Graduate Seminars in Indic Religions 2

Location: OCHS Library
Date: February 8, 2013
Time: 16:00 to 17:00

Convenors: Lucian Wong and Tristan Elby

This series of seminars will provide a lively and thought-provoking forum for graduate students from across the disciplines to present their latest work on any of the Indic religions, creating an opportunity for regular discussion and cross-fertilisation among students in this area. It will be held fortnightly in Hilary term (weeks 2, 4, 6, 8) on Fridays from 4pm–5pm, with a chance for informal discussion afterwards over refreshments. Each seminar will feature two papers on related themes or subjects, of about 20 minutes each, with a chance for questions after each paper. Any graduate students working on, or otherwise interested in, Indic religions, are warmly invited to attend.


Beyond Rama: Krishna and Shiva in the Brajbhāṣa works of Tulsīdās
Nayan Bedia

The aim of the dissertation is to produce a critical edition of the 66 padas that constitute Tulsīdās’s Krishna-gītāvalī. Research on the early-modern history, society and language of India is an understudied field. Also, the available scholarship on Tulsīdās tends to focus only on his magnum opus, the Rāmcaritmānas, when many other important works exist. A critical edition of the Krishna-gītāvalī will not only illuminate the understanding of one of the most popular Hindi-authors over last few centuries. It will also assist in forming a better understanding of how early-modern religious practice operated and the interplay between the Hindi vernacular languages, Braj and Avadhī.

Bhaktivinod Thakur’s Kṛṣṇa-saṁhitā: Negotiating History in Nineteenth Century Bengal
Lucian Wong

The nineteenth century is widely regarded as a pivotal period in South Asian religious history. Colonial presence in the region entailed intense and prolonged exposure to challenging currents of western modernity for many South Asian religious traditions and practitioners. While religious responses to the colonial challenge varied widely, the encounter with modernity is often thought of as marking a rupture with pre-modern religious traditions. Historical consciousness has been characterised as one of the key currents and signs of the modern.

Bhaktivinod Thakur was a prominent Bengali Vaiṣṇava theologian and leader, who emerged from a typically nineteenth century Calcuttan middle-class educational and social context. In his first major work, the Kṛṣṇa-saṁhitā, we find him addressing the modern concern for history and its relation to the mythical narratives of Purānic texts. By highlighting 1) evident tensions within the text and 2) significant revisions that he makes in a subsequent edition of the text, this paper calls into question the plausibility of the notion of rupture in relation to the Bengali Vaiṣṇava tradition in the nineteenth century.