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Hindu Studies in China

Prof. Lai Pan-chiu
Prof. Lai Pan-chiu

The Department of Cultural and Religious Studies (CRS), at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), - the oldest department of religious studies in the Chinese speaking world - has raised funding for a professorship in Indian Religions and Culture. This post was held by OCHS Fellow, Dr Kenneth Valpey in its inaugural year.

Students taking Dr Valpey's courses were from different academic and cultural backgrounds (from Hong Kong, Mainland China, and overseas). In addition to formal teaching, Dr. Valpey also organized several film appreciation meetings for students and staff to introduce the Hindu traditions in an enjoyable way.
Dr Valpey attended a conference on religious experience jointly organized by CRS and the Department of Religious Studies, Peking University, held in Beijing in 2008. His paper on The Experience of Authority and the Authority of Experience: The Bhagavad-gita in Dialogue with Modern "Religious Experience" Discourse' was subsequently accepted for publication by Beida Journal of Philosophy, a journal published by the Peking University Press and widely recognised as one of the best known journals in philosophy and religious studies published in China.
Following Dr Valpey's work, a meeting took place in July 2008 between Prof. Lai Pan-chiu (Chairman and Professor of CRS, and Associate Dean of Faculty of Arts), Gavin Flood (OCHS Academic Director), and Shaunaka Rishi Das (OCHS Director). The discussion aimed at advancing and and formalising an institutional relationship in teaching btween OCHS and CRS.
According to Prof. Lai: 'Indian culture has exercised tremendous impacts on the historical development of Chinese culture, but since contemporary Chinese intellectuals mostly study the relationship between Chinese and Western culture, the contemporary significance of Indian culture, including Hinduism, has been largely overlooked.'
The work of Dr Valpey has gone some way to redress this, and the establishment of formal links between the OCHS and CRS bodes well for Hindu Studies in China.