MCPH hosts talk by Devdutt Pattanaik
At a talk hosted by the Centre for Cultural History, mythologist and author Devdutt Pattanaik addressed a gathering on ‘Mythology: Questioning the Nature of Truth’ at Manipal Centre for Philosophy and Humanities (MCPH) here, on March 17.
Comparing the historical and the present form of the word ‘truth’, he discussed the role that British colonisers played in shaping our views about the world and how we perceive it. Examining the evolution of ‘truth’, he explained how people believe that science was the absolute truth, and that all that is not measurable or verifiable was untrue. Calling ‘truth’ a religious word, he then questioned the position of religion and the concept of God in this situation. According to him, religion has today been stripped of its power.
Talking about the problems created by the search for ‘truth’, he said that the question ‘Who has the truth?’ is a large and absurd battle, and that people have stopped listening to alternative ideas. With combat taking the place of conversation, he explained how each side argues about whose truth is a better truth, ignoring the fact that ideas evolve over history, geography and from generation to generation.
Continuing his talk, Dr Pattanaik said that all of us have an access to the world through our ‘frame of reference’ and hence, we see the world very differently from one another. He described how we, as a people, have become uncomfortable with plurality, with differing viewpoints and beliefs. He then talked about his method of looking at the truth – how it is ‘quantitative’ and not ‘qualitative’. “I know some truth, you know some truth and we can share our knowledge and keep learning over time.”
“I attended the talk because of Dr. Devdutt’s wide canvass of work and knowledge. My favourite part the talk was where he advocated plurality,” said Amala, a second year student from MCPH. Culminating the speech with a folk tale on Ramayana, he said that our lives are our own Ramayanas and that we have to write it in our own unique ways.
Featured image: Adwitiya Shukla
Edited by: Sruti Srinivasan.