“Schopenhauer and Indian Philosophy: A Dialogue between India and Germany”
A three-day International Seminar sponsored by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research and Center for studies in Civilization,
the Indian division of the Schopenhauer society in collaboration with
the Department of Philosophy, Deshbandhu College, and
the Schopenhauer Research Center of the University of Mainz, Germany.
the Department of Philosophy, Deshbandhu College, and
the Schopenhauer Research Center of the University of Mainz, Germany.
Dr Arati Barua from the Philosophy Department of Deshbandhu College being the Director of the Indian division of the Schopenhauer Society (IDSS) organized a three day International Seminar sponsored by the ICPR and CSC during 22-24th February 2005 in India International Center, Annexe, in collaboration with the Philosophy Department of Deshbandhu College, Delhi University and the Schopenhauer Research Center of the University of Mainz, Germany. The International Schopenhauer Society in Germany (Schopenhauer Gesellschaft) also collaborated with IDSS.
It is quite well recognized that Arthur Schopenhauer was the first major Western thinker who understood the Upanishads in the true spirit and had great appreciation for the Indian philosophy. Yet it is unfortunately also a fact that not enough research has been done in India on how and to what extent Schopenhauer was influenced by the Indian philosophy.
The IDSS in January 2003 also organized a one-day national seminar on a comparative study of Schopenhauer and Indian philosophy and it had witnessed a serious enthusiasm among the scholars in India on this issue. Almost all the scholars who attended the seminar expressed an unanimous view that Schopenhauer’s relation to Indian philosophy especially to Sankara’s Vedanta is a virgin field of research and Indian scholars belonging particularly to the philosophy profession should pay more attention to this aspect of research in philosophy.
In response to this view the IDSS considered to organize a three-day International seminar on the theme said above with a special focus on Schopenhauer and Sankara’s Advaita Vedanta.
Each day of the seminar there were four major sessions and in each session we put three papers. Thus we had 25 papers in total presented in the seminar (including few in absentia papers too). Of these 25 papers there were 8 outstation (within India) participants, 3 from (Germany), 1 from USA, 1 from Japan, 1 from Australia and 12 local participants (paper presenters), (general participants/attendants were more).
On 22nd Feb 2005 the inauguration of the seminar started at 2:30 p m in the presence of a highly distinguished gathering. The President of the Schopenhauer Gesellschaft Prof Matthias Kossler, the Mangaing Director of the Gesellschaft, Mr Michael Gerhard, Dr Thomas Regehly of Frankfurt Section came to grace the occasion from Germany. Prof Yasuo Kamata from the Japan Schopenhauer society came from Japan for the seminar. Dr Stephan Atzert from Australia and Dr Douglas Berger from USA also joined the occasion.
Prof S R Bhatt, Professor Emeritus Delhi University and the advisor of the seminar requested Prof D P Chattopadhyaya, the Chairman of CSC, Prof Kireet Joshi, the Chairman of ICPR, Mr P K Kaul the Chairman of the Governing body, Deshbandhu college, and Mr. Hans-Joachim Kiderlen, honorable German Ambassador to Tashkent to take their seats in the dais.
The formal inauguration started by the lighting up the sacred lamp. Prof Kireet Joshi, Mr Hans Joachim Kiderlen and Mr P K Kaul and Mr Hans-J Kiderlen joined Prof D P Chattopadhyaya in lighting up the sacred lamp.
Then there was a special tribute paid to the great Western scholar- Arthur Schopenhauer who popularized Indian Philosophy in the west during his time as it was his 217th birth anniversary on 22nd Feb 2005. A special tribute was paid to him by unveiling the photographs of Arthur Schopenhauer and garlanding his photographs by the distinguished guests.
Dr. Arati Barua the director of the IDSS and the seminar welcomed the distinguished guests and the students offered bouquets and flowers to the guests. Prof S R Bhatt the advisor of the seminar gave the thematic introduction about the seminar.
Well-known philosopher Professor D P Chattopadhyaya the Chairman, Center for Studies in Civilizations was the chief-guest and inaugurated the seminar. While inaugurating the seminar, Prof Chattopadhyaya profusely paid high tributes to Schopenhauer in his inaugural speech and affirmed his contribution in popularizing Indian philosophy in the West. He also appreciated this effort of Indian Division of Schopenhauer Society for extending due recognition to Schopenhauer and praised the new generation of Indian scholars for creating an awareness about Schopenhauer’s contribution
Professor Kireet Joshi the Chairman of ICPR delivered the “Key- Note Address” of the seminar and presented a lucid paper on Schopenhauer’s philosophy. In his key-note address he explained the interconnection between Schopenhauer’s philosophy and Indian philosophy. In his paper Prof Joshi described in details about the common concern of Schopenhauer and Indian systems especially of Buddhism about the problem of suffering and its remedy. He focused on the concept of compassion in Schopenhauer’s philosophy which is the “impulse to seek another’s well being and to prevent another’s suffering”.
Mr P K Kaul, our respected Chairman of Deshbandhu College governing body also delivered a brief speech appreciating the importance of Schopenhauer’s studies in India on the occasion. He congratulated the organizers for organizing this function and appreciated the active participation of the Deshbandhu College teachers and the students in this function.
Honorable German Ambassador to Tashkent Mr Hans –Joachim Kiderlen welcomed the Indian division of the Schopenhauer society and its activity specially the organization of this international conference. In his speech he said that such an Indian division should have been founded long ago at least 50 years before and hence he congratulated the IDSS again.
Prof Kossler the President of the Schopenhauer Gesellschaft expressed his immense happiness at the functioning of IDSS since its inception in 2002. He also expressed that he did not expect that his desire to come to India to attend an international conference on Schopenhauer would be fulfilled so soon. He congratulated IDSS and its director for its speedy functioning for the propagation of Schopenhauer’s study in India and thanked everyone who helped this organization to grow especially to ICPR and CSC. In response to this seminar Prof Kossler announced that the Gesellschaft is organizing another international conference on Schopenhauer and the Eastern philosophy in next July and he extended his invitation to Dr Barua to participate in that seminar.
Prof Yasuo Kamata from Japan Schopenhauer Society also spoke few words on the occasion and appreciated the attempt of IDSS to hold such international conference to bring a successful dialogue between India and West particularly Germany.
We have brought out a souvenir on the occasion of the seminar. Towards the end of the inaugural session the Souvenir was released by Professor D P Chattopadhyaya The Souvenir contains the abstracts of the papers of the seminar and some messages. We have received several messages of good wishes for the success of the seminar from many distinguished personalities. In particular I should mention the message from the Honorable HRD Minister Shri Arjun Singhji, the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University Prof Deepak Nayyar, honorable German Ambassador Mr Reimo Richter,New Delhi, Honorable German Ambassador to Tashkent Mr Hans –Joachim Kiderlen, Mr P K Kaul the Chairman of the governing body of Deshbandhu College, Dr A P Raste, the Principal of Deshbandhu College, Mr.Kirip Chaliha M P. and many others. We are sincerely thankful to all of them for their good wishes.
A photo exhibition titled –Schopenhauer in Retrospect – was also opened for public for first two days. Portraits of Schopenhauer, his mother and the University where he taught among others contributed by Mr Jochen Stollberg of the Schopenhauer Archive, Frankfurt, Germany, were put on display. A talented student of Deshbandhu College Mr Abhineet Kumar B A (hons)course drew the sketches of Schopenhauer and his mother which were the main attraction of the exhibition. Side by side a book exhibition also was organized by Dr Krishna Jain and her students of Janki Devi Memorial College, DU.
Prof S R Bhatt offered the vote of thanks to the participants and the first day of the 3 day conference was over.
Our Principal Dr A P Raste’s presence encouraged the Deshbandhu Community very much. The students of Deshbandhu College, especially from the department of philosophy also participated in the seminar as volunteers and helped in managing the function promptly and efficiently till the end of the program. Besides students, the teachers of Deshbandhu College also participated in the seminar and offered their help in organizing the seminar. For this I must mention the name of my colleague Ms Subasini Barik from the department of Philosophy without whose help it would not have been possible for me to organize this seminar. I am specially thankful to her. Dr. Chitra Atreyee, Dr. Achala Bharati, Mr. Aswini Shankar, Dr. Matadin Gupta, Dr P Unni Krishnan, Dr Seema Narayana, Mrs. Sabita Singh, Dr Sangeeta, Dr Rama, Dr G Pant, Dr Aftab, Dr Joyeeta Dutta and many others deserve special thanks for their encouragement and support. Thanks are also due to all others and particularly the students from JNU and JDM college who helped in making the seminar a great success. Thanks are due to the teachers from different colleges of Delhi University. We are highly obliged to our head of the department Prof Vibha Chaturvedi of Delhi University for her graceful presence during the seminar.
On 23rd morning at 10 a. m. the first academic session began. Prof R L Singh from Allahabad University Chaired the session and honorable Mr Hans Joachim Kiderlen from Tashkent, Prof Matthias Kossler from Germany, and Prof R C Pradhan from Hyderabad University presented their papers. Mr Kiderlen’s paper was on “Reception of Indian thought in 19th Century European Philosophy- the examples of Hegel, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche”. Prof Kossler concentrated on the theme of the philosophy and religion in Scghopenahuer’s philosophy. Prof Pradhan focused on “ the Vedantic world-view underlying Schopenhauer’s metaphysics of human existence, time and the world”.
The second session began at 11.45 A M. Dr Thomas Regehly from germany Chaired the session and Prof R K Gupta from Kanpur IIT, and Prof Indu Sarin from Panjab University presented their papers. One of the important points of discussion in Prof Gupta’s paper on ‘Schopenhauer and Freud’ was that “..excessive repression can”.. not only damage the human personality but also it can lead to neurosis or even to insanity and both the thinkers agree on this point besides many other points. Prof Indu Sarin brought out a comparison between Schopenhauer’s concept of will and the Vedantic concept of Maya.
After the lunch break the 3rd session began at 2.45 P M. Prof S R Bhatt Chaired the session and Prof S S K Singh from Manipur University, Dr Rakesh Chandra from Lucknow Universityand Dr Thomas Regehly presented their papers. Prof Singh emphasized on the fact that Schopenhauer is the first major Western philosopher who seriously pursues a study of Indian philosophical systems and incorporates Indian philosophical ideas into his scheme. Dr Rakesh Chandra argued that despite Schopenhauer’s emphasis on “will” as a foundational entity it is possible to build a construcultural philosophy from his observations. Dr Regehly in his lecture called Schopenhauer “the Buddha of Frankfurt” and made a comparison of Schopenhauer , Buddha and Kamadamana through Thomas Mann’s novel “The Transposed Heads” .
The fourth session began at 4 P M. Prof Matthias Kossler Chaired the session. Dr Michael Gerhard from germany, Dr Douglas Berger from USA and Prof D Nesy from Kerala presented their papers. Dr Gerhard while comparing Schopenhauer and Buddhism maintained that Schopenhauer preferred the Buddhist theory of rebirth (which he calls palingenesis) to the Brahmanic theory of transmigration (which he calls metempsychosis). Dr Douglas Berger from USA presented “A question of influence Schopenhauer, Early Indian thought and a critique of some proposed conditions of influence” in which he convincingly argued that Schopenhauer was certainly highly influenced by early Indian thought for which there was a good debate and Dr Berger could convince his convictions. Prof Nesy from Kerala tried to look at Schopenhauer from a different angle- the angle of existentialism where the prime concern is man and man alone.
On 24th morning the fifth session began at10 A. M. Prof R C Pradhan Chaired the session and Dr Dipti Dutta from Miranda House, Dr Krishna Jain from JDM College and Dr Deepika Chatterjee from Gargi College presented their papers on different themes. Dr Dipti Dutta’s objective in her paper was to bring out some striking points of similarities between Buddhist approach to life and the world and that of Schopenhauer. Dr Krishna Jain tried to relate Schopenhauer to Kant and Indian philosophy. Dr Deepika Chatterjee made a comparative study of Schopenhauer and Rabindra Nath tagore with a special reference to Aesthetic experience.
The sixth academic session began after a short tea break at 11.45 A M. Dr Michael Gerhard Chaired the session. Prof Yasuo Kamata from Japan, Dr Stephan Atzert from Australia and Prof Sitansu Ray from Kolkata presented their papers. Prof Kamata discussed Schopenhauer and Buddhism under the headings of pessimistic society and pessimistic religion. Prof Sitansu Ray from Kolkata made a beautiful comparison between the pessimistic notion of will in Schopenhauer to that of the joyous and blissful note of will in Rabindranath Tagore in his parallel study of Schopenhauer and Tagore on will.
After the lunch break the seventh academic session began under the Chairmanship of Dr Douglas Berger. Prof Shashi P Kumar from JNU , Dr Krishanan Unni P from Deshbandhu College presented their papers. While Prof Kumar tried to relate Schopenhauer to Upanishads Dr Unni attempted to explicate Schopenhauer’s idea of the association of ideas and the propagation of the Will in the context of certain contemporary debates of the self.
At 4 P M the eighth academic session began. Dr Stepahn Atzert Chaired the session. Dr S V Eswaran the former principal of Deshbandhu College and presently from St Stephens college paused a hypothetical dialogue with Arthur Schopenhauer on creativity and discovery in a very interesting manner. Dr Manish Sharma from Venkateswar College presented his paper on Schopenhauer’s being through interaction with Vedanta and Buddhism.
On 24th evening the Valedictory session took place at 6 pm and Dr L M Singhviji graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. In his valedictory speech he said that a better word to say good bye is to say that we’ll meet again, in German “Aufwiedersehen”. He focused on the importance of the dialogue between India and Germany with special reference to Schopenhauer and Indian philosophy
Dr Arati Barua offered the vote of thanks to all the participants and those who were present for their co-operation in completing the 3 day international seminar successfully.
Dr Arati Barua,
Department of Philosophy, Deshbandhu College.