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. 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
An eminent scholar of Saiva philosophy, Dr. Sivaraman obtained his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the Annamalai and Madras Universities, respectively. Professor Sivaraman was appointed as the first Chair in Hindu Studies at Concordia in 1989, a position he occupied until his passing in 1991. He obtained his PhD in 1962 from Banaras Hindu University (BHU). Prior to Concordia, he held positions as Professor in Indian Philosophy at McMaster University, and Chair in Saiva Philosophy at Banaras Hindu University. 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).
2010 marked the 20th anniversary of the Establishment of the Chair in Hindu Studies. Events celebrating this anniversary included:
- Professor K. Ramasubramanian Sharma's lecture on "How to Handle a Situation: Gems from the Ramayana" at Temple Hindu Mandir
- A Musical Meditation and Yogic Therapy Camp also held at Temple Hindu Mandir
- Gurumata Amma's lecture on "Meditation and Health" held at Concordia University
In the past, 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).
The Hindu Studies Chair has organized 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.