Chair in Hindu Studies
Established in 1989, the Chair in Hindu Studies is the first of its kind in North America, and also the first Chair endowed at Concordia University. Dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of Hinduism, the Chair supports dissemination of knowledge about the tradition through teaching and research, public lectures, conferences at the national and international levels, and other academic events. Previous chair, Professor T.S. Rukmani, was also involved in deepening knowledge of Hinduism through community outreach programs. Additionally, as Concordia's Hindu chaplain at inter-faith gatherings, she played a significant role in enhancing inter-religious dialogue and multicultural understanding.
Students may pursue Hindu Studies at Concordia through undergraduate and graduate degree programmes in the Department of Religion.
In 1984, a group of Canadians of Indian origin approached Dr. M.N.S. Swamy, then Dean of Engineering at Concordia, with the proposal to establish a Chair in Hindu Studies at Concordia. Through the efforts of a number of interested members of Concordia's community, and the valuable support of Dr. John O'Brien, then Rector, the University's approval was obtained within sixty days. A fund-raising campaign spearheaded by Dr. Swamy, as Chair of the Steering Committee, began in 1985, and $500,000 was raised over a period of four years. Though the greater part was raised through contributions of members of the Hindu diaspora in Canada, members of other faith communities -- Jews, Muslims, and Christians -- also contributed generously. Deeming it a project worthy of support under the "Chair Programs" of the Ministry, the Hon. Gerard Wiener, then federal Minister of Multiculturalism, approved a generous contribution nearly matching the funds raised.
Dr. Krishna Sivaraman, the first Chair in Hindu Studies at Concordia University, held the position from its inception in 1989 until his untimely demise in 1991. Professor T.S. Rukmani held the position from 1996 - 2014.
Dr. T.S. Rukmani
Professor T.S. Rukmani is a distinguished scholar of the Hindu religious and philosophical traditions. She began her academic career in 1958, as the first woman and only the second person to earn a Ph.D. in Sanskrit from Delhi University. To date, she is the only person awarded the D.Litt. degree in Sanskrit since the university's establishment in 1924. Chair in Hindu Studies at Concordia University from 1996 to 2014, Dr. Rukmani has also held the positions of Chair in Hindu Studies and Indian Philosophy, University of Durban-Westville, South Africa (1993-1995); and Principal of Miranda House, Delhi University, India (1982-1993).
Dr. Krishna Sivaraman
Professor Sivaraman was appointed as the first Chair in Hindu Studies at Concordia in 1989, a position he occupied until his sudden demise in 1991. An eminent scholar of Saiva philosophy, Dr. Sivaraman obtained his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the Annamalai and Madras Universities, respectively. He embarked upon a distinguished academic career at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 1947, where he obtained his PhD in 1962. Prior to Concordia, he held positions as Professor in Indian Philosophy at McMaster University, Hamilton, where he taught from 1972; and earlier, Chair in Saiva Philosophy at Banaras Hindu University, which he was offered by Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, who was then Vice-Chancellor of BHU. While at BHU, he also held visiting professorships at the University of North Dakota, 1969-1970, and Elmira College, New York, 1964-1966.
Dr. Sivaraman authored several books on Hinduism and translated numerous works of Sanskrit and Tamil literature. Among his last publications are two edited volumes: Hindu Spirituality: Vedas through Vedanta, and Hindu Spirituality: The Widening Circle, vols. 6 and 7 in the World Spirituality Series (Crossroad Press, 1989 and 1990); and "Radhakrishnan and the Mystical," in Radhakrishnan: the Man and His Thought (Oxford University Press, 1989). Works from earlier in Dr. Sivaraman's career include the important monograph Saivism in Philosophical Perspective: A Study of the Formal Concepts, Problems, and Methods of Saiva Siddhanta (Motilal Banarsidass, 1973), and, co-edited with Harold Coward, Revelation in Indian Philosophy: A Festschrift in Honour of Professor T.R.V. Murti (Dharma Publications, 1977).
2010 marked the 20th anniversary of the Establishment of the Chair in Hindu Studies. To celebrate this anniversary, the following events took place(all events are free and open to the public):
- Monday August 9, 2010 7:30-8:30 pm at Temple Hindu Mandir (50 Kesmark St., D.D.O.) and Tuesday August 10, 2010 7:00-8:00 pm, Professor K. Ramasubramanian Sharma delivered a lecture on "How to Handle a Situation: Gems from the Ramayana."
- Wednesday August 11, 2010, 7:00-9:00 pm at Concordia University De Seve Theatre (1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd West), Professor K. Ramasubramanian Sharma gave a lecture on "The Maker and the Material: Are They Different?"
- August 15 - 21, 2010 Musical Meditation and Yogic Therapy Camp at Temple Hindu Mandir (50 Kesmark St., D.D.0) Mon-Fri: 6:30-8:30 pm Sat-Sun: 8:00-10 am. Please contact: Mr. Ashwini Gupta 514-684-6638, Mr. Shanti Soni 514-748-8512, Mr. Rajesh Arora 514-428-0304, Mr. Devi Pathak 514-624-8846
- Thursday August 26, 2010 7:30-9:30pm at Concordia University De Seve Theatre (1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd West), Gurumata Amma lectured on "Meditation and Health."
In the past ten years, the Hindu Studies Chair has organized two international conferences: "The Hindu Dispora" (1997) and "The Mahabharata" (May 18-20, 2001). Select papers from the Hindu Diaspora conference were published in the volume, Hindu Diaspora: Global Perspectives, ed. T.S. Rukmani (Munshiram Manoharlal, 2001). In addition, selected papers from the Mahabharata conference were published in the volume The Mahabharata: Whatever is Not Here is Nowhere Else, T.S. Rukmani, ed. (Munishiram Manoharlal, 2005).
Public Lectures"Grassroot Environmental Movements in India: Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions" Speaker: George Alfred James, University of Texas, November 1, 2002.
"Hinduism and the New Millennium." Panel discussion with panelists: K.L. Seshagiri Rao, University of Virginia, Ratna Ghosh, McGill University, Katherine Young, McGill University, Virendra Jha, Director General of the Canadian Space Agency, V. Subramaniam, Carleton University, May 20, 2000.
Other scholars who have delivered lectures at the invitation of the Chair in Hindu Studies are John Grimes and Subhash Kak.
Since 1998, Dr. Rukmani conducted an outreach program for community members who are interested in learning more about Hinduism. Through the study of primary materials in Sansrkit, the classes attempt to situate learning within the philosophical and cultural context of Hindu thought and practice. Texts such as the principal Upanisads, the Bhagavadgita, the Vivekacudamani, Patanjali's Yogasutra, and Sankaracarya's Upadesasahasri have been taught. Those covered in 2007-2008 were Isvarakrsna's Samkhyakarika and the Hitopadesa. Held once a week at Concordia, usually on Tuesdays between 6-8pm, the classes were non-credit and free of charge. Regular attendance of these classes by members of the community and the general public were a measure of its continuing popularity.
- Dr. Krishna Sivaraman, "Whither Hindu Studies?"
Video excerpt of inaugural address
- Dr. T.S. Rukmani, "Let us talk about Hinduism"
- Dr. T.S. Rukmani, "Hinduism: A paradigm of the centre and the circumference" Inaugural address as Chair at University of Durban-Westville, 18 August 1994.