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Lectures on Upanisads

Semantic history of Vedanta and its implications for the study of Indian philosophy

Shivdasani Seminar
Professor Ashok Aklujkar
28 Apr 2005

Related: Philosophy, Upanisads, Vedanta

Female speakers in the Upanishads and Mahabharata

Dr Brian Black
3 May 2005

Related: Gender, Mahabharata, Upanisads

Value ethics in the early Upanishads: A hermeneutic exercise

Shivdasani Seminar
Professor T.S. Rukmani
4 May 2006

The general view amongst scholars, and western scholars in particular, is that there is not sufficient attention paid to ethics in Hinduism. While no one holds that view seriously these days it does surface in discussions on Hinduism even today. This presentation tries to tackle that issue from the point of view of the early Upanishads. The main argument I develop is that moral theory and ethical behaviour is culture specific and there cannot be a uniform standard moral theory for all cultures. Moreover, it is axiomatic that no culture, particularly one that has survived thousands of years like that of the Hindus, could have survived without a moral code. Moral theory grows in consonance with the values that each society considers of ultimate importance. Keeping this as the background, this paper looks at a number of the early and middle Upanishads to build a behaviour pattern based on the twin concepts of dharma and moksa. Along the way the paper also tries to answer criticisms from scholars like Zaehner for whom a jivanmukta (one liberated while still in the body) is beyond all morality. The conclusion drawn is that there is a close connection between moral behaviour and the realization of what it means to be human.

Related: Ethics, Upanisads

Sanskrit reading group

Professor M Narasimhachary
20 Oct 2006

Dr. M. Narasimhachary will read Sanskrit with interested students at the Intermediate Level. The text for the readings will be the Ishavasya Upanishad.

Related: Sanskrit, Upanisads

Readings in the Upanishads Part 1 of 4

Shivdasani Lecture
Professor Patrick Olivelle
29 Apr 2009

Professor Patrick Olivelle is very well known and highly regarded for his work on early Indian religions. Among his many publications are The Asrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution (OUP 1993), The Early Upanishads (OUP, 1998), and The Laws of Manu (OUP, 2004). Among his research interests are ascetic traditions and the history of the idea of dharma. Professor Olivelle teaches at the University of Texas at Austin.

Related: Sanskrit, Upanisads

Readings in the Upanishads Part 2 of 4

Shivdasani Lecture
Professor Patrick Olivelle
4 May 2009

Professor Patrick Olivelle is very well known and highly regarded for his work on early Indian religions. Among his many publications are The Asrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution (OUP 1993), The Early Upanishads (OUP, 1998), and The Laws of Manu (OUP, 2004). Among his research interests are ascetic traditions and the history of the idea of dharma. Professor Olivelle teaches at the University of Texas at Austin.

Related: Sanskrit, Upanisads

Readings in the Upanishads Part 3 of 4

Shivdasani Lecture
Professor Patrick Olivelle
15 May 2009

Professor Patrick Olivelle is very well known and highly regarded for his work on early Indian religions. Among his many publications are The Asrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution (OUP 1993), The Early Upanishads (OUP, 1998), and The Laws of Manu (OUP, 2004). Among his research interests are ascetic traditions and the history of the idea of dharma. Professor Olivelle teaches at the University of Texas at Austin.

Related: Sanskrit, Upanisads

Readings in the Upanishads Part 4 of 4

Shivdasani Lecture
Professor Patrick Olivelle
20 May 2009

Professor Patrick Olivelle is very well known and highly regarded for his work on early Indian religions. Among his many publications are The Asrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution (OUP 1993), The Early Upanishads (OUP, 1998), and The Laws of Manu (OUP, 2004). Among his research interests are ascetic traditions and the history of the idea of dharma. Professor Olivelle teaches at the University of Texas at Austin.

Related: Sanskrit, Upanisads

Hinduism I: Themes and Textual Sources Lecture 4: Ascetic Traditions

Professor Gavin Flood
4 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: Asceticism, General, Upanisads

Negative Flashes of Neti Neti and Realisation of Brahman

Shivdasani Lecture
Dr Diwakar Acharya
22 Feb 2010

The Mūrtāmūrtabrāhmaṇa (II.3) of the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad introduces the néti néti formula and explains it. From Sanskrit commentaries we can gather that this formula was traditionally interpreted in two ways. The second of them, the one adopted by Śaṅkara, has become the favourite of most of the modern translations; the first interpretation has not attracted the attention of a modern scholar.

On the other hand, a very competent scholar like Geldner (1928) has made an exception and interpreted the formula in an extra-ingenious way, as double negation, which was never considered in the tradition. This interpretation has now been revived in Slaje 2009. This asks us to re-examine the issue, and I will do so in my lecture by rereading the related portions of the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad.

Related: Upanisads, Veda, Vedanta