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The Concept of Laksmi in Srivaisnavism

Wahlstrom Lecture
Professor M Narasimhachary
17 May 2012

 This lecture aims at presenting a holistic picture of Laksmi covering the earliest and later phases of the development of this concept. She, known by another popular name Sri, is the embodiment of all the powers which make the Lord her consort, a veritable ruler of the world. She, as the repository of benign love, plays the role of mother of all living beings. She plays a vital role in the redemption of the erring humanity by interceding on their behalf and mitigating the rightful wrath of the Lord in which act her motherly nature gets fully manifested.

 
Founder Professor and Head (Retired), Department of Vaishnavism, University of Madras, India. His specialist subjects include the Pre-Ramanuja Religion and Philosophy, Pancharatra Agama Literature, Telugu and Sanskrit Literature and popularisation of Sanskrit as a spoken tongue. He has published a number of articles and monographs in academic journals on topics such as the Samskrita Svapnah, Bhakti and Prapatti in Srivaishnava Philosophy and the Pancaratra-kantakoddhara. Important Publications include: The Contribution of Yaamuna to Visistadvaita [Pub; Jayalakshmi Publications, Hyderabad]; Critical Edition and Study of Yaamuna's Aagamapraamaanya [pub: Gaekwad's Oriental Series, Baroda]; and an English translation of Sri Vedanta Desika's Padukasahasram and all of his 32 Stotras. Prof. Narasimhachary received the Certificate of Honour for Proficiency in Sanskrit from the President of India for the year 2004.

Related: Hindu Theology, Vaisnava

Spoken Sanskrit: Week Four

Professor M Narasimhachary
15 May 2012

Founder Professor and Head (Retired), Department of Vaishnavism, University of Madras, India. His specialist subjects include the Pre-Ramanuja Religion and Philosophy, Pancharatra Agama Literature, Telugu and Sanskrit Literature and popularisation of Sanskrit as a spoken tongue. He has published a number of articles and monographs in academic journals on topics such as the Samskrita Svapnah, Bhakti and Prapatti in Srivaishnava Philosophy and the Pancaratra-kantakoddhara. Important Publications include: The Contribution of Yaamuna to Visistadvaita [Pub; Jayalakshmi Publications, Hyderabad]; Critical Edition and Study of Yaamuna's Aagamapraamaanya [Gaekwad's Oriental Series, Baroda]; and an English translation of Sri Vedanta Desika's Padukasahasram and all of his 32 Stotras. Prof. Narasimhachary received the Certificate of Honour for Proficiency in Sanskrit from the President of India for the year 2004.

Related: Sanskrit

Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and the West

Dr Ferdinando Sardella
3 May 2012

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati's (1874–1937) passing away. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati was the founder of the Gaudiya Math and the inspirator of a wide range of Vaishnava movements that have been established in the West from the 1930s and onwards, among others ISKCON or the Hare Krishna Movement. The lecture discusses the relationship of Bhaktisiddhanta with modernity, his theological ideas in relation to Christianity, and his approach to Western culture. Bhaktisiddhanta launched a missionary effort in the 1930s to London that involved members of the British cabinet. The lecture will also present some of the latest research on Bhaktisiddhanta featuring the recent discovery of his diary and an autobiographical sketch. The lecture is based on Sardella's monograph titled “Modern Hindu Personalism: The Life, Place and Works of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati” to be published by Oxford University Press.

 
Dr. Ferdinando Sardella is based at the Department of Theology, Uppsala University (Sweden) and is a Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.

Related: Diaspora, Modern Hinduism, Vaisnava

Spoken Sanskrit: Week Two

Professor M Narasimhachary
1 May 2012

 Founder Professor and Head (Retired), Department of Vaishnavism, University of Madras, India. His specialist subjects include the Pre-Ramanuja Religion and Philosophy, Pancharatra Agama Literature, Telugu and Sanskrit Literature and popularisation of Sanskrit as a spoken tongue. He has published a number of articles and monographs in academic journals on topics such as the Samskrita Svapnah, Bhakti and Prapatti in Srivaishnava Philosophy and the Pancaratra-kantakoddhara. Important Publications include: The Contribution of Yaamuna to Visistadvaita [Pub; Jayalakshmi Publications, Hyderabad]; Critical Edition and Study of Yaamuna's Aagamapraamaanya [Gaekwad's Oriental Series, Baroda]; and an English translation of Sri Vedanta Desika's Padukasahasram and all of his 32 Stotras. Prof. Narasimhachary received the Certificate of Honour for Proficiency in Sanskrit from the President of India for the year 2004.

Related: Sanskrit

Spoken Sanskrit: Week One

Professor M Narasimhachary
24 Apr 2012

Founder Professor and Head (Retired), Department of Vaishnavism, University of Madras, India. His specialist subjects include the Pre-Ramanuja Religion and Philosophy, Pancharatra Agama Literature, Telugu and Sanskrit Literature and popularisation of Sanskrit as a spoken tongue. He has published a number of articles and monographs in academic journals on topics such as the Samskrita Svapnah, Bhakti and Prapatti in Srivaishnava Philosophy and the Pancaratra-kantakoddhara. Important Publications include: The Contribution of Yaamuna to Visistadvaita [Pub; Jayalakshmi Publications, Hyderabad]; Critical Edition and Study of Yaamuna's Aagamapraamaanya [Gaekwad's Oriental Series, Baroda]; and an English translation of Sri Vedanta Desika's Padukasahasram and all of his 32 Stotras. Prof. Narasimhachary received the Certificate of Honour for Proficiency in Sanskrit from the President of India for the year 2004.

Related: Sanskrit

Vaishnava Features of Traditional Hatha yoga

Dr James Mallinson
8 Mar 2012

The history of hatha yoga is only now becoming clear through close attention to the textual tradition. This seminar examines the Vaishnava roots of some hatha yoga practice.

 
Dr James Mallinson has a BA in Sanskrit from Oxford and an MA with a major in ethnography from SOAS. His DPhil. thesis at Oxford was a critical edition of the Khecarividya, a Kaula work on khecarimudra, an important technique of hathayoga. After his DPhil. he translated Sanskrit poetry for the Clay Sanskrit Library for six years. He then spent a year teaching Sanskrit at SOAS and is now helping to set up an institute of Indian classical studies at Lavasa in India while continuing his research into yoga and yogis.

Related: Vaisnava, Yoga

Hinduism II (Paper 21 Bhakti Vernaculars): Session Eight

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
7 Mar 2012

These lectures will take up where Hinduism 1 left off, examining in particular conceptions of liberation and paths leading to it in the post-classical, post-Gupta period. 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 the Vedanta. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) in the Vaishnava traditions. 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 Vaishnavism and Shaivism. We will end with an examination of contemporary Hinduism at village level and in its interaction with modernity. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: General

Hinduism II (Paper 21 Bhakti Vernaculars): Session Seven

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
29 Feb 2012

These lectures will take up where Hinduism 1 left off, examining in particular conceptions of liberation and paths leading to it in the post-classical, post-Gupta period. 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 the Vedanta. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) in the Vaishnava traditions. 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 Vaishnavism and Shaivism. We will end with an examination of contemporary Hinduism at village level and in its interaction with modernity. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: General

God, Being and Beyond: Outlines of a Comparative Theology

Majewski Lecture
Professor C. Ram-Prasad
27 Feb 2012

While the differences between Sankara's and Ramanuja's systems as found in their respective commentaries on the Brahmasutras are relatively well-known, much commented on and highly influential in the living traditions, there has been surprisingly little attention paid to a comparative understanding of their Bhagavad Gita commentaries. Yet, in those works, they offer interpretations particular to the nature and structure of the Gita that do not map directly onto their other standard works. Using an interpretive vocabulary that engages with currents in postmodern Christian theology, I offer readings of each of their treatments of the relationship between the self-declared nature of the divine person, Krsna and his diverse mentions of the mysterious brahman. I suggest that strikingly original views of theology and its connections to metaphysics are found in these great commentaries - views that can contribute to the actual content (and not just the metatheory) of comparative theology.

Related: Comparative Theology, Hindu Theology

Transforming Traditions 3: Innovation in the Theology of Madhusudana Sarasvati

Transforming Traditions Series
Dr Sanjukta Gupta
13 Feb 2012

Related: Hindu Theology, Vedanta

The Importance of Aurobindo for the Contemporary Study of Religion

Graduate Seminar
Brainerd Prince
8 Feb 2012

The contemporary academic study of religion, dominated by both a call for the abandonment of the category ‘Religion’ and the dismantling of the discipline of Religious Studies, is thus faced with an impasse. In this paper, I explore the conditions that have brought about this impasse and argue that Aurobindo’s integralism offers a way forward.

 
Brainerd Prince is completing his PhD on Sri Aurobindo's Integral Philosophy under Professor Gavin Flood. He has interests in phenomenology and hermeneutics and in reconceiving the academic study of religion.

Related: Hindu Theology, Modern Hinduism, Religious Studies

Hinduism II (Paper 21 Bhakti Vernaculars): Session Four

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
8 Feb 2012

These lectures will take up where Hinduism 1 left off, examining in particular conceptions of liberation and paths leading to it in the post-classical, post-Gupta period. 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 the Vedanta. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) in the Vaishnava traditions. 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 Vaishnavism and Shaivism. We will end with an examination of contemporary Hinduism at village level and in its interaction with modernity. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: General

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

Hinduism II (Paper 21 Bhakti Vernaculars): Session Three

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
1 Feb 2012

These lectures will take up where Hinduism 1 left off, examining in particular conceptions of liberation and paths leading to it in the post-classical, post-Gupta period. 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 the Vedanta. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) in the Vaishnava traditions. 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 Vaishnavism and Shaivism. We will end with an examination of contemporary Hinduism at village level and in its interaction with modernity. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: General

Transforming Traditions 1: The Dramatic God: New Approaches to the Metaphysics of Divinity in the Aesthetic Vedanta of Rupa Gosvami

Transforming Traditions Series
Dr Jessica Frazier
30 Jan 2012

Related: Hindu Theology

Yeats and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: The Poet as Orientalist

Graduate Seminar
W. David Soud
26 Jan 2012

Yeats once wrote ‘I know nothing but the novels of Balzac and the aphorisms of Patanjali’. In setting a worldly French novelist against a Indian mystical philosopher, Yeats is not merely recasting the dialogue of self and soul that has governed so much of his poetry; he is signaling that one side of the debate has staked out its position in India, and that the terms of the discussion have changed. Though he had found poetic inspiration in India earlier in his career, Yeats’s final and most productive foray into Indic traditions would challenge his conceptions of self, God and destiny. In pursuit of Indic wisdom as he conceived it, Yeats left a trail of questions and assertions in letters and essays. These texts, especially those that touch on the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, reveal not only what the poet most sought to learn from Indic philosophy, but also where, how and why he failed to grasp it. This seminar will explore these issues.

Related: Literature, Yoga

Hinduism II (Paper 21 Bhakti Vernaculars): Session Two

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
25 Jan 2012

These lectures will take up where Hinduism 1 left off, examining in particular conceptions of liberation and paths leading to it in the post-classical, post-Gupta period. 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 the Vedanta. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) in the Vaishnava traditions. 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 Vaishnavism and Shaivism. We will end with an examination of contemporary Hinduism at village level and in its interaction with modernity. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: General

Hinduism II (Paper 21 Bhakti Vernaculars): Session One

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
18 Jan 2012

These lectures will take up where Hinduism 1 left off, examining in particular conceptions of liberation and paths leading to it in the post-classical, post-Gupta period. 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 the Vedanta. We will trace the development of devotion (bhakti) in the Vaishnava traditions. 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 Vaishnavism and Shaivism. We will end with an examination of contemporary Hinduism at village level and in its interaction with modernity. These lectures are aimed at students of theology and religious studies.

Related: General

Tracking the Trajectory of Religious Material Culture in Tamil Nadu

Dr Kala Shreen
1 Dec 2011

This paper provides a critical overview of select aspects of religious material culture among the people of Tamilnadu. It first discusses how materials are construed in the ritual context, their agency and efficacy and the continuities seen in the process of engagement between the people and the objects. Secondly, it deals with the changing dynamics of the engagement between the people and the ritual objects, the changing social lives of these objects and examines the processes of commoditization, aestheticization and appropriation. These changes have resulted in the circulation of ritual objects and the shifting boundaries between ritual objects and other categories like crafts, curio items, home collectibles and objects in public display on the one hand and transgressing caste/ethnic boundaries on the other hand. Finally, this paper also focuses on the shared material culture between Hindus and Christians in Tamilnadu during religious ceremonies and practices of worship which are explored using examples such as thali (sacred chain in the marriage ceremony), saris etc.

 
Kala Shreen is the Associate Dean – Research and Associate Professor at the School of Social Sciences in MOP Vaishnav College, University of Madras, India. She is also the Initiator/Director of Cultural Dynamics and Emotions Network, Queen’s University Belfast, U.K.

Related: Ritual

Indian Practical Ethics: Law, Gender, Justice, Ecological and Bioethical Challenges

Shivdasani Seminar
Professor Purushottama Bilimoria
28 Nov 2011

Purushottama Bilimoria, PhD is Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Studies at Deakin University in Australia and Senior Research Fellow, University of Melbourne. Visiting Professor and Lecturer at University of California, Berkeley and Dominican University, San Anselmo, and Shivadasani Fellow of  Oxford University. His areas of specialist research and publications cover classical Indian philosophy and comparative ethics; Continental thought; cross-cultural philosophy of religion, diaspora studies; bioethics, and personal law in India. He is an Editor-in-Chief of Sophia, Journal of Philosophy of Religion, Springer. He also edits a book series with Springer on Sophia: cross-cultural studies in Culture and Traditions, Recent publication is Indian Ethics I, Ashgate 2007; OUP 2008, and Sabdapramana: Word and Knowledge (Testimony) in Indian Philosophy (revised reprint), Delhi: DK PrintWorld 2008; ‘Nietzsche as ‘Europe’s Buddha’ and Asia’s Superman, Sophia, vol 47/3 2008; Postcolonial Philosophy of Religion (with Andrew Irvine, Ken Surin et al) Springer 2009. Teaches and publishes on Hindu religious philosophies. Also works on political philosophy, pertaining to ethics of rights, theories of justice, capabilities, education and gender issues in third world, particularly South Asian, contexts.

Related: Ethics, Science and Religion

“Which wise man would worship beings who are tormented by sorrow and fear?” Powers and Weaknesses of Gods in Buddhist Literature

Dr Ulrike Roesler
21 Nov 2011

Buddhists do not deny the existence of gods, but they regard them as beings who are subject to karma and sa?sara and are therefore not free from the fetters of cyclic existence. Their life is extremely pleasant, but when they die they experience horrible agonies, and Buddhists say that there is no greater suffering in the world than that of a god who is dying. In early legends, gods like Indra and Brahma appear as supporters of Buddha Shakyamuni. Some later Buddhist authors, on the other hand, point out their weaknesses, describing them as “beings who are tormented by sorrow and fear, are devoid of compassion, bear various weapons and raise them with the intention to kill” – as opposed to Buddha Shakyamuni, who works solely for the welfare of others. The lecture will illustrate these multi-faceted views with examples from Buddhist literature.

 
Ulrike Roesler obtained a PhD in Indian Studies from the University of Münster (Germany). She held teaching positions in Indian and Tibetan Studies at the Universities of Marburg and Freiburg (Germany) and in Buddhist Studies at the University of Oxford, and has recently been appointed the Lecturer in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies at the University of Oxford. Her research interests are in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, the history of the Kadampa schoolof Tibetan Buddhism, and narrative and biographical literature. Her most recent publication is the volume Lives Lived, Lives Imagined: Biographies in the Buddhist Traditions. Ed. by L. Covill, U. Roesler and S. Shaw. Boston: Wisdom Publications 2010.

Related: Buddhism

The Logical Illumination of Mīmāṃsā and Nyāya (to Navyanyāya)

Shivdasani Lecture
Professor Purushottama Bilimoria
14 Nov 2011

Evolution of thinking, metaphysics and theology  (apauruṣeya, apūrva, padārthas, Īśvara, vādavivāda, hetutarka)

Purushottama Bilimoria, PhD is Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Studies at Deakin University in Australia and Senior Research Fellow, University of Melbourne. Visiting Professor and Lecturer at University of California, Berkeley and Dominican University, San Anselmo, and Shivadasani Fellow of  Oxford University. His areas of specialist research and publications cover classical Indian philosophy and comparative ethics; Continental thought; cross-cultural philosophy of religion, diaspora studies; bioethics, and personal law in India. He is an Editor-in-Chief of Sophia, Journal of Philosophy of Religion, Springer. He also edits a book series with Springer on Sophia: cross-cultural studies in Culture and Traditions, Recent publication is Indian Ethics I, Ashgate 2007; OUP 2008, and Sabdapramana: Word and Knowledge (Testimony) in Indian Philosophy (revised reprint), Delhi: DK PrintWorld 2008; ‘Nietzsche as ‘Europe’s Buddha’ and Asia’s Superman, Sophia, vol 47/3 2008; Postcolonial Philosophy of Religion (with Andrew Irvine, Ken Surin et al) Springer 2009. Teaches and publishes on Hindu religious philosophies. Also works on political philosophy, pertaining to ethics of rights, theories of justice, capabilities, education and gender issues in third world, particularly South Asian, contexts.

Related: Philosophy

Theories of the Text: Week Five

Professor Gavin Flood
10 Nov 2011

Related: Literary Theory

Theories of the Text: Week Four

Professor Gavin Flood
3 Nov 2011

Related: Literary Theory

Hinduism’s Transnational Diasaporias*: the view from Oceania

Shivdasani Seminar
Professor Purushottama Bilimoria
31 Oct 2011

(*aporias of diaspora)

 
Purushottama Bilimoria, PhD is Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Studies at Deakin University in Australia and Senior Research Fellow, University of Melbourne. Visiting Professor and Lecturer at University of California, Berkeley and Dominican University, San Anselmo, and Shivadasani Fellow of  Oxford University. His areas of specialist research and publications cover classical Indian philosophy and comparative ethics; Continental thought; cross-cultural philosophy of religion, diaspora studies; bioethics, and personal law in India. He is an Editor-in-Chief of Sophia, Journal of Philosophy of Religion, Springer. He also edits a book series with Springer on Sophia: cross-cultural studies in Culture and Traditions, Recent publication is Indian Ethics I, Ashgate 2007; OUP 2008, and Sabdapramana: Word and Knowledge (Testimony) in Indian Philosophy (revised reprint), Delhi: DK PrintWorld 2008; ‘Nietzsche as ‘Europe’s Buddha’ and Asia’s Superman, Sophia, vol 47/3 2008; Postcolonial Philosophy of Religion (with Andrew Irvine, Ken Surin et al) Springer 2009. Teaches and publishes on Hindu religious philosophies. Also works on political philosophy, pertaining to ethics of rights, theories of justice, capabilities, education and gender issues in third world, particularly South Asian, contexts.

Related: Diaspora

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