Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Vidyapati from Mithila has attempted to reconstruct the ‘image of man’ as a poet-statesman

D N DhaNagare Economic and Political Weekly August 25, 2007
In a major research work on B R Ambedkar’s political and social thought, M S Gore has looked into the entire history of evolution of Ambedkar’s ideology and its development, through stages of various protest movements he launched from the 1920s onwards, and through the phase of Ambedkar’s active involvement in the nationalist movement and in the parleys between Gandhi and Indian National Congress on one side and the imperialists on the other [Gore 1993: 73-190]. In a sense, Gore’s attempt was aimed at putting together Ambedkar’s ideas on various issues from the standpoint of a leader and spokesperson of the downtrodden and how his ideological articulation then conditioned the development of the dalit protest movement in the post-1951 period (Ibid, pp 191-337]. Gore’s study could as well be interpreted as an exercise in sociology of ideas as much as in sociology of a protest movement inspired by Ambedkar’s ideology. In either case, his use of secondary historical sources is significant, and social construction of ideology in itself is a theme that is sociological in nature.
Somewhat on similar lines, Hetukar Jha has done a study in history of ideas in which he has elaborately focused on the historical significance of Vidyapati’s discourse on ‘purush’ (man). He has attempted to reconstruct the ‘image of man’ as a poet-statesman, Vidyapati from Mithila, had posited it during the medieval period in Bihar. Vidyapati had propagated ideas of dharma in secular terms, emphasised on the irrelevance of caste, varna and ‘kula’ in a situation where manliness is put to the test in the face of internal strife and ideological confusion and crisis on the one hand, and the onslaught of the Islamic conquests and politico-religious power on the other [Jha 2002: 9-104]. In many ways Jha could have projected Vidyapati’s discourse on man as a precursor of a contemporary theoretical discourse on "modernity" that has occupied centre stage in Indian sociology for considerable length of time. Though Jha has used history methodically in constructing Vidyapati’s views, his overall concern remains confined at best to history of ideas. In substance, Jha has summarised or reinterpreted those ideas of Vidyapati on ‘purushartha’ (in contrast to what was presented in the Indian tradition) that, to him, have some contemporary relevance to the issues of national reconstruction and development.
Conclusions: While summing up this elaborate review it is necessary to highlight the main tendencies among historically oriented sociologists and the way they view the relevance of history in their sociological studies.
  • The first category of sociologists consists of those who have used classical texts, i e, Indological sources, in understanding contemporary social structures, institutions, statuses, roles, values, and cultural practices by tracing their origins to one or more Sanskrit texts and then reinterpreting or rationalising them in the present day context.
  • In the second category we find those sociologists, not few in number, who narrate the historical background of social reality, either of the past or contemporary one, which they are researching for. In some cases such a historical account is given as a routine matter to assure readers that the relevant past has not been ignored.

However, neither such a historical account forms a part of researcher’s explanatory scheme nor is it integrated with their sociological analysis. In some cases, though, researchers do believe that the historical background given in great detail deepens their understanding of the research problem or may help them to search appropriate answers to their research questions. In the second category, what is involved is mostly a metaphoric use of history. What is, however, important is the substantive use of history for sociological purposes. Among Indian sociologists there are some who have used historical analysis and method substantively, in the sense that they have deployed it as an explanatory device, or to test a hypothesis... Email: EPW

1 comment:

  1. Ambedkar-Gandhi may be put togather but in the same rank Vidyapati's work should not have been clubbed.
    Vidyapati;s time was of Muslim onslught and it was only he who had described in his writings that Muslims force Hindus to remove 'tika' and force the Brahman to take water in the skin made vessel of dead cow. And Muslims break temples to make mosque.
    No poet in India had written with such clarity and though Vidaypati was a poet of romance as well as devotion to god ,I feel he was above Bhushan like nationists too and true his contribution to Sanatan Dharm systytem is universal as Hindu(sanatan) dharm in itself is universally applicable and Vidyapati was son of the land of Mithila which had made foundation of Hindu Dharm even before the days of rajarshi janak to gautam(law), Kapil(Sankhya), Jaimini(Vaisheshik) and so Astavakra, yajnyavalkya-Maitreyee, Vachaspati-Bhamati, Mandan-Bharati, Udayanacharya,the great shastrarthi whom Buddhism could not face and practically in Mithila and Magadh everywhere they returned back to Sanatan Dharma..
    And so Vidyapati's work and life should be seen in that context which has seen Man in a complete sense of Purushartha and Vidyapati was above any dogmas and narrow-vision and hardly any Indian poet could reach to his status as he was par excellence in every walk of life.