Category: OCHS

Annual Report 2022-23

Annual Report 2022-23

Annual Report 2022-23

It feels unbelievable that the OCHS is in its 25th year, and from such humble beginnings so much has grown. In this letter, we would like to share some of the highlights of the past 12 months. You can also download our full Annual Report here.

Our New Property: 71–75 Woodstock Road, Oxford

Our most exciting news is that after years of searching in a difficult property market, we have found and completed the purchase of a property in central Oxford. This property has more potential than any we have seen before and we are going to develop it in the coming years to create the world’s first purpose-built campus for Hindu Studies. 
…read more.

Developing Indian Philosophy, Digitising Manuscripts, Six New Research Projects

Over the past 25 years, we have grown into a mature research institution and are now, I can say with confidence, leading the field of Hindu Studies. We have seen impressive and constant growth in research, publications, and teaching. Adding six new research projects to our portfolio this year we are now the home of 32 projects. We also hosted four international conferences and our Fellows published 62 books and articles adding significantly to the field of Hindu Studies.

Our Summer Course in Kathmandu

The OCHS Summer University combines lectures and workshops with excursions and fieldwork in rituals, religious spaces, and traditional practices. It was a wonderful experience for students coming from all over the world.
… read more or go to the course website here. 

Here Utsa Bose, a D.Phil Candidate from Bengal, shares his experience of Oxford in his Essay; "Moving On, Moving With"

The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies is built like a secret. Nestled between the Odeon and a Five Guys on Magdalen Street, it is a small glass door with a bright red lotus, almost like a space living in twilight, a whisper of light that is easy to miss.
… read the full essay here.

Prof. Christ Dorsett has completely reformulated our Artist in Residence programme (AIR)

We now offer an annual affiliation that can be used by artists to envisage and debate future ideas and projects. Our first appointment this year was the painter and performance artist, Rosanna Dean
… read more about the programme, listen to a TED Talk by AIR Director Prof. Chris Dorsettor listen to the podcast “The World in Sounds” with Rosanna Dean.

We said a sad farewell to our supporter, benefactor and friend, Mrs Elizabeth Krishna

With sadness, in 2022 we said farewell to Elizabeth Krishna.  A Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, former Indian Institute Librarian, Lecturer at Delhi University, and long-term supporter of the OCHS.  We were very fortunate to be remembered by her (and her late husband Gopal Krishna) in their generous Legacy Gift to the Centre. 
… read more.

Here’s to the next 25 years.

Are you interested in supporting our work with a donation? You can do that through our website here. Thank you.

News Letter Hilary Term 2022

News Letter Hilary Term 2022

OCHS Newsletter

Welcome back to a new term. I hope everyone has enjoyed the closeness of friends and family during the holidays and I wish for a productive and peaceful 2022.

This coming term we welcome two visiting fellows to the OCHS. Professor Alexis Sanderson will be here as our J.P. and Beena Khaitan Fellow and Professor Knut Jacobsen will visit as our Shivdasani Fellow. Both of them will give lectures during the term which can be found on our Hilary term lecture list here.

We will have an online conference on Rethinking Hinduism in Colonial India from 4th to 6th of February. You can read more about the conference and sign up on

The Śākta Traditions, and the Rethinking Gender online lecture series will continue this term together with a new series on New Directions in the Study of Modern Hinduism. These will all be online and everyone is welcome. For more information and how to attend see our lecture list.

Wednesday Lunches are cancelled for the first four weeks of the term, but hopefully, if the Covid situation allows for it, lunches will be back for the second part of Hilary term.

This year we have some exciting announcements from our Continuing Education team. A new online term will begin on January 16 and we are pleased to present two new courses on Hinduism and popular religious art tutored by Dr Layne Little and Hinduism, Yoga, and Ecology tutored by Professor Christopher Key Chapple, a course developed in collaboration with our environmental outreach project Hindu Climate Action.

If you haven’t already signed up for this term, you can do so at

Warm regards,


Annual Report 2021

Annual Report 2021

Annual Report

Dear Friends, 

A full year of pandemic restrictions in education has been hard but I must congratulate our scholars and students for their focus and adaptability. All have done very well, mastering the mysteries of all things Hindu, and what were once the mysteries of Teams, Canvas, and Zoom. Our students have also done well academically – which is the great achievement.

I’m very happy to announce that we will start the next academic year with a new relationship with the Faculty of Theology & Religion and the University of Oxford. Beginning in October, two of our scholars, Dr Jessica Frazier and Dr Rembert Lutjeharms, will become Research Lecturers in the Faculty, positions funded by the OCHS. Both will share their time with the University and the Centre. It represents the strongest institutional tie that both our Centre and the Faculty will have with any other external body.

In spite of the difficulties of the year, education and publication went very well, as this report notes. Research also progressed, the only areas of our operation hindered being Library access and coming together for meals and discussion. Even with all the promise of technology there is nothing to replace the wealth of personal interaction.

As an unexpected benefit of shutdown around the world, we had an understandable rise in student numbers for our online courses – 2300 in total. While so many of us were bound to our homes in the pandemic we roamed the universe of the internet looking for education, news, and distraction. Our online experts adapted quickly and launched very successful virtual weekend schools and Zoom tutorials, making our subject widely available.

I would like to thank our scholars, students, and staff who rose to the occasion; to our patrons and friends who retained their commitment and maintained our efforts; and to the army of volunteers who have worked in Leicester, Birmingham, and London, and far afield in New York, Denver, and Gainesville, USA, and Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai, India. We are your servants.

Warm regards,
Shaunaka Rishi Das

Happy Diwali 2021

Happy Diwali 2021

Dear Friend,
Diwali, as we often hear, is about light and dark, and the success of one over the other – which is certainly the case, and long may it last.
As we enter Diwali week, and as world leaders begin their discussions about the future of the planet, in Glasgow, I thought it opportune to maybe broaden our understanding of the Diwali festival.
Diwali means ‘row of lights’, and we are told this refers to the rows of lamps offered by thousands of people lighting the way of Rama and Sita, as they made their way back to Ayodhya. The lights were offered with affection for this glorious couple after their success in reuniting after the dark Ravana kidnapped Sita.
Everyone encountering the tale joined in the celebration being enlightened by its goodness, its virtuous principles, and the example of Rama. Rama had left all his riches and any chance of power on the eve of his coronation as king, and then rescued his stolen beloved, who had endured her difficulty with great courage and strength.
I hope and pray that when the statesmen and politicians, the kings of our day, journey home we will feel affection for the glorious deeds they exemplified in Glasgow. That we will be enlightened by their wise decisions, and feel secure for our families, our planet, and ourselves because they did the right thing – regardless of opportunities of financial gain and advancement in power.
Do I hope too much? Maybe, but then I remember how Rama, as an avatar, is green in colour, how he lived in a forest, how his army was made up of monkeys, bears, vultures, and squirrels, and how Sita was described as emerging from the earth at birth. Rama was not speciesist in who he accepted into his army, and he rescued Sita, Mother Earth herself.
So maybe I should pray that our leaders show a bit of Rama’s love for Sita this week. Even a little bit of love could help, and future generations – who cannot vote for them – may none the less love them in return.
I wish you a happy, peaceful Diwali, with a hint of enlightened thanks for what we have, and what we should preserve.
Warm regards,
Shaunaka Rishi Das
Director, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
1 November 2021
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

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
Covid-19 update

Covid-19 update

Until we meet again

Dear all, 

The centre is currently closed due to the Covid-19 restrictions. All lectures and seminars will be held online. For access, please contact the convenors or lecturer by email. For access to the Hinduism: Sources and Formation and Sanskrit Prelims lectures, please contact the Faculty of Theology and Religion. The Śākta Traditions lectures will be available on the OCHS YouTube channel.

The current situation also means that all of our Wednesday lunches are cancelled this term. We are very sorry about this and look forward to welcoming you all back (hopefully) soon.

In the meantime we encourage you to follow and engage with us on social media. We miss all of you and would love to stay in touch. 

Stay safe and well, 

The OCHS team

OCHS Exhibition: Hidden Treasures

OCHS Exhibition: Hidden Treasures

OCHS Exhibition: Hidden Treasures

From Monday 26 November to Friday 30 November, the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies is holding an exhibition: Hidden Treasures in Private Academic Collections 

This exhibition aims to discover and reveal an unknown aspect of the lives of Oxford academics at the Centre of Hindu Studies.

It brings their individual interests closer to the public. The idea is to display unusual examples of what these scholars collect, as a matter of personal preference, when they travel. What you will see is hidden treasure, objects of special affection kept privately, at home or in an office, far from the public eye. For those of us studying at the Centre, viewing these examples contributes to, and enhances, the fascination we feel for utilising a Study of Religion perspective. This is especially so since the provenance of the exhibits strongly suggests that, in order to advance our understanding of religion in South Asia, we need to combine textual studies and material culture. Furthermore, the exhibition shows how religious objects can be seen from new angles, and take on added significance, when gathered together and displayed in a non-religious setting.

All the exhibits originate from the South-Asian region and have been generously loaned by four academics related to the OCHS. 

The Swami Haridhas Giri Scholarship

The Swami Haridhas Giri Scholarship

The Swami Haridhas Giri Scholarship

At the end of June, 2016 our Centre was graced with a visit from His Holiness Swami Niranjanananda Giri, who leads the Sri Gnianananda Giri Peetam, near Kanchi, in Tamil Nadu. Swamiji was accompanied by a small number of his followers, including children, and came to hear about the development of Hindu Studies in Oxford, and for a tour of the city.

The trip was arranged by Dr Dharshana Sridhar, and was the culmination of a series of meetings Dr Sridhar led to explore the possibility of establishing a scholarship for gifted students through the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. Dr Sridhar, and her fellow devotees wanted to develop this scholarship in honour of their acharya, His Holiness Swami Haridhas Giri.

As is often the case in England the weather was not kind to us on the day of the visit but the jolly mood of our visitors made up for that, and the swift disappearance of the chocolate biscuits showed that the children were pleased.

We gathered in our library and, surrounded by 25,000 books, we discussed the current need to study Hindu traditions closely; how this does not yet happen in India; how valuable a scholarship will be in promoting bright students to become experts on their own traditions; and how by working together we can develop the emerging field of Hindu Studies, both in Oxford and in India.

We concluded the meeting with all the donors to the scholarship fund, headed by Swamiji himself, signing an agreement establishing The Swami Haridhas Giri Scholarship, aimed at facilitating students, especially in the study of Bhakti philosophies, theologies, and practices.

This Scholarship, one of the first of its kind in Europe for Hindu studies, is the largest endowed scholarship the OCHS has received, and the scholars and students of the Centre expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the Peetam, and all its devotees. The gift of an endowed scholarship provides the centre with a permanent fund from which scholars and students can receive support. We look forward to working together for many years nurturing the field of Hindu Studies, contributing to a global discourse, and influencing thinking and decision making through excellence in education.