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Forthcoming lectures

Readings in Vedānta: Rāmānuja’s Vedārtha-saṅgraha: Week Four

Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms
Thursday, 23 May 2019 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

These reading sessions are intended for students who have an intermediate knowledge of Sanskrit and are interested in Vedānta texts. This term we will be reading the Vedārtha-saṅgraha (“A Summary of the Meaning of the Veda”) of Rāmānuja, the most influential teacher of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta. The Vedārtha-saṅgraha functions as an accessible introduction to his thought.

Understanding Ritual

Comparative Study of Religion Seminar Series I
Thursday, 23 May 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
OCHS Library

Convenor: Prof. Gavin Flood FBA & Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen

Reading: Axel Michaels, Homo Ritualis, chapter 8, ‘Meaning and Function’ (OUP 2016)

The purpose of this seminar series is to understand some more recent developments in the study of religions and to raise critical questions about the discipline or subject area. In particular, we will look at the implications of brain science and evolutionary anthropology and its relevance for the study of religions and secondly at philological study and its wider application in the religious field. Throughout we will raise questions about the study of religions, how we do it, and suggest ways of moving forward.

Sanskrit Prelims: Week Four

Dr Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen
Friday, 24 May 2019 - 9:30am to 11:30am
OCHS Library

The course provides an introduction to Sanskrit for the preliminary paper of the Theology and Religion Faculty in Elementary Sanskrit. A range of relevant Hindu and Buddhist texts will be chosen for translation and philological comment. The class is designed to introduce students of Theology and Religion to the essentials of Sanskrit grammar, syntax, and vocabulary and its importance for the exegesis of Sanskrit texts. Students will learn to appreciate the interpretative nature of translation as a central discipline for the study of religions.
 By the end of the course students will have gained a basic competency in translating classical Sanskrit and reading relevant passages from texts such as the Chāndogya Upaniṣad, the Bhagavadgītā and the Buddhist Heart Sūtra. The course book will be Walter Maurer’s The Sanskrit Language. Sanskrit Prelims continues throughout Michaelmas and Hilary Terms and for the first four weeks of Trinity.


Sanskrit Traditions in the Modern World

Friday, 24 May 2019 - 9:45am to 3:00pm
OCHS Library

Sanskrit Traditions in the Modern World (STIMW) is a forum for the discussion of the Sanskrit traditions of South Asia, and the texts and cultures that have risen out of them. It brings together established and rising academics for the focused examination of research pertaining to various aspects of South Asia’s rich Sanskrit religious and intellectual culture. It thereby seeks to sustain and build upon the long history of scholarship in this important area of study.

Papers are presented by leading scholars in the field as well as by research students. Papers are precirculated so that participants can read them before the seminar to ensure the best possible use of discussion time. Papers are therefore not read out at the seminar itself - having been precirculated the papers will be briefly introduced by the chair who wil then raise questions to the paper-giver, before opening the discussion.

Implicit Anthropologies in Pre-Philosophical Śaivism with Particular Reference to the Netra-tantra
Gavin Flood

Exploring Eclecticism in Svāminārāyaṇa Scripture
Avni Chag

Was the Thirteenth Year Over?
Simon Brodbeck

Fragments and Perspectives: The Abduction of the Princesses of Kāśī in the Mahābhārata
Zuzana Spicova

(To be announced)
Mandakranta Bose

Registration is required. Please register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-36th-annual-sanskrit-traditions-in-the-...

For more information, please visit  http://sanskrittraditions.ml/

Readings in Phenomenology: Week Four

Prof. Gavin Flood FBA
Friday, 24 May 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

This term we will be reading Thiemo Breyer’s On the Topology of Cultural Memory: Different Modalities of Inscription and Transmission (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2007).

In the wake of the large literature now developed on memory and particularly cultural memory, this book creates a topology of cultural memory, linking anthropological work with phenomenological reflection. Breyer looks at cultural memory, memory as occupying an inter-personal realm, memory in oral and literate cultures, and the philosophical implications of empirical study. I can photocopy relevant chapters.

Readings in the Netra Tantra: Week Five

Prof. Gavin Flood FBA
Monday, 27 May 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
OCHS Library

The Netra Tantra is an important text that gained prominence in the early medieval (post-Gupta) period. These readings will focus on chapter seven, the sukṣma-dhyāna, using the oldest surviving manuscript from Nepal and making reference to the KSTS edition.

Readings in Vedānta: Rāmānuja’s Vedārtha-saṅgraha: Week Five

Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms
Thursday, 30 May 2019 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

These reading sessions are intended for students who have an intermediate knowledge of Sanskrit and are interested in Vedānta texts. This term we will be reading the Vedārtha-saṅgraha (“A Summary of the Meaning of the Veda”) of Rāmānuja, the most influential teacher of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta. The Vedārtha-saṅgraha functions as an accessible introduction to his thought.

Before Reform: The Swaminarayan Sampraday and Brahmo Samaj as Early Colonial Religious Polities

Lectures of the J.P. And Beena Khaitan Visiting Fellow
Prof. Brian A. Hatcher
Thursday, 30 May 2019 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
OCHS Library

An attempt to exit the discursive world of religious reform in order to rethink the first emergence of two major Hindu movements that would come to be scripted (each in their way) as reform movements. This paper asks how might we view the work of Sahajanand Swami and Rammohun Roy, respective founders of these two movements, if we thought of them not as reformers but as articulators of two innovative religious polities within a distinctive, if short-lived, early colonial moment?

Phenomenology of Religion

Comparative Study of Religion Seminar Series I
Thursday, 30 May 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
OCHS Library

Convenor: Prof. Gavin Flood FBA & Dr. Bjarne Wernicke-Olesen

Reading: Gavin Flood, The Truth Within, chapter 9 ‘The Historical Self and Comparative Religion’ (OUP 2013)

The purpose of this seminar series is to understand some more recent developments in the study of religions and to raise critical questions about the discipline or subject area. In particular, we will look at the implications of brain science and evolutionary anthropology and its relevance for the study of religions and secondly at philological study and its wider application in the religious field. Throughout we will raise questions about the study of religions, how we do it, and suggest ways of moving forward.

Readings in Phenomenology: Week Five

Prof. Gavin Flood FBA
Friday, 31 May 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

This term we will be reading Thiemo Breyer’s On the Topology of Cultural Memory: Different Modalities of Inscription and Transmission (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2007).

In the wake of the large literature now developed on memory and particularly cultural memory, this book creates a topology of cultural memory, linking anthropological work with phenomenological reflection. Breyer looks at cultural memory, memory as occupying an inter-personal realm, memory in oral and literate cultures, and the philosophical implications of empirical study. I can photocopy relevant chapters.

Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism in Bengal: A Symposium in Honour of Prof. Joseph T. O’Connell

Saturday, 1 June 2019 - 10:00am to 6:00pm
OCHS Library

Prof. Joseph O’Connell was one of the pioneers in the Western study of Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism, the devotional tradition that emerged in sixteenth century Bengal and, in subsequent centuries, profoundly shaped the religious culture of Bengal, Orissa, Mathura, and Rajasthan. His interest in the ethics of the Vaiṣṇavas of Bengal and his deep concern for human flourishing have profoundly shaped the field. His recently, posthumously published book, Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism in Bengal: Social Impact and Historical Implications (Routledge, 2019)—a summation of his research—exemplifies his lifelong interest in “the relationship between the ‘transcendent’ intentionality of religious faith of human beings and their ‘mundane’ socio-cultural ways of living”, as he put it. It explores the way Caitanya Vaiṣṇavas’ theology and practice informed their varied engagement with both the non-Vaiṣṇava world and their own religious community, from the early sixteenth century to the twentieth century, and addresses such topics as forms of institutionalisation and identity, attitudes to caste and gender, the negotiation of heterodoxies, engagement with changing political regimes, and the interactions with Muslim.

At this symposium, co-organised by The Gosvāmī Era Research Project and the Bengali Vaiṣṇavism in the Modern World Research Project at the OCHS, scholars from across the globe will gather to discuss the themes of the book and O’Connell’s academic work more broadly.

Speakers include: Dr. Måns Broo, Prof. Ravi M. Gupta, Prof. Brian A. Hatcher, Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms, Prof. Kathleen O’Connell, Dr. Jeanne Openshaw, and Prof. Tony K. Stewart.

Attendance is free, but registration is required. To register, please email <info@ochs.org.uk>.

Readings in the Netra Tantra: Week Six

Prof. Gavin Flood FBA
Monday, 3 June 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
OCHS Library

The Netra Tantra is an important text that gained prominence in the early medieval (post-Gupta) period. These readings will focus on chapter seven, the sukṣma-dhyāna, using the oldest surviving manuscript from Nepal and making reference to the KSTS edition.

Titian-Tagore-Transition (screening)

Prof. Chris Dorsett
Wednesday, 5 June 2019 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm
OCHS Library

The screening of this experimental video by Prof. Chris Dorsett will include a short introduction about the origins of the video in Giorgio Agamben’s book The Open: Man and Animal (2004) and will be followed by a discussion.

The Venetian artist Tiziano Vecellio(1488-1576), better known in the art world as Titian, painted The Three Ages of Man and Nymph and Shepherd five decades apart. A correspondence in subject matter has been noted by art historians but the first painting buzzes youthfully with a surfeit of iconographic meaning, whereas the second is considerably darker in mood, perhaps representing the ageing painter’s disenchanted farewell to art.

Chris Dorsett’s video cross-fades these iconic European images with a sound track based on a Rabindranath Tagore song, Hriday aamaar prakash holoTwo recordings were used: the classic 1956 version by Suchitra Mitra made for domestic markets on the Indian sub-continent and Zoe Rahman’s 2012 adaption that speaks to the multi-cultural interests of a present-day jazz audience in the West.

Chris Dorsett is an Artist and Professor Emeritus of Fine Art from Northumbria University. He is currently Research Affiliate at the Pitt Rivers Museum with an interest in South Asian Art, in particular Tantra. His career as an artist has been built on curatorial partnerships with collection-holding institutions. In the UK he is best known for a sequence of exhibitions held at the Pitt Rivers Museum between 1985 and 1994. His many overseas projects include museum ‘interventions’ across the Nordic region and fieldwork residencies in the Amazon and at the walled village of Kat Hing Wai in the New Territories of Hong Kong. He has written extensively about the interface between experimental art practices and the museum/heritage sector. His publications include: ‘Exhibitions and their prerequisites’, in Issues in curating: Contemporary art and performance (2007); ‘Making meaning beyond display’, in Museum materialities: Objects, engagements, interpretations (2009); ‘Things and theories: The unstable presence of exhibited objects’, in The thing about museums: Objects and experience, representation and contestation (2011); ‘The pleasure of the holder: Media art, museum collections and paper money’, in the International Journal of Arts and Technology and ‘Studio ruins: Describing unfinishedness’, in Studies in Material Thinking (both 2018 ).

Readings in Vedānta: Rāmānuja’s Vedārtha-saṅgraha: Week Six

Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms
Thursday, 6 June 2019 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

These reading sessions are intended for students who have an intermediate knowledge of Sanskrit and are interested in Vedānta texts. This term we will be reading the Vedārtha-saṅgraha (“A Summary of the Meaning of the Veda”) of Rāmānuja, the most influential teacher of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta. The Vedārtha-saṅgraha functions as an accessible introduction to his thought.

Ritual Visualization and Imagination: Representation or Reality

Graduate Lectures
Alan Herbert
Thursday, 6 June 2019 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
OCHS Library

In his treatise, Ṣaṭ-sandarbha, the sixteenth century Indian religious thinker Jīva Gosvāmī presents a brief description of a set of pan-traditional ritual visualization practices. Whereas in traditions other than his Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism the visualizations in these rituals are often accepted as being imaginative, his description couches their imaginative content in a paradox, namely: practicing them involves visualizing an imaginal of an object that is non-imaginative. Determining the reasoning for Jīva’s inclusion of this paradox and reconciling it in this way is the strategy I use to illuminate an underlying positive role for imagination in his expression of meditation on a real object. A seemingly straightforward resolution would be to distinguish the mind-dependent image, or imaginal, of this ritual visualization as representing a mind-independent object insomuch as the latter need only be considered real. However, this route to reconciliation is insufficient because Jīva further classifies the mental-image as a non-visually manifest reality. For clarity on this issue, I subsequently turn to the relationship between the mental-image and the real object of this ritual praxis. A relationship of representation between the two cannot be discounted since this is implied in Jīva’s writing. However, what turns out to be important is that reality also applies to the relationship itself. The exploration of this relationship will take us beyond mere mental-images. It leads us to Jīva’s appeal to an ancient dramaturgical theory which his tradition has mapped onto his theology. This theory defines imagination in terms of an aspect of the real participation of audience and actors in a play. For Jīva, this real participation is in an imaginatively enacted cosmic play, the object of which is the deity’s original theatre of activities.

Alan Herbert is a D.Phil. Student in the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford.

Readings in Phenomenology: Week Six

Prof. Gavin Flood FBA
Friday, 7 June 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

This term we will be reading Thiemo Breyer’s On the Topology of Cultural Memory: Different Modalities of Inscription and Transmission (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2007).

In the wake of the large literature now developed on memory and particularly cultural memory, this book creates a topology of cultural memory, linking anthropological work with phenomenological reflection. Breyer looks at cultural memory, memory as occupying an inter-personal realm, memory in oral and literate cultures, and the philosophical implications of empirical study. I can photocopy relevant chapters.

Readings in the Netra Tantra: Week Seven

Prof. Gavin Flood FBA
Monday, 10 June 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
OCHS Library

The Netra Tantra is an important text that gained prominence in the early medieval (post-Gupta) period. These readings will focus on chapter seven, the sukṣma-dhyāna, using the oldest surviving manuscript from Nepal and making reference to the KSTS edition.

Readings in Vedānta: Rāmānuja’s Vedārtha-saṅgraha: Week Seven

Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms
Thursday, 13 June 2019 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

These reading sessions are intended for students who have an intermediate knowledge of Sanskrit and are interested in Vedānta texts. This term we will be reading the Vedārtha-saṅgraha (“A Summary of the Meaning of the Veda”) of Rāmānuja, the most influential teacher of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta. The Vedārtha-saṅgraha functions as an accessible introduction to his thought.

The Rise and Fall of a Monastic Network in Colonial Bengal

Lectures of the J.P. And Beena Khaitan Visiting Fellow
Prof. Brian A. Hatcher
Thursday, 13 June 2019 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
OCHS Library

Combining textual analysis and site-specific field study, this paper explores the extension into southwestern Bengal of the Dasnami Sampraday in the early 17th century, mapping the emplacement of a network of satellite monastic sites in relation to a new principal "seat" (gaddi) at Tarakeshwar, and charting the rapid deterioration of these sites beginning in the late colonial period.

Brian A. Hatcher is Professor and Packard Chair of Theology at Tufts University. His research focuses on religious and intellectual transformations in colonial and contemporary South Asia, with a special interest in early colonial Bengal. His publications explore issues of vernacular modernity, translation, the life histories of Sanskrit scholars under colonialism, and the modalities of religious eclecticism and scriptural reform among a wide range of Calcutta-based intellectuals. His most recent book-length project, Religion before India, is a comparison of the emergence of the Swaminanarayan Sampraday in Gujarat and the Brahmo Samaj in Bengal as two religious polities that come to be scripted in terms of an emergent "empire of reform" after the 1830s. At present, he is conducting research toward a new book entitled Mapping a Monastic Mandala, which explores the networking and emplacement of Shaiva monastic complexes in southwestern Bengal from the eighteenth to the twentieth century under the leadership of the Dasnami Sampraday.

Readings in Phenomenology: Week Seven

Prof. Gavin Flood FBA
Friday, 14 June 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

This term we will be reading Thiemo Breyer’s On the Topology of Cultural Memory: Different Modalities of Inscription and Transmission (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2007).

In the wake of the large literature now developed on memory and particularly cultural memory, this book creates a topology of cultural memory, linking anthropological work with phenomenological reflection. Breyer looks at cultural memory, memory as occupying an inter-personal realm, memory in oral and literate cultures, and the philosophical implications of empirical study. I can photocopy relevant chapters.

Śākta Traditions Symposium III

Monday, 17 June 2019 - 10:00am to 4:00pm
OCHS Library

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 as well as to the more general and comparative study of religion.

This Śākta symposium is a contribution by a number of scholars to the Śākta Traditions project and its endeavor in tracing developments in the history of goddess worship among the orthoprax brahmans, among the tantric traditions and at village level in South Asia. Thus, the symposium acts as a historical exploration of distinctive Indian ways of imagining God as Goddess (and goddesses), a survey of important origins and developments within Śākta history, practice and doctrine in its diversity, as well as an insight into the fascinating Śākta religious imaginaire and ritual practice that may be considered distinctive and thus sets ‘Śāktism’ apart from other forms of South Asian religion.

Readings in the Netra Tantra: Week Eight

Prof. Gavin Flood FBA
Monday, 17 June 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
OCHS Library

The Netra Tantra is an important text that gained prominence in the early medieval (post-Gupta) period. These readings will focus on chapter seven, the sukṣma-dhyāna, using the oldest surviving manuscript from Nepal and making reference to the KSTS edition.

Readings in Vedānta: Rāmānuja’s Vedārtha-saṅgraha: Week Eight

Dr. Rembert Lutjeharms
Thursday, 20 June 2019 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
OCHS Library

These reading sessions are intended for students who have an intermediate knowledge of Sanskrit and are interested in Vedānta texts. This term we will be reading the Vedārtha-saṅgraha (“A Summary of the Meaning of the Veda”) of Rāmānuja, the most influential teacher of Viśiṣṭādvaita Vedānta. The Vedārtha-saṅgraha functions as an accessible introduction to his thought.

Readings in Phenomenology: Week Eight

Prof. Gavin Flood FBA
Friday, 21 June 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
OCHS Library

This term we will be reading Thiemo Breyer’s On the Topology of Cultural Memory: Different Modalities of Inscription and Transmission (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2007).

In the wake of the large literature now developed on memory and particularly cultural memory, this book creates a topology of cultural memory, linking anthropological work with phenomenological reflection. Breyer looks at cultural memory, memory as occupying an inter-personal realm, memory in oral and literate cultures, and the philosophical implications of empirical study. I can photocopy relevant chapters.