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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.

Annual Report 2020

Annual Report 2020

Annual Report 2020

Our annual report for the academic year 2019 – 2020 is now out. You can read it on this page or download it here.

Message from the Director

This year a pandemic has swept the world and has swept us off our feet. My heart goes out to the families of those we have lost. 

At such a time Hindu Studies – with its profound approaches to happiness, suffering, life, and death – is more important than ever. Research into the texts and traditions that give us yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and mantra is now more relevant. We will need these tools to survive our difficulties, to recover ourselves, and to nourish better global thinking.

The OCHS has worked with the University of Oxford for twenty-three years. For fourteen of these we held the title of Recognised Independent Centre. The University is retiring this designation for all the bodies that held it. This marks a new maturation of our identity – in Oxford and globally – and a new formalisation of the relationship between Oxford and the OCHS. On the surface, all will look very similar, but a more collegial and cooperative arrangement with the University will permeate all our activities.

Among other developments this year, we are proud to note that one of our outreach projects, the Bhumi Project, has matured and will now act independently as Bhumi Global.

Our academics rose to the challenge of lockdown with merit and continue to teach students at all levels using web-based communication. And our Continuing Education Department shone with its online courses seeing a doubling of enrolments.

Even in these difficult days, our students and staff continue to explore topics from Hindu responses to environmentalism, contemporary Indian politics, feminism in Hindu texts, and study of classical texts.

I hope you will join me in thanking our scholars and staff for their dedication in making all the things in this report possible despite the challenges.

On behalf of all of us at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, I wish you a safe year ahead and one blessed with a peaceful heart, good thoughts, and the love of friends.

Warm regards, 

Shaunaka Rishi Das
Director

Making a Good Atman:  Yoga as an Art of the Soul

Making a Good Atman: Yoga as an Art of the Soul

Leicester Friends Talk 20th March 2021 Making a Good Atman: Yoga as an Art of the Soul

LFOCHS Logo

Dear Friends,
Leicester Friends would like to invite you to our talk this Saturday.

Making a Good Atman: Yoga as an Art of the Soul 

A talk by Dr Jessica Frazier
of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

Yoga is everything to everyone – it calms you, makes you fitter, makes you mindful, and unites you with god. How can it be such a magical key to every door, and is this what the original yogis who lived in the time of the Upanisads, the Mahabharata, and the Yoga Sutras had in mind? Is there a ‘right’ use of yoga? 

A journey into the many yogas of ancient India shows how many goals there could be. And if we go deeper into the neurology of the mind, we see how yoga harnessed a power for India that few other cultures ever discovered. Yoga offers a way to Craft Yourself, shaping the soul like an artist sculpting the perfect artwork.

Jessica Frazier

Saturday 20th March 2021
At 4pm GMT

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

Zoom meeting details
Time: Mar 20, 2021 04:00 PM London

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88005672869?pwd=eUZTQnQvcUQ2c01hdWp1UVJwYzlrUT09

Meeting ID: 880 0567 2869
Passcode: 171303

To phone in: Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kdsjIgwNYI

Saturday 20th March 2021
At 4pm GMT

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

Zoom meeting details
Time: Mar 20, 2021 04:00 PM London

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88005672869?pwd=eUZTQnQvcUQ2c01hdWp1UVJwYzlrUT09

Meeting ID: 880 0567 2869
Passcode: 171303

To phone in: Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kdsjIgwNYI

Donate for Free on Amazon
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

Article in the Hindustan Times

Article in the Hindustan Times

A vital, unique effort: Vir Sanghvi on the work of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

“At a time when Hinduism is increasingly influencing political agendas, it is sometimes hard to remember that there is another kind of Hinduism: one that lends itself to academic studies.”
 
Read the article in the Hindustan Times where our Director Shaunaka Rishi Das discusses the ethos of the Centre and the need for academic Hindu Studies.
 
Link to article: here
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).