The Nature of Living Tradition- Distinctive Features of Indian Parampara
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The Nature of Living Tradition- Distinctive Features of Indian Parampara

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Item Code: NAW058
Author: Baidyanath Saraswati
Publisher: D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2001
Pages: 126
Other Details 10.00 X 7.50 inch
Weight 500 gm
About the Book
Indian Parampara is a response to secular Western thought on tradition and modernity. Presented here are contributions from a distinguished group of Indian scholars representing a wide spectrum of disciplines. It raises many questions: What is the source of parampara? How is it transmitted? Does it hold in potential the characteristics of all orders of knowledge? Who was the parent of its primal seed? How does the individual sustain the flow of parampara or tradition? Is the individual artist capable of sustaining creativity and initiating change? Does he have to take the path of confrontation with parampara? How does the person transcend the small 'I' to enlarge himself into the 'We'? What is that experience of the 'Self' where duality between the subject and the object is lost?

To answer such central questions the authors of this volume reflect on anthropological, philosophical, spiritual, musical, poetical, and experiential dimensions. This book is an important contribution to traditional thought and culture.

About the Author
Baidyanath Saraswati is Unesco Professor at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi. He was associated with the Anthropological Survey of India for a decade, and another decade with the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. During this period he did extensive fieldwork in village India and conducted a detailed study of traditional learning and sacred traditions. For the last twelve years, he is drawing out relevant themes from traditional thought and modern sciences. He is the author of Pottery making Culture and Indian Civilization, Brahmanic Ritual Traditions in the Crucible of Time, The Spectrum of the Sacred, The Sacred Science of Man, The Sacred Science of Nature, as well as of other books and articles.

PRE-COLONIAL India was secure in its foundation and mature in its thought, yet wide open for intellectual adventure - knowing and knowledge. Colonising invaders came not as conqueror but as replacement for culture and contemplative scholarship. Post-Independence India is in the process of re-visioning the primal source of culture. This prompted the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts to assemble a group of knowledgeable experts to reflect upon the impact of modern Western thought on India's intellectual life and culture. A three-day national seminar on "Parampara and the Individual" was convened from 21 to 23 January 1998. The ideas discussed in this seminar must be considered by any standard to be deeply philosophical, yet they show more clearly in the anthropological realm. The proceedings of the seminar comprise this volume.

Askable Questions

The Sanskrit word parampara signifies layers of precipitated matter accumulated in time, as if in flood. The English word 'tradition' from Latin tradere, means 'to hand on', 'deliver'. The word 'individual' is derived from the Latin root dividuus, meaning 'able to be divided into parts or fragments', and related to the Latin invidia, 'had feeling or envy'.

There are questions concerning the meaning and mystery of parampara: What is the source of parampara? How is it transmitted? Is it a knowledge system? Does it hold in potential the characteristics of all orders of knowledge? A code may be? Who was the parent of its primeval seed? What lends it a sustainable identity? Do non-humans have parampara?

And now the question about tradition: What is tradition? Can history discover a complete tradition? Is tradition incorruptible in its form and principle? Has it a place for revelation? Is it limited to this world? How does it bridge the 'time past' and the 'time present'? What is the basis for determining chronological milestones in a tradition?

P.L. Sharma's exhilarating vision enters into the depths of the musical parampara: Like a society, parampara is an abstraction. It is blending of anadi (beginningless) and what is ascribed to a specific individual contribution. There is a structural difference between tradition and parampara. Whereas tradition implies a static set of knowledge, skill and belief, parampara has a dynamic flow which provides room for change, innovation, and individual preference. For instance, the knowledge or skill of music is transmitted orally. In the initial stage, the student is required to imitate or reproduce whatever the teacher sings or plays, but soon one is guided towards improvisation on one's own.

R.R. Menon says: As expression or reflection, parampara is not a mere tradition, not a mere belief, not a word but an expression close to Nature. In the context of music what makes one a musician is not the practice of song but the cultivation of Self. It is this Self within a musician that shines out of his art and makes music divine. So, it can be said that parampara is concerned with the transformation of man.

S.K. Mahapatra explores the ambivalent relationship between poetic creativity and parampara: There is a distinction between a poet, a visual artist, and a musician facing parampara. The poet seeks to transcend the ambivalence by working out an upward movement for the words - from the language of commonality to that of poetry. He mediates between original and unique experience.

R.C. Shah presents a new path to interpreting parampara: The poet Agyeya, the leader of the modernist movement in Hindi, and T.S. Eliot, who saw the values of European culture threatened from within itself and sought an ally in Eastern parampara. To upgrade his tradition in the garb of parampara, he gained insights from Indian metaphysics and poetry. Agyeya, his counterpart, on the other hand, needed the corrective for revitalisation of the metaphysically sound but creatively almost exhausted parampara. The poet W.B. Yeats speaks beautifully of the 'great memory' or the 'age-long memorial self' not only of man but of bird and beast alike - because they too are the living symbols of the divine order, the rita. Shah the poet has chosen great poets from the secular West to demonstrate that parampara is a universal paradigm.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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