Over a hundred friends and supporters of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies gathered at the Oxford Town Hall on 24 June for the OCHS Tenth Anniversary Board of Governors Dinner.
This popular event celebrates the end of the academic year and brings together the Centre's governors, benefactors, students, friends, and Oxford academics. Before the dinner, the Governors meet to consider the year past and to give direction to the Centre's future development. The Board of Governors Report will be published in September. The preliminary report is available on request.
"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance", was the message of Prof. Richard Gombrich in his keynote speech at the Dinner. Prof. Gombrich is a governor of the Centre, Director of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, and Emeritus Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University.
Prof. Gombrich's speech challenged the audience to take Hindu Studies seriously and not allow it to wane and particularly to give support to the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. "It is only through centres like ours that we can keep these subjects alive, because we have the flexibility to teach at all levels, both within and without the straitjackets of a university syllabus." stated Prof. Gombrich.
There was also an impassioned plea for the future of Sanskrit studies in the UK. Prof. Gombrich: " I retired from the Chair of Sanskrit four years ago, and I had to fight a great battle to ensure that the post would be refilled when I left. My cause seemed desperate. The main reason, I think, why I won is that the authorities suddenly realised that the Oxford chair is the last chair in Sanskrit in the British Isles. But there is no happy ending yet. Since my retirement, the trickle of applicants for the BA in Sanskrit has dried up completely! Were my battle to be re-fought today, it could surely not be won. The single subject BA in Sanskrit is about to disappear from both Cambridge and SOAS; it will then exist only in Oxford. And yet we have no takers. Catastrophe!"
Such a spicy speech was complemented by a spicy dinner generously provided by Raj at Haandi Catering and later sweetened by a generous donation of a box of Chappan Bhog's best Indian sweets for each guest.
A good meal and a challenging talk made this year's dinner one of the best yet and augur well for the future.
The Board of Governors of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies wishes to thank the following for their generous support of this event.