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Lectures on Hindu Theology

Nondualist Vedanta theology as propounded by Sri Shankara (four lectures)

Professor M Narasimhachary
1 May 2002

This is a course of four lectures on the Nondualist (Advaita) Vedanta theological system as propounded by Sri Sankara, the 8th century CE Hindu theologian. The aim is to focus on the contribution of Sankara to Vedanta theology in general and to Nondualist Vedanta in particular. Theistic Vedanta, articulated by later Vedanta theologians such as Ramanuja, Madhva, and Vallabha, cannot be fully understood without a proper understanding of the works of Sankara.

Related: Hindu Theology, Vedanta

Classics of Hindu theology 1 (six lectures)

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
1 May 2002

To introduce students to systematic philosophical and theological thinking in Hindu theistic traditions, this term's lectures examine the Srimad Rahasyatrayasara (The Essence of the Three Holy Mysteries) of the 14th century south Indian Vaisnava theologian Vedanta Desika, in the context of earlier south Indian Vaisnavism. Some comparison and contrast will be made with another great classic, the Saiva Civananacittiyar (The Perfection of the Knowledge of Siva) of the 14th century Saiva theologian Arulnanti. (In a later series of lectures, Arulnanti's work will be the prime focus.) Special attention will be paid to problems in interpretation and comparative methodology. These lectures are intended primarily for students in theology and religious studies; no background in Indian studies or theology required, although such background would be useful.

Related: General, Hindu Theology

Hindu non-dualism (advaita) in theory and practice (eight lectures)

Dr Godavarisha Mishra
16 Oct 2003

A series of eight lectures

Related: Hindu Theology, Vedanta

Sankara's Upadesa Sahasri

Dr Godavarisha Mishra
20 Oct 2003

Related: Hindu Theology, Vedanta

Madhvacarya's mitigated monotheism

Wahlstrom Lecture
Dr Deepak Sarma
31 Oct 2003

In this lecture Dr Sarma will examine the distinguishing characteristics of Madhva Vedanta, a school of Hindu theism that was developed in the 13th century by Madhvacraya. He will explore, in particular, the kind of God that Madhvacarya envisioned.

Related: Hindu Theology, Vaisnava, Vedanta

A Hindu theology of revelation, scripture, and tradition: Comments on Vedanta Desika's 14th century Guruparamparasaram

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
28 Jan 2004

Comments on Vedanta Desika's 14th Century Guruparamparasaram

Related: Hindu Theology, Vaisnava

Faith and reason in the scholarship of Tamal Krishna Goswami

Dr Kenneth Valpey
12 Feb 2004

Related: Hindu Theology, Vaisnava

Faith and reason in the scholarship of Tamal Krishna Goswami

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
12 Feb 2004

Related: Hindu Theology, Vaisnava

The dvaita-advaita controversy

Shivdasani Lecture
Professor K. Maheswaran Nair
27 Jan 2005

K. Maheswaran Nair (Professor, Department of Sanskrit, University of Kerala)

Related: Hindu Theology, Vaisnava, Vedanta

The place of devotion and grace in Shankara's soteriology

Graduate Seminar
Jean-Marie Schmitt
8 May 2006

Related: Hindu Theology, Vedanta

Baladeva vidyabhusana's Premeya-ratnavali and the issue of lineage

Graduate Seminar
Kiyokazu Okita
12 Oct 2006

This seminar will present an account of the Vaishnava philosopher Baladeva Vidyabhusana and his place in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. The paper will address the problem of lineage and raise questions about authenticity, authority, and the legitimacy of practice claimed by tradition. Kiyokazu Okita is a graduate student in the Theology Faculty at Oxford, pursuing research for his DPhil on Baladeva. He has degrees from Japan and the USA.

Related: Hindu Theology, Philosophy, Vaisnava

Making room for the goddess: A theology of Sri in fourteenth-century South India

Majewski Lecture
Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
18 May 2007

While Vedanta Desika (fourteenth century, South India), as a Srivaisnava Hindu, was a member of a tradition with the greatest respect for the Goddess Sri, in his era there was still lively debate about her precise status in relationship to the supreme deity, Narayana.

In his Srimad Rahasyatrayasara, Desika pushes for a complete acceptance of Sri as the eternal consort of Narayana, an indispensable equal participant in the divine work of enabling human salvation.
 
Though in many ways a theological conservative and defender of traditional orthodoxy, Desika here shows himself to be radical and innovative in his defense of Sri. Comparison and contrast with debates over the identity of Jesus in early Christian theology and over the role of Mary, mother of Jesus, as co-mediatrix of redemption, clarify Desika's theological method and contribution to the theology of Sri.
 
Professor Frank Clooney, SJ, is Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology at Harvard. Prof. Clooney is the author of numerous articles and books in the area of Hindu Studies and comparative theology, including Fr. Bouchet's India: An 18th-Century Jesuit's Encounter With Hinduism (2005), Divine Mother, Blessed Mother (2005), and Hindu God, Christian God (2001).

Related: Goddesses, Hindu Theology, Vaisnava

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism-Professor Lipner Talk

Surrender to God in Islam, Christianity, and Hinduism
Professor Julius Lipner
24 Jan 2008

This afternoon conference examines the idea of surrender to God in three religions and provides the opportunity to address comparative theological concerns. In all three theistic traditions there is the idea of human surrender to God. The conference will explore what this means in the different traditions and look towards a theological dialogue between them.

Related: Comparative Theology, Hindu Theology

The "Hindu" Goddess and Indian modernity

Professor Sumathi Ramaswamy
15 May 2008

Related: Gender, Goddesses, Grammarians, Hindu Theology, Iconography, Modern India

Hindu understandings of God 1: Ideas of God in Hinduism

Dr Jessica Frazier
29 Jan 2009

We find the idea of God in different religions and it is theologically interesting that semantic analogues of the category appear across the boundaries of traditions. This series of lectures explores Hindu ideas of God and raises questions about the meaning of God in human traditions and the idea of comparative theology.

Related: Hindu Theology

Hindu understandings of God 2: The theology of Ramanuja

Professor Keith Ward
12 Feb 2009

We find the idea of God in different religions and it is theologically interesting that semantic analogues of the category appear across the boundaries of traditions. This series of lectures explores Hindu ideas of God and raises questions about the meaning of God in human traditions and the idea of comparative theology.

Related: Hindu Theology, Vaisnava

Hindu understandings of God 3: The theology of Jiva Gosvami

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
26 Feb 2009

We find the idea of God in different religions and it is theologically interesting that semantic analogues of the category appear across the boundaries of traditions. This series of lectures explores Hindu ideas of God and raises questions about the meaning of God in human traditions and the idea of comparative theology.

Related: Hindu Theology, Vaisnava

Hindu understandings of God 4: The theology of Utpaladeva and the monistic Shaivas

Professor Gavin Flood
12 Mar 2009

We find the idea of God in different religions and it is theologically interesting that semantic analogues of the category appear across the boundaries of traditions. This series of lectures explores Hindu ideas of God and raises questions about the meaning of God in human traditions and the idea of comparative theology.

Related: Hindu Theology, Saiva

Hinduism I: Themes and Textual Sources Lecture 5: Indian Theism

Professor Gavin Flood
11 Nov 2009

This course offers a thematic and historical introduction to Hinduism for students of theology and religious studies. Focusing on the brahmanical tradition we will explore the textual sources, categories, practices and social institutions that formed that tradition. Primary texts in translation will provide the basis for reflection on issues such as dharma, renunciation, caste, and concepts of deity. We then move on to some of the major philosophical developments of the tradition, with particular emphasis on the Vedanta. The course will raise theological and cultural questions about the relation between reason and practice, person and world, and society and gender. We will conclude with a consideration of Hinduism and modernity.

Related: General, Hindu Theology

Hindu Theology: Session One - Introduction and Scriptural Authority in Hindu Traditions

Professor Gavin Flood
28 Jan 2010

This series of seminars examines the idea and possibility of Hindu theology. It would survey the history and constructive theological thinking in Hindu traditions. For some scholars both terms ‘Hindu’ and ‘theology’ are impositions upon South Asia of western categories while for others we can speak about ‘Hindu theology’ in a coherent way. While the course would certainly wish to problematise the category, the main focus would be textual and hermeneutical. If a discipline is defined by its object and/or its method then we might say that theology is a discipline whose object is not a theos but rather ‘revelation.’ Such a definition does not necessarily entail intellectual commitments to theism or the truth of ‘revelation’ but rather roots the discipline in a textual history which develops different kinds of reasoning. Hindu theology would therefore focus on the interpretative and commentarial traditions in the history of Hinduism and encourage critical reasoning about them. In practical terms this would mean that the course would concentrate on classical and medieval periods, particularly the Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava theological traditions that have come down to us in Sanskrit commentaries and independent works. It is hoped that the seminars will provoke theological and philosophical reflections on the meaning of the text studied. The seminar series raises questions about the nature of theology, the nature of reasoning, and the task of theological reading in the contemporary context.

The first seminar will introduce the traditions and themes of the series which will be text historical and thematic. We will raise the question of the coherence of the category ‘Hindu theology’ and the nature and practice of theological reasoning and then begin our examination of Hindu theology through a discussion of the textual sources of Hinduism regarded as primary (śruti) and secondary revelation (smṛti). We will also consider the idea of ongoing revelation in Hinduism with particular reference to the medieval tantric traditions. The discussion will focus on two core Upaniṣads, the earliest, the Bṛhadāranyaka, and the latest, the Śvetāśvatara. 

Reading: Clooney, Francis. ‘Restoring “Hindu Theology” as a Category in Indian Intellectual Discourse’ in Flood (ed.) The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism (Blackwell, 2003), pp. 447–77 Olivelle, Patrick. The Early Upanishads (OUP 2000)

Related: Hindu Theology

Hindu Theology: Session Two - The Vedanta commentarial tradition 1

Professor Gavin Flood
4 Feb 2010

The course will present an account of the Vedānta commentarial tradition and discuss detailed readings of key texts. We will begin with Śaṅkara’s commentary on the Brahma-sūtra 1.1.1 and his advaita interpretation.

Reading: Śaṅkara Brahma-sūtra bhāṣya translated by Swami Gambhirananda (Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1983).

Related: Hindu Theology, Vedanta

Three Worlds of the Heart: Theological and Literary Dimensions of the Bhakti Sutra

Professor Graham M. Schweig
8 Feb 2010

Perhaps the shortest of the well-known sutra texts among Hindu traditions is The Bhakti Sutra of Narada, consisting only of 84 aphorisms. This work, however, possesses the most expressive and least cryptic aphorisms, as compared to other sutra texts, while providing the seeds for a remarkably comprehensive bhakti theology. Graham Schweig, while preparing his new translation of the work for publication with Columbia University Press, will present his findings on the ways in which the literary and theological aspects of this text work together synergistically to express some of the deepest dimensions of bhakti. He will also make some intertextual connections and resonances by drawing from the Bhagavad-gita, Bhagavata Purana, and the Yoga Sutra, in order to illuminate dramatic theological moments of the Bhakti Sutra. And further, he will offer some closing reflections on why no traditional commentaries were ever written for this work.

 
Graham M. Schweig is a scholar of comparative religion who focuses on the religions of India. He is a specialist in love mysticism and bhakti traditions. Schweig did his graduate studies at Harvard University and the University of Chicago, and received his doctorate in Comparative Religion from Harvard. Schweig has taught at Duke University and University of North Carolina, and was Visiting Associate Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Virginia. He is currently Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies and Director of the Indic Studies Program at Christopher Newport University, on the Virginia peninsula. He has contributed numerous pieces to encyclopaedia volumes, journals, and books. His book, Dance of Divine Love: India’s Classic Sacred Love Story, was published by Princeton University Press (2005), and more recently, Bhagavad Gita: The Beloved Lord’s Secret Love Song, was published by HarperOne/Harper Collins Publishers (2007). He has several more books coming out with Princeton University, HarperOne, and Columbia University Presses.

Related: Bhakti, Hindu Theology

Hindu Theology: Session Three - The Vedanta commentarial tradition 2

Professor Gavin Flood
11 Feb 2010

We will continue our inquiry into the Vedānta with an examination of Rāmānuja’s commentary on the same text. We will begin to understand the nature of the commentarial tradition as a discussion about the nature of truth across the centuries and the different theological positions developed through history. We will also examine a section from Rāmānuja’s Vedāntasāra.

Reading: Rāmānuja, The Vedāntasūtras with the Commentary of Rāmaṇuja translated by G. Thibauty, Sacred Books of the East Series (MLBD: Delhi, 1976).

Related: Hindu Theology, Vedanta

Hindu Theology: Session Four - The Saiva commentarial tradition 1

Professor Gavin Flood
18 Feb 2010

The class will discuss the Śaiva tantric revelation. We will begin with the theistic or dualistic Śaiva Siddhānta through focussing on chapter 1 (the paśupaṭala) of Rāmakaṇṭha’s commentary on the Kiraṇa-tantra. We will see how Rāmakaṇṭha offers a conservative reading of revelation that he regards as the expression of the highest good (and which other teachings (śāstra) do not give).

Reading:Goodall, Dominic. Bhaṭṭa Rāmakaṇṭha’s Commentary on the Kiraṇatantra vol. 1 (Insitut Français de Pondichéry, 1998).

Related: Hindu Theology, Saiva

The Śaiva commentarial tradition 3 Week 7

Professor Gavin Flood
4 Mar 2010

The last Śaiva reading will be Kṣemarāja’s independent text the Pratyabhijñāhṛdaya and his auto-commentary. We shall focus on the first nine sūtras. We will see here a non-dualist tradition that contrasts with the Vedānta in its emphasis on the dynamic power (śakti) of its non-theistic absolute reality.

Reading: Kṣemarāja, Pratyabhijñāhṛdaya translated by Jaideva Singh (MLBD: Delhi, 1980).

Related: Hindu Theology, Saiva

Hindu Theology: Session Seven - Theological Reasoning Across Traditions

Professor Gavin Flood
11 Mar 2010

The last session will focus on the nature of theological reasoning that we have been engaged with in the course and the nature of theological reading. The last session will raise questions about whether reasoning is universal, the nature of Hindu theological truth, and the place of Hindu theological reasoning within the western academy. 

Reading:
MacIntyre, W. Three Rival Versions of Moral Inquiry: Encyclopedia, Genealogy and Tradition (University of Notre Dame Press, 1990).

Related: Hindu Theology

Is there a Hindu monotheism? (five lectures)

Professor Francis X. Clooney, SJ
1 May 2010

In light of Biblical and Christian reflections on monotheism (week 1), an inquiry, by way of four examples (weeks 2-6), into the nature of Hindu belief in one supreme divinity, asking whether such belief can be termed "monotheistic." No background in Hindu studies required.

 
Week 1: Refining the question - Biblical and Christian monotheism, Hindu traditions, and the problem of a comparative study of monotheism
 
Week 2: The case for Krsna and Siva as the one true God - early resources in the Bhagavad-Gita and Svetasvatara Upanisad
 
Week 3: No lecture.
 
Week 4: Narayana alone, in medieval Tamil Vaisnavism - Tiruvaymoli 4.10 and Vedanta Desika's Srimat Rahasyatrayasara c. 6.
 
Week 5: Is the Goddess a monotheist? Reflection on three Goddess hymns and the Devi Gita
 
Week 6: In dialogue with the West: Rammohun Roy and 19th century Hindu monotheisms.

Related: Comparative Theology, Hindu Theology

Comparative Mysticism Seminar 2: Tasting God: The Ascetical and Mystical Theology of Rupa Gosvami

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
5 Nov 2010

This seminar explores Jiva Gosvamin’s theology and raises the question of whether he could be described as a mystic.

 
Dr Lutjeharms holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Oriental Studies (Indology) from the University of Ghent, Belgium and a DPhil from the University of Oxford (Theology). His DPhil was on the poet and theologian Kavikarnapura.

Related: Comparative Theology, Hindu Theology, Mysticism

Comparative Mysticism Seminar 3: Unsayability and Meditative Ascent in Esoteric Hindu Traditions

Professor Gavin Flood
19 Nov 2010

In this seminar we examine two tendencies or spiritual languages in esoteric medieval Hindu traditions. On the one hand we have a style of mysticism that emphasizes a realisation or awakening in the world, usually accompanied by a monistic metaphysics, on the other we have a style and language of meditative ascent; that there is a journey from this world to the state of liberation through stages of development, often conceptualized as occurring within the body. The seminar will examine these tendencies with reference to particular texts. 

 
Gavin Flood is academic director of OCHS. Among his publications are The Tantric Body (2006), The Ascetic Self (2004), and The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism (2003).

Related: Comparative Theology, Hindu Theology, Mysticism

The Problem of Evil and Western Theodicy: But what says Indian Theism and Non-theism to the challenge?

Shivdasani Lecture
Professor Purushottama Bilimoria
17 Oct 2011

Purushottama Bilimoria, PhD is Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Studies at Deakin University in Australia and Senior Research Fellow, University of Melbourne. Visiting Professor and Lecturer at University of California, Berkeley and Dominican University, San Anselmo, and Shivadasani Fellow of  Oxford University. His areas of specialist research and publications cover classical Indian philosophy and comparative ethics; Continental thought; cross-cultural philosophy of religion, diaspora studies; bioethics, and personal law in India. He is an Editor-in-Chief of Sophia, Journal of Philosophy of Religion, Springer. He also edits a book series with Springer on Sophia: cross-cultural studies in Culture and Traditions, Recent publication is Indian Ethics I, Ashgate 2007; OUP 2008, and Sabdapramana: Word and Knowledge (Testimony) in Indian Philosophy (revised reprint), Delhi: DK PrintWorld 2008; ‘Nietzsche as ‘Europe’s Buddha’ and Asia’s Superman, Sophia, vol 47/3 2008; Postcolonial Philosophy of Religion (with Andrew Irvine, Ken Surin et al) Springer 2009. Teaches and publishes on Hindu religious philosophies. Also works on political philosophy, pertaining to ethics of rights, theories of justice, capabilities, education and gender issues in third world, particularly South Asian, contexts.

Related: Comparative Theology, Hindu Theology

Transforming Traditions 1: The Dramatic God: New Approaches to the Metaphysics of Divinity in the Aesthetic Vedanta of Rupa Gosvami

Transforming Traditions Series
Dr Jessica Frazier
30 Jan 2012

Related: Hindu Theology

Transforming Traditions 2: Krishna's Broken Contract: a Bhakti Reading of the Afghan Invasions in the 18th century

Transforming Traditions Series
Richard Williams
6 Feb 2012

Related: Bhakti, Hindu Theology, Vaisnava

The Importance of Aurobindo for the Contemporary Study of Religion

Graduate Seminar
Brainerd Prince
8 Feb 2012

The contemporary academic study of religion, dominated by both a call for the abandonment of the category ‘Religion’ and the dismantling of the discipline of Religious Studies, is thus faced with an impasse. In this paper, I explore the conditions that have brought about this impasse and argue that Aurobindo’s integralism offers a way forward.

 
Brainerd Prince is completing his PhD on Sri Aurobindo's Integral Philosophy under Professor Gavin Flood. He has interests in phenomenology and hermeneutics and in reconceiving the academic study of religion.

Related: Hindu Theology, Modern Hinduism, Religious Studies

Transforming Traditions 3: Innovation in the Theology of Madhusudana Sarasvati

Transforming Traditions Series
Dr Sanjukta Gupta
13 Feb 2012

Related: Hindu Theology, Vedanta

Transforming Traditions 4: ‘Why do we still sift the husk-like Upanisads?’: Revisiting Vedanta in Early Caitanya Vaisnava Theology

Transforming Traditions Series
Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
27 Feb 2012

Related: Hindu Theology, Literature, Vaisnava

God, Being and Beyond: Outlines of a Comparative Theology

Majewski Lecture
Professor C. Ram-Prasad
27 Feb 2012

While the differences between Sankara's and Ramanuja's systems as found in their respective commentaries on the Brahmasutras are relatively well-known, much commented on and highly influential in the living traditions, there has been surprisingly little attention paid to a comparative understanding of their Bhagavad Gita commentaries. Yet, in those works, they offer interpretations particular to the nature and structure of the Gita that do not map directly onto their other standard works. Using an interpretive vocabulary that engages with currents in postmodern Christian theology, I offer readings of each of their treatments of the relationship between the self-declared nature of the divine person, Krsna and his diverse mentions of the mysterious brahman. I suggest that strikingly original views of theology and its connections to metaphysics are found in these great commentaries - views that can contribute to the actual content (and not just the metatheory) of comparative theology.

Related: Comparative Theology, Hindu Theology

The Concept of Laksmi in Srivaisnavism

Wahlstrom Lecture
Professor M Narasimhachary
17 May 2012

 This lecture aims at presenting a holistic picture of Laksmi covering the earliest and later phases of the development of this concept. She, known by another popular name Sri, is the embodiment of all the powers which make the Lord her consort, a veritable ruler of the world. She, as the repository of benign love, plays the role of mother of all living beings. She plays a vital role in the redemption of the erring humanity by interceding on their behalf and mitigating the rightful wrath of the Lord in which act her motherly nature gets fully manifested.

 
Founder Professor and Head (Retired), Department of Vaishnavism, University of Madras, India. His specialist subjects include the Pre-Ramanuja Religion and Philosophy, Pancharatra Agama Literature, Telugu and Sanskrit Literature and popularisation of Sanskrit as a spoken tongue. He has published a number of articles and monographs in academic journals on topics such as the Samskrita Svapnah, Bhakti and Prapatti in Srivaishnava Philosophy and the Pancaratra-kantakoddhara. Important Publications include: The Contribution of Yaamuna to Visistadvaita [Pub; Jayalakshmi Publications, Hyderabad]; Critical Edition and Study of Yaamuna's Aagamapraamaanya [pub: Gaekwad's Oriental Series, Baroda]; and an English translation of Sri Vedanta Desika's Padukasahasram and all of his 32 Stotras. Prof. Narasimhachary received the Certificate of Honour for Proficiency in Sanskrit from the President of India for the year 2004.

Related: Hindu Theology, Vaisnava

Consuming Scripture

Shivdasani Lecture
Professor Parimal Patil
4 Jun 2012
What counts as "scripture"?
Wherein lies its authority?
What has been said about dharma on the basis of it?
How has what has been said been justified through exegesis (and other commentarial and "quasi-commentarial" practices)?

Related: Hindu Theology, Mimāṃsā, Philosophy