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Bursaries and Scholarships 2024

Bursaries and Scholarships 2024

£15,450 to award to students this year!

We are now accepting applications for our bursaries and scholarships and all our Oxford University students and Visiting students are invited to apply. The deadline is 22 April 2024, before 12 pm.

You should apply by sending a short letter of application to Hari at secretary@ochs.org.uk explaining what you are studying, the reasons for your application, how much you are applying for and include a budget to show us how you plan to use the bursary or scholarship. 

List of bursaries and scholarships: 
Swami Haridas Giri Scholarship: £6,000
The Spalding Memorial Educational Trust: £2,700
The Parvathi Foundation: £1,500
Jiva Goswami Scholarship: £1,050
Tristan Elby: £1,000
Amit Mishra Scholarship: £700
Aku’s Bursary: £500
Professor Charu Chandra Dasgupta Memorial Bursary: £500
Narasimhacharya Bursary: £500
Hansraj and Kanchanben Popat Bursary: £500
The Tagore Centre UK Bursary: £150
Ramalah Alagappan Bursary: £100
Gopal and Elizabeth Krishna Bursary: £100
Wernicke Olesen’s Bursary for Pali and Sanskrit Studies: £100
Professor Makhanlal Roy Chaudhury Book Prize: £50

A warm thank you to all our generous donors who are supporting the next generations of Hindu Studies scholars. 

Annual Report 2022-23

Annual Report 2022-23

Annual Report 2022-23

It feels unbelievable that the OCHS is in its 25th year, and from such humble beginnings so much has grown. In this letter, we would like to share some of the highlights of the past 12 months. You can also download our full Annual Report here.

Our New Property: 71–75 Woodstock Road, Oxford

Our most exciting news is that after years of searching in a difficult property market, we have found and completed the purchase of a property in central Oxford. This property has more potential than any we have seen before and we are going to develop it in the coming years to create the world’s first purpose-built campus for Hindu Studies. 
…read more.

Developing Indian Philosophy, Digitising Manuscripts, Six New Research Projects

Over the past 25 years, we have grown into a mature research institution and are now, I can say with confidence, leading the field of Hindu Studies. We have seen impressive and constant growth in research, publications, and teaching. Adding six new research projects to our portfolio this year we are now the home of 32 projects. We also hosted four international conferences and our Fellows published 62 books and articles adding significantly to the field of Hindu Studies.

Our Summer Course in Kathmandu

The OCHS Summer University combines lectures and workshops with excursions and fieldwork in rituals, religious spaces, and traditional practices. It was a wonderful experience for students coming from all over the world.
… read more or go to the course website here. 

Here Utsa Bose, a D.Phil Candidate from Bengal, shares his experience of Oxford in his Essay; "Moving On, Moving With"

The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies is built like a secret. Nestled between the Odeon and a Five Guys on Magdalen Street, it is a small glass door with a bright red lotus, almost like a space living in twilight, a whisper of light that is easy to miss.
… read the full essay here.

Prof. Christ Dorsett has completely reformulated our Artist in Residence programme (AIR)

We now offer an annual affiliation that can be used by artists to envisage and debate future ideas and projects. Our first appointment this year was the painter and performance artist, Rosanna Dean
… read more about the programme, listen to a TED Talk by AIR Director Prof. Chris Dorsettor listen to the podcast “The World in Sounds” with Rosanna Dean.

We said a sad farewell to our supporter, benefactor and friend, Mrs Elizabeth Krishna

With sadness, in 2022 we said farewell to Elizabeth Krishna.  A Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, former Indian Institute Librarian, Lecturer at Delhi University, and long-term supporter of the OCHS.  We were very fortunate to be remembered by her (and her late husband Gopal Krishna) in their generous Legacy Gift to the Centre. 
… read more.

Here’s to the next 25 years.

Are you interested in supporting our work with a donation? You can do that through our website here. Thank you.

NEW COURSE: ASCETICISM, SĀDHUS, AND YOGA

NEW COURSE: ASCETICISM, SĀDHUS, AND YOGA

Asceticism, Sadhus, and Yoga:
Hindu Asceticism and its embodied practices

It’s always exciting to launch a new course and our newest is really something to get excited about!

Dr Daniela Bevilacqua has brought her considerable expertise to the creation of our latest offering: Asceticism, Sādhus, and Yoga: Hindu Asceticism and its Embodied Practices

Dr Bevilacqua brings us on a journey from the traditional to the modern practices of asceticism that have been a key part of of yoga practices for centuries.

What does asceticism have to do with contemporary practices
such as tapas, Haṭha-yoga, and yoga sādhanā?

How have these developed over the ages?

What are the most important ascetic groups and what do they practice?

Asceticism is a topic that is widely misunderstood and yet it remains a vital practice. This course makes it accessible. 

Click here to learn more

The Professor Charu Chandra Dasgupta Memorial Bursary

The Professor Charu Chandra Dasgupta Memorial Bursary

New Bursary Endowment:
The Professor Charu Chandra Dasgupta Memorial Bursary

Thanks to a generous endowment from the Nahar Foundation & the Dasgupta Family we are now able to offer a new bursary at the OCHS to support students, faculty, and other individuals involved in the study of ancient Indian languages and history.

The bursary is established in memory of Professor Charu Chandra Dasgupta who was born on September 6, 1908, in the Dinajpur district of present-day Bangladesh, into a respected Vaidya family. His father, Hem Chandra Dasgupta was the first Indian full-time professor and Head of the Geology Department at Presidency College. A renowned and visionary educator, Hem Chandra made pioneering contributions to mass education in Bengal. Professor Charu Chandra Dasgupta followed in the footsteps of his father and, from a very early age, distinguished himself in the study of history. He was awarded the prestigious Premchand Roychand Scholarship and eventually the Mowat gold medal. He earned two doctoral degrees: the first from Calcutta University in 1944 and the second from Cambridge University in 1946. He held various professorships including the Head of Department of Ancient Indian and World History at Sanskrit College in Calcutta and later served as the Principal of Darjeeling Government College in West Bengal.

Professor Dasgupta’s scholarship led to significant advances in the field of ancient Indian fine arts and scripts. He authored four books and more than a hundred scholarly articles in various academic journals. Among these is his seminal work, “The Development of Kharosthi Script,” which is still widely regarded as an indispensable source for the study of the Kharosthi Script. As a prolific scholar, Professor Dasgupta’s research interests were broad and spanned various other disciplines including fine arts, sculpture, architecture, numismatics, history, anthropology and conservation of archives. He was an active member of various scholarly and academic societies including the Asiatic Society and Bangiya Sahitya Parisad. At the time of his death on 23rd June 1962, Professor Dasgupta was less than 54 years of age. But despite his relatively short lifetime, his accomplishments as a scholar remain exemplary.

 

CED Day School: How do We Know What We Know?

CED Day School: How do We Know What We Know?

Day School in Oxford on 4 June

How do We Know What We Know?

Transmitting Knowledge in Hinduism

We may know a lot. But how do we verify these things? Can we trust what our eyes see? Can we reason our way to the truth? Or do we have to learn from authority? While different Hindu traditions may understand the world differently, they often share an understanding of how they got to that knowledge. This day school examines the science of knowledge and knowledge acquisition as developed in India.

When: 4 June 2023
Time: 10.00am – 5.30pm
Where
: Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

How much: Enrolment Fee £245

The Idea of Revelation
Tutor: Prof. Gavin Flood

The Six Pramāṇas:
Tutor: Dr Jessica Frazier

The Guru and the Transmission of Knowledge in Devotional Vedānta
Tutor: Dr Rembert Lutjeharms

Applying Knowledge in a Śāstric Universe
Tutor: Dr Kenneth Valpey

Tirth Yatra: A pilgrimage of Leicester Temples – Sponsored Walk

Tirth Yatra: A pilgrimage of Leicester Temples – Sponsored Walk

Tirth Yatra: A pilgrimage of Leicester Temples

Sponsored Walk

Saturday 22th April 2023

Join the Leicester Friends of Oxford Centre of Hindu Studies group visiting the various temples of Leicester. Join this sponsored walk where we will be visiting the beautiful temples of Leicester, marvel at the deities and also understand the diversity within Hinduism whilst helping raise money for the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.

A minimum donation of £25.00 is kindly requested from each participant. This can be made up of sponsorship from friends, work colleagues and family members or a personal contribution by the Yatri.

All are welcome!

Registration
8.00am registration
8.30am from Start
Jalaram Mandir, Narborough Road, Leicester LE3 OLF

For more information & registration
leicesterfriends@ochs.org.uk or
0116 268 0306 or 07845 286057

Gallery from previous walk

The Rāmāyaṇa on BBC Sounds

The Rāmāyaṇa on BBC Sounds

The Rāmāyaṇa on BBC Sounds with OCHS Fellow Dr Jessica Frazier

Listen to OCHS Fellow Jessica Frazier discuss the Ramayana on BBC Sounds’ “In our time” with Melvyn Bragg, Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, and Naomi Appleton.
 
Text from BBC Sounds website:
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Ramayana, the ancient Hindu epic which is regarded as one of the greatest works of world literature. Its importance in Indian culture has been compared to that of the Iliad and Odyssey in the West, and it’s still seen as a sacred text by Hindus today.
 
Written in Sanskrit, it tells the story of the legendary prince and princess Rama and Sita, and the many challenges, misfortunes and choices that they face. About 24,000 verses long, the Ramayana is also one of the longest ancient epics. It’s a text that’s been hugely influential and it continues to be popular in India and elsewhere in Asia.
 
Friends Talk April 2023

Friends Talk April 2023

Are We the Divine Dancers?

Friends of the Oxford Centre For Hindu Studies presents

A talk by Sharvi Maheshvari
DPhil candidate at Theology and Religion at Oxford University

Saturday 1st April 2023 at 5.30pm GMT

Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre
Rothley Street Leicester LE4 6LF

Middle Bengali Imaginary seminar

Middle Bengali Imaginary seminar

Inaugural workshop for the Body and Embodiment in the Middle Bengali Imaginary project

Body and Embodiment in the Middle Bengali Imaginary” is an exciting new research project in the field of Bengali religion and literature co-directed by Dr Robert Czyżykowski (Jagiellonian University) and Dr Lucian Wong (OCHS). This 2-year project, which was recently awarded a € 50,000 grant by Jagiellonian University’s Strategic Program Excellence Initiative, aims to bring a varied team of specialists together to examine how ideas of the body and embodiment take shape in premodern Bengal’s rich and multi-religious corpus of vernacular literature.

The project held its inaugural workshop, funded by the OCHS, on 16-18 January 2023 at the Institute of Religious Studies at Jagiellonian University. Participants presented preliminary papers examining the theme of the body and embodiment in such diverse religious currents as Sufism, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, Śāktism, regional epic literature, hāṭha-yoga, and tantra.

Over the next 2 years, this working group will continue to develop these papers through monthly virtual meetings, an EASR conference panel, and a second workshop in Krakow in spring 2024. The project will culminate in an Open Access volume of critical essays and translations, which will make some of this fascinating premodern Bengali body-discourse available in the English language for the first time.  

Workshop participants (in the order of presentation):

  • Joel Bordeaux (Leiden University)
  • Keith Cantu (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)
  • Rebecca Manring (Indiana University Bloomington)
  • Mriganka Mukhopadhyay (University of Amsterdam)
  • Naba Gopal Roy (Sidho-Kanho-Birsha University)
  • Ayesha Irani (University of Massachusetts)
  • Lucian Wong (Oxford Center for Hindu Studies)
  • Robert Czyżykowski (Jagiellonian University)
  • Ishan Chakrabarti (University of Chicago)

For more info about the project, click here

Netra Tantra Seminar HT23

Netra Tantra Seminar HT23

Netra Tantra seminar

Week 7, Tuesday 28th February, 10.00-15.30
Venue: Campion Hall (10.00-12.45) and Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (14.00-15.30)
Convenor: Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen

Timetable and Abstracts

10.00-10.15  

Welcome

Professor Gavin Flood, FBA
Campion Hall

10.15-11.00  

The Netratantra: Its Vision and Themes

Professor Gavin Flood, FBA
Campion Hall

The Netratantra, the ‘Tantra of the Eye’, is an important tantric text in Kashmir and Nepal, dating from around the early ninth century, and widely disseminated during the eleventh and probably tenth centuries. The text takes its name from Śiva as Netranātha or ‘Lord of the Eye’. However, the text is a ‘universal’ (sarvasāmānya-) tantra, which overrides the distinctions between various tantric traditions. The central deity of the Netratantra is Amṛteśvara, whose consort is Lakṣmī/Śrī called Amṛtalakṣmī in ritual manuals based on the text. After an initial chapter in which Amṛteśvara, referred to as Bhairava, responds to the questions of the Goddess by extolling the virtues and powers of Śiva’s eye, the text presents a number of visualisations of a number of deities, catholic in its range, not only from the systems of the Mantramārga but from Vaiṣṇava traditions as well. Furthermore, a strong Śākta influence is evident in the text with its many references to female deities and practices characteristic of the Kulamārga, e.g. chapter 7 on the subtle visualising meditation and chapter 20 on yoginīs.

Professor Gavin Flood FBA (Oxford), Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen (Oxford) and Dr Rajan Khatiwoda (Heidelberg) are currently working on a fully annotated translation of the Netratantra with an introduction in two volumes in the Routledge Studies in Tantric Traditions series. The project to study the text will especially focus on the theme of models of the person or self that the text entails. Based on close philological reading, we hope to account for different understandings of the person implicit in the text.

Gavin Flood is a Professor of Hindu Studies and Comparative Religion in the Theology and Religion Faculty and academic director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. Gavin read Religious Studies and Social Anthropology at Lancaster University and taught at the universities of Wales (Lampeter) and Stirling before coming to Oxford. He was elected to membership of the British Academy in 2014. His research interests are in medieval Hindu texts (especially from the traditions of Śiva), comparative religion, and phenomenology. He is general series editor of the Oxford History of Hinduism and currently developing closer textual work on the Netratantra.

11.00-11.15  

Tea and Coffee

11.15-12.00

Digital Humanities and Hindu Studies: Building a Śākta Manuscript Database

Dr Ulrik Lyngs, Michael Elison
Campion Hall

New tools from the digital humanities hold considerable promise to augment traditional scholarly analysis in Hindu Studies. Compared to traditional workflows in which scholars manually collate, compare and critically edit manuscripts into edited volumes, computational methods allow many time-consuming tasks to be automated, and new understandings and insights based on the analysis of large volumes of text can be obtained that would previously have been impossible.
In this talk, I present our work-in-progress on an OCHS Manuscript Database using the Netra Tantra as an example. This database will make thousands of manuscripts available, drawn from the OCHS Kathmandu digitisation project, the National Archives of Nepal, the ASA archives, and more. Compared to existing major manuscript databases such as the Cambridge Digital Library, our database will offer a more advanced interface which, for example, allow users to see transliterated and translated texts side-by-side with images of the original manuscripts. Over time, the database will include computational tools that allow easy textual analysis and concordance, and automatic generating of formatted PDFs or Word files with customised content of specific manuscripts.
 
Ulrik Lyngs is a Carlsberg Foundation Oxford Visiting at the University of Oxford’s Human Centred Computing group, and a Junior Research Fellow of Linacre College. He has a highly interdisciplinary background, with a PhD in Computer Science (University of Oxford), an MA in the study of religion and cognitive psychology (Aarhus University), and an MSc in evolutionary anthropology (University of Oxford). His PhD research on attention and self-regulation in human-computer interactions received the Doctoral Prize from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. He has previously been a producer at HowTheLightGetsIn, the world’s largest philosophy and music festival.

12.00-12.30

Readings in the Netratantra: Chapter 7 on Subtle Visualising Meditation (sūkṣmadhyāna)

Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Campion Hall

The lecture will present a reading and discussion of significant passages from the Netratantra’s chapter 7 on subtle visualising meditation. The chapter is significant in that it presents two different anthropologies and systems of visualization, which the Trika commentator Kṣemarāja refers to as the tantric system (tantraprakriyā) and the Kula system (kulaprakriyā). As opposed to the more body-rejecting practices of classical yoga, the Kula system or what may be termed a ‘Śākta anthropology’ of tantric yoga aims at the affirmation and divinization of the body. This Śākta model of the human is first mentioned in the Netratantra’s chapter 7 on subtle visualising meditation (sūkṣmadhyāna). The Netratantra is also the first to mention the Kulamārga and to teach a system of six bodily centers called cakras, which the meditating yogi is supposed to pierce with his inherent power or śakti. This Śākta anthropology is introduced in the first few verses of chapter seven and then elaborated. The text presents an early Śākta appropriation of older yogic models of ‘knots’ (granthis), ‘supports’ (ādhāras) etc. foregrounding the central channel (suṣumnā) and the notion of how the yogi causes the ascent of his inner power as an early form of kuṇḍalinīyoga. Furthermore, the yogi’s inner power (śakti) was also conceived of in terms of sound or inner vibration (nādasūcī, ‘the needle of sound’).

Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen is Research Lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and a member of the Theology and Religion Faculty where he teaches Sanskrit, Pali and Indian religions. He is the research director and manager for the Śākta Traditions research programme. His book publications include an introduction to Hinduism (2015), translations of the Bhagavadgītā (2009) and the Haṭhapradīpikā (2022) as well as a Danish Sanskrit Grammar and Reader in two volumes (2014). He is the editor of Goddess Traditions in Tantric Hinduism (2016) and has written a number of articles on Śāktism, yoga and meditation in Danish, German and English. He is currently working on several book projects, including an English translation and annotated edition of the Netratantra (based on the oldest available Nepalese manuscript, NAK MS 1-285, NGMPP Reel No. B 25/5 from 1200 CE) in two volumes for the Routledge Tantric Studies series together with Dr Rajan Khatiwoda and Professor Gavin Flood.

12.30-13.00  

Tradition of Manuscript Production: Nepalese Recension of the Netratantra in the National Archives of Nepal

Dr Rajan Khatiwoda
Campion Hall
 
Not only has the Kathmandu Valley preserved an ancient compendium of Suśruta (Suśrutasaṃhitā) copied in 878 CE, but also the earliest surviving Śaiva text, Niśvāsatattvasaṃhitā copied sometime in the 9th century. Similarly, the National Archives of Nepal houses a well-preserved recension of the Netratantra ‘Tantra of the Eye’, an important text in Kashmir dating from around the early ninth century. Of the four Nepalese Netra-manuscripts, the oldest ‘Mṛtyujidamṛtīśavidhāna’ was copied in 1200 CE. The second oldest ‘Amṛteśvarapūjana’ was commissioned by Abhaya Malla in 1216 CE, most likely to protect his father, King Ari Malla, who was said to be dying. The lecture will attempt to shed light on the manuscript sources (as well as their scribal and palaeographical features) for the study of the Netatrantra.
 
Rajan Khatiwoda currently holds the position of Chief Scientific Documentation Coordinator in the Nepal Heritage Documentation Project (NHDP) at the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (HAdW). He is also the Honorary Leader of the Kathmandu Office of the Śākta Traditions Project run under the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS) and a Research Fellow at OCHS affiliated with the Śākta Traditions research programme. Khatiwoda studied Classical Indology at Heidelberg University, from where he received his PhD in 2017. His dissertation deals with the formation and enforcement of the Mulukī Ain, Nepal’s first legal code promulgated in 1854. From 2013 to 2016, he was part of the Cluster´s Project A14 “Transcultural Legal Flows in 18th- and 19th-Century South Asia.” Since 2014, Khatiwoda is research associate at the South Asian Institute, Heidelberg University, and the Research Unit “Documents on the History of Religion and Law of Pre-modern Nepal,” Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Previously, he worked as a research assistant and cataloguer for the Nepalese-German Manuscript Cataloguing Project (NGMCP) and the Nepal Research Centre (NRC) in Kathmandu for nine years (2004–2013).

in Hindu Studies. Compared to traditional workflows in which scholars manually collate, compare and critically edit manuscripts into edited volumes, computational methods allow many time-consuming tasks to be automated, and new understandings and insights based on the analysis of large volumes of text can be obtained that would previously have been impossible.

In this talk, I present our work-in-progress on an OCHS Manuscript Database using the Netra Tantra as an example. This database will make thousands of manuscripts available, drawn from the OCHS Kathmandu digitisation project, the National Archives of Nepal, the ASA archives, and more. Compared to existing major manuscript databases such as the Cambridge Digital Library, our database will offer a more advanced interface which, for example, allow users to see transliterated and translated texts side-by-side with images of the original manuscripts. Over time, the database will include computational tools that allow easy textual analysis and concordance, and automatic generating of formatted PDFs or Word files with customised content of specific manuscripts.

Ulrik Lyngs is a Carlsberg Foundation Oxford Visiting at the University of Oxford’s Human Centred Computing group, and a Junior Research Fellow of Linacre College. He has a highly interdisciplinary background, with a PhD in Computer Science (University of Oxford), an MA in the study of religion and cognitive psychology (Aarhus University), and an MSc in evolutionary anthropology (University of Oxford). His PhD research on attention and self-regulation in human-computer interactions received the Doctoral Prize from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. He has previously been a producer at HowTheLightGetsIn, the world’s largest philosophy and music festival.

13.00-14.30

Lunch (on your own)
Book presentation and reception:

14.45-15.15

Goddess Traditions in India: Theological Poems and Philosophical Tales in the Tripurārahasya (Routledge Hindu Studies Series)


Dr Silvia Schwarz Linder
OCHS Library

This new book on the Tripurārahasya, a South Indian Sanskrit work which occupies a unique place in the Śākta literature, is a study of the Śrīvidyā and Śākta traditions in the context of South Indian intellectual history in the late middle ages. Associated with the religious tradition known as Śrīvidyā and devoted to the cult of the Goddess Tripurā, the text was probably composed between the 13th and the 16th century CE. The analysis of its narrative parts addresses questions about the relationships between Tantric and Purāṇic goddesses. The discussion of its philosophical and theological teachings tackles problems related to the relationships between Sākta and Śaiva traditions. The stylistic devices adopted by the author(s) of the work deal uniquely with doctrinal and ritual elements of the Śrīvidyā through the medium of a literary and poetic language. This stylistic peculiarity distinguishes the Tripurārahasya from many other Tantric texts, characterized by a more technical language.

Silvia Schwarz Linder has a PhD in South Asian Studies (University of Vienna). She has lectured in the past at the Leopold-Franzens-Universität in Innsbruck and at the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice. She was Research Associate at the Institut für Indologie und Zentralasienwissenschaften of the University of Leipzig, and is currently Research Fellow at the OCHS. Her interests focus on the Tantric religious traditions of the Śrīvidyā and of the Pāñcarātra, specifically on the philosophical and theological doctrines expressed in the relevant South Indian Sanskrit textual traditions. She has also translated into Italian texts from the Sanskrit narrative and devotional literature, for editions aimed at a general readership.

15.15 

Reception