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In the World but Not of the World: Social Ethics in Early Modern North India

Dr Kiyokazu Okita
12 Oct 2012

Can a religious practitioner be exempt from performing social duties? Ever since Buddhists and Jains rejected Brahmanical social values, the issue of social ethics for religious practitioners has been a contested topic in South Asia. In this presentation, I examine how Baladeva Vidyabhusana, a Vaishnava theologian in the 18th century, dealt with this topic at the court of Jai Singh II, a famous Rajput king of Jaipur.

 

Kiyokazu Okita obtained his D.Phil. from Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford in 2011. After serving as a lecturer at Department of Religion, University of Florida, he is currently a JSPS post-doctoral research fellow at Department of Indological Studies, Kyoto University, as well as a visiting researcher at Abteilung für Kultur und Geschichte Indiens und Tibets, Universität Hamburg.

Hindu Scriptural Reasoning

Prof. Gavin Flood
11 Oct 2012

Scriptural Reasoning is a practice of reading scriptures and thinking about them across traditions. It was founded by Peter Ochs as a practice of Jews, Christians, and Muslims reading their scriptures together in small groups and comes out of the post-liberal Theology of the Yale School along with traditional Jewish practices of reading scripture (called Textual Reasoning). With a view to broadening the scope of Scriptural Reasoning it is proposed to transplant the practice into a Hindu context. The enterprise is hermeneutical in orientation although it assumes that much of the text-historical or philological work has been done. The practice will be simply to take a theme and passages from Hindu scriptures and discuss them. The aim of Scriptural Reasoning is to understand difference rather than to arrive at consensus (although that too can arise) but the practice is open ended. It is practice driven rather than theory driven although general features of Scriptural Reasoning have developed over the last twenty years or so. Probably the best way to describe it is to let Peter Ochs speak:

Scriptural Reasoning (SR) is an open-ended practice of reading- and reasoning-in-dialogue among scholars of the three Abrahamic traditions. There are no set doctrines or rules of SR, since the rules are embedded in the texts of scripture and their relation to those who study and reason together. Individual practitioners of SR do find it useful, however, to reflect occasionally on their group practice and identify its leading tendencies. Such reflections differ from individual to individual and from time to time, but there are overlaps, and both the overlaps and the differences stimulate http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/journals/jsrforum/

Hindu Scriptural Reasoning will be by way of experiment to see whether a practice developed out of a Jewish context can work in a Hindu context.

Spoken Sanskrit: Week Eight

Professor M Narasimhachary
12 Jun 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

Motivation to the Means in the Philosopher’s Stone

Shivdasani Seminar
Professor Parimal Patil
6 Jun 2012

This seminar is an exploration of theories of religious action and meta-ethics in late pre-modern Indian philosophy of religion. We will focus on these theories as they are introduced by the Nyāya philosopher Gaṅgēśa in his Tattvacintāmaṇi. 

 
Parimal G. Patil is Professor of Religion and Indian Philosophy at Harvard University, where is Chair of the Department of South Asian Studies. His primary academic interests are in Sanskrit philosophy and the intellectual history of religion in India. In his first two books, Against a Hindu God and Buddhist Philosophy of Religion in India, he focused on interreligious debates between Buddhists and non-Buddhist philosophers in the final phase of Buddhism in India. Currently, he is working on early modern Sanskrit philosophy, especially the work of the New Epistemologists.

Related: Nyaya, Philosophy

Spoken Sanskrit: Week Seven

Professor M Narasimhachary
5 Jun 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

Consuming Scripture

Shivdasani Lecture
Professor Parimal Patil
4 Jun 2012
What counts as "scripture"?
Wherein lies its authority?
What has been said about dharma on the basis of it?
How has what has been said been justified through exegesis (and other commentarial and "quasi-commentarial" practices)?

Related: Hindu Theology, Mimāṃsā, Philosophy

Bishop Appasamy and Comparative Theology in India

Graduate Seminar
Brian Dunn
31 May 2012

A.J. Appasamy (1891-1975) was a Harvard, Oxford and Marburg trained Tamil Christian theologian who served as an Anglican priest and seminary professor in India before Independence, and post-Independence, as the first Bishop of Coimbatore in the Church of South India. Working from the premise that doctrines and theological systems are largely cultural and linguistic negotiations, and therefore provisional rather than permanent constructs, Appasamy’s earliest interest was in recasting Christianity as a living bhakti (‘devotional’) tradition in the Subcontinent. As his comparative practice matures there is a noticeable shift in his thinking away from larger generalized groupings of ‘religions,’ such as ‘Christianity’ and ‘Hinduism,’ and increasingly towards particular interaction with specific thinkers, texts and traditions. Concurrent to this he began to develop a methodology by which to do so that employs the Vedantic epistemological categories known as pramanas (‘evidences’). This paper will consider how Appasamy’s theological project and method might fruitfully be applied to the field of scholarship known today as ‘comparative theology,’ especially as it pertains to the Indian context. Building on Appasamy’s use of the pramanas, I will add my own proposal that comparative theologians from all traditions might draw further benefit from the clarity of the dialectical structure of the Vedantic commentarial tradition.

 
Brian Dunn is currently pursuing his doctoral research in the field of comparative theology at the Theology Faculty, Oxford. His present focus is on the life and writings of a South Indian Christian theologian, Ayadurai Jesudason Appasamy, and his particular comparative interaction with Hindu philosophical and theological conceptions of divine embodiment. 

Related: Christianity, Comparative Theology

On How To Argue with a Buddhist

Shivdasani Seminar
Professor Parimal Patil
30 May 2012

In this seminar, we will explore what was at stake, both philosophically and otherwise, for Brahmanical philosophers in debates with Buddhist opponents. We will focus, in particular, on Nyāya arguments for the existence of Īśvara and Buddhist counterarguments. 

Related: Buddhism, Nyaya, Philosophy

Buddhists and Brahmins at Vikramaśīla

Shivdasani Lecture
Professor Parimal Patil
28 May 2012

 It is so well-known that Buddhist philosophers in India argued with their non-Buddhist opponents that it is hardly worth mentioning. Yet, despite the centuries-long history of such polemics, Buddhist philosophers in India rarely explained what they hoped to gain in critically engaging their opponents through such arguments. In this lecture, I discuss why Buddhist epistemologists at Vikramaśīla thought it was important to argue with their Brahmanical opponents. 

Related: Buddhism, Philosophy

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

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