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OCHS Friends Talk August 2021

OCHS Friends Talk August 2021

The Yogic Body of Haṭhapradīpikā

Friends of the Oxford Centre For Hindu Studies presents

A talk by Gitte Poulsen
of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

The pre-modern yogic body is an intriguing and challenging concept that has been shaped over several millennia and it has also gained importance in some modern yoga- and meditation traditions and practices.
But what is this “yogic body” actually made up off? The pre-modern yogic body was not an empirical or biological body, but a more subtle and rather complex body consisting of various energy centers and channels in which substances and energy could be caused to move around and the natural flow of the body reversed. The idea of something moving around in this body is persistent in all systems of yogic bodies but what this something is differs from system to system and from technique to technique.
In this lecture, I will present an introduction to understanding the yogic body as it is presented in the medieval text Haṭhapradīpikā (1450) which has become the classic text of both pre-modern, and to some extent, modern haṭhayoga. Haṭhapradīpikā is however not a representation of one single system or tradition, but rather a compilation that combines many different yoga systems, traditions and techniques here labeled as haṭhayoga by the author Svātmārāma.

Saturday 7th August 2021 at 4.00pm GMT

Join us on our Online talk via YouTube or Zoom. For Zoom details please contact us on lc@ochs.org.uk or via Facebook Messenger.  

We recently launched a new research project at the OCHS.  “The Phenomenology of Religion as Philosophical Anthropology” directed by Professor Gavin Flood FBA.

We recently launched a new research project at the OCHS. “The Phenomenology of Religion as Philosophical Anthropology” directed by Professor Gavin Flood FBA.

New research project

We recently launched a new research project at the OCHS:

The Phenomenology of Religion as Philosophical Anthropology
directed by Professor Gavin Flood FBA. 

The project will include a three-day Virtual Colloquium from October 4th to 6th. More info will follow later. 

Read more about the project here!

Friends talk July 17th 2021

Friends talk July 17th 2021

How to obey a Guru: Saints and Cheats

Friends of the Oxford Centre For Hindu Studies presents

A talk by Shaunaka Rishi Das
of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

The word guru has entered the English language to refer to an expert of some. From its source the word has a few meanings but it’s most basic is teacher – any kind of teacher. In an Indian context we often think of a guru as a person advanced in spiritual practice, detached from the worldly life, and able to guide us. Yet we also find examples of rouges, cheating their disciples for gain. When we want to bring greater understanding to our lives, as with any subject, we need a teacher. How do we discern who is qualified and how to approach them?

Saturday 17th July 2021 at 4.00pm GMT

Join us on our Online talk via YouTube or Zoom. For Zoom details please contact us on lc@ochs.org.uk or via Facebook Messenger.  

Haṭhapradīpikā

Haṭhapradīpikā

Haṭhapradīpikā

Project description

Danish title: 
Haṭhapradīpikā – Haṭhayogaens hovedværk
, Forlaget Univers (2018).

The first full translation of the Haṭhapradīpikā (also known as the Haṭhayogapradīpikā) into Danish. The translation is annotated with an introduction and essays and includes the full Sanskrit text in devanāgarī. The book is illustrated with photos of a traditional and a modern yoga practitioner to show different ways of interpreting the āsanas and mudrās presented in this work. The translation is based on Svāmī Digambarjī and Pītāmbara Jhā’s edition of Svātmārāma’s Haṭhapradīpikā (Lonāvlā: Kaivalyadhāma Śrīmanmādhava Yogamandira Samiti, 1980). The translation group consists of former and present Sanskrit students from the research unit for South Asian Religion (SAR) at the Department for the Study of Religion, Aarhus University.

For a study of the Śākta dimension of the Haṭhapradīpikā please see:

Mallinson, James. 2016. ’Śāktism and Haṭhayoga’, in Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen (ed.), Goddess Traditions in Tantric Hinduism, p. 109-140. Oxford: Routledge.

Wernicke-Olesen, Bjarne and Silje Lyngar Einarsen. 2018. ’Übungswissen in Yoga, Tantra und Asketismus des frühen indischen Mittelalters’, in Almut-Barbara Renger and Alexandra Stellmacher (eds), Übungswissen in Religion und Philosophie: Produktion, Weitergabe, Wandel, pp. 241-257. Berlin: LIT Verlag.

Project leader

Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Dr Silje Lungar Einarsen

Translations group

Dorte Effersøe
Elizabeth Rosendahl
Erik Grammagnat
Gitte Poulsen
Jesper Moeslund
Lena Molin
Lisa Bukhave
Lisette Hededal
Sander Rosenkilde
Tanja Louise Jakobsen
Therese Udklit

Introduction and essays

Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Silje Lyngar Einarsen
Jens Toft Pedersen

Creative Manager

Tanja Louise Jakobsen

Illustrator

Lisette Hededal

Yoga practitioners

Mathilde Kjelberg
Sudeep Kumar Puthiyaparambath

Lecture List Trinity Term 2021

Lecture List Trinity Term 2021

Lecture list

Trinity Term 2021

Sunday 25th April – Saturday 19th June 2021

Due to Covid Restriction and in line with University Policy all lectures and seminars will be held online. For access, please contact the convenors or lecturer by email. For access to the Hinduism 2: Modern Hinduism and Sanskrit Prelims lectures, please contact the Faculty of Theology and Religion. The Śākta Traditions lectures will be available on the OCHS YouTube channel.

Sanskrit Prelims

Week 1-4, Monday 14.00-15.30, Friday 14.00-15.30
Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen

The course provides an introduction to Sanskrit for the preliminary paper of the Theology and Religion Faculty in Elementary Sanskrit. A range of relevant Hindu and Buddhist texts will be chosen for translation and philological comment. The class is designed to introduce students of Theology and Religion to the essentials of Sanskrit grammar, syntax, and vocabulary and its importance for the exegesis of Sanskrit texts. Students will learn to appreciate the interpretative nature of translation as a central discipline for the study of religions. By the end of the course students will have gained a basic competency in translating classical Sanskrit and reading relevant passages from texts such as the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, the Bhagavadgītā and the Buddhist Heart Sūtra. The course book will be Walter Maurer’s The Sanskrit Language. Sanskrit Prelims continues throughout Michaelmas and Hilary Terms and for the first four weeks of Trinity.

Readings in Vedānta

Week 1-8, Wednesday 10.00-11.00
Dr Rembert Lutjeharms (rembert@ochs.org.uk)

Vedānta—theology grounded in the systematic exegesis of the Upaniṣads—has for centuries been the primary discourse for Vaiṣṇava thought. These reading sessions are intended for students who have at least an introductory knowledge of Sanskrit and are interested in Vedānta texts.

Readings in Phenomenology

Weeks 1-8, Monday 12.00-1.00
Prof. Gavin Flood

Phenomenology is one of the most important developments in philosophy in the twentieth century, and it has also had a deep impact on other theoretical fields more widely conceived. This series continues the reading of Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time.

Comparative Religion Seminar

Week 1, Thursday 29th April, 11.00-12.00.
Prof. Gavin Flood

The purpose of this seminar is to begin to explore new ways of practicing and theorizing comparative religion. The comparative study of religion went into abeyance with its critique from social constructivist positions, skeptical not only of the category ‘religion’ but of comparison generally in the belief that cultural and social particularity and differ-ence needs to take precedence.  The purpose of this seminar is therefore to open up a conversation about what Comparative Religion means in the contemporary world and what its future could be, especially in relation to Theology. Oxford is in a unique position with specialist areas in Theology, Biblical Studies, and Oriental Studies to develop language-focused comparative research fields.

Arguments in Indian Philosophy: Reality, identity, scepticism, ethics

Dr Jessica Frazier (jessica.frazier@theology.ox.ac.uk)

The classical problems of philosophy are often global, attracting concerted debate across the philosophical traditions of India, Greece, and beyond. This has led to a number of novel philosophical solutions emerging over the millennia, offering some interesting challenges to modern philosophy… ‘Things’ as we know them may be dissolved into fleeting phenomena, reconceived as a single object, and become a tangle of ‘time-worms’.  Reality may be revealed as an ocean of consciousness or a seed-bed of generative powers. Compassion may grow best from the death of the ego… or happiness may become just one paint on the palette of possible values.

In these four classes we’ll look at four arguments in Indian philosophy. We will look at the topics of:

  1. Weds 28th April, 2.00-3.00. Monism: Does nothing exist… or is everything one?”
  2. Weds. 12th May, 2.00-3.00. Selfhood: What am I made of, and what does change mean for me
  3. Weds. 26th May, 2.00-3.00. Scepticism: What are the limits and possibilities of truth?
  4. Weds. 9th June, 2.00-3.00. Ethics: Can I be ethical if I am not ‘real’?

All welcome.

Śākta Traditions Lecture Series

Hinduism cannot be understood without the Goddess (Devi/Śakti) and the goddess-oriented Śākta traditions. The Goddess pervades Hinduism at all levels, from aniconic village deities to high-caste pan-Hindu goddesses to esoteric, tantric goddesses. Furthermore, tantric goddesses have played a significant role in the formation of tantric Buddhism, or what is sometimes referred to as ‘Śākta Buddhism’. Nevertheless, these highly influential forms of South Asian religion have only recently begun to draw scholarly attention. Taken together, they form ‘Śāktism’, which is considered one of the major branches of Hinduism next to Śaivism, Vaiṣṇavism and Smārtism. These lectures continue to explore this theme. 

  1. Weds. 5th May 2.00-3.00, Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen, Śaktism and Śākta Traditions Part 2’. 
  2. Weds. 19th May. 2.00-3.00, Prof. Mandakranta Bose – Divinity and Femininity – Śakti in the World 
  3. Weds. 2nd June, 2.00-3.00, Prof. Harunaga Isaacson, TBA
  4. Weds. 16th June, 2.00-3.00, Dr Silje Lyngar Einarsen TBA
Online Tantra Course

Online Tantra Course

OCHS Academic Director creates online Tantra Course

OCHS Academic Director, Prof. Gavin Flood, author of The Tantric Body, a standard text on Tantra, has created a course on Tantra for the OCHS Continuing EducationDepartment.

The most misrepresented of all Hindu traditions, Tantra has come to be represented as all sex and secret ritual. And while these are an important facet of the traditions there is much more to it.

Tantric ideas have shaped core Hindu practices such as temple building, worship, mantra, yoga, ayurveda, meditation, and guru-disciple relationships. It is said by some to be the very fabric of the Hindu world-view.
Prof. Flood has written a new text for this course, recorded the lecture videos, and will be tutoring online for the first two terms at least.

The course begins on Sunday 25 April and enrolments are open at https://ochsonline.org/product/tantra/

Friends Talk 10 April 2021

Friends Talk 10 April 2021

The Portraits of Perfection in the Bhagavad Gita

Friends of the Oxford Centre For Hindu Studies presents

A talk by Dr Rameshbhai Pattni
of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

What is perfection according to the Bhagavad Gita? 
And what is its relation to the path of spiritual development as revealed by Krsna?
We explore the pictures of perfection in the paths of Karma, Bhakti and Jnana in across the chapters of the Gita.
We look at some the practical implications of these ideas of perfection in human life.

Saturday 10th April 2021 at 4.00pm GMT

Join us on our Online talk via YouTube or Zoom. For Zoom details please contact us on lc@ochs.org.uk or via Facebook Messenger.  

Tantric Elements Embedded in a Purāṇic Context: the Example of the Māhātmyakhaṇḍa of the Tripurārahasya

Tantric Elements Embedded in a Purāṇic Context: the Example of the Māhātmyakhaṇḍa of the Tripurārahasya

Tantric Elements Embedded in a Purāṇic Context: the Example of the Māhātmyakhaṇḍa of the Tripurārahasya (HT21)

For the final lecture in our Online Śākta Traditions Lecture Series we are pleased to present Dr Silvia Schwarz Linder who is a specialist on the Tripurārahasya and a Research Fellow at the Śākta Traditions Programme. 

Download the handout for the lecture here.

Abstract: The Tripurārahasya (TR) is a Sanskrit work of South Indian origin, probably composed around the 15th-16th century CE, and associated with the Śākta tradition of Tripurā, later known as Śrīvidyā. This lecture focuses on some Tantric ritual elements embedded in the Purāṇic-like mythical narrative of the Māhātmyakhaṇḍa (mk), the first of the two extant sections of the work, which celebrates the deeds of Tripurā and of the goddesses who are regarded as her manifestations or shares. The topics discussed include: the initiation ceremony (dīkṣa), the mantra of Tripurā (Śrīvidyā) and the method of her worship (pūjā). A crucial component of this worship is the Śrīcakra, the yantra that is both the diagrammatic yet dynamic form of the Goddess, and the essential support for her meditation and ritual worship. In the mk of the TR the Śrīcakra is transposed into a narrative element, and becomes the centre of the abode of Tripurā in the Island of Jewels (maṇidvīpa), as well as the pattern according to which the stronghold of Lalitā is constructed. It will be shown how the maṇidvīpa and the Śrīcakra retain their Tantric character and meaning in the TR, even as they are incorporated into a mythical narrative.

Dr Silvia Schwarz Linder is Research Associate at the Institut für Indologie und Zentralasienwissenschaften of the University of Leipzig and Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, affiliated with the Śākta Traditions Programme. 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. Her publications include: The Philosophical and Theological Teachings of the Pādmasaṃhitā, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien 2014 and Goddess Traditions in India: Theological Poems and Philosophical Tales in the Tripurārahasya, Routledge Hindu Studies Series, forthcoming.