Category: Academic

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!

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
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.

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).  

Lecture List Hilary Term 2021

Lecture List Hilary Term 2021

Lecture List Hilary Term 2021

Due to Covid restrictions 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.

Hinduism 2: Modern Hinduism

Week 1-8, Friday 4.00-5.00, Faculty of Theology & Religion
Dr Rembert Lutjeharms

This paper traces the development of Hinduism from the medieval period through to modernity. The course will examine Hindu scholasticism, devotional and tantric traditions, and modern Hindu thought. The lectures will explore themes of liberation, the soul and the divine, Tantra and meditation, devotional literature and the formation of modern Hindu identity.

Readings in Middle Bengali Devotional Literature: Female Gurus

Readings in Vedānta: Madhva’s Anuvyākhyāna

Week 1-8, Wednesday 10.00-11.00, OCHS Library
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. This term we will be reading Madhva’s Anuvyākhyāna, his principal commentary on the Brahma-sūtras.

Sanskrit Prelims 2

Week 1-8, Monday 2.00-3.00, Friday 9.30-11.30
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 Phenomenology

Weeks 1-8, Monday 12.00-1.00
Gavin Flood (gavin.flood@theology.ox.ac.uk)

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.

Readings in Middle Bengali Devotional Literature: Female Gurus

Weeks 1-8, Thursday 4.00-5.00
Lucian Wong (lucian@ochs.org.uk)  

In these sessions, we read and discuss prominent Middle Bengali religious texts. This term we will focus on sections from key texts among the Vaiṣṇava hagiographical corpus that portray women as leaders in the early modern Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition. Some proficiency in the Bengali language is a requirement for attending these sessions.

Other Lectures

Śākta Traditions Online Lecture Series: Contributions to a growing field of Śākta Studies

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

Week 2, Wednesday 2.00-3.00, OCHS YouTube channel
Prof. David G. White

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). 

Lecture II: New Light on Śāktism and Haṭhayoga

Week 4, Wednesday 2.00-3.00, OCHS YouTube channel
Dr James Mallinson

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).

Lecture III: Assessing medieval Śākta history in the light of Indian inscriptions

Week 6, Wednesday 2.00-3.00, OCHS YouTube channel
Dr Bihani Sarkar

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).

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

Week 8, Wednesday 2.00-3.00, OCHS YouTube channel
Dr Silvia Linder

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 has lectured in the past at the Leopold-Franzens-Universität in Innsbruck and at the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice. Presently she is Research Associate at the Institut für Indologie und Zentralasienwissenschaften of the University of Leipzig, and is affiliated with the Śākta Traditions project at the OCHS led by Professor Gavin Flood and Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen. 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