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Lectures from the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

Lectures from the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
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Lectures from the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies




Nath Siddhas and Hatha Yoga Practices in South India

Shivadasani Seminar Dr Prabhavati Reddy 9 Jun 2016 By the fifteenth century, the Nath lineage of Siddhas had emerged as influential teachers and wonder-working yogis in the Telugu-speaking region of Srisailam in South India. Both textual and archaeological evidence suggest that Nath gurus have gained popularity among royal families and common people as well as the establishment of regional Nath parampara traditions, combined with Saiva, Tantra and Hatha Yoga practices in the...


Myth-History Conundrums in the Hagiographies of Satya Pīr: Hindu God and Muslim Holy Man

J.P. And Beena Khaitan Visiting Fellows lecture Prof. Tony K. Stewart 27 Oct 2016 Satya Pīr has been for scholars one of the most puzzling figures in Bengali religious history: for Muslims a Sufi saint and for Hindus none other than Satya Nārāyaṇ. The index to their truly puzzling nature is the fact that in spite of their ubiquity—his manuscript and print literature in Bangla is second in size only to the voluminous output prompted by Kṛṣṇa Caitanya—there have been virtually no...


The monastic/ascetic tradition of India and its ramification towards the west

Shivdasani lecture Prof. G. C. Tripathi 3 Nov 2016 The lecture would shed light on the Indian phenomenon of monasticism (shrama, shramana) and asceticism (tapas,tapasvin). Buddhist monks are referred to as shramanas, the toilers. The concept of shrama (labour) has a spiritual connotation in the Vedic literature. Monastic way of life, according to me, was not a protest or revolution against the established religious order. Its tradition seems to be as old that of Vedic ritual,...


Subjunctive Explorations of Fictive Vaiṣṇav-Sufi Discourse

J.P. And Beena Khaitan Visiting Fellows lecture Prof. Tony K. Stewart 10 Nov 2016 The early modern Bangla tales of the legendary or mythic pīrs are romantic narratives that speak to the often strange and puzzling encounters between Hindus, especially Vaiṣṇavs, and Muslims, primarily Sufis. They bring together foreigners and locals, courtiers and country bumpkins, in encounters ripe with a myriad of misunderstandings and false assumptions regarding religion, rituals, and those that...


Influence of Kashmir on the Tantric traditions of Orissa

Shivdasani lecture Prof. G. C. Tripathi 24 Nov 2016 The paper shall try to trace the close relationship of the Orissan Tantrism and also Vishnuism to Kashmir of the 10th-12th Century. It were most probably the Orissan students learning in the Pathashalas of Kashmir, mentioned (sarcastically) by Kshemendra who brought the philosophy and ritual of Kashmir along with manuscripts from there to Orissa which enriched Orissan Vishnuism overlaid by Tantric practices. The paper would also...


The Colloquy between Muhammad and Saytān: The 18th century Bangla Iblichnāmā of Garībullā

Lectures of the J.P. And Beena Khaitan Visiting Fellow Prof. Tony K. Stewart 31 Jan 2017 In 1287 bs [=1879/80 ce] a short Bangla work was published in Calcutta under the title of Iblichnāmār punthi by the highly productive scholar Garībullā, who had composed the text about a century earlier. This somewhat unusual text is a colloquy between the Prophet Muhammad and the fallen Iblich (Ar. Iblīs), also called Saytān. The bulk of this fictional text is an interrogation of Iblich...


When Muslim and Hindu Worlds Meet in Fiction: Mapping the Bengali Imaginaire

Lectures of the J.P. And Beena Khaitan Visiting Fellow Prof. Tony K. Stewart 16 Feb 2017 A number of Bangla tales dedicated to the fictional or mythic holy men (pīrs) and women (bibīs) in the Muslim community have circulated widely over the last five centuries alongside the tales of their historical counterparts. They are still printed and told today, and performed regularly in public, especially in the Sunderbans, the mangrove swamps in the southern reaches of Bangladesh and West...


‘The lotus in the mire’: the Indian reception of Tājika astrology

Dr. Martin Gansten 3 May 2017 Tājika is the designation of the Sanskritized Perso-Arabic astrology that arose as an independent school following the second wave of astrological transmission into India in the early centuries of the second millennium CE. It is thus the form of Indian astrology most closely resembling western medieval and Renaissance astrology, which similarly rests on Arabic foundations. Although ultimately derived from the same Greek origins as classical Indian...


Rādhā Tantra and the agonies and ecstasies of studying obscure texts

The Rādhā Tantra (RT), also known as Vāsudevarahasya (Vāsudeva’s secret), is a fairly extensive, anonymous Tantric work dealing with the story of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Contrary to what the name might indicate, the RT is not a Vaiṣṇava text; rather, it is a Śākta text giving a Śākta reinterpretation of a Vaiṣṇava story. The RT is by all standards a late Tantra, written in poor Sanskrit, seldom quoted by Tantric authorities and little studied today. Plainly said, this is not an important...


What kind of Philosophical Theory is Madhyamaka?

Majewski Lecture Jan Westerhoff The Madhyamaka school of philosophy has been credited as being the central philosophy of Buddhism and also as a kind of anti-philosophy of pure critique that simply seeks to demonstrate the contradictory nature of all statements about the world. This lecture explores the nature of philosophical argument in Madhyamaka and the kind of philosophical theory that the Madhyamaka is. Originally trained as a philosopher and orientialist, Jan Westerhoff's research...


Nineteenth-century Hindu discourse on image worship

Dr Sharada Sugirtharajah Nineteenth-century colonial India offers examples of both Hindu iconoclasts and iconic worshippers, but there has been a tendency to privilege the former and regard them as agents of modernity, and the latter as backward. Most nineteenth-century studies of Hindu attitudes to image worship have mainly focussed on two prominent figures—Rammohan Roy (1772–1883) and Dayananda Saraswati (1824–1883) who denounced image worship. This paper seeks to widen the discourse...


The Anthropology of Islamic Prayer

Religious Practice in Comparative Perspective Series Dr Mohammad Talib The idea of prayer in Islam is vague in the sense that it ranges from the mandatory to the most optional and spontaneous. This lecture will deal with the issue of prayer from an anthropological perspective. Dr Mohammad Talib is lecturer at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford. He has taught Sociology at Jamia Millia Islamia University (Delhi), from 1979 to 2001. In 2002, he came to...


The Habit of Prayer and Prayer in a Habit

Religious Practice in Comparative Perspective Series Dr Martin Ganeri The routine activity of the ‘hours of prayer’ forms a major part of the daily life of the different Christian religious orders. This talk will consider what function this prayer plays in the life and goals of religious communities. Dr Martin Ganeri O.P. is Vice Regent of Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford and Director of the Centre for Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue at Heythrop College, University of...


Vedism and Brahmanism in Buddhist Literature: An Overview

Prof. Shrikant Bahulkar: There is seen the tendency of Vedism and Brahmanism through out the Buddhist literature, right from the early Pāli canon through the Mahāyāna to the late Buddhist Tantric texts. In the Pāli canon, the terms such as veda, vijjā, tevijja, yañña and so on. These terms have basically Vedic connotations; however they have been used in a different, typically Buddhist sense. In the Mahāyāna scriptures, there are a number of Vedic concepts used to praise the Buddhas and...


Gadamer's Hermeneutics: Bias, Understanding, and Expanding Horizons

Dr Jessica Frazier: Gadamer saw culture, religion, and art as 'living texts' that integrate our life experience into a meaningful worldview that allows us to think, act, and create. But no worldview is ever static or finished; in 'understanding' we use bias (that of ourselves and others) as the raw material from which a new worldview is created. In this respect Gadamer shares much with Aristotelian and later Vitalist thinkers. But Gadamer also affirms that texts can act poetically as...


Textual Authority (śruti) and Soteriological Reason (tarka) in Advaita Vedānta

Prof. Dilip LoundoFar from antinomic terms and more than just compatible terms, śruti and tarka seem to converge, in Advaita Vedanta, to the same soteriological discipline that constitutes the only means to attain liberation (mokṣa). Accordingly, śruti is revelation in the sense that it, basically, reveals a method of dialogical reasoning (anugṛhita tarka) that succeeds in eliminating one’s ignorance about Reality. Special emphasis will be given to the teachings of Śaṅkarācārya,...


Hindu-Muslim encounters in Bengal

A lecture by Prof. Joseph O'Connell