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Forthcoming lectures

Key thinkers in Hindu Studies: Session 3

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Thursday, 23 February 2017 -
11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

This ongoing seminar series will provide an outline of a discipline with its own dramatic history and discuss some of the different forms that the study of Hinduism has taken with a focus on some of its key thinkers. At the same time, the history of Hindu Studies is inextricably intertwined with a number of comparative disciplines such as Religious Studies, Intercultural Philosophy and Comparative Theology. Many key thinkers are shared by these disciplines while some key thinkers belong to neither of these disciplines, but have had a profound influence on one or more of them. In the seminar series this term we will discuss the work, theories and methodology of some of the contemporary classics of Hindu Studies that remain influential on contemporary approaches to the study of religion in South Asia as well as on the general and comparative study of religion, theology and philosophy.

Readings in Phenomenology Session 6

Dr. Jessica Frazier and Lucian Wong
Thursday, 23 February 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

Phenomenology is one of the most important developments in philosophy in the twentieth century, and it has also had a deep impact on other theoretical fields more widely conceived. This seminar series seeks to engage with some of the fundamental concepts of phenomenology, and has turned in the past to thinkers such as Martin Heidegger, Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, Peter Sloterdijk, Quentin Meillassoux, and others. 

More than Manu: Trends and Topics in Early Modern Dharmaśāstra

Early Modern Hindu Theologies Seminars
Christopher Fleming
Thursday, 23 February 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
OCHS Library

Convenor: Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms

Dharmaśāstra is typically associated with the ‘Laws of Manu,’ with legalistic religious conservatism, with caste prejudice and with patriarchy. Indeed, the tendency is to view Dharmaśāstra as a antiquated, unchanging tradition which has remained stubbornly static since the turn of common era. This paper complicates these misconceptions by giving an overview of the dynamic developments within Dharmaśāstra during the early modern period of South Asia (roughly 1450-1750). I explore three key features of early modern Dharmaśāstra: a) the emergence of dedicated monographs that addressed distinct Dharmaśāstric topics such as caste and inheritance; b) the growing importance of Mīmāṃsā and Nyāya as analytic tools in Dharmaśāstric reasoning; and c) the increasing role of Brahman Dharmaśāstrins in regional religious and legal disputes. The thrust of my paper is that early modern Dharmaśāstra was dynamic, varied, and enmeshed in many of changes and challenges which characterized early modernity in South Asia.

Christopher Fleming is a DPhil Candidate at the Oriental Institute and a member of Balliol College. His research interests include the intersection between Dharmaśāstra, Mīmāṃsā and Nyāya, South Asian legal history and comparative jurisprudence.

Sanskrit Prelims 2: Session 6

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Friday, 24 February 2017 -
10:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

The course provides an introduction to Sanskrit for the preliminary paper of the Theology and Religion Faculty in Elementary Sanskrit. The class is designed to introduce students of Theology and Religion to the basics of Sanskrit grammar, syntax and vocabulary. By the end of the course students will have competency in translating simple Sanskrit and reading sections of the Bhagavad-gītā and passages from other texts.

Hinduism 2: Hinduism in History and Society: Session 6

Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms
Friday, 24 February 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
Gibson Building, Faculty of Theology & Religion

Beginning with the early medieval period, this paper traces the development of Hinduism in devotional (bhakti) and tantric traditions. The paper examines the development of Śaiva, Śākta, and Vaiṣṇava traditions along with ideas about liberation, ritual, asceticism, yoga and devotion. There will be some exploration of Hinduism and Modernity and there may also be reference to major schools of Hindu philosophy such as Vedānta.

Hermeneutics, Philosophy and Religion: Gadamer: Week 6

Dr. Jessica Frazier
Friday, 24 February 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

Classic problems in Philosophy, Religion and the Humanities more broadly can be approached through the branch of phenomenology that Hans-Georg Gadamer termed ‘Philosophical Hermeneutics’. Texts become living objects of dialogue. Spirituality becomes a process through which the self grows. Community becomes a form of expanded selfhood, and religious truth claims become an invitation to adapt oneself to a new picture of the world. These seminars will explore key themes, drawing on Gadamer’s writings on beauty, health and ethics, Plato and Hegel, spiritual growth and multicultural society.

These 1 hour seminars will explore key themes in the Study of the Humanities in general, and religion in particular:

Week 2: Redefining Truth and Text—Living Language

Week 3: Hermeneutic Spirituality—Locating the individual in the Whole

Week 4: Defining Self, Body, and Agency—Self as shifting nexus

Week 5: Rethinking Community and Pluralism—From dialogues to choruses

Week 6: Science vs Religion Truths—From prediction to transformation

Week 7: Rethinking Divinity—Alternative forms of 'God'

Sanskrit Prelims 2: Session 7

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Wednesday, 1 March 2017 -
10:00am to 11:00am
OCHS Library

The course provides an introduction to Sanskrit for the preliminary paper of the Theology and Religion Faculty in Elementary Sanskrit. The class is designed to introduce students of Theology and Religion to the basics of Sanskrit grammar, syntax and vocabulary. By the end of the course students will have competency in translating simple Sanskrit and reading sections of the Bhagavad-gītā and passages from other texts.

Sanskrit Prelims 2: Session 7

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Wednesday, 1 March 2017 -
10:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

The course provides an introduction to Sanskrit for the preliminary paper of the Theology and Religion Faculty in Elementary Sanskrit. The class is designed to introduce students of Theology and Religion to the basics of Sanskrit grammar, syntax and vocabulary. By the end of the course students will have competency in translating simple Sanskrit and reading sections of the Bhagavad-gītā and passages from other texts.

Readings in Phenomenology Session 7

Dr. Jessica Frazier and Lucian Wong
Thursday, 2 March 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

Phenomenology is one of the most important developments in philosophy in the twentieth century, and it has also had a deep impact on other theoretical fields more widely conceived. This seminar series seeks to engage with some of the fundamental concepts of phenomenology, and has turned in the past to thinkers such as Martin Heidegger, Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, Peter Sloterdijk, Quentin Meillassoux, and others. 

Narratives selves and embodied conditioning: Advaitin techniques for waking up within the saṃsāric story

Lectures of the Shivdasani Visiting Fellow
Dr. James Madaio
Thursday, 2 March 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
OCHS Library

The phenomenon of experience is ambiguous, even chaotic, outside of explanatory models or narrative frameworks that saturate the world with meaning. In this hermeneutical context, I explore the relationship between the nature of the Advaita Vedāntin soteriological framework, egoity (ahaṃkāra) and embodied conditioning (vāsanā) in the work of the Advaita Vedāntin Vidyāraṇya (14th century) and his preeminent advaitic source text, the (Laghu-)Yoga-Vāsiṣṭha. I argue that the nexus between conditioned ways of being in the world and interpretative frameworks is central to the ‘vertical’ movement of Advaita Vedāntin soteriology. In doing so, I pursue the synergistic intersection between Vidyāraṇya’s account of ahaṃkāra, articulated in his praxeological discussion of yogic inwardness, and his employment of pedagogical stories, or ‘narrative hooks’, as a means of drawing personae into the Advaita Vedāntin soteriological story and out of frameworks that concretize dualism and valorize objects. I conclude the paper with exploratory remarks about the nature of liberation-while-living (jīvanmukti) or ‘waking up’ within the interpretative story.

Dr. James Madaio is a fellow at the Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. He received his PhD from the Religions and Theology department at the University of Manchester and has held research positions at New Europe College in Bucharest and at the University of Maryland, USA.

Hermeneutics, Philosophy and Religion: Gadamer: Week 7

Dr. Jessica Frazier
Friday, 3 March 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

Classic problems in Philosophy, Religion and the Humanities more broadly can be approached through the branch of phenomenology that Hans-Georg Gadamer termed ‘Philosophical Hermeneutics’. Texts become living objects of dialogue. Spirituality becomes a process through which the self grows. Community becomes a form of expanded selfhood, and religious truth claims become an invitation to adapt oneself to a new picture of the world. These seminars will explore key themes, drawing on Gadamer’s writings on beauty, health and ethics, Plato and Hegel, spiritual growth and multicultural society.

These 1 hour seminars will explore key themes in the Study of the Humanities in general, and religion in particular:

Week 2: Redefining Truth and Text—Living Language

Week 3: Hermeneutic Spirituality—Locating the individual in the Whole

Week 4: Defining Self, Body, and Agency—Self as shifting nexus

Week 5: Rethinking Community and Pluralism—From dialogues to choruses

Week 6: Science vs Religion Truths—From prediction to transformation

Week 7: Rethinking Divinity—Alternative forms of 'God'

Hinduism 2: Hinduism in History and Society: Session 7

Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms
Friday, 3 March 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
Gibson Building, Faculty of Theology & Religion

Beginning with the early medieval period, this paper traces the development of Hinduism in devotional (bhakti) and tantric traditions. The paper examines the development of Śaiva, Śākta, and Vaiṣṇava traditions along with ideas about liberation, ritual, asceticism, yoga and devotion. There will be some exploration of Hinduism and Modernity and there may also be reference to major schools of Hindu philosophy such as Vedānta.

Sanskrit Prelims 2: Session 8

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Wednesday, 8 March 2017 -
10:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

The course provides an introduction to Sanskrit for the preliminary paper of the Theology and Religion Faculty in Elementary Sanskrit. The class is designed to introduce students of Theology and Religion to the basics of Sanskrit grammar, syntax and vocabulary. By the end of the course students will have competency in translating simple Sanskrit and reading sections of the Bhagavad-gītā and passages from other texts.

Sanskrit Prelims 2: Session 8

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Wednesday, 8 March 2017 -
10:00am to 11:00am
OCHS Library

The course provides an introduction to Sanskrit for the preliminary paper of the Theology and Religion Faculty in Elementary Sanskrit. The class is designed to introduce students of Theology and Religion to the basics of Sanskrit grammar, syntax and vocabulary. By the end of the course students will have competency in translating simple Sanskrit and reading sections of the Bhagavad-gītā and passages from other texts.

Readings in Phenomenology Session 8

Dr. Jessica Frazier and Lucian Wong
Thursday, 9 March 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

Phenomenology is one of the most important developments in philosophy in the twentieth century, and it has also had a deep impact on other theoretical fields more widely conceived. This seminar series seeks to engage with some of the fundamental concepts of phenomenology, and has turned in the past to thinkers such as Martin Heidegger, Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, Peter Sloterdijk, Quentin Meillassoux, and others. 

Constructing a theological basis for social engagement during the rule of Jai Singh II in Early Modern North India

Early Modern Hindu Theologies Seminars
Sunit Patel
Thursday, 9 March 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
OCHS Library

Convenor: Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms

While the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition does not go as far as to reject the practice of ritual (karma) overtly, its early teachers generally forewarn bhakti practitioners of engagement in karma. Consequently, the place of karma, and hence of social responsibilities (varṇāśrama-dharma), in the life of a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava is rarely directly discussed in the early phase of the tradition. However, in the early 18th century a wave of texts appear attempting to devise a bridge between bhakti and karma. These texts appear to have been produced as the tradition enters into a dialogue with Jai Singh II (1688-1743) of the Kachvaha dynasty. Jai Singh was concerned that the various schools active in his kingdom endorsed social engagement, in relation to varṇāśrama and karma. In this presentation, I will examine the Karma-vivṛti, a manuscript held in the library of the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum in Jaipur. The text is an exposition on karma and its its relation to bhakti, written by the chief advisor to Jai Singh, Kṛṣṇadeva Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācarya, a prominent Gauḍīya theologian in Jaipur. Kṛṣṇadeva goes to great lengths to endorse karma and thus social engagement, drawing extensively upon the earliest teachers of the tradition, in an attempt to develop a theological and scriptural argument for the compatibility of karma and bhakti.

Sunit Patel is currently pursuing a DPhil in Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford. His reseach interests include the intersection between religious movements and political power, Indian intellectual history, and the early modern world.

Hinduism 2: Hinduism in History and Society: Session 8

Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms
Friday, 10 March 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
Gibson Building, Faculty of Theology & Religion

Beginning with the early medieval period, this paper traces the development of Hinduism in devotional (bhakti) and tantric traditions. The paper examines the development of Śaiva, Śākta, and Vaiṣṇava traditions along with ideas about liberation, ritual, asceticism, yoga and devotion. There will be some exploration of Hinduism and Modernity and there may also be reference to major schools of Hindu philosophy such as Vedānta.