Session 11 of the 2007 Shivdasani Conference.
The Indian Temple: Production, Place, Patronage
Related: Temple and Text
Yajna and Puja: A Comparison of the Ritual Archetypes
Session 8 of the 2007 Shivdasani Conference.
The Style and Aesthetics of Indian Erotic Temple Sculpture
Session 10 of the 2007 Shivdasani Conference.
Key thinkers in the study of religion Part 2
Related: Religious Studies
Key thinkers in the study of religion Part 1
Related: Religious Studies
Making room for the goddess: A theology of Sri in fourteenth-century South India
While Vedanta Desika (fourteenth century, South India), as a Srivaisnava Hindu, was a member of a tradition with the greatest respect for the Goddess Sri, in his era there was still lively debate about her precise status in relationship to the supreme deity, Narayana.
Comparative theology as intellectual and spiritual practice
The study of great religious texts demands much of the scholar, in part because such texts require professional linguistic and historical expertise, familiarity with the tradition in which the text arose, and a sense of the wider and often unstated context. But such religious texts also make demands on the reader, drawing him or her into thinking and feeling in specific ways about the topics discussed in the text. The reader then has to make choices about where, if anywhere, to draw a line between scholarly detachment and engaged participation. If the reader comes from a religious tradition, then he or she also brings the expectations of that tradition to the reading process, complicating even the initial scholarly learning practice. Prof. Clooney will illustrate the complexities of this learning with respect to his current study of the Srimad Rahasyatrayasara of Vedanta Desika (fourteenth century, South India).
Related: Comparative Theology
The concept of Hindu philosophy
This seminar will discuss the concept of philosophy in the Hindu context and will examine foundational concepts as well as explore their psychological and spiritual import.
Twentieth-century Sanskrit commentaries on the Vaisesikasutras
This lecture highlights five Sanskrit commentaries on the Vaisesikasutras that have been written and published in the last century. The commentaries are: (i) Vaidikavritih, by Pt. Hariprasada, Nirnayasagar, 1951; (ii) Rasayana, by Sri Uttamur Viraraghavacharya, Madras, 1958; (iii) Brahmamunibhasyam, by Swami Brahmamuni, Baroda, 1962; (iv) Vedabhaskarabhasyam, by Pt. Kashinath Sharma, Himachal, 1972; (v) Sugama, by Desika Tirumalai Tatacharya, Allahabad, 1979.
Sabda as pramana in Vaisesika
The seminar examines the nature of sabda in the Vaisesika system which has been discussed there both as a guna of akasha, and as a pramana. The former is expressed in the ancient Vaisesika tradition, from Kanada up to Udayana, whereas the latter is explored in the later tradition, starting from its amalgamation with Nyaya and opposition to Buddhism. This seminar will cover both these aspects, with an emphasis on the role of sabda as a pramana.
The dancing Shiva as a focus for teaching cultural diversity
This seminar examines representations of the deity Shiva, and explores the possibilities of the image of the dancing Shiva as a pedagogical focus in teaching cultural diversity.
The dance of emotions
This lecture will be a comparative study of emotions, facial expressions, and gestures in the Natyasastra, Abhinayadarpana, and the works of Charles Darwin and Paul Ekman.
Beyond love and love beyond: Hindu and Western ideas of love
The seminar will examine Hindu ideas of love and the idea of divine love ('love beyond'). The seminar will pay particular attention to the Narada Bhakti Sutras.
Related: Comparative Theology
An introduction to Hindu tantrism (four lectures)
This short seminar series is a thematic and historical introduction to Hindu tantric traditions. Beginning with a survey of general features such as systems of mantra, ritual, cosmology, and yoga, we will then go on to examine particular tantric traditions focused on Shiva, Vishnu, and the Goddess. The seminars will mainly explore the medieval period and examine tantrism in the context of political systems of the time, folk religion, traditions of brahmanical learning, and knowledge systems. Part of the seminars will focus on the study of particular texts and reasoning about them with an emphasis on understanding their theological concerns.
The concept of dharma in Vaisesika
This lecture will examine various aspects of dharma as suggested in the Vaisesika system, namely its historical, metaphysical, and moral aspects. The concept of dharma is so central in Vaisesika philosophy that Kanada begins his discourse with an aim of explaining dharma.
A super-gift or a conduit: The place of a daughter in the Indian marriage exchange
The seminar will examine Hindu ideas of love and the idea of divine love ('love beyond'). The seminar will pay particular attention to the Narada Bhakti Sutras.Ancient Hindu lawgivers have always viewed spiritual merit as arising from the spirit of dana. Marriage dana especially kanyadana has been considered as such.
Neurons, experience, and being: A discussion on consciousness
The lecture will present Indian theories of consciousness and experience in the context of some of the current discussions on consciousness and brain.
Consciousness and cognition in Vaisesika
The seminar intends to discuss the nature of consciousness as expounded in the early system of Vaisesika, which deals with the problem of consciousness in relation to the process of cognition in general. In other words, knowledge is an adventitious attribute which inheres in the substance called atman (soul) only when it is embodied. During this seminar, the various implications and formulations of this view in Vaisesika sources will be examined.
The Subhasita as a social artifact
Subhasitas are Sanskrit sayings that generally make a moral point. This lecture will examine the role of ‘eloquent speech’ in the formation of social and political relationships in medieval India, showing the role of subhasita in the formation of ethics.
Towards a comparative theology of the person
Comparative theology is an important area of research in the contemporary world. This paper will develop the idea of the person as a fruitful category for comparative theological inquiry. The seminar will raise questions about the person as an ontological category and its possible future development with particular reference to Saiva theology in dialogue with Orthodox Christianity.
What did Ramakantha contribute to the Buddhist-Brahmanical atman debate?
In attempting to refute the Buddhist doctrine of no-Self, Ramakantha absorbed many features of Buddhism. For example, he sided with Buddhism against Nyaya and Vaisesika in denying the existence of property-possessors (dharmins) over and above properties (dharmas), and in denying a Self as something that exists over and above cognition. For him the Self simply is cognition (jnana, prakasa, samvit) and so he has to prove that cognition is constant and unchanging. I will present those arguments of Ramakantha's that strike me as his strongest and most original. I will spend at least the first 10 minutes of the talk introducing, and giving an overview of, the Buddhist-Brahmanical atman debate.
Icon and murti (four seminars)
This seminar series will examine the issue of representation of the divine in Christian Orthodoxy and Vaisnava Hinduism. Given that God is unknowable and beyond all representation in these traditions, questions will be raised about how a transcendent reality can be represented, the function of such representations, and the degree to which such mediations are thought to be required by tradition. The first two seminars will offer theological backgrounds to Orthodoxy and Vaisnava Hinduism and the remaining two will examine in more detail conceptual and historical problems in the history of the traditions.
Hinduism II series (eight lectures)
These lectures will examine conceptions of liberation and paths leading to liberation in the history of Hinduism. After an introductory lecture that raises some theological questions about the relation of path to goal and the importance of ritual and asceticism, 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.
- Introduction: the question of soteriology in India
- Sankhya and Yoga
- Yoga-sutras of Patañjali
- Bhakti and Yoga in the Bhagavad-gita and its interpreters
- Bhakti literatures and Ritual texts
- The Sant tradition: Kabir, Mirabai
- The Pancaratra