New Book by Veena Sharma

Advaita Vedanta and Akan: Inquiry into an Indian and African Ethos (Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, 2015), by Veena Sharma, places the yet unexamined consonances and dissonances between two disparate world views – one Indian and the other African – under a comparative lens. It seeks to set up a cross-cultural dialogue even as it aims to understand the two on their own terms through their own epistemological constructs. Through an exploration of the concepts of God and the Human Person, it unravels the aspirational goals framed by each, the degrees of ultimate perfection sought by it and the contributions the two traditions make to human civilization.

The book foregrounds the fact that there are many ways of approaching fundamental questions regarding the human condition, each valid in its own historical and geographical context. It provides an insight into how each world view points to a different approach to the universe; to relations between the Divine and the world, and between humans and humans, leading to different types of social formations and related issues and having far reaching influence on their understanding of morality, ethics, justice, group cohesion and how they deal with defaulters. An understanding of those approaches can enable sharper insights and deeper reflections into the strong and weak points of one’s own particular tradition.

The field work shows that despite sustained and pervasive exposure to other belief systems – especially the colonial intervention – the two indigenous systems continue to deeply impact the mindsets of their followers.

In a global environment of increased social interactions the book seeks to showcase freshly negotiated relations that transcend traditional prejudices and biases.