Hinduism cannot be understood without the Goddess (Devī/Śakti) and the goddess-oriented Śākta traditions. The Goddess pervades Hinduism at all levels, from aniconic village deities to high-caste pan-Hindu goddesses to esoteric, tantric goddesses. Nevertheless, these highly influential forms of South Asian religion have only recently begun to draw a more broad scholarly attention. Taken together, they form ‘Śāktism’, which is by many considered one of the major branches of Hinduism next to Śaivism and Vaiṣṇavism. Śāktism is, however, less clearly defined than the other major branches and sometimes surprisingly difficult to discern from Śaivism in its tantric forms. These sometimes very complex and challenging forms of Śākta religion provide a test case for our understanding of Hinduism and raise important theoretical and methodological questions with regard to the study of religious traditions in South Asia.
The Śākta symposia series at the OCHS include state-of-the-art contributions by a number of scholars to the Śākta Traditions research project (saktatraditions.org) and its endeavor in tracing developments in the history of goddess worship in South Asia among the orthoprax brahmans, among the tantric traditions and at village level. Thus, the symposia act as historical explorations of distinctive Indian and Nepalese ways of imagining God as Goddess (and goddesses) contributing to a survey of important origins and developments within Śākta history, practice and doctrine in its diversity as well as offering an insight into the fascinating Śākta religious imaginaire and ritual practice that is distinctive and sets ‘Śāktism’ apart from other forms of South Asian religion. The symposia will also include contributions on the reception history of Śākta and tantric elements in global religious history and diaspora Hinduism.
10.00-13.15 Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (http://www.ochs.org.uk/)
13-15 Magdalen Street, Oxford, OX1 3AE (Tel: 01865 304300)
10.00-10.15 Welcome by Prof Gavin Flood (Oxford)
10.15-11.00 Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen (Oxford): Mapping Śākta Traditions
11.00-11.15 Tea and biscuits
11.15-12.15 Prof Knut Jacobsen (Bergen): Tamil Śākta traditions in Europe
12.15-13.15 Astrid Zotter (Heidelberg): Durgā and the Kings of Nepal
15.00-18.00 Campion Hall (http://www.campion.ox.ac.uk/)
Brewer St, Oxford, OX1 1QS
15.00-15.15 Campion Hall small tour with Professor Gavin Flood
15.15-16.15 Silvia Schwarz Linder (Leipzig): The Doctrinal Teachings of the Tripurārahasya
16.15-16.30 Tea and biscuits
16.30-17.30 Julian Strube (Heidelberg): Modern Śākta Identities in a Global Context
17.30-18.00 Jesper Moeslund (Aarhus): Philosophy as a Meta-language in Tantric Studies