POSTPONED - 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 currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, Göttingen, Germany. A prolific academic and writer, he was Fellow for the Spring Semester of 2012 at the Swedish Collegium of Advanced Study at Uppsala, Fellow for the academic year 2012-13 at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, Göttingen, a fellow of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (New Delhi) and was awarded the Asia Leadership Fellow Programme fellowship for 2008 by the International House, Japan, to name just a few of his academic accomplishments. 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. His recent publications include 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), A Restatement of Religion: Swami Vivekananda and the Making of Hindu Nationalism (Yale University Press, 2013), Terrifying Vision: M.S. Golwalkar, the RSS and India (Penguin/Viking, 2007), and an edited volume entitled Grounding Morality: Freedom, Knowledge and the Plurality of Cultures (co-edited with A. Raghuramaraju, Routledge, 2010). 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: 24 May 2021, 16:00 (Monday, 5th week, Trinity 2021)
Venue: Online with Zoom
Speaker: Jyotirmaya Sharma (Lichtenberg-Kolleg, University of Göttingen)
Organising department: Faculty of History
Organiser: Zobia Haq (University of Oxford)
Organiser contact email address:
Part of: South Asian Intellectual History Seminar
Booking required?: Required
Booking email:
Audience: Public
Editor: Zobia Haq