What does Yoga mean in today’s world? Is it a way for people to escape the humdrum of their weary existence? What does it mean to the yoga gurus who manage to reach across the seas and make it a common practice? Where does it all originate and how has it developed through the ages? Yoga, for me, has been a way of stress release and exercise. It manages to calm the mind, almost transporting one to another dimension. However, one sees that it is rather mindlessly practiced today as the instructors inform us what ‘aasan’ is associated with what part of the body.
“There are some questions on Yoga that a practitioner such as myself needs to air.” For the sixth event of the PRISM Lecture Series 2014, Navtej Johar delivered a talk that was enlightened and scholarly, but also oriented towards very concrete and quotidian concerns. “In my teachers, in my students, I can see how much Yoga creates Sukha, happiness – it is tangible, evident. This state permits to maintain the moderation of Sattva, surfacing between the creative dynamic of energy and exhaustion that makes Yoga. But, what happens when we block the depth of this Sukha? Yoga creates happiness, but we don’t let it sink. It turns into a dusty carpet we throw in the air – the dust goes off for a little while, until it comes back in another configuration.”
“Media and Responsibility.” Democracy is unimaginable without a free press. However, what kind of free press, and how much ‘free’ a press is, are questions based on the political and cultural understanding of each democratic tradition.Therefore, in theory and practice, there is increasingly very little consensus, from country to country, on what freedom of press is. In the United States, one of the oldest democracies, the first constitutional amendment categorically protected freedom of press, stopping the Congress of abridging the freedom of speech and press. In contrast, in India, the first amendment famously reduced freedom of press, a fundamental right, to a negotiable one for the government. The constitution brought it under the clutches of the innumerable state laws conceived by the British colonial government. The questions on the freedom of the press, and the responsibility of the press did not quite recover from such early onslaughts. And with many dubious and corruptible ethical conducts in the decades thereafter, our press model very easily fluctuated between totalitarian and libertarian models. The lack of a free and fair press model framework continues to be the hallmark of Indian press. This talk will briefly trace the historiography of the debate on the press and its responsibility, and the need for a theoretical and philosophical framework suited for India. From inadequacies in the newsrooms to structural problems in the news industry, how does one start a conversation on a “democratic press”?
In this remarkable lecture, Sundar began by telling us about a pedagogical experiment they have initiated at his University, wherein ‘themes’ are the fields of study and not particular disciplines. One of the ‘themes’ that they are dealing with is ‘Thinking and Imagination’. From this academic context, one question emerges: “What is the relevance of ‘thinking’ in education, especially in our times of ‘instant culture’?” Ironically, the constant complaint that one hears in our Maggi noodles times, even as it seems one can instantly access ‘happiness’ with less work, is that one has ‘no time for thinking’. There seems to be constant anxiety about things one has ‘to do’ despite the availability of ‘instant’ means of doing them; about the isolation that one feels despite technology bringing a network of ‘friends’ and resources from across the world to one’s fingertips; about the loss of political consciousness and ‘voice’ as one makes rapid, short exchanges with a lot of ‘faces’, instead of long reflective conversations with people whom one has a connection with. Academic capitalism seems to be facilitating tie ups that do nothing but perpetuate this anxiety, and bring into focus one’s inability to cope with the stress of doing it all (alone?).