ACKNOWLEDGED as one of the outstanding anthropologists of our time, Professor Louis Dumont's intellectual interests, shaped by the French school of sociology and British social anthropology have been wide in scope and cross-civilisational in perspective. He has sought to establish a dialogue between Indian and Western civilisations in the firm belief that such comparative studies must, ultimately, constitute the best guarantee we have of arriving at a genuine sociological understanding of mankind as a whole.
Whereas Professor Dumont's published work touches three continents, the present volume brings together essays dealing with an important aspect of the ideological foundations of Indic civilisations, namely the notion of the good life or 'purusartha'.
Contributed by 17 scholars from Britain, France, Holland, India and the USA, they were offered as a tribute to Professor Dumont on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. They deal specifically with the Brahmanical ideologies of kingship, householdership and renunciation.
This festschrift bears witness to the impact of Professor Dumont's work among scholars belonging to several disciplines and testifies to his conviction, expressed often, that genuine scholarly work is a collective enterprise. At the same time, the contributions comprising the volume underscore the fact that even in such collective endeavours the role that outstanding leaders play is of very great importance.
The Editor of this volume, Triloki Nath Madan, is Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Economic Growth (University of Delhi). Author or editor of a number of books, his recent publications are Non-Renunciation: Themes and Interpretations of Hindu Culture (OUP, 1987) and Choice and Morality in Anthropological Perspective (SUNY Press, 1988), the latter being a volume of papers edited jointly with George Appell.
Festschrifts do not usually enjoy big sales. It is therefore both interesting and gratifying that Way of Life should have been so well received by readers as to call for a third printing in five years. Reviews in professional journals have been without exception friendly; indeed some of them have been enthusiastic (see excerpts on the back of the jacket).
Originally put together as volume 15 (1981) of Contributions to Indian Sociology, the Festschrift was simultaneously released early in 1982 as a hard-cover book under the title of Way of Life: King, Householder, Renouncer-Essays in Honour of Louis Dumont. In India the book was published by Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd.; in France it came out under the imprint of Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris. I would like to place on record the appreciation of the Institute of Economic Growth to Maison des Sciences de l'Homme and its Administrator, Professor Clemens Heller, for their valued collaboration. The cooperation of the Maison helped in wider distribution of the book in Europe, Britain and the USA.
A second printing of the book became necessary within a few months of first publication. This printing also was exhausted by the end of 1986 but a third printing could not be arranged immediately because of changes in the publication programme of Vikas Publishing House. I am grateful to Messrs Motilal Banarasidass, the well-known firm of indological publishers, and 7.tarticularly to Shri Narendra Prakash Jain, for their interest in bringing out corrected edition of Way of Life.
Apart from removing some typographical errors that had escaped erection in the first two printings, advantage has been taken to bring uptodate the bibliography of Professor Louis Dumont who has maintained a remarkably active life of scholarly activity of great importance despite his advancing age. The supplementary bibliography follows this Preface. 111esities. the index has been considerably expanded and recast and the notes on contributors have been updated.
It would not be out of place to mention here that Way of Life was presented to Professor Dumont at a well-attended function held at the Institute of Economic Growth on 11 January 1982. Among those present on the occasion were, besides many social scientists, Madame Suzanne Dumont, M Andre Ross, the French ambassador in India, and Madame Ross. Profaner P. C. Joshi, Director of the Institute, presided over the function.
Professor M.S.A. Rao (who unfortunately died in 1985), then the senior-most sociologist at the University of Delhi, made the presentation, which followed a discussion on Professor Dumont's work.
Responding to the presentation speeches, Professor Dumont expressed his gratefulness first of all for the effort at the Institute of Economic Growth to keep Contributions to Indian Sociology alive. He also expressed his appreciation of the Festschrift and the function held in his honour, which he aptly characterised as 'solemn'. Saying that he was in India perhaps for the last time-to say 'Adieu!'-he recalled how in recent years he had practically 'abandoned the field of Indian studies', to pursue other scholarly interests focused on the history of ideas in Europe. He said that in itself this decision seemed perfectly defensible to him, but here in India, face to face with 'Mother India', as it were, he felt uneasy, for 'Bharat Mata was concerned with human relationships, and at that level it was more difficult to justify my decision'.
Since 1982, Professor Dumont has been honoured with another Festschrift, Differences, valeurs, hierarchie edited by Jean-Claude Galey (Paris, Editions de l'Ecole des Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 1984), and in various other ways, including the conferment of a Doolorate honoris causa at the University of Lausanne (1984), the invitation to deliver the Huxley Memorial Lecture of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1985), being nominated as a Chevalier da la Legion d'Honneur (1986), and most recently the award of the prestigious Tocqueville Prize (1987). (The earlier recipients were Raymond Aron, David Riesman, Alexander Zinoviev, and Karl Popper.)
Before I conclude, I should like to acknowledge the help of Ms Aradhya Bhardwaj and Dr. Jean-Claude Galey in the preparation of this edition of Way of Life for the press.
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