Image Worship in Hindu Traditions
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.
Prof. Ankur Barua is University Senior Lecturer in Hindu Studies at Cambridge University.
Ramana Maharshi’s Message for the Present
Professor Patrick Laude’s examination of the Indian sage Ramana Maharshi’s teachings delves into themes and questions particularly relevant to the contemporary spiritual crisis and search for meaning. Prof. Laude touches upon the role of religion in Self-inquiry; the relationship between devotion and knowledge; the role and limitations of traditional forms; and the implications in our postmodern era of both the Maharshi’s emphasis on surrender, and his basic question: ‘Who am I?’
Professor Patrick Laude, Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar.
Why We Need to Study Religion
Prof. Arvind Sharma talks about the need for religious literacy as Indian and wider global citizens. He distinguishes between the confessional study of a religion that believers of a religion do, and the academic study of religion that can be done even by a non-believer. He advocates for the latter to be a part of our education. The secular dismissal of religious studies from educational curricula has been a mistake in his view. Finally, he suggests phenomenology as a useful method in the study of religion.
Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill University, Montreal.