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Conference Presentations and talks by Peter Friedlander

Monday, December 23, 2013 . This is a partial list of the various conferences and functions I have given papers at over the last seven years or so and links to audio versions of my presentations where available.

Hindi in Australia
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Conference
Sydney, Monday 11th November

Vivekananda and Science
Canberra Theosphical Society
Friends Meeting House, Canberra, Monday 4th November 2013

Hindi Divas speech
Canberra Hindi School
Mawson Temple, Canberra, Saturday 21st September

Vivekananda and the Parliament of Religions in Chicago 1893
150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda celebration event
Australian National University, 23 August 2013

Buddhism beyond borders: negotiating Buddhism
Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions
Merton College Oxford, 5-7th April 2013

Chinese, Asian and World News - in Hindi Newspapers
ASAA 2012 Conference
UWS Sydney
13 July 2012
[audio along with the slides from my presentation on YouTube]

Conflict and Peace in Buddhism
Australasian Association for Buddhist Studies, Monash University - ACJC Seminar Room, Level 8, Building H,
11 November 2011

Contemporary Buddhism and the Challenge of Multiculturalism
Australia India Conference, University of Melbourne
23 September 2011
URL: (includes video of presentation)

Kabir and Tagore
Celebrating Tagore’s Universalism: 150th Birth Anniversary of Nobel Laureate Bengali Poet Rabindranath Tagore
Monash Asia Institute, Consulate Hall, Consulate General of India, Melbourne
21 May 2011

The Theory and Practice of the Mandala and Kabir Panthi Ritual (MP3 Audio, 30 mins, 7 MB)
Tucci Symposium at Monash University
29 September 2010, Building H. Caulfield Campus.
Abstract: This paper compared Giuseppe Tucci's treatment of the mandala which was first published in 1949 in Italian and in English translation in 1961 and observations on contemporary Kabir panthi rituals which I suggest can be regarded as forms of mandala practice. Tucci argued that the mandala can be seen through Jungian psychology based in part on his commentary on the Secret of the Golden Flower translated by Richard Wilhelm (1929/1931) as having universal significance as a personal transformative psychological practice. From my observations of Kabir panthi ritual practices I ague that there is another relative dimension to mandala rituals which is their key role in defining group identity. I suggest that Tucci, along with Jung and Eliade, exemplify an approach to understanding religious phenomena which emphasised the universal in religious experience in order to appeal to a Western audience. My conclusion is that Tucci's universalising approach has had the benefit of bringing to Western audiences attention the phenomena he studied, but that it also needs to be balanced with a relativist approach which allows individual communities agency in explaining for themselves what they see as the significance of their ritual practices.

How do Asian Buddhists see India?’ (MP3 audio about 48 mins, 42 MB)
Melbourne South Asian Studies Group Seminar: Friday 17 September
Graduate Seminar Room 2, Old Arts, University of Melbourne
Abstract: How do Asian Buddhists see India when on pilgrimage to Buddhist holy sites in India? In this presentation, Peter Friedlander will explore materials ranging from pilgrimage studies and translations of historic texts to internet documents (such as temple websites and pilgrimage blogs). He reconsiders Chinese pilgrims’ accounts, and the interplay between eyewitness descriptions and the motivation of those pilgrims who came to India hoping to reform Buddhism in China. He then explores the lesser know accounts of pilgrims, both historical and contemporary, from Korea, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Japan and other countries. Through this, Peter Friedlander proposes we can explore diverse cultural preconceptions about India and, in turn, how Buddhist pilgrims perceptions of India relate to how India sees India as part of Asia. He suggests that Buddhist pilgrimage is a foremost pan Asian phenomenon through which Asians have imagined what constitutes Asia.

The Kabir Panth: When the centre comes to the periphery
Paper presented on July 6 at:
"Crises and Opportunities: Past, Present and Future"
Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA), 18th Biennial Conference 2010
(5 - 8 July 2010, The University of Adelaide)

Buddhism Cosmology and Evolution (MP3 audio, 20 mins, 20MB)
Paper presented on 25th May at a conference on:
Theravada Buddhism Under Colonialism: Adaptation and Response
(24-25 May 2010, Institute for South East Asian Studies and Nalanda Sri Vijaya Institute).
Abstract: In this article I look at the relationship between Buddhism and science. In particular I focus on Buddhist understandings of evolution in the colonial period and the impact of this on contemporary views on the relationship between the doctrine of dependent origination and evolution. In order to establish the dimensions of the debate I begin by exploring Buddhist cosmologies and nineteenth century missionary accounts of cosmology in Sri Lanka. I then show that in the last quarter of the nineteenth century there were actually two theories of evolution which influenced Buddhism, those of Spencer and Darwin. My argument is that it was Spencer's theory that influenced the Theosophist movement which was an initial influence on the Sri Lankan Buddhist reformer Dharmapala. But, I then show how he rejected Theosphical views and became a supporter of Darwin's theory of evolution. I also argue that it was Dharmapala's views, rather than those of his East Asian contemporaries Shuko Soen and Taixu which have been most influential in shaping contemporary discussions about Buddhism and science. To illustrate this I then explore the Dalai Lama's and Thich Nhat Hanh's views on cosmology, evolution and dependent origination. I conclude that this has been a significant development, from anti Buddhist missionary rhetoric over Buddhist cosmology, to Buddhist rhetoric concerning the compatibility of Buddhism and evolutionary science. It importance lies in how it demonstrates that modern Buddhist ideas on the relationship between Buddhism and science have been shaped by the interaction between colonial Christian missionary critics in Sri Lanka and responses to these attacks on Theravada Buddhism by Theosophists and Buddhists.

Surati and Nirati: mindfulness and awareness (audio, mp3, 20 minutes, 27MB)
Paper presented at: AABS 2009 Conference
(Australasian Association of Buddhist Studies)
(10-11 December 2009, University of Sydney)

Kabir in Different Contexts (audio, mp3, 18 minutes, 24MB)
Paper presented at: Religion and Difference: 33rd conference of the AASR
(Australian Association for the Study of Religion)
(29 November to 1 December 2009, University of Melbourne)

Three Perspectives on Kabir: Tagore, Sen and Prasad (audio, mp3, 45 mins, 20MB)
Seminar Paper presented at G.B. Pant Social Science Institute Allahabad
(22 September 2009)

Translations and Transcreations: Hindi Versions of songs from Disney's High School Musical 2 and Camp Rock (audio, mp3, 30 mins, 12 MB)
Paper Presented at ARI conference: Translation in Asia: Theories, Practices, Histories
(5 March 2008, National University of Singapore)

Teaching Reading Hindi Newspapers (audio, mp3 format, 20 mins, 10MB)
Paper Presented at ClaSIC 2008
(5 December 2008, National University of Singapore CLaSIC Conference)

Teaching Hindi Online (audio: MP3 format, 45 minutes, 5MB)
Seminar given at NUS Centre For Language Studies
(6 August 2008, National University of Singapore)

Bodhgaya and Globalisation (3 July 2008)
Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA)
17th Biennial Conference : Is this the Asian Century?
(1-3 July 2008, Sebel Albert Park Hotel, Melbourne)

Discovering the Dharma
Buddhist Summer School 2008, University College Melbourne
Three seminar papers for workshop sessions
(University College Melbourne, presented by the Kagyu E-Vam Buddhist Institute)

Differences between Hindi and English Press Coverage of Stories
(audio, mp3 format, 20 mins, 5MB)
36th annual conference on South Asia
(October 14th 2007, University of Wisconsin Madison)

Dhammapada: Translations and contexts (mp3 format, 45 minutes, 6MB).
Translation Writers Interest Group Seminar
(27th July 2007, La Trobe University,)

Dhammapada: Translations and traditions (mp3 format, 24 minutes, 3MB)
Australian Association for the study of Religion Conference
(Melbourne, Saturday July 7th 2007)

The History of Buddhism (Mp3, 54 minutes, 7 MB)
Buddha 2550 years Exhibition organised by the Buddhist Council of Victoria.
(27th Feb 2007, Melbourne Town Hall)

The Body and the World in Buddhism (MP3 format, 20 minutes, 10 MB)
Negotiating The Sacred III: Religion, Medicine And The Body
(November 2006, The Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, ANU Canberra)

Hindi In Banaras in the 1970s (MP3 Format, about 5mb)
16th Biennial Conference of the Australian Asian Studies Association
(June 2006, Wollongong).

Buddhist Worlds
Australiasian Association for the Study of Buddhism 2006 Conference
(16 June 2006, Sydney)

Buddhism Politics and Globalization
Australian Association for the Study of Religion Conference
(September 2005, Sydney)

Travel talk: phrases for travellers in India
(pdf of paper on conference website at:
15th Biennial Conference of the Australian Asian Studies Association
(29 June to 2 July 2004, Canberra)

Bodhgaya as a sacred and secular pilgrimage site
Religions in the Indic Civilization Conference
(December 2003, Delhi)

Divergent Dharmas: Hindi and English Internet Press coverage of Religion
Third International Conference of Asian Scholars
(August 2003, Singapore)

Race, Religion and Occupation: The 19th Century Census of India and the Anglo-Indians (pdf 130KB)
Who are the Anglo-Indians? Conference
(18th of August 2002, Melbourne)

Bodhgaya in literature
14th Biennial Conference of the Australian Asian Studies Association
(June 2002, Hobart)


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Texts and Translations © Peter G. Friedlander unless otherwise indicated.