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Vaiśeṣikasūtra – A Translation

Vaiśeṣikasūtra – A Translation

Vaiśeṣikasūtra – A Translation

Our Research Fellow Dr Ionut Moise has just published a new translation of the Vaiśeṣikasūtra together with Professor Ganesh U. Thite. 

Get the book here.

Book Description

The book introduces readers to Indian philosophy by presenting the first integral English translation of Vaiśeṣikasūtra with the earliest extant commentary of Candrānanda on the old aphorisms of Vaiśeṣika school of Indian philosophy.

The book offers a comprehensive description of the fundamental categories of ontology and metaphysics, among which the category of ‘particularity’ (viśeṣa) plays a major role in the ‘problem of individuation’ of ‘substance’ and ‘nature’ in both Indian and Western metaphysics. The book should be read primarily in relation to Aristotle’s Categories and is structured in three parts. Part 1 contains a general introduction to Indian philosophy and the Vaiśeṣika system. Part 2 is a textual-philological discussion on the commentary itself, since its first publication in 1961 by Muni Jambūvijayaji up until the present day. Part 3 is a philosophical translation that reads Vaiśeṣika in the global context of Comparative Philosophy and makes the text accessible to all philosophy readers interested in ontology and metaphysics.

A new reference work and a fundamental introduction to anyone interested in Indian and Comparative Philosophy, this book will be of interest to academics and students in the field of Classical Studies, Modern Philosophy and Asian Religions and Philosophies.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction to Indian Philosophy and Vaiśeṣika 
2. Sources and Resources on Vaiśeṣikasūtra 
3. Vaiśeṣikasūtra. Transliteration and Translation

Authors

Ionut Moise is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Exeter, UK, and a Research Fellow at The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, UK where he teaches Comparative Philosophy. He is the author of Salvation in Indian Philosophy also published by Routledge (2020).

Ganesh U. Thite is Emeritus Professor at Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, Pune, and former Head of the Department of Sanskrit and Prakrit languages at the University of Pune.

Assessing medieval Śākta history in the light of Indian inscriptions

Assessing medieval Śākta history in the light of Indian inscriptions

Assessing medieval Śākta history in the light of Indian inscriptions

Dr Bihani Sarkar
24 February 2021, 2.00-3.00

Abstract: In studies of religious history in early India, inscriptions have sometimes been overlooked as conveying ‘mundane’ information about secular aspects of religion considered unimportant. Religious texts, philosophical and liturgical, and practices, on the other hand, have received comparatively greater interest as vehicles of doctrine, mythology and tradition. In recent years, scholarship on Indian religions has begun to show the importance of inscriptional material for a more precise historical and conceptual understanding of Indian religious traditions from the ‘early medieval’ period, Śaivism, Vaiṣṇavism, Tantric Buddhism and Śāktism. Not only do these pieces of material history offer basic information needed for the construction of any historical argument, such as dates, names, and places, but they can reveal wider conceptual and political narratives. How were deities conceived and described? How did temples grow powerful? How did local deities grow powerful? Why were donors making grants? Who were the donors? What kinds of donations did they make? What rituals were performed for the recipient deities? Which were the important devotee-lineages? And much more.

This lecture focuses on the historical insights epigraphical evidence offers for our understanding of the development of the Goddess’s worship. Between the 7th and the 13th centuries CE, many epigraphs, etched on copper or stone slabs, on cave-temple entrances, or on the bases of statuary, were commissioned by subcontinental rulers and communities, which formalized grants to powerful forms of the Goddess and asserted devotion to them. These sources attesting Śākta piety plot the process of patronage of the Goddess cult, the consolidation of political authority through such patronage, strategies involved in the formation of kingdoms, who the worshippers of the Goddess were, modes of her worship and the chief geographical centres of her influence.
 
Dr Bihani Sarkar: is Lecturer (Hourly-Paid, fixed term) in Religious Studies: Hinduism and Buddhism (University of Winchester), Associate Faculty Member of the Oriental Institute (University of Oxford), and Research Member of Common Room, Wolfson College (University of Oxford). Bihani’s publications include Heroic Shāktism: The Cult of Durgā in Ancient Indian Kingship, (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Classical Sanskrit Tragedy: the concept of suffering and pathos in Medieval India (Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2021).
New Light on Śāktism and Haṭhayoga

New Light on Śāktism and Haṭhayoga

New Light on Śāktism and Haṭhayoga

Dr James Mallinson
10 February 2021, 2.00-3.00

Abstract: This lecture will build upon, and in many ways revise, ideas first presented in a lecture entitled Śāktism and Haṭhayoga which I gave at the OCHS Śākta Traditions conference held in Oxford in 2011. I shall present a more detailed analysis of the Śākta contributions to haṭhayoga as formalised in Sanskrit texts from the eleventh century onwards, focusing specifically on Buddhist, Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava tantric traditions. I shall argue that the distinctive techniques of haṭhayoga were innovations in Indian religious practice and show how the different Śākta traditions introduced different methods of physical yoga practice.

Dr James Mallinson: is Reader in Indology and Yoga Studies at SOAS University of London. He is Chair of SOAS’s Centre for Yoga Studies and the Principal Investigator of the ERC-funded Hatha Yoga Project, for which he is preparing five critical editions of Sanskrit texts on physical yoga and a monograph on its early history. Dr Mallinson is the author of several books and articles on yoga, and the co-author, with Dr. Mark Singleton, of Roots of Yoga (Penguin Classics 2017).

Before they were foxy ladies, they were lady foxes: Yoginīs and Ḍākinīs in Hindu and Buddhist Tantra

Before they were foxy ladies, they were lady foxes: Yoginīs and Ḍākinīs in Hindu and Buddhist Tantra

Before they were foxy ladies, they were lady foxes: Yoginīs and Ḍākinīs in Hindu and Buddhist Tantra

Prof. David G. White
27 January 2021, 2.00-3.00

Abstract: Before there was “tantric sex” there was “tantric violence,” which saw tantric yogis venturing alone into cremation grounds and other fearsome landscapes in the dead of night to offer their bodies up to Yoginīs and Ḍākinīs, noisy nocturnal hordes of flesh-eating female creatures that preyed on the living and the dead. The early tantric scriptural record, which relates the conditions under which males voluntarily offered themselves up for possession and consumption by these ferocious shape-shifters, offers a window onto the unique tantric appropriation of a pre-existing South Asian (if not pan-Eurasian) demonological substratum. In this lecture, I juxtapose scriptural and art historical data to demonstrate the persistence of this demonological paradigm across South, Inner and East Asian tantric traditions.

Prof. David G. White is the J. F. Rowny Professor of Comparative Religions at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he has been teaching since 1996. Prior to coming to Santa Barbara, he taught at the University of Virginia between 1986 and 1996. There, he founded the University of Virginia Study Abroad Program in Jodhpur, India in 1994. White is the sole foreign scholar to have ever been admitted to the Centre d’Études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud in Paris, France, where he has been an active Research Fellow since 1992. His current research interest concerns contacts and exchanges in matters of demonology. Prof. White’s book publications include The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali (Princeton University Press, 2014), Yoga in Practice (Princeton University Press, 2012), Sinister Yogis (University Press of Chicago, 2009), Kiss of the Yogini: “Tantric Sex” in its South Asian Context (University Press of Chicago, 2003), The Alchemy Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India (University Press of Chicago, 1996).  

Hindu Lockdown Stories

Hindu Lockdown Stories

Hindu Lockdown Stories

Dear Friends,

Wishing you all a happy new year, hope you are all well and safe.

The Leicester Friends group would like to invite you to our next talk, and we have the pleasure of Shaunakaji, director of the OCHS talking about Lockdown and our scriptures.

Hindu Lockdown Stories

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

As we begin a new year, a new strain of virus, and a new lockdown, some of us may think 2020 was not so bad after all. What is clear is the fact that isolation and social distancing are a new reality we can’t avoid. 

We know that sages and sadhus have made a virtue of social distancing, often abandoning society altogether to meditate in the Himalayas. But that seems not to be an easy option for mere mortals – especially as we can’t even travel there.

Happily, there are many ways to meditate, and hearing stories of dharma, avatars, and sadhus – katha – is a most popular form. Meditating on these stories can touch our lives with their spirit and lift us from our own isolation and social difficulty.

This talk draws from the Ramayana and the Bhagavata Purana to explore a Princess’s year long isolation; the lockdown of an entire community, and the spreading of disease that threatened to destroy the environment.

Saturday 16th Janurary 2021
At 4pm GMT

Join Zoom Meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87071275191

Or join by phone:
Meeting ID: 870 7127 5191
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kdPHscZczx

These talks are open to all; please share links with friends and family.

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Set up your Amazon account so that it directly donates free to OCHS every time you make a purchase, Amazon will donate a small per cent to a charity of your choice, on Amazon Smile select OCHS as your chosen charity and you will be supporting the Centre for free

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/ch/1074458-0

Warm regards,
LeicesterFriends of the OCHS
Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
E: lf@ochs.org.uk
W: www.ochs.org.uk

Hinduism and the Goddess – Śāktism and Śākta traditions

Hinduism and the Goddess – Śāktism and Śākta traditions

Śākta Traditions Online Lecture Series MT20

Watch the final lecture of the Śākta traditions Online Lecture Series by Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen.

Abstract: Hinduism cannot be understood without the Goddess and the goddess-oriented Śākta traditions. Worship of the Goddess pervades Hinduism at all levels, from village deities to high-caste pan-Hindu goddesses to esoteric, tantric goddesses. Nevertheless, these highly influential forms of South Asian religion have only recently begun to draw a more broad scholarly attention. The Goddess and her network of Śākta traditions is often subsumed under the broad category of ‘Śāktism’, which is by many considered one of the major branches of Hinduism next to Śaivism and Vaiṣṇavism. Śāktism is, however, less clearly defined than the other major branches and sometimes surprisingly difficult to discern from Śaivism in its tantric forms. These sometimes very complex and challenging forms of Śākta religion therefore provide a test case for our understanding of Hinduism and raise important theoretical questions with regard to the study of religious traditions in South Asia.
In this lecture I wish to go up from the particular and provide a brief overview of the state of research. I will address some of the problems and challenges we face in the study of Śākta traditions and propose a model for how we may meaningfully speak of Śāktism as a major Hindu tradition, relating textual details with broader theoretical questions and the longue durée of the history of Śākta traditions.
 
 
All of the Lectures in this series can be watched here on our YouTube channel. 
Lockdown and the darkness ahead: Coping through Meaning and Means

Lockdown and the darkness ahead: Coping through Meaning and Means

Lockdown and the darkness ahead: Coping through Meaning and Means

A talk by Dr. Ramesh Pattni DPhil (Oxford)
OBE of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
 
We are going through unprecedented times not experienced in recent history where suffering and death is a persisting existential reality. Human beings have tried to make meaning of suffering and death and solutions have been formulated by religious traditions through millennia. Vedanta and Yoga offer tools and techniques for dealing with suffering in the moment and liberation ultimately from all suffering. The Sanskrit term Sādhanā literally means “that by which something is performed” or more precisely “means to an end.” In the sphere of religion, it is always used to indicate the essential discipline that leads to the attainment of the liberation and release from suffering. Find out what are the Sādhanā-s and Siddhi-s in the traditions of Vedanta and Yoga and how these can help us not only to move towards the final goal of liberation but give us the benefit of mental wellbeing in these times of the lockdown and the coming winter. There will be a guided meditation to demonstrate the effects of the practice of dhyāna.
Kali, Karma and Global Transformation

Kali, Karma and Global Transformation

Kali, Karma and Global Transformation.

A talk by Dr. Raj Balkaran
of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

This talk draws from the wellspring of Hindu teachings to make sense of the tumultuous times we’re living through. First, we look to classical Hindu philosophy to outline four types of karma, and consider the relationship between personal and collective karma. Secondly, we examine the rich narratives of Kālī to show what she represents and how she functions in human life. Thirdly, we dovetail karmic theory with the teachings of Kālī to provide a framework for making sense of the massive shifts occurring across the globe – indeed for finding meaning amid the chaos of our times.

Śākta Traditions Online Lecture Series MT20

Śākta Traditions Online Lecture Series MT20

Śākta Traditions Online Lecture Series MT20

On Wednesday, 16 December from 2.00-3.00 we will have our final lecture in the Śākta Traditions Online Lecture Series this term. The final lecture is given by Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen and the title is “Hinduism and the Goddess – Śāktism and Śākta traditions”. 

Abstract: Hinduism cannot be understood without the Goddess and the goddess-oriented Śākta traditions. Worship of the Goddess pervades Hinduism at all levels, from village deities to high-caste pan-Hindu goddesses to esoteric, tantric goddesses. Nevertheless, these highly influential forms of South Asian religion have only recently begun to draw a more broad scholarly attention. The Goddess and her network of Śākta traditions is often subsumed under the broad category of ‘Śāktism’, which is by many considered one of the major branches of Hinduism next to Śaivism and Vaiṣṇavism. Śāktism is, however, less clearly defined than the other major branches and sometimes surprisingly difficult to discern from Śaivism in its tantric forms. These sometimes very complex and challenging forms of Śākta religion therefore provide a test case for our understanding of Hinduism and raise important theoretical questions with regard to the study of religious traditions in South Asia.
In this lecture I wish to go up from the particular and provide a brief overview of the state of research. I will address some of the problems and challenges we face in the study of Śākta traditions and propose a model for how we may meaningfully speak of Śāktism as a major Hindu tradition, relating textual details with broader theoretical questions and the longue durée of the history of Śākta traditions.
 
 
All of the Lectures in this series can be watched here on our YouTube channel. 

Programme for Michaelsmas Term 2020

Śākta Traditions Online Lecture Series: Work in Progress

Śāktism among the Śaivas

Prof. Alexis Sanderson
21 & 28 October 2020, 2.00-3.00 and 12 November 2020, 2.00-4.00
 

Abstract: In the first of these three lectures Professor Sanderson covers the history of Śaivism, setting out his view of its principal divisions, their historical development, and their interaction, and locating on this map the entry point of an influx of Śākta Śaiva forms of ecstatic religion into what had previously been a cluster of austere, highly ascetic traditions. In the second he narrows his focus to examine the history of Śaivism in Kashmir, concentrating on the nature of its Śākta Śaiva elements, notably the traditions of the Trika and Krama, but stressing the importance of seeing how these were embedded within, and interacted with, more exoteric forms of the religion. In the third lecture, he presents evidence that these Śākta Śaiva traditions developed and flourished outside Kashmir in most regions of the subcontinent and that though much of their later highbrow literature was modelled on the learned exegesis of Abhinavagupta and Ksemarāja there are reasons to conclude that they had pre-Kashmirian histories.

The second and third lectures demonstrate incidentally the inappositeness of the widely used term ‘Kashmir Śaivism’ to refer to the Trika and related Śākta Śaiva systems, the second by showing that these systems co-existed in Kashmir with non-Śākta, Saiddhāntika Śaivism, and the third by refuting or casting doubt on the notion that the Śākta Śaiva systems that received such learned attention in Kashmir in the tenth century were Kashmirian in origin

Prof. Alexis Sanderson: after a training in Classics, began his Indological career as a student of Sanskrit at Balliol College, Oxford in 1969. After graduation he spent six years studying the Kashmirian Śaiva literature in Kashmir with the Śaiva scholar and guru Swami Lakshman Joo from 1971 to 1977 while holding research positions at Merton and Brasenose Colleges. From 1977 to 1992 he was Associate Professor (University Lecturer) of Sanskrit in the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Wolfson College. In 1992 he was elected to the Spalding Professorship of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford and thereby became a Fellow of All Souls College. He retired from that post in 2015. Since then he has been preparing a critical edition, with a translation and commentary, of the Tantrāloka, Abhinavagupta’s monumental exposition of the Śākta Śaivism of the Trika.

Link to handout for lecture 1 & 2: download
Link to handout for lecture 3: download

Theology and Social Change in Śākta Tradition

Prof. Gavin Flood
4 November 2020, 2.00-3.00
 
Abstract: Conversion to new tantric forms of Hinduism took place over a relatively short period within the history of Indic religions, the period from the eighth to early eleventh century. This period of about two hundred years is about eight generations. While it might not be appropriate to call this ‘sudden’ conversion, it nevertheless falls into the paradigm of conversion if by that we mean a process of realignment over time rather than a sudden event (Rambo 1993). In this lecture I wish to use the period of the development of the Tantras, with particular reference to the Netra, as a case study of relatively rapid change and religious innovation in which beliefs of many people altered and how this change impacted upon politics and society as a whole. Although the socio-economic paradigm has explanatory force, it is not the whole story and in specifying the constraints that led to the outcome of Śākta religion, we also need to take into account internal, theological concerns.
 
gavin floodProf. Gavin Flood: is Professor of Hindu Studies and Comparative Religion at Oxford University, Academic Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, and Senior Research Fellow at Campion Hall. His publications include Religion and the Philosophy of Life (2019), The Truth Within: A History of Inwardness in Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism (2013), The Importance of Religion: Meaning and Action in Our Strange World (2012), and The Ascetic Self: Subjectivity, Memory, and Tradition (2004). He is also the General Editor of the series ‘The Oxford History of Hinduism’ and is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Śāktism in Europe

Prof. Knut A. Jacobsen
18 November 2020, 2.00-3.00
 
Abstract: In this presentation I make some observations about the presence of Śākta traditions in contemporary Europe. The majority of Hindu traditions in Europe are Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava, but Śāktas and Śākta traditions are not absent. In the presentation I suggest some ways to identify them and the analysis focuses on the role of Śākta temples, the use of the text Devīmāhātmya, the presence of other forms of Hindu goddess worship, and finally female Hindu gurus in Europe being identified with the great goddess. The lecture argues that there is much creativity and freedom of expression involved in the Śākta worship in Europe. The foundation of Śākta temples are often based on the presence and revelations of the goddess at particular places in Europe with the goddess expressing the wish for being present in temples at these places. The goddess has also a living presence in Europe in the female gurus who are believed by the devotees to be the goddess or her avatāra. The recitation of the text Devīmāhātmya makes the goddess present, and she is celebrated all over Europe in festivals associated with the narratives of this text.
 
Prof. Knut Axel Jakobsen: is professor in the study of religions at the University of Bergen, Norway. Jacobsen’s main research fields are Hindu Studies, classical and contemporary Sāṃkhya and Yoga, South Asian pilgrimage traditions and ideas and rituals of space and time, and diasporas and the globalization of South Asia religions. He is the author of Prakṛti in Sāṃkhya-Yoga: Material Principle: Religious Experience, Ethical Implications (Peter Lang, 1999), Kapila: Founder of Sāṃkhya and Avatāra of Viṣṇu (Munshiram Manoharlal, 2008), Pilgrimage in the Hindu Tradition: Salvific Space (Routledge, 2013) and Yoga in Modern Hinduism: Hariharānanda Āraṇya and Sāṃkhyayoga (Routledge, 2018). Other recent publications include the edited volumes Routledge Handbook of Contemporary India (Routledge, 2016). Jacobsen is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the six volumes Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Brill, 2009-2015) and the Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online, and editor of the two volumes Handbook of Hinduism in Europe (Brill, 2020).

Hinduism and the Goddess - Śāktism and Śākta traditions

Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
16 December 2020, 2.00-3.00
 
Abstract: Hinduism cannot be understood without the Goddess and the goddess-oriented Śākta traditions. Worship of the Goddess pervades Hinduism at all levels, from village deities to high-caste pan-Hindu goddesses to esoteric, tantric goddesses. Nevertheless, these highly influential forms of South Asian religion have only recently begun to draw a more broad scholarly attention. The Goddess and her network of Śākta traditions is often subsumed under the broad category of ‘Śāktism’, which is by many considered one of the major branches of Hinduism next to Śaivism and Vaiṣṇavism. Śāktism is, however, less clearly defined than the other major branches and sometimes surprisingly difficult to discern from Śaivism in its tantric forms. These sometimes very complex and challenging forms of Śākta religion therefore provide a test case for our understanding of Hinduism and raise important theoretical questions with regard to the study of religious traditions in South Asia.
In this lecture I wish to go up from the particular and provide a brief overview of the state of research. I will address some of the problems and challenges we face in the study of Śākta traditions and propose a model for how we may meaningfully speak of Śāktism as a major Hindu tradition, relating textual details with broader theoretical questions and the longue durée of the history of Śākta traditions.
 
Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen: is a Research Lecturer at the centre and tutor in Hinduism, Buddhism and Sanskrit at the Faculty of Theology and Religion. He teaches courses, seminars and tutorials in Sanskrit, Pāli and Indian religions as well as courses and seminars on manuscript reading and theory and method in the Study of Religion. He is currently leading and managing a research project on Śākta Traditions and a research programme on the Comparative Study of Religion together with Prof. Gavin Flood. He is the founder of the OCHS Kathmandu Office and also the founder and supervisor of a student exchange programme with Aarhus University.
 
Interview between Dr Raj Balkaran and Daniel Simpson

Interview between Dr Raj Balkaran and Daniel Simpson

Interview Between Dr Raj Balkaran and Daniel Simpson

DECEMBER 3 2020

As part of his wide-ranging and informative podcast series, New Books in Hindu Studies, Dr Raj Balkaran interview Daniel Simpson on his new book, The Truth of Yoga. Raj and Daniel are two of our best (and best-liked) tutors so this is of special interest to the OCHS and its students. You can access it here.

In a former life, Daniel was a foreign correspondent for the New York Times and in his book here he uses his prodigious skills at making big stories digestible to some of Hinduism’s biggest stories.

They also talk about the wonders of online learning in the age of covid; different learning and teaching styles; exploring and reconciling the tensions between practice and theory; and (a key OCHS goal) taking the deep thought of the world’s best scholars and making them accessible.

They also talk about our upcoming New Directions in Yoga Studies weekend school at which Daniel will be speaking and which Raj has curated and will be hosting.