for ISKCON News on July 8, 2010
Zola Skweyiya, Shaunaka Rishi Das, Mr Dixit Joshi, Lord Paul Boateng, Lady Mei-Ling HarrisO, and Sir Tom Harris
The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS) celebrates thirteen years of growth from humble beginnings in a suburban house to one of the world's leading Hindu Studies centres building bridges between academia, tradition, business, and government.
The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies celebrated its thirteenth birthday as it does all its birthdays - at its annual Board of Governors Dinner. This year's event took place on Monday 28 June at the Oxford Town Hall with guest speaker, Mr Dixit Joshi, Managing Director and Head of European Equities at Barclays Capital. Mr Joshi is an active philanthropist and also a leading member of the OCHS Endowment Campaign. The event was compered by broadcaster and author, Arti Halai.
Dixit will be speaking on what we can learn from the Hindu tradition and the importance of bringing different perspectives to the debate on the future of our society.
Dixit said: 'I truly believe that the Centre has made a formidable contribution to Hindu studies, and their relevance to the modern world, over the last 13 years. And with our support will continue to enrich understanding of the Hindu traditions for many years to come.'
'As India nudges its way on to the world stage as an economic force, an understanding of its underlying philosophies becomes important', says the Centre's Director, Shaunaka Rishi Das. 'In the twenty-first century, Indian cultures and philosophies will make themselves felt in subtle ways as India's economic growth brings an inevitable cultural impact.'
The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies has developed into one of the world's foremost Centres of the study of Hinduism with many of the field's best scholars serving as visiting fellows and academic directors. These include Prof. Francis X. Clooney, SJ, now teaching at Harvard, and Prof. Gavin Flood author of the highly-regarded Introduction to Hinduism
(Cambridge University Press).
Since its earliest days it has been nurtured by respected Oxford scholars including Prof. Keith Ward (Emeritus Professor of Divinity), Prof. David Patterson of the Oxford Centre for Jewish and Hebrew Studies (on which the Hindu Studies Centre was modelled), and Prof. Richard Gombrich (Emeritus Professor of Sanskrit).
According to Prof. Gombrich, 'The OCHS has developed a reputation for academic excellence. Without the Centre we wouldn't have Hindu Studies at Oxford. Its students do us credit.' One such student is Ravi Gupta, now a Lecturer in Eastern Religions in the US and recently returned to the OCHS as a visiting fellow: 'The OCHS approach to the study of the Hindu traditions is a basis for excellent education and informed debate. It gave me the perspectives I needed to launch my career.' At twenty-one, Ravi was one of Oxford's youngest ever Ph.D. recipients.
The Centre studies all Hindu cultures and traditions in all parts of the world. An important part of this is building links with Hindu communities in the UK who have also provided financial support to the Centre. In the words of Pratik Dattani of FTI Consulting, 'The OCHS provides an invaluable service in preserving and promoting Hindu and Indian heritage. I've been happy to help in any little way I can to support its initiatives to bring these to a wider audience. I think it is important for these rich traditions to not be lost over time and the OCHS plays a great role in this ensuring this.'
The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies has also played an instrumental role in the creation of the Bhumi Project in co-operation with the United nations and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation. The Bhumi Project is helping Hindu communities formulate a Hindu response to environmental change.