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Sunday, Oct 17, 2021
Outlook.com

Many Wrinkles In History

Indianness cannot be a fixity or a dogma. It remains with us as a magic puzzle

Many Wrinkles In History
Many Wrinkles In History
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
In the early years of the last century, a young geologist, the son of a Ceylonese Tamil father and an English mother, raised on the downs of the Kent countryside, but living in Kandy, found himself worrying over the question of what could possibly unite India as a nation. Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was not of course alone in his puzzlement. Many young men (as they usually were), most of them shipped beyond the shores of India by their fathers to gain an education, had begun to be mesmerised by the question of what India was, and of what made them Indian. Coomaraswamy, like so many of his fellow questers, believed he had found the answer: "The diverse peoples of India," he wrote, "are like the parts of some magic puzzle, seemingly impossible to fit together, but falling easily into place when once the key is known."

Does such a key exist? For Coomaraswamy it lay not in race, religion, or language, but in the realm of aesthetics: in a history of artistic shaping that, in his energetic and deft hands, was to be invented and henceforth known as 'Indian Art'—one whose...
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