Reviewer: Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Independent scholar and Member of Rajya Sabha

Through seven chapters Rajiv Malhotra pursues a central argument to highlight the imperative need to respect ‘difference’. He explores the nature of difference between a ‘history-centered’ worldview and what he calls ‘adhyatma-vidya’. He brings to fore the difference between ‘integral unity’ and ‘synthetic unity’ and attitude towards ‘chaos’. The distinctive features of a civilization are embodied through language. A vocabulary emerges which permeates discourses in each civilization, be it cosmologies, metaphysical systems or even social structures. Rajiv Malhotra does not restrict himself to abstract theoretical discussion. His insistence on preserving difference with mutual respect – not with mere ‘tolerance’ – is more pertinent today when the notion of a single universalism is being propounded. There can be no single universalism even if it assimilates or, in the author’s words, ‘digests’ elements from other civilizations. The book is engaging, and it can be disturbing or received with celebration depending upon one’s attitude to difference. I have no doubt that its contents will stimulate a meaningful introspection.

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