Reflections on Decoloniality from a South African Indian Perspective: Conceptual Metaphors in Vivekananda’s Poem “My Play Is Done”
Keywords:decolonisation; conceptual metaphor theory; indigenous knowledge; cognitive linguistics; Vivekananda; Hinduism; global South
Swami Vivekananda was an influential Indian saint, poet, philosopher and political revolutionary. His work can be seen as a conduit for South African Hindus who are part of the Indian diaspora, allowing them to connect with their historical, cultural and spiritual roots in the religious and conceptual world of India. The first step to decolonising those who have been subjected to colonial hegemony is to (re)connect them with their intellectual and spiritual roots, and it is argued here that this is precisely the zeitgeist behind Vivekananda’s life and mission in general. His poetry is particularly valuable because he wrote in English, instead of his native Bengali, and was thereby able to reach English-speaking Hindus all over the world. In 1936 Indians in South Africa decided to adopt English as a lingua franca, both as a language of teaching and learning, and as a home language. This article focuses on one of these poems, “My Play Is Done”, which Vivekananda composed in 1895 in New York. The poem presents the human condition from a Hindu perspective, which differs substantially from the Western way of thinking. This article explores these concepts within the framework of conceptual metaphor theory. With reference to metaphors used in the poem, various aspects of Hindu philosophical thought will be explored, showing how Oriental conceptual reality differs from Western thought. This provides a link to an ancient precolonial way of thinking, accessible to diasporas around the world.
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