Skip directly to content

Error message

The specified file temporary://fileudDVoH could not be copied, because the destination directory is not properly configured. This may be caused by a problem with file or directory permissions. More information is available in the system log.

Lectures on Bhakti

Hindu saints and poets: Perspectives and examples (seven lectures)

Professor Charles S. J. White
20 Oct 2002

This course will focus on the history of Hinduism as it encompasses the religious experience of its holy men and women. Very often, besides being "saints" in the Hindu sense, they were gifted philosophers and/or poets. After the historical and methodological introduction, subsequent lectures will illustrate the contributions of these thinkers and creative writers to the history of Hindu literature. Finally, from the nineteenth century onward modern history-of-religions and literary-critical approaches will be more emphasized to help our understanding of saintly phenomena which are very much alive in contemporary Hinduism.

Related: Bhakti, Literature

Kavya, (literature as an art form) and bhakti

Dr Daniela Rossella
4 Feb 2004

Related: Bhakti, Literature

Christian nuptial mysticism and parallels with Indian mystical trends

Dr Daniela Rossella
25 Feb 2004

Related: Bhakti, Comparative Theology, Mysticism

Hinduism II lecture series: Yoga, bhakti, tantra (eight lectures)

Professor Gavin Flood
25 Jan 2005

A series of eight lectures

These lectures will examine conceptions of liberation and paths leading to liberation in the history of "Hindu" traditions. After an introductory lecture that raises some of the theological questions about the relation of path to goal and the importance of ritual and asceticism in the history of Indian religions, we will begin with an examination of Samkhya, the philosophical backdrop of Yoga, and move on to the opening Yoga-sutras, their ideal of liberation as isolation (kaivalya), and the means of achieving that goal. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) and examine bhakti and yoga in the Bhagavad Gita before moving into the medieval period. Here the lectures will describe some developments of bhakti in vernacular literatures, focussing on both texts that advocate devotion to iconic forms and the later texts that advocate devotion to an absolute without qualities. Here we will also examine the importance of ritual texts and the relation between ritual, devotion and yoga. Lastly we will trace the themes of liberation and path with examples from selected tantric traditions within Vaisnavism and Saivism.
 
While the lectures will place texts in their historical contexts, the course will not examine texts in a strictly chronological sequence, the stress being on theme. Throughout we will raise critical theological questions through engaging with texts in translation and raise the question about the extent to which liberation is a rhetoric that overlays other cultural forces. By the end of the course the student should have an understanding of soteriology in Hindu traditions, an understanding of some the main literatures associated with this, and an awareness of the philosophical and theological problems entailed. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: Bhakti, Tantra, Yoga

Hinduism II: Bhakti through vernacular traditions (eight lectures)

Professor Pratap Kumar
1 May 2005

Eight Sessions

Session 1: Historical Overview of Bhakti in India
 
Session 2: South Indian Bhakti Traditions: Tamil Alvars
 
Session 3: North Indian Bhakti Traditions: Kabir, Mirabai, Tulsidas
 
Session 4: South Indian Shaiva Bhakti: Tamil Nayanmars
 
Session 5: Shaiva Bhakti in the North (Kashmir)
 
Session 6: The Goddess Bhakti Tradition of India
 
Session 7: Goddess in Bengal Tradition (Kali, Uma)
 
Session 8: Goddess in Popular Hinduism

Related: Bhakti, General

Seeing the Bhakti Movement

Shivdasani Conference 2007
Professor John Stratton Hawley
21 Oct 2007

Session 14 of the 2007 Shivdasani Conference. 

 
In this paper, I would propose to ask what we can make of the “bhakti movement” picture, when we look at it more closely.  Prioritizing Vaishnavism—the sometimes unspoken point of reference for much “bhakti movement” thinking—I will begin by considering the text usually held to have exerted the greatest force on Hindu bhakti generally, the Bhagavata Purana.  Where, if at all, can it be seen in stone?  This is the question Dennis Hudson asked of the 8th-century Vaikuntha Perumal temple in Kancipuram, and one that I would also ask about narrative depictions of the life of Krishna as seen on temples throughout India up to ca. 1500.  I will also consider the mention of specific temples on the part of the Alvars and other Sri Vaisnava Tamil poets.
 
That would serve as background to my central concern:  the striking absence—or at least paucity—of such references in the Vaishnava bhakti poetry that emerged in Hindi beginning in the 15th century.  Why and how is this so?  What about the depiction of certain poets as having taken their inspiration from particular images of Krishna?  What about the visual record that was created as Brindavan and Braj came to be constructed in the 16th century?  Is this “built bhakti”?  How does it relate to the official hostility to temple-building that is enshrined in the theology of the Vallabha Sampraday?  And how does it relate to a broader spectrum of “vulgate Vaishnavism” in roughly the same period that would take account of poets such as Kabir?  Certainly Kabir is firmly ensconced in every influential “bhakti movement” narrative, but can he be associated in any way with a built canon?

Related: Bhakti, Temple and Text

Hinduism II: Hindu ideas of liberation Lecture 4: Bhakti and Yoga in the Bhagavad-gita and its interpreters

Professor Gavin Flood
11 Feb 2009

These lectures will examine conceptions of liberation and paths leading to liberation in the history of ‘Hindu’ traditions. After an introductory lecture that raises some of the theological questions about the relation of path to goal and the importance of ritual and asceticism in the history of Indian religions, we will begin with an examination of Samkhya, the philosophical backdrop of Yoga, and move on to the opening Yoga-sutras, their ideal of liberation as isolation (kaivalya), and the means of achieving that goal. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) and examine bhakti and yoga in the Bhagavad Gita before moving into the medieval period. Here the lectures will describe some developments of bhakti in vernacular literatures, focusing on both texts that advocate devotion to iconic forms and the later texts that advocate devotion to an absolute without qualities. Here we will also examine the importance of ritual texts and the relation between ritual, devotion and yoga. Lastly we will trace the themes of liberation and path with examples from selected tantric traditions within Vaisnavism and Saivism.

 
While the lectures will place texts in their historical contexts, the course will not examine texts in a strictly chronological sequence, the stress being on theme. Throughout we will raise critical theological questions through engaging with texts in translation and raise the question about the extent to which liberation is a rhetoric that overlays other cultural forces. By the end of the course the student should have an understanding of soteriology in Hindu traditions, an understanding of some the main literatures associated with this, and an awareness of the philosophical and theological problems entailed. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: Bhakti, General, Yoga

Hinduism II: Hindu ideas of liberation Lecture 5: Bhakti literatures and ritual texts

Professor Gavin Flood
18 Feb 2009

These lectures will examine conceptions of liberation and paths leading to liberation in the history of ‘Hindu’ traditions. After an introductory lecture that raises some of the theological questions about the relation of path to goal and the importance of ritual and asceticism in the history of Indian religions, we will begin with an examination of Samkhya, the philosophical backdrop of Yoga, and move on to the opening Yoga-sutras, their ideal of liberation as isolation (kaivalya), and the means of achieving that goal. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) and examine bhakti and yoga in the Bhagavad Gita before moving into the medieval period. Here the lectures will describe some developments of bhakti in vernacular literatures, focusing on both texts that advocate devotion to iconic forms and the later texts that advocate devotion to an absolute without qualities. Here we will also examine the importance of ritual texts and the relation between ritual, devotion and yoga. Lastly we will trace the themes of liberation and path with examples from selected tantric traditions within Vaisnavism and Saivism.

 
While the lectures will place texts in their historical contexts, the course will not examine texts in a strictly chronological sequence, the stress being on theme. Throughout we will raise critical theological questions through engaging with texts in translation and raise the question about the extent to which liberation is a rhetoric that overlays other cultural forces. By the end of the course the student should have an understanding of soteriology in Hindu traditions, an understanding of some the main literatures associated with this, and an awareness of the philosophical and theological problems entailed. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: Bhakti, General

Hinduism II: Hindu ideas of liberation Lecture 6: The Sant tradition: Kabir

Professor Gavin Flood
25 Feb 2009

These lectures will examine conceptions of liberation and paths leading to liberation in the history of ‘Hindu’ traditions. After an introductory lecture that raises some of the theological questions about the relation of path to goal and the importance of ritual and asceticism in the history of Indian religions, we will begin with an examination of Samkhya, the philosophical backdrop of Yoga, and move on to the opening Yoga-sutras, their ideal of liberation as isolation (kaivalya), and the means of achieving that goal. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) and examine bhakti and yoga in the Bhagavad Gita before moving into the medieval period. Here the lectures will describe some developments of bhakti in vernacular literatures, focusing on both texts that advocate devotion to iconic forms and the later texts that advocate devotion to an absolute without qualities. Here we will also examine the importance of ritual texts and the relation between ritual, devotion and yoga. Lastly we will trace the themes of liberation and path with examples from selected tantric traditions within Vaisnavism and Saivism.

 
While the lectures will place texts in their historical contexts, the course will not examine texts in a strictly chronological sequence, the stress being on theme. Throughout we will raise critical theological questions through engaging with texts in translation and raise the question about the extent to which liberation is a rhetoric that overlays other cultural forces. By the end of the course the student should have an understanding of soteriology in Hindu traditions, an understanding of some the main literatures associated with this, and an awareness of the philosophical and theological problems entailed. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: Bhakti, General

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

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