Skip directly to content

Lectures on Society

"So you want to marry my daughter?"

The IK Foundation Lectures 2002
Professor M Narasimhachary
23 Oct 2002

Examining issues of caste, its origins,history and how we live it today.

Related: Modern India, Society

A super-gift or a conduit: The place of a daughter in the Indian marriage exchange

Graduate Seminar
Pulane Lizzie Motswapong
30 Apr 2007

The seminar will examine Hindu ideas of love and the idea of divine love ('love beyond'). The seminar will pay particular attention to the Narada Bhakti Sutras.Ancient Hindu lawgivers have always viewed spiritual merit as arising from the spirit of dana. Marriage dana especially kanyadana has been considered as such.

A father, by giving away his kanya was assured of spiritual merit. In ancient India the kanya was designated as the super-gift and all the other gifts which accompanied her were secondary. Marriage gifts continue to form an integral part of modern marriage system, (in the form of dowry); the kanya continues to be given away but her role is subsumed by the property she carries with her to the marital family and as a result she is reduced to a conduit.
The shift in status of the daughter from super-gift to a vehicle that facilitates the dowry custom has closely and significantly affected the status of women in contemporary Indian society. The practice has spread all over India and its wider ramifications are visible in the spate of cases of bride-burning, suicides, and harassment. This paper will compare and contrast the role of the daughter in the exchange while taking into account factors that may have contributed to this shift in the status of a kanyadana.

Related: Dharmasastra, Society

Pandits, Service People, and Caste Debates in the Early Maratha State

Majewski Lecture
Professor Polly O'Hanlon
12 Feb 2008

Related: History, Society

Two Kashmiri lives in the Calukya Deccan

Majewski Lecture
Dr Whitney Cox
13 Nov 2008

From the eleventh century, there is evidence of a remarkable pattern of the circulation of goods, men, and texts between two seemingly unlikely corners of southern Asia: the Valley of Kashmir and the western Deccan (in what is now Karnataka). The broad contours of this mobile world can be traced through a variety of methods, including political history, numismatics, archeology, and the history of art.

In this presentation, however, Dr Cox will concentrate on literary evidence, touching on the lives of two Kashmirian brahmans who found employment in the court of the Kalyani Calukya emperor Vikramaditya VI. One of these men was a state official whose public career took place in the midst of a period of great institutional change; the other was a leading court poet and biographer of his royal patron. Looking at these two emigres together, we can better understand the world and mindset of the cosmopolitan Brahman literatus, and can begin to better chart the changing nature of the early-second millennium South Asia social order.
Whitney Cox is lecturer in Sanskrit at SOAS. His research work focuses on the history of textual creation and dissemination in the far South of the Indian subcontinent in the early second millennium of the Common Era, focusing especially on Sanskrit and Tamil. Dr. Cox was awarded his Ph.D. in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations of the University of Chicago in 2006 for a doctoral dissertation on the medieval Saiva author Mahesvarananda. He is currently at work on a book manuscript tentatively entitled Empire of Wisdom: Mobility, Belonging, and Things Made of Language in Medieval India.

Related: History, Politics, Society

Hinduism I: Themes and Textual Sources Lecture 3: Dharma, Society and Gender

Professor Gavin Flood
28 Oct 2009

This course offers a thematic and historical introduction to Hinduism for students of theology and religious studies. Focusing on the brahmanical tradition we will explore the textual sources, categories, practices and social institutions that formed that tradition. Primary texts in translation will provide the basis for reflection on issues such as dharma, renunciation, caste, and concepts of deity. We then move on to some of the major philosophical developments of the tradition, with particular emphasis on the Vedanta. The course will raise theological and cultural questions about the relation between reason and practice, person and world, and society and gender. We will conclude with a consideration of Hinduism and modernity.

Related: General, Society