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Lectures on Bhagavata

Pains of separation: Narratives of suffering in the Bhagavata Purana

Amanda Mills
6 Nov 2002

Related: Bhagavata, Vaisnava

Sanskrit readings: Bhagavata purana, skandha x, chapters 29, 31-33

Professor M Narasimhachary
20 Oct 2003

Related: Bhagavata, Sanskrit

The Parinama Aesthetics as Underlying the Bhagavata Purana

Dr Ithamar Theodor
28 Feb 2008

Related: Aesthetics, Bhagavata

Creation and Chaos in the Bhagavata Purana (Lecture One)

Shivdasani Lecture
Dr Ravi Gupta
6 May 2010

A potter gently shapes a lump of clay upon his wheel. A carpenter hews and joins measured pieces of wood. Creation, we see, is often a process of reasoned thought and careful construction. And yet, just as often, creation arises in far more unpredictable circumstances—from chaos, transgression, and failure. This lectures series will examine the interplay of creation and chaos in narratives of the Bhagavata Purana. We will pay special attention to the Bhagavata’s account of the churning of the ocean (a fine example of creation from chaos), as well as the narrative of Jaya and Vijaya’s fall from grace (chaos from creation). Dr. Ravi M. Gupta is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at The College of William and Mary (USA) and an alumnus of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. He completed his D.Phil. in Hindu Studies at Oxford, following which he was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship at Linacre College. Dr. Gupta has taught a variety of courses in Hinduism and World Religions, and is the recipient of the David Hughes Award for excellence in teaching. Dr. Gupta is the author of The Chaitanya Vaishnava Vedanta of Jiva Gosvami (Routledge, 2007) as well as several articles in academic journals. At present, he and Dr. Kenneth Valpey are working on an abridged translation of the Bhagavata Purana, to be published by Columbia University Press. Dr. Gupta lectures widely in India and the United States, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies.

Related: Bhagavata

Creation and Chaos in the Bhagavata Purana (Lecture Two)

Shivdasani Lecture
Dr Ravi Gupta
13 May 2010

A potter gently shapes a lump of clay upon his wheel. A carpenter hews and joins measured pieces of wood. Creation, we see, is often a process of reasoned thought and careful construction. And yet, just as often, creation arises in far more unpredictable circumstances—from chaos, transgression, and failure. This lectures series will examine the interplay of creation and chaos in narratives of the Bhagavata Purana. We will pay special attention to the Bhagavata’s account of the churning of the ocean (a fine example of creation from chaos), as well as the narrative of Jaya and Vijaya’s fall from grace (chaos from creation).

 
Dr. Ravi M. Gupta is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at The College of William and Mary (USA) and an alumnus of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. He completed his D.Phil. in Hindu Studies at Oxford, following which he was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship at Linacre College. Dr. Gupta has taught a variety of courses in Hinduism and World Religions, and is the recipient of the David Hughes Award for excellence in teaching. Dr. Gupta is the author of The Chaitanya Vaishnava Vedanta of Jiva Gosvami (Routledge, 2007) as well as several articles in academic journals.
 
At present, he and Dr. Kenneth Valpey are working on an abridged translation of the Bhagavata Purana, to be published by Columbia University Press. Dr. Gupta lectures widely in India and the United States, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies.

Related: Bhagavata

Radical Monotheism of the Qur’an and Equitheism of the Bhagavata Purana: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Allah and Krishna

Wahlstrom Lecture
Professor Carl Olson
17 May 2010

This narrowly focused essay proposes to compare the Islamic god Allah as depicted in the Qur’an with the Hindu deity Krishna in the Bhagavata Purana. This paper concentrates on how these two respective texts define the two deities. More precisely, this essay focuses on such issues as transcendence and immanence, creative power and play, obedience and love, and the relationship between God and humans. These various themes are examined from the perspective of comparative theology, which can be defined as an articulation of truths and a realization of a more complete knowledge of God in so far as it is possible by means of theology conceived broadly as inter-religious, comparative, dialogical, and confessional. This paper proposes to use a hermeneutical dialogue, which is an interpretative approach that is intended to lead to better cross-cultural understanding. Such a dialogue is risky because it entails entering the margins between oneself and the other. When the interpreter brings together the representative texts of different traditions, she forms a triadic relationship and dialogue with the context of a marginal situation.

 
Professor Carl Olson teaches Religious Studies at Allegheny College where he offers courses on Hinduism, Buddhism, Religions of China, Zen Buddhism, and comparative phenomena, such as the self and death. Besides over a hundred and eighty reviews and essays in journals, books and encyclopedias, he has published over a dozen books on such topics as the goddess, Mircea Eliade, methodology, comparative philosophy, the Indian renouncer, and the Indian holy man Ramakrishna. His more recent books include the following: Zen and the Art of Postmodern Philosophy: Two Paths of Liberation from Representational Mode of Thinking (SUNY Press, 2000); Indian Philosophers and Postmodern Thinkers: Dialogues on the Margins of Culture (Oxford University Press, 2002); The Different Paths of Buddhism: A Narrative-Historical Introduction (Rutgers University Press, 2005); Original Buddhist Sources: A Reader (Rutgers University Press, 2005); The Many Colors of Hinduism: A Thematic-Historical Introduction (Rutgers University Press, 2007); Hindu Primary Sources: A Sectarian Reader (Rutgers University Press, 2007); Celibacy and Religious Traditions (Oxford University Press, 2008), Historical Dictionary of Buddhism (Scarecrow Press, 2009), and Religious Studies: The Key Concepts (Routledge, forthcoming 2010). While at Allegheny College, Professor Olson has been appointed to the following honors and positions: Holder of the National Endowment for the Humanities Chair, 1991-1994; Holder of the Teacher-Scholar Chair in the Humanities, 2000-2003; Visiting Fellowship at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, 2002; and elected Life Member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge 2002.

Related: Bhagavata, Comparative Theology, Islam

Readings from the Bhagavata Purana: Session One

Dr Ravi Gupta
20 May 2010

In these seminars, we will read sections of the Bhagavata Purana that are relevant to the theme of the Shivdasani lectures – creation and chaos. We will focus on the account of Jaya and Vijaya’s fall from Vaikuntha, paying special attention to issues of translation as well as theological concerns raised by commentators.

Related: Bhagavata

Readings from the Bhagavata Purana: Session Two

Dr Ravi Gupta
27 May 2010

In these seminars, we will read sections of the Bhagavata Purana that are relevant to the theme of the Shivdasani lectures – creation and chaos. We will focus on the account of Jaya and Vijaya’s fall from Vaikuntha, paying special attention to issues of translation as well as theological concerns raised by commentators.

Related: Bhagavata

Text Migration: Translation and Modern Reception of the Bhāgavata Purāna in Bengal and Beyond

Dr Ferdinando Sardella
25 Nov 2010

This event marks the launching of a newly started project at the OCHS called "Bengali Vaishnavism in the Modern Period", which undertakes the mapping, collection, translation and investigation of literature and other relevant material related to or dealing with the modern development of Caitanya Vaisnavism in Bengal from the late 18th century to the present. The presentation addresses in particular the migration of the Bhagavata Purana  - one of the core theological text of Vaishnavism/Hinduism in India - as a sacred text to the West during the 19th and 20th century. It is divided into three sections: the first presents the historical context for the reception of the Bhagavata in 19th century Bengal—at the time the most prominent intellectual centre of the British Empire in South Asia—among the Bengali middle classe and some of the controversies that surrounded its popular usage as a sacred text. The second discusses the text as part of a process of religious and cultural negotiation between India and the West, with particular reference to Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati (1874-1937) - the founder in Calcutta of a modern religious institution called the Gaudiya Math - and his successors. The third section will trace the gradual transformation of the Bhagavata from a sacred text read by the literate among the Hindus to an instrument for diffusion of religious ideas and practice during the period following World War II. The presentation ends with a brief discussion of the function of the text within its indigenous religious tradition, and the ways in which this function has transformed through the dynamic social and cultural interactions between India and the West.

Related: Bhagavata, Modern Hinduism

Yoga and Māyā in the Bhāgavata-purāṇa

Graduate Seminar
Gopal Gupta
3 Feb 2011

Among Puranic literature, the Bhagavata Purana has been most influential, both in intellectual circles and in popular Hinduism. The Bhagavata offers a unique form of yoga that is indebted to earlier texts, such as the Mahabharata and Patañjali’s Yoga-sutra, but is nevertheless distinct from them in an important way—the Bhagavata blends its characteristic emotional bhakti with the otherwise staid practice of yoga. This paper argues that the shift from the normative bhakti of the Mahabharata to the emotional bhakti of the Bhagavata is made possible primarily through the concept of yoga-maya. The paper examines the relationship between yoga, the yogi, yoga-maya, and yogesvara in the two texts, and shows that without maya, the intensity of the emotional yoga between the devotee and Krsna found in the Bhagavata cannot take place. While non-dualist Vedanta philosophy often sees maya as a negative force, this paper argues the Bhagavata affirms just the opposite – the devotee’s place under the veil of maya is a desirable situation as it allows for the experience of intimate love.

 
Gopal Gupta is currently pursuing a D.Phil. in Hindu Studies at the University of Oxford.

Related: Bhagavata, Yoga