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OCHS helps international Hindu studies grow

Professor Vasudha Narayanan
Professor Vasudha Narayanan

Our ambition to encourage international growth in Hindu studies has borne new fruit in agreements with universities as far apart as Baroda and Florida.

The development of Hindu Studies is now a global concern, yielding affiliations that bring together scholars, students, fresh perspectives, and new insights, in a common appreciation of Hindu culture and its importance for the world.

Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda

Scholars and public figures have expressed concern that India is losing appreciation of its religious history due to a lack of objective study of Hindu culture in colleges and universities. The Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) of Baroda, one of Gujarat's largest universities, has embraced this challenge.
In 2006, the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies welcomed Mr Manoj Soni, the Vice Chancellor of MSU, to Oxford, to discuss ways to enrich the study of the Hindu tradition in Indian higher education. That discussion has resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and MSU, stating their shared aim to "foster and facilitate a collaborative relationship to enrich and expand studies related to Hindu culture, religion, languages, literature, philosophy, history, arts, and society, in all periods and in all parts of the world."
The OCHS anticipates Oxford scholars visiting India and new Shivdasani visiting scholars from Baroda bringing their unique perspective to Oxford as a result of this agreement.
OCHS is also making plans for a Joint Consultative Group comprising representatives of MSU, OCHS, independent scholars, and philanthropists.
There are also plans for an international conference of senior scholars from Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard with Indian scholars to look at the idea of religious studies in India from an interdisciplinary perspective.

University of Florida

In 2005 Professor Vasudha Narayanan, the University of Florida's Distinguished Professor of Religion, came to the OCHS as a visiting scholar. After two months of discussion, discovery, and earnest exchange, she carried the Centre's unique vision back to Florida with her.
One year later the Centre for the Study of Hindu Traditions (CHiTra) was born at the University of Florida in Gainesville, aiming to "enrich the understanding of Hinduism within the academic community and among the general public".
The Centre in Florida embraces Hindu diaspora studies, Indian arts, and collaborative learning. Hinduism is the third-largest religion in the world, yet "people aren't really clear about what the word Hindu means," said Prof. Narayanan. "This is a global and multidisciplinary study of Hindu culture."
As a result of this partnership two OCHS alumni, Dr Ravi Gupta and Dr Kenneth Valpey, taught courses in Eastern religions at the Centre for the Study of Hindu Traditions.