- Knowledge as a Way of Living:In Dialogue with Daya Krishna
A month has passed. I still cannot grasp the fact that he is really no longer in this world. That I will not drive to see him on my scooter, stopping on the way for a mālā of flowers, namkeen, lemon tart from Bake-hut, café latté from Barista, pan from the corner shop near Niro's. I used to reach Dayaji's home around seven-thirty in the evening, to always find him reading. I would sit quietly not to disturb him, until he suddenly noticed me and exclaimed: "Kaun? Daniel?" And then we would sit and discuss everything under the sun: Advaita, Nyāya, Kant, beauty, mathematics, music, art, thinking itself, Patañjali's Yogasūtra, the , cricket. "Did you write anything?" he would ask with shining eyes, or tell me of his unbelievable discoveries, about a new book or article he had read earlier in the day, about his own writing; or he would dictate a letter to me, to be sent the next morning via e-mail. "May I have more ice?" he would ask with a smile, pointing at his glass of beer or soda, and then carefully, accurately, formulate another argument, encouraging me to ask a question, to disagree, to take issue with him.
Last year, at the Interim World Philosophy Congress in Delhi, Dayaji met Sengaku Mayeda. These famous scholars, acquainted with each other's work, met for the first time. "What is your philosophy?" asked Mayeda. Dayaji laughed. "We are thinking" he said in reply. What he actually meant was that his interest knows no boundaries; that his mind constantly produces doubts and queries; that he cannot leave any convention-axiom-postulation unquestioned; that he is appreciative and critical at the same time toward every position-argument-text; that he wants to read with and through a text, rather than taking for granted, abiding, repeating. "Perhaps we could think of Kant in another way," he wrote recently to Professor Bhuvan Chandel, "not as a philosopher to be 'understood' by other thinkers in the last two hundred years, but as a starting point for carrying the Kantian enterprise further. This can be done in the context of other philosophers also, instead of wasting time in 'understanding' what they 'really' said. We might profit from their insights and carry them further to the best of our ability. This would bring diverse and multiple aspects of a thinker to our notice which seldom are seen and other strains which exist only as a tendency in his thought."
Over the years, Dayaji "fought" (at least) two great "philosophical battles." The first was against what he referred to as "myths" about Indian philosophy, and primarily the so-called distinction, unfortunately still prevailing in many circles, between "Western philosophy" and "Eastern wisdom." Dayaji struggled to show that Indian philosophy is not less philosophical than its Western counterpart. At the same [End Page 431] time he highly respected and was immensely interested in Chinese and Japanese philosophies. The reduction of Indian philosophy to a "spiritual" or endeavor simply enraged him. On this subject see his famous article "Three Myths about Indian Philosophy," in his magnum opus Indian Philosophy: A Counter Perspective (recently published in a revised and enlarged edition by Sri Satguru Publications, Delhi). "The interests of Western Indological studies combined with the search for a spiritual self-identity in the face of overwhelming Western superiority in all fields of knowledge," he wrote in his preface to this intriguing collection of articles, "seemed to have led to the creation of a certain picture of India's philosophical past which has become fixed in the minds of successive generations both in India and abroad, through innumerable textbooks which render it almost impossible to question the picture or build a different one." He further wrote that the second objective of his book and of his work in Indian philosophy in general was to "re-establish a living continuity with India's philosophical past to make it relevant to the intellectual concerns of the present." The final objective of the book, he explained, "is to take a close...