Freedom Between Order and Chaos: Reading a Political Satire From India
Hasyarnava or The Ocean of Mirth, a medieval Sanskrit political satire, delineates two compelling themes that require serious consideration. First, the Indic traditions underline the centrality of order in a polity. This preoccupation is underlined by the supremacy of the Rajadharma-dandaniti framework. A great deal of violence and cruelty inheres within this framework. Second, if the order is the site for violence and force, it follows that a glimpse of freedom, unshackled from the conventional implications of the purusharthas can only be had in upholding the desirability of disorder.

Jyotirmaya Sharma is Professor of Political Science at the University of Hyderabad, India. He is perhaps best known for his body of work examining the contemporary face of Hindutva and Hindu nationalism, the 19th century reinterpretation of Hinduism, and the ideas of Swami Vivekananda as well as the interpretations of his ideas today. A prolific writer, his recent publications include Elusive Non-Violence: The Making and Unmaking of Gandhi’s Religion of Ahimsa (Westland/Context, 2021), The Ocean of Mirth: Reading Hāsyārṇava-Prahasanaṁ Of Jagadēśvara Bhaṭṭāchārya, a Political Satire for All Times (Routledge, 2019), Hindutva: Exploring the Idea of Hindu Nationalism (Context, 2019), Cosmic Love and Human Apathy: Swami Vivekananda and the Restatement of Religion (HarperCollins, 2013), and A Restatement of Religion: Swami Vivekananda and the Making of Hindu Nationalism (Yale University Press, 2013). Sharma has also held senior editorial positions at the Times of India and The Hindu, and continues to write for Hindustan Times, Mail Today, and Outlook.

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Date: 16 May 2022, 16:00 (Monday, 4th week, Trinity 2022)
Venue: Online with Zoom
Speaker: Professor Jyotirmaya Sharma (University of Hyderabad)
Organising department: Faculty of History
Organisers: Alizeh Paracha (University of Oxford), Zobia Haq (University of Oxford)
Organiser contact email address:
Part of: South Asian Intellectual History Seminar
Booking required?: Required
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Audience: Public
Editor: Zobia Haq