The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS) celebrates ten years of growth from humble beginnings in a suburban house to one of the worlds leading Hindu Studies centres building bridges between academia, tradition, and economics.
‘As India nudges its way on to the world stage as an economic force, an understanding of its underlying philosophies becomes important’, says the Centre’s Director, Shaunaka Rishi Das. ‘In the twenty-first century, Indian cultures and philosophies will make themselves felt in subtle ways as India’s economic growth brings an inevitable cultural impact.’
The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies has developed into one of the world’s foremost Centres of the study of Hinduism with many of the field’s best scholars serving as visiting fellows and academic directors. These include Prof. Francis X. Clooney, SJ, now teaching at Harvard, and Prof. Gavin Flood author of the highly-regarded Introduction to Hinduism (Cambridge University Press).
Since its earliest days it has been nurtured by respected Oxford scholars including Prof. Keith Ward (Emeritus Professor of Divinity), Prof. David Patterson of the Oxford Centre for Jewish and Hebrew Studies (on which the Hindu Studies Centre was modelled), and Prof. Richard Gombrich (Emeritus Professor of Sanskrit).
According to Prof. Gombrich, ‘The OCHS has developed a reputation for academic excellence. Without the Centre we wouldn’t have Hindu Studies at Oxford. Its students do us credit.’ One such student is Ravi Gupta, now a Lecturer in Eastern Religions in the US: ‘The OCHS approach to the study of the Hindu traditions is a basis for excellent education and informed debate. It gave me the perspectives I needed to launch my career.’ At twenty-one, Ravi was one of Oxford’s youngest ever Ph.D. recipients and now lectures in Hinduism in the US.
The Centre studies all Hindu cultures and traditions in all parts of the world. An important part of this is building links with Hindu communities in the UK who have also provided a firm financial footing for the Centre.
The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies played an instrumental role in the creation of the Dow Jones Dharma Index – an ethical investment package based on Hindu and Buddhist values. This was an exercise in building bridges between academia and the business community in a way that benefited both.
The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies will celebrate its tenth anniversary at its annual Board of Governors Dinner on 24 June. Prof. Richard Gombrich will speak on the history and achievements of the Centre
A brief history
- Founded in 1998 as the only academic centre of its kind.
- First D.Phil. student graduated in 2002.
- Since 2002, Shivdasani Fellowships bring renowned Indian scholars to Oxford to teach and research.
- In 2003, Continuing Education Department began teaching Higher Education Certificate courses to adults at venues across the UK.
- 2004, began publishing partnership with Routledge, producing nine titles to date in Hindu Studies book series.
- Awarded status of 'Recognised Independent Centre of Oxford University' in 2006.
- 2007, publishing partnership with Oxford University Press producing the Journal of Hindu Studies.
- 2007, brought together leading scholars in Indian text and archaeology for first international conference.
- 2008, brought together advisory board for Dow Jones Dharma Index and oversaw the creation of the document outlining dharmic principles in relation to investment.
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