Hindu theology, and particularly Vedānta, is grounded in the reading of sacred texts and has been largely developed in commentaries on those texts. This Sanskrit reading class will explore the way Vaiṣṇava Vedānta develops its theology through a careful reading of the Upaniṣads. We will read the commentary on the Īśā Upaniṣad by Vedānta Deśika (1269–1370), the most prominent Viśiṣṭādvaita theologian after Rāmānuja, paying particular attention to the way he formulates his theology and develops his hermeneutics. This reading class aims to introduce students with an intermediate knowledge of Sanskrit to the style and reasoning of Sanskrit commentaries as well as the fundamentals of Vaiṣṇava Vedānta.
An Introduction to Vedantic Hermeneutics: Vedānta Deśika's commentary on the Īśā Upaniṣad (Session Eight)
Hinduism 2: Hindu Traditions (Paper 21): Week Eight
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.
Readings in the Netra Tantra (Session Eight)
The Netra Tantra is an important early medieval Śaiva text. We will read and discuss sections of the text based on the two manuscripts in the NGMPP Library and compare these with the published KSTS edition. Apart from reading the text we will discuss its meaning.
Readings in Phenomenology and Religion (Session Eight)
Phenomenology is one of the most important developments in philosophy in the twentieth century that has had a deep impact on Theology and Religious Studies. This reading group seeks to engage with developments in Phenomenology as they pertain to theology and religion. It is a continuation of the reading project begun several years ago. The overall concern is a reconceptualisation of phenomenology in the wake of both deconstruction and cognitivsm. This reconceptualisation has been inspired partly by the publication of the English translation of Heidegger’s Phenomenology of the Religious Life a few years ago, which reflected the philosopher’s earlier views. A second inspiration is the imperative for the academy to engage with other civilizations and the apparent proximity of some Indian philosophical thinking to Phenomenology. The overall theme of this reading group will be human practices. The particular texts that we read are fluid but we will begin with Peter Sloterdijk’s Your Must Change Your Life (Du musst dein Leben ändern) (2009).
Elementary Sanskrit: Week Eight
The course continues an introduction to Sanskrit for the preliminary paper in Elementary Sanskrit. The class is designed to introduce students of Theology and Religion to the basics of the Sanskrit grammar, syntax and vocabulary. By the end of the course students will have competency in translating simple Sanskrit and reading sections of the story of Nala. The course book is Maurer’s The Sanskrit Language.
Graduate Seminars (Session Three)
Deconstructing Taxonomies: How Can We Study ‘Modern Hinduism’?
Anthony King, Blackfriars, University of Oxford
The category ‘Modern Hinduism’ is often assumed to be a comprehensive and all-encompassing taxonomy, one that carefully delineates all the modern manifestations of the pre-existing religions of India. However it is far from being an innocent signifier. It is the site of significant contestation between post-colonial and Enlightenment claims to truth and knowledge. Scholars are divided on the issue of the ‘construction’ of Hinduism, but what is certain is that the study of Hinduism is in a crisis.
How can we address the issue of the validity of the taxonomy ‘Modern Hinduism’? Is there a way to give a voice in the debate to those who perhaps hold the answer – ‘Modern Hindus’ themselves? This paper will address these issues and possible methodologies of such an approach.
The idea of ahamkara in Samkhya and Yoga
Ramesh Pattni, Blackfriars, Oxford
Central to the Samkhya and Yoga perspectives is the ego and its central role in the continuation of subjectivity through grasping and ownership of experience. We look at this notion of the subject in relation to the underlying metaphysics of the systems of thought.