HarperCollins & Harvard University Press recently announced a new collaboration – The Lecture, a series of talks by writers and thinkers from around the world brought to Indian audiences.
The inaugural lecture by Professor Ruth Harris – Vivekananda, Guru to the World – will be based on the definitive biography of Vivekananda, the Indian monk who shaped the intellectual and spiritual history of both East and West. Prof Ruth Harris is a senior research fellow at All Soul’s College, University of Oxford; fellow of the British Academy; and professor of European History at the University of Oxford.
In her book published by Harvard University Press, Prof Ruth Harris offers an arresting biography, showing how Vivekananda’s thought spawned a global anticolonial movement and became a touchstone of Hindu nationalist politics a century after his death. The iconic monk emerges as a counterargument to Orientalist critiques, which interpret East-West interactions as primarily instances of Western borrowing. As Vivekananda demonstrates, one must not underestimate Eastern agency in the global circulation of ideas.
George Andreou, director of Harvard University Press, remarked, “We are thrilled at the opportunity to bring Ruth Harris’s important book to a wider audience in India and to expand our critical partnership with HarperCollins.”
Speaking on the initiative, Ananth Padmanabhan, chief executive officer, HarperCollins said, “At HarperCollins we believe in the transformative power of words and as a publisher, through our books, we have endeavored to create a platform for ideas that spark conversations. We are delighted to partner with Harvard University Press, to begin this new series where we will be hosting talks by some of the world’s brightest minds writing about people, ideas and issues that matter.”
Few thinkers have had such an enduring impact on both Eastern and Western life as Swami Vivekananda, the Indian monk who inspired the likes of Freud, Gandhi, and Tagore. Blending science, religion, and politics, Vivekananda introduced Westerners to yoga and the universalist school of Hinduism called Vedanta. His teachings fostered a more tolerant form of mainstream spirituality in Europe and North America and forever changed the Western relationship to meditation and spirituality.
Guru to the World traces Vivekananda’s transformation from son of a Calcutta-based attorney into saffron-robed ascetic. At the 1893 World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, he fascinated audiences with teachings from Hinduism, Western esoteric spirituality, physics, and the sciences of the mind, in the process advocating a more inclusive conception of religion and expounding the evils of colonialism. Vivekananda won many disciples, most prominently the Irish activist Margaret Noble, who disseminated his ideas in the face of much disdain for the wisdom of a subject race. At home, he challenged the notion that religion was antithetical to nationalist goals, arguing that Hinduism was intimately connected with Indian identity.
Ruth Harris offers an arresting biography, showing how Vivekananda’s thought spawned a global anticolonial movement and became a touchstone of Hindu nationalist politics a century after his death. The iconic monk emerges as a counterargument to Orientalist critiques, which interpret East-West interactions as primary instances of Western borrowing. As Vivekananda demonstrates, we must not underestimate Eastern agency in the global circulation of ideas.
Ruth Harris is the author of Lourdes and The Man on Devil’s Island, which won the Wolfson Prize and the National Jewish Book Award.
HarperCollins is also celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, having begun publishing in India in 1992. HarperCollins India publishes some of the finest writers from the Indian Subcontinent and around the world, publishing approximately 200 new books every year, with a print and digital catalog of more than 2,000 titles across 10 imprints. Its authors have won almost every major literary award including the Man Booker Prize, JCB Prize, DSC Prize, New India Foundation Award, Atta Galatta Prize, Shakti Bhatt Prize, Gourmand Cookbook Award, Publishing Next Award, Tata Literature Live! Award, Gaja Capital Business Book Prize, BICW Award, Sushila Devi Award, Sahitya Akademi Award and Crossword Book Award.
HarperCollins India also represents some of the finest publishers in the world including Harvard University Press, Gallup Press, Oneworld, Bonnier Zaffre, Usborne, Dover and Lonely Planet. HarperCollins India has won the Publisher of the Year Award six times – (Tata Literature Live! in 2022, 2021, 2018 and 2016), at (Publishing Next in 2021 & 2015). HarperCollins India is a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers.
Founded in 1913, Harvard University Press is the publisher of such classics as Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice, Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic, Stephen Jay Gould’s The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, James Kugel’s The Bible As It Was, Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice, E O Wilson’s On Human Nature, and Helen Vendler’s The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. We offer books for a general readership as well as scholarly and professional audiences from renowned experts and new voices who are redefining entire fields of inquiry. Our commitment to publishing works in translation is exemplified by an unparalleled collection of series presenting world classics in bilingual editions, anchored by the Loeb Classical Library.
Delhi’s India Habitat Centre will host the event in the Stein Auditorium, on Friday, 27 January, 2023, 7.00 p.m. Register here: http://bitly.ws/xUEQ