Samkhya and the Problem of Emplacement in the Samkhya Karika and the Bhagwad Gita: A Comparative Analysis

April 26, 2016

Dr. Geoff Ashton Assistant Professor, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, gave a Distinguished Lecture titled: “Sāṁkhya and the Problem of Emplacement in the Sāṁkhya Kārikā and the Bhagavad Gītā: A Comparative Analysis” on April 22, 2016 at Nalanda University.

Initiated by the School of Historical Studies, Dr. Ashton’s lecture discussed at length how “Place is a problem for the non-theistic philosophers of classical Sāṁkhya—for insofar as place manifests, we are em-placed and hence endure suffering (duḥkha).” Dr. Ashton argued that “the Gītā employs characteristically sāṁkhya metaphysical analysis in order to map out the architecture of place (prakṛti). Further, it does so at times in order to dissociate Arjuna from the horrors of the place that he occupies—namely, the duty to initiate a civil war. Unlike the historically later Sāṁkhya Kārikā, however, the Gītā situates sāṁkhya doctrine within a theistic metaphysics and a concern to both re-posses his place in the dharmic order and affirm the battlefield as a manifestation of the cosmic body of Krishna.”

In this lecture Dr. Ashton established that “By re-imagining place as the body of Krishna, Arjuna learns to not simply bear his dharma, but find liberation through embracing his place in the dharmic order in full awareness that his ‘yes-saying pathos’ will not modify his fate.”

Dr. Geoff Ashton Assistant Professor
Dr. Geoff Ashton Assistant Professor, giving a lecture at NU

Bio-profile of Dr. Geoff Ashton

Dr. Ashton has studied Sanskrit and Thai and conducted research at numerous institutions of higher learning in Asia, including Deccan College (Pune, India), the Jñāna-Pravaha Institute (Varanasi, India), Chiang Mai University (Chiang Mai, Thailand), and Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand). His areas of specialization include Indian philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, philosophy of religion, and aesthetics. Dr. Ashton is currently working on a book that examines Indian models of soteriology through developments in philosophical aesthetics. A separate project of his explores the interrelation between Buddhist meditation practices and social engagement in the writings of Buddhadāsa, the 20th-century Thai Buddhist philosopher.

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