Booking open for 2017 Symposium

Booking is now open for the 2017 Symposium, which will take place at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, on 7th-9th April. The draft programme is listed below.

There are two booking rates:

The non-residential rate is £80 and this includes dinner Friday and Saturday, lunch Saturday and Sunday, and tea/coffee throughout.

The residential rate is £190 and this includes all of the above plus bed & breakfast in an en-suite single room in college for Friday and Saturday nights.

If you wish to attend but have no access to institutional funds to support your attendance please contact our Treasurer Dr Nick Swann (nick.swann [AT] as there is some financial support available. Priority will be given to PhD students and early career scholars.

The easiest way to pay is via PayPal by clicking the “buy now” button beneath the appropriate rate below. If you prefer to pay by cheque, this should be made payable to “The Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions” and sent to: Dr Nick Swann, Senior Lecturer – Religious Studies, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of South Wales, Treforest Campus, Pontypridd CF37 1DL, UK. Please also contact Nick if you need to pay by direct bank transfer.

Please book early to facilitate planning and especially if you wish to reserve accommodation as this is limited.

If you wish to reserve accommodation for extra nights or have any other queries about the Symposium please contact Dr Naomi Appleton – naomi.appleton [AT]

**Booking is now closed**

Draft programme for 2017 Symposium

I am pleased to announce the draft programme for the 2017 Spalding Symposium. Booking will open in the new year.

Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions

7th-9th April 2017, Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford


Friday 7th April

3.00-3.45pm Registration, tea and coffee

3.45-4.00pm Welcome, announcements

4.00-5.00pm Opening Keynote Lecture:

Professor Anne MacDonald, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna – ‘Real Illusions, Illusory Realities: Appearance and Reality in Mahāyāna Buddhism’

5.00-5.15 comfort break

5.15-6.15pm   Alice Collett, Nalanda University – ‘Literary Motif and Meme in Considerations of Biological Sex as Appearance and Reality’

6.30-7.30pm Dinner

7.30-8.30pm   Rafal Stepien, 
Berggruen Research Fellow in Indian Philosophy, University of Oxford – ‘Illusory Selves in Action, Delusory Views in Thought:
 A Buddhist Approach to the Abandonment of All

Saturday 8th April

9.00-10.00am Marco Ferrante, Austrian Academy of Sciences – ‘Between language and being: Bhartṛhari’s on reality and appearance’

10.00-11.00am  Monika Nowakowska, Warsaw University – ‘(Ir)reality of desire: early Mīmāṁsā on decisive craving, enigmatic heaven and insignificant gods’

11.00-11.30am Coffee

11.30am-1.00pm Postgraduate papers:

11.30-12.00     Avni Chag, SOAS, University of London – ‘The Making of a Scripture:
The Socio-Religious Context of the Svāminārāyaṇa Sampradāya’s Śikṣāpatrī’

12.00-12.30     Aleksandra (Sasha) Gordeeva, Yale University – ‘Despair (nirveda) and Delusion (moha): The Entanglement of the Divergent Emotions in Rāmacandra’s Dramatic Works’

12.30-1.00       Charles Li, University of Cambridge – ‘Casting Sāṃkhya as Advaita: A falsified quotation from the Pātañjalayogaśāstra

1.00-3.00pm Lunch and free time to explore the town

3.00-4.00pm Postgraduate papers continued:

3.00-3.30pm   Davey K. Tomlinson, University of Chicago – ‘A Buddhist Debate on the Reality of Appearances’

3.30-4.00pm   Karen O’Brien-Kop, SOAS, University of London – ‘The entangled discourse of classical yoga’

4.00-4.30pm Coffee

4.30-5.30pm   Julie Regan, La Salle University, Philadelphia – ‘The Path to Truth through Appearances in the Literary Works of Aśvaghoṣa’

5.30-6.30pm   Eviatar Shulman, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem – ‘Omniscience and Reality: Reflections on Knowledge and Truth in the Jātakas

6.30-7.30pm Dinner

Sunday 9th April

9.00-10.00am       Michael S. Allen, University of Virginia – ‘The Idealist Turn in Late Advaita Vedānta’

10.00-11.00am     Victor A. van Bijlert, Faculty of Theology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam – ‘Realistic reasoning and the unreal world: Gaudapada’s use of Nyāya-methodology to argue for illusionism’

11.00-11.30am Coffee

11.30am-12.30pm Closing Keynote Lecture:

Professor David Gellner, University of Oxford – ‘The Politics of Religious Affiliation in Nepal’

12.30-1.00pm Final remarks and information about following year’s Symposium

1.00-2.00pm Lunch, followed by departure

Call for papers for 2017 Symposium

We invite proposals for papers for the 42nd Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions, which will be held at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, on 7th-9th April 2017, with the theme “Appearance and Reality”.

Throughout the history of Indian thought we find explorations of the distinction between those things that are real in the fullest sense, and those to which only an illusory or apparent existent can be ascribed. Submissions will engage with this distinction as it is understood in the context of South Asian religion, philosophy, and intellectual history more generally. We welcome papers based upon any and all research methods, including textual, historical, ethnographic, sociological and philosophical.

Presenters are allocated forty minutes for their paper and twenty minutes for discussion, and will normally be expected to pay their own conference registration and expenses. The Symposium fee, including food and accommodation, will be £190, with a non-residential rate of £80. Registration details will be sent separately. Limited financial assistance may be available for early career scholars or scholars from South Asia. If you are unable to access institutional funds for your conference fee please contact the Treasurer, Dr Nick Swann (nick.swann [AT] to enquire about available support.

We also welcome proposals from doctoral students, who will be allocated twenty minutes for their paper and ten minutes for discussion, and offered free registration at the Symposium. Postgraduate papers need not address the Symposium theme.

We are delighted to announce our keynote speakers for the Symposium: Dr Anne MacDonald (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna) will give a paper entitled ‘Real Illusions, Illusory Realities: Appearance and Reality in Mahāyāna Buddhism’, and Professor David Gellner (University of Oxford) will speak on ‘The Politics of Religious Affiliation in Nepal’.

If you would like to give a presentation, please send a title and abstract (maximum 500 words) to Dr Jan Westerhoff at jan.westerhoff [at] by 31st October 2016.

Report on the 41st Symposium

Spalding2016The 41st Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions was held at St Michael’s College, Llandaff, and hosted by Drs Simon Brodbeck and James Hegarty of Cardiff University. The theme was “narrative”, and the papers ranged from the portrayal of animals in biographies of the Buddha to the competing narratives of M. A. Jinnah’s nationalist vision.

The keynote speakers this year were Professor Phyllis Granoff (Yale University) and Professor Rupert Gethin (University of Bristol). Professor Granoff opened the Symposium with a paper exploring narratives of conversion in early Buddhist and Jain scriptures. The paper spoke to some of the key themes that ran through the whole weekend, including the role of stories in religious teachings, the relationship between narrative and doctrine, and the ways in which narrative gaps or slippages invite further investigation. On the second day of the Symposium, Professor Gethin presented his exploration of how the narrative frames of early Buddhist suttas of the Dīgha Nikāya inform our reading of the – often formulaic – doctrinal renditions therein, again speaking directly to the question of how narrative and doctrine inter-relate.

In addition to the two keynote speakers, there were ten excellent papers by scholars from as far afield as Vancouver and Delhi, and three postgraduate speakers also offered work-in-progress papers, giving us a window into emerging research in the field. A special mention must be made of the very thought-provoking after-dinner paper delivered by Professor James Laine (Macalaster College) about the controversial response to his 2003 book on the 17th century Maratha king Shivaji, which included a temporary ban in Maharashtra and an attack on the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune. We also particularly enjoyed hearing from our two visitors from Miranda House at the University of Delhi, Drs Saswati Sengupta and Sharmila Purkayastha, who gave a rich and challenging portrait of colonial-era Bengal and the use of narratives of the goddess Lakṣmī to lay the blame for horrendous famines on local women.

All the papers were of high quality, and there was also an impressive level of coherence to the Symposium overall. This led to extensive discussions of common themes, including how we speak of genre, and the varied uses of narrative in teachings, conversion, entertainment, exemplification of doctrine or philosophical argument, expressing or establishing identities, drawing audiences into different worlds, and providing competing accounts of significant times, events or people.

The Symposium also benefited from the wonderful surroundings and food of St Michael’s College, and the warm and efficient hosting of Drs Brodbeck and Hegarty. Generous coffee breaks and evenings at the local pub ensured that the conversation spilled out from the papers and panels. We are grateful to the Spalding Trust for their continued support of this Symposium, which enabled us to invite our keynote speakers and offer our postgraduate contributors a free place.

Naomi Appleton (Convenor, Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions)