SI – 3: Call for Papers

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The Call for papers for the SI-3 Conference is as below. The PDF version is available here.
The last date for the submission of an Abstract or simple statement of intention is 8th June 2017.

‘Tamil Nadu – The Land of Dharma’

Swadeshi Indology Conference – 3


Purpose and Goals

Tamil is one of the most ancient living languages of humanity. It is a language that has been considered both classical and sacred by its speakers. For at least last two thousand and five hundred years, Tamil has been nourishing the spiritual traditions that are an integral part of pan-Indic spiritual and cultural traditions. Just as Tamil has enriched itself with other Indic traditions, it has also provided the cardinal values and narratives for pan-Indic body. It is not an accident that all the three great Acharyas – Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva came from South India of whom two came from Tamil regions. It is not an accident that the Bhakti movement with rich philosophical mystic content flowered from Tamil Nadu and spread to entire India. The entirety of Tamil life with no distinction of sacred and the secular revolves around Indic spirituality. Classical Tamil literature, music, dance, drama, agriculture, architecture, folk traditions, medicine, bio-diversity, theo-diversity – any and every dimension of Tamil life has Indic spirituality embedded in it. Today they are all in an endangered state. The reason is not hard to seek.For more than the past five decades, the Dravidian racial narrative has dominated the socio-political thinking in Tamil Nadu. This has created deep fault lines which have had disastrous effect on the cultural, social and spiritual lives of Tamil people.

Against this backdrop, it gives us great pleasure to announce Swadeshi Indology – 3, the next conference in the Swadeshi Indology Conference Series. SI-3 is an initiative to positively regenerate the narrative for Tamil people and culture in a genuine way. Rooted in truth and a holistic approach to history and society, SI-3 wants to once again show the world and India that Tamil culture is an inalienable part of the pan-Indian culture and has contributed immensely to the same. It aims to bring to the academic conscience that reducing Tamil culture as something alien from pan-Indian culture and spirituality is to make Tamils forego their own immense contribution. This conference aims to show that the Tamils have given their best to Indian culture and that in celebrating Indian culture and spirituality, Tamil culture gets celebrated. SI-3 also aims to take forward the immense value that Saivaite, Vaishnavite scriptures as well as Sangham texts contribute towards the further development of our society.

Tamil Nadu is one of the states of the Indian Union which has seen all the major dharmic systems thrive at various times in its long and hoary history. The schisms, however, between Vedic streams of Saivism & Vaishnavism on the one hand and the Jain/Buddhist schools on the other hand reached some explosive heights at times. These schisms were smoothened over time and Jain-Buddhist (mainly Jainism) got incorporated into Saivaite and Vaishnavaite streams. Chilapathikaram – supposedly written by a Jain monk, a Tamil epic of early Common Era, speaks harmoniously and in glorifying terms about Durga and the Avatarhood of Rama. And even Gnana Sambandar considered the most militant Saivaite saint against the Jains, who allowed 8000 Jains to impale themselves according to Saivaite tradition, says that the criticisms of Jains and Buddhists are allowed by Siva Himself. Thus, we see that South India is a place where the pan-Hindu dharma synthesis thrived. With the coming of colonialism and the development of the Dravidian identity derived mainly from theses that originated in Western scholarship, there has been great impact on the dharmic systems of yore.

SI-3 Tamil Nadu

Themes for papers

The SI-3 conference intends to examine the themes listed below in a scholarly and unbiased manner, and from a Swadeshi standpoint. This includes scientifically examining the veracity of the prevailing theses. Valid methods include: use of archaeological data, interpretation of original texts, interpretations from dharmic practices such as art forms, oral traditions,rituals, etc. In this endeavor, we solicit your contribution in the form of academic contribution in your chosen topic.

Papers are invited on the Tamil Nadu story through the following themes. Papers will also be considered if they cover some other theme not listed below, based on their merit and value to the overall cause.

We are aware that the SI-3 is entering in a way an uncharted academic territory at one level while like all magnificent endeavors in India, it is also paradoxically a path well defined by tradition. So we are aware that the usual ‘academic’ material may not be available and true traditional sources may be hard to locate. Nevertheless we request our contributors to take the challenge and bring out to the world the hidden world of Tamil culture and spirituality.  

1. Spiritual streams in Tamil Nadu and their relation to modern Tamil society

• Sangham age: Religion: Vedic [Literary and archeological dimensions]
• Buddhist and Jain co-existence with Vedic religion: Sangham data and archeological data
• Conflicts never became holy wars: How conflicts between Dharmic traditions were overcome by the Samanvaya movement and often kings supported the Dharmic streams without sectarianism. [archeological and epigraphical data]
• Chilapathikaram as the first epic to embed pan-Indic spiritual traditions
• Epic tradition in Tamil :[with emphasis on Manimekalai, Jivakasinathamani, Perunkathai]
• Saivaite Sacred literature and Vedas
• Sri Ramanuja: Vedas and Alzhwars
• Saiva Siddhanta: Santhana Kuravars [Meikandar, Arulnanthi Sivam, Maraignana Sambandar, Umapathi Sivam]
• Bharathi and his Vedantic humanism as basis of Nationalism
• Women emancipation and Advaitic movement in Tamil Nadu
• Saiva Siddhanta and social reform movement in Tamil Nadu
• Sri Vaishnavism and social emancipation movements in Tamil Nadu
• Siddhar literature: Reality and Rhetoric

2. Dimensions of Tamil life : Embedded sacredness

• South Indian architecture [traditional house building, temple construction, town planning, village planning]
• Traditional games in Tamil Nadu [their antiquity, their role in developmental psychology, social impacts, spiritual dimensions etc.]
• Traditional education/vocational training systems in Tamil Nadu : history, challenges and adaptation needs
• Traditional folk songs, art forms and their various dimensions
• Traditional ecology: sacred groves and sacred mountains
• Traditional water conservation and management in Tamil Nadu
• Rural livestock traditions : Deities in bio-diversity conservation and promotion

3. Examining Dravidian movement and evidence

• Racism as Social emancipation: a critique of the Dravidian movement
• Pseudo-rationalism of Dravidian movement a critique from scientific perspective
• Dravidian–Islam axis: Dravidian movement as the facilitator of pan-Islamic politics [pre-independent].
• Tamil secessionism and Islamist political forces [post-independent]
• Dravidian-Christian axis: Dravidian movement as a facilitator of Christian evangelism
• Dravidian movement and the rampant spread of cultural illiteracy in Tamil Nadu
• Aryan Invasion: Examining the genetic evidence
• Harappan – Vedic continuum and Vedic- Sangham continuum
• Linguistics

4. Modern Hinduphobia and Dravidian movement

• Spread of Dravidian racial narrative to the North: Study of JNU agitation and the use of AIT in it
• Romila Thapar : Deconstructing Hinduism through colonial ethnic framework.
• Also include other Marxist-Western scholars
• Neo-Luddite movement and Tamil secession-ism versus sacred geography of Tamil Nadu by Dharmic traditions [Jallikattu to Rama Sethu].

5. Caste, Untouchability and Hinduism

• Eradication of Casteism; Ambedkar; Difference between Hindu and Evangelical approaches.
• Swami Sahajananda [a Scheduled Community social reformer and a hero ignored by Dravidianists] fought against both untouchability, evangelism and Dravidian movement]
• Ayya Vaikundar model: How a seer in South India in nineteenth century used Puranic narrative to fight both colonialism, social stagnation and proselytization.
• M.C. Rajah: Scheduled Caste leader from Tamil Nadu who signed the famous Moonje-Rajah pact.
• Caste: social capital or evangelical capital? [Need papers to be presented on both dimensions]
• Saiva Siddhanta and eradication of casteism
• Sree Vaishanvism and eradication of casteism

6. Roadmap for Tamil spiritual traditions to reassert their pan-Indic nature and contribution

• Saiva Siddhanta in the light of modern science [consciousness – hard problem, The dance of Siva etc.]
• Sree Vaishnavism – the framework for ecology: The physical universe as the body of Vishnu
• Tamil Jain contributions in the dialogue for co-existence and against proselytization

Policies and Deadlines:

The conference dates and venue details are yet to be finalized. However, here are some essential details for those interested to participate.

The last date for the submission of an Abstract or simple statement of intention is 8th June 2017.

Use of Tamil, Sanskrit and English: Since we are interested in involving more and more voices from “insiders” (i.e. stakeholders in our culture), we have provided the option of presenting papers in Sanskrit and Tamil as well English for this theme.

Evaluation and stipends: All the papers that are included in the final publication will receive a cash stipend once final selection process is complete and five best papers will receive  awards. We request all serious Indic scholars to produce quality papers of international standards, and become part of our new and rigorous direction to Indological research.

We invite the broadest participation from all directions.

Please send your abstracts along with a brief bio to