We are a network that connects academics with a shared interest in interreligious relations involving Hinduism.
The goal is to provide a space for encounter and exchange, and to foster individual and collaborative research on the relations of Hindus and Hinduism with the communities and ideas of other religions.
The network is based at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies in Oxford, UK. It was launched on June 21, 2023, at the University of St. Andrews, UK, in the historic Younger Hall. The network seeks to complement other scholarly networks and associations, such as the well-established and more US-focused activities of the Society for Hindu-Christian Studies.
Hinduism and other religions are understood as entailing a great variety of strands and traditions. Following the ideal of the big tent, the network does not side with a particular approach to the academic engagement with interreligious relations but welcomes a plurality of academic approaches. The group invites scholars of religion and area studies, anthropologists, theologians, political scientists, and other academics, including scholar-practitioners, to enrich the discussion with their perspectives.
Membership to the network is open to scholars who hold a relevant degree and who engage in research on interreligious relations involving Hinduism at postgraduate level or above. Membership in the network is free.
The output of the network will include meetings, conference panels and workshops, both in person and on virtual platforms, academic publications, pedagogical applications for university classrooms and continuing education, and reports for practitioners.
The aim of the network is to foster an understanding of the diversity of the Hindu traditions and their interaction with other traditions in the fields of religion, philosophy, art and culture. We believe that greater understanding can contribute to peace and mutual respect in today’s increasingly plural world. The network therefore supports not only academic discussion but also events and publications aimed at the wider public.
You can apply for membership through our online application form here.
As expressed in our logo, we seek to bring together people in a spirit of openness and collegiality. Different colours stand for different approaches that people can bring to the study of Hinduism and interreligious dialogue. Together these elements form a beautiful flower, inspired by the Hindu mandala and especially the lotus flower, which in a very different style forms part of the logo of the OCHS, the institution that hosts our network.
On a closer look, the logo is also a circle of people. The small circles represent heads and the petals the hands as a coming together for thinking and doing. The white spaces and open lines express our values of openness, growth and reflexivity, and our commitment to welcome new people and new ideas.
The bright and joyful colour range has been chosen for the logo both as a homage to the artistic traditions of Hindu cultures and as an expression of the joy for learning and scholarly friendship that we want to foster in our network. For the writing of the network name a more muted look has been chosen to express that we are equally committed to rigorous research and critical thinking.
Melanie Barbato (network coordinator) is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Religious Studies and Inter-Faith Theology at the University of Münster and project director of the research project Hindu-Christian Dialogue in a Religiously Plural World at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. She currently researches the Vatican’s and World Council of Churches’ involvement in Hindu-Christian relations, funded by the German Research Foundation. Her doctoral thesis Jain Approaches to Plurality: Identity as Dialogue has been published by Brill in the series Currents of Encounter. She is an associate editor of CrossCurrents and has edited a special issue on the theme of interreligious dialogue and diplomacy.
Shruti Dixit (network coordinator) is a doctoral researcher at the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics, School of Divinity, University of St Andrews. Her research deals with reimagining revelation in Hinduism and Christianity to facilitate a dialogue using the full works of Raimon Panikkar. Shruti currently holds the Further Education Institution Seat at the Interfaith Scotland’s Youth Advisory Board and has been working towards organizing interfaith meetups in India as a Fellow of the Royal society for the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, podcast host of Indian Religion at the New Books Network, and former Topic Editor of Hinduism at Practical Theology Hub.
Ihsan Altintas (communication officer) is a doctoral researcher at the Institute for Religious Studies and Inter-Faith Theology at the University of Münster. His research focuses on Attitudes Towards Religious Diversity in Islam and Hinduism using a comparative method. He completed his first Master degree at Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, specializing in philosophy and culture. He also obtained a second Master at Ibn Haldun University in Turkey, where he wrote a thesis on Revivalist Discourse in Modern Hinduism: A Socio-religious Study of the Ramakrishna Movement conducting ethnographic research in India. His article on Tagore’s Understanding of Civilization was published by the International Journal of The Asian Philosophical Association, and he conducted a podcast on Indian Muslims and Their Views on the Caste System in collaboration with the Istanbul Research and Education Foundation. Additionally, he is a founding member of the Unity in Diversity Association based in Germany.
Neelima Shukla-Bhatt (programme officer) is a professor of religion at Wellesley College in the US. She holds a PhD in religion and a Master of Divinity from Harvard University as well as a B.A. and M.A. from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India. Among her research interests are: devotional poetry and sacred arts of South Asia; the divine and the human feminine in Hindu traditions, and Gandhian thought. Her publications include the book A Fire That Blazed in the Ocean: Gandhi and Poems of Satyagraha in South Africa 1909-1911, co-authored with Surendra Bhana (2011, Promilla), the monograph Narainha Mehta of Gujarat: A Legacy of Bhakti in Songs and Stories (2015, Oxford), as well as most recently Hinduism, the Basics (2023, Routledge).
Patricia Palazzo Tsai (interfaith officer) is a PhD candidate in Religious Studies at the Methodist University of Sao Paulo, under supervision of Prof. Dr. Jung Mo Sung and co-supervision of Prof. Dr. Mario I. Aguilar (CSRP University of St. Andrews). She is a bachelor in Buddhist Theology at Pramana Institute (2018), Law and Social Sciences in Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas (2008), and Theology in Dom Bosco Catholic University (2022). She is Topic Editor in Buddhism and Assistant Editor at the Practical Theology Hub, Legal Director of the Buddha-Dharma Association (BUDA) and its Institutes – Pramana Institute and Thomasian Institute; and co-founder of Sakyadhita São Paulo Association of Buddhist Women.