Professor Doniger (University of Chicago) is one of the world's experts on Hinduism, mythology, and comparative religions, with a strong focus on women, gender, and sexuality. She is the author of over 40 books, including most recently "The Hindus: An Alternative History."
This talk is free and open to the public.
Title: "Skepticism and Materialism in Ancient India"
Abstract: "Throughout its long existence, Hinduism has held in creative suspension two movements so different as to merit the title of separate civilizations: one is the dominant strain of ritual, of celebration of life, of family, of children, of sexuality, of food and poetry and sculpture and the worship of many gods; and the other is the strain of philosophy, of renunciation, of the drive to become released from the cycle of rebirth, through denial of the senses, of family life, of children. These two paths lived more or less peacefully side by side as available options for most Hindus, until more passionate and monotheistic strains of devotional Hinduism, or bhakti, developed after the 6th century CE. Later still, the philosophical strain inspired yet other forms of Hinduism, broader in their total scope but containing within them a narrower, less tolerant streak, as they came into contact with other civilizations: Islam, from the 7th century CE (but more intensely from the 13th century); then the British Raj, from the 18th century; and then, in the late 20th century, America and a broader global, Internet world. The cumulative effect of these encounters in present-day India has been an unprecedented form of repression that threatens freedom of speech. My talk will trace this historical development, in the hope of shedding light on the present crisis."
Listen to this lecture (mp3 format)