Reading Sohail Inayatullah (1)

Inayatullah_Understanding_SarkarI was fascinated by Sohail Inayatullah’s intellectual tour-de-force “Understanding Sarkar: The Indian Episteme Macrohistory and Transformative Knowledge.”

“Understanding Sarkar” is written in the academic style. The author is very careful about maintaining an emotional distance to the subject (P.R.Sarkar and his teachings) in order to construct a rigorous comparative analysis. But, I would not describe the author’s analysis as neutral. That would be boring! On the contrary, there are many colorful observations in this book. The author certainly cares deeply about the new cosmology and the new social discourse that Sarkar started.

I wanted to write a comprehensive review but quickly realized that my intellectual formation in the subjects of history and social sciences is very limited. It will be more appropriate for me to review selected parts of this book.

In the first installment of my “Reading Inayatullah” series I thought you would find the author’s list of 17 points regarding Indian episteme interesting.

Here’s the 17 points [1] describing the Indian episteme according to Sohail Inayatullah:

  1. “History is cyclical but the cycle has direction.”
  2. “There is symmetry between the individual and the cosmic, the body and the mind (as within as without: as above as below).”
  3. “Truth is defined as that which leads to physical, mental and spiritual growth, that is, philosophy as resolving suffering, truth as therapy.”
  4. “There is unity of discourse with the final meaning resting in the interpreter.”
  5. “A both/and approach to contradictions.”
  6. “A view that there are multiple levels of reality.”
  7. “The privileging of the enlightened one.”
  8. “A strong vertical/hierarchical dimension.”
  9. “The self is the center piece.”
  10. “Karma and dharma are the pillars that support the foundation.”
  11. “Holism in that every aspect of creation is intrinsic to it with the nucleus of the universe (since consciousness is everywhere and everything) simultaneously everywhere and in everything.”
  12. “Dialectical, in that there are forces in conflict and in tension with each other (and out of these struggles qualitatively different levels of substances appear).”
  13. “Consciousness leads to matter which then dialectically evolves back to consciousness.”
  14. “There is a lack of critical spirit that attempts to question the episteme itself.”
  15. “Science is constructed as rational and causal.”
  16. “There are five ways of knowing the real: sense perception, authority, reason, intuition and devotion/love.”
  17. “The Indian episteme is additive. It has not radically changed through history, rather new levels of reality are added to the episteme, thus transforming the episteme and at the same time “Indianizing” the new discourse.”


[1] Shohail Inayatullah, “Understanding Sarkar: The Indian Episteme Macrohistory and Transformative Knowledge”, Brill, 2002, ISBN: 90-04-12193-5

About Suresh Emre

I have worked as a physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory. I am a volunteer for the Renaissance Universal movement. My main goal is to inspire the reader to engage in Self-discovery and expansion of consciousness.
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