it has not only gone against nature in a way but has tamed and subdued nature. From agriculture to domestication of animals to the technologies of the last two hundred years we are witness to this. Man today is a product of his own creations. Marx has a passage in which he says that a bee can put to shame the best of human engineers, but what distinguishes a human engineer from the bee is that the human enginner can imagine a structure before actually erecting one.

Man, therefore, has a dialectical relationship with nature. As part of nature, he is like other animals. But as a ‘creator’ he is alienated from nature.  This alienation from nature is what has given rise to civilization. Therefore, to condemn man for violating the law of nature is to miss the point. Capitalism is not the only enemy. Right from the first humans who cultivated food grains and domesticated animals, all of us are guilty of going against nature!

Finally, if Swaraj is so natural, we must ask why are we so far away from it?


If everything that happens in nature is natural, and that includes human interventions in nature, then agricultural revolution was natural, capitalism is natural, racial discrimination is natural, colonialism is natural, slavery was natural and so on. This will be an “objective” interpretation of history. But human beings are imbued with certain notions of justice, impulse of sacrificing one’s privileges for others and sense of kinship with fellow beings. And therefore, we are prone to say that some acts are right, and some are wrong. So normative side of acts bothers us and, in my opinion, should bother us.

So, we are driven to not only interpret the world but also change it. In the ultimate analysis, everyone whether communist, capitalist and swarajist, or of other disposition prescribe certain norms of human behaviour. These are reflected in their prescriptions for curing the ills of society, as perceived by them. A capitalist would swear by competition, individual enterprise, promoting production and productivity and so on and claim scientific reasons for advocating such policy prescriptions. A communist would propose collective or class actions for bringing about desired changes. So why should a swarajist be defensive about taking up a position that Swaraj is the law of nature? Why should a swarajist be accused of being normative when others are equally normative in their prescriptions? No amount of scientific rationality will hide the fact that a capitalist and a communist are normative in their prescriptions. Like their advocacy of ever-increasing levels of production and consumption?

That said, I genuinely believe that nature obeys the law of Swaraj. I mean to say that nature including humans were following largely the law of swaraj until the advent of the industrial revolution, which marks the start of a period in which the law of swaraj is being systematically violated. And we are paying huge price for it in the form of environmental degradation, loss of human autonomy and creativity, and enslavement of the vast majority by a miniscule minority who have centralised all power and knowledge in their hands.

It may be argued that previous human interventions in nature have wrought equal havoc on nature in terms of loss of biodiversity, deforestation and so on. And therefore, Swaraj as a law does not hold. In answer I only want to point out that many of the changes in nature on earth were the results of cycles of warming and freezing that took place irrespective of human intervention. Or catastrophic events may have caused drastic changes like the disappearance of dinosaurs. Why I want to make a distinction between the preindustrial and postindustrial human history is that systematic centralisation of power and knowledge took place only in the postindustrial period. And all human interventions in nature in the pre-industrial era was and scattered spontaneous and decentralised. True, the Agricultural revolution irretrievably changed the biosphere, but in place of the old ecosystem of hunter gatherer period, new ecosystem of agriculture came into being. But because it was a decentralised mode of production, and nature’s processes were integral to agriculture, even with a loss of biodiversity, swaraj still prevailed in an altered form.

But this cannot be said about the postindustrial period which saw extraction of minerals, use of fossil fuels, and production and consumption going up by many orders of magnitude because of power getting concentrated in a few hands.

This huge scaling up of human intervention in nature disrupted previously established ecosystems without putting in place new ecosystems. This ever-increasing disruption of ecosystems resulted in loss of autonomy or swaraj with negative consequences.

[GSR Krishnan]

I haven’t said everything that happens in nature is natural. I have only said that our relationship with nature is dialectical. We are part of nature but are capable, subduing or even destroying parts of nature. What are called human civilizational achievements are the outcome of this ability of us.  It is in this sense that man is also a ‘creator’.  What he creates is culture, that which is cultivated in our interaction with nature and other human beings. Having created culture, we are governed by our own creations. Religion, which is a unique cultural creation has controlled, shaped the course of history for over centuries. In short, we are conditioned by our own cultural norms, values, ideas etc. We are thus both’ natural’ and cultural. In fact, our cultural practices have at times been at variance with our own biological requirements. We no longer eat whenever we are hungry but eat only at lunch time. Our own creations have created many problems for us. Freud’s great work Civilization and its Discontents speaks of the consequences of repression of sex in human society. Just as our values like freedom, justice, democracy, equality are cultural, so is Swaraj a cultural construction. What I cannot understand is why should one insist on it being natural when as an ideal or value, Swaraj is as noble or valuable as freedom or justice or bhaichara.


The capitalist ideology exalts the competitive spirit, the unfettered accumulation of capital, setting targets of ever-increasing targets of production and consumption (GDP), centralised factory mode systems of industrial production as the natural tendencies of humanity and the drivers of growth and development.  The swarajist ideology counterpoises an alternative worldview that nature including human societies best thrive when Swaraj (Autonomy of autonomies), the natural tendency of self organisation of nature is not disrupted and destroyed as happened in the postindustrial period, leading to the rise of chronic unemployment, hunger, ill-health, pollution, global warming, and acute inequalities in wealth, income and power.

Capitalism claims its norms of competition, accumulation as natural laws. The Swarajist ideology counterposes that Swaraj is the law of nature.

I do not claim that the statement “Swaraj is the law of nature” is an objective, value-less, non-normative law like the law of gravitation. Neither do I think that the capitalist proposition that   “competition leads to human progress” is non-normative.

[GSR Krishnan]

The question is not about the false claim of capitalism. That has been decisively answered at least 150 years ago by Marx. The question is why should one claim Swaraj as a natural law?  It in no way enhances the appeal of Swaraj as an alternative to capitalism. Isn’t it sufficient to say we want Swaraj?


It is not just about the organisation/reorganisation of human society that the Swarajist ideology is concerned with. It is also about how humans should interact with nature and also about our understanding of nature and its organisation and working. It is not just that humans only want swaraj. All creation wants swaraj. Or swaraj is a fundamental tendency in nature. This is stated to be a law of nature. Just as various religions and associated worldviews have have their own interpretations of how nature/creation functions, and the underlying laws/principles, so also the Swarajist understanding, and interpretation of nature is expressed in the form of a law or principle of organisation of nature: “Swaraj is the law of nature”. This is not an inflexible law like a law of physics but is more like a principle of organisation of nature. It can be violated occasionally, but most of nature obeys it. A sustained large-scale violation of this principle will have very adverse consequences for nature’s as well as human well-being.

Capitalism may have been theoretically disposed-off by Marx but that has not made it disappear. On the contrary, it is flourishing despite all odds and sadly it is Marxism that has disappeared.

And even the Marxist understanding of human’s relationship with nature and how nature functions and organises itself, on all these questions the Marxist views are very unclear. But one thing is very clear: Marxism also advocates ever increasing production, productivity increases through application of more and more machines, centralisation of production and distribution and may be just about everything capitalism stands for except private property.



On Swaraj in Our Times

J K Suresh (01/09/2023)

The extension of the idea of Swaraj in the latest version of the document poses a few problems – one is that we ascribe sentience and consciousness to natural entities and phenomena. Indian thought in the past did provide a place for this, for some time at least, respectively through the concepts of Rita (before it became truth) and Dharma as determining the “order” of things in Nature and for humans. Are we therefore saying that such thought constitutes a basis for extending the idea of Swaraj to Nature?

The problem does not vanish if one limits Swaraj to human society and eliminates reference to rivers and mountains being Swarajist. This is because the new imagination of Swaraj seems to be essentialist in its formulation. In its new role as the means to understand (or describe) the world (in ontological terms), it acquires a tendency to become a theory. We are not clear how this idea provides space for historically observed phenomena like trade, spread of religion or culture, expansion of linguistic groups, etc. The bigger problem here is this: what if some social formations do not share the ideas of justice, good life, rules, activity, etc. that it recommends?

A hundred years ago, the political and social context in which the idea of Swaraj developed was significantly different from what obtains today. Given the context of our times, the idea of Swaraj – as with most ideas of the past – becomes open to reification as it is interpreted and reinterpreted. We need to recognize that 21st century capitalism has a demonstrated ability to invert all subject-object relationships in the process of producing material and non-material goods. As a consequence, all things that a Swarajist cherishes – justice, Nature, simplicity, etc. – tend to become concepts that conceal life processes and dominate the true dynamics of his interactions with others.

It is likely that in a mere matter of a few decades in India, capitalist production of material and ideas have played an important part in desensitizing and distancing a large fraction of the elite and middle classes from the actual processes of the world as well as the miseries of a majority; they are no longer felt, but cognized without affect and swept to the margins of perception.

Once the notion of Swaraj is reified, it becomes vulnerable to modern techniques of participation, organization, measurement and change management; either from within or from without. In which case, it no longer remains Swaraj. The subversion of all great ideas of the past is a clear reminder of the power of (post-)industrial society in every sphere of human life.

These problems need some attention while propagating the idea of Swaraj.



Swaraj Is the Law of Nature

Krishna Gandhi (25/08/2023)

Human beings are part of nature, not separate from it

The problems of environmental destruction facing humanity today can be correctly approached through an understanding of the law of Swaraj that permeates nature. We start our discussion by stating that human societies are an integral part of nature and therefore cannot claim an existence separate from nature. This is because the survival of human species is inextricably linked to the survival of nature. The moment human societies try to act as if they have an existence independent of nature, they will destroy themselves.

This view of human-nature relationships has been the hallmark of all traditional societies except those belonging to the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Judeo-Christian tradition is unique in that it assumes that human beings are a privileged species, and the rest of the creation has been formed by God for its enjoyment and consumption. This denies, from the very beginning itself, any autonomy to nature because it is meant to be colonised by human species.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is only one supreme, all powerful, omnipotent, and omniscient God, who controls all creation, but exists outside of creation. By contrast, most other traditions believed in a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, each of whom was considered to represent some force of nature and had its own autonomy and area of jurisdiction. Moreover, these Gods did not exist independent of creation; they were part of it. This non-Judeo-Christian worldview naturally implied that power and knowledge was distributed in creation with no supreme Being controlling everything. This, I argue, led to a way of looking at the world as governed by a collection of autonomous forces none of whom could totally dominate others. In this way of looking at the world, ideas of autonomy and Swaraj take root naturally.

The Gaia Hypothesis and the conception of Earth as a Grand Ensemble of Ecosystems

An ecosystem may be considered to be an autonomous system that has the inherent capacities of self-regulation and self-governance that ensure its existence in equilibrium in the face of changing external environments. This ability of an ecosystem to self-regulate and self-govern may therefore be called its inherent capacity of Swaraj. Every organism, itself being an ecosystem, possesses the property of Swaraj. Many ecosystems of nature manifest themselves in the form of cycles. The Carbon cycle, the Nitrogen cycle, the plant-herbivores-carnivores-plant cycle, the ocean-clouds-rains-rivers-ocean cycle, the cycle of seasons brought about by the orbital motion of Earth, all these may be termed nature’s cyclical replenishing of itself and its embedded ecosystems. These inter-dependent but nevertheless autonomous cycles give rise to the idea that the Earth itself is a Grand Ensemble of ecosystems.

The Gaia hypothesis of Earth has been modelled on the concept of biological homeostasis. Homoeostasis is the state of steady internal, physical, chemical, and social conditions maintained by living systems. Homeostasis is brought about by a natural resistance to change when the organism is already in optimal conditions, and equilibrium is maintained by many regulatory mechanisms. It is thought to be the central motivation for all organic action. The Gaia hypothesis claims that the resident life forms of Earth coupled with their environment act like a single, self-regulating system. This system includes the near-surface rocks, the soil, and the atmosphere. Thus Gaia, the Earth, can itself be conceived as an ecosystem or possessing the property of Swaraj. Since in addition to being an ecosystem itself, the Earth encompasses many embedded ecosystems, including human communities, we may call Earth an Autonomy of Autonomies.

Centralisation is anathema to the law of Swaraj

The above description of the ontological character of nature and its embedded ecosystems (including human societies) seems to be at odds with the interpretation of history as a teleological phenomenon. Here too, the Judeo-Christian traditions stand apart from other traditions. The Judeo-Christian traditions assume that human destiny is a one-way one-time journey from the day of creation to the day of apocalypse (the day of judgement) at which point humans will be sent to either heaven or hell depending on the evaluation of their good and bad deeds by God. Human destiny would then come to a full stop. This has many variations like, for the Jews, their entry into the Promised Land, for the Christians, the Second Coming of Christ and so on. All human striving is directed towards reaching that ultimate goal, be it the heaven, the promised land or something else. This teleological view of human destiny has been the obsession of many philosophies of life. These philosophies seek to prove, supported by Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest, that humans are destined to evolve into superhuman beings and conquer not only the Earth, but also the Solar System, the Milky Way and ultimately the whole Universe in future. This conception of human destiny as the unfolding of a grand purpose planned by the supreme God, inevitably and logically leads to centralisation of power and knowledge in the hands of a select few (the rulers) who would claim exclusive knowledge of the grand scheme and also claim to be the ones chosen by God to implement it. This command structure leads the rulers on a path of progressive domination over nature and the rest of humanity, all justified in the name of God and His grand purpose.

The above linear conception of human destiny helps all centralised systems including the capitalist system to project themselves as the deliverers of the grand goal of human domination over the universe. This teleological narrative would justify all injustice, inequalities, exploitation as necessary and unavoidable sacrifices the majority of humanity have to make to realise the grand goals designed by the supreme Being.

Such a teleological view of human destiny negates the ideas of Autonomy of Autonomies and Swaraj. The premise that God’s design is known only to a privileged few on whom God has bestowed responsibility to guide the ignorant masses to the promised land strikes at the very root of the conception of Swaraj as the law of nature. An irreconcilable contradiction exists between the teleological conception of a promised land and the ontological condition of Swaraj.

Swabhav, Swadharma and Swaraj

Swabhav and Swadharma are also concepts that easily meld into the idea of Swaraj.

Swabhav can be stated as the attributes that distinguish, among living organisms, one being from another and, among the non-living, one entity from another. Like in the case of the story of the mouse that was given a human form by a Rishi only for it to yearn to be given back its original form, every species has its own unique characteristics that distinguishes it from other species. These unique characteristics endow each species with its own swadharma, or role that it plays in nature. This leads us to the idea that every species is unique and occupy a special place in nature and is therefore irreplaceable. The selective wiping out of certain species, animals and plants both, as a result of human activity, irreversibly damages the autonomies of Earth’s ecosystems.

When applied to non-living entities, swabhav would imply that each entity or class of entities has its own specific characteristics that distinguishes it from other entities. This is like stating that the Earth, the Moon and the Sun all have distinct properties (swabhav) and consequently follow different swadharma. So, if we identify, following the nirgun tradition, the laws governing the creation with God(s) Himself (Themselves), then we can associate with each entity and being its own chetna, or knowledge of its own swadharma (role). This innate knowledge of every being or entity of its own swadharma would then naturally lead it (entity or being) to have its swaraj. This way of looking at the world would help us understand why the Law of Swaraj permeates all beings in creation, including human beings individually and collectively.

Naturally, where the autonomy (swaraj) of one (human) being tends to encroach upon the autonomy of another (human) being is a grey area. Different interpretations of the limits to autonomy (swaraj) that are binding on human beings and their communities in their mutual interactions (human-human, human-community, community-community) being are possible. Some of which may be so distorted and imbalanced as to render one of the above pairs to totally dominate the other (based on gender, caste, religion, race, language, and other differences) as to destroy the autonomy (swaraj) of the latter. Hence, we need to emphasise that the basic rule to ensure Autonomy of autonomies is the principle of non-domination of one autonomous being (community) by another.

We are equal because we are incomparable

Applying the idea of Swabhav to human beings we come to a different conception of equality. Although the genetic composition of human beings are known to be 99.9% the same, yet the differences in the remaining 0.1% leads to large variations in features like colour of hair, eyes, skin and facial features. This and the additional differences in upbringing and cultural backgrounds result in each human being having unique characteristics. That being the case, no two human beings can be compared to judge that one is better or more perfect compared to the other. Thus the basis of equality among human beings is that each one of us is incomparable and unique and all attempts to measure our worth by the application of uniform standards (IQ, for example) will fail.



Swaraj: A Law of Nature

Girish Sahasrabudhe (15/08/2023)

[The following note is aimed at what may be taken to be a plausible attitude to approach imagination of Swaraj.]

In this note let us distinguish between a law of nature and a natural law.

Natural law is a law as it is understood in its strict sense in physics, a law such as, say, Maxwell’s law of electromagnetism. Or a law understood in a derived sense in science in general. By derived we mean an actual, or an assumed, or sometimes even a hoped-for, strictly mathematical derivation from other (more fundamental) laws with some added principles of theory derivation, like the Occam’s razor. The spirit of the phrase ‘an assumed, or at times even hoped-for’ is that of ‘must be derivable’. For example, natural laws of thermodynamics, chemistry, life sciences, genetics, and complex systems in general etc. This is not to in any way to suggest that practice of science is in any way obssessed just with discovery of laws. No one can deny that with the expansion of the scientific enterprise, a whole ambit of outcomes, other than just the observation tables themselves, has been brought under the head ‘scientific discoveries’. However, the epistemological aim remains the discovery of a natural law in the above sense.Now, let us take laws of nature to comprise of natural laws and moral laws.

This suggests a shift in the meaning of the term law, possibly in many senses. The following may be one of them:

A natural law in physics may never be violated. If some law is found to be violated, then another (non-violable) law is (to be) discovered to replace it. The term violation here means two things: one, that no natural phenomena violate the law; and two, that no act (experiment) premised on a violation is guaranteed to succeed, and that every act (experiment) premised on non-violation is guaranteed to succeed.

The new meaning of law implied above may not demand that. Instead, it might demand that a violation of a law will inevitably accompany a disturbance in the lok, and a sustained violation will inevitably lead to a disturbance, which may be so great as to threaten to destroy its internal balance and sustenance, and conceivably its very existence as a whole. This may be conceived as disruption of cycles, or of autonomous processes which maintain the balance.

A moral law will satisfy this demand. Modern Indian thinkers like Vivekanand, Aurobindo and particularly Gandhi talked of a ‘moral law’ in a presumably similar sense. For Gandhi human morality and civilization were inconceivable without a moral law. Such a demand also seems to be in consonance with Indian schools of philosophy, and the chetana of bahujan (lokavidya) samaj (and possibly of all the traditional societies and indigenous peoples). The veracity of perception of (actual, or possibly impending) imbalance, or threat rests in this chetana.

Also, natural laws are still admitted as laws, either trivially (vacuously, because they are never violated), or non-trivially such as in statistical mechanical explanation of thermodynamics and in probabilistic theories of complex phenomena (because the instances which may lead to violation of the derived law are few and far between).  Now, any organized large scale sustained application of science (natural laws), say, on the part of the State, or industrial establishments, may cause a great imbalance threatening sustenance of the life of the Earth.[1] Although details of perceptions and interpretations might differ, this presumably is the widely admitted view in cases of environmental degradation, large scale forced migrations and impoverishment of bahujan samaj.  Let us view this as the sustained violation of a moral law. This reduces any presumed epistemological primacy of natural laws or denies it altogether. The reversed situation – where unbriddled application of moral laws leads to violation of a natural law – does not arise.

In this new sense, Swaraj is a law of nature. In particular, it is a moral law. Just as a natural law primarily concerns, ad so is biased toward a description of the ‘non-living’ universe, a moral law primarily addresses the ‘living’ universe. Moreover, as in chetana of the bahujan samaj, ‘living’ universe may actually signify the entire universe.

How do we conceive of Swaraj from a standpoint of autonomy?

Autonomy as ontology

I think of autonomy as a characteristic of all life (the living universe). It is the physiological basis as well as the conscious inspiration for all creative actions of human beings. It expresses itself fully in creative social actions. It makes sense to claim that autonomy constitutes an important ontological category. Truly autonomous creative social actions of an individual respect this ontology and are non-violative of autonomy of others. It is in and of such actions that living knowledge is born. A conceivable aspect of that knowledge is a sort of self-consciousness of possibility of continuity and sustenance of one’s own creative action in an environment reflecting diverse but similar actions.

Swaraj as autonomy of autonomies

The concept of ‘autonomy of autonomies’ was suggested[2] in studies related to (political) autonomy in the Indian context (of Kashmir) in an attempt “to question the presentation of “bordered state sovereignties” as “fulfillment of a historical destiny” etc. Knowledge in the context refers only ‘knowledge of autonomy’, and autonomy question is mostly seen to have a political resolution. Some of the ideas put forth to elaborate the concept resonate, with those limitations, with our programs like Gyan Panchayat, Lokavidya Pratishtha Abhiyan, Knowledge Satyagrah and Knowledge Dialogue, and with notions such as multiple identities, multiple knowledge traditions, opposition to hegemony of any knowledge system, necessity of both epistemological as well as ontological questioning, non-domination as principle of governance. These are ideas central to Swaraj, as we want to see it. We may regard the notion of ‘Autonomy of autonomies’ as an imagination in which the autonomies co-exist in harmony, or as that harmonious co-existence itself. We understand these autonomies as knowledgeable laghu-samaj’s (the term used in our SGP note) and interactions between them as a knowledge dialogue.

An imagination was created by Alan Weisman[3] in the book “World without Us’, for a scenario where humans suddenly disappear from the Earth.  The book charts out a detailed outline of what might happen to human creations (homes, cities, farms, …) and nature, and over what kind of time scales. It is a picture of uncontrolled autonomous progress with a huge variety of interactions involving animal spacies, forests, and climatic elements. The final picture may be regarded as a natural order, order of interconnected eco-systems, an autonomy of autonomies – the swaraj of nature, without humans.

We need an imagination of Swaraj with individual – samaj, samaj – samaj and samaj – nature relations and interactions, apart from those within nature. Apart from thinking of all these as autonomous entities, this calls for understanding human – nature interactions in the same manner and on the same footing as human-human interactions. It may be that this is akin to thinking of Swaraj as a moral order of nature.

[1] This is not an instance of laying the blame actually resting with A (use of force, money power, corrupt practices, disregard of norms laid down, and so on), onto B’s head. Whatever else happens, it does not deter from the fact that there is a large-scale sustained application of science (natural laws) and the fact that the consequences are as they are.  Much of this is under contrived conditions, which would not occur naturally, say, as in processes demanding high temperature / pressure differences, or as in use of chemical fertilizers with NPK concentrations not available naturally, etc.

[2] Sanjay Chaturvedi: The Ethno and the Geo: A New Look into the Issue of Kashmir’s Autonomy, pp.139-72, in R. Samaddar (ed), The Politics of Autonomy: Indian Experience (2005)

[3] Alan Weisman: “World without Us” (2007)



Swaraj as a Law of Nature

G Sivaramakrishnan (15/08/2023)

    1. As human beings, we live in a double order reality. What is, what exists, or a factual order and what ought to be, should be, a normative order. This is unique to human society, not found among other social animals.
    2. Swaraj is an idea, ideal and belongs to the realm of normative order. To conflate it with factual order of things would be problematic.
    3. To say that forests, rivers and hills have Swaraj may be permitted as a metaphor and perhaps useful too in explicating things. How valid or correct are they literally?  They are anthropomorphism at best and romanticism at worst.
    4. Let us ask in what context the idea of Swaraj in Indian politics arose. There was an alien British rule for over a century before Tilak and Gandhi used the term Swaraj. There were ‘alien’ rulers earlier too perhaps and we seem to have not used the expression Swaraj. Perhaps the British rule can be perceived as truly alien as it imposed a whole set of norms totally alien to us.  The establishment of courts to try criminal and civil cases on a jurisprudence that was totally alien to Indian culture was truly unprecedented. In fact, Gandhi and others considered this alien normative order being and our ‘acceptance’ of the same without much resistance as signalling  total enslavement. Perhaps the earlier ‘alien’ rulers did not attempt or succeed in replacing our judicial systems or practices.
    5. We seem to be using Swaraj, autonomy and community interchangeably. Our love for ‘community’, it seems, is in inverse proportion to its almost total disappearance worldwide. That Gesellschaft has replaced Gemeinschaft was observed by sociologists like Tonnies at least a century ago. Our own experience in India seems to be no different, especially since independence. Even as we sometimes celebrate the continuance of khaps and jatis , we must remember that they are fast losing their functions and relevance.
    6. I see a lot of ‘voluntarism’ in our explanations. Invoking the Sant parampara and tyaga, bhaichara all indicate this. Even as we cannot give up our emphasis on the primacy of human Will in social change, we must be aware that there are systems and structures that have been created in by us in our interactions as individuals and groups that have acquired coercive power over us and have become forces that are no longer under our control. These ‘social facts’, as they are described by Durkheim , exist ‘independent’ of our will but have coercive power over us. So explanations of these social facts have to be in terms other social facts. Voluntaristic explanations tend to reduce eminently social, structural phenomena to individual will and volition and therefore become reductionist.



Summary of 08 Aug 2023 discussions

Girish Sahasrbudhe (14/08/2023)

I have tried to collect for everyone what I understood from all the points made by anyone, irrespective of which point was made when. Some of them are obviously made in response to what someone else said.


Gandhi’s note makes a novel point: Swaraj is a law of nature. Gandhi should elaborate further on this, write more on it. Just as Schumacher talks of “Small”, or physics of laws … you cannot violate the law … it is unviable to do so … nothing is viable without Swaraj. Just as Marx talks of laws of society as on par with those of nature. This position on Swaraj is an ontological position … not a question of knowledge. It is a compelling position, which requires all of us to come in afresh as the apparatus we already have may not be able to deal with it. Krish’s position on conflict resolution that the communities in conflict have always been able to resolve them, they must be heard, and external interventions only perpetuate the problem is coming in at the same thing from another angle. Girish may come in from the angle of autonomy. Writing from GSR and Chitraji will add more ways of looking at the position. Suresh should join in too. We should all attempt to write around the idea that Swaraj is a law of Nature. It will be desirable if Avinash can join in this discussion with his paper.


Swaraj is applicable to every phenomenon, not just human society. I understand Rajendra Singh’s position (Jal-Swaraj) to imply this. We need water … when we try to fulfil the need, we must realize that there is a Swaraj in water resources, which we cannot violate. This is even more obvious in the case of forests. So, I would say that Swaraj is a law of nature. Traditional societies knew this … capitalist society is governed by the thinking that everything is for human consumption. The universe can be imagined as many Swaraj-governed ecosystems existing in mutual harmony. We should discuss two other questions too. The question of how we regard time is important, I think. The concept of cyclic time is held by most traditional societies. Even modern cosmology has a place for it. We need to counter the modern view of human societies as a linear progression … ending in a kind of pralaya. Another important concept we should address is that of Swadharma … everything has it and only when it is unhindered do we have balance and lack of disruption.


Religions have regarded creation as being for one eco-system – that of human society – in Gandhi’s terms. Sant Parampara has always said: Respect all the ecosystems and their autonomy. Solutions suggested of conflicts and problems have all been in the Abrahamic tradition and lead back to the same problems and conflicts. Recently read a book by Carlo Rovelli speaking of epistemological and ontological problems mentioned by Nagarjuna in his Mūlamadhyamakakārikā … I find something there that is very similar to what is being said just now. Also, we should not get stuck with the terminology … ours may not be of common parlance … even words we use like lokavidyā may have usable synonyms in languages spoken by communities … it is important also because we need to bring in more and newer people into the conversation. We should have Avinash too joining in for this discussion with his paper.


This is a discussion which should be taken further. Several questions come to mind. In sociological conception of human societies, we talk of nature and culture … from that standpoint Swaraj as a law of nature is a problematic position. But that calls for discussion and I will try to put down my thoughts on that.


I think Gandhi is speaking of Swaraj in nature in the sense of autonomy … that everything in nature is autonomous. The mention of “autonomy of autonomies” in the write-up he sent seems to imply that the relation between samaj and water bodies, or forests is of the same genre as that between two samajs. The notion of naturalness may not itself be new … it has been claimed about freedom, free competition, survival of the fittest etc. by thinkers in capitalist countries. The need is to focus on Swaraj …

There was discussion also on how to go ahead concretely. Everybody agreed to write around the general idea of “Swaraj as a law of Nature”, providing a sort of point of inquiry, not as something necessarily acceptable, or rejectable, at this time, but something not said earlier probably by us, or probably by anybody and something, which may require more than the apparatus we command just now.  The discussion around the write-ups is planned over the next 4-5 weeks beginning with Krish’s, or Girish’s notes, or Gandhi’s starting next Tuesday, 15 August 2023.



Swarajya – Autonomous Evolution of Communities

B Krishnarajulu (13/08/2023)

  1. Every individual has an identity that is a COMMUNITARIAN identity,that is, every person identifies himself / herself as a member of a community (social group) that, most often, is localized geographically.
  2. Each Community evolves autonomously and continuously. This evolution is influenced by changes in living and working environment, by consensual acceptance of newer social and working relationships; often influenced by ‘imparted vision’ (of local Sants) of better relationships that would ensure sustenance and continuity of the Community as it evolves.
  3. Each Community bases it’s living and productive activities on it’s Lokavidya, which is neither static nor preordained, but which itself evolves and enriches continuously with the Community, often with inputs from the Knowledge systems of other Communities.
The Concept of Swarajya

Swarajya essentially maps this autonomous evolution of Communities.

Among the many facets of this evolution and factors that influence this evolution, we shall examine the ‘role’ of the Sant Pamampara through a few well-known and venerated examples.

Principally, the Sants were the ‘Great Helmsmen’ who , through their teachings, put forth a vision, for the evolution and sustenance of the (geographically) localized Communities and their Lokavidya, incorporating a worldview and it’s dharma.

As a Community evolved, changes took place in it’s productive activities and in the relations of production among the various constituent, Lokavidya-based, sub-communities (such as jatis, upajatis etc). These often led to contentions and conflicts, especially in the swadharma of individuals and sub-communities; which threatened the sustenance and stability of the Community. At such junctures, oftentimes, the Sants put forth a vision of the manner in which the evolution ought to proceed , mitigating the emergent conflicts and providing a newer path and, at times, newer identity for the sustenance and stability of the Community.

We shall briefly look at the teachings of Thiruvalluvar , Basaweshwara and Guru Gobind Singh, with particular reference to their teachings on Swadharma and resolution of conflicts between different jatis and upajatis.

Note that these Sants were separated in space and time and their teachings were relevant for the (geographically) local regions and communities; though the principles underlying their teachings had (in the broadest sense) universal appeal and relevance.

All of them emphasized the importance and need to adhere to certain  cardinal principles in Swadharma, such as, to follow one’s duty (karma yoga) inasmuch as socially productive work/activity was concerned. (Kayaka in Basaweshwara’s teachings,  Dharm Dee Kirat Karnee in Guru Gobind Singh’s teachings) and to share the surplus  for the benefit of the community (Porul  (wealth) regulated by Aram (dharma) in Thiruvalluvar’s, Dasoha in Basaweshwara’s and Dasvand Denaa in Guru Gobind Singh’s teachings). The accumulation of ‘wealth/surplus’, while performing one’s socially productive work activity, to increase one’s privileges and/or position in the community was never part of Swadharma. All such work/activity was to be seen as mutually equal and  important and there was no inherent hierarchy in (Lokavidya-based) work/activity.

We notice at once that these principles bear a great similarity with one another, though espoused for separated regions and during separated eras, indicating the inherent autonomy of evolution and the commonality of vision; which probably formed the basis for the concept of Vasudaiva kutumbakam.

Another very important aspect, of these teachings, relates to inter-jati hierarchies and conflicts thereof and their resolution.

Both Basaweshwara and Guru Gobind Singh sought to provide a ‘new’ identity for those who wished to participate in affirmative action against (caste) jati-based hierarchies and the corresponding work-related hierarchies, through their  proposal for Veerashaiva (Basaweshwara) and Khalsa (Guru Gobind Singh) identities.

These proposals met with very positive response from the communities to which they were addressed and we see that the Khalsa Panth survives to uphold the tennets of Guru Gobind Singh even today.


The role an importance of the Sant Parampara in guiding the evolution of the local communities is an important aspect of Swarajya.



Swaraj in the Anthropocene Age

Krishna Gandhi (08/08/2023)

It is generally agreed that we are now living in the Anthropocene Age. This geological age is characterised by the large-scale destruction of nature and environment by human activities. Global warming and environmental pollution are endangering biodiversity and human life itself. The equilibria and balances inherent in nature are being so irrevocably undermined that earth’s biological destruction has become irreversible. A prime case is that of the health of rivers, a concern especially relevant to India. The central government has been spending thousands of crores for many decades to clean up Ganga and Yamuna. But the results have been very disappointing. The courts have opined that rivers can be likened to living beings with inalienable rights that may not be taken away by humans exploiting their resources limitlessly.

Here we shall try to see how the concept of Swaraj can help us understand the problem of human-nature relationships and find the way to their solution. A point of departure for this discussion was provided by Waterman Rajendra Singh who recently said that the problem of rivers may be understood through the concept of Jal Swaraj. He was speaking at an event organised to take stock of the recent flooding of the river Yamuna in Delhi. What he meant perhaps was that natural water bodies like Rivers and Lakes have their own inherent attributes and processes, which when divested of them by human actions, result in their losing their essential characteristics. For example, a river can be considered as a water body that has a minimum and continuous ecological flow. When, through the construction of dams and other activities like dumping industrial and human waste, this ecological and minimum flow is disrupted, the river no longer remains a river in the true sense. That is to say, for the river to retain its natural characteristics (i.e., for it to remain a river), it must be granted its autonomy or Swaraj so that it may discharge its functions uninterrupted. Similarly, a natural Lake must be granted Swaraj to function like a Lake. In that sense Jal Swaraj makes a case for water bodies to be granted Swaraj so that they remain true to their natural behaviour.

This idea of Jal Swaraj can be extended to cover all natural phenomena. Beginning with Jal, we may discuss Jungle Swaraj and then Jameen Swaraj. Jungle Swaraj would mean letting the Forests grow unhindered by human activities. Jameen Swaraj would mean letting land retain and enrich its natural fertility based on humus and bio-organisms by not allowing it to become barren with the application of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Going for no-till organic agriculture would help. We might extend this idea of Swaraj to cover Oceans, Mountains, the Arctic and Antarctic snow masses, with each having its own Swaraj.

Two related points may be mentioned here. One is the problem of defining clearly the boundary line where the Swaraj of natural bodies (or nature itself) ends, and the Swaraj of human societies begins. Because it is impossible to conceive of a situation where human needs (but not greed!) can be met without some degree of exploitation of nature. The question is what is the critical limit beyond which a natural body loses its Swaraj and is destroyed permanently? The IPCC has estimated that global warming beyond 1.5 deg. Celsius (compared to pre-industrial times) will irreversibly damage Earth and make it inhospitable for humans. Similar benchmarks for other natural bodies need to be worked out to ensure that their Swaraj remains unaffected by human activities.

A related question is – how do we ensure that human interventions in natural bodies are restricted to less than the critical point so that their Swaraj is not destroyed? So far, the modern capitalist societies and governments have shown little inclination to limit nature’s exploitation to certain mutually agreed limits, below which Earth can continue to support human life and biodiversity. Since capitalism flourishes through unbridled consumption, expecting it to curb consumption would be like asking it to commit suicide. We are forced to conclude that so long as the current capitalism engendered mad rush to consume is not put an end to, we cannot expect the Swaraj of human societies and the Swaraj of nature to co-exist. The ever-widening universe of Autonomy of Autonomies that will include both human societies and nature itself, must be established for that to happen. Capitalism is a hindrance to that process.



Some Foundational Ideas

Sunil Sahasrabudhey (07/08/2023)

  1. Exploration of the knowledge basis for a new political imagination, which is emancipatory for all – living and non-living. Lokavidya constitutes the point of departure.
  2. Swaraj is an idea and practice of the Indian sub-continent, which facilitates autonomy and organization at all levels from the individual to the world through social formations (गाँव, समुदाय, समाज), the nation (राष्ट्र), the larger society (बृहत् समाज) and nature (प्रकृति, निसर्ग).
  3. A gyan panchayat is an egalitarian, participatory, collective, deliberative, dialogical process to stabilize ideas in the world of knowledge.
  4. Processes that provide the immediate context for Swaraj Gyan Panchayat need to be identified. Some examples are Farmers’ Movement, Youth Movement, Environmental Campaigns, Movement of Jal-Jangal-Zameen and Food Sovereignty.
  5. Cluster of ideas that tend to shape the ideological orientation of SGP may be listed as लोकविद्या, बौद्धिक सत्याग्रह, ज्ञान पंचायत, स्वायत्त समाज, स्वराज चेतना, कला दृष्टि, सन्त दर्शन.



Pramāṇatva of Perception: Coherence of Dignāga’s Conception …

Avinash Jha (23/07/2023)

Discussion on this paper was through the note:The Discourse of Pramāṇas

presented by Avinash Jha on 26 Sep 2023.



कला, स्वायत्त समाज और सन्त परम्परा

गिरीश सहस्रबुद्धे (27/06/2023)

हर कलाकृति मनुष्य की सर्जनशीलता का दृष्टांत है. और सृजन मनुष्य की स्वायत्तता की अभिव्यक्ति. सजीव सृष्टि का प्रत्येक घटक स्वायत्त है. मनुष्य की स्वायत्तता एक तरफ उसकी सृजनात्मक क्रियाओं तथा कल्पना जगत में मुखरती है, और दूसरी तरफ उसकी मौलिक सामाजिकता में. किसी भी समाज में मानवीय सृजन की विविधता ही मानवीय जीवन की विविधता और उसके ज्ञान-जगत को गढ़ती है. मौलिक दृष्टि में इस विविधता में कोई अंदरूनी ऊँच-नीच नहीं. इसमे निहित सभी क्रियाएं स्वायत्त सृजन-क्रियाएं हैं, तथा उनके बौद्धिक बनाम भौतिक, कला बनाम तांत्रिकी, व्यक्तिगत बनाम सामाजिक, आर्थिक बनाम सांस्कृतिक इत्यादि पक्ष एक दूसरे में घुले-मिले हुए होते हैं. इन सभी क्रियाओं के मेल से अपनी समूची आतंरिक विविधता सहित समाज सतत पुनर्निर्मित होता रहता है.

लेकिन यह सब तभी तक अर्थपूर्ण है जब तक व्यक्ति और समाज की स्वायत्तता कायम है. वर्त्तमान समाज के बारे में यह नहीं कहा जा सकता. स्वायत्त समाज तो उसके अंतर्गत ऐसे छोटे स्वायत्त समाजों और स्वायत्त व्यक्तियों का समाज है जो आपसी सहकार तथा भाईचारे के रिश्तों में बंधे होने के साथ एक-दूसरे की स्वायत्तता संजोने की भावना से प्रेरित होते हैं. उलटे आज का समाज तो दो ऐसे खेमों में बंटा हुआ है जिनमे शोषित-शोषक का रिश्ता है. एक बहुत बड़ा खेमा बहुजन समाज का है. दूसरा छोटा खेमा उन वर्गों का है जो परजीवी हैं, और जो देश में अंग्रेजी दबदबा कायम होने के बाद अस्तित्व में आये. आज स्वतंत्रता के उपरांत पचहत्तर साल गुजर गये, लेकिन देश पर इन्हीं परजीवी वर्गों का अमल छाया हुआ है. इसके चलते सारे समाज की आतंरिक क्रियाएं प्रभावहीन हुई सी जान पड़ती हैं. सारी कसौटियां परकीय हैं; सब कुछ मानो बाहर से चलाया जा रहा है. बहुजन समाज के अपने विस्तृत ज्ञान का दखल अपने आप के बचाव भर का रह गया है; समाज के पुनर्निर्माण में उसकी भूमिका बलात् नकार दी गयी है.

आश्चर्य नहीं जो कलाकार के कला-ज्ञान के साथ भी ऐसा ही कुछ हुआ हो. ललित कला और लोककला के बीच अलगाव कि स्थिति है. माना यह जाता है कि ललित कला व्यक्तिपरक भावनाओं का आविष्कार है, जब कि लोककला  सामूहिक भावनाओं का. ललित कला का दर्शक, श्रोता, वाचक और अभिभावक अभिजात वर्ग है. कलाकार अपनी भावनाओं की सत्यता मनवाने के लिए उसी वर्ग के मूल्यों को प्रतिष्ठित कर ही सार्वजनिक मान्यता पाने में सफल हो सकता है. चूँकि ये मूल्य भी आज कॉर्पोरेटों के अमल में चलती डिजिटल-मीडिया के सर्वव्यापी माध्यम से थोपे जा रहे हैं, स्थिति और भी अधिक निराशाजनक है. इसके विपरीत लोककला की प्रस्तुति में कलाकार और दर्शक-अभिभावक के बीच कोई मौलिक दूरी नहीं होती, बल्कि दोनों ही पक्षों के साझा अनुभवों का दर्शन होता है. लोककला अपने आप में किसी बाहरी मान्यता की प्राप्ति के पीछे नहीं भटकती बल्कि सामान्य जीवन का हिस्सा बनी रहती है. लेकिन सामान्य जीवन तो आप ही शापित है!

इस प्रकार व्यक्तिगत प्रतिभा से भरपूर ललित कलाकार हो, या सामूहिक प्रस्तुति के माध्यम से अपनी प्रतिभा उजागर करता लोक-कलाकार, दोनों ही समाज के सतत पुनर्निर्माण में अपनी भागीदारी और भूमिका अदा कर पाने से वंचित हैं, तथा कला मात्र मनोरंजन और उपभोगवाद की तीमारदारी का जरिया बना दी गयी है. इस स्थिति से उबरने की प्रक्रिया क्या हो? यह कला समागम इसी खोज में एक पहल है.

कला और कलाकार का तकाज़ा स्वायत्त समाज का है, ऐसे समाज का जिसमे सामान्य जीवन की प्रतिष्ठा है, जिसमे कलाकार सामान्य जीवन का ताना-बाना बुनने में और आपसी मेल-जोल तथा भाईचारे के सम्बन्ध कायम करने में अग्रणी हो सके. आज भी बहुजन समाज के जीवन में ऐसी धाराओं का वजूद है जो स्वायत्त समाज का सार प्रतिबिंबित करती हैं. इनमे संत-परम्परा प्रमुख मानी जायेगी.

उदाहरण के तौर पर महाराष्ट्र की प्रतिभाशाली संत-परम्परा ही लें. पंढरपुर की वारी (यात्रा) इस परम्परा की बड़ी देन है. हर साल यह वारी दो बार की जाती है – कार्तिकी एकादशी और आषाढी एकादशी को. हाल ही में 29 जून को आषाढी एकादशी को यह सम्पन्न हुई. महाराष्ट्र के कोने कोने से ज्ञानेश्वर, तुकाराम, नामदेव, मुक्ताबाई, एकनाथ, गजानन महाराज जैसे संतों के नाम की चालीस से अधिक पालकियां एकादशी के दिन पंढरपुर पहुंचती हैं. टाळ-मृदंग की ध्वनि में भजन-कीर्तन करते ‘वारकरी’ भक्त-जन पंढरपुर तक कई हफ़्तों की पैदल यात्रा करते हैं. सारे रास्ते तरह तरह की लोककलाओं की प्रस्तुति कलाकार करते हैं. मार्ग में भक्तों को साथ जोड़ते जाते हैं. मानो अनेक छोटे स्थानीय समाज मिलकर बृहत् समाज गढ़ रहे हों. राज्य में कई स्थानों पर वितरित और स्वयंस्फूर्त स्वायत्त रूप से चलने वाला यह वारकरी उत्सव सदियों से आपसी मेल-जोल, सह-जीवन, सहकार, भाईचारा, त्याग और सामाजिक समता की महान मिसाल कायम करता चला आया है.

क्या यह उचित नहीं कि समाज के साथ दमदार और जीवंत रिश्ता कायम करने की चाह रखने वाला हर युवा कलाकार स्वस्थ स्वायत्त समाज के पुनर्निर्माण की प्रेरणा संत-परम्परा से हासिल करे?



संत, समाज और कलाकार

कृष्ण गाँधी (24/06/2023)

भारतीय परंपरा में संत ज्ञानी माना गया है। संत का ज्ञान जीविकोपार्जन हेतु प्रयुक्त विद्या से एक अलग दर्जे का है। संत ज्ञान समाज सृजन के मार्ग पर प्रकाश डालता है। समाज को कैसे जोड़ें, सुव्यवस्थित करें, व्यक्ति के समाज और प्रकृति से संबंध कैसे हों, समाज सृजन के आधारभूत मूल्य क्या हों, इन बिंदुओं पर संत ज्ञान केंद्रित रहा है। निरंतर गतिशील समाज में बदलती परिस्थितियों के अनुरूप समाज का नित्य नवीन सृजन कैसे हो, इस पर संत समय समय पर समाज को आगाह करते आये हैं। समाज के बीच रहकर आम लोग जैसा सामान्य जीवन बिताने वाले अनेकों संतों ने पिछली सहस्राब्दि में भारत में जन्म लिया। इनमें बसवण्णा, गुरुनानक, कबीर, रविदास, ज्ञानेश्वर, तुकाराम, श्रीनारायण गुरु आदि ने भारतीय समाज पर अपनी अमिट छाप छोड़ रखी है।

संतों का ज्ञान और उनका संदेश समाज तक पहुंचाने के कार्य में कला की बड़ी भूमिका रही है। कला ही वह माध्यम है जिसके द्वारा संत ज्ञान आम लोग अपने मानस में ग्रहण करते हैं । इसका प्रमुख कारण है कला में मानवीय संवेदनाओं को आंदोलित करने की भावनात्मक क्षमता का होना। नौटंकी, रामलीला, कथा, कव्वाली, भजन, कीर्तन के माध्यम से संतों का ज्ञान कलाकारों ने समाज तक पहुंचाया है। अमीर खुसरो, हरिदास, जैसे कई संतों ने स्वयं कलाकार की भूमिका भी निभाई है। भारतीय सौंदर्यशास्त्र की यह विशेषता है कि कला सृजन की प्रक्रिया ईश्वर/प्रकृति की आराधना के रूप में देखी जाती है। अतः कलाकार को संतत्व के पथ पर बढ़नेवाले एक साधक के रूप में देखने का रिवाज़ हमारे देश मे रहा है।

यहाँ सवाल उठता है कि राजसत्ता का संतों और कलाकारों के साथ क्या रिश्ता होता है और क्या होना चाहिए। राजशाही के जमाने में भारतीय शासकों द्वारा संतों और कलाकारों को संरक्षण दिया जाता था। यह नहीं कि मात्र शासक का गुणगान करनेवाले संतों और कलाकारों को ही सत्ता का संरक्षण प्राप्त था। विभिन्न पंथों के संत व कलाकार शासक के संरक्षण के पात्र थे। इसके साथ यह भी एक अहम बात थी कि संत और कलाकार समाज से जुड़े थे, मात्र सत्ता से नहीं। और समाज में भी यह सामर्थ्य था कि वह संतों और कलाकारों को आश्रय और संरक्षण दे सके। उन संतों और कलाकारों को भी समाज संरक्षण देता था जो नैतिक मूल्यों की खातिर सत्ता से टकराने में नहीं हिचकते थे।

आज की परिस्थितियां सर्वथा भिन्न हैं। राजसत्ता और राजनीति ने सामाजिक जीवन के ताने बाने को अत्यन्त कमज़ोर कर दिया है । जहाँ पहले अनेक रियासतें, छोटे बड़े राज्यों के शासक व कुलीन वर्ग संत व कलाकारों को संरक्षण देते थे, आज भारतीय गणतंत्र में एक पंथ विशेष के और सत्ता का गुणगान करनेवाले संत व कलाकार ही सत्ता की कृपा के पात्र हैं। दूसरी ओर समाज स्वराज व स्वाश्रय की परंपरा से भटक कर दलगत राजनीतिक खेमेबाजी की शिकार हो गया है। छोटे से छोटे स्तर पर भी कोई कला-कार्यक्रम स्थानीय राजनीतिक हस्तियों के हस्तक्षेप के बगैर आयोजित नहीं हो पाता है। सत्ता का डर समाज और कलाकार दोनों में व्याप्त है। सच्चा संत तो सत्ता की परवाह नहीं करता है।

अतः आज आवश्यकता इस बात की है कि स्वराज और स्वाश्रय की अपनी परम्परा को समाज सुदृढ करे। समाज में सत्ता का सीमित ही दखल हो, इसका प्रयास हो। संत और कलाकार समाज के ही अभिन्न अंग हैं, उनके ज्ञान और कला के बगैर स्वराज अधिष्ठित समाज का निर्माण असंभव है, इसका बोध हर व्यक्ति को होना होगा। संत और कलाकारों का संरक्षण भी समाज का ही कर्तव्य है, इसे हमें भूलना नहीं है। संत, कलाकार और समाज इनके बीच के संबंध प्रगाढ़ हों, यह हम सब लोगों का ध्येय होना चाहिए।



Some Random Thoughts on Knowledge …

G Sivaramakrishnan (06/06/2023)

It was to contrast their own culture from the ‘Other ‘ Islamic Ottomans that scholars from Western Europe started using the term the East. But as they began to realise that the Ottomans are only their Near East, other countries/ cultures/ lands that were East to them like the Middle East and the Far East came to be used.

While the Near Eastern Islam was depicted as an evil, a total contrast to Western Christianity, the Far East was not so well understood by the West and remained a mystery for quite sometime, and for that reason perhaps was not viewed with hostility. The Near East was the enemy in every sense while theFar Eastern Indian or Chinese evoked more curiosity than hostility.

It is a moot  question whether the terms West and East have lost their relevance today and North and South may be more appropriate. I believe the terms West and East may still be useful in contrasting cultures ad ways of life.

Take the question of Knowledge. That knowledge is power is perhaps a more Western  construct than Eastern or Indian. A purely instrumental view of knowledge is somewhat alien to us. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge was quite a common and accepted view. Similarly, the alleged Kshatriya – Brahmin axis is perhaps more an attempt to find an equivalent to the king-church axis of the West here than what actually obtained in much of India.

Dharampal used to say that in India the king  always feared the ‘curse’ of the knowledgeable Brahmin just as the Brahmin too feared  the wrath of the king and kept a distance from the king. The notion of a Royal Rishi is perhaps a later construct , may be from the 19th century or so. For, Buddhism which is said to have viewed the Kshatriya as superior to the Brahmin varna  does not seem to have  enjoyed Royal power.

More than the power- knowledge equation, what may contrast the East and the West may be related to an interesting epistemological stand of the Eastern saint- philosophers.   My Marxist friend SN Nagarajan always held that there is an Eastern Marxism of Mao and others which is richer than Western Marxism . He argued that the Eastern philosophers, especially of the Bhakti traditions, believed in the cognitive and libertine role of love and  service. In contrast , the West has always held love as a major hindrance to the pursuit of  Truth. The Bhakti poets and philosophers of India , on the contrary , argued that one will never get at Truth only through  jnana.  In fact, Ramanuja and his followers held that the arrogance of wealth, birth and knowledge would prevent us from seeing Truth.

It is thus possible to hold the view that there is a fundamental epistemological difference between the West and the East on the question of what is true knowledge and the best way to obtain  that knowledge.

Some of the distinctions that are drawn between lower and higher  knowledge and the refusal to look at knowledge without values or morals may all be logically deducible from such an epistemology. What is good economics or what is good science may be answered by both very differently. Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi’s views on right knowledge with right practice is very close to this epistemology.

When I was doing my fieldwork among Ayurvedic doctors in seventies, one doctor answered my question  on how scientific Ayurveda  thus:  “ours is a sastra, which is more than science. Science only tells you what is. We go further and tell you what should be/ ought to be”.  He added that Ayurvedic texts suggest that one may refuse treatment to a patient on certain valid grounds. One of them is rajadroha or sedition!



Imagining YouTube as a repository of Lokvidya

Krishna Gandhi (05/06/2023)

With the spread of smartphones and the internet, except fot those living in very remote areas, the vast majority of India’s population enjoy a regular access to the net today. Of course, there may be the large variations in the scale and scope of its usage. Among all apps, maybe after WhatsApp, it is YouTube that is most used. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Youtube has attained ubiquitous status as a source of do-it-yourself (DIY) knowledge. We see children to grownups to the elderly looking up YouTube to gain practical knowledge of mundane aspects of ordinary life. Therefore, it is pertinent to ask the question: can we imagine YouTube as a repository of Lokavidya?

Let us go through the arguments that support the above proposition:

  • Most of YouTube’s contents are created by ordinary people, and not experts, scientists nor technologists belonging to Institutions of organised knowledge. Even when they are, the contents are hosted for the benefit of lay people who seek to gain practical knowledge of different subjects. YouTube is not the medium of exchange of knowledge among the experts.
  • The contents are free. Of course, they come interspersed with advertisements promoting products of the.corporate sector. But these are mostly ignored by viewers.
  • There is no hierarchy or organisation of the contents in terms of superior versus inferior knowledge.
  • Women form a significant section of creators and viewers of content. One of the most popular subjects is cooking. Talented women with experience and creativity post many recipes which are widely followed by others. Details of preparation of many Indian dishes starting from a few basic raw ingredients are shared.
  • Women also share and view many posts related to tips on how to keep the house clean, how to block-print fabrics, how to design clothes, how to create beautiful rangoli (kolam in south India) and so on.
  • Men usually post contents on how various electro-mechanical machines and electronic devices work. Assembling such machines/devices from basic components that are readily available, and troubleshooting them is a popular subject. Starting from information regarding where quality and affordable components can be procured to details of how to design circuits, connect the components and troubleshoot are shared.
  • Innovative ideas on masonry work, design and construction of houses using low cost and locally available resources like clay, bricks, and bamboo form another subject.
  • Content related to specific skills or occupations is abundant. Agricultural practices, use of specialised equipment for no-till agriculture, organic farming, hydroponics, aquaponics, horticulture are common. Design of drip irrigation, cold storages, solar pumps, and so on is another popular category.
  • Many channels exist on YouTube that deal with current national and international events and try to educate the public on the hows and whys of those events. Example – Dhruv Rathee. The loss of credibility of mainstream media, both print and electronic, owned by powerful corporate interests has forced the public to search for authentic information direct from the ground through channels on YouTube (Ravish Kumar). Their popularity has gone up exponentially.

We can continue to list numerous other subjects on which content is available on YouTube. Most of the content offers knowledge of various aspects of ordinary life and are posted by ordinary people. Their primary motivation is not making money; rather, it is sharing knowledge. Certainly, some of them ask for subscriptions to cover the costs of content production.

  • All the above positive features of the YouTubet support the idea of YouTube as a repository of Lokavidya . However, the following negative aspects deter us from doing so.
  • The YouTube platform is owned by Google corporation of the USA. This goes against the Lokavidya norm of knowledge being owned by the very community/samaj/people whose members use it in their daily lives. In this case, a for-profit corporate entity not answerable to the people controls who can watch and which content can be watched on its platform. Various algorithms are used to control and restrict access to content so that pro-corporate content finds pride of place. Ideally the YouTube platform should be operated in the interest of the people of the world, by an international not-for-profit body like the one that controls the Internet.
  • The YouTube platform is manipulated to market the products of corporate entities. Much of the content promotes the use of branded corporate products in creating DIY items. For example, many recipes for cake would require the use of some or other branded product like Oreo biscuit, Cadbury chocolate and so on. When it comes to agricultural practices, use of branded pesticides and herbicides manufactured by companies like Syngenta or Bayer are promoted. In short, the YouTube platform is being used to directly and indirectly market the products of corporate entities.
  • The control governments seek to impose on the contents of YouTube and other social media is another negative factor that is assuming increasing importance. Most worrisome is the government’s move to arrogate to itself the power to declare which contents are truth and which are fake. In fact, a separate govt body is being instituted that will have the power to examine social media contents including those of YouTube and ban those which are declared fake by it. This brings to mind the horrors of the Orwellian state and its Ministry of Truth.
  • Even before this latest move, the govt was already demanding that social media platforms take down content criticising it. Among all governments of the world, it is Indian government that is credited with demanding the maximum number of takedowns of social mesia contents.

In the ultimate analysis, Lokavidya  resides in the samaj whose members depend on it for their daily living. The collective control over Lokavidya  should ideally be exercised only by the samaj. Corporate or government control over social media platforms and their content is the biggest negative factor that deters us from imagining YouTube as a repository of Lokavidya . Unless this issue of corporate/government control over knowledge and its dissemination is resolved, imagining YouTube as a repository of Lokavidya will be highly problematic.



लोकविद्या कला समागम इंदौर

कृष्ण गाँधी, गिरीश सहस्रबुद्धे (23/05/2023)

आज भारतीय समाज एक चिंताजनक दौर से गुजर रहा है। समाज की स्वायत्तता, स्वयंस्फूर्तता, गतिशीलता लगभग खत्म हो गयी है। समाज और उसकी गतिविधियों पर सत्ता और सरकार हावी हो गये हैं। हालांकि इसकी शुरुआत अंग्रेज़ी हुकूमत के समय हो चुकी थी, आज़ादी की लड़ाई में ऐसा लगा था कि सत्ता और सरकार के आधिपत्य से समाज कुछ हद तक मुक्त हो सकेगा। सत्ता समाज में लौट सकेगी। समाज की स्वयंस्फूर्त गतिशीलता जागेगी। समाज स्वायत्तता की दिशा में आगे बढेगा। लेकिन ऐसा हुआ नहीं। सत्ता और सरकार का अमल समाज पर आज़ादी के बाद भी बना रहा। स्वराज आधारित समाज का सपना धूमिल हुआ।

खासकर विगत कुछ वर्षों से यह प्रक्रिया और भी तेज हो गयी है। समाज कई टुकड़ों में बंट रहा है। सत्ता की होड़ और सत्ता केंद्रीकरण के चलते राजनीति विघटनकारी हो गयी है। हिंसा और नफरत का वातावरण सबको अपनी गिरफ्त में ले रहा है। आम लोगों में निराशा का वातावरण छा गया है। ऐसे समय समाज को बिखरने से रोककर, उसमें वैचारिक और भावनात्मक एकजुटता स्थापित करना हम सब का धर्म है। न्याय और समता का अमल कायम हो इस मंशा से नए समाज के बारे में सोचना हमारा दायित्व है। इसमें कला की अहम भूमिका है।

लोकविद्या संपन्न बहुजन समाज (किसान-कारीगर-महिलाएं-आदिवासी-छोटे व्यापारी व उद्यमी) के बीच वैचारिक व भावनात्मक स्तरों पर भाईचारा स्थापित करने में संतोंने अहम भूमिका निभाई है। संत वचनों को बहुजन के बीच फैलाने और बनाए रखने में लोक-कलाकारों का योगदान निर्णायक रहा है। न केवल लोक-कलाकार, बल्कि कवि, साहित्यकार और शास्त्रीय कला साधकों की सामाजिक चेतना का प्रेरणा-स्रोत भी संत-परम्परा ही है।

1 – 2 जुलाई 2023 का कला-समागम निम्नलिखित उद्देश्यों के साथ प्रस्तावित है:

  1. मालवा-निमाड़ अंचल की संत-परम्पराओं से जुड़े ज्ञानी, कलाकार और कलाप्रेमियों को एक मंच पर लाना।
  2. इंदौर शहर और आसपास के युवा कला साधकों को एक मंच प्रदान करना।
  3. सामाजिक विघटन, नफरत, हिंसा से मुक्ति व आपसी भाईचारे की स्थापना कैसे हो? समाज की लुप्तप्राय स्वयंस्फूर्तता, गतिशीलता, स्वयंचालिता और स्वायत्तता लौटाने का कलामार्ग क्या हो? सत्ता को समाज पर हावी होने से कैसे रोकें? संत-परम्परा से प्रेरणा लेते हुए इन सवालों के हल में कलाकारों और कलाप्रेमियों की दखल क्या हो, इस पर विचार करना। इसपर अमल हेतु एक दीर्घकालीन कार्यक्रम तय करना।
  4. ज्ञान-क्षेत्र में लोकविद्या के लिए बराबरी का दावा तथा स्वराज, स्व-शासन, स्वयंचालन, समाज में वितरित सत्ता जैसी अवधारणाओं और सम्भावनाओं को दर्शाती कला-कृतियाँ प्रस्तुत करना।


English version: pdf


लोकविद्या कला समागम: विचार, आयोजन और प्रारूप

संजीव कीर्तने (09/05/2023)

लोकविद्या कला केंद्र की गतिविधियों के संदर्भ में विचाराधीन बिंदु

(१) वर्ष २०२२ तक की बात।

(२) वर्ष २०२३ और आगे ।

(३) लोकविद्या कला समागम का आयोजन।

(४) प्रबंधन से संबन्धित बातें।

(५) अन्य सुझावों पर बातें।

लोकविद्या समन्वय समूह इन्दौर

लोकविद्या कला समागम

1- २ जुलाई 2023  (शनिवार-रविवार, इंदौर)        प्रस्तावना

  • लोकविद्या कला केंद्र विगत दो वर्षों से लोकविद्या दर्शन पर आधारित कला रचनाओं के सृजन के लिए प्रयत्नशील है ।
  • स्थानीय कलाकारों एवं कला प्रेमियों के साथ मिलकर नृत्य कला , चित्रकला,संगीत कथा- कविता, नाटक-फिल्मांकन जैसी कला विधाओं में कुछ नई रचनाओं को शहर के सभागारों में प्रदर्शित किया गया है।
  • कला केंद्र पर प्रत्येक अमावस के दिन ज्ञान-पंचायत बैठाई जाती है और लोकविद्या दर्शन पर आधारित कला रचनाओं को सब के विचारार्थ रखा जाता है।
  • कलाकार ठान लें तो लोकविद्या दर्शन को वृहत समाज के लिए खोल सकता है और युवाओं को नया- सोचे- नया करें की प्रेरणा दे सकता है।

इसी विश्वास के साथ अगले कदम के रूप में ही दो दिवसीय लोक विद्या कला समागम का आयोजन प्रस्तावित है।


  • कला समागम के आयोजन में स्थानीय कलाकारों,कला प्रेमियों और कला समूहों -संस्थाओं की भागीदारी सुनिश्चित करना है।
  • कलाकार को लोकविद्या दर्शन को केंद्र में रखकर नई रचनाओं के सृजन करने की स्पष्ट चुनौती है इसलिए कलाकार खुले दिलो दिमाग से इस दर्शन के गुण दोषों को लोगों के बीच खोल कर रख देवें ।
  • लोगों के बीच पहुंचाने का इल्म ही तो कलाकार के पास होता है।सही गलत का फैसला तो लोगों पर छोड़ दिया जाए।

आखिर लोकहित की तराजू पर तोलने का ही यह एक प्रयास है। (४)आप अपनी कला के साथ तैयारी बैठकों में सहर्ष आमंत्रित है  ।

पहली तैयारी बैठक दिनांक 28 अप्रैल 20२३शुक्रवार शाम 6:00 स्थान लोक विद्याकला केंद्र

लोकविद्या समन्वय समूह इंदौर 1924 डी सुदामा नगर इंदौर ।

संपर्क दाजी 6263 686 195

After 25Apr2023Meeting:

लोकविद्या कला समागम

लोकधर्म के रास्ते खोलता कलाकार्य

आयोजक: लोक विद्या समन्वय समूह इंदौर;

प्रस्तावित प्रारूप –

  1. पहला सत्र – नया सोचें – नया करें  (कलाकारों की तरकश के तीर) सुबह १० से दोपहर १ बजे तक। इसमें लोकविद्या के दावे को खोलती नई कला-  रचनाओं का सृजन और प्रस्तुतीकरण होगा।। इसमें आठ कला विधाओं को शामिल किया है।
  2. भोजन – दोपहर १ से ३
  3. दूसरा सत्र – समाजों की कला पहचान (सत्संगियों का ज्ञान – पिटारा) लोकहित की संत परंपरा की समझ के आधार पर ज्ञान की गैर बराबरी को पाटने के रास्ते खोलता सत्संगी मार्ग। दोपहर ३से ६
  4. तीसरा सत्र – स्वराज ज्ञान पंचायत (कला सृजन का अखाड़ा) शाम ७ से रात १०

कुछ सुझाव –

  1. स्थानीय समाजों और स्थानीय कलाकारों को लेकर ऐसे आयोजन करना एक निरंतर चलने वाली प्रक्रिया है।
  2. लोकविद्या कला केंद्र इन्दौर पर माह मई और जून में रिहर्सल्स होती रहें और जुलाई में आयोजन सभागार में होगा।
  3. बारिश का मौसम होने से आयोजन के दिन यदि ज्यादा बारिश होती है तो आयोजन धुल जाएगा।
  4. हम ये कर सकते हैं कि तैयारी पूरी जोर-शोर से करें और इस पूरे समय के दौरान लोगों को तैयार करते रहें।

आगे के लिए यह एक मजबूत ढांचा बनाने की दृष्टि से भी एक आवश्यक प्रक्रिया है।

विद्या आश्रम सारनाथ बनारस। स्थान लोकविद्या कला केंद्र इंदौर 1924 डी सुदामा नगर इंदौर । दिनांक प्रत्येक अमावस के दिन। समय: सुबह 10:00 से दोपहर 4:00 बजे ।

लोकविद्या कला केंद्र इन्दौर

आर्थिक व्यवस्था

  • एक कला सहायक १००००/- प्रति माह
  • अन्य खर्च (बैनर, पोस्टर, टाइपिंग, फोटोकॉपी, ट्रान्सपोर्टेशन, ट्रेव्हल, बिजली इत्यादि २००००/-प्रतिमाह)
  • प्रत्येक अमावस के दिन लोकविद्या कला समागम का आयोजन १००००/- प्रतिमाह

कुल खर्च ४००००/-प्रतिमाह

प्रतिवर्ष ४,८०,०००/-

इस राशि को जन सहयोग से ही इकठ्ठा करना है ।

लोकविद्या समन्वय समूह इन्दौर
  • प्रत्येक अमावस के दिन लोक विद्या कला समागम का आयोजन लोकविद्या कला केंद्र सुदामा नगर पर होता रहेगा और इस दौरान युवा कलाकारों से बातचीत होती रहेगी , समाजों के कलाकारों से बातचीत होती रहेगी और जो उद्देश्य तय किए हैं उनकी प्राप्ति की दिशा में हम सतत आगे बढ़ते रहेंगे।
    1. इस नियमित कला गतिविधियों के लिए आवश्यक आर्थिक व्यवस्था का विवरण पहले ही दिया है।
  • प्रत्येक तिमाही के बाद एक बड़े लोकविद्या कला समागम का आयोजन शहर के किसी सभागार में होना है या फिर किसी गांव बस्ती की चौपाल पर होना है । यानी पूरे वर्ष में 4 बड़े आयोजन लोकविद्या कला समागम के होंगे।
    1. इन आयोजनों में इंदौर शहर के अलावा या इंदौर के आसपास के गांवों के अलावा अन्य स्थानों से भी कलाकार आएंगे ।
  • तिमाही लोकविद्या कला समागम के आयोजन का खर्च प्रत्येक तिमाही प्रारंभ होने के समय तय कर लिया जाएगा कि कितना उसमें खर्च आने वाला है और उस खर्च की व्यवस्था कैसे की जाएगी क्योंकि प्रत्येक तिमाही का बड़ा आयोजन अलग-अलग आकार का होगा और इसीलिए उसकी आर्थिक व्यवस्था भी हमें उस आयोजन के संदर्भ में तय करना होगी।

After 09May2023 Meeting:

लोकविद्या कला समागम इंदौर

पहला सत्र: समाज सृजन का कला मार्ग

  • इंदौर स्वच्छता की ओर निरंतर बढ़ चला ।अनेक अलग-अलग किस्म के नए-नए आयाम खुलते जा रहे हैं,उन्हीं में से एक की बात यानी कला, कलाकारों और कला प्रेमियों की बात है।
  • पिछले कुछ वर्षों में इंदौर के सौंदर्यीकरण की योजनाओं के चलते,कलाकारों की बहुत बड़ी भूमिका सामने दिखने लगी है । सड़कों,बगीचों,नदी किनारों और खाली दीवारों पर कलाकारों की कलाकारी दिखने लगी है।बड़ी संख्या में चित्रकारों को काम मिला है और दाम भी मिला है। इस पृष्ठभूमि में एक प्रस्ताव शहर के कलाकारों के विचार हेतु प्रस्तुत है।

नृत्यकला, चित्रकला, लघुकथा,कविता,संगीत, नाटक, फिल्मांकन, सत्संग और स्ट्रीटशो जैसी कलाओं में सक्रिय कलाकार अपने सुझाव दिनांक 31 मई 2023 तक भेज सकते हैं।

  1. शहर के सौंदर्यीकरण की योजनाओं में सभी कलाविधाओं के कलाकारों की बड़े पैमाने पर भागीदारी कैसे संभव होगी?
  2. क्या इंदौर शहर के साथ-साथ छोटे शहर-कस्बे-गांव भी ऐसे स्थान है,जहां पर कलाकारों की बहुत बड़ी संख्या में भागीदारी हो सकती है ?
  3. कलाकार की हैसियत समाज के किसी भी ज्ञानी से कम नहीं होती। कलाकार समाज के सृजन में कलामार्ग से उतना ही बड़ा योगदान दे सकता है जितना कोई बहुत बड़ा पढ़ा-लिखा इंजीनियर, प्रोफेसर या डॉक्टर देता है।तो फिर कलाकार की आमदनी भी तो उतनी होना चाहिए? यह कैसे संभव होगा?

तीनों मुद्दों पर आपके विचार आमंत्रित हैं।माह जुलाई 2023 इंदौर में हम एक सभागार में आयोजन करने जा रहे हैं जिसमें सभी के सुझावों को शामिल करते हुए समाज सृजन के कलामार्ग को बनाने का प्रयास करेंगे ।

पहले सत्र का तैयारी पत्र बनाने में आपके सुझावों का स्वागत है।

दूसरा सत्र: समाजों की कला पहचान

सत्संगियों का ज्ञान पिटारा
  • छोटी-छोटी बस्तियों,गांवों,कस्बों में बसने वाले छोटे-छोटे समाजों के सत्संगीयों के पास ज्ञान का पिटारा होता है ।इस खजाने में सदियों से सहेजा संतों का ज्ञान होता है ।
  • सत्संगीयों में इनके अपने समाज की कला पहचान भी झलकती है ।
  • जीवन मृत्यु के चक्र को सत्संगी समझते हैं। समाज को न्याय, त्याग, भाईचारा जैसे नैतिक मूल्यों से भर देने की बातें सत्संग में करते हैं।संत लोग सत्ता को कैसे देखते हैं ? समाज को तोड़ने वाली प्रवृत्ति को कैसे खत्म कर सकते हैं। ऐसी गूढ कठिन बातों को भी सत्संगी करते हैं।
  • मालवा निमाड़ अंचल के सत्संगी बीघा-दोबीघा जमीन पर खेती किसानी करते हैं। अलग-अलग किस्म के कारीगर हैं।भील आदिवासी और नाना प्रकार की जाति बिरादरी के लोग हैं।सब मेहनती,हुनरमंद और ज्ञानी होते हैं।इनकी कला की समझ देखते बनती है।अनेक वाद्यों को बजाना,माईक बगैर बुलंद आवाज में रातभर सत्संग करना, समाज के व्यवहारों को निभाना और घर परिवार में रहते सत्संग करते रहना,इनके ज्ञान का हिस्सा है।

लोकविद्या सत्संग के इस दूसरे सत्र में हम देखेंगे कि कला के मार्फत समाज सृजन में सत्संगी कैसे लगे रहते हैं। सत्संगियों के साथ तीन प्रस्तावों पर विचार-विमर्श भी होगा।

  1. इंदौर शहर और अन्य स्थानों पर स्वच्छता अभियानों के चलते, समाजों के सत्संगीयों की बड़े पैमाने पर भागीदारी कैसे संभव है?
  2. समाजों का ज्ञान, विश्वविद्यालय के ज्ञान से अलग होता है।उनकी इस लोकविद्या के बल पर जीवनयापन करने वाले सत्संगीयों की कला और ज्ञान को बढ़ाने,फैलानी और मजबूत करने के कौन से कारगर उपाय हैं?
  3. लोकविद्या कला समागम के आयोजन मालवा -निमाड अंचल में करने हेतु सत्संगी समूह बनाना।

तीसरा सत्र: कला सृजन का अखाड़ा, कलाकारों की तरकश के ती

  • छोटी-छोटी बस्तियों,गांवों, कस्बों में बसनेवाले छोटे-छोटे समाजों के लोगों की कला की समझ अदभूत होती है ।
  • लोकविद्या समन्वय समूह इंदौर के साथी पिछले लगभग बारह वर्षों से किसानों, कारीगरों, आदिवासियों,छोटे-छोटे दुकानदारों और इन सबके परिवारों की स्त्रियों के बीच ज्ञान पंचायतें बैठाते रहे हैं।इस दौरान, इस लोक की लोकविद्या और विश्वविद्यालय की विद्या के बीच कैसा टकराव है यह भी समझने के मौके मिलते रहे हैं। लोक की लोकविद्या पर अपना जीवन निर्वाह करने वाले गरीब हैं, ईमानदार हैं,मेहनती हैं, हुनरमंद हैं, ज्ञानी है, देश दुनिया की समझ रखते हैं। अपनी बस्ती और गांव छोड़कर देश और दुनिया भर के देशों में जाते हैं और अपनी भाषा, पहरावा, जाति- बिरादरी-समाज की पहचान वहां भी बनाए रखते हैं।
  • करोड़ों ऐसे लोकविद्याधर समाज के लोगों के ज्ञान-दर्शन का सीधा टकराव विश्वविद्यालय के संगठित ज्ञान पद्धति से है जिसके चलते इन्हें विश्वविद्यालय की तुलना में ना तो मान है, ना सम्मान है और ना ही मूल्य मिलता है।
  • लोकविद्या दर्शन की समझ कला मार्ग से भी संभव है क्योंकि भारत के छोटे-छोटे समाजों के पास कलाओं का भंडार होता है। समाज सृजन का कला मार्ग बनाने की पहल युवा कलाकारों ने नया सोचें-नया करें के मंत्र के साथ की है।पिछले दो वर्षों में कुछ नई रचनाओं का इसी संदर्भ में निर्माण भी हुआ है ।

इस भूमिका के साथ तीन प्रस्तावों पर विचार होना है।

  1. लोकविद्या कला समागम के आयोजन, प्रत्येक माह की अमावस के दिन अलग-अलग स्थानों पर करना। इन समागमों में विभिन्न कलाओं के स्थानीय कलाकारों द्वारा बनाई गई रचनाओं को प्रदर्शित करना।
  2. ज्ञान-पंचायतों के माध्यम से रचना के नए विषय खोलना। कलाकार और कलाप्रेमी मिलकर एक ऐसे ढांचे को बना सकते हैं जिसके चलते कला निर्माण के लिए आवश्यक संसाधन आसानी से उपलब्ध हो सके।
  3. शहर और गांव दोनों स्थानों पर समाज के नवनिर्माण की योजनाओं में कला जगत की पहल और दखल बराबरी की भागीदारी के साथ कैसे संभव होगी इसके रास्ते बनाना।

तीसरे सत्र की तैयारी के लिए आपके सुझावों का स्वागत है।

दाजी (६२६३६८६१९५)

लोकविद्या कला केंद्र इंदौर

१९२४डी सुदामा नगर इंदौर


Draft Invitation of Indore Lokavidya Kala Samagam: pdf


For 04 April 2023 Meeting

Girish Sahasrabudhe (04/04/2023)

Discussion in the last three of our weekly meetings has led us to the conclusion that we should launch Swaraj Gyan Panchayat as a major initiative of VA and LJA. The SGP aims to start a new political dialogue as described in Sunil’s Note around issues listed in the second Note, both of 31Mar2023 and open for further discussion.

There was some initial and incomplete discussion in the Meeting on 28Mar2023 on how to go about doing this. The feeling was that we need to work out two things:

  1. How to concretely propagate the need and the idea of SGP, and
  2. How concretely to open and conduct the dialogue addressing the different issues identified for this.

The following is an elaboration mostly of what came up in the last meeting.

  1. Propagate the Need and the Idea of SGP

Apart from finalizing Sunil’s note and sharing it widely via media available to us we need to prepare several short videos of 5 to 10 minutes each. These videos may be parts of one series on our youtube channel. The video titles may appropriately bring out the focus in each on different aspects (need, significance, idea, issues, conduct of the dialogue – program, etc) of SGP. We need to come out with scripts to create all these videos. In the next stage we may have some of these videos in the form of a short dialogue (say, 15-20 min) between someone from VA and another activist / thinker from some other organization, which may be convinced of the need for SGP type of dialogue, possibly on different grounds.

Most of the work for this will be done at Varanasi, with suggestions / responses from others.

  1. Concretely constructing the dialogue

We need to discuss and possibly modify / add to the list of broad issues / subjects for the SGP contained in the second Note and name broad categories within SGP. We also need to form an idea about which issues in the list we should and can pick up to start with. Everyone may then be expected to take initiative in following up one, or more from this shortened list.

We then need one or two notes – like, say, a 100 – 150-word summary of Gandhi’s recent piece on secularism and swaraj – on each of the issues / subjects chosen initially. These notes need to be discussed and given final shape as these will go as basic lokavidya-based / LJA / VA thinking on the subject.

The (longer) write-up, which a note summarises can be put out on the website / fb group etc. The note accompanies the video of lecture / dialogue announcement etc. We can aim at online dialogue on a subject with one, or two of us and another one, or two from activist backgrounds in the appropriate movements. An example could be a discussion / dialogue on some issue related to social justice with activists / leading figures in farmers movement, or jal-jangal-jamin movement. We may expect participation from movement people only after some groundwork on launching SGP is successfully done.

Along with these tasks we need to think about how to present all the resulting material on media. Website redesign with a new theme will soon be under way. SGP page may be designed for frequent updates and appropriately designed links to all the generated material. The videos may be prepared by Harishchandra in Varanasi and via Zoom from here as well as Bengaluru, Mysuru, Kolkata and Hyderabad. They are best stored on our youtube channel rather than on website server. For this, videos will need to be converted to youtube format.

Also, this may be a good time to start multilingual content at least in translated summary form and also produce some videos and original content authored in different languages.

We can resolve to do much of the above in, say, coming six months. If we can, then we should be in a position to think of organizing SGP physically at a few locations.



स्वराज ज्ञान पंचायत के लिए विषय

चित्रा सहस्रबुद्धे (31/03/2023)

मुख्य विषयों के कुछ बिंदु दिए हुए हैं जिनसे संवाद को दिशा मिलने की उम्मीद है. संवाद का फलक व्यापक हो और साथ ही एक दिशा का भी बोध हो इन दोनों बातों का ध्यान रखते हुए संवाद के विषयों का चयन किया गया है और उनके  अंतर्गत विविध बिन्दुओं का उल्लेख किया है.

  1. किसान आन्दोलन और खाद्य स्वराज
    1. किसान आन्दोलन ने यह कहकर कि ‘’रोटी को तिजोरी में नहीं बंद होने देंगे ’’खाद्य और व्यापार के बीच सम्बन्ध पर एक बड़ा विचार दिया है.
    2. किसान आन्दोलन ने अपने अराजनीतिकता के विचार के जरिये समाज की शक्ति की ओर ध्यान खींचा है और यह राज और बाज़ार से मुकाबला लेने लायक बने, इसका आग्रह प्रस्तुत किया है. यह स्वराज के बारे में सोचने का और कार्य करने का एक बड़ा प्रस्थान बिंदु देता है.
    3. खाद्य स्वराज सभी को पोषक आहार हासिल करने की व्यवस्था है.
    4. खाद्य स्वराज में अनाज का उत्पादन और उपलब्धता बाज़ार के दबावों से मुक्त होने चाहिए.
    5. ऐसी खाद्य नीति को बनाने में किसानों और महिलाओं की भागीदारी सुनिश्चित हो. इन समाजों के ज्ञान के आधार पर ब्लाक स्तर पर खाद्य स्वराज हासिल करने की नीतियों पर पंचायतें हों.
    6. अनाज और दालों का भण्डारण और प्रसंस्करण स्थानीय हो और इसे छोटे और पारिवारिक उद्यमों के मार्फ़त संगठित किया जाये. महिलाओं को इन उद्यमों में वरीयता मिले.
    7. जौ, बाजरा, ज्वार, रागी जैसे अनाजों के उत्पादन को बढ़ावा मिले.
    8. मछली उत्पादन को स्थानीय ज्ञान और ज़रूरतों के मुताबिक संगठित किया जाये.
    9. कृषि उत्पादन उद्योगों को कच्चा माल न होकर, जीवनयापन के सतत संवर्धन का संसाधन बनाना चाहिए.
    10. अनाजों के उत्पादन की किसी भी तकनीकी को किसान समाजों में व्यापक चर्चा और राय के बाद ही लाया जाना चाहिए.
    11. अनाज उत्पादन की खेती और उससे जुड़े उद्यमों में कार्यरत लोगों की आय सरकारी कर्मचारी के जैसी होनी चाहिए.
  2. गरीबी का इलाज लोक आर्थिकी
    1. लोक आर्थिकी का आधार लोकविद्या में होता है. लोकहित, लोकनीति, लोकशक्ति और लोकस्मृति इसके सहयोगी विचार हैं.
    2. लोक आर्थिकी के लिए ज़रूरी है कि बाज़ार स्थानीय हों और उनमें गांवों और बस्तियों का बड़ा दखल हो.
    3. स्थानीय बाजारों को सुदृढ़ और स्थानीय उद्योगों पर आधारित बनाया जाए.
    4. स्थानीय ज्ञान और हुनर को इन बाज़ारों में वरीयता प्राप्त हो.
    5. स्थानीय बाज़ारों में स्थानीय सामानों का हिस्सा 80 फीसदी से कम न हों.
    6. इन बाजारों में सहयोग की भूमिका प्रतिस्पर्धा से ज्यादा हों.
    7. कर नीति और मुद्रा प्रणाली ऐसी हो, जिससे स्थानीय बाज़ारों को गति मिले.
  3. सामाजिक न्याय आन्दोलन और विविध समाजों की ज्ञान परम्परायें
    1. ज्ञान, आय और रोज़गार के आपसी रिश्ते
    2. विविध समाजों के ज्ञान की भागीदारी के रास्ते
    3. स्थानीय स्तर पर विविध समाजों को साथ लेकर भाईचारा ज्ञान पंचायतें बनें .
    4. समाज बनाम जाति के द्वंद्व
  4. जल-जंगल-ज़मीन आन्दोलन और स्थानीय प्रशासन
    1. समाजों/लोगों का विस्थापन नहीं होना चाहिए. विस्थापन का अर्थ है उपनिवेशीकरण.
    2. प्रशासनिक कार्यों में स्थानीय समाजों की प्रकट भूमिका हो.
    3. जल, जंगल और ज़मीनों के व्यवस्थापन और प्रशासन में स्थानीय समाज की ज्ञान पंचायतों की भागीदारी सुनिश्चित हो.
    4. प्रकृति पूंजीवादी उपक्रम का संसाधन नहीं है.
  5. पर्यावरण आंदोलन और स्थानीय ज्ञान/ तकनीकी
    1. जल, वायु, ध्वनि और मिट्टी के प्रदूषण को रोकने के स्थानीय तौर-तरीके
    2. नगर व्यवस्था में पर्यावरण सुरक्षा के आधार और साधन
    3. गाँव और शहर के रिश्तों का संतुलन
    4. स्थानीय तकनीकी और व्यवस्थाओं को बढ़ावा
    5. पर्यावरण और जलवायु की बहस में स्वदेशी दर्शन की भूमिका.
    6. खनन, बिजली उत्पादन और बांध निर्माण के पैमाने और कसौटियां
  6. लोकतंत्र बनाम स्वराज
    1. लोकतंत्र बनाम स्वराज: जीवनमूल्य, तर्क, ज्ञान और सक्रियता (चेतना)
    2. राज की सत्ता और समाज की शक्ति के बीच संतुलन.
    3. पूंजीवादी राजनीति और लोकनीति के ज्ञान आधार
    4. स्वराज परम्परायें
    5. समाज संगठन की विविध परम्पराएँ
    6. असहयोग के समकालीन रूप : बौद्धिक सत्याग्रह
  7. राजनीतिक विमर्श का कला मार्ग
    1. प्रकृति और समाज के प्रति कला का दृष्टिकोण
    2. सृजन के सन्दर्भ में रचना, विश्लेषण, आलोचना का स्थान
    3. शासन प्रशासन में कलाकारों को अधिक स्थान मिलें.
    4. कला दर्शन सार्वभौमिक होता है: शासन, स्वशासन, राजनीति, प्रशासन, शिक्षा, आदि सभी पर कला दृष्टि से एक राय बनती है.
  8. कारपोरेट राज बनाम स्वराज: समाज के दो मॉडल
    1. हवाई अड्डा बनाम खेती: विकास के दो विकल्प
    2. बड़े नगर, बड़े बाँध, बड़े अस्पताल, बड़े बाज़ार, बड़े उद्योग … और उनके विकल्प
    3. विलासपूर्ण और दबदबे की ज़िन्दगी बनाम सामान्य जीवन की प्रतिष्ठा
    4. विशेषज्ञों की विशेष स्थिति बनाम सभी के श्रम और ज्ञान की प्रतिष्ठा.
    5. राष्ट्रवाद बनाम सामाजिक सरोकार
  9. सामाजिकता बनाम व्यक्तिवाद(पूर्ण बनाम खंडीय): दर्शन की दो वृत्तियाँ    
    1. लोकविद्या दर्शन बनाम पूंजीवादी दर्शन
    2. स्वायत्तता बनाम स्वतंत्रता
  10. लोकविद्या बनाम साइंस : ज्ञान की दो धाराएँ
    1. संगठित ज्ञान का राज से और लोकविद्या का स्वराज से रिश्ता.
    2. विविध ज्ञान की धाराओं में भाईचारा हो. यानि सहयोग हो प्रतिस्पर्धा नहीं.
    3. ज्ञान पंचायतों में विविध ज्ञान धाराओं के तर्क, सिद्धांत, मूल्य और पद्धतियों पर चर्चा हो.
    4. समाज की व्यवस्था और सञ्चालन में विविध ज्ञान धारायें शामिल की जाएँ
  11. समाज में ज्ञान और शिक्षा/चिकित्सा की व्यवस्थाओं के बीच गतिशील रिश्ता हो
    1. समाज में ज्ञान और सेवा के बीच रिश्ते की पहचान
    2. शिक्षा नीति और स्वास्थ्य नीति बनाने में लोकविद्या को समुचित स्थान मिलना चाहिए.
    3. शिक्षा और स्वास्थ्य रक्षा के औपचारिक तरीकों के सीमाओं की पहचान
    4. लोकस्वास्थ्य परंपरा और सामान्यतः लोकविद्या की औपचारिक पहचान के रास्ते बनें
  12. लोकस्मृति बनाम इतिहास
    1. सत्य का सामाजिक सृजन बनाम सत्य का निरपेक्ष अन्वेषण
    2. कुल स्मृति, ग्राम स्मृति, समाज स्मृति, का सार्वजनिक दुनिया में महत्त्व. जैसे कला, शासन, चिकित्सा, खेती, वितरण, शिक्षा आदि में.
  13. बौद्धिक सत्याग्रह
    1. लोकविद्या आधारित तर्कों एवं मूल्यों की सामाजिक प्रतिष्ठा का आग्रह
    2. लोकविद्या के कोण से साइंस और राज के गठबंधन पर सवाल
    3. वैकल्पिक राजनीति नहीं बल्कि राजनीति के विकल्प की खोज का मार्ग


English translation: pdf


Some Thoughts on Lokavidya and Contemporary Issues

G Sivaramakrishnan (09/03/2023)

For Lokavidya movement to be relevant, we must start speaking on contemporary issues. Hence this  note.

  1. Let us take an issue on which there seems to be an amazing convergence of Lokavidya perspective and the modern scientific understanding.  The climate/ environmental issues have perhaps brought the tribals and leading climate scientists to some sort of convergence.  We may therefore feel justified that even though there may be difference in the idioms between  lokavidya and climate science, the intuitive or traditional view on environment, climate, etc are now not only ‘justified’ but can be propagated more vigorously. We need to be clear about how far we go with ‘carbon footprint’ and similar approaches. Without calling for a total / radical change in lifestyle or a rejection of what some call ‘machine civilization’, can we make our point on the climate question from a Lokavidya perspective?
  2. In contrast to the above, the question of ‘social justice’ as it is formulated in our public discourse seems to run totally against the Lokavidya perspective which believes (?) that our villages/communities generally ensured greater degree of harmony between castes, groups, etc. That the whole question of social justice has been reduced to ‘reservation’ has to be dealt with from a Lokavidya perspective without being branded as ‘anti-reservationist’ or ‘anti-Dalit’. Perhaps India is the only country where a policy of reservation of this size or magnitude in education and jobs has been implemented with no major opposition. Dharampal used to say that more than the wisdom of members of the Constituent Assembly it is perhaps a certain sense of ‘nyaya’ found in our culture/ tradition that must have ensured the smooth passage of the reservation policy. Perhaps the implementation of the policy in subsequent decades has been perceived as ‘anyaya’  by some sections of our society. Thus over the years  there is some opposition to it  at least in private conversations/ discussions.
  3. There is unanimity across all groups, parties, classes, that the present system of dispensation of ‘justice’ is a perfect example of how justice can not only be delayed  but also denied. Yet it seems  we have great faith in our judiciary, especially the higher judiciary. This is a puzzle. We also know that there is a disconnect between  people’s concept of ‘nyaya’  and the concept of ‘justice’  as understood in western jurisprudence. Mahatma Gandhi was perhaps quick to realise this. But our elite and the middle classes have fallen for the Anglo-American jurisprudence. We need to clearly articulate what might be the Lokavidya perspective of Nyaya, Neeti, etc. and the ways / means to bring back indigenous ways of resolution of disputes and dispensation of ‘justice’. Marc Galanter, the eminent scholar,  has written how the displacement of traditional law by the British system was achieved rather easily and with least resistance. Perhaps the ‘imposition’ of the British system of justice and courts played an even greater role in the enslavement  of India than the imposition of  land tenure  or ‘deindustrialization’.  The belief that one might get better justice from the high court than from the lower courts, especially the village  nyaya panchayats, seems to have been internalized pretty early by all sections of our rural society.  Perhaps nowhere in the world has an alien, dysfunctional system of justice gained  greater acceptance among people  than in India!
  4. How do we understand a certain ‘revival’ of the Hinduism and a politics associated with it?  Was it waiting to happen as is usually said about many things that have overtaken us? Should we explain/ understand it as the successful manipulation by RSS, which was cultivating the soil through years of patient work in most parts of India? It is said that RSS is perhaps  the only organisation that has made contact with about five lakh villages of India. Their ‘victory’ in the North East is the result of at least over fifty years of very ‘‘constructive’ work coupled with the spreading of the message of the dangers of Christian proselytisation. Should we in Lokavidya feel ‘happy’ that western liberal democracy  is after all proving to be unsuited to our culture/ tradition, values  and mores?  If there is an alternative to western liberal democracy, what can it be?  Will it be Swaraj? If no political  party ever wants to speak of Swaraj in  any serious sense, what would be  its prospects in this century. Similarly, how should we view the ‘demise’ of secularism as a discourse? Was it because secularism was an imposition, like many others, by an elite?  What do we have to say about the oft-repeated claim that we in India have always, already been secular?  That in the entire Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi  there is no mention of the word ‘secular’ or ‘ secularism’ should tell us something!
  5. What should be our attitude to developments such as AI and many technological  marvels?  Are they by definition anti people and therefore against Lokavidya?  Or do we hope against hope that they might be ‘liberative’  under favourable conditions? Or as Ashis Nandy often says they are initially liberating  but over time become oppressive?

One can raise many more issues that would need a Lokavidya answer or perspective. We must begin with the above to stay relevant is my belief.




Some Observations on Lokavidya

Krishna Gandhi (07/03/2023)

  1. Knowledge cannot be divorced from the people or Lok. But then Lok is context specific – People living at a particular time and location. So Lokavidya is context specific too.
  2. Similarly, ordinary life cannot be understood without specifying the context in which it is discussed.
  3. Therefore, our discussions will be full of generalisations and without much substance, when we talk about Lokavidya and ordinary life without their contexts. Of course, when counterposed to organised knowledge, Lokavidya in a general sense, has meaning. But it is only when we place Lokavidya in particular contexts can we hope to gain a deeper understanding of it.
  4. Since all knowledge, including Lokavidya, emerges during the search for better and better production processes and activities that sustain and enrich life, we need to relate Lokavidya to those processes and activities. Here, we need to make a distinction between the means or techniques of production and the social relationships wherein those processes take place.
  5. Our discussions on Lokavidya will be more grounded and evidence based if we discuss specific communities and their vocations: such as, Agarias engaged in wrought iron production, weavers of Chanderi, fishermen of Vizhinjam coast, farmers cultivating basmati rice in Uttarakhand and so on. In the case of services, we have the Kalari tradition of Marma Vidya, the medical practices of Santhal tribes and so on.
  6. Associating Lokavidyas with communities can help us explore the relationship between Lokavidya and Swaraj in greater depth.
  7. Within each Lokavidya, various levels of proficiency are attained by its practitioners. Certain standards and norms that define excellence in that Lokavidya evolve among its practitioners. There will exist a range of expertise in any particular Lokavidya. Consequently, there will be master practitioners, or gurus, who are considered authority as far as the art, technique and craft of that Lokavidya is concerned. It will be totally unrealistic to consider Lokavidya as knowledge uniformly distributed among its practitioners. In the Indian context, guidance of a Guru or a master is considered absolutely necessary if someone is to learn a particular Vidya
  8. This issue of master practitioner of a Vidya/Lokavidya, is related to the question of learning processes and institutions within communities. In most pre-capitalist societies, guilds of practitioners of various professions used to regulate the learning processes and institutions. The regulatory activities of such guilds could, for example, include setting up certain standards of proficiency/excellence in a particular Vidya. Thus even in Lokavidya the management and organisation of knowledge occupies an important and essential role, not unlike in the case of organised systems of knowledge. But the defining characteristic of community owned Lokavidya is that its organisation and management evolve through self-regulatory processes within the community. This self regulation is nothing but the expression of the Swaraj of the community.
  9. In the Indian context, not only a learner must be guided by a Guru, but she must also self-learn by doing Sadhana. So Sadhana can be considered as constant and continuing efforts a learner (sadhak) is making to excel in her craft or vocation. In other words Lokavidya is being constantly enriched and innovated upon by the practitioners (sadhaks) of Lokavidya. Hence Lokavidya cannot be conceived of as knowledge that is static. On the contrary, Lokavidya is much more vibrant, live and innovative knowledge of the people as compared to organised knowledge as owned by corporations or universities etc., because organised knowledge is knowledge accumulated within rigid parameters laid down for its practitioners to follow.
  10. The above discussion of production processes and their association with Lokavidya makes it clear that Lokavidya is community owned knowledge without any external imposition of rigid hierarchies of authority and power. Whatever institutionalisation takes place is part of the self-regulatory mechanisms, that is, the expression of Swaraj, of the community and is rudimentary in nature. This institutionalisation is often in the form of guilds of practitioners of Lokavidya, which institutions are not controlled or financed by the state or powers external to the community.
  11. It is when we focus on community’s well-being that the opposing roles Lokavidya and organised knowledge play become manifest. Whereas Lokavidya is knowledge distributed in society with negligible stratification and hierarchy, organised knowledge is patronised by the powerful and remains confined to hierarchical structures. The dominant powers use organised knowledge as a tool to subjugate and exploit communities and control their resources. On the other hand, Lokavidya, owned and practised by the community as a whole, has the well-being of the community as its objective. It therefore becomes an integral part of the community’s Swaraj dynamics.
  12. The idea of individual ownership of property, as opposed to the precapitalist notion of communal or common property, is the hallmark of today’s capitalist society. Competition among producers for maximising profit, as opposed to cooperation for the common good of the community has been termed the “natural” law by the advocates of modern capitalism. This has resulted in ‘capital’, in its role as private property, acquiring a dynamic beyond and outside the control of communities. This capital serves only the greed for profit of private individuals. Even in its expression as a public company,
  13. capital serves only the craving for wealth of a collection of private individuals. This individualisation of wealth has resulted in the death of a communitarian life. Of course, this transformation of human society from collective communitarian existence to an individualised existence is not yet complete, but it is the dominant process human society has been undergoing for more than three hundred years.
  14. This process of individualisation of wealth has given rise to capitalist markets where goods and services are commoditised. The old fair and complementary nature of exchanges of goods and services within communities and between communities has now been replaced by a form of exchange whose chief function is now the concentration of wealth and power in a few hands.
  15. Organised knowledge is the weapon used by the powerful to achieve concentration of wealth and power. It has been claimed that knowledge increases when shared. But this claim no longer applies to organised knowledge, which itself has now taken on the character of capital/wealth. Knowledge that was the shared commons of human society has now been transformed into private property. So organised knowledge has become confined to structures of power that are far removed from the Lok and their ordinary lives.
  16. But while organised knowledge and the institutions that harbour it are far removed from the Lok and their ordinary lives, the practitioners of organised knowledge like academics and scientists are in general not fully isolated from ordinary life as a result of their daily interactions with ordinary people. That is, even scientists take recourse to Lokavidya when they deal with situations where their specialist knowledge cannot be applied. In that sense, practitioners of organised knowledge can be said to share Lokvidya with the communities they are part of, even if it is limited.
  17. Thus, while there may be an unbridgeable chasm between organised knowledge and Lokavidya, no such unbridgeable chasm exists between the practitioners of Lokavidya and organised knowledge. This creates an opportunity for the practitioners of Lokavidya and organised knowledge to communicate meaningfully with each other. That is, it would be unrealistic to think that the practitioners of Lokavidya (ordinary people) and the practitioners of organised knowledge (academics and scientists) are people belonging to mutually exclusive categories, with nothing common between the two.
  18. This has implications to the future programs of Lokavidya Jan Andolan. We must create communication channels and dialogues between Lokavidyadhars/ordinary people and scientists/academics/students of university and other institutions of higher learning. Face to face interactions between these two streams of practitioners must get priority under our dialogues on knowledge in society program.
  19. The central idea behind Lokavidya Jan Andolan is that knowledge should serve the people. This will be possible only when iknowledge is shared among all without discrimination and private individuals/entities are denied ownership rights over knowledge. Our programs must move in this direction.



My Journey Through Lokavidya

G Sivaramakrishnan (27/02/2023)

When I first heard about Lokavidya sometime in the late nineties and at the third Congress on TST held at Varanasi, it was like a whiff of fresh air. We were used to the ‘wretched of the earth’, ‘oppressed’, ‘downtrodden’ and the weak and the meek as expressions to describe ordinary people of India. To think that the weak and the meek are not all that weak and that the wretched of the earth are as knowledgeable as the university educated was so satisfying to a sagging morale.   I was also happy because the indigenous / traditional knowledge we were championing in PPST had put us on a somewhat defensive wicket and left us struggling to take the argument to a higher level. Lokavidya also appeared to help us overcome the binary of the west versus the indigenous in which we were caught for quite some time.

But soon doubts began to appear around the very concept of Lokavidya and lokavidya samaj. Is Lokavidya same as common sense? Is there a necessary hostility between Lokavidya and organised knowledge? Is organised knowledge always inimical to the interests of ordinary people? Are ‘organised knowledge’ and ‘systematic knowledge’ different or same. Can knowledge grow without systematisation? Is systematisation of knowledge similar to concentration of wealth or power? Isn’t it true that knowledge is the only resource that does not diminish when shared or distributed. Why must we always think of knowledge as power. Perhaps knowledge and power were kept somewhat separated in our tradition, while the west had always(?) understood the power of knowledge and knowledge as power.

Even as many questions were troubling me, I felt Lokavidya did ensure we are with the very ordinary ‘uneducated’ people and can help them, with our arguments, realise their own strength as knowledge beings.

More than any other consideration I was quite happy that we have been able to identify the main contradiction of knowledge society as the management of information/ knowledge and its control. The meetings that I attended at Vidyashram reinforced my initial enthusiasm about being on the right track. It is therefore with a lot of zeal that I went to Indore with Krish and Suresh to meet with the lokavidyadhars that Sanjeevji was working with.

We addressed several meetings of the practitioners of Lokavidya at Indore. As I was unable to speak in their language, only Krish and Suresh spoke at these meetings, with Sanjeevji making substantial contribution. At every meeting we began by telling them that each one of them is a ‘jnani’ and is in no way inferior to the university educated,’ pada likha admi,’etc. My impression is that some of them must have felt a little embarrassed at our statements. It also struck me as rather patronising . In fact, I told Suresh that it looks patronising and that we might better avoid over emphasising it! True, there was no reaction from the audience to our calling them jnanis. Perhaps some of them felt happy that persons from Bangalore, the IT capital of India, consider them knowledgeable.

The publication of ‘Lokavidya Perspectives’ was in many ways very useful in providing answers to some of my questions. It was perhaps the clearest statement of our perspective. As I was engaged in teaching a course at NLSIU, Bangalore, I introduced some of our arguments in the courses that I was teaching. Later, I taught a full course almost entirely based on material from our book. It was received well by students, if one goes by the standards of NLSIU. Some girls had serious problems with Chitraji’s essay on women and Lokavidya. I had asked them to get in touch with Chitraji to get further inputs. I don’t know if anyone did actually write to Chiraji on this matter.

When I began regularly speaking with Suresh on Lokavidya and related matters a few years ago, I began to see more problems at the conceptual level itself. It seemed to me that by not precisely defining Lokavidya and lokavidya samaj we have almost been saying that all that ordinary people possess to navigate in this world is Lokavidya. It therefore becomes nothing more than the common sense with which we deal with the world. If we also maintain that even university educated experts make use of Lokavidya , it can only be common sense. How does this help?

Then there is the question what is the role of Lokavidya in the life of the very people who are its principal carriers? That most of them are not making a living with their Lokavidya is very clear from the decline of the population of artisans, craftsmen, and of service providers like the washermen, barbers etc. There used to be those who would come, some 40 years ago, offering to retrieve objects from our open wells! Today we have no open wells anywhere in Bangalore. Of course,we now have the danger of poor children falling into the abandoned tube wells and the subsequent rescue efforts mounted by the authorities. That most such rescue efforts end in tragedy is a different matter. If most of Lokavidya is becoming useless to people in a fast-changing world and new Lokavidya/ knowledge cannot be created or easily acquired by them because it requires some formal training etc , then they can only survive precariously with their Lokavidya.

We have been arguing that we are opposed to knowledge hierarchy as also hierarchical social order. How can one ignore the well-entrenched hierarchy in our society which perhaps does not allow anything to escape hierarchisation. Our food, clothing, shelter are valued in terms of a hierarchy internalised by our people over centuries.  Our gods are placed in a hierarchy, not only in terms of whether they are ‘local’ or ‘universal’ but also in terms of the offerings made to them. We have ‘vegetarian’ as well as ‘non vegetarian’ gods! My father used to dismiss the ‘Kavadi’ taken to Palani Murugan and other places as ‘inferior’ ways of worship given only to shudras! I am sure no Brahmin has ever taken a vow to carry a kavadi to Palani. In fact, anyone with the name Murugan should tell us that person cannot be a Brahmin!

It is my feeling that there is a clear hierarchy in Lokavidya samaj between mental and physical work as also a fine hierarchy in terms of the material with which one works. For instance, those who work with wood are inferior to those who work with metals, especially gold and silver, iron smith is always inferior to gold smith. The lokavidya samaj is so steeped in caste hierarchy that any suggestion that they are all equal as knowledge beings would be dismissed outright. The moment someone from the lokavidya samaj gets university education, not only do they avoid the traditional work, but their parents themselves tell them to keep off the dirty work with clay or bamboo or hand looms! This is not a criticism of the concept of Lokavidya but only a pointer to the immensity of the task of achieving a non-hierarchical knowledge order in which a university graduate will be no superior to a farmer.

We generally eulogise the lokavidya samaj as an exemplar of interdependence and functional unity. But when we look around, we do not see any camaraderie between various sections of the lokavidya samaj. It appears that the products of our handloom weavers or potters or basket makers or black smiths are almost as a rule never bought or patronised by other sections of Lokavidya samaj. The only patrons of Lokavidya products appear to come from the environmentally conscious urban citizens or the US returned techies!

This brings me to a standard formulation we had in Marxist circles that any revolutionary transformation is possible only when the objective conditions, namely the forces of production and the subjective condition of the conscious preparedness of the proletariat coincide. Whenever an attempt at revolution fails, one of them would be considered as having not ‘matured’ enough! So, the naxalbari movement failed because the objective conditions for revolution were not ripe. Now, it appears to me that in the case of Lokavidya movement neither the ‘objective conditions’ are met nor are the ‘subjective conditions’ fulfilled.

Objectively, the lokavidya space is shrinking alarmingly or is so shrunk that unless we term everything done by ordinary people as Lokavidya, I am afraid we do not have a contest between organised knowledge and lokavidya. We are being told that AI  will soon render millions of jobs redundant and help reduce our population substantially. What was a dream of eugenics a century ago may be realisable in the coming decades. “Organise knowledge or perish” may be the slogan of 21st century. Ayurveda is a clear indication of what is in store for Lokavidya. Ayurveda is sought to be organised in such a way as to be called biomedicine in some centres and has pretty much become a huge profit generating industry. The food industry will soon drive out all our local/ street vendors but retain the local names and flavours. It may already be happening as one can order Biryani online, of any name and flavour, in all our cities.

What is the ‘subjective’ condition of the lokavidya samaj? Any Vidya that fails to help one feed one’s own family / people is bound to be abandoned. It is said we are going to have a huge unemployment crisis and a riot like situation if our youth cannot be ‘skilled’ to prepare them for the new industries that have emerged. Of course, we already have a few million employed as delivery ‘boys’ who keep running around in all our cities. Agniveers is one way to keep our youth calm and quiet. Any hint that our youth should take pride in their own ‘family’ or traditional occupation will be met with angry remarks of reviving ‘manuvad’. The condition of Lokavidya can be best understood by looking at the condition of weavers. They perhaps constituted the largest number, next only to peasant cultivators, in traditional India. The skills of our weavers have not perhaps declined. But their ability to make a living has so declined over the years that they are worse than those who live by manual labour. Our friend Prasanna’s effort at providing a decent living to weavers has been proving so difficult that every now and then SOS messages have to be sent to urban patrons to rescue the Charaka effort. That many traditional skills and occupations would continue to survive is not in doubt because they have found a niche market in metros across India.But they will make hardly a dent to the organised knowledge /production.

So , where does all this lead me and my romantic journey with Lokavidya?

Honestly, I don’t know. My only concern is I must be with our very ordinary people and do what would make a better, dignified life for them. Lokavidya certainly gave them a decent, dignified life decades ago.

I am not sure if it can ensure that today.  Perhaps we may have to find other ways in the coming decades.



Revisiting Lokavidya

Sunil Sahasrabudhey (18/02/2023)

After almost 30 years now, we are engaged in a major and critical revisit of the idea of lokavidya. Most of what is written below is a sort of updated and slightly edited version of what we have been writing for a long time in different contexts and conditions for different tasks at hand. It is hoped that this will provide a relatively reasonable and sufficient text as well as the context for our discussion.

I. The Point of Departure

(from The Idea on our website https://vidyaashram.org)

  1. We believe that a radical intervention in the world of knowledge is a necessary condition for a radical transformation of society.
  2. This belief has deepened since the appearance of the internet (and world wide web) which has brought great flux to the world of knowledge. Virtual networks of knowledge are now the order of the day. Science has lost its place of absolute command and lokavidya (people’s knowledge) is getting new recognition.
  3. At the same time, globalization and corporate reorganization in the Age of Information have shaped new forms of exploitation uprooting the lives of peasants, artisans, adivasis, women and small retailers, all bearers of lokavidya.
  4. In the Knowledge Age equal respect for all streams of knowledge is a pre-condition for shaping a world based on ideals of equality.
  5. Challenges to Western hegemony have spread to the knowledge domain. Taken to its logical conclusion, there will be lokavidya contestations in every department of the university. A people’s knowledge movement that resides in the mass movements of people on the other side of the digital divide, alone can lead to a new philosophy of knowledge required for a radical pro-people transformation of society.

 II. Lokavidya and Ordinary Life

(from The Standpoint on our website)

  1. Unconditional knowledge and unconditional life is lokavidya and ordinary life. Lokavidya is the knowledge with the people which changes with their experience, needs, change of ethical and aesthetic contexts and so on. It incorporates their way of thinking, principles of organisation, mode of abstraction etc. It is made up of a body of information, practices, techniques, expertise and what have you. There is nothing in lokavidya which is not changeable. It grows with ordinary life, gels with it and never dies, because ordinary life never dies. Ordinary life is life without condition. It assumes no science, no technology, no religion, no methods of organisation and communication of knowledge, it assumes nothing. It is not true, austere or moral life, for there is falsehood, extravaganza and immorality in ordinary life. But it has the criteria of truth, morality, justice, wisdom etc. in it.
  2. Lokavidya constitutes the epistemic strength of the people. It is constituted of those traditions of knowledge which refuse to die and produce ever new modes of subsistence, innovation and growth under oppression, marginalisation or distortion by alien intervention. Ironically, they shrink, sometimes beyond recognition, if the bearers of these traditions become expansionist, colonisers and oppressors. This is a kind of socio-epistemic law. So lokavidya is an inexhaustible source of strength of the people. The chief value associated with lokavidya is that of ordinary life. Not austere life, not simple life, just ordinary life. Starting with the twin concepts of lokavidya and ordinary life, we can proceed to develop concepts which would enable us to build emancipatory resistance both in the epistemic realm and the physical realm.
  3. The new ruling classes are emerging and organising themselves with knowledge at the center of theory and practice, knowledge management and social media being the most prized theoretical as well as practical activity. This makes the digital divide a radical knowledge divide, for the other side consists mainly of knowledge in society, lokavidya, which is expected increasingly to assimilate science and religious knowledge into it as it engages itself in struggle across the digital divide.
  4. Lokavidya standpoint does not assume that one or other form of knowledge cannot contribute to development of emancipatory politics, for we think that knowledge cannot essentially be limited. Every concept, piece of information and even method of inference of a type of knowledge may be limited (say by its historical roots, cultural or regional genesis and application or by embodying elements of some specific cosmology etc.), but knowledge per se is not limited in any of its locations. So what is proposed is a dialogue between all locations of knowledge. Lokavidya and ordinary life constitute our normative framework for this dialogue between various streams of knowledge, locations of knowledge. Since lokavidya and ordinary life are not just primary expressions of people’s knowledge and life but also constitute the primary sources of strength of the people, therefore the normative framework of lokavidya and ordinary life radically favours political formations for emancipation of the people from the digital divide.
  5. Lokavidya standpoint is the people’s standpoint in the Age of Information. To say that there exist so many respectable and genuine traditions of knowledge is not to say that some or all of them have answers to people’s problems and a sufficiently wide basis for reconstructing the world differently. To say that lokavidya and ordinary life reinforce, enliven, protect and move each other is not to say that they are complete unto themselves and the ideology they may spin out has recipes for reconstruction of the world. It is only to say that they constitute our starting point, constant reference and also the ultimate criteria. Lokavidya standpoint is the standpoint of truth and justice in the Age of Information. It enables us to fight against falsehood imposed upon the world in the name of a future global and connected world, courtesy Globalization, Knowledge Management and Social Media. It enables our struggles to last out because it enables us to think differently. What is common between Islamic resisters, Gandhians, Marxists and innumerable local traditions and formations in their resistance and campaign against American expansion? It is their commitment to the people and to justice. This commitment is rooted in their respective traditions of thought and knowledge. Lokavidya standpoint is the standpoint of respect to these traditions of knowledge and many more. Peoples’ struggles alone shall transform these traditions into new contemporary versions able to challenge the basis of the present society and hold a promise for a realizable different world.

III. A Summary Statement on Lokavidya

  1. Knowledge in society, with the people, is called lokavidya. It cannot be held or stored in a book, caste, religion, library, university or computer. It is ‘living knowledge’ with the people.
  2. Everybody is knowledgeable in the sense that everybody possesses lokavidya, which is his/her knowledge life-line. Everybody lives with autonomy of decision making based on what he/she learns through lived life (informally as lokavidya and formally in school/college). That is to say that lokavidya is ubiquitous both in space and time.
  3. Those who have not been to college or university are not ignorant people. They go through an elaborate learning process in the family, peer group, village, community and the larger society, in and through their life activity. Markets, governance, work site, cultural phenomena, games, schools and places of knowledge dialogue may be specially mentioned where people learn.
  4. Farmers, artisans, adivasis, service providers, small retailers, artists and generally women acquire their knowledge in society. They earn their livelihood and manage all their affairs by lokavidya, so they may be said to constitute lokavidya samaj.
  5. People’s way of thinking, manner of abstraction, methods of argumentation, social values, thoughts about and methods of organization, relations among themselves and with nature, information they command, skills they possess and their darshan (philosophy), all put together constitute a world of knowledge, which may be called lokavidyaloka.
  6. Lokavidya is fresh every day, for in response to their needs, people incessantly improve upon the given, by their genius and based on their experiences and fresh experimentation.
  7. The source of people’s strength is in lokavidya. It is on the basis of lokavidya that they earn their livelihood, build their relationships with other people and with Nature, distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, confront injustices and build their worldview.
  8. Lokavidya does not separate physical labor from the mind and its activity. From the lokavidya standpoint there is nothing that is done by labor alone and everything is done by coming together of the required labor and knowledge. In other words, in the lokavidya way of thinking, nobody is a mere worker, everybody is knowledgeable.
  9. Talking about society: the social and the economic disparity can be eradicated only when lokavidya fetches economic returns equal to that obtainable by university knowledge and is accorded the same social respect as is given to university knowledge.
  10. Lokavidya Jan Andolan is the knowledge movement of the Lokavidya-samaj. Its objective is to obtain an equal status for lokavidya and lokavidya-samaj in the world of knowledge and society.

IV. Mile Stones

  1. First Meeting in 1995 in Sarva Seva Sangh Hall, Rajghat, Varanasi.
  2. Lokavidya Mahadhiveshan –The 3rd Congress of Traditional Science and Technology of India, 1998, in Gandhian Institute of Studies, Varanasi.
  3. Vidya Ashram Foundation 2005, Sarnath, Varanasi.
  4. Lokavidya Jan Andolan Founding Conference, 2011, Vidya Ashram, Sarnath, Varanasi.

V. Lokavidya Jan Andolan

(Beginning 2011)

  1. Lokavidya Jan Andolan Conferences in Varanasi, Darbhanga, Singrauli, Multai, Indore, Nagpur and Chirala.
  2. Coordination Committee Meetings in Varanasi, Sewagram, Darbhanga, Singruli, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Nagpur, Pune, Multai, Indore.
  3. Multai Resolution
  4. Knowledge Politics –Lokavidya political Discourse
  5. Bauddhik Satyagraha
  6. Bhaichara Vidyalaya
  7. Gyan Panchayat
  8. Darshan Akhada
  9. Farmers’ Movement
  10. Kisan Karigar Panchayat
  11. Lokavidya Satsang
  12. Swaraj Panchayat
  13. Lokaniti Samvad
  14. The Art-path of Social Reconstruction.




Discussion (11-13 Feb 2023)

All (13/02/2023)

Sunil     Girish     Gandhi     Suresh and G Sivaramakrishnan     Krishnarajulu     Chitra

Sunil Sahasrabudhey (12/01/2023):

I recollect that I said in the meeting day before that we should revisit the idea of lokavidya in the present context. The state of present context for this purpose may be understood as the state of social/people’s movements today, in particular those that may have a flavor of ‘transition’. These may be listed as

  1. Farmers’ movement
  2. Climate Justice
  3. Social Justice
  4. Swaraj
  5. Jal, Jangal, Zamin
  6. Lokavidya Jan Andolan

The concept of lokavidya needs to be located in the inter-connections between these. The philosophical and political considerations may both follow and precede this exercise. May be we can start with pairwise discussions. This would mean 15 such discussions.

Should we discuss this approach next Tuesday?

Maybe we should also pay attention to Bharat Jodo Yatra as providing the larger political canvas.


In sequel to our Zoom discussion on Tuesday, 10th Jan., I had suggested by a WhatsApp post on Thursday, 12th Jan. that we locate our lokavidya understanding in the web of contemporary social/peoples movements. Further to that I wish to add that a larger canvas be laid to substantially re-address the idea of lokavidya. Let this canvas be constituted of

  1. Global advances in Science and Technology – Smart connectivity and Artificial Intelligence. Whereas the smart connectivity appears to provide space for lokavidya and its larger claim, AI seems to close this space. It seems there is a (paradigmatic) conflict between smart connectivity and AI. This may provide the space and the opportunity for the claims of lokavidya.
  2. Global politics – Generally bipolar, in popular parlance Conservative (religious) Vs. Progressive (secular) and/or Authoritarian Vs. Democratic. There is apparently a third stream also in many countries. It is generally based on indigenous people’s movements. I wonder whether Farmer’s movement in India opens a third option. May be it can do this if informed by the idea of lokavidya.
  • Social/peoples/political movements – Movement of/for farmers, climate justice, social justice, Hindutva, swaraj, jal-jangal-zameen, lokavidya, rights of mother earth/nature, indigenous peoples,. Lokavidya seems to provide the thread that links these movements.
  1. Lokavidya Darshan as at present. Please see the Standpoint page in our website  vidyaashram.org
  2. Vidya Ashram Activities – They are composed of two streams, one darshan and the other andolan. They may be listed as follows:
    1. Lokavidya Satsang: Twice a week on Ghats of Ganga ji.
    2. Varanasi Gyan Panchayat: A public forum for Knowledge Dialogue, often specifically on events and issues in Varanasi.
    3. Samajon ki Kahani Samajon ki Zubani: Generally interviews of leaders in the samaj (communities).
    4. Sur Sadhna: A broadsheet (4 pages) published (not regular) by Varanasi Gyan Panchayat. The idea derives from an art-view of society.
    5. Samaj Srijan ka Kala-Marg: Investigation and construction in the world of art seeking philosophical (epistemological, logical, ontological and ethical) guidance in general and particularly for lokavidya-movement.
    6. Karigar Nazariya: A broadsheet (4 pages) about artisans and general issues, published intermittently keeping the karigar lokavidya point of view at the center.
    7. Loka-Niti Samvaad: A concrete dialogue on local self-governance at the sites of lokavidya-satsang.
    8. Swaraj Gyan Panchayat: Dialogue centered on
    9. Farmer’s Movement: Participation with focus on Swaraj vs. Corporate Raj and Strength of the Samaj vs. Political Power. Nyay, Tyag and Bhaaichara constitute the frame of values which ought to be in the lead.
    10. Darshan Akhada: A place in Rajghat focused on activities and debate that build a darshan-dialogue between samaj and the social-political leadership. Also focusing on the requirement and reality of fraternal relationship between various philosophical streams and traditions.
    11. Publication: Booklets
    12. Social Media: Presence and participation on Facebook and various WhatsApp groups.

These activities are informed by lokavidya-darshan which is constantly in debate within these activities as well as independent of them. Generally speaking Gyan-darshan, Sant-darshan, Kala-darshan and Swaraj-darshan are the subjects of dialogues which are very broadly conceived as Dialogues on Knowledge in Society. Further, many of these activities are guided by the ideas of Gyan-Panchayat and Bauddhik Satyagraha, which are themselves seen as forms of direct epistemic intervention in the public sphere to move towards a new political imagination.

The activities and dialogues find their expression and representation in the publication from Vidya Ashram and through our presence in the social media.



Girish Sahasrabudhe (16/01/2023):

I think Sunil’s Whatsapp posts of 12Jan2023 and 14Jan2023 provide an appropriate opening for our future online debates. We can discuss this approach to our future debates on Tuesday 17Jan2023.

In this context, I am recalling the suggestions made on 07July2021 to context our debates and the following progress:

The “present” as contained in 1) Farmers’ Movement, India, 2) Centre – State Relations, India, 3) Corona Condition worldwide,  4) Movement of Indigenous Peoples, South and Central America and new developments and 5) Democracy versus Autocracy, Formulated and announced by G7 in June 2021;


The ideas and VA initiatives i)  न्याय, त्याग, भाईचारा ii) autonomy, iii) distribution, iv) lokavidyaa darshan, v) lokavidya knowledge intervention, vi) equal returns for lokavidya work, vii) LJA programs and activities, viii) global fraternity of peoples’ movements, and ix) Shaping new initiatives in the world of knowledge, in particular focussed in the domains of Art, Language, Philosophy, Media and Design. Main strategy would relate to equal and friendly relations between Lokavidya and University Knowledge (in the formulation stage and is yet to be circulated for ideas and response).

It seems to me that our debates following these suggestions did broadly follow these lines. Emphases on the various directions set by them did, of course, vary – may be also substantially. The same may be said of the Hindi book, which contained essentially substance of these debates with a strong focus on farmers’ movement.

New activities (वाराणसी ज्ञान पंचायत, समाजों की कहानी समाजों की जुबानी, समाज सृजन का कला मार्ग, लोकनीति संवाद, स्वराज ज्ञान पंचायत, participation in farmers movement with stress on Swaraj vs Corporate Raj, power in society vs poloitical power and values of न्याय, त्याग, भाईचारा’)  in Varanasi have reshaped as suggested in iv), v) and ix) above. Much more needs to be done with regard to language, lokavidya darshan, philosophy and media. It appears  appropriate to view the fresh proposal as servicing this need in renewed context.

Climate justice is something we have not addressed directly though we have always treated it as a self-evidently natural concern for those – the lokavidya samaj – whose knowledge systems regard nature as part of human societies. We need to directly engage with the climate justice question and movement. There appear to be two aspects to this: Global events and elaboration of Lokavidya position on climate justice. COP26 officially and finally debunked the principle of “strong sustainability”. On the other side, the 21st century global extractivism is being seen as giving rise to “environmentalization of the agrarian question and the agrarianization of the climate justice movement” There is also questioning of the labour theory of value for regarding nature as something “external to society” and its consequent “epistemic failure to understand that capital transforms the man-nature relation qualitatively”. There is the attendant idea of “nature as value”. It seems to me (i) that this kind of theorizing does belong the knowledge dialogue and knowledge politics in which our interest lies, and that (ii) our understanding of lokavidya as ‘knowledge originating in and returning to samaj’ and ‘lokavidya samaj as societies living by lokavidya’  has something directly to say about this.

We have earlier related social justice to prestige of lokavidya vis-à-vis university and organized knowledge. Therefore we have seen “equal return for lokavidya work” as the contemporary programe of social justice. The farmers’ movement has seen demand for prices for agricultural produce as demand of justice for villages. The movement has shown inclination to take farm labour along. Is localism / distributed power / autonomous communities / Swaraj the lokavidya route to social justice?

Some of us have talked earlier too of the recent trends in artificial intelligence and likely consequences. Much of it was in the context of unemployment and income loss. There seem to be at least two aspects to the impact of spread of AI – one, the increasingly larger numbers of livelihood skills devoured by AI systems, and two, far larger potential for social control, violence and destruction through AI systems accessible to very few. We really have no detailed lokavidya view on all this. This is true even as lokavidya view took shape as ICTs provided a criterion / referal of true knowledge that sidelined science. There may be many reasons for this, which will probably show up if we address the question of how lokavidya thought looks at it seen as a knowledge creation paradigm. Whatever may be true of the AI methods – basically mathematics and statistical inferencing – working AI systems cannot be disengaged from massive amounts of data on which they train. So, as Suresh said in his post, what they throw up is not bound by any axiomatic logic as such. But my feeling is that for the same reason AI systems cannot probably be  separated from their place and context at least not in the same sense in which physics can – a essential aspect of western knowledge systems, which Suresh and GSR had talked about. But, even if data is local and contexed, it is still digital. So this may not be important. Still, one cannot deny the reality of creation of software machines – the many local and task-specific apps – that the youth keep creating for the mobile phones.



Krishna Gandhi (04/02/2023):

In his first post Buddhe had suggested the following 6 topics and their interconnections for further exploration.

  1. Farmer’s movement
  2. Climate Justice
  3. Social Justice
  4. Swaraj
  5. Jal, Jangal, Zamin
  6. Lokavidya Jan Andolan


I feel that our explorations must start from first principles. To facilitate this we can imagine any human being as located within a space whose dimensions are –

  1. Human – Nature relationship
  2. Human – Human relationship
  3. Knowledge
  4. Dharma (Moral Order)

We need to explore each of our topics within this framework. Maybe we can have a discussion on this framework itself to begin with, so that our approaches will be mutually consistent. This will be helpful in undertaking collaborative work.

Another starting point could be an exploration of the idea of “Development”. Because the one thing that both the rulers and the ruled today agree upon is the need for “Development”. Political, Social, Cultural, and Economic Development is the apparent goal of everyone who is part of modernity. Only some indigenous tribes in some inaccessible corners of the world seem to be exceptions.

Similarly, “Civilization” is another catchword, that is often bandied about in any discussion on international conflicts. Although within the Social Justice movements in India, too, the civilisational aspects are also brought in – The Ambedkarite “Mool-niwasi” and the Periyarist “Dravidian” narratives are examples. Going beyond the explicit manifestations of “civilisation” like magnificent monuments, technological and artistic achievements, what is civilisation vis a vis human-nature and human-human relationships? In the framework mentioned above what is civilisation with reference to Knowledge and Dharma? This is important because we have stated in the Hindi book, “There is No Civilisation Without Village”. Anthropologists argue that agricultural revolution brought about a huge destruction of biodiversity on earth. Moreover, extraction of surplus from peasants formed the basis for the flowering of “civilisations” (think of the Egyptian pyramids) and in that sense, can we imagine civilisation minus capital accumulation and exploitation?

Yet another approach could be to have discussions on the relevance of Ambedkar, Gandhi, and such public figures to current events and movements. In particular, any discussion on Social Justice movements going on in India today cannot be undertaken without bringing in Ambedkar and to a lesser extent, Jyotiba Phule, Periyar, Sri Narayana Guru etc… who are part of the modern era. Here it must be noted that the Ambedkarite movement has crossed India’s borders and is getting connected to social justice movements in other parts of the world like the US.

I am sending this note in response to our discussions on what next. In addition to what I have written in the note, I want to stress that we must also keep up our efforts to bring in more people into our discussions and communications.

Recently I came across a number of Malayalam Youtube channels where eminent writers and thinkers of non-Hindutava spectrum give talks on specific topics concerning history/society/personalities which are quite informative and illuminating. If we can a channel devoted the topics suggested above, it will be very.wonderful. We may invite knowledgeable persons outside our Lok Vidya group too to give such talks. These talks can be occasionally in the form of a symposium or seminar once every three months, may be, where a number of eminent personalities are invited to talk.

This will be in addition to the Facebook and Vidya Aashram website work.



Suresh and GSRK (06/02/2023):

The task ahead for Lokavidya Group

Looking back to twenty-five years ago, the idea of Lokavidya may be understood to have emerged from a combination of thoughts from three different sources. Whether it indeed came about from a combination of these very ideas is not important; however, whether it can adequately explain the circumstances of its origins is:

  • A preoccupation with some questions: How comes it that, time and again, the farmers’ movements – that appear to be large expressions of protest against the modern state and its anti-people nature – are unable to negotiate with power? And, every time they attempt to, they fail?

Must we understand it only in terms of power relationships, or are there other incommensurable aspects of a civilizational dimension involved in this that contribute to their lack of success? Such as an incomprehension of how profits become more important than Daya or Karuna towards fellow beings, how insensitivity towards people promotes wide destruction of natural resources and degradation of the environment, how complex protocols have made conversation and negotiation between the rulers and the ruled impossible, etc.

In other words, is this a dialogue between people from the 18th century (the farmers) and those who command power in the 20th century? And therefore, destined to fail?

  • How do we explain the continued (apparent) resistance amongst a large fraction of India’s people to various influences of modernity in education, ethics/ morality, lifestyle, belief systems, etc.? Is it capable of being understood as a characteristic of that fraction of society which provides strength to its resistance?
  • Across the dominant centers of power in the world, there is an apparent increase in questioning long established methods and content of Science that seems to be driven by enormous technological changes in the 20th This has changed the meta-language of Science and Technology, enough to accept previously unacceptable methods, results, and bodies of knowledge. Can this provide spaces for indigenous practices, beliefs, sciences and technologies to rebuild lifestyles destroyed by modernity and help the majority reassert itself?

In the intervening years, the group has made attempts to engage with the ordinary people and thinkers to promote self-awareness, perhaps a sense of identity and thereby a sense of unity centered on the idea of Lokavidya.

  • However, in this period, fundamental changes have overtaken the society as a primary consequence of efforts to restructure international trade and commerce in line with the new needs of finance capital that came into existence together with globalization. Obviously, this is not an endogenous development because it is a result of the endless search of capitalist markets for profits, new markets and achievement of greater efficiencies in exploiting the existing. As a consequence, deep inroads have been made into the basic structure of Indian society that had thus far resisted atomization, in two ways:
  • the reduction of inter-dependency in the village through a recasting of the capitalization and value-extraction processes (e.g., no taxes are imposed on agriculture and yet input costs and market sales are levers through which inter-dependency in society is unalterably changed).
  • An opportunistic development of a new class that provides services to a global clientele from within India. This in turn has created hope, opportunity and paths (howsoever self-defeating) for a large section of rural India to become dependent on urban centers for life, livelihood and education. Migration is only part of the story, though.

In this background,

  • Caste is not the system as we understood a mere 50 years ago, in spite of what the dominant discourse leads us to believe.
  • Community is not the community that we knew of, or imagined them to be, decades ago.
  • The village society for those who stay in it is not an integrated whole. We don’t know how they think or what they think. Or how they live.
  • We do not know how around 50 crore Indians who reside in urban centers live, think and work.

The search for profit is a central tendency of capitalism. All that we know of the course of civilization over the last couple of centuries bears out the consequences of this single-minded pursuit of profit. The search for and transformation of resources, efficiency, progress, development, good life or social and philosophical structures all bear the imprint of this tendency in one form or the other. These are emergent outcomes of the tendency, not results of nefarious designs.

There is little that the collective will of people can achieve today so long as it does not translate into collective action. Especially if we do not acknowledge that there are forces that have unleashed changes on a vast scale in society; that traditional knowledge has been perverted beyond recognition; that indigenous knowledge has become a captive of the big corporation; that farmers have become more dependent on market as part of the great transformation of India in the last 75 years; that IT has helped enslave people to a greater extent and not liberate them (remember the great promises for improving farmer incomes by timely dissemination of SMS’es about weather, crops, etc, or Indira’s promise of rural agricultural support through TV, etc.?).

To provide us a semblance of balance in our thoughts, we ought to recognize the effects of the forces of production on all societies, during these centuries. In response to the wave of changes that has enveloped us since, it may be possible to grieve about the changes in our thinking of the world that is brought about by reification, the sense of unhappiness created by alienation of the self from the fruits of man’s own labor, etc. But it is towards commodification that we must turn to understand the changes that have swept us off our feet in this time. From the Tirupati Laddu made by machine to the destruction of the family, from the character of a Sringeri or Siddaganga Mutt and Swamijis to the recruitment into TCS, Wipro and Infosys, the centralization that commands distribution of resources or consumption of labor in whatever way it determines is right, it is commodification that underlies them. It underlies the essence of the modern State as well. The relevance of Gandhi, farmers’ struggles, traditional knowledge, indigenous knowledge, etc. ought to be understood only in the context of how they can help the reduction of its evil. Else, they have no significance other than the inspirational or historical.

What is Lokavidya in today’s parlance? Can it, and if yes, how can it provide strength to the poor to form the basis of cognitive, and therefore in the future, physical resistance to domination, exploitation and dehumanization?

This possibly may form questions that some of our efforts may address in the coming years.



Krishnarajulu (12/02/2023):

Thoughts on the current discussion

I’ll begin with an extract from Suresh-GSRK’s note.

“The search for profit is a central tendency of capitalism. All that we know of the course of civilization over the last couple of centuries bears out the consequences of this single-minded pursuit of profit. The search for and transformation of resources, efficiency, progress, development, good life or social and philosophical structures all bear the imprint of this tendency in one form or the other. These are emergent outcomes of the tendency, not results of nefarious designs.”

We need to take note of the various opinions and ‘solutions’ being put forth across the world, by the establishments (which are firmly grounded in the capitalist market system and who try to adhere, come-what-may, to the Norms/Dictates as set out in the extract above), vis-a-vis

  1. Climate Justice
  2. Social Justice
  3. Swaraj

and formulate (what we may call) a Lokavidya Pespective/Manifesto, which is firmly grounded in an totally different alternate way (a Dharmic way perhaps) of looking at and working toward a solution for these issues. That is, we try to answer the question: what is the Collective WILL (as embodied in this Perspective) of Lokavidya Samaj and how will that translate into collective SOCIAL & POLITICAL ACTION to acheive the goals as outlined in the solutions as per the Perspective?

But firstly, a look at the Lokavidya formulation. When we started looking for an ‘ideological basis’, for meaningful social change, about 45 years ago (MKN collective,1977) we chose to denote the exploited, poor and maginalised people of the country as Bahishkrit Samaj. Thereafter, after about 10 years around 1984, we chose a relatively more ‘positive’ denotation- Swadeshi Samaj. Both these denotations highlight (focus upon) the ‘weaknesses’ of this Samaj; in recognizing that they were continuously at the receiving end of the capitalist system. There followed a period when, recognising that the strength of the Capitalist Market System (CMS) lay in it’s dependence on and adherence to ‘modern’ Science and Technology, we interacted extensively with PPST movement (to understand the strength of the Samaj vis-a-vis ‘traditional’ S&T thought and practices). It was also a period when the Farmers’ movement had taken a great visible shape all over the country and we once again got extensively involved with this movement (to understand the dharmic strength behind their being able to mobilize people at the grass-root level and taking on the CMS, the WTO and multinational seed, fertilizer and insecticide producers/marketeers).

It appears to me, that by the middle of the 90s we became fully aware of the real strength of the Samaj and consciously chose a strength-based denotation- Lokavidya Samaj. Because the real strength (and unity perhaps) of the Samaj lies in Lokavidya. It is also significant that a Global Knowledge Movement(largely representing the interests and will of the exploited peoples of the World) took centre stage around this time. We were able to become a significant part of this Movement through the Knowledge( Lokavidya) formulation of the real strength of such peoples’ movements.

The  Lokavidya formulation is built on the real strength of the exploited, disinherited, poor and marginalized peoples of India. It incorporates the ‘Dharmic Principles’ that is part of the (living) ethos of the people which unites them(real unity in an accepted diversity) in a way that is NOT captured in any(popular) Vedic, Dravidian, Dalit perception of our society. These Principles have all but withered away under the continued onslaught of the domineering Norm/Dictates of the CSM. A reformulation of the Lokavidya Perspective (based on these Principles, which we have tried to build on the concepts of Nyaya,Tyaga and Bhaichara) vis-a-vis the three movements listed above will hopefully show the way forward.

I have repeatedly argued that centralization of Economic and Political control follows from the Norm/Dictates of the CMS (which is based on centralised control of planning, production and  distribution); paraphrased in the extract as ‘ these are emergent outcomes of the tendency, not results of nefarious designs’. There are visible emerging dictatorships in ALL countries-developed,developing and under-developed, who have adopted or are pursuing the prevalent ‘development’ model, albeit the differences in professed ‘ideological’ bases (needed to bolster the dictatorship and garner support for their development model among the most exploited sections of society) such as  religious bigotry, racial hegemony, pseudo-Marxism and the like. There is a growing move to deprive local government bodies any sort of (political or economic) autonomy .Those societies are being driven to social homogenisation too.

The way forward in tackling the issues of Climate Justice , Social Justice and Swaraj is to be found by local people in their local environment (social milieu) based on their re-interpretations of Nyaya, Tyaga and Bhaichara (what I have refered to as the Dharmic context). We have refered to this as Swaraj Chetana. The context for acheiving Climate Justice and Social Justice thus lies in acheiving Swaraj based on Swaraj Chetana ; which will become possible ONLY if the people repose belief in and accept a system based on distributed control of planning, production and distribution.

Our thinking, our interpretations and formulations of peoples’ movements should be recast in this perspective for us to be able to effectively contribute to resolving the problems that beset humankind today.



Chitra Sahasrabudhey (13/02/2023):

विद्या आश्रम के भविष्य के कार्यक्रमों के बारे में मेरे सुझाव

पिछले लगभग 25 वर्षों के लोकविद्या आन्दोलन के विचार और दर्शन की सहायता से बनी समझ और कार्य को नीचे लिखे बिन्दुओं से व्यक्त कर रही हूँ.

समझ के प्रमुख बिंदु:
  • पर-पीड़ा की अनुभूति ज्ञान का अनिवार्य अंग है.
  • सत्य, न्याय, त्याग, सहजीवन, भाईचारा के जीवन-मूल्यों की प्रतिष्ठा से ही मनुष्यता आकार लेती है.
  • स्वायत्त व्यक्ति, स्वायत्त समाज, सहजीवन, वितरित सत्ता और विविध ज्ञान-धाराओं को बराबर की प्रतिष्ठा, मिलकर न्यायपूर्ण और सृजनशील समाज की बुनियाद बनाते हैं.
  • संत परंपरा से प्राप्त प्रकाश व्यक्तिगत आचरण, सामाजिक पहल और समाज संगठन के आदर्श मार्ग उजागर करता है.
सामाजिक पहल के लिए वैचारिक मुद्दे:
  • प्रकृति की लय में जीवन-संगठन के प्रकारों को गढ़ना ज्ञान-मार्ग है.
  • खेती, कारीगरी और कलाकारी में मनुष्यता, संस्कृति और सभ्यता के बुनियादी आधार हैं.
  • ज्ञान और व्यवस्थाओं के सामाजिकरण के लिए कदम उठाना सहजीवन के प्रारंभिक कदम हैं.
  • ‘सबकी पक्की, बराबर और नियमित आय हो’ यह ज्ञान-धाराओं के बीच बराबरी और भाईचारा लाने और सामाजिक न्याय की दिशा में बढ़ने के पहले कदम हैं.
  • ‘छोटे पैमाने’ पर उत्पादन, संग्रह और विनिमय (गति, मात्रा, आकार, संख्या, दूरी, क्षेत्र, ताप, मुद्रा, पूँजी, संगठन और सञ्चालन की इकाइयाँ आदि का लोकहितकारी पैमाना ) यह न्यायपूर्ण समाज के निर्माण और लोकनीति (आर्थिक, सामाजिक और सत्तागत) के ठोस आधार हैं.
  • आज की परिस्थितियों के मायने और सत्ता के चरित्र की समझ को हासिल करने का मार्ग आज के जन-आन्दोलनों के सन्दर्भों में देखा जाना चाहिए.
सामाजिक संवाद के तरीके/मार्ग:
  • बृहत् लोकविद्या-समाज के आन्दोलनों में भागीदारी
  • लोकविद्या सत्संग
  • दर्शन अखाड़ा
  • सोशल मिडिया फेसबुक, व्हाट्सएप समूह पर वार्ता
  • किसान कारीगर पंचायत
रचनात्मक अभियान:
  • स्थानीय उद्योग और स्थानीय बाज़ार
  • लोकविद्या भाईचारा मीडिया विद्यालय
  • स्थानीय प्रशासन : वार्ड ज्ञान पंचायत
  • लोक चिकित्सा प्रणालियों की प्रतिष्ठा
  • समाज सृजन के कला-मार्ग
अभियानों  के लिए मार्ग/तरीकें:
  • बौद्धिक सत्याग्रह
  • ज्ञान पंचायतें
  • लोकविद्या सत्संग
  • प्रकाशन
मेरा सुझाव 

आज की राजनीतिक सत्ताओं के अमानवीय चरित्र से मोर्चा लेने का तरीका सामान्य लोगों और समाजों की अपनी शक्ति को हासिल करने के ज़रिये होना है और इसे हासिल करने के लिए वितरित सत्ता के विचारों पर विमर्श आवश्यक लगता है. अब तक लोकविद्या समूह द्वारा किये गए कार्य हमें इस विषय पर संवाद करने के पर्याप्त आधार देते हैं. राष्ट्रीय और अंतर्राष्ट्रीय स्थितियां भी हमें इस दिशा में पहल लेने की आवश्यकता को दर्शाती हैं.

मेरा सुझाव है कि लोकविद्या आन्दोलन को इस दिशा में कम से कम अगले दो वर्ष का एक कार्यक्रम बनाना चाहिए. कम से कम 12-15 विषय क्षेत्र चुन कर उन पर ज़ूम के मार्फ़त वार्ताओं की श्रृंखला चलाई जानी चाहिए जो साल भर चले. समूह के लोग जहाँ-जहाँ हैं उन स्थानों से तैयारी के साथ लोगों को इस संवाद/विमर्श में शामिल करना चाहिए.


About (future) Programs of Vidya Ashram: pdf


On Whatsapp Lokavidya Group and Email

[11-17 Jan 2023]
Sunil, Girish (07/01/2023)

Sunil     Girish

Sunil (12/01/2023):

I recollect that I said in the meeting day before that we should revisit the idea of lokavidya in the present context. The state of present context for this purpose may be understood as the state of social/people’s movements today, in particular those that may have a flavor of ‘transition’. These may be listed as

  1. Farmers’ movement
  2. Climate Justice
  3. Social Justice
  4. Swaraj
  5. Jal, Jangal, Zamin
  6. Lokavidya Jan Andolan

The concept of lokavidya needs to be located in the inter-connections between these. The philosophical and political considerations may both follow and precede this exercise. Maybe we can start with pairwise discussions. This would mean 15 such discussions.

Should we discuss this approach next Tuesday?

Maybe we should also pay attention to Bharat Jodo Yatra as providing the larger political canvas.

Sunil (14/01/2023):

In sequel to our Zoom discussion on Tuesday, 10th Jan., I had suggested by a WhatsApp post on Thursday, 12th Jan. that we locate our lokavidya understanding in the web of contemporary social/people’s movements. Further to that I wish to add that a larger canvas be laid to substantially re-address the idea of lokavidya. Let this canvas be constituted of

  1. Global advances in Science and Technology – Smart connectivity and Artificial Intelligence. Whereas the smart connectivity appears to provide space for lokavidya and its larger claim, AI seems to close this space. It seems there is a (paradigmatic) conflict between smart connectivity and AI. This may provide the space and the opportunity for the claims of lokavidya.
  2. Global politics – Generally bipolar, in popular parlance Conservative (religious) Vs. Progressive (secular) and/or Authoritarian Vs. Democratic. There is apparently a third stream also in many countries. It is generally based on indigenous people’s movements. I wonder whether Farmer’s movement in India opens a third option. Maybe it can do this if informed by the idea of lokavidya.
  • Social/peoples/political movements – Movement of/for farmers, climate justice, social justice, Hindutva, swaraj, jal-jangal-zameen, lokavidya, rights of mother earth/nature, indigenous peoples, Lokavidya seems to provide the thread that links these movements.
  1. Lokavidya Darshan as at present. Please see the Standpoint page in our website https://vidyaashram.org
  2. Vidya Ashram Activities – They are composed of two streams, one darshan and the other andolan. They may be listed as follows:
    1. Lokavidya Satsang: Twice a week on Ghats of Ganga ji.
    2. Varanasi Gyan Panchayat: A public forum for Knowledge Dialogue, often specifically on events and issues in Varanasi.
    3. Samajon ki Kahani Samajon ki Zubani: Generally, interviews of leaders in the samaj (communities).
    4. Sur Sadhna: A broadsheet (4 pages) published (not regular) by Varanasi Gyan Panchayat. The idea derives from an art-view of society.
    5. Samaj Srijan ka Kala-Marg: Investigation and construction in the world of art seeking philosophical (epistemological, logical, ontological and ethical) guidance in general and particularly for lokavidya-movement.
    6. Karigar Nazariya: A broadsheet (4 pages) about artisans and general issues, published intermittently keeping the karigar lokavidya point of view at the center.
    7. Loka-Niti Samvaad: A concrete dialogue on local self-governance at the sites of lokavidya-satsang.
    8. Swaraj Gyan Panchayat: Dialogue centered on
    9. Farmer’s Movement: Participation with focus on Swaraj vs. Corporate Raj and Strength of the Samaj vs. Political Power. Nyay, Tyag and Bhaaichara constitute the frame of values which ought to be in the lead.
    10. Darshan Akhada: A place in Rajghat focused on activities and debate that build a darshan-dialogue between samaj and the social-political leadership. Also focusing on the requirement and reality of fraternal relationship between various philosophical streams and traditions.
    11. Publication: Booklets
    12. Social Media: Presence and participation on Facebook and various WhatsApp groups.

These activities are informed by lokavidya-darshan which is constantly in debate within these activities as well as independent of them. Generally speaking, Gyan-darshan, Sant-darshan, Kala-darshan and Swaraj-darshan are the subjects of dialogues which are very broadly conceived as Dialogues on Knowledge in Society. Further, many of these activities are guided by the ideas of Gyan-Panchayat and Bauddhik Satyagraha, which are themselves seen as forms of direct epistemic intervention in the public sphere to move towards a new political imagination.

The activities and dialogues find their expression and representation in the publication from Vidya Ashram and through our presence in the social media.


Girish (16/01/2023):

I think Sunil’s Whatsapp posts of 12Jan2023 and 14Jan2023 provide an appropriate opening for our future online debates. We can discuss this approach to our future debates on Tuesday 17Jan2023.

In this context, I am recalling the suggestions made on 07July2021 to context our debates and the following progress:

The “present” as contained in 1) Farmers’ Movement, India, 2) Centre – State Relations, India, 3) Corona Condition worldwide, 4) Movement of Indigenous Peoples, South and Central America and new developments and 5) Democracy versus Autocracy, Formulated and announced by G7 in June 2021;


The ideas and VA initiatives i)  न्याय, त्याग, भाईचारा ii) autonomy, iii) distribution, iv) lokavidyaa darshan, v) lokavidya knowledge intervention, vi) equal returns for lokavidya work, vii) LJA programs and activities, viii) global fraternity of peoples’ movements, and ix) Shaping new initiatives in the world of knowledge, in particular focussed in the domains of Art, Language, Philosophy, Media and Design. Main strategy would relate to equal and friendly relations between Lokavidya and University Knowledge (in the formulation stage and is yet to be circulated for ideas and response).

It seems to me that our debates following these suggestions did broadly follow these lines. Emphases on the various directions set by them did, of course, vary – may be also substantially. The same may be said of the Hindi book, which contained essentially substance of these debates with a strong focus on farmers’ movement.

New activities (वाराणसी ज्ञान पंचायत, समाजों की कहानी समाजों की जुबानी, समाज सृजन का कला मार्ग, लोकनीति संवाद, स्वराज ज्ञान पंचायत, participation in farmers movement with stress on Swaraj vs Corporate Raj, power in society vs poloitical power and values of न्याय, त्याग, भाईचारा’) in Varanasi have reshaped as suggested in iv), v) and ix) above. Much more needs to be done with regard to language, lokavidya darshan, philosophy and media. It appears appropriate to view the fresh proposal as servicing this need in renewed context.

Climate justice is something we have not addressed directly though we have always treated it as a self-evidently natural concern for those – the lokavidya samaj – whose knowledge systems regard nature as part of human societies. We need to directly engage with the climate justice question and movement. There appear to be two aspects to this: Global events and elaboration of Lokavidya position on climate justice. COP26 officially and finally debunked the principle of “strong sustainability”. On the other side, the 21st century global extractivism is being seen as giving rise to “environmentalization of the agrarian question and the agrarianization of the climate justice movement” There is also questioning of the labour theory of value for regarding nature as something “external to society” and its consequent “epistemic failure to understand that capital transforms the man-nature relation qualitatively”. There is the attendant idea of “nature as value”. It seems to me (i) that this kind of theorizing does belong the knowledge dialogue and knowledge politics in which our interest lies, and that (ii) our understanding of lokavidya as ‘knowledge originating in and returning to samaj’ and ‘lokavidya samaj as societies living by lokavidya’ has something directly to say about this.

We have earlier related social justice to prestige of lokavidya vis-à-vis university and organized knowledge. Therefore, we have seen “equal return for lokavidya work” as the contemporary programe of social justice. The farmers’ movement has seen demand for prices for agricultural produce as demand of justice for villages. The movement has shown inclination to take farm labour along. Is localism / distributed power / autonomous communities / Swaraj the lokavidya route to social justice?

Some of us have talked earlier too of the recent trends in artificial intelligence and likely consequences. Much of it was in the context of unemployment and income loss. There seem to be at least two aspects to the impact of spread of AI – one, the increasingly larger numbers of livelihood skills devoured by AI systems, and two, far larger potential for social control, violence and destruction through AI systems accessible to very few. We really have no detailed lokavidya view on all this. This is true even as lokavidya view took shape as ICTs provided a criterion / referal of true knowledge that sidelined science. There may be many reasons for this, which will probably show up if we address the question of how lokavidya thought looks at it seen as a knowledge creation paradigm. Whatever may be true of the AI methods – basically mathematics and statistical inferencing – working AI systems cannot be disengaged from massive amounts of data on which they train. So, as Suresh said in his post, what they throw up is not bound by any axiomatic logic as such. But my feeling is that for the same reason AI systems cannot probably be separated from their place and context at least not in the same sense in which physics can – a essential aspect of western knowledge systems, which Suresh and GSR had talked about. But, even if data is local and contexed, it is still digital. So this may not be important. Still, one cannot deny the reality of creation of software machines – the many local and task-specific apps – that the youth keep creating for the mobile phones.


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