The next installment of The Comparison Project will feature Anantanand Rambachan, professor of religion at St. Olaf College, whose lecture will continue in the Project’s theme of “Religion Beyond Words.” Rambachan will deliver his lecture, “ ‘That From Which All Words Return’: The Distinctive Methods of Language Utilization in Hinduism’s Philosophical Tradition of Advaita Vedanta,” on Thursday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. in the Sussman Theater, 2875 University Ave., on the Drake campus.
“Advaita” regards the words of the Upaniṣads, part of the Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, as a valid source for our knowledge of the limitless (brahman), which is considered the highest reality for Hindus. Speaking about brahman, however, is challenging as it possesses none of the characteristics through which words are usually able to describe a subject. Advaita offers a skillful mode of instruction about brahman, employing finite word-symbols to speak of the infinite. This lecture will consider this predicament and the methods employed in the texts and tradition to deal with the limits of language.
Rambachan has taught at St. Olaf College since 1985. His books include Accomplishing the Accomplished: The Vedas as a Source of Valid Knowledge in Śaṅkara, The Limits of Scripture: Vivekananda’s Reinterpretation of the Authority of the Vedas, The Advaita Worldview: God, World and Humanity, and A Hindu Theology of Liberation: Not-Two is Not One. The BBC transmitted a series of 25 lectures on Hinduism by Professor Rambachan around the world.
The Comparison Project is sponsored by the Drake University Humanities Center, Humanities Iowa, The Medbury Fund, The Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship at Drake University, Des Moines Area Religious Council, and Cultivating Compassion: The Richard Deming Foundation.