A fresh look at Religion in India, at Indira Gandhi Centre

Indian ReligiousNew Delhi, Jan. 19: Scholars from India and abroad, who feel that religion in India has been seen from European or ‘colonial’ eyes, are going to give a fresh look and try to evolve a framework for interpreting it at a conference which will commence on Monday.

The joint effort is being organised by the Ghent University of Belgium in cooperation with the Kuvempu University and the Karnataka Academy for Social Sciences from Karnataka.

Too much effort at ‘liberalisation’ and making religion ‘secular’ is not the answer to current problems and efforts to avoid violence. What is required for Indians is to understand the true significance of religion, said Dr. Balagangadhara Rao of Ghent University of Belgium, who is going to give the keynote address at the conference opening on Monday, January 21, said at a press meet here yesterday.

Dr. Rao said: “We have a rich past. How our traditions, culture and religious way of living have been in the past and how they hold significance even in the present time that needs to be understood. We will make an attempt to do so at the conference”

"The way religion is today explained or understood in India is actually how the Europeans interpreted it. Ours is an attempt to understand the religion in India by evolving a new concept that is distinct from the way Europeans viewed and expressed it for us, the Indians," Professor Dr. Balagangadhara Rao added.

According to Dr. Rao, “If you don't understand your past, and you don't understand who you are today, you may not be able to understand what you are going to be tomorrow”. The purpose of the cluster of conferences is to find an answer to these questions.

The international conference is claimed to be a sincere attempt to explore an alternative approach and discover new forays that can draw more research students in the study of religion in India.

If necessary the conference would explore to evaluate the importance of religion in India and would not desist from revisiting Vedic culture or beliefs as has been in practice in the past.

The concern for religious studies emerged with the observation of some scholars that in the present time not many intellectuals were coming forward to do studies on religion.

Similar conference would be held every year in Belgium, the United States and the rest in India.

When asked about the utility of studying religion for youth instead of concentrating on the study of modern sciences, he said: "It is useful to have happiness in one's life. After achieving money and fame, all of us, as human beings, wish to be happy, and for this, we need to study religion."

In the first conference being held here the focus would be on topics like, “Are there native religions in India,” on colonialism and religion, the caste system and Indian religion.

Of the total 250 to 300 expected participants in the discussions, at least 220 will be Indians belonging to all walks of life which include researchers, and individuals from universities and people from Delhi to partake in the attempt of rethinking about religion in India.

Among the invited speakers that have agreed to participate are: Prof. David N. Lorenzen, Prof. T. N. Madan, Prof. Timothy Fitzgerald, Prof. S. N. Balagangadhara, Prof. Purushottam Aggarwal, Prof. Richard King and Prof. Geoffrey Oddie. (ANI)