Image Worship in Hindu Traditions with Prof. Ankur Barua

If the absolute reality (Brahman/God) is ultimately beyond form, as the Upanishads teach, how then are we to understand the multifarious forms attributed to it? Can we even imagine a purely ‘form-less’ idea of God? How is any relationship with God possible if He is ultimately beyond our imagination and fundamentally unknowable? We grapple with these questions and more, as we look at various attempts at resolving these perennial theological paradoxes in Hindu, Muslim, and Christian traditions.

Our conversation is based on Prof. Barua’s much-celebrated recent piece in Renovatio, the journal of Zaytuna College.

Prof. Ankur Barua is University Senior Lecturer in Hindu Studies at Cambridge University. He read Theology and Religious Studies at the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge. His primary research interests are Vedantic Hindu philosophical theology and Indo-Islamic styles of sociality An integral dimension of Prof. Barua’s research is the comparative philosophy of religion. He studies the theological and the socio-political aspects of Hindu–Christian engagements. In recent years, his research focus has moved to Indo-Islamic theology and, in particular, to an exploration of the intersections between the idioms of bhakti, yoga, tawḥīd, and taṣawwuf on the multiply-stratified postcolonial landscapes of South Asia. His most recent publication is entitled ‘The Hindu Self and its Muslim Neighbors: Contested Borderlines on Bengali Landscapes’.

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