South Asia Seminar Series

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

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

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

South Asia Seminar Series: “Customs, Norms, and Narratives: Exegetical Strategies for Reading the Mahāsāṅghika-lokottaravāda Bhikṣuṇī-vinaya Amy Langenberg”

Lecture given by Amy Langenberg.

How to “translate” texts across centuries is the historian’s conundrum. To what extent, for instance, can texts that mention nuns be read as evidence for a thriving ancient nuns’ community? This paper asks basic questions about exegetical strategies for reading the vinaya, a Buddhist literature vital to questions about women in early Buddhism. It proposes that we read the Mahāsāṅghika-lokottaravāda Bhikṣuṇī-vinaya and other vinaya texts in a flexible manner, using several interpretive approaches depending on the “facial expression” of the passage in question.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 19, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster 103

South Asia Seminar Series, Bryan J. Cuevas: “The Murderous Saint: Making Sense of The Life of Ra Lotsawa”

Tibet’s scandalous eleventh-century tantric master, monk, and translator of Buddhist scripture, Ra Lotsawa Dorjé Drak, is notorious for having killed through magical means more than a dozen of his rivals and others he perceived as antagonistic to his spiritual mission. How does tradition make sense of this murderous saint and why would the life of such a peculiar sort of Buddhist hero be considered worthy of celebration and memorialized in writing in an extravagant work of Tibetan namtar, an exemplary Tibetan Buddhist sacred biography? In my presentation these and other questions are on the table for discussion.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster Hall 103

South Asia Seminar Series: The Murderous Saint: Making Sense of the Life of Ra Lotsawa

Lecture by Bryan J. Cuevas

Tibet’s scandalous eleventh-century tantric master, monk, and translator of Buddhist scripture, Ra Lotsawa Dorjé Drak, is notorious for having killed through magical means more than a dozen of his rivals and others he perceived as antagonistic to his spiritual mission. How does tradition make sense of this murderous saint and why would the life of such a peculiar sort of Buddhist hero be considered worthy of celebration and memorialized in writing in an extravagant work of Tibetan namtar, an exemplary Tibetan Buddhist sacred biography? In my presentation these and other questions are on the table for discussion.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 4:30am
Foster 103

South Asia Seminar Series:

Lecture given by David M. DiValerio.

Long-term meditative retreat—for one year, three years, or ten, in a cloister or a cave, sometimes sealed—has been a defining feature of Tibet’s Buddhism for the past millennium. This presentation lays out some new ways of understanding this phenomenon, drawing on The Holy Madmen of Tibet (Oxford 2015), The Life of the Madman of Ü (2016), and on some preliminary research for a new anthropological and historical study of meditation.

Dates: 
Thursday, April 14, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster 103

South Asia Seminar: “Putting the Buddha to Work: Śākyamuni in the Service of Tibetan Monastic Identity”

Lecture given by Andrew Quintman.

This talk explores how images and texts related to Śākyamuni Buddha served as a broad organizing principal (a “Buddha program”) for Phuntsokling Monastery in western Tibet, seat of the seventeenth-century polymath Tāranātha (1575-1634). It suggests that the monastery’s central icon—a Śākyamuni statue of miraculous origin—not only acted as a locus of spiritual power. It also served Tāranātha in the promotion of his monastery, first as the literal center of the institution’s Buddha program, and second as a source of elevated prestige for Phuntsokling and its patrons during a time of political tension between the rulers of western Tibet and the ascendant Dalai Lama in Lhasa.

Dates: 
Thursday, March 31, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster Hall 103

South Asia Seminar Series: “The Medical Profession in Ancient India: Its Social, Religious, and Legal Status"

South Asia Seminar Series presentation by Patrick Olivelle, Professor Emeritus, Department of Asian Studies, University of Texas, Austin and Visiting Professor.

What was the social status of medical professionals in ancient India? Did that status differ among different socio-economic and religious groups? This seminar examines these issues based on an examination of the terminology used by ancient Indian texts for medical professionals and finds, in these terms, clues to their changing status within Indian society.

Dates: 
Thursday, November 19, 2015 - 4:30pm
Foster 103

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