The India Centre
An essential objective of The India Centre is to conduct and sponsor a variety of academic events such as conferences, workshops, symposia by bringing scholars from all over the world to engage with each other, disseminate knowledge, and connect with the larger community. The centre aims to conduct at least one event every year with national and international participants. An example of the events envisaged is provided by the conference titled “New Directions in Indic Studies: Beyond Imperialism of Categories,” which was organised jointly by the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla and the erstwhile India Studies Program, FLAME University in May 2021. This highly successful event served as the pilot for the conferences to be organized by the India Center. The details of this conference are given below. Monthly webinars are also conducted under the aegis of The India Centre and their details are shared on this page, among other places.
New Directions in Indic Studies: Beyond Imperialism of Categories
FLAME University, Pune, along with the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla, jointly hosted a two-day virtual interdisciplinary conference on ‘New Directions in Indic Studies’ on May 12 and 13, 2021. The conference was anchored by Professor Pankaj Jain, Professor and Head, Department of Humanities & Languages and Chair, The India Centre at FLAME University and Professor Makarand R. Paranjape, Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, who shared their experiences and their learnings on Indic Studies.
Multiple sessions were held on a wide range of topics, where notable speakers shared a plethora of insights, views, ideologies, methodologies, scripts, etc. dating back to the roots of the Indic civilization, foresight on the advancement in Indic studies, and so on.
Speaking about Sanskrit Buddhism, Professor Robert Thurman, Department of Religion, Columbia University said, “Karma theory as elaborated by Buddha, is to have been a kind of biological theory explaining the variety of living forms and living beings, a kind of an ancient Indian Darwin's theory, one that is for the individual, not only for the species but for the individual, their individual life and real life, life and death and rebirth.”
Professor Lavanya Vemsani, Shawnee State University spoke about how respect for water bodies, trees, and other animals is embedded in texts and lifestyles and is also represented in inscriptions, but not incorporated into history. Values that represent India must be a part of Indian history and its evolution.
While speaking about ‘Darshan’, Professor Chris Chapple, Loyola Marymount University said that to take Darshan from or with a vowed Jain monastic can be a very transfixing, transforming, and transportation experience. Professor Jeffery D Long, Elizabethtown College believes that there is something we can learn from everyone, and to simply dismiss an entire world view or a belief system is mistaken because we might be dismissing what might be valuable knowledge, this is a more non-violent approach to otherness and difference.
In another session, Professor Frederick M Smith, University of Iowa spoke about the knowledge of forests and villages in Vedic ritual and bringing together the forces of the Grama along with the forces of Aranya. The conference was very well-received and hosted notable speakers such as Professor Robert Thurman, Columbia University; Professor Deven Patel, University of Pennsylvania; Professor Frederick M. Smith, University of Iowa; Professor KTS Sarao, Delhi University; Professor Vinod Vidwans, FLAME University; Professor Bharat Gupt, IGNCA; Professor Balaganapathi Devarakonda, Delhi University; Professor Lavanya Vemsani, Shawnee State University; Professor Chris Chapple, Loyola Marymount University and Professor Jeffery D Long, Elizabethtown College.
- Prof. Sunaina Singh, Nalanda
- Prof. Vinod Vidwans, FLAME
- Prof. Bharat Gupt, Delhi
- Prof. Jeffery Long, USA
- Prof. Chris Chapple, USA
- Prof. Fred Smith, USA
- Prof. Deven Patel, USA
- Prof. Lavanya Vemsani, USA
- Prof. Bala Ganapathi, Delhi
- Prof. KTS Sarao, Delhi
- Prof. Bob Thurman, USA
- Prof. Ankur Barua, UK
- Prof. K Srinivasan, Chennai
- Prof. Adi Nataraju, Assam
- Ms. Rita Ganguly, Bengal
- Prof. Viraj Shah, FLAME
- American Institute of India Studies (AIIS), New Delhi
- Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla
- Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi
- American Academy of Indic Studies
- Loyola Marymount University, USA
- Shawnee State University, USA
- Elizabethtown College, USA
New Directions in Indic Studies: Beyond Imperialism of Categories
Sanskrit Buddhism by Prof. Robert Thurman at Indic Studies Conference Convened by Dr. Pankaj Jain
Natya Shastra: Past and Present by Prof. Bharat Gupt
New Directions in Indic Studies: Day 2 of the Proceedings
O Maharaj! Take these lemons – Jains and Jainism in the Western Indian Ocean
This talk starts from a travelogue relating the experiences of a Jain mendicant travelling around the Western Indian Ocean in 1946. As such, it provides a unique glimpse into the fast-changing world of the 1940’s, with independence movements, the formation of new nation states, and the development of Jain communities around the Western Indian Ocean. The focus, however, is on the doubts and motivations that structure the travelogue’s author’s decision to accept an invitation to visit Mombasa, an analysis of which brings forward themes of reform and counter-reform, the impact of modernity on lay-mendicant relations, and the possibility of pansectarian as well as subaltern solidarity.
The Indian epics Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata are known all over the world, especially as stories of (Vaishnava) Hindu traditions, detailing the lives of the gods Rama and Krishna. Less known is the fact that other communities also have their versions of these stories. In Jainism, episodes and characters from the Mahābhārata "the great epic of India, already figure in the Śvētāmbara Āgamas. Most notably in Jain universal history, where Krishna is the older cousin of the twenty-second Tirthankara, Lord Neminatha. In this lecture. Dr. Eva De Clercq will present an overview of this Jain Mahābhārata material from the Āgamas onwards. She will explore the different ways in which later poets in different languages and genres integrated, transformed or otherwise engaged with these themes, illustrating those with some selected excerpts.
Gender and Women's monastic authority in Hindu Society
Ready to investigate the role and impact of gendered charismatic authority on modern women’s monastic lives? Join Prof. Pankaj Jain and Dr Antoinette DeNapoli in the upcoming India Centre Webinar for an enlightening exploration of gender and women's monastic authority in Hindu society. She will delve into the role of charismatic female gurus in contemporary South Asia. Discover the powerful impact of these trailblazing leaders as they challenge patriarchal monastic culture and break barriers for women in their quest for spiritual equality.
Science in Ancient India: A Webinar by Prof. Subhash Kak
Uncovering the hidden gems of ancient Indian science never ceases to intrigue, especially the lesser-known early Indian scientific contributions, which include a comprehensive theory of mind, Pāṇini's remarkable Sanskrit grammar, Piṅgala's binary numbers, and more. But what sets apart the work of Kaṇāda? Join Professors Subhash Kak and Pankaj Jain as they take us on a fascinating journey of discovering the work of Kaṇāda, who dared to propose a system that encompasses space, time, matter, and observers - a feat no physicist has attempted to date.
Music, Power, Identity, and Technology : Indian Music Culture
At the end of WW I, a historical conjuncture incorporated technological developments, social change, political dynamics, and industrial structure into a rapidly growing global music economy. India’s position in that economy was determined by internal cultural dynamics but equally by its place within the corporate structures of British colonialism. Coincident with Indian independence, a second historical conjuncture helped to isolate the Indian music industry from the global music economy. That isolation affected Indian music culture in multiple ways throughout the 20 th Century.
Self, No Self, and Self Consciousness Some Classical Indian Views
The question of what accounts for personal identity through bodily, emotional, and mental change is one of many topics related to the positions taken on the nature of subjectivity and self-awareness in classical Indian thought. “Enlightenment” and yogic practice is another. This talk takes up Vedānta, Yogācāra Buddhism, Nyāya, Cārvāka, and other classical views, the debate between Naiyāyikas and Buddhists in particular.
Rasa in Moral Journey: Aesthetic Dimensions of Ethical Action in Gandhi
Gandhi’s thought on non-violent political action and his programs for social reconstruction have been subjects of scholarly debates, often sharp, for long. More recently, visual and literary representations of Gandhi that remind people of the meanings of an extraordinarily complex life have also received attention (Ramaswamy 2021). Little consideration, however, has been given to Gandhi’s own aesthetic sensibility informed his moral journey. The general perception of Gandhi is as a man of action with a utilitarian approach even to art and literature.
Alternative ontologies and epistemologies: Is there an Indian way of knowing and theorizing in social sciences?
In an “informal essay” (1989), poet, translator, and folklorist A. K. Ramanujam asks an intriguing question, "Is there an Indian way of thinking?” Taking inspiration from the celebrated essay, without any misconception of equivalent competence, I ask, Is there an Indian way of knowing and theorizing in social sciences? Ramanujan's answer was in the affirmative for an imagined India in the deep past but not for the post-colonial India of the present.
Gandhi and the gender of fasting: A Webinar by Prof. Vinay Lal
Can the tradition of fasting have any relation to the genders at large?
Whenever we think of the tradition of fasting, we are reminded of Mahatma Gandhi, the modern master of fasting who gained attention through his 15 odd major public fasts.
Join Prof. Vinay Lal of the UCLA in his webinar on “Gandhi and the gender of fasting”, where he discusses how Gandhi’s refusal of being bound by the general and rigid ethics, sociology, and philosophy surrounding the tradition of fasting led to radicalization and feminization of public sphere.
Postcolonialism and India: 1976 - 2020: A Webinar by Prof Harish Trivedi
The formulation and effect of Postcolonialism were widely different in different locations - in the US academy where it began, in the White Commonwealth where it was embraced, and in India where it was resisted. This webinar traces the trajectory from the pre-Postcolonial to the post-Postcolonial. It focuses in particular on four Indian/para-Indian case studies: Phanishwar Nath "Renu", who was one of the first writers to depict post-Independence disillusionment in India, V. S. Naipaul, who sought to break free of the old colonial burden, Salman Rushdie who was the poster-boy of the Postcolonial writers (as distinct from its celebrity theorists), and Taslima Nasreen, the postcolonial writer virtually brushed under the ideological carpet.
Gandhi's Sarvodaya: Modern Challenges, Sustainable Solutions by Prof. Veena Howard
This webinar analyzes various aspects of Mohandas K. Gandhi’s philosophy of Sarvodaya (upliftment of all), which he articulated through a practical program. The webinar summarizes various components of Gandhi's constructive program ensuring individual, societal, and environmental health founded on moral principles.
Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation by Dr. Neha Sahgal
This webinar explores the role of religion in Indian public life. The study is part of a significant effort by Pew Research Center to understand religious change and its impact on societies worldwide. It examines religious identity, beliefs, and practices; views on Indian national identity; caste; experiences with discrimination; religious conversion; and the connection between economic development and religious observance.
Indian Music Theory through the Ages by Prof. Srinivas Reddy
This presentation takes a broad look at various historical moments that have been pivotal in the evolution of Hindustani and Carnatic musical practice evolution. The webinar explores the musical theory and holds Indian philosophies informing the musical approaches of sonic vibration, mathematical precision, aesthetic pleasure, and ultimate salvation.
Bollywood: Kal, Aaj aur Kal by Prof. Philip Lutgendorf
The Indian commercial film industry—known worldwide by the misleading but now unavoidable label “Bollywood”—is famously the world’s most significant output. This talk identifies and explores key elements of this style within a chronological history framework and features short clips from crucial films of different eras.
Rethinking Hindu Concepts by Prof. Arvind Sharma
From one point of view, the history of Hinduism is a history of the periodic realignments of its conceptual universe, consisting of such key categories as Karma, Dharma, Veda, Yoga, and soon. This talk focuses on the shifts in understanding of such vital categories suggested by modern developments.
Bhagavad Gita: Philosophy, Structure, and Meaning by Prof. Ithamar Theodor
The Bhagavad Gita is a unique literary creation but deciphering its meaning and philosophy is not straightforward. This careful study of the Bhagavad Gita approaches the ancient text with a modern mind and offers a unifying structure of universal relevance.
Quantum Physics and Indic Vision by Prof. Varadaraja V. Raman
Quantum Mechanics is a twentieth-century culmination of three centuries of modern (Galilean-Newtonian) science. Therefore, one may wonder how to talk about Quantum Mechanics and any traditional religious perspective. This lecture explores some of these fascinating findings.
Ayurveda and Modern Science by Prof. Bhaswati Bhattacharya
This lecture demonstrates that Ayurveda is a direct and modern expression of that wisdom that connects the wise observer to the edges of the Self, from the earth and water, to fire, to our food and our health, and to our mind's ability to navigate.