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Diane Manuel, News Service (650) 725-1945; e-mail:

Religions in early India are focus of Oct. 9-10 conference

"Religions of Early India: Interactions" will be the theme of a two-day conference hosted by the Department of Religious Studies Oct. 9-10.

The conference will be held in the Donald Kennedy Room of the Haas Center for Public Service, 563 Salvatierra Walkway. It is free and open to the public.

In previous years, the annual Evans-Wentz Symposium on Asian Religion has focused on East Asian religions, most often Buddhism, because the department has a strong graduate program in those fields. This year, for the first time, the conference will focus on religions of South Asia, including Buddhism, Brahmanism/Hinduism and Jainism.

Eight scholars will present papers that reflect on the ways in which these traditions in the early periods of their formation shared common ground, defined themselves and interacted across boundaries that often were fluid. The papers will address texts, practices and histories ranging from approximately the 12th century BCE to the early centuries of the common era.

Gregory Schopen, a professor of religion at the University of California-Los Angeles who will join the religious studies department next year, will present a paper titled "On Buddhist Rules and Brahmanical Values." Other internationally known senior scholars include Wendy Doniger of the University of Chicago; Professors P.S. Jaini and Frits Staal of the University of California-Berkeley; and Patrick Olivelle of the University of Texas-Austin.

"It is a first for Stanford to do anything this significant on Indian religions," says Linda Hess, a visiting assistant professor who also teaches at the University of California-Berkeley.

"Usually the major traditions Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism are treated as discrete fields and have their own specialists," Hess adds. "But we are creating a conversation among these specialists and looking in a dynamic way at the processes of early religious formations."



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