This week saw a trio of wonderful lectures and events at the Society to educate, inspire and entertain. On Monday 24 October, Professor Karel Werner (SOAS) delivered a lecture on “Pure Yoga in its Historical Context and Today”. Professor Werner’s lecture discussed the historical development of yoga theory and practice up to modern times, highlighting the disparate nature of yoga practice today and the relationship between popular perceptions of yoga and pure yoga as a liberating spiritual discipline. Professor Werner also discussed the history of his own research and practice in yoga, from his early life in Czechoslovakia, providing fascinating insights into the way that understanding of yoga disseminated in Soviet-era East Europe. The lecture was followed by questions and appreciation from the audience, and by a reception.
Wednesday 26 October saw David Waterhouse deliver the latest lecture in our Britain-Nepal 1816-2016 Series, “Brian Hodgson and the RAS: Fresh Perspectives”. The lecture provided an overview of Hodgson’s life, work and researches, covering his time in Nepal as British Assistant Resident and later as Resident from 1833-44. Hodgson is regarded by many as the founder of Himalayan studies in Europe, and the lecture highlighted his importance as a collector and in documenting information about Nepal’s fauna, architecture, religions, and peoples. Hodgson acquired large collections of natural history and architectural drawings, and extensive collections of Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts, which were divided between a number of institutions during his life and after his death.
David Waterhouse described where Hodgson’s collections are today, in particular the nature of the Hodgson collections at the RAS, and the Hodgson archive, which is currently being catalogued by the Society’s Archivist. David also showed how examining the way Hodgson’s material came to the Society provides a fresh perspective on his relationship with the Society, of which he was a member for 70 years as well as Vice-President. The lecture was accompanied by a display of representative manuscripts, drawings, archives, and paintings from the Hodgson collections, indicating the richness and scope both of Hodgson’s interests and the valuable material he left to the Society.
Thursday 27 October saw the RAS host a Classical Oud Concert as Baha Yetkin delivered a recital of Ottoman classical music. Baha Yetkin studied under distinguished masters including Sözer Yaşmut and learned the oud with Oytun Uçar and Mustafa Seven. Baha delivered a stunning performance that was enjoyed immensely by a packed crowd. The recital was followed by a reception at which those in attendance had the opportunity to ask Baha about playing the oud and his musical career.
Next week sees another lecture in our Britain-Nepal 1816-2016 Series. On Wednesday 2 November at 6.30pm, Mark Watson (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh) will speak on “The Early Years of Natural History Exploration and the Role of Learned Societies”. We hope you will be able to join us for what promises to be a very stimulating evening.