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Understanding Sarkar
The Indian Episteme, Macrohistory and Transformative Knowledge

Sohail Inayatullah

(Leiden, Brill,  December 2001)

ISBN 9004-121935,  

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Sohail Inayatullah takes us on a journey through Indian philosophy, grand theory and macrohistory. We understand and appreciate Indian cyclical and spiral theories of history, and their epistemological context. From other civilizations, we explore the stages and mechanisms of social change as developed by seminal thinkers such as Ssu-Ma Ch’ien, Ibn Khaldun, Giambattista Vico, George Wilhelm Friedrick Hegel, Oswald Spengler, Pitirim Sorokin, Michel Foucault and many others. They are invited to a multi-civilizational dialog on the nature of agency and structure, and the escape ways from the patterns of history. 

But the journey is centered on P.R. Sarkar, the controversial Indian philosopher, guru and activist. While Sarkar passed away in 1990, his work, his social movements, his vision of the future remains ever alive. Inayatullah brings us closer to the heart and head of this giant luminary. Through Understanding Sarkar, we gain insight into Indian philosophy, comparative social theory, and the ways in which knowledge can transform and liberate.                                         

Comments on Understanding Sarkar  

The next generation of South Asians will consider themselves fortunate that scholars like Sohail Inayatullah have helped to keep open a humane and plural vision of the future for them.  

Dr. Ashis Nandy, Director, Center of the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi. Author of The Intimate Enemy and Traditions, Tyranny and Utopias.    

Deeply inspiring and provocative. The Sarkar-Inayatullah combination makes very good reading indeed. Inayatullah introduces the fascinating world – in time, in space, and in social space – of P.R. Sarkar.  

Johan Galtung, Professor of Peace, Political Science and Sociology at the Universities of Bern, Saarland, Hawaii and Witten-Herdecke, and author of over seventy books on peace studies, futures studies, international relations, Gandhi, and social theory.  

Dr. Sohail Inayatullah is the leading example of a new generation of global thinkers, actors and visionaries.  While firmly attached to and informed by the culture into which he was born, and passionately and yet rationally committed to facilitating the future of South Asia, Sohail Inayatullah is also a global  ‑ it is not too much to say, cosmic ‑ figure as well, carrying in his very person the tensions and hopes of a future which is at the same time both local and global.  

James Dator, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies, University of Hawaii. Secretary-General and President of the World Futures Studies Federation, 1982-1990.  

In addition to the service he is rendering by bringing to a wider audience the thoughts of a very important thinker, Sohail Inayatullah provides an extraordinary contribution to social theory with an unusual combination of analytic rigor and boundary challenging imagination.  

Professor Michael Shapiro, University of Hawaii is the author of numerous books on political and social  theory including, Reading the Postmodern Polity, Reading 'Adam Smith', Violent Cartographies and Cinematic Political Thought, For Moral Ambiguity: National Culture and the Politics of the Family  2001.  

Sarkar's writings on historical processes offer a refreshing alternative to the orthodox interpretations of Toynbee, Hegal and Marx.  He makes Samuel Huntington's Clash Of Civilizations seem parochial in comparison.   

Dr. Inayatullah skillfully weaves Sarkar's comprehensive overview of cultural life-cycles into a coherent whole, through which the full sweep and scope of the fundamental forces that shape history can be rendered.  Despite the magnitude of the canvas upon he paints, his is a work of systematic and focused scholarship.  This book should be required reading for anyone looking to understand macrotheories of social change from an non-eurocentric, holistic, and synergistic perspective.  

Dr. Tim Dolan 

Associate Professor of Political Science at Southern Oregon University ands Director of the Master in Management Program.                                                                     

Comments On Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar  

“Sarkar’s theories deserve serious study and discussion … Objectively they provide answers to all economic and social dilemmas … I owe my greatest intellectual debt to P. R. Sarkar.”  

Dr. Ravi Batra, economist and best-selling author, Southern Methodist University, Texas.  

“Sarkar is so much deeper and more imaginative than most … He is an intellectual giant of our times.”  

Professor Johan Galtung, co-founder of International Peace Research Association and author of seventy one books on epistemology, world politics, Gandhi, civilization theory, macrohistory and peace studies.  

“P. R. Sarkar was one of the greatest modern philosophers of India.”  

Former President of India, Giani Zail Singh.  

“The Indian master P. R. Sarkar, who did more than thirty years of studies and practical concrete work with the poor of India, is very important for all who yearn for a liberation which starts from economics and opens to a totality of personal and social human existence.”  

Leonardo Boff, Brazilian founder of Liberation Theology, author of more than fifty books, recipient of a Doctorate Honoris Causa from Lunds University in Sweden  

“P.R. Sarkar, in his own way, is more than the equal of the great historian Arnold Toynbee. Sarkar not only illuminated the growth and inevitable decline that comes from the “Acquisitive-Capitalist” stage in societal evolution that has now deeply infected the West, but offers wise counsel on what to do instead.”  

Oliver W. Markley, Professor of Human Sciences, University of Houston at Clear Lake. Author of Changing Images of Mankind  


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