News from campus and beyond

World Religions Symposium continues throughout spring

Last updated March 2, 2015

By Tina Underwood

World Religions SymposiumFurman University will hold its annual World Religions Symposium beginning Thursday, Feb. 26 at 5:30 p.m. in Johns Hall 101 on the Furman campus.

The symposium, “Hinduism, A Living Tradition” is free and open to the public, and includes a series of lectures and other programs that run through April 20. All events are part of Furman’s Cultural Life Program except the March 3 lunch talk, and the final event, “Priesthood on Campus,” whose CLP status is pending.

The World Religions Symposium seeks to provide a forum for religious traditions to tell their own stories, no matter how complex or challenging they may be. The symposium is sponsored by the Office of the Chaplains, Furman’s Religious Council, Association of Hindu Students, Departments of Religion and Asian Studies, Anthropology Program, Cothran Center for Vocational Reflection, Mere Christianity Forum, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Furman Interfaith Youth Core, and A.S.I.A. Club.

Opening the symposium 5:30 p.m., Feb. 26 is Furman Religion Professor Lisa Knight, Ph.D., who presents “Hinduisms: Debating Tradition and Origins.”

Other speakers and programs for World Religions Symposium are:

  • “Hinduism: From India to America,” Tuesday, March 3, Noon, Younts Conference Center (includes lunch), with Harvard Divinity School Professor Diana Eck, Ph.D. (For reservations, email, or call (864) 294-2133 by Feb. 24.)
  • “The Turbulence of Religious Difference: The Challenge of Religious Pluralism in India and America,” Tuesday, March 3, 7 p.m., Younts Conference Center. Dr. Diana Eck presents the Townes Lecture keynote.
  • Holi: Festival of Colors, Bharata Kalarpana School of Dance and Fine Arts, Thursday, March 5, 4:30 p.m., Daniel Chapel.
  • “Ritual Exclusions: Religion, Politics, and the Hindu Right in India,” Wednesday, April 1, 7 p.m., Plyler Hall 126, Townes Science Center, with Dr. Kalyani Menon, Professor of Religious Studies, DePaul University.
  • “Priesthood on Campus,” Monday, April 20, 7:00 p.m., Watkins Room, Trone Student Center, with Dr. Bhagirath Majmudar, Emory University School of Medicine.

Dr. Lisa I. Knight is Associate Professor of South Asian Religions and Anthropology at Furman University. She researches everyday religious lives among a small religious group in South Asia, and some of her research was published in Contradictory Lives: Baul Women in India and Bangladesh (Oxford University Press, 2011). Her more recent work examines intersections between NGOs concerned with addressing societal ills and the songs Bauls compose and perform at NGO-sponsored educational functions. She is also writing about ethnographic representations of religious meaning.

Dr. Diana Eck is Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies, Frederic Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society, Harvard College Professor, and Master of the Lowell House. Her academic work has a dual focus—India and America—and in both cases she is interested in the challenges of religious pluralism in a multi-religious society. Her work on India includes Banaras: City of Light, Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India, and India: A Sacred Geography. Since 1991, she has headed the Pluralism Project, which now includes a network of some 60 affiliates exploring the religious dimensions of America’s new immigration.

Dr. Kalyani Menon, Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at DePaul University, is an anthropologist whose research focuses on the intersection of political ideology and religious practice in India. Much of her work has examined the religious politics of the Hindu Right in India. This research culminated in her book, Everyday Nationalism: Women of the Hindu Right in India published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. She is currently focusing on how Muslims residing in Old Delhi respond to the exclusionary and violent politics of the Hindu Right by constructing their identity, community, and national belonging in Modern India.

Dr. Bhagirath Majmudar is a Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine and Associate Professor of Obstetrics-Gynecology at Emory University School of Medicine. As an innovative teacher, he has won the Evangeline Papageorge award, the School of Medicine’s highest teaching award, and the Dean’s Award for outstanding teachers. Majmudar, faculty adviser to Emory’s Hindu Student Council, previously served 30 years as a Hindu priest to the Emory community.

For more information about the symposium, contact Maria Swearingen in the Office of the Chaplains at (864) 294-2133, or

Contact Us
Clinton Colmenares
Director of News and Media Strategy