Creation and Chaos in the Bhagavata Purana (Lecture One)
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.