Gift Allows CSWR to Host 'Hindu View of Life' Lectures

September 9, 2015
Hanuman, a Hindu god
Hanuman, a Hindu god.

The Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) at Harvard Divinity School will soon host a new annual lecture focused on the value of the Hindu view of life.

The inaugural lecture took place on April 14, 2016, and was delivered by Vasudha Narayanan, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida. Arvind Sharma, Birks Professor in Comparative Religion at McGill University, will deliver the second annual lecture in the fall of 2016.


The CSWR's new "Hindu View of Life Annual Lecture" aims to constructively address the current urgent issues of our time from a perspective informed by insights and values arising from Hindu traditions, both of India and of Hinduism globally.

The lecture's inaugural years are made possible by a generous gift given by Akhil Gupta, who was chairman of Blackstone India, and is a fellow in Harvard's Advanced Leadership Initiative.

Francis X. Clooney, the director of the CSWR, expressed his own appreciation for the gift, another in the Center's growing list of annual funded lectures.

"Mr. Gupta's gift," Clooney said, "enables the Center, and all of Harvard, to engage Hinduism more fully, with a focus that speaks to the all-important integration of learned traditions and ways of life.”

The lessons of Hinduism's core tenets are as relevant for the modern world, Gupta said, as they were in ancient times, appealing "to a wide cross section of people, from the very scientifically-oriented to those with a devotional bent of mind."

In fitting with the CSWR's mission of examining the historical and contemporary interrelationships among religions, the lecture may also include attention to the Hindu view of pluralism and the religious traditions of the world.

"It is my privilege to support the efforts of the Center in promoting interfaith dialogue and the opportunity for traditions to be learning from one other," said Gupta.

What's more, the "Hindu View of Life Annual Lecture" honors the memory of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a distinguished scholar, philosopher, and statesman, whose address inaugurated the CSWR in 1960. The lecture evokes the memory of his book, The Hindu View of Life, which is comprised of his well-known 1926 lectures on "Religious Experience," "The Conflict of Religions," and two lectures on "Hindu Dharma."

Gupta notes that "the value of the Hindu view of life" is not simply because of the very ancient origins of this wisdom, but "because of the universal message it contains for all times and all peoples."

Each academic year, a distinguished scholar will be invited to Harvard to deliver the lecture. He or she will be selected by the CSWR director after consultation with the Center's advisory board and, as appropriate, other interested and expert persons at Harvard and in the wider community. Lecturers may be invited from anywhere in the world. The annual lecture may also be accompanied by class talks, seminars, and other conversations with faculty and students of the CSWR, the Divinity School, and Harvard University.