'Dialogues on the Hindu Philosophy' is a monumental discourse of the treasures of Indian thought of centuries. We came to know how Indian philosophers at their best displayed the most exquisite refinement of feeling. It is needless to add that the dialogical heritage of India Constitutes a priceless possession covetable to any nation, however great it may be by any standard. This volume will certainly provide an authentic and valuable contribution towards the study of philosophical dialectics and literatures in their glory and grandeur.
It gives me immense pleasure in writing this Foreword to this volume edited by Dr. Amit Bhattacharjee. What a coincidence! This book is being published in this year 2013 in which the Bengal Theosophical Society is going to celebrate 200th birth anniversary of Rev. Krishna Mohan Banerjee. This publication is a great tribute to that great intellectual of Bengal who for the first time attempted to understand and compare the illustrious Indian dialogical heritage with that of the Greek tradition. It is a pity that thereafter no attempt has been made to go deeper into this topic. I, therefore, would like to congratulate Dr. Amit Bhattacharjee for editing this invaluable study of Rev. Krishna Mohan Banerjee and making it available to the lover and admirers of Indian Intellectual Heritage. I also thank Indian Books Centre for coming forward to publish this book.
Even a cursory look at the huge Sanskrit literature handed down to us from Vedic times up to the medieval period, embracing every aspect of human life, can tell us how much deeply engaged the Indians were in the study of language, literature, philosophy, art, architecture, dance, drama, music and culture, to name a few.
The structual depth of enquiry into truth was acquired only through dialogue traces of which can be found right from the Rgveda, the earliest available literary record of human beings in this world. Scholars all over the world admire the structural depth of Indian Epistemology. This was possible only because the Indians enjoyed freedom of thought and expression all through our intellectual history. There were inter- and intra-systemic dialogues. It was possible to interpret a text in more than one way. That is why we do not have only one system of Vedanta, but many systems of Vedanta. Even the Advaita Vedanta is not one, but many. Purvamimamsa developed into three schools: Bhatta, Prabhakara and Murari. Examples can be multiplied. All this could happen only because there were interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary dialogues. Bhartrhari, the celebrated language philosopher of 6th Century A.D. expressly writes that the dialogical mode of enquiry is the only way which can enrich human understanding. In his words:
Prajna vivekam labhate bhinnair agama-darsanaih/
Kiyad va sakyam unnetum svatrkam anudhavata? / /
'A knowledge is transformed into wisdom, when one is exposed to number of thoughts. If a man decides to depend upon his or her own power of inferencing how much can one conjecture?'
Man is a limited being, and therefore, engaging in a dialogue is the only way to take him or her to better understanding. That is why, the sages in the Upanisads opined that one should first listen (srotavyah). I would like to interpret it as 'listen to others'; then one should reflect (mantavyah) critically and conclude and then concentrate on what has been concluded. This is the only scientific and democratic way to enquire into 'truth' and our forefathers were practising this method.
The history of development of all philosophical systems upto the medieval India bears testimony to this. Raghunatha Siromani of NavadvIpa wrote Padarthatattvanirupana, a fresh reflection on the Nyaya-Vaisesika Categorization of the universe where he offered constructive criticism to the traditional doctrine. He was aware of this fact and so at the end of his book he writes the following:
'I invite you to criticise me; but only after you understand my heart. And even after that if you find there is scope for criticism, I am least perturbed.'
I think we need to revive that democratic tradition of dialogue for which Indians were so much appreciated world
over. I am hopeful that the publication of this book: Dialogues on the Hindu Philosophy of Rev. Krishna Mohan Banerjee will be a positive step towards that direction. I congratulate Dr. Amit Bhattacharjee once again and expect many more such useful volumes from him.
I also believe that the volume will receive with joy by the inquisitive readers and researchers of Indian Intellectual traditions.
I am happy in editing the book named 'Dialogues On The Hindu Philosophy' which is divided into ten dialogues written by Rev. Krishna Mohan Banerjee in 1861 A.D. For the said book reveals our own contributions to dialogical heritage. It is striking that as far back as 1861, i.e. almost over one hundred fifty years ago the inquisitiveness of K.M. Banerjee was drawn to the inter and intra systemic dialogue. The writer of this book deserves grand salutation from those readers who are interested in understanding our rich cultural heritage in modern context. Preface of this book was written on 29 June, 1861 from Bishop's College. I pay my grand homage to the writer.
Krishna Mohan Banerjee (1813-1885 A.D.) was one of the 19th century Indian thinkers who attempted to rethink Hindu philosophy, religion and ethics in response to the stimulus of Christian ideas. Krishna Mohan was born in a Brahamin family on 24th May 1813 A.D. at Shyampur, Kolkata, Bengal, in the house of his maternal grandfather, Ramjay Vidyabhusan, the court-pundit of Santiram Singha of Jorasanko. The name of Krishna Mohan's father was Jibon Krishna Banerjee and mother was Sreemati Devi. He was the first president of the Bengal Christian Association and was a prominent member of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio's young Bengal group. In 1852 A.D. Krishna Mohan was appointed a professor of oriental studies at Bishop's College, Shibpore, Kolkata.
Krishna Mohan was the author of several rare works viz (i) 13-volume English-Bengali encyclopaedia 'Vidyakalpadrum' (1846-1851), (ii) Dialogues on the Hindu philosophy (1861), (iii) The Arian Witness (1875), (iv) Upadeskatha and (v) The relation between Christianity and Hinduism (1881). It was he who for the first time accumulated dialogues from almost all of the Hindu philosophy, containing an elaborate discussion on the art of dialogues.
The question is the first groping step of the mind in its journeyings that lead towards new horizons. It may be well at this point to remind ourselves that when someone likes to raise question he obviously must want to know the unknown. So question and answer, problem and solution are always used in philosophical discourse to make the clean environment of the dias. Large number of knotty problems are being solved by adopting certain rules of questioning.
Ever since Nalanda dialogue started in the year 2005 A.D. and I was invited almost at every dialogue I thought earnestly in writing our dialogical heritage. Indian philosophical schools have proved marvellously stimulating to the intellect. They are the product of profound, acute and restless minds. We may at least boast of having more dialogues, which may be considered as intellectual productions that can vie with those of Europe. Democratic readers are stunned after listening the discourses for the quest of truth. This book adequately will fulfil the long- standing need of our mission as it bears an intensive study of certain facets of dialogical heritage. This book throws up an hmazing variety of conflicting ideologies and opinion, some of which are being placed together.
The dialogues in this book are both self-contained and the-matically linked to each other. I firmly believe that the reader will detect some inner unity in the fact that this study begins and also ends with a discussion on significant issues related to dialogue. So the name of the book is highly appropriate. Diacritical marks are put properly, though those were not seen in the original text.
In elaborating dialogues Krishna Mohan Banerjee mentioned the name of Kanada, Kapila, Patanjali, Vyasa, Jaimini, Gotama, Sankara, Vatsyana, Buddha, Ramanuja, Probhakara, Ramananda and Rammohan Roy etc. In this regard, J also wonder, when during argumentation, Tarkakama said that Plato's argument was almost identical with Gotama's (p. 97). I heave a sigh of relief having seen unification of thought. It is remarkable to say that in describing dialogues of Hindu systems side by side the author had cited Greek doctrine, Plato's doctrine (dialogue-III) that may sufficiently prove versatile erudition of the author.
Actually Krishna Mohan Banerjee was a wonderful genius born in our province. There is not another discourse in Indian philosophy like the 'Dialogues on the Hindu philosophy', no
mistake in that; and it is difficult to come across a book like that in the whole of Indian philosophy. He began to explain lucidly the arguments and conclusions about the difficult points in all philosophies. In course of the conversation he did not forget to highlight modernity.
There is no iota of doubt that this 'Dialogue' is really a pioneer work in front of us to fulfil our dream in reality. Towards the last stages in editing this book, I was benefited greatly from the occasional exchange of views I had with professor V.N. Jha. Such dialogues, I am happy to say, have emboldened me to offer certain arguments that I would have been otherwise reluctant to do.
As for example Bankim Chandra Chattyopadhyay also had sharp exchange of words with Rev. K. M. Banerjee (September-November 1882). Although the book dealt with the Nyaya, the Sankhya, the Vedanta and above all the Bauddha but the writer did not carry out his benevolent design without going through another course of temptation i.e. the temptation of christanity (Christ). In spite of that, I myself, am proud enough as a Bengalee that the earliest authentic account of 'Dialogues On The Hindu Philosophy' was first written by an intelligent observer who also was a Bengalee by birth. A fair inference may be founded that Brahmanism and Buddhism existed side by side in India.
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