A Dialogue: Scholars and Communities Respond to Each Other
The Institute For Conflict and Peace Studies (IFCAPS) and Oakton’s Social and Peace Justice Program jointly organized a panel discussion on November 13 at Oakton Community College.
IFCAPS is dedicated to promoting educational awareness regarding conflicts in South Asia and resolve those conflicts through dialogue. IFCAPS is focused on South Asian Minority, Religious, Political, Economic, Water disputes and other Social conflicts. IFCAPS major agenda is to create a positive dialogue and an archive of research materials and artifacts on south Asian conflicts.
President of IFCAPS Sadhu Singh Rikhiraj welcome the Scholars and community members.
Dr. Swaranjeet Singh, Executive Director of IFCAPS explain the reason behind this dialogue said,”South Asia is home to many different religions and these religions do not always live in harmony. Also, different religions have disputes inside their communities. These dispute are inter-related with the South Asian Political system. In the recent years a large conflict has arisen between the Scholars and Communities in regards to the approach to understanding scripture. We respect both sides approaches and interpretations. However, Communities feel Scholars are misrepresenting their beliefs and Scholars feel Community members do not have skills to understand the dimension of scriptures. This is a dispute between belief and logic. To remove this dispute we need a positive dialogue. Lets talk about this agenda how both of them respond to each other to begin a positive movement in South Asia through religious dialogue.”
Harvind Kaur Singh Director of Communications of IFCAPS facilitate the program. She said, A DIALOGUE: SCHOLARS AND COMMUNITIES RESPOND TO EACH OTHER Event is part of the Institute For Conflict And Peace Studies, (Otherwise referred to as IFCAPS) ongoing lecture series. Post 9/11 atmosphere religion has become an area of public and political concern. As the world grasps to find meaning, religion plays an integral role in both unifying pluralistic societies and dividing them, by painting some traditions as too radical or too much the other. There is also, particularly in South Asia, the ascendence of more radicalized forms of religion that have taken over the public and political conversation. This is true for both major Countries in the region: India and Pakistan. With these ideas in mind and the mission of IFCAPS at the fore our board realized that the two parties in this debate who need to be able to sit at the table and share ideas are scholars and the communities they study.pastedGraphic_1.pdf
Professor Wendy Doniger is the Mircea Eliade distinguished service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago. She is also in the department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, the committee on Social thought, and the College. She has her MA and PhD from Harvard a D. Phil from Oxford University. She is a prolific author and her research and teaching interests focus around Hinduism and Mythology. To her credit are translations from Sanskrit of the Rig Veda, the Laws of Mannu and much more. Her recent book, The Hindus: An Alternative History has been met with resistance. She is the foremost Scholar on Hinduism in the World and brings to us not only a wealth of knowledge, but significant insight from the study of original texts over a lifetime of amazing achievement.
She focused her discussion on the current reaction of Hindus to academic work that is promoted by the new political agenda of India. Her current book is banned in India and she herself is unable to travel there because of fear of arrest She believes that the current assault against her academic work and others is based on a change in how Hindus have re-Defined themselves due in large part to Vivek Ananda. She terms this more ‘Philosophical’ Hinduism which is increasingly less pluralistic and Reaching for a singular definition that does not allow all aspects of ancient Hindu culture to be recognized but forces only certain aspects to be considered real regardless of Historical fact facts and textual studies. Dr. Doniger is disturbed and concerned by this trend because of the fear and threats posed by community members opposed to such scholarship.
DR. Pashaura Singh holds the Dr. Jasbir Singh Saini Endowed Chair in Sikh and Punjabi studies at the University of California, Riverside. Prior to this Dr. Singh taught Sikh Studies, Punjabi Language and Religion of India for thirteen years at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. His tenure there was fraught with discord due to the lack of Dialogue between the Sikh Community and Dr. Singh’s scholarship relating to the Adi Granth. His scholarship focuses on contemporary issues in the Textual studies. Canonicity, Hermeneutics, Literary theory and the History of religion.
Dr. Singh focused his topic on the three main ways that texts relating to religious communities are approached.He explained Doctrinal reading, Historical reading and Literary reading three ways during his discussion. He used this method to outline that the believers reading of the Text has different outcomes due to the method of trying to understand a Text versus an academic looking through the lens of History or literature.
Oakton Community College faculty, Students and Sikh community members participated in the discussion panel. Holly Graft, Madhuri Deshmukh, Inderjit Singh Mukker and Harmeet Singh played a really well role to make this event successful.