Graduate Seminars in Indic Religion: Session One

Location: OCHS Library
Date: May 9, 2014
Time: 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Deconstructing Taxonomies: How Can We Study ‘Modern Hinduism’?

Anthony King, Blackfriars

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.

Political Theology in the Bhagavad-Gita

Sachi Patel, Wolfson College

Amongst Hinduism’s theological texts the Bhagavad-Gīta is perhaps the most well-known and quoted text in the Hindu tradition. Numerous commentaries and translations have been produced. Within this conglomerate of views, many individuals have derived a political or social inspiration from its teachings, some propagating a political theology based on the text. I will investigate this further, specifically focusing on the interpretations of karma according to the various interpreters in significant historic periods. The concept of karma highlights the relationship between political and social situations and the relevance of divine messages most clearly.