Past Events

Screening: The Textures of Loss

Screening: The Textures of Loss, followed by a talk by Pankaj Butalia.
The Textures of Loss is an elegy to the wounded Kashmir valley following two decades of violence.
The loss of loved ones manifests itself not only in pain, but also in anger, somatic symptoms, paralysis and deadness. (This film is part of Pankaj Butalia's trilogy about conflicts on the periphery of India titled The Crippled Frontier, and also available independently)

Monday, October 24, 2016 - 5:30pm
Foster 103

“From the Pursuit of a Pandit to How I Became a Digital Humanist”

South Asia Speaker: Yigal Bronner
In this talk, Yigal Bronner, a Sanskritist by training, will tell the sad tale of a database project that took over his life. He will also explain why he is still excited about prosopography and, more generally, about the possibility of turning Indologists into a vibrant community with the help of digital tools.

Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster 103

COSAS Fall Meeting

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - 12:00pm
Foster 103

“Ratnākaraśānti and Jñānaśrīmitra on Consciousness, Error, and Buddhahood: An Eleventh Century Buddhist Debate”

TAPSA Speaker: David Tomlinson
Ratnākaraśānti (ca.970-1045) and Jñānaśrīmitra (11th century) are two philosophical luminaries of the late period of Indian Buddhist philosophy. Both idealist philosophers at the university of Vikramaśīla, they were nevertheless embittered opponents: Ratnākaraśānti had argued on philosophical and buddhalogical grounds that consciousness must ultimately be contentless (nirākāra), while in his longest, most detailed works, Jñānaśrīmitra takes his colleague to task for thinking contentless consciousness is possible. Instead, Jñānaśrīmitra defends what he calls the Sākāravāda, or the (perhaps orthodox) position that consciousness is by its very definition consciousness of something, and that content is thus real and indubitable. The speaker David Tomlinson will introduce these figures, their respective stances toward the history of Indian Buddhist philosophy, and their central arguments. Tomlinson will also consider the way their respective positions are shaped by very different understandings of Buddhahood.

Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster 103

“The Limits of Empire in Afghanistan: Rule and Resistance in the Hindu Kush, circa 600 BCE-650 CE"

Conference hosted by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago along with the Franke Institute for the Humanities.

Organized by Gil J. Stein and Richard Payne

In the first millennia BCE and CE, successive empires sought to incorporate the archipelago of territories in and around the Hindu Kush and to install their structures of rule. The Achaemenians, Seleucids, and Sasanians endeavored -- and sometimes pretended -- to rule regions of Afghanistan from their courts located in the Near Eastern core, upward of 2500 km distant. The Kushans, for their part, made Bactra and Begram the bases of an empire that extended far beyond into India and Central Asia. Apart from distance, these empires confronted a political geography in the Hindu Kush that was -- like the Caucasus -- uniquely unfavorable to imperial governance, as well as populations with disparate cultures, social structures, and political traditions. Afghanistan thus provides a test of the capacities of ancient imperial regimes to overcome distance, verticality, and difference to integrate territories into their trans-regional and trans-cultural orders. As even a passing familiarity with the history of the region suggests, efforts at empire failed at least as often as they succeeded in a geographical and cultural landscape highly conducive what James Scott calls the “art[s] of not being governed.” The conference aims to focus on the limits of empire in Afghanistan, as a means of better comprehending the workings of the regimes that laid claim to its territories and the responses of its populations.

The conference convenes archaeologists, art historians, historians, philologists, and numismatists to debate current research in the context of ongoing theoretical debates concerning the formation, endurance, and limits of imperial systems within a highland political ecology.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 5:00pm to Friday, October 7, 2016 - 1:30pm
Wednesday and Thursday at the Franke Institute; Friday, Classics 110

“Kolams: Convergence of Art & Mathematics”

“Kolams: Convergence of Art & Mathematics,” part of the Eye on India series.
Learn how to make kolams, designs created by trickling powder through the fingers, and hear a presentation by Dr. Sunita Vatuk. She will discuss the kolams of Tamil Nadu, the women who make them, and the connection between art and mathematics found in these complex designs.
All skill levels are welcome; there will be a kolam workshop for anyone who wants to learn. Experts who wish to showcase their designs are also welcome. Please contact Tanya Gill, Visual Art Director at Eye on India, for more information: or (415) 302-6281.

Saturday, October 1, 2016 - 11:00am
Field Museum of Natural History

South Asian Music Ensemble Open House

Minu Pasupathi, Director; Bertie Kibreah, Director
Join the South Asian Music Ensemble to learn and perform diverse song traditions of South Asia. The ensemble will be co-led by separate instructors for vocalists and instrumentalists, and membership is open to beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Students, faculty, staff and members of the community are welcome to join. This year's repertoire will focus on the devotional repertoire of the Indian Subcontinent, focusing on both Hindustani and Carnatic classical music, but also including vernacular song forms.

Friday, September 30, 2016 - 6:30pm
Logan Center for the Arts, 703

“Religion, the Nation, and Intellectual Inquiry in South Asia”

Speakers Ayesha Kidwai/Vasudha Narayan, for the South Asia Seminar Series.

Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster 103

Film Screening: Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om

This contemporary Bollywood classic will be introduced by Professor Rochona Majumdar of the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and the Department of Cinema and Media Studies.
Information about major and minor degree programs in South Asian studies, and about courses in South Asian languages (including Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Sanskrit,
Pali and Tibetan), will be shared by Professor Thibaut d’Hubert of the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations.
For more information, email Prof. Tyler Williams at

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 6:30am
Pick Hall, Room 016

Third Annual Vivekananda Lecture: “The Subtle Surfaces of Wickedness: From Nigamasarma to the Occupation of Palestine”

Lecture given by David Shulman.

Wickedness, perhaps a more personal quality than the abstract notion of evil, is worthy of study, especially when we move away from brute malevolence, often terrifying but boring, to more complex inner states, in which choice may or may not be accessible. This lecture will explore, first, a South Indian vision of the wicked, taken from Tenali Ramakrishna's Panduranga-mahatmyamu. On the basis of this text, it may be possible to formulate an understanding of wickedness as the integral act of whole persons, without the usual splitting of the self into dark and luminous halves or into the familiar Platonic dichotomies of body and mind. To test a different model, my experiences in the Palestinian territories, specifically the South Hebron Hills, with settlers, soldiers, judges, bureaucrats, and policemen will be examined, at least in part in a comparative light, and with frequent sidelong glances to Mahatma Gandhi and Vivekananda.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - 6:00pm
Assembly Hall, International House