• R 231, Greater Kailash Part I, New Delhi -100 048

Welcome to Lund Lecture Series on Indian Religions!

This is digital lecture series that has been organized by the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies (CTR) and the Swedish South Asian Studies Network (SASNET) at Lund University in cooperation with the university consortium the Nordic Centre in India (NCI)

The lecture series is one of the projects that was funded by External Relations at Lund University as a part of the university's strategic Asia Action Plan which aims to support and encourage activities that stimulate long-term cooperation with Asia in research and education. The series include lectures on religions with a historical origin in India as well as religions that constitute significant minorities in the country, and address both historical and contemporary perspectives in the interdisciplinary study of religions.

The lectures are research-based and include researchers and teachers in humanities, theology and social sciences at Nordic and Indian universities. In addition to themes related to historical developments, textual traditions, institutions, and ritual practices, the lectures address various social and political aspects in the study of Indian religions and their migration and globalization. The lecture series provides a resources material for researchers and teachers with interests in India and the study of religions.

For more information about the lecture series, please contact the organizers:
Kristina Myrvold, CTR, kristina.myrvold@ctr.lu.se
Andreas Johansson, SASNET, andreas.johansson@sasnet.lu.se
Christabel Royan, NCI, christabel.royan@nordiccentreindia.com

Our collaborators based in the Nordic region have contributed to the following themes

Early Pilgrimage Traditions in South Asia by Professor Knut A. Jacobsen
Pre-Buddhist and Early Buddhist Ritual Sites

South Asia is one of the major pilgrimage regions in the world. All the four religions of Indian origin have numerous pilgrimage sites, which are centers of ritual activities, and their sacred geographies continue to develop, not only inSouth Asia but increasingly also globally. In Jainism and Buddhism, the sacredsites are primarily associated with the events and teachings of tīrthaṅkaras,buddhas, and bodhisattvas, and sacred structures such as temples and stūpas. In this lecture, Professor Jacobsen talks in extensive detail about the traditions of pilgrimage beginning from the non-Vedic, pre-Buddhist era in India, and goes on to talk about the more established rituals associated to pilgrimages and holy shrines within Hinduism in India today. Detailing a history of a traditions spanning over centuries, Professor Jacobsen tries to bring in various debates within his explanation.

Sacred Sites and Religious Travel in Early Brahmanical Hindu Traditions.

Continuing his lecture on pilgrimage traditions in the post-Buddhist era, Prof. Jacobsen states that the idea of a permanently demarcated sacred place mostlikely represented a continuation of the pre-Buddhist, non-Vedic substrateculture. The evidence from inscriptions from Aśokan timeswould indicate that Buddhistpilgrimage originated before the pilgrimage texts of the Mahābhārata. While thesource of this ritual in South Asia may very well have been the pre-Buddhist,non-Vedic substrate culture, the expansion of Hindu places promoted in theTīrthayātrāparvan of the Mahābhārata, which encompasses large parts ofIndia, may perhaps be read as a textual response to the Aśokan and post-Aśokanexpansion of Buddhist sacred sites with the construction of a large number ofstūpas and monastic institutions.

Modern Yoga, the Global Yoga Phenomenon and the Sāṃkhyayog in Hariharānanda Āraṇya by Professor Knut A. Jacobsen
Part 1: Historical Yoga, Modern Yoga, and the Current Global Yoga Phenomenon

In this video by Professor Knut A. Jacobsen, we focus on how historical research in yoga and the global phenomenon on yoga has gained much important in the recent years. Modern yoga was the result of great creativity by persons who utilized the circulation of ideas between India and the West for innovative purposes. The result was the expansion of a great variety of traditions of yoga. A main topic of Yoga Studies has been the transition from pre-modern to modern yoga. In this lecture, Professor Jacobsen looks at a small revival of Sāṃkhyayoga, also called Pātañjalayoga, orthodoxy in Bengal in the late nineteenth century that was part of the transition from pre-modern to modern yoga.

Part 2: HariharānandaĀraṇya (1869-1947) and the revival of Sāṃkhyayoga

In this part, Professor Jacobsen enhances his lecture with excerpts from his recently published book Yoga in Modern Hinduism: HariharānandaĀraṇya and Sāṃkhyayoga, and talks about its relation to pre-modern and modern traditions and transformation of yoga and investigates the case of HariharānandaĀraṇya (1869-1947) and the KāpilMaṭh tradition of Sāṃkhyayoga which he founded. The KāpilMaṭh tradition is the only living Sāṃkhyayoga tradition in India and is based on an orthodox Sāṃkhyayoga interpretation of the Pātañjalayogaśāstra and is therefore an interesting case, which Prof. Jacobsen explores here.

Part 3: The Status of the Yogasūtra and Yogis in Nineteenth Century

Divided into two parts, this lecture focuses on two different aspects, namely the absence of pandits interested in Samkhya and Yoga in 19th century in Bengal and India, and the low reputation of yogis in India during the same period. Prof. Jacobsen details that it was the 19 the century when in India the “yogi came to symbolize all that was wrong in certain tributaries of the Hindu religion. … associated with backwardness and superstition, and many people considered them to have no place in the scientific and modern yoga enterprise.”

Part 4:The Yoga Teaching of Āraṇya as Modern Yoga

In the final part of his lecture, Prof. Jacobsen focuses on the nineteenth-century intellectual encounter between India and the West which had set off a rush of remarkable intellectual creativity. For instance, Yoga philosophy in Bengal in the second half of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth was influenced by the interests of Orientalist scholars and Theosophists in ancient Indian traditions, by Indian intellectuals and the new Hindu movement of the last decades of the nineteenth century Bengal. In this new Hindu movement people were looking for ways to revive ancient traditions instead of reform of the tradition, which had characterized the Bengali Hindu revival of the first part of the nineteenth century.

Prosperity Buddhism in Burma/Myanmar by Niklas Foxeus
Part 1: Prosperity Buddhism in Southeast Asia and East Asia

In this part, Prof. Foxeus focuses on how for a long-time people in Burma/Myanmar have turned to the traditional spirit (nat) cult of the 37 Lords for economic success, health, and protection. In most historical periods throughout the world, people have turned to local spirits, saints, or gods wishing to gain prosperity, wealth, good harvests, protection, and health, thereby giving a return gift if their wish is granted. Nevertheless, Prof. Foxeus notes that religious cults focusing on prosperity have become more widespread since the 1990s, not merely in Burma/Myanmar but globally, and tries to expand on these aspects in this lecture.

Part 2: The Emergence of Novel Cults in Burma/Myanmar

In this part of the lecture, Prof. Foxeus focuses on three aspects: 1) what he calls the moralization of wealth acquisition; 2) a narrative that is recurrent within the new cults of being sent to the human realm to promote Buddhism; and 3) Prof. Foxeus takes on a discussion on the various techniques by which Burmese Buddhists seek to acquire prosperity and success in business, especially possession rituals.

Part 3: An Emerging Religious Market: Ritual Specialists and Devotees

As explained above, the emergence of novel cults in Myanmar has led toa general restructuring of the religious field in Burma that has developed since around the early 1990s, partly due to new economic opportunities, modernization, and urbanization. In this part, Prof. Foxeus focuses on the emergence of a religious market, in which female ritual specialists, male and female cult leaders (bodaws and mehdaws), but also some spirit-medium monks compete with one another for attracting clients.

Part 4: Instruments to Gain Prosperity: Magic Money, Possession Rituals, and Prediction of Lottery Numbers

In this part, Prof. Foxeus talks about the several ways in which prosperity can be gained through these cults, with a focus on magic money, prediction of lottery numbers, and possession rituals. Magic money is one instrument by which devotees seek to gain prosperity. They put these magic banknotes in their wallets, recite some verses, and hope they will gain prosperity through them and that will make their money multiply in a miraculous way. On the other hand, in the novel cults that emphasize prosperity and success in business, a new form of possession rituals has evolved, which is often wild and uncontrolled. These rituals were transformed versions of earlier rituals from the traditional spirit cult of the 37 Lords.

Part 5: Prediction of Lottery Numbers by the Spirits

Continuing the discussion in the last video, Prof. Foxeus talks about one more method through which these cults promise prosperity, and that is betting through illegal ‘active lotteries’ which invite gamblers to select the numbers they wish to bet on. Predictions of the winning lottery numbers in the Burmese two-digit and the Thai three-digit illegal lotteries are important in these novel cults. Both mediums and devotees predict the winning lottery numbers while possessed by the guardians of the treasure trove, especially the child spirits from the treasure trove.

Theosophy and Buddhism in Sweden by Johan Nilsson
Part 1: The International Theosophical Movement

Theosophy was one of many esoteric movements that emerged around the world during theend of the late 19th Century and today it is generally accepted that the theosophical movements, and, to a lesser extent, the broader environment in which theosophy operated contributed to theglobal interest in—and in some cases the global spread of—religions with historical roots inIndia. Theosophy stimulated the interest of Buddhism and Hinduism outside of and to someextent inside Asia. As a movement, the Theosophical Society grew out of New York city in 1875 before moving to India since the organization felt that the spiritual wisdom existent within India would provide a safe have for its spread and consolidation. Since the original esoteric wisdom of the ancient times played a central part in the rituals and beliefs of theosophy, the ancient established religions of Hinduism and Buddhism became important for its leadership. It was this collaboration, according to Mr. Nilsson, that led to the spread of theosophy in the west in the latter part of the 19th century.

Part 2: Theosophy in Sweden

Moving on from the discussion initiated in the previous segment, Mr. Nilsson talks about the spread of theosophy in the west and especially in Sweden. Established in Sweden in the late 1880s, formal creation ofthe Swedish organization was prefigured by the publication of a number of translatedTheosophical works earlier in the 1880s, notably on esoteric religions from South Asia like Buddhism. In this segment, Mr. Nilsson talks about the spread of theosophy in the Nordic regions, highly dependent on the print medium and only later on becoming involved in various social issues. He also talks in detail about the organizational structure of the society in Sweden during this period, and talks about the efforts made by the leadership to establish theosophy within the socio-cultural landscape of 19th Century Sweden.

Part 3: Buddhism in Swedish Theosophy

In this segment, Mr. Nilsson talks about the emerging interest among the theosophical community in Sweden in Buddhism against a background wherein there existed no Buddhist minorityin Sweden and the amount of information available to the general public about religions withsouth Asian historical roots was low. Talking about an interest that goes back to the beginning of the theosophical society in Sweden, Mr. Nilsson tries to investigate the reasons for this interest, and how it spread through different contexts within the theosophical community in Sweden.

Pentecostalism in India by Joel Kuhlin
Part 1: Introduction

Pentecostalism has been described as perhaps one of the fastest growing religious movementsgloballyduring the 20thcentury. Today, one estimation is that up to 5-600 million Christians globally belong to this congregation. While still a fairly young branch of Christianity, this movement’s rapid growth does nothappen only in places like South America and Africa, but also proves itself successful in areasof south and southeast Asia in general, and India in particular. One reason forPentecostalism’s impressive track record, especially since the 1970’s, is its ability to take rootand spread in a variety of cultural contexts and widely divergent traditions. In this context, Mr. Kuhlin gives a brief overview of his set of lectures by talking about the central traditions of Pentecostalism and its rhizomatic approach in India in this segment.

Part 2: What is Pentecostalism

In this segment, Mr. Kuhlin goes over the etymology and history of the ‘Pentecostalism’ itself, detailing biblical history of how and when it emerged as a dominant segregation among Christians. In the latter part of the lecture, Mr. Kuhlin links the coming up of Pentecostalism globally with 3-part religious revivalism that were centered in Wales, India, and the U.S.A. In India, the movement is linked with Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922), prominent feminist and scholar of early 20th century India who identified herself closely with Christianity. It was within her philanthropic foundation, the Mukti Mission, that the earliest instances of people experiencing the existence of the Holy Spirit came forward, and Pentecostalism became established in India.

Part 3: The Three Phases of Pentecostalism in India

In this segment, Mr. Kuhlin details three phases or waves through which Pentecostalism spread in India. These three phases roughly correspond to three distinct time periods, namely the first phase being the earliest period as detailed in the last video, from 1905-1947. The second phase details the spread of Pentecostalism in the post-independence period in India from 1947-1970s, with a strong base in the Southern part and a rigid upper-caste leadership. The third phase, according to Mr. Kuhlin, corresponds to the time period in the post 1970s period, where the leadership underwent a significant change and when more underprivileged sections of the society became part of the community in India. This is, however, the phenomenon that Mr. Kuhlin calls as rhizomatic, and talks in detail about it in this segment.

Part 4: Markers of Contemporary Pentecostalism in India

In this segment, Mr. Kuhlin talks briefly about the experiences of Pentecostals in the rural and urban parts of India. In rural pockets in India, Pentecostalism has become highly prominent among lower-caste and Adivasi communities, although there exist various challenges to these practicing communities from more established religions, especially in the political climate that exists today in India. On the other hand, Mr. Kuhlin details how in the urban areas, women participation has been on a steady rise, although they do not occupy any leadership positions. In the end however, this juxtaposition of rural and urban practice becomes important to gauge the markers of the religion in a contemporary setting, which has also rooted itself deeply within India’s religious landscape.

Our collaborators based in India have contributed to the following themes

Contemporary Sikhism by Radhika Chopra
Part 1: Recognizing Sikhism

Emerging in the 16th century in the Indian sub-continent, Sikhism is perhaps the most ‘visible’ religion today in the world through its symbols, rituals, and cultures. Like any other religion, the evolution of Sikhism throughout the centuries have been shaped by both its sub-continental roots and its global spread, while at the same time also effecting the religion itself. Radhika Chopra talks about the various symbols, scriptures, and shrines through which one can recognize Sikhism in the modern world, and takes us on a long journey of experiencing the religion through her lens.

Part 2: Contextualizing Symbols, Reinscribing Identity

Moving on from talking about the varied symbols in Sikhism, in this segment Prof. Chopra explains the need to contextualize these symbols to determine how this then leads to slight alterations in how rituals are practiced within the religion. Taking historical examples of how the ‘turban’ and the ‘kirpan’ became points of discrimination for Sikh men throughout the history of Sikhism within and without India, Prof. Chopra explains that the adornment or open representation of Sikh symbols in the public sphere became an act of protest and rebellion for Sikhs. Such actions percolated down to the individual level, where every Sikh felt the strong urge to display their cultural symbols flamboyantly as a marker of dissent. Towards the end, Prof. Chopra also talks about Operation Bluestar carried out by the Indian Government in the 1980s that led to devastating outcomes for Sikhs and their traditions for years to come.

Part 3: Commemoration, Repair, and Remembrance

In this part, Prof. Chopra closes her discussion on Sikhism by talking about the aftermath of the events of Operation Bluestar as discussed previously, and talks about how in the aftermath of the events the rituals practiced by Sikhs in the public sphere underwent a profound change to ‘repair’ the community. The emergence of international aid groups within the Sikh community that focus on sewaand philanthropy have been central in executing this process of repair. In any case however, since religion is not static, and always in a state of flux, Sikhism too has been successful in being responsive and incorporating elements important to exist as a belief system in modern times.

An Introduction to Zoroastrianism: Continuity and Change by Shernaz Cama
Part 1: Introduction

Once the state religion of a massive empire of the ancient world, Zoroastrianism has been reduced to a handful of refugees & today is one of the smallest minority religious cultures in the world with about 50,000 followers in the Indian Sub-Continent, around 25,000 left in the Iranian homelands and the rest in diasporas across the world. In this segment, Dr. Shernaz Cama gives a brief introduction to one of the oldest revealed religions following one God–Ahura Mazda, and explains why there is a need to study Zoroastrianism as a faith in today’s divisive world.

Part 2: Symbols, Concepts & Rituals

Central to the faith of Zoroastrianism is its acceptance of polarity in the universe. As stated by Dr. Shernaz Cama, the prophet Zarathustra’s seemingly existential questions about life and death, good and evil, light and darkness, is what makes him closer to human. It is also because of these questions that these contradictions become a central part of the faith itself. Thus, if Ahura Mazda dwells in the AnaghraRaochao/ Aneran, Abode of Endless Light there are opposing forces in the Universe like the SpentaMainyu, ‘the beneficent spirit’ and AngraMainyu, ‘the spirit of negation & hate’, following the concept of polarity in Zoroastrianism. In this segment, Dr. Shernaz Cama gives an overview of the various rituals, myths, practices, and symbols of the faith that are closely intertwined within this larger concept of polarity.

Part 3: History of the Persian Empire

Originating between 1800-1600 B.C.E. in present-day Iran, the history of Zoroastrianism is closely linked with the histories of the successive dynasties that have come and gone in ancient Babylon to medieval Persia. The Shah Nameh, or, the Book of Kings as recorded by Persian poet Firdausi in the 10th century C.E. places the Achaemenian Persians as the dynasty that is regarded as the first historic Zoroastrian dynasty. Enjoying a central position as the state-religion till the 7th century C.E., Zoroastrianism was gradually pushed to the margins during the Islamic invasions in later decades, and, as explained by Dr. Cama, became a reason for the loss of manuscripts and tangible heritage of Zoroastrians of Iran. In this segment, a brief overview of the history of the Persian empire helps situate the geography and history of the faith itself.

Part 4: The Parsis in India

The earliest texts that record the entry of Parsis in India dates to around 1600 C.E. by Bahman Kaikobad, who recorded a text detailing the conditions imposed by the Jadav Mandaliks, the rulers of small regions in western India during the 7th-9th century when Parsis fled their homeland after the Sassanian defeat. Since they came from what was then known in India as Pars, they became Parsis. Gradually, the Parsi community in these regions grew in number, and Navsari became a center of community activity where the Vadi Dar-e-Meher was built in in 1142 C.E. However, the influence of Parsis is much more visible in later centuries, when the Mughal emperor Akbar was drawn to the faith due to his Persian lineage, and ordered that a fire be kept burning constantly at his court while the Persian calendar became the Mughal calendar. During the colonial period, Parsis became affluent businessmen working in the ship-making and cotton-textile industries, setting up one of the first mills in India in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. To this day, Parsis are indulged in various forms of trading activities within and outside India.

Part 5: The Parsis in India: Growing Influences

In this segment, Dr. Shernaz Cama takes forward the discussion on Parsis in India and talks about their contribution to the nation and society in great detail. Be it the Tatas or Godrejs who have been stalwarts in business and industry, or scientists like Dr. Homi Bhabha, Parsis have had a long-lasting effect on the fabric of India’s economy, society, and politics. According to Dr. Cama, in their varied contributions to the nation one can see the strong determination to follow the Zoroastrian motto, Humata, Hukata, Huvarashta–good thoughts, good words, and good action.

Part 6: The Diaspora & New Beginnings

A religion that has always faced the brunt of history in either being exiled or the community forced to seek asylum elsewhere, Zoroastrianism has only recently become known today due to the endeavors of leaders within this small community as mentioned in the previous segment. However, even after centuries of existence, the Zoroastrian population across the world faces an existential crisis today, as most of the practitioners of the faith live in small diasporic communities scattered around the world. Talking about these and other issues that exist within the faith today, Dr. Cama raises the important question of if and how the faith will survive in modern times, and tries to engage with the issues that the religion faces today.

Folk Religions in South Asia by Tanuja Kothiyal
Part 1: An Introduction to Folk Traditions in South Asia - Typologies & Mythemes.

Known for its more systematic and textual-rich religions, the South-Asian region also hosts a variety of folk religions that occupy liminal spaces between formal religious traditions. In this video, Prof. Tanuja Kothiyal talks about folk religions in the region through an examination of various myths that are associated with sacrificial traditions, veneration of the deceased, and other such typologies. Through an extensive set of examples, Prof. Kothiyal establishes how most myths surrounding folk traditions in India operate on one or more of such “mythemes”, and how, even though there is a conscious decision made to associate such traditions with Hinduism, they are, in essence, different and mostly correspond to the immediate needs of the community that is directly related with them.

Part 2: Little Tradition & Great Tradition

Folk religions, as mentioned previously, occupy the liminal spaces between formalized religions and come from a smaller geographical context. However, as the traditions expand, these ‘little traditions’ on the one hand associate themselves with the local folk cults and on the other hand with the larger formalized traditions with associations with deities that are more universally recognized and revered. Commenting on the processes of the processes of such intersections, Prof. Tanuja uses the example of the myth of Pabuji from the state of Rajasthan, where tropes of deceit and immortality in the greater traditions are used as plot-points of continuity for the little traditions. Association of local folk cultures with avataric traditions not only create a bridge between local and more established formal religions, but also assist in the expansion of the former by bringing in a new set of devotees.

Part 3: Marginal Practices and Folk Traditions

In the last video, Prof. Tanuja Kothiyal explains the process through which a bridge is created between folk religious traditions and more established traditions in South Asia. However, in this process, the cultural practices of marginalized communities can be wiped out. In this segment, Prof. Kothiyal uses the examples of traditions of Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh in Pakistan and the Iravan shrines in Tamil Nadu in South India to depict the processes through the marginalized communities in both countries gain their own traditions that are not masked by the presence of a greater tradition above them. Moreover, it is in the intersections of folk and marginal religious practices that a new kind of discourse on religiosity is found, that not only allows devotees to practice non-institutionalized methods, but also indicates processes through which a reverse of the bridging mentioned previously occurs.

Guru Nanak was Here With Us: The Role of Religion in the Indian Farmers Protest by Dr. Christine Moliner
Part 1: Introduction to Sikhism

In this video, Dr. Moliner briefly introduces the religion of Sikhism and goes on to talk about what she believes is a relatively under-researched field–the study of religion in Social Movements. To study this, Moliner uses the Farmer’s Protest that took place in the borders of Delhi, which saw the participation of a large number of Sikh farmers from Punjab protesting against the three farming laws that were aiming at liberalizing & corporatizing Indian agriculture, until the government repelled those laws in December of 2021.

Part 2:The Study of Religion in Social Movements

Continuing on her earlier note, Dr. Moliner provides a brief timeline of events surrounding the movement, and then goes on to list out the various Sikh organizations that had stepped in to support the agitation of the farmers. In this process, Dr. Moliner talks about the processes through which religion—or Sikhism—inserts itself into social movements.

Part 3: The Role of Leftist and Radical Politics in the Farmer’s Movement

In this video, Dr. Moliner continues to talk about the processes through which the movement lent a religious fervor to itself. Protest sites were also sites of deeply spiritual, even mystical experiences. However, what is also important to understand that a rich history of the left & radical politics that has been a constant feature of 20th Century Punjab played an important role in the farmers’ movement.

What is Sufism?: Reflections on the Practice of the Sacred in North-Western India by Yogesh Snehi
Part 1: Introduction to Sufism

Practiced in south-Asia and specifically widely in India and Pakistan, Sufism is a spiritual practice embedded in the precepts of mystical Islam, possessing a rich culture and traditions that run into over seven centuries of history. In this video, Dr. Snehi talks about Sufism through the widely popular practices that are prevalent to this day in India and Pakistan, and establishes contemporality through narratives of the past.

Part 2: Sufi Traditions, Social Reform, and the Academia.

As part of what later came to be known as ‘reformist’ religion within Islam, Dr. Snehi imparts a critical view to the continuous entanglement of the state and religion, and how specifically in the case of the Indian subcontinent, academia has always been informed by these intersections and has looked at religion from the point of view of political economy, rather than on its own. In this video, Dr. Snehi comments on the heterogeneity of Sufism and the issues that have risen due to a narrow understanding of it, thus leading to academic and cultural challenges.

Part 3: Sufi Shrines and Popular Visual Culture

Commenting on the importance of visual representation in Sufism, Dr. Snehi states that visuals [in Sufism] “become a medium of communication, establishing pilgrims’ connection with Sufi shrines.” During the post-partition period, visual representation and circulation of Sufi saints and shrines located in Pakistan in India became an important medium through which Sufism entangled with popular culture. However, in this video, Dr. Snehi tries to comment on the question of why such ‘local’ art has to this date been largely ignored by historians. He tries to explain the pre-occupation of academia with ‘high-art’ before moving on to newer forms of amalgamation of Sufism with popular culture, especially through songs and films.

Part 4: Why Sufi Shrines continue to thrive in Punjab?

A state that has been in constant flux since the medieval times, Sufi shrines within Punjab have also undergone remarkable changes over the centuries. As Dr. Snehi states, before the partition, it was noted that during festivities at a given shrine, Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs participated in tandem. In the post-partition period as Punjab was reduced to a purely Sikh majoritarian state, a lot of the pirs became extent, with their caretakers now in Pakistan. Many of such sacred spaces lay desolate, only eventually to be rejuvenated by the combined efforts of local Hindu and Sikh patrons, whose beliefs and heterogeneity of traditions embedded embeddedness Sufism to their everyday life through large circulation of its popular culture. Through various examples of celebrations that occur today in these shrines operated by Hindu and Sikh families, Dr. Snehi answers the questions he himself poses in this part.

The Arya Samaj in Colonial North India by Richa Raj
Part 1: Founding of the Arya Samaj and its Beliefs

Arising during a tumultuous period in the history of colonial India, the Arya Samaj was an important social and religious reform movement that, although originating in Northern India, had profound impact in the social, religious, and political functioning of the entire sub-continent in the 19th and 20th centuries. In this segment, Dr. Richa Raj talks about the origins of the movement under its founder and most impactful leader, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, and the various tenets, aims, and ideals, that this belief propagated among its followers. While doing so, Dr. Raj also establishes a firm geographical context in which Arya Samaj continued to disseminate and flourish throughout these centuries.

Part 2: Organization of the Arya Samaj

Taking the discussion further on the Arya Samaj as an emerging and nascent religious order in the 19th century, Dr. Raj focuses on the organization itself in this lecture. Focusing on the various sabhas, or assemblies that became a part of the functioning of the religion, she comments on how a democratized set up was ensured by Swami Dayanand Saraswati. More than being set up for controlling various Samaj bodies scattered across the country, these sabhasor assemblies were also responsible for dissemination of Vedic and religious knowledge, philanthropy, and other such activities.

Part 3: Impact of the Arya Samaj

In this segment, Dr. Richa Raj encapsulates the varied socio-political impact that the Arya Samaj had during a period of colonial oppression in the late 19th century. With it’s radical, revivalist, and at the same time modernist ideology which focused not only on the emancipation of the most underprivileged sections of the society but also supported and established institutions for the education of women, Arya Samaj also had profound impact in rejuvenating a spirit of self-help and self-reliance among the masses in colonial North India. Although there exist—and rightly so—various strands of debates in the nature and magnitude of these ventures of the Samaj, Dr. Raj strives to provide a objective account of the same.

Rise of Islam by Dr. Amita Paliwal
Part 1: Origins of Islam

During the 6th and 7th centuries C.E., west Asia was marked by a combination of settled cultures and communities of people mostly tribal in nature who were either agro-pastoralists or traders and merchants. Emerging from the Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe, Abul Qasim Muhammad b. Abdullah rose in stature as gradually as the messiah¸ who had heard the message of a monotheistic God and know had the responsibility to disseminate it. In this segment, Dr Amita Paliwal not only goes over the history of the origins of Islam in Western Asia during this time period, but also delves deeper into historiographical enquiries surrounding the various theories that are intertwined with the rise of the religion.

Part 2: Spread of Islam after the Death of Prophet Muhammad

In this segment, Dr Paliwal takes the discussion further and talks about the fissures in the religious and political spheres of Islam after the death of the Prophet. The immediate aftermath of the death of the Prophet saw the rise of the Caliphate and its eventual proliferation under the Abbasids and Umayyads. It was during this period that the religion itself was also bifurcated into two separate sects, and remains so to this day. Dr Paliwal explains the causations behind this bifurcation, and ends the lecture with a discussion on the emergence of Sultanates under the Turks as a watershed movement in the history of Islam, which led to what has been a largely discussed part of Islamic history–the crusades in the West.

Part 3: Islam in India

In this segment, Dr Paliwal talks about the early incursions of Islam in India through the Turks, who, as mentioned earlier rose to the center of Islamic political authority during the 9th and 10th centuries C.E. In the later centuries, these people moved further west into Sindh and conquered those areas before finally setting up political authority in Delhi and founding the Delhi Sultanate, which ruled India from the 12th to the 16th centuries, before the establishment of the Mughal empire. In this lecture, Dr Paliwal seeks to explain the cultural, social, and political ideals that were introduced into India during this period by these communities, while also pointing at the novel forms of art and architecture that to this day becomes the identity of the city of Delhi.

Part 4: Akbar and the Mughals

After the gradual demise of the Sultanate it was Babur, who in 1526 C.E. established what later became infamous as the magnificent Mughal empire in India which continued to rule till the mid-19th century, till the time the British took control over the political authority in India. In this segment, Dr Paliwal focuses on the initial rulers in the Mughal dynasty and talks in detail about the syncretism and tolerance of Akbar, one of the most farsighted, competent, and powerful rulers of India. Under his rule the Mughal empire flourished in all manners, and art, literature, and architecture also developed and reached new heights. In this segment, Dr Paliwal also talks about the innovative political and administrative methods introduced by the Mughals under Akbar, which continued unabated for centuries after him.

Part 5: The Rule of Aurangzeb

In the last video, Dr Paliwal continues to talk about history of the Mughal rulers in India, and juxtaposes the perception of Islam that was nurtured by more secular rulers like Akbar, and those on the opposite side of the spectrum like Aurangzeb. It is interesting to note that although Muslim rulers were the heads of state, the Mughal empire did not have an official religion for a long period of time, and especially under Akbar the empire enjoyed freedom of expression towards religion as never seen before. Thus, it becomes interesting to note how successive Muslim rulers of the Mughal empire confronted the plurality of the subjects they ruled upon, and how their own faith played a big part in their actions as emperors. Dr Paliwal continues her lecture on the politics of Aurangzeb, the last great ruler of the Mughal empire who often has been misrepresented through various modern notions of being a ‘sectarian’ ruler and a bigot. After him, however, the collapse of the Mughal empire began and new principalities emerged, which was then finally taken over and consolidated by the British under its own flag in the 19th century.