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Pre of Art in Modern India

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Abstract:

This article lays bare an unusual underlying relationship between modernity and art or literature in the West by elucidating the sequential relationship between the premodern and the modern in the West as scripted by Descartes. Modernity rejected the premodern and the rejected is recalled and preserved by art and literature. This formula, when it travelled to societies like India through colonialism, met with mixed results as there remained the large premodern social reality. In this sequential relationship the premodern at times interrogated the modern. Creativity in these societies is to be found not only in art and literature but also in politics. This is illustrated by analysing how Swami Vivekananda chose saffron dress and wandering; Sri Aurobindo departed from this and selected white and seclusion; subsequently, Mahatma Gandhi chose wandering from Vivekananda and white from Aurobindo. The article concludes by pointing out how Descartes simultaneously decided to leave the past and enter into modernity whereas Ambedkar tokk nearly three decades between the decision to leave Hinduism and convert to Buddhism.

Keywords: Ambedkar; Interrogated modernity; Mahatma Gandhi; Sri Aurobindo; Swami Vivekananda; art; colonialism; literature; politics; premodern

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09528820903184872

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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