Saturday, November 23, 2013


There are different tenors in the analysis of the past that counties to the present. The most general way to classify them is the following: 1. one can move from past to present; 2. one can move from the present to the past (history of present). It appears from the title of your write up that you are more proximate to the second one. The suggestion seems to be that you start from the present day cultural location of Kalady and trace back its relationship with Buddhist culture, Buddhist path, Buddhist thoughts …………… through Sankaracharya. Though both ways 1&2 deal with time, transmission, transformation, continuitty & discontinuity etc they have different political imperatives. Your attempt, I feel, is not so much to contemplate on Buddhism per se, but to recognize how ‘it’ is pervasive and prevail across the taken for granted social categories/distinctions such as caste-class hierarchies. You are thinking about ways in which the icon of Buddha (especially in Kalady) got erased over time. You are alluding to the point that the place name “Kalady” refers to ‘foot prints of a guru or master’ or preacher. This in turn suggests that it is a reminiscence of relic worship. Perhaps, the question that crops up is the following: can one overlook the metaphorical reduction of Kalady to the Sankaracharya icon? More than this question there is yet another one; how such a metaphorical reduction erased the land marks of Buddhist traces/……. ? When one embark on the voyager from the banks of Periyar to ‘Buddha’/ Buddhism/ Buddhist culture, (path, thought…) one has to anticipate the roaring waves of conceptual and category slippages. I am sure that you have in your mind not so much the ‘historical Buddha’ but the Buddha in action and the Budddha dis-activated. And the Kalady overshadowed or over-lit to the extent of blissful blindness. 
The multiple usages such as Budhist path, Buddhist thought, Buddha vada (Buddhist argument), Buddhist religion, Buddhist culture etc. reveal that you are not taking any deterministic or stoic stand. This is intellectually quite comforting for there is no whip; moreover, such multiple usage gives room for capturing the heterogeneity and multiplicity.     
I understand from your Note that Sankaracharya is a veda-anthi(vedanti) and resonate well with the idea that Sankaracharya is a cypto-Buddhist. If this is so, the philosophical/theoretical voyage from Kalady to non-historic/non-transcendental Buddha through Sankara opens up fresh routes for contemplation.  

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