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Annual STIMW symposium

Annual STIMW symposium

The 39th Annual Sanskrit Traditions Symposium

Call for papers

The Sanskrit Traditions Symposium is a forum for the discussion of the Sanskrit traditions of South Asia, and the texts and cultures that have risen out of them. It brings together established and rising academics for the focused examination of research pertaining to various aspects of South Asia’s rich Sanskrit religious and intellectual culture. It thereby seeks to sustain and build upon the long history of scholarship in this important area of study.

Please send your paper proposal to rembert@ochs.org.uk and cc secretary@ochs.org.uk.

  • The deadline for proposals is Wednesday 22 February (week 6 of HT).
  • The deadline for the accepted papers is Friday 28 April 2023 (week 1 of TT). 

The 39th Annual Sanskrit Traditions Symposium will take place on Friday 2 June in Week 6 of Trinity Term.
Time TBA

Gita Readings with Shaunaka Rishi Das

Gita Readings with Shaunaka Rishi Das

Gita Study Group

In relation to Oxford’s Hindu Chaplaincy, the OCHS has weekly Bhagavad Gita study sessions during the term for students. During these sessions, the study group discuss the Gita’s importance on the basis of a chaplaincy and/or life practice point of view.
 
The Bhagavad Gita appears as the sixth book of the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata – just prior to the eighteen-day battle of Kurukshetra. The hopes of the Pandava faction rest largely on the martial prowess of Arjuna. But, at the start of the Gita, we find Arjuna unwilling to wage war against his own family members. At this point, Krishna begins to offer instructions to Arjuna. Initially, Krishna aims to persuade Arjuna that waging war is not necessarily wrong. However, the text goes far beyond this initial aim. It develops into a full exposition of belief and practice that has had an immeasurable influence on Hindu thought and practice.
 
If you wish to join the study group please contact secretary@ochs.org.uk

Read more about our Hindu Chaplaincy here!

Friends talk in Leicester November 4th. “Festivals: Cleverly designed to make us think and feel”.

Friends talk in Leicester November 4th. “Festivals: Cleverly designed to make us think and feel”.

Festivals: Cleverly designed to make us think and feel

Friends of the Oxford Centre For Hindu Studies presents

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

Hindu festivals are famous for their delightful colours, scents,
cuisines, and sounds. A riot of activity, crowds, and smiles.
After the annual Diwali celebrations, and in the auspicious
month of Damodar, we will consider another aspect of
festivals, their purpose in inspiring us to think differently,
(or maybe even to think), and how they enthuse us to feel
about things spiritual and material.

Saturday 4th November 2022 at 5.30pm

Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre
Rothley Street Leicester LE4 6LF

lf@ochs.org.uk

Postgraduate Symposium on Religion in South Asia held for two days—30th September and 1st October

Postgraduate Symposium on Religion in South Asia held for two days—30th September and 1st October

Postgraduate Symposium in South Asian Religions

Registration for the Postgraduate Symposium in South Asian Religions, to be held tomorrow for two days—30th September and 1st October—is open. This symposium will showcase a range of postgraduate research on religions in South Asia from the manifold disciplinary vantage points of anthropology, theology, philosophy and history. 

Day 1 will be delivered entirely online, bringing together speakers from universities across India, the USA, Australia, and the UK. Day 2 will take place in-person at the Cambridge Faculty of Divinity, where reception will open from 9:20AM. Due to the rail closures and planned strikes, an option is now also available for those who wish to join Day 2 virtually.  
 
The final conference schedule can be accessed here.
 
Any questions about the symposium can be directed to imran.visram@theology.ox.ac.uk
See our newest Continuing Education online courses here

See our newest Continuing Education online courses here

Our Newest Continuing Education Online Courses!

As some of you know by now, we spend a lot of time working to bring you amazing new courses. Here’s what we’ve released just this summer…

Vaishnavism

Vaishnavism is one of the major denominations of Hinduism and has had an enormous impact on the development of Hinduism in general.

We begin with a history of Vaishnavism from its earliest roots in the Vedas to its developments in South and North India, before moving on to consider Vaishnava practice and some of the forms that Vaishnavism takes today.

Throughout the course we allow the traditions to speak for themselves through Vaishnava texts.

Colonial Hinduism

Hinduism has a remarkable ability to adapt and renew in the face of changing times. One of the most challenging of times in Hinduism’s long history was the period of British colonial rule.

In this new course, Colonial Hinduism, we see how much India and Hinduism changed over this period; the role of the colonial state in these changes; and Hindu responses.

This course is brought to us by Prof. Amiya Sen, a distinguished historian and OCHS Fellow.

Devi Mahatmya

What if God was a Goddess? What if the universe was pervaded by a supreme feminine force which was part and parcel of creation and all beings within it? Devī Māhātmya presents such a divine vision, exalting the Great Goddess as the supreme mother of existence.

Composed some fifteen centuries ago, it signals the Brahmanical authorisation and crystallisation of indigenous Great Goddess traditions. This course features a new English translation of the Devī Māhātmya by Dr Raj Balkaran.

And of course there are all our old favourites. Click here to learn more about them.

Read about the projects our bursaries supported this year

Read about the projects our bursaries supported this year

What did OCHS bursaries support?

OCHS bursaries and scholarships are generous donations from individuals and foundations that we award to our students. This year we awarded 17 scholarships and bursaries amounting to almost £15,000.

Sri Swami Haridas Giri Scholarship
Nainika’s Bursary for Kashmiri Shaivism & Kashmiri Hindu Studies
Parvathi Foundation Scholarship
Hanuman Bursary
Narasimhacharya Bursary
Jiva Goswami Scholarship
Prof. Makhan Lal Roy Chowdhury Book Prize
Hansraj and Kanchanben Popat Bursary
Ramalah Alagappan Bursary
Amit Mishra Bursary
Dr Sivaswami & Renuka Nagraj Bursary
Gopal and Elizabeth Krishna Bursary
Tristan Elby Bursary
Wernicke Olesen’s Bursary for Pali and Sanskrit Studies

Giving a scholarship is an excellent opportunity to support young talented minds in their academic endeavours and to raise academic interest in Hinduism on a global scale.

Below is an overview of some of the projects (more will follow later) we supported this year: 

Sri Swami Haridas Giri Scholarship 

Mohini Gupta
DPhil candidate, Mansfield College, University of Oxford

I aim to conduct research in the field of South Asian language politics and translation, specifically the language politics between English and Indian languages, and the relationship of the urban youth with the languages they speak. I have been investigating this topic as a student of literature and culture studies, independent researcher, literary translator, writer, and higher education professional over the last decade.

My research at Oxford will push my project further to apply the lenses of postcolonialism, sociolinguistics, as well as anthropology to understand the reasons behind the attitudes of the urban youth towards its mother tongue, within the frameworks of ‘postcolonial shame’ and language-based humiliation. The faculty at Oxford will enable me to broaden the scope of my research through their expertise in these disciplines.

Sri Swami Haridas Giri Scholarship 

Poorva Palekar 
MPhil student, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford

I am keen to study more about the ‘Kalpa’ vedāga and explore the samskāra gṛhya rituals in my MPhil thesis. I plan to especially focus on the evolution of the vivāha ritual from the Vedic ‘śṛtis’, to ‘smṛtis’ and the modern methods and ‘paddhatis’ referred to today. I plan to study the marriage rituals in Maharashtra where the vivāha samskāra is still an important cultural and religious life event. The study of the influences of folk traditions and the emergence of local religious sects on the vivāha samskāra will also be an important aspect of my thesis. My research will help better understand the development of the ritual over time and the exchange between orthodox and folk traditions during important events like marriage. 

Prof. Makhan Lal Roy Chowdhury Book prize and Wernicke Olesen’s Bursary for Pali and Sanskrit Studies

Visvapriya Desai
BA student, Worcester College, University of Oxford

In my first year I had the invaluable opportunity of studying Sanskrit at the OCHS. This made me appreciate how important a grasp of language and translation theory is for sensitive engagement with religious thinking and its interpretation in context – especially considering the roots of academic study of Hinduism in scriptural translation. I applied this across a broad range of subject matter, from the Cāndogya Upaniṣad to the Buddhist Heart Sutra. What does it mean to claim “tat tvam asi”? What is really the nature of śūnyatā in Mahāyāna Buddhism? These were all questions one could only unravel by engaging with the text in its original language. At a conceptual level this supported me even in other papers such as Biblical Studies – aware now of how much can turn theologically on the translation, and thus interpretation, of one word or phrase. 

I am grateful to have the OCHS’s support in continuing to deepen my learning of Sanskrit and Hinduism. One of my papers next year, Hinduism: Sources and Formations, highlights the Vedas, Upaniṣads and Bhagavad Gītā in the development of classical Hinduism. Another, Modern Hinduism, covers many themes, such as Vedānta and Tantra, articulated in Sanskrit text. I will also be writing a thesis for the Further Studies in Hinduism paper in my third year and anticipate engaging with Sanskrit scripture. My Sanskrit studies will sharpen my ability to handle this content in a nuanced way that addresses Hinduism and the study of it in its historical and interreligious context.

The OCHS has been a caring community that nurtures a real, holistic dedication to learning, and I am deeply grateful for the support they so generously provide.

Hansraj and Kanchanben Popat Bursary

Ranjamittrika Bhowmik
DPhil candidate, Hertford College, University of Oxford

My doctoral thesis studies and compiles a preliminary historiography of the Tukkhā songs of North Bengal composed by the Rājbaṃśī community in the Rājbaṃśī lect, a living tradition largely unexplored by the academic community in India and beyond. My paper analyses language and practice, combining literary criticism with ethnographic research. These songs were influenced by devotional traditions such as the Buddhist Sahajayāna, Śaivism, Śāktism and Vaiṣṇavism. I have conducted extensive fieldwork in India (2017-2020) and documented and archived a number of songs (close to one hundred), interviews and audio-visual performances. My work focuses on the oral tradition (songs) and performative art and on the direct connections between the Rājbaṃśī living traditions and the rituals and cosmology depicted in Tantric medieval literature in Bengal. The rich corpus of songs contains various allegorical and esoteric themes and metaphors on the soul, body, training the mind as well as social commentaries. The thesis positions the songs as cognate with a number of Hindu and Buddhist Tantric schools that developed and flourished in the region of northeastern India and North Bengal, in particular,  in the course of the last millennium.

Hanuman Bursary

Imran Visram
DPhil candidate, St Anthony’s College, University of Oxford

My research is on a body of religious songs, known as the ginans, which were composed at the height of Bhakti Vaishnavism in North and West India. Many ginans draw on mythological narratives from the Hindu tradition for the purpose of religious instruction, recounting, for example, the teachings of Krishna to Arjuna, the story of Raja Harishchandra, and the chronicles of each of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Using the ginans as a leeway into the broader religious soundscapes of South Asia, my project is interested in assessing how we think and write about the pasts of oral literary traditions from the region more generally. The conclusions of my research will, therefore, also shed light on related lyrical traditions such as the bhajan, kirtan, Sufiana kalam, and qawwali.

Hanuman Bursary and the Gopal and Elizabeth Krishna Bursary

Barbora Sojkova
DPhil candidate, Balliol College, University of Oxford

I am currently writing up my DPhil thesis Animals in Vedic Literature. My research focuses on the ways in which Vedic people, semi-pastoralist tribes who lived in the north-east of the Indian subcontinent in the first millennium BCE, described the natural world around them, and particularly animals. Through a survey of the Vedic corpus, I am hoping to establish what knowledge Vedic people had about animals, and how much we, contemporary researchers, can tease out from the extant literature. Whilst the corpus is large and complicated, it is narrow in its understanding, viewing the world solely through the lens of the ritual which makes my project complicated and exciting in the same time

Dr Sivaswami & Renuka Nagraj Bursary

Utsa Bose 
Mphil student, St. Cross College,  University of Oxford

Goddesses, as imagination and lived reality, form the disquiet heart of popular imagination in the Indian subcontinent. Living through a devastating worldwide pandemic which had a particularly terrible impact on India, I chose to write my current MPhil thesis on the social space of plague in late colonial Calcutta. With an aim to further explore this topic, I plan to compare and analyse the birth, growth and development of “plague goddesses” in Southern India, particularly in the city of Bangalore. The deification of a disease as a goddess is by no means a new phenomenon. The subcontinent has seen the enduring cult of Śītalā, the goddess of smallpox, whose temples are spread out over different parts of the country even today. The onset of the bubonic plague epidemic in 1896 led to varying degrees of paranoia and panic in the subcontinent, and the disease soon spread to the different cities. While the plague was most virulent in Bombay, the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were among the worst hit. These states saw the establishment of “plague temples” meant to propitiate “Plague Amma” (The Plague Mother/Goddess). Bangalore had the highest number of such temples. Clustered and scattered around the city, these temples often functioned independently of one another and installed images of the plague goddess in their premises. What is of startling interest is the fact that worship in these temples continues today. However, the many lives, histories and traditions of these temples are still left comparatively understudied and constitute an important research desideratum.

Who are these plague goddesses? Is each goddess different from the other? What is their relationship with other disease goddesses, and indeed with each other? Do they claim descent from other gods or imply a new genealogy? What is the social life of these goddesses? How, if at all, has worship patterns changed over the years? These are some of the questions I hope to explore. 

Narasimhacharya Bursary

Valters Negribs
DPhil candidate, Wolfson College, University of Oxford

I am in the final stages of my DPhil Oriental Studies course, writing up the last chapters of my thesis “Ascetic Teachings for Householder Kings in the Mahābhārata”, which is supervised by Professor Christopher Minkowski. The thesis will contribute to the scholarly understanding of early ascetic teachings in Ancient India, the relationship between ascetic teachings in the Mahābhārata and early Buddhist and Jaina literatures, and, in particular, it will examine how such ascetic teachings came to be presented as relevant for householder kings.

Ramalah Alagappan Bursary 

Smridhi Chadh
MPhil student, St. Cross College, University of Oxford

I have a special interest in Śaivism and the Śakta cults and I wish to do a combinational study of these two very closely related traditions, especially focusing on Kashmiri and northern branches while tracing a sacred map of the hitherto lesser-known sites. 

As I work on this project, I understand that I also wish to include more visuals than has since been attempted. I am a student of Sanskrit, and while I do plan to use the literature, I also plan to make critical use of the material evidence to ascertain claims and facts. Locating a sacred geography would transcend large, bordered spaces and also focus on the material content of these spaces, especially focusing on the perception of the goddess and projecting modern anthropological frameworks in a historical time to better understand the milieu in which this culture operated.

If you are interested in establishing a scholarship please contact:
Tanja Louise Jakobsen
tanja@ochs.org.uk or +44 (0)7306 197780

The Intersection of Hinduism and Contemporary Society Virtual Conference

The Intersection of Hinduism and Contemporary Society Virtual Conference

Virtual Conference:
The Intersection of Hinduism and Contemporary Society

June 2-3 2022

Hindus, their communities, and their traditions face a wide variety of sociological challenges in assimilating into or avoiding modern secular societies. An underpinning of these tensions is that Hindus live and work in the world while simultaneously maintaining a separation from it. Sociological issues that they may encounter include those of identity, value, affiliation, and ethnicity. This conference aims to provide an opportunity for scholars to dialogue and share research related to the experiences of contemporary Hindu communities and adherents as they navigate life within, without, and on the fringes of their religious institutions and host communities. All are welcome to participate.

Hit “Download programme” link above for abstracts.

Please register here.

Conference Programme

DAY 1: THURSDAY 2nd JUNE 2022

(All times in UTC)

Welcome
12pm

SESSION 1
12:10pm – 1:30pm     

Angela Burt
The Changing Relationship of the Hare Krishna Movement with Mainstream Society: An Alignment Perspective

Gustavo H. P. Moura
World Kirtan: Music and Spirituality in a Transcultural Whirlpool

Ace Simpson and Alan Herbert
Rapture and Rupture: Experiences of Former Ashram Residents

SESSION 2
1:30pm – 2:50pm

Tuhina Ganguly
The Wonder of Darshan: Going Beyond the Local and the Visual

Hrvoje Čargonja
Dialectics of Narrative Identity in the Hare Krishna Stories of Religious Experience

Cecilia Bastos
Mind, Body and Subjectivity: The Performance of Yoga and Meditation Practitioners

DAY 2: FRIDAY 3rd JUNE 2022

Welcome
12pm

SESSION 1
12:10pm – 1:30pm

Richa Shukla
Contemporary Hindu Woman: Strangled Soul or an Emancipated One?

Sraddha Shivani Rajkomar
Hinduism and Creole Cultural Memory in Present-day Mauritius

Priyesh Patel
Finding the One: Marriage and Love among Hindus in the UK

SESSION 2
1:30pm – 3:10pm

Gowda Gomathi & Babu Lenin G
Memorial Stones as Social Identity in the Past

Paolo E. Rosati
Cultural Identity and Cultural Memory at Kāmākhyā: A Preliminary Study

Michael Sheludko
Russo-Ukrainian War and Problems of Violence Justification Among Russian and Ukrainian Vaishnavas

Rasa Pranskevičiūtė-Amoson
Acting in the Underground: Life as a Hare Krishna Devotee in the Republic of Lithuania (1979–1989)

Organizing Committee

Cecilia G. Bastos
T +55 71993661399
E ceciliagbastos@gmail.com
National Museum / Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Angela R. Burt       
T +61 412 439 734
E aburt@ochs.org.uk
Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

Alan C. Herbert
T +44 7463 138252
E alan@ochs.org.uk
Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies 

Ace V. Simpson
T +44 1895 265899
E ace.simpson@brunel.ac.uk
Brunel University London

Vaiṣṇavism Online Weekend School

Vaiṣṇavism Online Weekend School

Vaiṣṇavism Online Weekend School

                                                                                             11–12th  June

Our Continuing Education Department has put together an excellent programme on Vaiṣṇavism for the upcoming Weekend School.

The sessions will include:

Untangling the Traditions: The Vaishnava Family Tree
with Professor Gavin Flood

The Vaishnava Life: Rite, Ritual, Practice
with Professor Måns Broo

The Poetry of the Alvars
with Professor Archana Venkatesan

Vaishnava Bhakti Traditions in Gujarat
with Dr Arun Brahmbhatt

The Omnipresent Lord: Vaishnava Conceptions of the Divine
with Dr Rembert Lutjeharms

The Vaishnava Revolution in Modern India
with Professor Amiya P. Sen

How Vaishnavas and Muslims Worked Together in Early Modern Bengal
with Professor Tony K. Stewart

Read more and sign up for the course here!

Tantrāloka readings with Professor Alexis Sanderson

Tantrāloka readings with Professor Alexis Sanderson

Readings in the Tantrāloka
Trinity Term 2022

This term we welcome back Professor Alexis Sanderson as an OCHS Visiting Fellow. Professor Sanderson will be giving four readings on the Tantrāloka. 

The lectures will take place in the OCHS Library on the following Wednesdays 4 May, 18 May, 1 June, and 15 June, from 4.00 to 5.30.

Join us in the OCHS library tomorrow at 4pm for the first talk of the term.

Watch or rewatch last term’s talks on the Tantrāloka here: https://ochs.org.uk/tantraloka-readings/