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Lectures on Veda

Traditional interpretation of Vedic poetry

Professor Usha Choudhuri
11 Mar 1999

Related: Literature, Veda

Vedic religion (eight lectures)

Professor M Narasimhachary
20 Oct 2001

Related: Veda

On the new translation of the Rig Veda

Dr Stephanie Jamison
7 May 2004

Related: Veda

De-mystifying the divine: The early Brahmanical pantheon

Dr Madhuvanti Ghose
21 May 2004

Related: Veda

Modernity and Madhva Vedanta: The beginning or the end of an esoteric tradition?

Dr Deepak Sarma
15 Oct 2004

The Madhva school of Vedanta is an orthodox tradition that is being forced to rise to the challenges of modernity, and in particular, recent technological advances. Are these changes minor ones or do they strike at the very heart of Madhva doctrine? Do they point towards its end or are they a chance to flourish? Dr Sarma's talk addresses these and other related issues that would face any esoteric tradition.

Related: Veda

The poetics of sovereignty in early Vedic liturgies

Text, context, and interpretation seminars
Dr T. Proferes
17 Feb 2006

Recently there has been a general interest in the relation of religion to kingship in the history of Indian religions. In the context of this interest, the seminar examines the relationship between power and ritual through showing how sovereignty is expressed in Vedic liturgies.

Related: Ritual, Veda

The adequacy of language: Re-evaluating Shankara's understanding of the Veda

Majewski Lecture
Dr J. S. Hirst
2 Mar 2006

If ultimate reality is beyond language, how can language comprise the only valid method of acquiring knowledge of it? And if no language whatsoever can describe ultimate reality, what guarantee could there be that what Vedic language purports to disclose is anything other than a chimera?

These are problems that lie at the heart of Shankara's Advaita Vedanta, but occur, in different guises, in a wide range of religious traditions. They are problems which raise questions about text and interpretation, about 'revelation' and the ways in which language is held to work. They require us to reflect on how we know what we know. They challenge us to define in what senses, if any, the ultimate may be said to be ineffable.
In this lecture, I shall re-examine the work of the famous Indian non-dual commentator, Shankara (c.700 A.D.), who held that ultimate reality (brahman) is beyond language and who frankly admitted that the Veda has no authority once brahman is known. I shall, however, challenge interpretations of his work which assume that language is inadequate to its task and so locate knowledge of the ineffable either in some kind of mystical experience or in the secondary or poetic use of language. I shall argue that, in Shankara's view, the language of the Upanishadic Vedic texts is precisely adequate to its task, given the epistemological and hermeneutical strategies the Veda provides for the Advaitin commentator to deploy.

Related: Veda, Vedanta

Methods of chanting various Vedic metrical and prose texts with their phonetic variations

Professor Gaya Charan Tripathi
21 Apr 2008

Related: Metrics, Sanskrit, Veda

Ontological Issues in Samhita

Shivdasani Seminar
Dr Piyali Palit
13 Nov 2008

In Indian tradition, oral transmission of the Veda unfolds the mystery of perfect linguistic behaviour, i.e., maintaining formal contiguity of syllabic structures or ‘ekavakyata’ and thereby avoiding possibilities of ‘arthabheda’ or misunderstanding. Reasons for such linguistic structure have been well expressed in Taittiriya Aranyaka followed by the vedangas, namely, siksa, pratisakhya, vyakarana and nirukta. Illustrations in these texts reveal the fact that well-formed syllabic structures, learnt and pronounced in a fixed order, traditionally known as ‘krama’ or ‘anupurvi’ delivers the intended meaning as well as maintain the sanctity or authenticity of the Veda. Varna-s or aksara-s happen to be the micro units. On pronunciation in contiguity they form a string known as vakya, which also encases pada-s or short strings of varna-s. Formation of such syllabic strings has been noted as samhita, sandhi or santana in Taittiriiya Aaranyaka followed by Rk-pratisakhya and nirukta. In this context we may also quote the Panini-sutra– ‘parah sannikarsah samhita’. Paninian grammar expresses an algorithm of these syllabic forms in about 4000 sutra-s or operative rules composed as short strings. Narration of Mahesvara-sutra-s and discussions in Paspasha-kanda of the Mahabhasya distinctly expresses the motive and analytic mode of scanning sabda available in the Bhasa. While the Mahesvara-sutras display formal conjugation of varna-s, the vartika – ‘siddhe sabdarthasambandhe’ – brings forth nature of sabda, artha and their sambandha in contguity, which was presumably taken up by Bhartrhari on exposition of Paniniiya-darsana at a later stage (ref. Sad-darshanasamuccaya by Haribhadra Suri).

Related: Grammarians, Philosophy, Veda

Hinduism I: Themes and Textual Sources Lecture 2: The Veda and Vedic traditions

Professor Gavin Flood
21 Oct 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, Veda

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