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News ->Peer asks Oxford Scholars to give Hindu view

(26 June 2006)

Hindu Scholar at the Oxford Centre for Hindu StudiesToday, at the House of Lords, Lord Dholakia of Waltham Brooks congratulated the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS) - the world's leading centre for the study of Hindu traditions - on being granted the status of Recognised Independent Centre by Oxford University. Lord Dholakia spoke on the importance of making the public and politicians aware of what Hindu tradition has to say on matters of national and international concern. He said that Oxford University, noted globally for its high academic standards, is an excellent place to train younger generations in intelligently speaking for their communities.

OCHS is the younger of the first two institutions to be granted 'Recognised Independent Centre' status by Oxford University. It comes after just seven years of teaching, publishing and conducting research about all aspects of Hindu culture. This new formal status has been created by Oxford University to acknowledge independent institutions that are working with the University in research and teaching.

Prof Gavin Flood, Academic Director of the Centre, spoke of the significance of the Centre's new status: 'Recognised Independent Centre of Oxford University is a title we are proud to bear. It is an official recognition by Oxford University that we are its principal provider in the field of Hindu Studies, and thus a duly constituted member of the University's community.' He added: 'This development is important because culture and religion are of fundamental public concern as we move into the twenty-first century. We see this concern particularly in questions of identity politics, the degree to which diverse communities share common values, and the ways in which ethical codes interact with secular law.'

This new recognition is one of a growing number of creative partnerships between independent centres and universities. It is a response to the need for new resources and perspectives in the academic world.

The recognition also shows that the academic world is now acknowledging its need for help from centres that can link distinct communities and cultures with scholars, government and media in a critically sophisticated way.

This comes at a time when funding commitments to higher education are of national and international concern. By establishing this new status, Oxford University is continuing its commitment to innovation and co-operation in scholarship as well as affirming a support for greater diversity.

The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies is one of the world's leading academic centres for the study of Hinduism. It attracts students from all over the world, including many practising Hindus. It marks the beginning of a vibrant association of scholars in Hindu studies. This may prove to be an important model for enabling emerging communities to face issues of modernity and globalisation ' one of the great challenges of the twenty-first century ' in an intelligent, constructive way.

It allows communities to contribute to their study rather than simply being subjects of study.

HE Kamalesh SharmaThe Indian High Commissioner, His Excellency Kamlesh Sharma, said, 'The rising profile of India and the remarkable success of the worldwide community of Indian origin has increased interest in the foundations of India's culture and traditions. The affiliation with Oxford University advances the work of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies in providing serious academic focus on Hindu culture and its depth of wisdom and creativity for a wide audience. It is a significant gain for Oxford.'

As India's importance on the world stage grows, a rigorous, scholarly approach to Hindu Studies will allow it to preserve its cultures, take pride in its heritage, and understand how to accurately project its identity on the international stage.

The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies marks a significant development in Indian Studies at Oxford. In the nineteenth century, Indian Studies were aimed at giving missionaries and administrators a background knowledge of India before their departure. These studies focused on Indian history and languages. The OCHS has added Hindu Theology and Philosophy to the field. In 1830, Colonel Joseph Boden of the East India Company endowed the Boden Chair in Sanskrit to further Christian missionary work in India. An interesting mark of how the relationship between Oxford and India has matured is that Prof Richard Gombrich, emeritus Boden professor in Sanskrit, has been a member of the OCHS Board of Governors since its inception.


OCHS is the only academic institution in Europe dedicated to studying Hindu traditions in all their breadth and depth. As part of its outreach programme, the Centre is developing as a resource for scholars, media, and the business community seeking reliable information on Hindu philosophy, culture, and practice. Oxford's Indian Institute Library has the largest collection of Sanskrit manuscripts outside of India.

The OCHS has introduced the only accredited adult education course in Hindu Studies in Europe. OCHS is currently teaching this course at five locations around the country and is due online in October 2006.

The British Hinduism Oral History Project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and conducted by the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies is the only oral record of the first generation of Indian immigrants to the UK.


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