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Forthcoming lectures

Sanskrit Prelims 2: Session 2

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Wednesday, 25 January 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.

Key thinkers in Hindu Studies: Session 1

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Thursday, 26 January 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 2

Dr. Jessica Frazier and Lucian Wong
Thursday, 26 January 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. 

Sanskrit Prelims 2: Session 2

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Friday, 27 January 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 2

Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms
Friday, 27 January 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 2

Dr. Jessica Frazier
Friday, 27 January 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'

The Colloquy between Muhammad and Saytān: The 18th century Bangla Iblichnāmā of Garībullā

Lectures of the J.P. And Beena Khaitan Visiting Fellow
Prof. Tony K. Stewart
Tuesday, 31 January 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm
Fellows’ Dining Room, Hilda Besse Building at St Antony’s College

In 1287 bs [=1879/80 ce] a short Bangla work was published in Calcutta under the title of Iblichnāmār punthi by the highly productive scholar Garībullā, who had composed the text about a century earlier. This somewhat unusual text is a colloquy between the Prophet Muhammad and the fallen Iblich (Ar. Iblīs), also called Saytān. The bulk of this fictional text is an interrogation of Iblich regarding the nature of his followers and their actions. The text is prefaced in its opening verses with a somewhat uneasy statement about the nature of the book and whether it was even appropriate to compose such a text it in the vernacular Bangla, a move that immediately draws attention to the language of the text itself and its intended audience. The opening section moves from one language conundrum to another until the attentive reader begins to realize that the fact one is reading the text in Bangla suggests that question and those that followed were actually moot, a set up for something else. Soon, the logic of the argument makes clear that such a conversation between the always untruthful Iblich and the always truthful Muhammad could only happen in a fiction—and it is perfectly fine to write fiction in Bangla. This move to fiction immediately alters the approach of the reader, who is rewarded with humorous, often naughty descriptions of the depraved and licentious acts of Saytān’s lackeys, parodies of the standard ’aḥādīth literatures regarding proper conduct—everything a good practicing Muslim is not! This fictional inversion of all that is good and proper titillates the reader in its mad escape from the Bakhtinian monologic of theology, history, and law that governs the discourse of the conservative Sunni (Hanbalite) mainstream. It is the exaggerated negative image of the law as seen from the imagined squalid underbelly of Bengali society.

(This seminar is jointly sponsored by the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, the Asian Studies Centre at St. Anthony’s College, and the History Faculty.)

Prof. Tony K. Stewart specializes in the literatures and religions of the Bangla-speaking world, with a special emphasis on the early modern period. His most recent monograph, The Final Word: the Caitanya Caritāmṛta and the Grammar of Religious Tradition (Oxford, 2010), culminated a decades-long study of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava hagiographical tradition that included translating with Edward C. Dimock, Jr., The Caitanya Caritāmṛta of Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja, Harvard Oriental Series no. 56 (Harvard, 1999). From the literatures of the Muslim–Hindu mythic figure, Satya Pīr, he published Fabulous Females and Peerless Pīrs: Tales of Mad Adventure in Old Bengal (Oxford, 2004) and is currently working on a monograph on the popular Bangla romance literatures of the pīrs. With prominent American poet Chase Twichell, he has published the first ever translations of Rabindranath Tagore’s pseudonymous Bhānusiṃha poetry titled The Lover of God (Copper Canyon, 2003). Stewart currently holds the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in Humanities and serves as a Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University.

Sanskrit Prelims 2: Session 3

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Wednesday, 1 February 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 3

Dr. Jessica Frazier and Lucian Wong
Thursday, 2 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. 

Sanskrit Prelims 2: Session 3

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Friday, 3 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.

Hermeneutics, Philosophy and Religion: Gadamer: Week 3

Dr. Jessica Frazier
Friday, 3 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'

Hinduism 2: Hinduism in History and Society: Session 3

Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms
Friday, 3 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.

Sanskrit Prelims 2: Session 4

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Wednesday, 8 February 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.

Key thinkers in Hindu Studies: Session 2

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Thursday, 9 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 4

Dr. Jessica Frazier and Lucian Wong
Thursday, 9 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. 

Moral Reasoning through Narratives: dharma and exegesis in medieval Advaita Vedānta

Lectures of the Shivdasani Visiting Fellow
Dr. James Madaio
Thursday, 9 February 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
OCHS Library

In this paper I analyse how Vidyāraṇya, a fourteenth century Advaita Vedāntin, utilises scriptural narratives about sages as a means to extrapolate and ground the dharma of renouncers (saṃnyāsin), including the proper sequence of two different kinds of renunciation and their corresponding disciplines. I argue that this approach, informed by the dharmaśāstric tradition, engenders a reading of scripture as a panoply of stories about the conduct of exemplar-sages which differs from modes of exegesis in the early period of Advaita Vedānta. This narratological reading of scripture, which takes seriously plot and character development, provides a method of diagnosing the liberative status of sages as well as their particular afflictions. I position this discussion within an overall claim that Vidyāraṇya’s moral reasoning, or solving problems of how to act in the world, is intimately connected to narrative or the practice of reading and telling stories.

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.

Sanskrit Prelims 2: Session 4

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Friday, 10 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 4

Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms
Friday, 10 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 4

Dr. Jessica Frazier
Friday, 10 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 5

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Wednesday, 15 February 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 5

Dr. Jessica Frazier and Lucian Wong
Thursday, 16 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. 

When Muslim and Hindu Worlds Meet in Fiction: Mapping the Bengali Imaginaire

Lectures of the J.P. And Beena Khaitan Visiting Fellow
Prof. Tony K. Stewart
Thursday, 16 February 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm
OCHS Library

A number of Bangla tales dedicated to the fictional or mythic holy men (pīrs) and women (bibīs) in the Muslim community have circulated widely over the last five centuries alongside the tales of their historical counterparts. They are still printed and told today, and performed regularly in public, especially in the Sunderbans, the mangrove swamps in the southern reaches of Bangladesh and West Bengal. Among them are figures such as the itinerant veterinarian Mānik Pīr, the tamer of tigers Baḍakhān Gājī and his female counterpart Bonbibī, and the matron of cholera Olābibī. Because of the way they defy the strictly demarcated categories that have come to define Hindu and Muslim in the last two centuries, Orientalist scholars, conservative Muslim factions, linguists, and literary historians have until recently rejected or ignored altogether this group of stories as as purely entertaining with no religious, linguistic, or literary merit. I argue that not only are these fictions religious, they create an important space within the limiting strictures of Islamic theology, history, and law that allows people to exercise their imagination to investigate alternative worlds. These texts simultaneously offer a critique of religion and society through their parodies, rather than articulating doctrine or theology. Because they are fictions, any approach to their religiosity must use hermeneutic strategies suited to the literary world in which they operate. But the imagination exercised in these tales is not unlimited, rather the parameters of the discursive arena in which they operate—the imaginaire—can be defined by two types of presuppositions and two types of intertextuality that both enable and constrain what is possible to express. Using the example of the tales of the conflict between Dakṣiṇ Rāy and Baḍakhān Gāji, and the later appropriation by Bonbibī, we can identify not only the structures of the imaginaire, but the processes by which different authors several centuries apart construct and inhabit that discursive space for their own distinct religious purposes.

Prof. Tony K. Stewart specializes in the literatures and religions of the Bangla-speaking world, with a special emphasis on the early modern period. His most recent monograph, The Final Word: the Caitanya Caritāmṛta and the Grammar of Religious Tradition (Oxford, 2010), culminated a decades-long study of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava hagiographical tradition that included translating with Edward C. Dimock, Jr., The Caitanya Caritāmṛta of Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja, Harvard Oriental Series no. 56 (Harvard, 1999). From the literatures of the Muslim–Hindu mythic figure, Satya Pīr, he published Fabulous Females and Peerless Pīrs: Tales of Mad Adventure in Old Bengal (Oxford, 2004) and is currently working on a monograph on the popular Bangla romance literatures of the pīrs. With prominent American poet Chase Twichell, he has published the first ever translations of Rabindranath Tagore’s pseudonymous Bhānusiṃha poetry titled The Lover of God (Copper Canyon, 2003). Stewart currently holds the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in Humanities and serves as a Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University. 

Sanskrit Prelims 2: Session 5

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Friday, 17 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.

Hermeneutics, Philosophy and Religion: Gadamer: Week 5

Dr. Jessica Frazier
Friday, 17 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'

Hinduism 2: Hinduism in History and Society: Session 5

Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms
Friday, 17 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.

Sanskrit Prelims 2: Session 6

Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Wednesday, 22 February 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.

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.