He said that Professor K. N. Pannikar has sought to explain to the reader, as Ibn Khaldun put it, 'how and why things are as they are' and 'to wash his hands of any blind trust in tradition'.
"His preferred area of work is intellectual history, which he locates at the intersection of social and cultural history and his focus has been on importance of culture in the transformation of consciousness," Ansari said.
Ansari further said that his 2004 Kappen Memorial Lecture of 2004 on 'Cultural Past and National Identity' (included in this volume) and his assertion that the dynamism of Indian culture lies in the integrative-disintegrative tendencies of Indian polity and the resulting cultural diversity and plurality that has moulded the cultural practices of the people and is embedded in national identity.
"Since the logic of this continues to be contested in our society, the debate necessarily shifts to the understanding of our own history. Thus history and writing of history does become the site of this critical struggle, on the intellectual as well as the practical plane. The contestation takes place in the realm of historiography, culture, education and contemporary politics," he said.
He said that this volume before is a collection of papers and articles that Professor Panikkar has written over years. Together, they sustain and reinforce his position as an outstanding public intellectual of our times.
"This tome of over 650 pages does not have to be read at one go; instead, it has to be taken piece by piece, essay by essay, each morsel relished and carefully digested," he added.
--ANI (Posted on 12-09-2013)