Concepts of Self in the History of Hinduism, II (MT23)

Location: OCHS Library
Speaker: Professor Gavin Flood FBA
Date: November 30, 2023
Time: 2.00pm – 3.00pm

There is a history to ideas about the self. These two lectures will sketch some shifts in the ways the self has been conceptualised in that history and will in particular pay attention to tensions in Brahmanical thinking between different metaphysics of the self and social, transaction reality of persons as social actors.

Lecture 2: The possessed self, the personal self, transcendence, and its collapse

Moving forward in time to the eve of modernity, we will contrast an older view of self as being able to be possessed by supernatural powers in the Śākta tradition (that God­frey Lienhardt called the ‘passiones’ model of the self), with a view of the self that emerged in the sixteenth century with Caitanya (1486-1533) and the emergent devo­tional tradition, contrasting this with the collapse of transcendence to immanence with Raghunātha Śiromaṇi (c. 1460-1540) of the Navya Nyāya, once the tantric kingdoms (apart from Nepal) were gone. We will offer a hypothesis that these conceptions of self present a new vision by re-tooling older ideas of both possession and transcendence. We will raise questions about whether such new conception has potential for social critique and how these new ideas affected modern concepts of self and society in India.