Why Daya Krishna?

I just noticed that the one I published a few days back here and on my personal blog was my tenth post on Daya Krishna. Since I usually dedicate that many posts only to Classical Indian philosophers, this might demand some explanations. Why engaging with contemporary Indian philosophers? And why Daya Krishna in particular?

I am generally interested in thinking people, who often happen to be philosophers, but might as well be anthropologists, linguists, scientists and so on, and in this sense I will not start by explaining why on earth I read philosophical texts. However, I have to admit that I started reading contemporary Indian philosophers (back in 2002) because I hoped to better understand classical Indian philosophy through their eyes. Even before that time, I had read B.K. Matilal’s works or J.N. Mohanty’s ones (not to speak of J. Ganeri’s ones) not for Matilal’s or Mohanty’s sake, but as a way of approaching Nyāya, Navya Nyāya or phenomenology. Reading K.C. Bhattacharya seemed to me like a continuation of that line of thought (following the steps of great forerunners). However, K.C. Bhattacharya proved to be too difficult to work as a doorway to something else and too interesting not to be read for his own sake.

Long story short: I read Daya Krishna (and further contemporary Indian philosophers) for their own sake, as I would read Kripke or Austin. No matter what he engages in, he offers an ever-fresh vision of things, relentlessly looking for what a text or an idea mean and not just for what one is used to think that they should mean. Daya Krishna’s work blossoms with openness to the “other” point of view hiding in texts, ideas or concepts: He is not content with the usual or the conventional and is clearly annoyed by whoever is. He constantly seeks for a counter-perspective, and should his ideas have become mainstream in one or the other field, he would have probably challenged his audience to question them again, always looking for prairies of thinking which could have allowed room for creative and yet rigorous enquires.

On top of that, Daya Krishna has for me the additional appeal of being interested in things I myself find interesting, such as Nyāya’s epistemology or Mīmāṃsā’s difficult relation with ritualists —something very rare in other philosophers who, especially in the West, are often rather pray to the fascination of the “new” and would not spend too much energy in the exegesis of an obscure school of Indian philosophy. By contrast, Daya Krishna does not seem to be ready to close a topic unless he has fully understood what is at stake, no matter if this has become outdated by new researches in the meantime (think of his invitations to Kashmir Sufis who were and are for opposite reasons —being too much or too little “Islamic”— often neglected both in Pakistani and Indian philosophical and theological discourses).

(cross-posted on my personal blog)

About elisa freschi

My long-term program is to make "Indian Philosophy" part of "Philosophy". You can follow me also on my personal blog: elisafreschi.com, on Academia, on Amazon, etc.

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