Deconstructing Taxonomies: How Can We Study ‘Modern Hinduism’?
Anthony King, Blackfriars, University of Oxford
The category ‘Modern Hinduism’ is often assumed to be a comprehensive and all-encompassing taxonomy, one that carefully delineates all the modern manifestations of the pre-existing religions of India. However it is far from being an innocent signifier. It is the site of significant contestation between post-colonial and Enlightenment claims to truth and knowledge. Scholars are divided on the issue of the ‘construction’ of Hinduism, but what is certain is that the study of Hinduism is in a crisis.
How can we address the issue of the validity of the taxonomy ‘Modern Hinduism’? Is there a way to give a voice in the debate to those who perhaps hold the answer – ‘Modern Hindus’ themselves? This paper will address these issues and possible methodologies of such an approach.
The idea of ahamkara in Samkhya and Yoga
Ramesh Pattni, Blackfriars, Oxford
Central to the Samkhya and Yoga perspectives is the ego and its central role in the continuation of subjectivity through grasping and ownership of experience. We look at this notion of the subject in relation to the underlying metaphysics of the systems of thought.
The Netra Tantra is an important early medieval Śaiva text. We will read and discuss sections of the text based on the two manuscripts in the NGMPP Library and compare these with the published KSTS edition. Apart from reading the text we will discuss its meaning.
Beginning with the early medieval period, this paper traces the development of Hinduism in devotional (bhakti) and tantric traditions. The paper examines the development of Śaiva, Śākta, and Vaiṣṇava traditions along with ideas about liberation, ritual, asceticism, yoga and devotion. There will be some exploration of Hinduism and Modernity and there may also be reference to major schools of Hindu philosophy such as Vedānta.
Hindu theology, and particularly Vedānta, is grounded in the reading of sacred texts and has been largely developed in commentaries on those texts. This Sanskrit reading class will explore the way Vaiṣṇava Vedānta develops its theology through a careful reading of the Upaniṣads. We will read the commentary on the Īśā Upaniṣad by Vedānta Deśika (1269–1370), the most prominent Viśiṣṭādvaita theologian after Rāmānuja, paying particular attention to the way he formulates his theology and develops his hermeneutics. This reading class aims to introduce students with an intermediate knowledge of Sanskrit to the style and reasoning of Sanskrit commentaries as well as the fundamentals of Vaiṣṇava Vedānta.