Skip directly to content

Downloadable lectures

The concept of Hindu philosophy

Shivdasani Lecture
Dr Sangeetha Menon
14 May 2007

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.

Dr Sangeetha Menon graduated in Zoology, and then took her postgraduate degree in philosophy from the University of Kerala, with a thesis entitled ‘The Concept of Consciousness in the Bhagavad Gita. A gold-medalist and first rank holder for postgraduate studies, she has been a fellow at the National Institute of Advanced Studies since 1996.

Related: Philosophy

Twentieth-century Sanskrit commentaries on the Vaisesikasutras

Shivdasani Lecture
Dr Shashiprabha Kumar
14 May 2007

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.

 
Dr Shashiprabha Kumar is Professor in Sanskrit Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University and specialises in Nyaya-Vaisesika. She has published widely in this field over the past thirty years and has particular interest in the idea of consciousness in Nyaya, as well as the early history of the school.
 

Related: Philosophy, Vaisesika

Sabda as pramana in Vaisesika

Shivdasani Seminar
Dr Shashiprabha Kumar
10 May 2007

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.

Related: Philosophy, Vaisesika

The dancing Shiva as a focus for teaching cultural diversity

Dr Anne-Marie Gaston
7 May 2007

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.

Related: Iconography, Saiva

The dance of emotions

Shivdasani Lecture
Dr Sangeetha Menon
7 May 2007

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.

Dr Sangeetha Menon graduated in Zoology, and then took her postgraduate degree in philosophy from the University of Kerala, with a thesis entitled ‘The Concept of Consciousness in the Bhagavad Gita’. A gold-medalist and first rank holder for postgraduate studies, she has been a fellow at the National Institute of Advanced Studies since 1996.

Related: Aesthetics, Dance

Beyond love and love beyond: Hindu and Western ideas of love

Shivdasani Seminar
Dr Sangeetha Menon
3 May 2007

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)

Professor Gavin Flood
1 May 2007

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.

Related: Tantra

The concept of dharma in Vaisesika

Shivdasani Seminar
Dr Shashiprabha Kumar
30 Apr 2007

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.

Related: Philosophy, Vaisesika

A super-gift or a conduit: The place of a daughter in the Indian marriage exchange

Graduate Seminar
Pulane Lizzie Motswapong
30 Apr 2007

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.

A father, by giving away his kanya was assured of spiritual merit. In ancient India the kanya was designated as the super-gift and all the other gifts which accompanied her were secondary. Marriage gifts continue to form an integral part of modern marriage system, (in the form of dowry); the kanya continues to be given away but her role is subsumed by the property she carries with her to the marital family and as a result she is reduced to a conduit.
 
The shift in status of the daughter from super-gift to a vehicle that facilitates the dowry custom has closely and significantly affected the status of women in contemporary Indian society. The practice has spread all over India and its wider ramifications are visible in the spate of cases of bride-burning, suicides, and harassment. This paper will compare and contrast the role of the daughter in the exchange while taking into account factors that may have contributed to this shift in the status of a kanyadana.

Related: Dharmasastra, Society

Neurons, experience, and being: A discussion on consciousness

Shivdasani Lecture
Dr Sangeetha Menon
27 Apr 2007

The lecture will present Indian theories of consciousness and experience in the context of some of the current discussions on consciousness and brain.

Related: Consciousness, Science and Religion

Consciousness and cognition in Vaisesika

Shivdasani Seminar
Dr Shashiprabha Kumar
26 Apr 2007

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.

Related: Philosophy, Vaisesika

The Subhasita as a social artifact

Majewski Lecture
Dr Daud Ali
27 Feb 2007

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.

Daud Ali is Senior Lecturer in Early Indian History at the School of Oriental and African Studies. He is author of Courtly Culture and PoliticalLife in Early Medieval India, and, with Ronald Inden and Jonathan Walters, of Querying the Medieval: Texts and the History of Practice in South Asia

Related: Ethics, Literature

Towards a comparative theology of the person

Graduate seminar
Nicholas Bamford
27 Feb 2007

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.

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology, Saiva

What did Ramakantha contribute to the Buddhist-Brahmanical atman debate?

Dr Alex Watson
8 Feb 2007

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.

Related: Buddhism, Philosophy, Saiva

Icon and murti (four seminars)

Dr Kenneth Valpey
25 Jan 2007

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.

Related: Comparative Theology, Iconography

Hinduism II series (eight lectures)

Professor Gavin Flood
25 Jan 2007

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.

 
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 Hinduism, 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.
 
Lecture Schedule
  • 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
  • Saivism

Related: General

Icon and murti (four seminars)

Icon and murti (four seminars)
Dr Matthew Steenberg
25 Jan 2007

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.

Related: Comparative Theology, Iconography

Understanding the Pancaratra

Professor M Narasimhachary
30 Nov 2006

This seminar presented by the Prof. Narasimhachary (OCHS Shivdasani Fellow) and Prof. Gavin Flood (OCHS Academic Director) will explore issues of text and interpretation through focussing on texts of the Pancaratra corpus.

Related: Pancaratra

Understanding the Pancaratra

Professor Gavin Flood
30 Nov 2006

This seminar presented by the Prof. Narasimhachary (OCHS Shivdasani Fellow) and Prof. Gavin Flood (OCHS Academic Director) will explore issues of text and interpretation through focussing on texts of the Pancaratra corpus.

Related: Pancaratra

The teleology of meditation

Graduate seminar
Christopher Wood
23 Nov 2006

Drawing from a range of examples, this seminar will present a thesis about the ways in which the goal of meditation within specific spiritual traditions affects practice. It will raise questions about the nature of meditation and other spiritual practices and about individual and communal experience. Christopher Wood is a DPhil student in the Theology Faculty. His background is in Theology (Birmingham) and he has research interests in the history of ideas, comparative religion, and the interface between Theology and Psychology.

Related: Religious experience

Desire in Christianity and Indian religions

Dr Ulrike Roesler
9 Nov 2006

Desire in its widest sense is fundamental to human existence and has been the focus of much discussion in religious traditions over the centuries. Desire has been seen as a negative quality which keeps people in bondage, as generally seen in Buddhism, but desire for a greater good has also been seen as a positive force in different traditions. The aim of this conference is explore the idea of desire and its understanding in Christianity and Indian religions and to generate discussion of comparative philosophy and theology across traditions.

Related: Comparative Theology

Desire in Christianity and Indian religions

Dr Dermot Killingley
9 Nov 2006

Desire in its widest sense is fundamental to human existence and has been the focus of much discussion in religious traditions over the centuries. Desire has been seen as a negative quality which keeps people in bondage, as generally seen in Buddhism, but desire for a greater good has also been seen as a positive force in different traditions. The aim of this conference is explore the idea of desire and its understanding in Christianity and Indian religions and to generate discussion of comparative philosophy and theology across traditions.

Related: Comparative Theology

Desire in Christianity and Indian religions

Professor Keith Ward
9 Nov 2006

Desire in its widest sense is fundamental to human existence and has been the focus of much discussion in religious traditions over the centuries. Desire has been seen as a negative quality which keeps people in bondage, as generally seen in Buddhism, but desire for a greater good has also been seen as a positive force in different traditions. The aim of this conference is explore the idea of desire and its understanding in Christianity and Indian religions and to generate discussion of comparative philosophy and theology across traditions.

Related: Comparative Theology

It's a kind of magic: The powers of yoga and their interpretation

Majewski Lecture
Dr Angelika Malinar
30 Oct 2006

Flying through the air, the remembrance of former existence, being insensitive to pain - all these phenomena are known as the 'power' of Yogins and are usually regarded as signs of a successful practice of Yoga. Already in the oldest texts, such as the Mahabharata (400 BCE- 400 CE) and the Yogasutra (4th-5th century, CE), they are called bala (power), siddhi (achievements) or vibhuti (manifestation of might). In academic contexts these powers were rather neglected since they have often been interpreted as an expression of 'magical thinking'. The discussion of some of these academic views will be followed by an analysis of the description and interpretation of Yogic powers in the Yogasutra and the Mahabharata. It will be shown that the authors of these texts used their own philosophical framework for explaining the 'conquest' of the objects of Yogic practice.

Related: Yoga

Theories of the text series (five lectures)

Professor Gavin Flood
17 Oct 2006

The study of texts is fundamental to Theology and Religious Studies. The aim of this series of seminars is to examine some theories of the text that have arisen within the human sciences over the last fifty years and to examine their implications for the study of religions. These developments have broadly occurred within what has become known as the 'linguistic' turn and 'postmodernism', along with reactions to it. As we now move beyond these intellectual movements ('beyond theory' to borrow a recent term by Terry Eagleton) we need to reassess the role of the text, particularly the religious text, and examine the kinds of reading practices that are available to us.

Related: Literary Theory

Pages