Lectures and Conferences
2016: 7 June
Talk "Mapping Sacred Spaces. Spatial Texts, Religious Cartography and Pilgrimage Practice in Banaras (India)"
- by Apl. Prof. Dr. Jörg Gengnagel
- 12 a.m., Hörsaal G202, Haus G Malteserestraße 74-100, 12249 Berlin.
- Banaras – also known as Kāśī („City of Light“) or by its official name Varanasi – forms a fascinating confluence of textual and spatial practices. It is one of the most well-known North-Indian pilgrimage sites (tīrtha) and a centre of brahmanic learning as well as royal patronage. This has led not only to the famous built river front along the Ganges but also to a rich production of spatial texts as well as visual representations of urban space and its complex waterscape in the form of pilgrimage maps. In this talk I will discuss the relation of textual, spatial and cartographic representations of space by presenting examples of painted and printed maps of the 18th and 19th century.
2016: 7 April
Talk "The King, the Court, and the City: On a Controversy about the Construction of a New Gate in Jaipur" (Annual Conference of the British Association of South Asian Studies)
- byApl. Prof. Dr. Jörg Gengnagel
- 9 a.m., Gaskoin Room, Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge.
- Panel: Writing Transnational Histories of South Asian Monarchies: Between Regional Dynamism and Global Entanglement, c. 1850-1950
- Man Singh II, the Maharaja of Jaipur, and his court decided in 1933 to
move outside the walled city
of Jaipur to the new Rambagh Palace situated in the South of the town.
The building was lavishly
refurbished by the Maharaja’s favorite interior designer Charles Hammond
of London at the cost of
4 million rupees and thus provided for a modern, up-to-date style of
living compared to the old
residence in the City Palace, built in the first half of the 18th century.
However, there was one major disadvantage brought about by the new
location of the Rambagh
palace outside the walled city: the Maharaja and his company could not
enter into the walled city in a
form suitable for ceremonial movements in space. This led to an unusual
request by Maharaja Man
Singh II: a new gate should be added to the city wall. This would allow
for the construction of a new
road granting a direct connection between the old and the new residence
and thus an appropriate
ceremonial entry by the King and this company. But the representatives
of the religious specialists
met at their assembly hall called Mauj Mandir (Dharm Sabh) and stated
in a document
undersigned by six members that they thought it not proper to construct
a new gate in the south of
In this conflict during the first half of the 20th century the spatial
setting of the ruling dynasty’s
residence Jaipur provides the stage for representatives of mainly two
status groups: the nobility of
the local dynasty of the Kachvahas and the court administration with
their ruler Maharaja Man
Singh II and the religious elite and their representatives. In this
paper I would like to contextualize
the interaction of these two groups within cultural and social changes
that led to a whole series of
additions and re-structuring of space from the 18th to the present day.
Power and ruler ship was
negotiated in space; Gods, Goddesses, kings and priests have been and
are highly mobile. One of
the tasks of the actors was to connect old and new places, old and new
practices and thereby grant
continuity in rapidly changing social, political and cultural settings.
2016: 27 Januar
Talk "Jnanavapi in Transition: Spatial Aspects and Ethnographic Perspectives from Research around a Sacred Well in Banaras"
- by Dr. Vera Lazzaretti, Milan University
- 4 p.m., R. 317, SAI
- This presentation explores multiple aspects and possible future directions of my research about past and present transitions at the Jnanavapi in Banaras. This sacred water place lies at the centre of the city’s religious life, next to the famous temple of Kashi Vishavanth, the Gyan Vapi mosque and other minor shrines.
My research seeks to document ways in which religious heritage has been produced and negotiated in space by diverse actors in the past, and how it is now being reshaped by urban secular authorities and institutions.
I will first examine the fragmented history of the well, its uses and roles, and highlight crucial phases of its spatial evolution. Drawing on ethnographic material, I will then focus on the multiple questions emerging during repeated dialogues with Kedarnath Vyas, who occupies a crucial role in the area as pilgrimage specialist and head of the family in charge of the Jnanavapi. Our encounters serve to illuminate changes in the management of sacred space, reflect on the consequent repositioning and decline of past religious authorities and spatial practices, such as pilgrimage, as well as imagining possible new visions of religious heritage and its space.
The presentation will also reflect on the methodology adopted and question the role and position of the researcher, as well as considering future research pathways.
2016: 12 January
- by Sudip Pokharel
- 2 p.m., R. 316, SAI
A devastating earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April 2015, killing thousands, injuring tens of thousands more, and damaging and destroying hundreds of thousands of houses, as well as public infrastructure. Less than three weeks later, on 12 May 2015, another major quake hit, bringing further destruction and misery. Recovery and reconstruction plans have since been implemented slowly leaving many without the aid they urgently need to survive the winter and to rebuild. Factors preventing a faster response during the second half of 2015 were political agreements to fast-track Nepal’s new constitution, the formation of a new government, subsequent political protests, as well as a blockade on Nepal’s border with India, among others. This presentation will discuss the immediate disaster response, how effective the aid response has been up to now, and how political turmoil has affected recovery and reconstruction after the earthquakes. The discussion is based on qualitative field research conducted by Democracy Resource Center Nepal in eighteen Village Development Committees (VDCs) across six earthquake-affected districts. This is a part of a broader research project produced by The Asia Foundation and supported by UK Aid and the Swiss Development Cooperation. The project focuses on how the earthquakes and the disaster response shape economic recovery, social relations, leadership, and politics in Nepal.
Sudip Pokharel is the Director of Democracy Resource Center Nepal, a socio-political research organization based in Kathmandu.
2015: 4 November
- by Dr. Astrid Zotter
- 10:30, Musée du Quai Branly, Paris
In Nepal, as probably elsewhere in South Asia, many rituals performed in public or private space are marked by sound and music. The rich repertoire of musical traditions, which has attracted the attention of anthropologists and musicologists, provides rituals of different ethnic and social groups with distinguished sonic characters. Priestly recitations, ritual songs etc. further enrich and diversify the acoustic dimension. This paper will deal with Hindu life-cycle rituals of Nepalese speaking high-caste families in urban Kathmandu. Based on field work and textual studies, the diverse sounds occurring during marriages and initiations, will be looked at more closely. It will be argued that the different types of sound produced by different agents (priests, women, musicians), on the one hand, contribute to the creation and structuring of ritual time and space, while on the other, they transcend and radiate the same.
2015: 10 November
- by Prof. Axel Michaels
- 6:15 pm, lecture hall of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
2015: 20-22 October
Conference of the Zellwerk project "Gemstones in the first Millennium AD." with talks by Prof. Jörg Gengnagel, Kerstin Sobkowiak und Borayin Larios
- Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (RGZM), Mainz
Die Tagung »Gemstones in the first Millenium AD« findet im Rahmen des Projektes »Weltweites Zellwerk – Umbrüche in der kulturellen Bedeutung frühmittelalterlichen Edelsteinschmucks vor dem Hintergrund von Wirtschaftsgeschichte sowie Ideen- und Technologietransfer« statt.
2015: 25 August
- by Christof Zotter
In India, the notion of the “fake” ascetic is probably as old as the idea of asceticism as a legitimate way to salvation. In order to indicate the range of arguments that can support such an accusation and imply different understandings of what a “real” ascetic is or should be the paper will concentrate on the example of the “Aghorī ascetics”. While in the colonial accounts these cremation ground dwellers are customarily accused of being imitators lacking any theological background or mere imposters who took the robe of an ascetic to extract money from the timid folk, modern scholars have explained the Aghorīs’ extreme practices as coherently fitting the logic of yogic asceticism. Furthermore, it will be shown that followers of the tradition have yet other ways to define who is a “true” Aghorī and who is a “fake” one.
2015: 20 August
Talk "Ritual Prescriptions and Spatial Practices. Aspects of Navarātri as a Court Ritual in Jaipur (Rajasthan)
- by Apl. Prof Jörg Gengnagel
2015: 20 August
- by Dr. Astrid Zotter
Astrid Zotter’s project concentrates on the royal Nepalese Durgāpūjā rituals, and specifically focuses on those elements and related narratives that focus on the sword, a highly charged ritual implement - representing the king and at the same time embodying the Goddess. By doing so, one focus will be to sketch how in Navarātra rituals the relationship of the king and his śakti was conceived, reshaped, and celebrated, especially at times of political change.
2015: 05 - 25 August
- organised by Anand Mishra and Naphtali Meshel
- Princeton & Varanasi
2015: 11. July
- organised by Anand Mishra
- 14:00 - 18:30 in Room Z. 10, SAI.
2015: 7. - 8. May
- by Anand Mishra
- at the conference "Expressing the Ineffable in South Asian Literary Traditions", Freie Universität Berlin, Room L116, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin, 7. – 8.05.2015
2015: 3rd February - Department colloquium
- by Frances Niebuhr
- SAI, R. Z10 at 6pm s.t.
2015: 27th January - Department colloquium
Talk "The Semiotic and Material Dimension of Transculturality. Historicizing the Kundalini-Phenomenon as a Key Term in Psychosomatic Self-Conceptions from the 19th to the 21st Centuries"
- by Dimitry Okropiridze
- SAI, R. Z10 at 6pm s.t.
2015: 20th January - Department colloquium
- by Simon Cubelic
- SAI, R. Z10 at 6pm s.t.
2014: 22th November
Talk “Manuscripts and Documents at the Court in Jaipur (Rajasthan) between the Archives and the Museum”
- by Apl. Prof. Dr. Jörg Gengnagel
- on the conference "Manuscripts and Archives", Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures (CSMC), 19. – 22.11.2014
The study of the court ritual in Jaipur has to deal with a variety of documents preserved both at state archives, libraries and archives of the royal family and private collections. In this presentation I will mainly focus on the court protocol that has been transferred from Jaipur to the Rajasthan State Archives in Bikaner and documents that still form part of the collections of the royal family of Jaipur and are now administered by the Trust of the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum at the City Palace of Jaipur.
2014: 14th November
- by Christof Zotter
- during the workshop "Scholasticisms’ practice, and practices’ scholasticism", Centre d'Études - Inde Asie du Sud (CEIAS), Paris 14.11.2014
2014: 15th October
- by Anand Mishra
- during the Workshop "Pāṇini and the Pāṇinīyas of the 16th - 17th century C.E.", French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP), 14. – 16.10.2014
The presentation of the grammatical system in terms of the sūtras of Aṣṭādhyāyī follows the same basic principle on which the system of grammar is based, namely – analysis of a given whole into constituent components and then rule based synthesis of the whole out of the analyzed parts. Like a Sanskrit sentence is synthesized using the appropriate components and following the rules of grammar, similarly an operational statement of grammar needs to be synthesized using appropriate (parts of) sūtras and following the rules of presentation. This way of comprehending a whole in terms of combination of parts leads to brevity (lāghava). However, as the example of Siddhānta-kaumudī of Bhaṭṭoji Dīkṣita shows, the task of integrating the grammatical system (siddhānta) and the derivational process (prakriyā) is not trivial. Re-organizing the sūtras – as in Siddhānta-kaumudī – is problematic because of the relevance of the sequential position of the sūtras (adhikāra) and also because a sūtra is not always the smallest unit. In my talk, I will put forward a new manner to represent the grammatical system which facilitates the integration of the derivational process as well. Unlike the Pāṇinian framework, which is meant for oral formulation and application by using human memory, my framework is designed from a different perspective, namely to furnish the basis for a computer implementation of the grammar. It attempts to weigh the Aṣṭādhyāyī from a formal point of view and explores the possibilities of representing it in a logical, explicit and consistent manner. Further, such a representation aims to provide an adequate tool for postulating and/or evaluating hypotheses on the grammatical system.
2014: 24th July
Talk “'Dattātreya's dwelling place': socio-religious dynamics at a contemporary urban temple under a holy tree”
- by Borayin Larios
- on the "23rd European Conference on South Asian Studies",
Zurich University, 23. - 26.7.2014
In this paper, I propose to investigate the relationship of nature and sacred place-making with the example of a contemporary Hindu temple in India. The 'Śrī Gurudev Datta Mandir' was established in a public park in the residential area of urban Pune, Maharashtra in the mid-1970s. The temple was built in honor of a devotee's vision of Lord Dattātreya: according to the oral tradition, in the year 1968, the park's gardener found a pair of brass sandals (pādukās) under an Audumbar tree (ficus racemosa), while watering the park's garden. He identified these sandals as Datta's holy footwear. Since then, daily worship has taken place there and after just a few years a sizable temple-complex has been erected with the sanctum sanctorum around the tree, which nowadays has a large number of daily visitors.
The Audumbar tree is considered to be the 'dwelling place of Lord Dattātreya', and wherever such a tree is found the place is considered to be a potential sacred site. The dynamics of the interaction between space, nature/materiality and human practice are crucial to define one's identity. It is at places such as the 'Śrī Gurudev Datta Mandir' that one can study the multidimensional, transforming and transformative discourses that are being articulated and negotiated there, and which produce and contest ideas about locality, nature and religious experience.
- Website of the panels Religion and environment in regional cultures
2014: 22. Juli
- by Anand Mishra pon the workshop "Paper & Pixel: International Summerschool on Digital Humanities in Indology", 22. - 27.7.14
- Universität Tübingen, 22.7., 1 pm, Schulungsraum, Wilhelmstr. 32 (University Library)
The core of the Summer school is to develop and deepen the knowledge of young scholars and researchers working on textual material by using methods of the digital humanities. Especially with regard to manuscripts and rare books, this workshop deals with the process of digitizing, text structuring and encoding and its benefits for research. By using means of the digital humanities textual sources can be analysed in multiple ways and there are chances for new interdisciplinary approaches.
2014: 10th July
Talk “What does it mean to be a tāntrika pujārī? On the diverging opinions regarding the three levels of initiation at the Kāmākhyā temple complex (Assam).”
- von Irene Majo Garigliano:
- ISO- Italian Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Rome “Sapienza”
LESC- Laboratory of Ethnology and Comparative Sociology, Paris X-CNRS
CEH- Centre for Himalayan Studies, CNRS
CEIAS- Centre for Studies of India and South Asia, EHESS-CNRS
DAAD fellow- Department of Anthropology, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University.
- Südasien-Institut, Raum 323, 16 Uhr c.t.
In order to perform the daily pūjā for the Goddess Kāmākhyā, a Kamakhyan Brahman needs to be initiated and instructed by his seniors. At the end of the training period, he will be recognized as a pujārī. Three stages of dīkṣā can be acquired in the temple complex: those who restrain themselves to the first stage of initiation (the so called vaidika dīkṣā, or abhiṣeka) understand themselves to be vaidika, because the use of the pañcamakāras is only mandatory in the second stage (the satyābhiṣeka) and in the third one (the pūrṇābhiṣeka). Instead the pujārīs who take at least the satyābhiṣeka affirm that everyone who takes dīkṣā in the temple complex cannot but be a tāntrika. According to them, certain ritual operations preliminary to the pūjā aim at imposing divine energies on the pujārī’s body; this very fact and the resulting semi-divine status acquired by the pujārī makes the latter a tāntrika.
Based on ethnographic data, this presentation aims at comparing the emic point of view on the three dīkṣās (the priests’ diverging opinions) with the etic one (the anthropologist’s perspective): the very sequence of initiations suggests that in the Kāmākhyā temple complex the second and third stages occupy the higher rank, whereas the first one (the so called vaidika initiation) represents a sort of preliminary to them.
2014: 1st July
- by Dr. Anagha Joshi (Centre of Advanced Study in Sanskrit, University of Pune).
- South Asia Institute, room 323, 4 pm c.t.
Dharmaśāstra literature forms an important part of Sanskrit Literature. It pervades various aspects of Indian social and cultural life. Hindu Law is largely based on Dharmaśāstra literature. The Smṛtis are the primary sources of Hindu law. Judicial systems of ancient India are discussed in the Smṛti literature. The Smṛtis arrange their contents and treat the subjects under three principle heads, i.e. ācāra (code of conduct), vyavahāra (law) and prāyaścitta (expiations). The term vyavahāra is used in several senses such as transaction, dispute or law-suit, legal procedure or judicial proceedings. According to Smṛtikāras there are eighteen titles of law, i.e. vyavahārapadas. In this lecture, an attempt is made to explain the concept of vyavahāra and to look into some of the vyavahārapadas.
2014: 14th May
Talk "'Restoring Dharma' in Contemporary India. The Performance of the Rājasūya Ritual in Barshi, Maharashtra"
- by Borayin Larios on the conference "In the Name of the Veda. Contemporary Uses of Vedic Text in India and Abroad."
- EHESS - Salles 638-640, 190-198, avenue de France, 75013 Paris, 4 pm
In this paper, I present some of the results of my doctoral study of the traditional education and training of Brahmins as observed in 25 contemporary Vedic schools in Maharashtra, India. These schools called vedapāṭhaśālās (or gurukulas) are the hub in which the Vedic knowledge and authority is passed from one generation to the other. Vedic schools with their gurukula model of education are, thus, a very tangible place to observe how the Veda is passed on to the next generations and the way the Vedic tradition is preserved and reconstructed by orthodox Brahmins today. In this paper, I investigate how ideal conceptions around Brahmanhood are transmitted and ritually performed in contemporary India. I discuss how discourses around what it means to be a Brahmin are constantly being renegotiated anew. Drawn from my fieldwork, I will present an account of a rare Vedic coronation ritual called rājasūya performed in a traditional Vedic school of Maharashtra in 2011-2012. With this example, I will present ways in which the Vedic tradition is being articulated today and how apparent contradictions are being resolved. How is a coronation ritual in democratic India justified? What are the socio-political and religious implications involved in the costly performance of such a ritual? What does this event tell us about the role of the Vedic tradition in contemporary Hinduism? I this paper, I hope to provide answers to these questions and provide with a vivid example of how the Vedic tradition reinvents itself in contemporary India..
2014: 5./6. May
- by Patrick Olivelle
- Voßstraße 2, Building 4400, Heidelberg
5.5. 6 pm, R 212, 6.5. 10 am, R 212a
organized by Simon Cubelic
The system built around the concept of dharma, the Patrick Olivelle argues, is undoubtedly a legal system. Prof. Olivelle’s starting point is H.L.A. Hart's (2012) The Concept of Law, perhaps the most influential work on the philosophy of law. Central to Hart’s philosophy is what he calls "the rule of recognition". The rule of recognition, simply put, provides both ordinary citizens and state officials, especially judges, the criteria for identifying what is a valid law and what is not. In other words, it deals with the epistemology or, in the case of Indian jurists, pramāṇa, of law: where do we find law, or in the present case, dharma? Prof. Olivelle’s paper addresses the development of a Brahmanical jurisprudence of dharma and its epistemology centered on the theory that dharma is found in and founded on the Veda. Between 500 and 1000 CE, we see scholars discussing the serious problems that flow from this basic principle. Given that most of what passes for dharma within Brahmanism is not found in the extant Vedic texts but in later texts known as smṛti, how can this principle be sustained? The most realistic answers to these problems come from scholars within the Indian legal tradition called Dharmaśāstra. Medhātithi, perhaps the greatest Indian jurist, frankly acknowledges that not all dharma is based on the Veda. The multiplicity of dharma, divided according the time, place, and community, is central to the Brahmanical understanding of dharma, in spite of theological veneer of its Vedic basis.
2014: 21. März
- by Dr. Astrid Zotter on the conference "Food and Ritual: Ancient Practices and Modern Perspectives"
- Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 19. - 21.3.2014
On food and ritual throughout history. Includes papers on food and religious behaviour, identity and emotion in religious texts from Ancient Greece and Rome, Mesopotamia, South and South-east Asia and the Hebrew Bible.
Jan Bremmer (Groningen)
Laura Feldt (Denmark)
Patricia Ladwig (Max-Planck Insitute Halle)
Fred Naiden (UNC/Chapel Hill)
Nicholas Purcell (Oxford)
Frances Reynolds (Oxford)
Walther Sallaberger (Munich)
Barbara Schuler (Hamburg)
Francesca Stavrakopoulou (Exeter)
Astrid Zotter (Heidelberg)
2014: 13th - 15th February
International field workshop "Indian Waterscapes - Engineering Knowledge and Local Knowledge Systems"
- organised by Prof. Dr. Monika Boehm-Tettelbach, apl. Prof. Dr. Jörg Gengnagel und Rajendra Singh Khangarot
- Agrawal P.G. College, Jaipur
Water in Asia is subject to a great variety of knowledge systems and practices. Some of these appear to be linked to particular spaces – when associated with specific local cultures or religions – while others are structured by functional and symbolic differentiations, like expert knowledge, political knowledge and sacred knowledge. The newly formed inter-disciplinary research group “Waterscapes in Transcultural Perspectives” at the Cluster “Asia and Europe” at Heidelberg University attempts to trace the circulation and transformation of environmental knowledge fragments and practices across the boundaries of diverse knowledge systems.
The recognition of the global inter-connectedness of environmental phenomena has increasingly led to cooperation across national, social and political boundaries. However, academic collaboration is still constrained by disciplinary boundaries, and even more importantly by the hierarchical boundaries of different knowledge systems. With this field workshop in Jaipur the research group is starting a series of workshops that should enhance transdisciplinary cooperation without sacrificing the strength of disciplinary methodology and competencies, which has lately become a state-of-the-art practice in the agendas of leading global environmental research.
Step-wells and tanks in the city of Jaipur had from the early 18th century been built by Indian engineers with special expertise in water supply systems for arid zones. Modern public supply systems also had to cope with concepts of health and social function surrounding water and co-existed with traditional systems. The presented case studies of Jaipur and Amber will examine the systems of knowledge as applied to management of water and the shift in the function of water architecture down into the present.
- Workshop Flyer / Program
- Interdisciplinary Research Group “Waterscapes in Transcultural Perspective“
- Sub-project Changing Sacred Waterscapes: Religious and Scientific Knowledge Systems in Varanasi
2014: 28th January
- by Dr. Nina Mirnig, IIAS, Leiden University/Netherlands
- SAI, room 316, 28.1.14, 4 pm c.t.
It is well attested that Śaivism has held a prominent position in the religious landscape of the Kathmandu Valley from the so-called Licchavi period onwards (ca. fourth until the eight century CE), the time of the earliest written local records. Based on this epigraphical evidence, the popularity of Śiva Paśupati during Aṃśuvarman's reign (ca. 605-621 CE) and the presence of Pāśupata Śaivas thereafter are often noted. Beyond these facts, it has been challenging to draw a more comprehensive picture of the development of Śaivism during the early medieval period based on the available sources. In this presentation I will revisit some of the early Śaiva inscriptions and recover facets of Śaiva practices and their socio-religious context, which I hope will contribute to a more differentiated picture of Śaiva history during the Licchavi period. In particular, I will focus on a set of Śivaliṅga Pedestal inscriptions issued between 466 and 545 CE, thus pre-dating the Pāśupata records by over a century. Recording the setting up of Śivaliṅgas, these inscriptions attest to the religious activities of lay Śaivas, in particular of merchants and women of high rank, following common patterns of Indic donative practices. Even though Pāśupatas are not mentioned explicitly, two of these inscriptions reveal influence of both, some Śaiva sectarian ideology as well as the donative practices of their Buddhist competitors.
2013: 17./18. October
- by Anand Mishra on the "5th International Indology Graduate Research Symposium Bochum"
- Ruhr University Bochum, Universitaetsstrasse 150, Conference Room FNO 02/46, 44780 Bochum
- 17.10.2013, 2 - 2.30 pm
Bhakti is serving God out of pure emotions of love. It does not require any logical apparatus for its foundation or exercise. At the same time, the philosophers of bhakti tradition employ a well developed argumentational structure, based primarily on the Mīmāṃsā and Nyāya schools, to establish their theses.
In my presentation, I intend to outline the methods of reasoning followed by Viṭṭhalanātha (1516-1588 CE) of Puṣṭi-mārga in his work Bhaktihaṃsa. Building up on arguments similar to the Mīmāṃsā school, Viṭṭhalanātha attempts to establish that bhakti is different from the path of rituals (karma), knowledge (jñāna) and worship (upāsanā).
2013: 1st to 2nd October 2013
- Translating the Bhāgavata Purāṇa
- in Room Z 10, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg
- Organizers: Monika Boehm-Tettelbach, Neeraja Poddar, Anand Mishra
2013: 23th September
Made in Nepal (32. German Orientalistentag, Münster)
- (32. German Orientalistentag, Münster)
- The panel will take place on Monday, 23. September. 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m..
- Panel leaders are Gudrun Bühnemann and Astrid Zotter.
Bajracharya / Michaels
Further details are available here.
2013: 12th July
- by Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels
- at SAI at conference "Philosophy and Science - Indo-German Dialogues and Dimensions"
- 12.7.2013, 4 - 5.30 pm, Heinrich-Zimmer-Saal at SAI-Bibliothek
The International Conference entitled "Philosophy and Science - Indo-German Dialogues and Dimensions" takes place from 11. - 13. July. The opening of the conference is initiated on Thursday, 11th July, 2013 at 6 p. m. in Senatssaal, Alte Universität Heidelberg. On 12th and 13th July the conference takes place in the Heinrich-Zimmer-Saal, SAI-Library.
2013: 5th June
Talk "Changing Sacred Waterscapes: The north-Indian Pilgrimage Center Varanasi between Purity and Pollution."
- by apl. Prof. Dr. Jörg Gengnagel at Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages
- at University of Olso, Faculty of Humanities, P. A. Munchs hus, Niels Henrik Abels vei 36, 0371 OSLO, Norway
- 5.6.2013, 4.15 to 6.00 pm
Water and the waterscape are central to the perception of the north-Indian city Varanasi (Benares, Banaras, Kāśī) as one of the most important Indian pilgrimage centers. Various types of water places form an integral part of the topography of Varanasi. The river Gaṅgā and the tributaries Asi and Varuṇā demarcate the sacred “field” of the city (kāśīkṣetra). The cityspace itself is dotted with numerous ponds, tanks (kuṇḍa, tālāb) and wells (vāpī, kūpa). Water forms an integral part of this territory that is praised in the eulogical Sanskrit literature on Varanasi as an ideal land- and waterscape, literally called the Ānandavana, i.e. “Forest of Bliss”. The whole territory is therefore perceived as one of the most prominent ford or crossing (tīrtha) promising liberation to the pilgrims.
In this lecture I will show that this waterscape has its environmental history where technological, scientific and religious knowledge systems interact. The semantic domains of purity (pavitratā, śuddhatā) and pollution (gandagī) interact in the presented case studies of the 19th and 21st century and have led to significant changes in the seemingly unchanging sacred waterscape of Varanasi.
2013: 25 February
- by Christof Zotter at Colloquium on Indian Religions
- at Groningen University, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Oude Boteringestraat 38, Raum 253, 9700 AB Groningen, Holland
- 25th February 2013, 4 pm to 4.45 pm
For the Brahmanical tradition the cremation ground is a place of impurity and danger. Elaborate rituals and sets of rules and regulations have been developed to ensure that the pollution caused by death does not enter the ordered world of normal life. But since ancient times this spot at the periphery of the settlement is the place for other ritual activities, too. Associated with ambivalent deities such as Bhairava and his female consorts, these are often transgressive in character and are usually performed in secrecy.
One of the groups whose practice is related to the cremation ground are the Aghorīs, skull bearing ascetics that are normally seen as the successors of older Śaivite groups, such as the Kāpālikas. The lecture will take Bābā Kīnārām (17th/18th cent.), the most famous Aghorī of North India, and his tradition as an example to demonstrate the complexity of this heterodox movement.
2013: 18 - 23 February
Conference "Water and Sacred Spaces: A Case-Study of the Ellora-Khuldabad-Daulatabad Historic Region"
- International Workshop at Ellora, Maharashtra, India
- Chair of the closing session: apl. Prof. Dr. Jörg Gengnagel
The region of Ellora is of great historical significance in the Indian sub-continent, as it was a zone of convergence of four major religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam; it lay on major trade and pilgrimage routes and was a political centre of medieval and early modern India in the Mughal Empire. The water conservation techniques are based on an understanding of the rock type (Deccan Basalt) out of which the reservoirs, tanks, cisterns and step-wells were excavated.
The Workshop, to be held on site in Ellora, is a joint collaboration between the Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR), the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg. It will involve the participation of scholars and specialists in the fields of history, indology, archaeology, anthropology, architecture, hydrology and geography from India and Germany.
Apl. Prof. Dr. Jörg Gengnagel is chair of the closing session.
2013: 31 Januar
- by Borayin Larios at National University of Singapore
In this presentation Borayin Larios will address the title of vedamūrti (embodiment of the Veda) commonly used among Brahmin reciters in Maharashtra to analyze the relationship between text and performance / embodiment in contemporary India. Here he would discuss how, traditionally, in order to become a vedamūrtia complete socialization in the gurukula system of knowledge transmission is required. This presentation would address the topic of the Workshop and try to elucidate, with this particular example, how the dichotomy of ‘text’ and ‘practice’ is an unnecessary oxymoron.
Borayin Larios will as well introduce a short film.
2012: 17 Dezember
- organised by Dr. Christof Zotter, SAI, Raum Z 10
Guest: JishnuShankar (University ofTexas atAustin, USA)
Wohl kaum eine der zum Hinduismus gezählten religiösen Gruppierungen ist so berüchtigt wie die bevorzugt auf Verbrennungsplätzen lebenden Aghoris. Die ihnen zugeschriebenen transgressiven rituellen Praktiken und ihr Anstoß erregendes Auftreten haben im engeren und weiteren Umfeld, aber auch innerhalb der Aghora-Tradition selbst stark polarisierte Positionen provoziert. Mit radikalen Mitteln setzen sich die auch als Sarbhanga oder Aughar bekannten Religiosen über brahmanische Orthodoxie und bestehende Machtverhältnisse hinweg. Eben diese Mittel sicherten ihnen oft aber auch eine gesellschaftliche Position als Wunder und Heilung wirkende Heilige. Besonders deutlich wird dies am Beispiel des Baba Kinaram (17 Jh.). Der wohl bekannteste Aghori Nordindiens wird heute nicht nur in Benares als Vaishnava, Shaiva, Shakta, Sadhak, Sant und Dichter verehrt, sondern er ist auch der Gründer einer Tradition, die aufgrund des Wirkens von Aghoreshwar Baba Bhagwan Ram (1937-1992) mittlerweile mit zahlreichen spirituellen und sozialen Institutionen in Indien, Europa und den USA agiert und floriert.
Organisiert im Rahmen des Projektes Denial of Ritual des SFB 619 Ritualdynamik wird im Workshop der Frage nachzugehen sein, wie im Falle der Aghori das Konzept Denial of ritual als Argument in inner- und interkulturellen Diskursen fassbar ist. Die Veranstaltung soll aber auch Gelegenheit bieten, andere Bereiche dieses facettenreichen Themas mit Dr. Jishnu Shankar, einem erfahrenen Kenner der Tradition des Baba Kinaram zu diskutieren.
2012: 11 Dezember
- with apl. Prof. Dr. Jörg Gengnagel at Wuerzburg University, Philosophiegebaeude, Am Hubland, Raum 8/E/1
Talk within the sixth Wuerzburg colloquium: "Wege zum Heil(igen)? 'Sakralität' und 'Sakralisierung' in hinduistischen religiösen Traditionen"
2012: 30 November
- by Anand Mishra M. A. at "Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales", Paris
O Svāmī Bhagavadācārya (1879 ? -1976 ? CE) belonged to Rāmānanda Sampradāya and played a central role in a conflict which arose among Rāmānandis at the beginning of last century, between those who accepted the Ramānuja lineage of Rāmānanda and those who rejected it. Apart from organizing and spearheading sectarian campaigns culminating in a split between Rāmānandis and Rāmānujis (Kumbh Mela, Ujjain 1921), he composed a number of commentaries and poetical works in Sanskrit, chief among them are his commentaries on Śukla-Yajurveda, Sāmaveda, Upanishads, Vyāsa-Sūtra, Bhagavadgītā and a mahākāvya on the life of Mahatma Gandhi.
His interpretations are marked with exceptional objectivity and rationality and at the same time, his criticism of the established beliefs in Vedānta tradition is merciless and courageous. He is perhaps the only example of a Vedānta-ācārya, who neither accepts Vedas as apauruṣeya nor a creation of God nor revealed scriptures, but a miscellaneous collection of human thoughts.
The forcefulness of his writings comes from a unique blend of modern approach towards a text and at the same time use of traditional apparatus in understanding it. I intend to provide an overview of the context, content and nature of his exegetical works.
- Website for the talk including teaching material
Talk "Battles of Material and the Gift of a Virgin – Aspects of Materiality in Nepalese Marriage Rituals"
- with Astrid Zotter on the Annual Conference of the cluster "Asia & Europe"
- 11 October 2012
Over the last few decades, at least in the metropolitan context of Kathmandu, profound chan-ge has affected the material setting and layout of Nepalese Hindu marriage rituals. Marriage is nowadays organized as a series of semi-public events that require large sums of money to be spent. It is common to hire professional event management. The increase in finance expenditure goes along with a decrease of time and labour invested. This modern trend, as other developments in the material layout of the ritual too, seems to echo notions of western consumer culture and privatization without, however, abandoning the traditional patterns of hospitality and gift-giving. One of the central rites of the Hindu marriage ritual is the kanyādāna in which the father of the bride hands his daughter over to the groom. As on other occasions land, gold or cattle, the girl (kanyā) is transferred within the ritual model of gift-giving (dāna). By this act a continuous stream of gifts is initiated that follows the bride and forms an important channel through which material goods move within society.
- Website of the Panel A (Session II) of the conference
- by apl. Prof. Dr. Jörg Gengnagel at Agrawal P.G. College, Jaipur
- 3rd October 2012
Apl. Prof. Dr. Jörg held a talk on 3rd October 2012 in Jaipur at Agrawal P.G. College, Jaipur, invited by Prof. R. S. Khangarot, addressed to the teachers of the college. The title was "Shastrapuja during the Dashahara Festival in Jaipur". Topic was one of the most important public royal rituals. The adoration of the royal insignia (śastrapūjā) takes place on the 10th day as closing ceremony of the nine day long festivity cycle Navarātri. The talk analysed the movements within the room during the 10th day, the socio-religious dimension of this complex ritual and the connection to the epos Mahābhārata. This year Navarātri and Daśaharā is celebrated vom 16th to 23th October 2012.
2012: 10 - 14 September
- with Anand Mishra M. A. at Institute for Language and Information, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf
- 10 -14 Sept. 2012, 09:30 am - 16:30 pm
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Universitätsstr. 1, Building 23.21, Room 02.52
This intensive course will focus on the grammatical processes, meta-linguistic conventions and well developed techniques of representation of linguistic information in Aṣṭādhyāyī. It aims to introduce this grammar to students and scholars of linguistics and informatics and no prior knowledge of Sanskrit is required.
Read more ...
Local organizer: Wiebke Petersen, Institute for Language and Information, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf
2012: 24 July
- von R. Sriram im Rahmen des Seminars "Yoga im Osten, Yoga im Westen"
- 24. Juli 2012, SAI, Raum 316, 16 Uhr c.t.
R. Sriram aus Chennai ist langjähriger Schüler von Sri T. K. V. Desikachar und bekannter Vertreter dieser Yoga-Tradition. Er unterrichtete mehrere Jahre an Desikachars Yogazentrum, dem Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in Chennai. R. Sriram lebt seit 1987 mit seiner Familie in Deutschland und hat neben seiner Unterrichtstätigkeit mehrere Bücher verfasst, unter anderem eine deutsche Übersetzung von Patañjalis Yogasūtra.
2012: 26 June
- with Prof. Dr. Gudrun Buehnemann (Wisconsin)
- 26 June 2012, SAI, room 316, 4 pm c.t.
According to Newar Buddhists, Śākyamuni Buddha visited his birthplace Lumbinī after his enlightenment. Depictions of this journey became popular in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Nepal. They show the Buddha riding standing up on a snake while being attended by Hindu deities in service to him. The scene, known as the lumbinīyātrā, is represented in numerous paintings and in wood and metal work, and is also described in texts. This strand of the Buddha legend is specific to Newar Buddhism and not attested in Indian biographic or hagiographic accounts of the Buddha’s life. In this paper I will trace the history of the lumbinīyātrā theme by examining descriptions in texts and artistic representations. I will then discuss elements of the yātrā which are also found independently in other contexts. In conclusion, I will offer some thoughts on the significance of the lumbinīyātrā theme.
2012: 21 June
- 6 pm, Völkerkundemuseum Heidelberg, Hauptstraße 235, 69117 Heidelberg
The exhibition "Architektur und Ritual – Tempel, Stupas und Klöster des Kathmandu Tals" will include 20 of the works Niels Gutschow initially presented in his book "Architecture of the Newars. A History of Building Typologies and Details in Nepal", which was published in 2011. The exhibited architectural drawings are pieces which were skilfully made by Newar draftsmen. The Newar people developed a unique city culture, including ritual buildings. Gutschow began his research on their architecture in 1971. In addition to the drawings, the exhibition will show ritual objects and tools, including exhibits from Gutschow’s collection and from the museum.
Patan, drawing of the Vishveshvara temple
The exhibition will be opened with a talk by Prof. Michael Oppitz on June 21, 2012 at 6 pm at Heidelberg's Museum of Ethnology (Völkerkundemuseum). Oppitz, former curator of the Museum of Ethnology Zurich, will speak about drawing in ethnography ("Zeichnen in der Ethnography"). The exhibition is supported by the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context", the South Asia Institute, and the Collaborative Research Centre 619 "Ritual Dynamics".
2012: 13 June
- with Prof. Niels Gutschow
- 13 June 2012, Rubin Museum of Art New York, 150 W. 17 St., NYC 10011, 6.30 pm
Niels Gutschow published three volumes with the entire history of architecture in Kathmandu and its neighbors over a period of 1,500 years. Architecture of the Newars is a rare tribute to an urban culture that has preserved a fascinating lifestyle to this very day. Gutschow first travelled to Nepal in 1962, returning in 1970 after reading architecture, and since then has constantly worked on the connections between ritual and the city. The three volumes document the various building typologies with 862 photos and 939 drawings.
The booklaunch will begin at 5 pm with a Himalayan Happy Hour in presence of the author. After a Newar art tour in the galleries at 6 pm, Prof. Gutschow will give a talk at 6:30 pm. Subsequently, the author will sign the book.
2012: 24 May
- by apl. Prof. Dr. Jörg Gengnagel
- Thursday, 24 May 2012, 6 pm c.t., Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde, Seminarraum 1, Spitalgasse 2, Hof 2.7, 1090 Wien
zur Eröffnung der Fotoausstellung "Sakrale Topographie in Benares (Exkursion 2011)"
Die Sakraltopographie von Benares (Vārāṇasī) findet sich nicht nur in zahlreichen „Raumtexten“ über die nordindische Pilgerstadt beschrieben, sie wird auch in Form von gemalten Bildkarten, Panoramen, Lithographien und topographischen Karten visualisiert. In diesem Vortrag sollen zunächst einige Karten aus dem 19. Jahrhundert vorgestellt und das Verhältnis von Text, Raum und religiöser Kartographie analysiert werden. Ausgehend von diesem Material werden dann historische und rezente Hinweise für Aushandlungsprozesse und Wandel im Kontext von Pilgerpraxis, Raumtexten und Sakraltopographie illustriert.
2012: April - Juli
- werktäglich von 12.30 - 13.00 Uhr in der Peterskirche Heidelberg, Plöck 70
Die Vorträge der Abteilung Kultur- Religionsgeschichte Südasiens (Klassische Indologie):
- 26.4.: Warum ist den Hindus die Kuh heilig? (Christof Zotter)
- 2.5.: Warum gibt es im Hinduismus so viele Götter? (Axel Michaels)
- 7.5.: Kommt der Yoga aus Indien? (Jörg Gengnagel)
- 16.5.: Ist Sanskrit eine tote Sprache? (Astrid Zotter)
- 27.6.: Ist der Buddhismus eine Religion des Mitgefühls?" (Mudagamuwe Maithrimurthi)
- 9.7.: Ist die Bhagavadgita die Bibel des Hinduismus? (Anand Mishra)
- 11.7.: Unsterblich durch Quecksilber? Einsichten in die indische Alchemie (Oliver Hellwig)
2012: 12 March
- by Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels and Dr. Manik Bajracharya
- Monday, March 12th 2012, 4pm at Yala Maya Kendra, Patan Dhoka, Lalitpur.
Nepal: "New Light on the Historiography of Nepal: The 'Wright Chronicle' reconsidered is a Joint talk on March 12, 2012, marking the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Kathmandu Branch Office of the South Asia Institute and 50th anniversary of the South Asia Institute. The South Asia Institute presents a Joint Talk by Prof. Axel Michaels and Dr. Manik Bajracharya and a following reception on the occasion of the two anniversaries.
For further information please contact:
Pratibha Khanal or Rajesh Lal Shrestha Kathmandu Branch Office South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
2012: 1st - 2nd March
- by PD Dr. Oliver Hellwig
- at the Wörterbuchcolloquium der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur in Mainz, Geschwister-Scholl-Strasse 2, D-55131 Mainz
On 1 - 2 March PD Dr. Oliver Hellwig will give a talk at the W&ounl;rterbuchcolloquium der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur: "Das 'Digital Corpus of Sanskrit' - Aufbau eines lemmatisierten, wörterbuchbasierten Corpus für die philologische Forschung."
2012: 1 - 2 February
- with PD Dr. Oliver Hellwig and Anand Mishra M. A.
- organised by the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities "Fate, Freedom and Prognostication. Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe", Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Ulrich-Schalk Str. 3a, IKGF Seminar Room, 91056 Erlangen
Talk "Howling Jackals and Twitching Eyes – Searching for Descriptions of Omina using Computational Methods, with a Special Focus on Domain-Specific Sanskrit Vocabulary" by PD Dr. Oliver Hellwig
Talk "‘Fate or Freedom’ vs. ‘Fate and Freedom’ – Inside Views of Two Indian Traditions" by Anand Mishra M. A.
2012: 26 January
Talk "Wandel und Wiederaufbau der vedischen Identität im modernen Indien. Beispiele aus Vedaschulen in Maharashtra"
- with Boryain Larios
- Indology University of Tübingen, Gartenstr. 19, Raum 1.01