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Forthcoming lectures

‘Doing’ the text of Durgā. On scripture, ritual, and the internalization of tradition

The Śākta Traditions seminars
Silje Lyngar Einarsen
Monday, 15 February 2016 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
OCHS Library

The goddess-oriented Śākta traditions comprise very influential but also very complex and challenging forms of Indian religiosity. This seminar series will introduce to central concepts and problems of the goddess traditions. The seminars will look into important theoretical and methodological questions with regard to the study of Hindu ‘Śāktism’. A special emphasis is placed on the interplay between text, ritual and sociocultural context in the formation and transmission of Śākta traditions.  Finally, insights from the seminars will be contextualized in a broader intellectual discussion in relation to models of the human and theories of the person. 

Elementary Sanskrit

Dr. Bjarne Olesen
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

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

To Die or Not to Die: Yogi’s Choice at the Moment of Death

Majewski Lecture
Lubomír Ondračka
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Lecture Room 1, Oriental Institute

According to some haṭhayogic texts, an advanced yogi has the ability to determine the precise moment of his death. And when this moment comes he can make a choice – either to die in a controlled way and reach a desired destiny, or to escape death and become immortal in his physical body. This lecture will explore different techniques leading to this goal.

Lubomír Ondračka is Reader in Indic Religions at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. He graduated first at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague (five years engineering program in Mathematical modelling) and then at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University (five years MA program in Bengali). His research areas are history of Yoga and religions of Bengal. He teaches extensively on yoga, history of Indic religions and religious practice in contemporary India.

Readings in the Netratantra Chapter 7: Session 5

Dr. Bjarne Olesen
Thursday, 18 February 2016 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

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: Session 5

Dr Jessica Frazier & Lucian Wong
Thursday, 18 February 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

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. The reading group seeks to engage with some of the fundamental concepts of phenomenology that underlie much work in Theology and the Phenomenology of Religion. This term we hope to read Pierre Hadot's Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault. Like Heidegger and others, Pierre Hadot felt that it was important for philosophy to recover some of the impulses that had shaped its development in classical culture and religion. Countering the development of phenomenology into an objective ‘science’, Hadot has led moves to reclaim the place of philosophical reflection as a ‘Spiritual Exercise’ concerned with human flourishing, self-development, and humanity's place in the cosmos. To get some perspective on this development in phenomenology, we will read Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995).

Elementary Sanskrit

Dr. Bjarne Olesen
Friday, 19 February 2016 - 10:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

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

Readings in Middle Bengali Texts: Session 5

Lucian Wong
Friday, 19 February 2016 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Tutor Room

We will read sections from key devotional and theological Vaiṣṇava texts in Bengali from the early modern period and discuss their meaning. Some proficiency in Bengali is a requirement.

Hinduism 2: Hindu Traditions (Paper 21): Lecture 5

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
Friday, 19 February 2016 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Exam Schools

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.

Rasa as Aesthetic Emotion and Religious Ecstasy

Dr. Natalia Lidova
Monday, 22 February 2016 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
OCHS Library

The oldest description of rasa as aesthetic category is found in the Nāṭyaśāstra, a treatise on the theatre art dated to the 2nd cent. BCE - 2nd cent. CE. The vast available Western scholarly literature on the topic always highlighted the aesthetic essence of rasa, whether it was likened to European aesthetic categories or recognised as an original achievement of the Oriental wisdom. Without shrugging off this latter view, I would like to stress that the ancient Indian concept of rasa contains numerous aspects which cannot be explained with purely aesthetic ideas. In itself, the word rasa is highly polysemical. It occurs as early as the Vedas, where it stands for the élan vital or juice of a plant, for potions and liquids in general, and milk and water in particular. A magic potion, not unlike an elixir or nectar, was also known as rasa (and was equivalent to amta). Last but not least, the word designated the pivotal and best part of a thing; the quintessence or essence of a phenomenon; taste, mentality, or an emotional state and even the religious feeling.

Of the many meanings of the word rasa, the traditional theoretical evaluation of the theatre selected only one – taste. Indeed, the understanding of the word rasa as taste also emerged in the Vedic period but had a rather specific connotation. According to the R̥gvedic hymn IX.113.3, the initial semantics of rasa as taste were related to the soma cult and meant not just any taste but the unique taste of soma as a real-life potion. The crucial ritual aspect of soma was related to the specific hallucinating intoxication into which it had the power to put gods and mortals (priests drank the soma potion in particular rites). Soma drinking belonged to esoteric rites in which the human body, like a vessel, was to be filled with a divine potion. The magic trance caused by soma elevated humans above their nature. Ecstasy born of it gave unique, superhuman experiences and made humans participants of the divine world.

It can be substantiated that the early ritual drama had for supreme goal the acquisition of a specific psycho-physical state by all adepts without exception, similar to the ecstatic experience of soma. The religious ecstasy close to the mystical feeling of communication with God (also enacted in the mystery play before the pious audience) came as an analogy of the hallucinogenic effect of soma, in its essence, quintessence and taste – to put it into one word: rasa.

The rasa concept as it figures in the Nāṭyaśāstra cannot be described as an aesthetic theory in the proper sense of the term. In the treatise rasa still bears a large cluster of meanings from the earlier stages of the evolution, when it was regarded not as an aesthetic, properly artistic notion from the world of the arts, but a phenomenon from another reality, sacral and defying expression. As I see it, three stages can be singled out in the evolution of the concept of rasa: first, its emergence as a symbolic expression of a ritualistic content; second, close in time to the Nāṭyaśāstra, when rasa evolved into a theoretical term and acquired a specific aesthetic content, which gradually ousted its sacral essence; and the third, when the aesthetic aspect became dominant, while the transcendental (alaukika) element of rasa was singled out and emphasized in the later philosophical and mystical tradition (first of all, in the concept of bhakti-rasa in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism and interpretation of it by Rūpa Gosvāmī). In my view, the sacral aspects and original ritualistic context were the reason for the outstanding popularity, broad dissemination and long-lasting tradition of the notion of rasa.

Elementary Sanskrit

Dr. Bjarne Olesen
Wednesday, 24 February 2016 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

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

Readings in the Netratantra Chapter 7: Session 6

Dr. Bjarne Olesen
Thursday, 25 February 2016 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

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: Session 6

Dr Jessica Frazier & Lucian Wong
Thursday, 25 February 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

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. The reading group seeks to engage with some of the fundamental concepts of phenomenology that underlie much work in Theology and the Phenomenology of Religion. This term we hope to read Pierre Hadot's Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault. Like Heidegger and others, Pierre Hadot felt that it was important for philosophy to recover some of the impulses that had shaped its development in classical culture and religion. Countering the development of phenomenology into an objective ‘science’, Hadot has led moves to reclaim the place of philosophical reflection as a ‘Spiritual Exercise’ concerned with human flourishing, self-development, and humanity's place in the cosmos. To get some perspective on this development in phenomenology, we will read Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995).

Are Cognitive States Self-Revealing?

Shivdasani Lecture
Professor Kisor Kumar Chakrabarty
Thursday, 25 February 2016 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
OCHS Library

According to the Nyaya school of Hindu philosophy, a cognitive state reveals its object but not itself and is revealed by another cognitive state.  Other Hindu philosophers of the Advaita Vedanta philosophical school and Prabhakara (8th century), however, hold that a cognitive state reveals both its object and itself.  I shall discuss the nature of consciousness and self-consciousness and reconstruct how the Nyaya can respond to the formidable arguments offered by the Advaita and Prabhakara.

Elementary Sanskrit

Dr. Bjarne Olesen
Friday, 26 February 2016 - 10:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

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

Readings in Middle Bengali Texts: Session 6

Lucian Wong
Friday, 26 February 2016 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Tutor Room

We will read sections from key devotional and theological Vaiṣṇava texts in Bengali from the early modern period and discuss their meaning. Some proficiency in Bengali is a requirement.

Hinduism 2: Hindu Traditions (Paper 21): Lecture 6

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
Friday, 26 February 2016 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Exam Schools

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.

The juiced-up body: A Śākta anthropology?

The Śākta Traditions seminars
Gitte Poulsen
Monday, 29 February 2016 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
OCHS Library

The goddess-oriented Śākta traditions comprise very influential but also very complex and challenging forms of Indian religiosity. This seminar series will introduce to central concepts and problems of the goddess traditions. The seminars will look into important theoretical and methodological questions with regard to the study of Hindu ‘Śāktism’. A special emphasis is placed on the interplay between text, ritual and sociocultural context in the formation and transmission of Śākta traditions.  Finally, insights from the seminars will be contextualized in a broader intellectual discussion in relation to models of the human and theories of the person. 

Elementary Sanskrit

Dr. Bjarne Olesen
Wednesday, 2 March 2016 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

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

Readings in the Netratantra Chapter 7: Session 7

Dr. Bjarne Olesen
Thursday, 3 March 2016 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

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: Session 7

Dr Jessica Frazier & Lucian Wong
Thursday, 3 March 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

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. The reading group seeks to engage with some of the fundamental concepts of phenomenology that underlie much work in Theology and the Phenomenology of Religion. This term we hope to read Pierre Hadot's Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault. Like Heidegger and others, Pierre Hadot felt that it was important for philosophy to recover some of the impulses that had shaped its development in classical culture and religion. Countering the development of phenomenology into an objective ‘science’, Hadot has led moves to reclaim the place of philosophical reflection as a ‘Spiritual Exercise’ concerned with human flourishing, self-development, and humanity's place in the cosmos. To get some perspective on this development in phenomenology, we will read Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995).

Elementary Sanskrit

Dr. Bjarne Olesen
Friday, 4 March 2016 - 10:00am to Friday, 11 March 2016 - 10:00am
OCHS Library

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

Readings in Middle Bengali Texts: Session 7

Lucian Wong
Friday, 4 March 2016 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Tutor Room

We will read sections from key devotional and theological Vaiṣṇava texts in Bengali from the early modern period and discuss their meaning. Some proficiency in Bengali is a requirement.

Hinduism 2: Hindu Traditions (Paper 21): Lecture 7

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
Friday, 4 March 2016 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Exam Schools

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.

Elementary Sanskrit

Dr. Bjarne Olesen
Wednesday, 9 March 2016 - 11:00am
OCHS Library

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.

Readings in the Netratantra Chapter 7: Session 8

Dr. Bjarne Olesen
Thursday, 10 March 2016 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

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: Session 8

Dr Jessica Frazier & Lucian Wong
Thursday, 10 March 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

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. The reading group seeks to engage with some of the fundamental concepts of phenomenology that underlie much work in Theology and the Phenomenology of Religion. This term we hope to read Pierre Hadot's Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault. Like Heidegger and others, Pierre Hadot felt that it was important for philosophy to recover some of the impulses that had shaped its development in classical culture and religion. Countering the development of phenomenology into an objective ‘science’, Hadot has led moves to reclaim the place of philosophical reflection as a ‘Spiritual Exercise’ concerned with human flourishing, self-development, and humanity's place in the cosmos. To get some perspective on this development in phenomenology, we will read Pierre Hadot, Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995).

Nyaya Ethics

Shivdasani Seminar
Professor Kisor Kumar Chakrabarty
Thursday, 10 March 2016 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
OCHS Library

I shall give a survey of major developments in Nyaya ethics beginning with the Nyayasutra, the founding work of the Nyaya philosophical school and the Nyayabhasya, the earliest available commentary on the Nyayasutra. I shall also elaborate on the disagreement between Prabhakara ethics and Nyaya ethics and show the latter’s relevance for modern moral discourse with reference to the ethical theories of Aristotle, Kant and Mill and such issues as minority rights and ethical absolutism.

Professor Kisor Kumar Chakrabarti is the President of the Institute for Cross Cultural studies and Academic Exchange.  He is a former Provost and Dean of the faculty and Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Distinguished Scholar in residence of the Davis and Elkins College, the Sarah B. Cochran Professor of Philosophy of the Bethany College and Forrest S. and Jean B. Williams Distinguished Professor of Humanities of the Ferrum College.  He has also taught at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Calcutta, etc.  He has received the Doctoral Fulbright, the Post-doctoral Fulbright and the Senior Fulbright awards and held fellowships at the University of Pittsburgh, the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Simla, the Australian National University and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.  He has studied classical Sanskrit philosophical texts under the guidance of eminent Hindu pundits for many decades.  He has also studied Greek philosophical texts in the original and taught Greek philosophy, modern philosophy, logic and Indian philosophy in colleges and universities in India and the USA for forty five years.  He has authored seventy eight research papers and articles mainly on the topics of logic, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, Indian philosophy and comparative philosophy.  His books include Definition and Induction, University of Hawaii Press, 1995, Classical Indian Philosophy of Mind, State University of New York Press, 1999, Classical Indian Philosophy of Induction, Rowman and Littlefield, 2010 and Major Doctrines of Hinduism and Buddhism, Magnus Publications, 2012.  He has been a Visiting Professor or invited to give lectures in about a hundred colleges and universities in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and the USA.

Elementary Sanskrit

Dr. Bjarne Olesen
Friday, 11 March 2016 - 10:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

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

Readings in Middle Bengali Texts: Session 8

Lucian Wong
Friday, 11 March 2016 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Tutor Room

We will read sections from key devotional and theological Vaiṣṇava texts in Bengali from the early modern period and discuss their meaning. Some proficiency in Bengali is a requirement.

Hinduism 2: Hindu Traditions (Paper 21): Lecture 8

Dr Rembert Lutjeharms
Friday, 11 March 2016 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Exam Schools

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.