Univ. Seminar on the Veda

David Magier magier at columbia.edu
Tue Nov 16 03:08:37 UTC 1993

Since it has already been mentioned in this group, we thought we would
add a little more detail on Columbia University's new University
Seminar on the Veda and Its Interpretation. As you may know, the
University Seminars at Columbia have for fifty years served to open
discussion between academics and other professionals in the greater
New York area and beyond, on a variety of interdisciplinary topics. To
the planners of this particular seminar, its inauguration seems quite
timely. We have recently witnessed a very troubled period of Indian
history that has had, as one of its outcomes, a series of more and
less thoughtful re-definitions of what the term "Veda" should mean. In
such a context, it is all the more important that the historical,
scholarly perspective remain alive and engaged when polemics inform so
much of the contemporary debate.

The scholarly focus of the University Seminar on the Veda and Its
Interpretation is on how the Vedic traditions have been defined and
used within the course of Indian history. As presently conceived, it
covers a wide variety of topics, including the textual analysis of the
Vedic tradition "strictly defined" as the Samhitas and their Vedanga
counterparts; the use of the term Veda in both ancient and
contemporary traditions which are in direct dialogue with early forms
of Vedic thought, such as Indian medicinal and mathematical systems;
the use of the term Veda by those traditions which are not
historically "Vedic" in origin, such as bhakti devotion; the questions
of gender and Vedic authority in early, classical, colonial and post-
colonial Indian history; the relationship between Vedic tradition and
the historical, philosophical and religious claims of the later system
of Vedanta, both in the classical and contemporary periods.

The First Inaugural Lecture of the Seminar was presented last month by
Prof. Wilhelm Halbfass (University of Pennsylvania), who spoke on
"The Presence of the Veda in the History of Indian Thought." The
Second Inaugural Lecture was presented this month by Prof. Wendy
Doniger (University of Chicago), who presented a paper entitled "Are
Translations of the Rig Veda Good to Think With?".  Further sessions
of the Seminar are now being planned.

David Magier (magier at columbia.edu)
Laurie Patton (patton @levy.bard.edu)
Seminar Co-Chairs

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list