Founder's Notes

When Prajnya was first imagined, Dr. Swarna Rajagopalan wrote these notes as a way of spelling out and explaining what she was imagining. Prajnya's journey has been enabled and enriched by the vision and work of many others. Still, we share these first notes with you nostalgically and as part of our historical record.

Why this name?

  • Prajnya is a word with great resonance for many South Asians.
  • In Sanskrit, it is used to mean wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, discrimination or judgment. The Tamil equivalent, Praggnyai, is translated as awareness.
  • To Hindus, it signifies the arts and eloquence as personified by Saraswati, the goddess of learning.
  • To Buddhists, it signifies true, transcendental wisdom as explicated in the Prajñaparamita.
  • We aspire to bring these qualities to our work and to our initiatives.

Why here and why now?

The launch of Prajnya followed from our belief that:

  • Scholarship, beyond its innate pleasures and intrinsic value, must benefit humanity in some way.
  • The marriage of scholarship and policy need not deprive one of its contemplative depth and the other of its immediacy and receptivity to the imperatives of the present moment.
  • Multiple intellectual approaches and a variety of expressive forms are essential to the scholarly enterprise.
  • Collaboration and cooperative action are the key to effectiveness and change.
  • Location and identity alter perspective on what constitute security and insecurity, what peace is sustainable and what solutions are just.

Why yet another...?

  • Non-governmental organization? Because civil society’s engagement with peace, justice and security issues cannot be limited to a few fora.
  • Public policy research organization? Because a plurality of perspectives is the foundation of learning.
  • Publications and multi-media source? Because teaching, advocacy and communication bring learning to fruit.
  • Networking hub? Because communication, networking and community-building is an essential part of the Prajnya vision.

Prajnya, vis-a-vis our colleagues

  • We see and seek common ground with our colleagues, but hold our own in terms of the perspective we bring to work on common issues and in our commitment to public outreach, including children.
  • We see our greatest contribution as lying in the creation of knowledge assets and in the forging of the attitudinal infrastructure of a peaceful and democratic society.