1. On Nationalism

From Desh-Prem to Rashtra-Vaad

(Lamakaan, Hyderabad)

How do we understand or relate to the current climate of aggressive ‘nationalism’, and are there different models for expressing and sharing a love of the country? This talk by Vipul Rikhi touches on aspects of insecurity and identity crisis which may lie at the root of streaks of assertion and aggression by which the ‘nation’ is sought to be defined. Drawing upon local wisdom traditions and figures such as Kabir and Tagore, the talk aims to offer a broader understanding of self as well as country, and how the two may be related.

2. Devotion as Dissent

Relationship of Reverence and Social Critique in Nirgun Bhakti Poetry

(LSR, Delhi University, New Delhi)

This talk explores the idea and practice of nirgun Bhakti poetry and music as dissent, not just in the sense of offering social commentary and critique around caste and religious oppressions and corruptions, but equally in basing this critique firmly in a sense of the sacred. How does an attitude of reverence impact our understanding of ourselves and of the world? Do we need to question only mainstream fundamentalisms, or also the kind of secular framework which seeks to have no truck with the sacred?

3. On Orality

Learning from the Folk Oral Traditions of Kabir

(Ramjas College, Delhi University, New Delhi)

This talk explores what the tradition and practice of oral folk music of songs of Kabir and other mystic poets has to teach us about the nature of knowledge itself.

4. The Nature of the Mind

Mann ke mate na chaaliye | Don’t follow the ways of the mind

(Conference on Indian Psychology, Delhi University)

Kabir and other Bhakti poets often speak about the mind, or “mann”, and its dual nature: a fickle tyrant or a doorway to the divine. They also express a healthy distrust of the ordinary “mind” and locate the site of knowledge in the body. Through songs and couplets, Vipul will tease out some of these tensions and resolutions, as found in the poetry of some of India’s great saint poets.