Fate, Freedom, and Prognostication in Indian Traditions

February 1–2, 2012

Convenor: Dr. Sven Sellmer

Questions related to fate, destiny, divine intervention and similar concepts, as opposed to the power of human agency, are an important element in many areas of Indian culture. Contrary to the popular misconception, India has never been a country of pure fatalism, but rather the gamut of different theories that explain – and practices that modify – the interplay between fate and human initiative is extremely rich there. This workshop brings together material from different traditions and historical epochs that may serve as a starting point both for creating a larger picture and making connections with non-Indian conceptions.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012
9:00 a.m. Opening
9:10 a.m. A Hierarchy of Conflicting Causes for Destiny – The Jantūpakhyāna of the Mahābhārata in its Contexts
Dr. Philipp Maas (Univ. Wien)
10:00 a.m. Howling Jackals and Twitching Eyes – Searching for Descriptions of Omina using Computational Methods, with a Special Focus on Domain-Specific Sanskrit Vocabulary
PD Dr. Oliver Hellwig (Univ. Heidelberg)
10:50 a.m. Coffee Break
11:00 a.m. Aspects of Fate and Freedom in the Mahābhārata
Dr. Sven Sellmer (Univ. Poznań)
11:50 a.m. Fate, Freedom, and Prognostication according to the Later Theistic Tradition of Vedānta
Dr. Marcus Schmücker (ÖAW Wien)
12:40 p.m. Lunch Break
2:40 p.m. Becoming a Buddha: The Role of Fate and Prediction in the Career of a Mahāyāna Bodhisattva
PD Dr. Ingo Strauch (FU Berlin)
3:30 p.m. Questioning the Gods: The Practices of Provoked Oracular Possession in the Vidyāpīṭha Tantras
Dr. Olga Serbaeva (Univ. Zuürich)
4:20 p.m. Coffee Break
4:30 a.m. The Indian Reception of Medieval Perso-Arabic Astrology (tājikaśāstra)
Dr. Martin Gansten (Univ. Lund)
3:30 a.m. ‘Fate or Freedom’ vs. ‘Fate and Freedom’ – Inside Views of Two Indian Traditions
Anand Mishra, M.A. (Univ. Heidelberg)
Thursday, February 2, 2012
10:00 a.m. Closing Discussion
12:00 a.m. End


IKGF Seminar Room
Ulrich-Schalk-Straße 3a – 91056 Erlangen


Conference Flyer (266 KB)
Conference Poster A3 (250 KB)


Please register via our online registration form until January 18, 2012.