Professor Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad Fellow of the British AcademyDistinguished Professor
Areas of Expertise
Indian (Hindu, Buddhist, Jain) and comparative phenomenology, epistemology, metaphysics, theology, and philosophy of religion; religion, politics and conflict; South Asian religious identities in contemporary Britain; the conceptual sources of modern Hindu life and beliefs.
Books and other publications
Papers: Around fifty papers in a wide range of journals like Philosophy East and West, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Ageing and Society, Contemporary South Asia, Journal of Hindu Studies, etc., and edited volumes.
Knowledge and Liberation in Classical Indian Thought, Library of Philosophy and Religion, Palgrave, Basingstoke, 2001
Advaita Epistemology and Metaphysics: An Outline of Indian Non-Realism, Routledge Curzon, London, 2002
Eastern Philosophy, Weidenfield and Nicholson, London, 2005
India: Life, Myth and Art, Duncan Baird, London, 2006
Indian Philosophy and the Consequences of Knowledge: Themes in metaphysics, ethics and soteriology Ashgate, Aldershot, 2007
Divine Self, Human Self. The Philosophy of Being in Two Gita Commentaries, Bloomsbury, New York, 2013 Winner of the Best Book 2011-15, Society for Hindu Christian Studies
Human Being, Bodily Being: phenomenological case studies from classical India, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2018
My recent and current research areas are as follows:
1.I have begun a project on the way narrative and philosophical exploration of emotions in classical Indian texts offer a philosophical anthropology, with a particular focus on gender.
2. I am also working with colleagues in the UK and US on developing a framework for comparative classical studies that can help us think historically and conceptually across different 'classical' traditions (initially India and Europe) while also opening up a critical evaluation of the notion of the 'classical' itself.
3. Conceptions of bodily being in classical Indian thought. I recently published a book that looks at how different intuitions about the bodily nature of phenomenology are expressed in different genres of classical Indian materials - a medical compendium, the Caraka Saṃhitā (c 1st c); narrative of a debate on gender and metaphysics from the Mahābhārata (c 1st c); distinctive contemplative practices in Buddhaghosa's 5th c Pāli manual, the Visuddhimagga; and the erotic poetry of Śrī Harṣa's major court poem, the Naiṣadhacarita (12th c).
4. Dialogue and its possibilities: I was CI on an AHRC project with Brian Black (PI), 'In Dialogue With the Mahābhārata', 2016-18, which focussed on the implications of the many and varied dialogues narrated in that the great Sanskrit composition. From careful textual and contextual study, we sought to open up the study of dialogue and its purposes, not only in other Indian compositions and genres, but cross-culturally.
5. Religion and politics, with a focus on the theoretical possibilities offered in interpeting political and public religion in the world, outside the constraints of the modern liberal Western experience, especially through a comparative theological analysis of the politics of secularism. In the more specific area of religion and identity in Britain, I worked under a Home Office Grant with Gwen Griffith-Dickson of the Lokahi Foundation, London, to develop an account of integration of Hindus and Muslims into British society. My interest in the role of comparative theology in the political understanding of secular society has led toworking withthe Hindu-Christian Forum in the UK under the auspices of the Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and chairing the then-Archbishop's engagement with Hindu religious teacher-leaders in India in 2010. My project, 'Religion, Immigration and Integration', ran within the ESRC funded Centre for Corpus Approaches to Linguistics at Lancaster University, within which I was a CI (PI, Tony Mcenery): http://cass.lancs.ac.uk/, with Carmen Dayrell as Research Associate.
6. Comparative study of Indian and Chinese philosophies, especially on the issues of self and knowledge. I was the founding co-chair of the Comparative Studies in the Philosophy and Religion of India and China Group at the American Academy of Religion Conferences starting in 2011. This followed a successful five-year Seminar Series on the same topic. I also sit on the Board of the Working Papers Series on India and China of the India-China Institute at the New School, New York.
7. Theories of self: I was PI on a major AHRC research project: Self: HinduResponses to Buddhist Critiques (http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/projects/self/index.htm) (2008-11). My work for this project was primarily on i) arguments for the diachronic unity of consciousness and the relationship between subject unity and theories of self; ii) the relationship between personal identity and the unity of consciousness, especially with regard to memory; and iii) the theological and ethical dimensions of Hindu conceptions of human and divine self. An outgrowth of this project, tied also to some elements of 3., below, has been an interest in the neurophilosophical aspects of meditative states, focussing on the conceptual debates about consciousness and selfhood between Hindu and Buddhist practices of meditation. In this regard, I have worked with members of the Mind Life Institute, after presenting papers on Hindu theories of consciousness and contemporary neuroscientific and cognitive scientific issues at Mind Life Institute's first major public conference in India in the presence of HH the Dalai Lama.
8. Theories of consciousness derived from classical Indian thought, for which I held an award from the John Templeton Foundation. My work at the National Institute for Advanced Studies, Bangalore in 2006-07 was primarily on the reconceptualisation of the cognitive science agenda through classical Indian theories of consciousness.
I studied Politics, Sociology and History at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute for Higher Learning in India, and took a doctorate in Philosophy at Oriel College, Oxford. I taught at the National University of Singapore and held Research Fellowships at Trinity College, Oxford and Clare Hall, Cambridge before joining Lancaster. I have also been Visiting Fellow at Benares Hindu University, Ecole Francaise d' Extreme Orient, Pondicherry, De Nobili College, Pune, and Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles and the National Institute for Advanced Studies, Bangalore.
I have a range of interests in global and comparative studies. I sit on the academic advisory council of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, and I am a Senior Fellow of the Mind Life Institute. I also previously sat on the academic council of the Global Religion and Ethics Forum and I was Asia advisor for the Templeton Foundation's Global Perspective on Science and Spirituality Programme, 2004-6, and sat on the Board of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, 2009-11.
I served as the South Asia Reviews Editor of Philosophy East and West (2004-14); and sit on the editorial and advisory board of the Online Forum of the Society for Asian and Comparative Philosophy, Blackwell Compass Religion, Diskus, the online journal of the British Association for the Study of Religion, and Fu Jen International Religious Studies.
I am General Editor for Mysticism and Spirituality for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia for Religion, and Editor of the Bloomsbury Research Handbooks on Asian Philosophy.
I regularly lecture at universities in the US, Europe, East Asia and India. Apart from many invited conference talks and plenary lectures, major lectures have included the Weidenfield Lecture, Glasgow University, 2006; the Bimal Matilal Memorial Lecture, Jadavpur University, 2007; the Swami Haridas Memorial Lecture, Madras University, 2007; the inaugural Comparative Theology lecture at Harvard Divinity School, 2008, Dahlem Humanities lectures, Free University Berlin, 2011, Majewski Lecture, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, 2012, the Huntington Lecture, Chapman University, 2103; Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures in 2012-13 and 2015; the Engelsberg Seminar on the Future of Religion, 2014; the Akhil Gupta Lecture on 'Hindu View of Life' at Harvard University, 2018.
In 2017, I was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. In 2019 I was appointed to the Standing Committee of its Theology and Religion Section.
Selected News and Events
I gave the Huntington Lecture at Chapman University on the Hindu woman mystic and poet Ānṭāl in September 2013
November 2010: I took part in the Mind Life Institute's public conference on neuroscience and meditation in Delhi, in the presence of HH the Dalai Lama.I presented two papers, one on general challenges facing the neuroscientific study of Indian meditative practices and the role of a proper understanding of the classical philosophical arguments that inform those practices; and the other on the specific Hindu school of Advaita Vedanta.
December 2010: Together with my colleague Dr Brian Black, and former colleague Dr Irina Kuznetsova, I conducted a workshop at Gresham College where we sought to present to a wider audience some key findings from the AHRC major research project, Self: Hindu Responses to Buddhist Critiques.
Here are links to some episodes in In Our Time in which I have participated:
The Bhagavad Gītā
Hindu Ideas of Creation
The Goddess Lakshmi
A documentary on the Kumbh Mela
A lecture on gender in the Mahābhārata is podcast by New England Public Radio (NEPR)
BBC World Service, The Forum with Bridget Kendall
BBC Radio 4, Beyond Belief. On Space
'Decolonzing Philosophy', Debate for the Insititute of Art and Ideas, HowTheLightGetsIn Festival, Hay-on-Wye
Michaelmas Term 2018
PPR 253: Hinduism in the Modern World
PPR 362: Religion and Violence
Lent Term 2019
EPR 100: Ethics, Philosophy and Religion - Hinduism and Buddhism
PPR 253: Gender and Religion
PPR 492d: Religion and Conflict
Comparative philosophy, especially phenomenology, epistemology, metaphysics and theories of consciousness; comparative studies of India and China; classical Indian thought; history of Hinduism; Hindu theology; contemporary Indian politics and religion; multiculturalism and British society; comparative political philosophy
PhD Supervision Interests
Indian Philosophy - classical and modern, especially in: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, consciousness studies
Comparative Philosophy, especially Indian and Western: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, consciousness studies,and political thought
Comparative Hindu and Christian theology
Religion and politics: South Asia, and comparative studies
Multiculturalism and British society
Dialogue in extremis: Vālin in the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa
Ram-Prasad, C. 20/03/2019 In: In Dialogue With Classical Indian Traditions. London : Routledge p. 228-243. 16 p. ISBN: 9781138541399.
In a double way: Namarupa in buddhaghosa's phenomenology
Heim, M., Ram-Prasad, C. 1/10/2018 In: Philosophy East and West. 68, 4, p. 1085-1115. 31 p.
Human Being, Bodily Being: Phenomenology from Classical India
Ram-Prasad, C. 08/2018 Oxford : Oxford University Press. 204 p. ISBN: 9780198823629.
Religion, Immigration and Integration: self-representation amongst immigrant communities with religious identity
Dayrell, C., Ram-Prasad, C., Griffith-Dickson , G. 2018
In a Double Way: Nāma-rūpa in Buddhaghosa's Phenomenology
Heim, M., Ram-Prasad, C. 14/03/2017 In: Philosophy East and West.
Reading the Ācāryas: a generous conception of the theological method
Ram-Prasad, C. 04/2014 In: International Journal of Hindu Studies. 7, 1, p. 98-112. 15 p.
Divine self, human self: a comparative theology from two Gita commentaries
Ram-Prasad, C. 2013 London/New York : Continuum. 176 p. ISBN: 9781441154644.
Pluralism and liberalism: reading the Indian Constitution as a philosophical document for Constitutional Patriotism
Ram-Prasad, C. 2013 In: Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. 16, 5, p. 676-697. 22 p.
Self and memory: personal identity and unified consciousness in comparative perspective
Ram-Prasad, C. 2012 Farnham : Ashgate. ISBN: 978-1-4094-4354-4. Electronic ISBN: 978-1-4094-4355-1.
The phenomenal separateness of self: Udayana on body and agency
Ram-Prasad, C. 6/09/2011 In: Asian Philosophy. 21, 3, p. 323-340. 18 p.
Indian cognitivism and the phenomenology of conceptualization
Kasturirangan, R., Guha, N., Ram-Prasad, C. 2011 In: Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences. 10, 2, p. 277-296. 20 p.
Situating the Elusive Self of Advaita Vedanta
Ram-Prasad, C. 2010 In: Self, No Self? Perspectives from Analytical, Phenomenological, and Indian Traditions. Oxford University Press p. 217-238. 22 p. ISBN: 978-0-19-959380-4.
Indian Philosophy and the Consequences of Knowledge: Themes in Ethics, Metaphysics and Soteriology.
Ram-Prasad, C. 2007 Ashgate. 240 p. ISBN: 0754654567.
Hindu perspectives on Islam
Ram-Prasad, C. 2006 In: Religions view religions : explorations in pursuit of understanding. Amsterdam : Rodopi p. 177-196. 20 p. ISBN: 9042018585.
Hindus and non-Hindus.
Ram-Prasad, C., Patton, L. 2006 In: The life of Hinduism. Berkley : University of California Press 324 p. ISBN: 9780520249134.
India : life, myth and art.
Ram-Prasad, C. 2006 London : Duncan Baird.
Ram-Prasad, C. 2005 Weidenfield & Nicolson. ISBN: 0-297-84744-9.
Hindu views of Jesus
Ram-Prasad, C. 2005 In: Jesus in the world’s faiths : leading thinkers from five religions reflect on his meaning. Maryknoll, N.Y. : Orbis p. 81-90. 10 p. ISBN: 1570755736.
Non-violence and the other : a composite theory of multiplism, heterology and heteronomy drawn from Jainism and Gandhi.
Ram-Prasad, C. 12/2003 In: Angelaki. 8, 3, p. 3-22. 20 p.
Contemporary political Hinduism.
Ram-Prasad, C. 2003 In: Companion to Hinduism. Oxford : Blackwell p. 526-550. 25 p. ISBN: 0631215352.
A Comparative Treatment of the Paradox of Confirmation.
Ram-Prasad, C. 1/08/2002 In: Journal of Indian Philosophy. 30, 4, p. 339-358. 20 p.
Promise, power and play: Conceptions of childhood and forms of the divine.
Ram-Prasad, C. 08/2002 In: International Journal of Hindu Studies. 6, 2, p. 147-173. 27 p.
Advaita epistemology and metaphysics : an outline of Indian non-realism.
Ram-Prasad, C. 2002 London : Routledge. 274 p.
Being Hindu and/or governing India? Religion, social change and the state.
Ram-Prasad, C. 2002 In: The freedom to do God's will : religious fundamentalism and social change. London : Routledge p. 159-196. 38 p.
Conflict-management and reconciliation as challenges of governance : India at the start of the 21st century.
Ram-Prasad, C. 2002 In: Religion, conflict and reconciliation. Amsterdam : Rodopi p. 231-238. 8 p.
Saving the Self? Classical Hindu Theories of Consciousness and Contemporary Physicalism.
Ram-Prasad, C. 07/2001 In: Philosophy East and West. 51, 3, p. 378-392. 15 p.
Knowledge and liberation in classical Indian thought.
Ram-Prasad, C. 2001 Basingstoke : Palgrave.
Multiplism : a Jaina meta-ethics of toleration.
Ram-Prasad, C. 2001 In: Ethics and the world religions. Oxford : One World Press p. 347-369. 23 p.
What kind of questions do Hindu philosophers ask?
Ram-Prasad, C. 2001 In: Meeting Hindus. Leicester : Christians Aware p. 16-23. 8 p.
Conceptuality in question : teaching and cognition in Yogacara-Madhymaka.
Ram-Prasad, C. 09/2000 In: Religious Studies. 36, 3, p. 277-291. 15 p.
Knowledge and action I : means to the human end in Bhatta Mimamsa and Advaita Vedanta.
Ram-Prasad, C. 02/2000 In: Journal of Indian Philosophy. 28, 1, p. 1-24. 24 p.
Knowledge and action II : attaining liberation in Bhatta Mimamsa and Advaita Vedanta.
Ram-Prasad, C. 02/2000 In: Journal of Indian Philosophy. 28, 1, p. 25-41. 17 p.
Hindu nationalism and India's international relations.
Ram-Prasad, C. 2000 In: Religion and international relations. London : Macmillan p. 140-197. 58 p.
Hindu nationalism and the international relations of India.
Ram-Prasad, C. 2000 In: Religion and international relations. London : Macmillan p. 140-197. 58 p.
Religious experience in the Hindu traditions.
Ram-Prasad, C. 2000 Oxford, 16 p.
Liberation without annihilation : Parthasarathis Misra on jnanasakti.
Ram-Prasad, C. 10/1999 In: Sambhasa : Nagoya Studies in Indian Culture & Buddhism. p. 1-20. 20 p.
Review of K. Ballhatchet, 'Caste, class and Catholicism'.
Ram-Prasad, C. 08/1999 In: Reviews in Religion and Theology. 6, 3, p. 334-335. 2 p.
Review of W. Sinclair-Brull, 'Female ascetics'.
Ram-Prasad, C. 08/1999 In: Reviews in Religion and Theology. 6, 3, p. 268-271. 4 p.
ESRC centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science - CASS
31/03/2013 → 30/03/2018
Hindu senses of self: Critiques of Buddhist Reductionism
01/01/2008 → 31/03/2011