OCHS Indian philosophy Seminars

Seminars hosted by the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (contact: Jessica Frazier)


Readings in Vedānta

Week 1-8, Thursday 10.00-11.00
OCHS Library
Dr Rembert Lutjeharms

Vedānta—theology grounded in the systematic exegesis of the Upaniṣads—has for centuries been the primary discourse for Vaiṣṇava thought. These reading sessions are intended for students who have at least an introductory knowledge of Sanskrit and are interested in Vedānta texts. This term we are reading Vedānta Deśika's Nyāsa-viṃśati, a short but influential treatise on surrender to God from the fourteenth century.


Indian Philosophy and Religion Seminars

Week 3 and 7, Wednesday, 4.30-6.00
OCHS Library
Convened by Dr Jessica Frazier & alicehank winham

In collabiration with the Oxford Asian Philosophies Group

This series of regular seminars brings together scholars and students working on Indic philosophies and religions. It focuses on topics of current research: in each session, two people will present a context they are investigating for 20min, and then open it for discussion on key questions. All researchers, graduates and finalists in all areas are welcome to join.


  • Week 3, Wednesday 10th May, 4.30pm-6pm; OCHS Library
    • Szilvia Szanyi: 'Is shape real? A contested category of perception in Abhidharma philosophy'
    • Shree Nahata: 'Eat Curd, Not Camel! Dharmakīrti and Akalaṅka on anekāntavāda'
      • Abstract: This presentation examines the Buddhist philosopher Dharmakīrti's (c. 600-660 CE) objections to the Jaina theory of many-sidedness (anekāntavāda) and the Jaina philosopher Akalaṅka's (c. 720-780 CE) response to these objections. Besides discussing the relevant philosophical ideas, this presentation highlights the role of misunderstanding, humour, narrative biography, and pointed moral critique in this entertaining philosophical vignette. 
  • Week 7, Wednesday 7th June, 4.30pm-6pm; OCHS Library)

    • Jan Westerhoff: 'The double moon (dvicandra) example, solipsism, and the private language argument' 

    • Kassandra Dugi: 'Like Grain Springing up in a Well Cleaned Field: Self-Attachment, Meditative Absorption and Wisdom in Śāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra'

      • Abstract: In his commentary on Śāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra, Prajñākaramati explains that ‘like grain springing up in a well cleaned field, wisdom appears in the mental continuum completely purified by mental calm.’ Taking this analogy as a starting point, this presentation will question the standard interpretation of the Bodhicaryāvatāra’s most famous passage (8.90-103) as defending a particular ethical stance on the basis of anātman and/or emptiness, by re-examining the relationship between self-attachment, meditative absorption and wisdom within the Bodhicaryāvatāra.


Seminars convened by Jessica Frazier: 'Against Infinite Nothingness: Arguments East and West for a Foundation of Reality'

Weeks 4-6, Wednesdays, 3pm-4pm

OCHS Library

Must there be a fundamental ground of things? And if so, what would it have to be like? Or alternatively, could phenomena float free of each other, un-united and ungrounded by deeper causation or constitution? The conflict between scepticism and metaphysical thinking, between notions of nothingness and ideas of Being (or even the divine), has taken place in different traditions through history. These three seminars investigate three models of an ultimate metaphysical ground of things. Borrowing from the Vedanta tradition's medieval arguments against Buddhism nihilism, we will discuss issues of substance, causation and modality, and see what kind of unified ultimate reality one might argue for.

  • Week 4: Fragments or Foundations? Universal Emptiness vs Fundamental Unity in India

  • Week 5: What Shapes Reality? Grounding the Modal Order of Things

  • Week 6: Stuff, Power or Space? Finding an 'Ultimate' Reality