Next lectures in the Student Series : “Mongolian Independence and the British” and “Sri Aurobindo’s Metaphysics and the Question of God”

Where: The Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD (Nearest tubes: Euston, Euston Square or Warren Street.) 

When : Wednesday 7th May at 6.30 pm. The lecture will finish with a Q & A session and a drinks reception.

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Inner Mongolia 1912

Mongolian Independence and the British 

With the Chinese Revolution of 1911 and the subsequent collapse of the Ch’ing (Qing) Empire we witness the change of status of certain territories which, although part of the imperial universe, had retained autonomy during the previous centuries. In December 1911, Mongolia, strongly linked to Russia, and for religious reasons to Tibet, declared its independence, though her international status remained the subject of controversies and negotiations for several years. In January, 1913, Tibet and Mongolia would sign a treaty and after a few weeks the Thirteenth Dalai Lama issued a document which is considered the Declaration of Independence of Tibet
Because of the new geopolitical order and also because (or on the pretext) of Mongolian independence, the British, who had signed an agreement with Russia about Persia, Afghanistan and Tibet which put an end to the Great Game in 1907, would have to reconsider their political role in High Asia (in particular in Tibet). The lecture will present the lengthy diplomatic negotiations between Great Britain and Russia on Mongolia and Tibet, negotiations that were connected to the Simla accord of 1914, as well as the then British trade interests in the country and a rapid sketch of British or British-related witnesses in those years.
About the speaker:  

Matteo Miele is a PhD candidate (dottorando) in Geopolitics at the University of Pisa. Between August 2011 and July 2012 he was a lecturer at the at the Royal University of Bhutan, Sherubtse College, Department of Political Science. His academic interests focus mainly on history and geopolitics of High and East Asia, with a particular attention to Bhutanese, Tibetan and Chinese political history.

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo’s Metaphysics and the Question of God

Within the study of religion if secularist naturalism denies transcendence and reduces religion to material processes, then religionist non-naturalism equates religion to some form of transcendence. This lays bare the deep conflict in religious studies between the secularists and religionists: as much as the religionists seek to ‘preserve the reality of God’, the secularists render his existence superfluous and threaten the ‘reality of God’. Thus, the conflict is about ‘God’ or to use non-theological language, about transcendence – each trying to preserve or threaten it respectively.
While these two positions reveal the two opposing poles of the religious-secular debate, both either reject or affirm a particular understanding of transcendence – a theological/metaphysical sense, which equates transcendence with a divine being or God. This understanding of transcendence as the irreducible ‘other’ has been critiqued as onto-theo-logy within metaphysics.
Brainerd Prince argues that Aurobindo’s metaphysics as explicated in his conception of a Sevenfold Being, along with his notion of Parātpara Brahman, not only escapes the charge of onto-theo-logy but offers a way forward for the study of ‘religion after metaphysics’ by locating transcendence both in the material world as well as beyond. This informs a reworking and broadening of the understanding of transcendence and takes forward the conversation on transcendence within the study of religion.

About the speaker: 

Brainerd Prince completed his PhD from OCMS, on Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Philosophy under Professor Gavin Flood of Oxford University. He is part of the leadership team at Samvada Centre for Research Resources that is setting up its first international research centre in India. He is presently a Visiting Research Tutor with OCMS and a Research Fellow with the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, a Recognized Independent Centre of Oxford University.