Anyone who has been to South Asia knows that food is crucial. It plays a very important role as a biological necessity, as an economic commodity, as the primary ingredient of ritual and social transactions, as medium of social and familial interaction, as a marker of social boundaries, as a principle of classification, and as a focus of ethical concerns of both religious virtuosi and common people, food has always been and continues to be at the heart of Indian ritual practice, social behavior, common etiquette, and theological speculation.

In this seminar we will explore different examples were food and religious concepts weave the social realities of India. We will look at different religious communities –such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam– and their relationship to food. We will study food in its daily consumption, as well as special feasts that mark religious events in the calendar of different religious communities in India, or other special occasions such as the food consumed during life-cycle rites. We will also look at the different ways in which food is exchanged: begging, fasting, feasting etc. Most importantly our main focus will be on how food can be both the medium and the message of social conflict and how it gets mediated in the context of South Asia.

This seminar is suitable for both advanced BA and MA students. Fluency to be able to read and discuss in English language is expected, although written assignments can be done in German.

Durch eine Auswahl an Festen aus dem jährlichen hinduistischen Ritualzyklus betrachten wir historische und gegenwärtige hinduistische Ritualpraktiken sowohl im Lichte der Quellen, die diese Praktiken festlegen, als auch im Lichte der gegenwärtigen und historisch belegten Praktiken. Die Studierenden werden sich mit hinduistischer Mythologie, mit den diversen Göttinnen und Göttern, mit Pilgerreisen und – orten, mit dem Zusammenhang von Festen und speziellen Gerichten und vielen anderen Aspekten des hinduistischen religiösen Lebens beschäftigen.

To comprehend the dichroic aspects of the intellectual encounters around 16th century in North India, it is crucial to investigate the vigorous „debates“ carried out sometimes directly in imperial and regional courts, but usually indirectly through texts that were composed to counter the arguments of (imaginary, mostly unnamed) opponents. This course will focus on disputations and debates among diverse religious groups (Jainas, Nāthpanthis, Gauḍīyas, Vallabhites, Sufis etc.) within a relatively short time span of 50-70 years. The main aim is to ascertain the coefficients of mutual correlations that shaped the contours of Indian/ South Asian concepts of modernity (or perhaps multiple modernities) on the one hand, and on the other hand, to review the idea of „debate“ within the intellectual history of South Asia. Four broad areas will be examined in particular: (i) Violence and Nonviolence (ii) Caste and Liberation (iii) Hindu and Muslim Identity, and (iv) Authority. Within each topic we will look into the new ideas that initiate some kind of dissent, who are the flag bearers, in which geographical, political and religious context it is arising, who are the named or unnamed opponents, and what is the nature of the resulting debate. Apart from secondary literature, we will read primary texts in Sanskrit, Hindi and other NorthIndian dialects of the time for which a working translation will be made available.

Bei dieser Exkursion im Rietberg Museum (Zürich) werden Studierende von dem Stellvertretender Direktor und Kurator für Indien Herrn Johannes Belz durch die Alice Boner Ausstellung geführt und über die Berufswelt Museum informiert.

Vor allem anhand des Festes Navaratri/Durgapuja/Dassain werden wir uns mit sektarischen Ritualtexten in Sanskrit und mit sakralem Königtum beschäftigen. Anhand unterschiedlicher Quellen und Materialien sollen hierbei auch diverse hinduistische Festkulturen in ihrem historischen und lokalen Kontext bearbeitet und analysiert werden.