Department of Sociology, Stella Maris College, Tamilnadu, India
Lecturing: Indian Art, Culture, Religion and Society as Manifestations of Indian Philosophy
Host: Hillsborough Community College, Tampa, FL
August 2000-June 2001
"In a rather homogenous culture like that of rural southern Utah, Sundari has been an absolute gift! She has brought our students a new awareness and appreciation for cultural differences." That's how Louise Excell, associate dean at Dixie State College of Utah, recalls the visit of Sundari Krishnamurthy (who prefers to be called by her first name).
Sundari is head of the sociology department at Stella Maris College in Tamilnadu, India. She lectured on Indian philosophy as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida, and traveled to Dixie State during her holiday. She also spent several days at Polk Community College's two campuses in Florida.
In her lectures, Sundari focused on the ways in which Indian philosophy can be viewed as manifestations of art, culture and religious practices. For instance, she says, dance in India is considered "a vibrant visual performing art, embodying all that is siva (beautiful) from its originator."
Much to Sundari's surprise, her students had little difficulty interacting with a scholar from abroad. She feels she was able to help change some common misperceptions of India, particularly those concerning gender. "India was perceived a s poor and illiterate, and the women backward," she explains. "Their first reaction to me was whether I was typical of all Indian women. When they listened tome and saw my numerous slides on India, they would express their amazement."
Encouraging a deeper understanding of her homeland became a theme during her visit. She titled her slide presentation "India: Beyond Curry, Caste and Cow." Said one student: "I felt a greater respect for India and its culture after learning about their way of life."