A lot of the work done at the OCHS is focused on our Research Projects, the number and breadth of which is increasing at a satisfying rate. Equally satisfying is the phenomenon of OCSH alumni, now studying and teaching elsewhere, coming back to the Centre as a natural home for their projects.
Three notable Research Projects are ‘Sakta Traditions, History, Doctrine and Practice’; ‘Bengali Vaishnavism in the Modern Period’, and ‘Bridges and Barriers to Hindu-Christian relations in the UK’.
‘Sakta Traditions, History, Doctrine and Practice’ is under the direction and management of Bjarne Oleson (Aarhus University) and Prof. Gavin Flood. The Sakta traditions are those focused on an independent Goddess (Devi) or on Siva’s power (sakti). This is the first sustained research programme that enquires into the history, doctrine and practices of Saktism and a conference will be organised on the theme for April 2011.
A welcome development in the field of Hinduism and Modernity is ‘Bengali Vaishnavism in the Modern Period’, under the direction of Dr Ferdinando Sardella. Dr Sardella recently received a Ph.D. from Gothenburg University, Sweden, on Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, a notable figure in this period, which won the best thesis award for that year for all of Scandanavia. He will spend two terms as a visiting fellow to the OCHS.
The OCHS is also heading a research project on ‘Bridges and Barriers to Hindu-Christian relations in the UK’, funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sports, and commissioned by the Hindu-Christian Forum. The research will be carried out in partnership with the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture. The project aims to bring together scholarly and community perspectives on the future of religious dialogue and exploring theological and practical issues that arise in the relationship between the two religions. The final report will offer perspectives on the problems, possibilities, goals, and future of inter-religious engagement between Hindu and Christian communities in the UK.