Graduate Seminars in Indic Religions 3
This series of seminars will provide a lively and thought-provoking forum for graduate students from across the disciplines to present their latest work on any of the Indic religions, creating an opportunity for regular discussion and cross-fertilisation among students in this area. It will be held fortnightly in Hilary term (weeks 2, 4, 6, 8) on Fridays from 4pm–5pm, with a chance for informal discussion afterwards over refreshments. Each seminar will feature two papers on related themes or subjects, of about 20 minutes each, with a chance for questions after each paper. Any graduate students working on, or otherwise interested in, Indic religions, are warmly invited to attend.
The idea of affliction (klesa) in the Yogasutra of Patanjali
What is the nature of affliction in the Yogasutra and how does it fit in within the aim and practice of Yoga? Patanjali's Yogasutra deals with the practical means of Yogic disciplines leading to the soteriological goal of liberation from the cycles of birth and death. The normal subjective identity and experience is afflicted with the klesas and the Yogasutra describe the nature of these with prescriptions of removing them from consciousness.
Forms and meanings: the image of God in a Swaminarayan sect
With already over 1000 temples worldwide, Swaminarayan religious traditions are said to be continuously flourishing on a global scale. Of the various sects, Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) is recognised to be at the forefront of this steady expansion. In spite of such a large membership and a noticeable material presence through their temples, there has been very little comprehensive study into the art and architecture of BAPS.
This study intends to focus on the nucleus of these temples; the sacred images housed within. By taking a specific set of mūrtis as the object of study, we aim to discover the crucial tenets and beliefs of this sect; the framework within which the images conceptually reside. Combining a variety of effective methodologies, including a visual reading of the images, this examination displays how the world of BAPS can be accessed and delineated via its religious icons.
By utilising the tool of ethnographic inquiry, it has also become possible to theoretically locate the sacred image in the rationale of the devotee. We determine the different types of images they encounter, establish how they react to them, and identify how one of these—the living image of God—exists at the very centre of the BAPS doctrine.