The Subtle Surfaces of Wickedness: From Nigamasarma to the Occupation of Palestine

Lecture Series

May 31, 2016


Assembly Hall

Professor David Shulman delivers the third annual Vivekananda Lecture, entitled: “The Subtle Surfaces of Wickedness: From Nigamasarma to the Occupation of Palestine.” Read the Global Voices interview with Professor Shulman.

Wickedness, perhaps a more personal quality than the abstract notion of evil, is worthy of study, especially when we move away from brute malevolence, often terrifying but boring, to more complex inner states, in which choice may or may not be accessible. This lecture will explore, first, a South Indian vision of the wicked, taken from Tenali Ramakrishna's Panduranga-mahatmyamu. On the basis of this text, it may be possible to formulate an understanding of wickedness as the integral act of whole persons, without the usual splitting of the self into dark and luminous halves or into the familiar Platonic dichotomies of body and mind.

To test a different model, Professor Shulman’s experiences in the Palestinian territories, specifically the South Hebron Hills, with settlers, soldiers, judges, bureaucrats, and policemen will be examined, at least in part in a comparative light, and with frequent sidelong glances to Mahatma Gandhi and Vivekananda.

David Shulman is the Renee Lang Professor of Humanistic Studies in the Department of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of several books, including Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine and The Hungry God: Hindu Tales of Filicide and Devotion, both published by the University of Chicago Press.    

Free and open to the public.

Presented by the Global Voices Lecture Series and Southern Asia at Chicago.