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Seasons and Topics

Season Four

Taylor Swift says karma is her boyfriend, and Boy George sings about karma chameleons. In addition to “karma,” there are lots of other Sanskrit terms which have made their way into English: yoga, dharma, mantra, guru, Buddha, swastika, and more. In this season, we’ll focus on one word an episode to get a deeper understanding of what they meant in their original contexts, and how these meanings resonate today.

Episodes of Season Four will air the first Friday of every month, beginning January 6, 2023. Subscribe anywhere you can download podcasts.

What do the Metaverse, blue aliens, and airbenders have in common? They’re all based on the idea of the avatar, which goes back thousands of years to the Sanskrit term avatāra. In this episode, we’ll explore what an avatar is and how thinking about these ideas in ancient Hindu and Buddhist contexts can help us think about reality, the divine, and even our survival after death. Sounds and Music All music excerpts and soundbites used with an understanding of fair use modification for educational purposes.  Theme music by Kevin MacLeod’s music  Bibliography and Further Reading  Clough, Bradley S. “The Ambivalence of the Hindus: The Buddha as Avatāraṇa of Viṣṇu in the Mahhāpurāṇas and Beyond.” The Journal of Hindu Studies (2021): 1–19. Parrinder, Geoffrey. Avatar and Incarnation: The Divine in Human Form in the World's Religions. Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 1997.  Sheth, Noel. “Hindu Avatāra and Christian Incarnation: A Comparison.” Philosophy East and West 52, no. 1 (2002): 98–125.  Stevenson, Robert W. “The Concept of Avatāra in Ancient and Modern Commentaries on the Bhagavadgītā.” Journal of Studies in the Bhagavad Gītā 3 (1983): 56–86.  Vaidya, Anand. Review of Reality+ by David Chalmers in Philosophy East and West, forthcoming.  Wolfendale, Jessica. “My avatar, my self: Virtual harm and attachment.” Ethics and Information Technology (2007) 9:111–119.  Clips and Sound Effects  Watch Mark Zuckerberg Reveal Next-Gen Avatars With Legs!, 2022. by InspectorJ by MorneDelport  Avatar | Official Trailer (HD) | 20th Century FOX, 2009.  “Avatar: The Last Airbender” Theme Song (HQ) | Episode Opening Credits | Nick Animation, 2016.  New Books Network. Raj Balkaran, host. “Podcast | Simon Brodbeck, "Divine Descent and the Four World-Ages In….” Accessed February 2, 2023.  Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. Ramesh Pattni. “Three Faces of Vedanta: Shankaracharya, Madhvacharya, and Ramanujacharya – YouTube.” Accessed February 3, 2023.  New Books Network. Raj Balkaran, host. “Podcast | Sucharita Adluri, "Textual Authority in Classical Indian….” Accessed February 3, 2023.  David Chalmers: Reality+ from the Matrix to the Metaverse, 2022. Little Buddha (1993). Clip via Crescendo on  Dalai Lama Wants to Be a Machine Avatar, 2011.  The Dalai Lama on Why Reincarnation Is Not Important, 2019.  DW Shift. How You Can Become Immortal as a Digital Avatar, 2022. — Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:
Does what goes around always come around? And is instant karma gonna get you? In the first episode of a season devoted to Sanskrit-to-English loanwords, we’ll examine how three groups of Indian philosophers understand karma: Jains, Buddhists, and Naiyayikas (or Nyaya philosophers). Sounds and Music All music excerpts and soundbites used with an understanding of fair use modification for educational purposes. Drake featuring Bryson Tiller, “Bad Karma” Alicia Keys, “Karma” John Lennon and Yoko Ono with The Plastic Ono Band, “Instant Karma! (We all Shine On)” Taylor Swift, “Karma” Indigo Girls, “Galileo” Culture Club, “Karma Chameleon” Fox News clips: Joey Jones, July 2021 Sean Hannity, August 2017 Theme music by­ Kevin MacLeod’s music Bibliography and Further Reading My YouTube lecture on Milinda’s Questions: Bronkhorst, Johannes. Karma. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2011. Finnegan, Bronwyn. “Karma, Responsibility, and Buddhist Ethics.” In The Oxford Handbook of Moral Psychology, by Manuel Vargas and John Doris, 7–23. Oxford University Press, 2022. McDermott, James. “Kamma in the Milindapañha.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 97, no. 4 (October – December 1977): 460-468. Hermann Jacobi’s translation of the Ācāraṅgasūtra — Send in a voice message: Support this podcast:

Season Three

Season Three focuses on what professors of philosophy have learned by teaching Indian Philosophy in a global context during the last near-decade: what ideas resonated with them, and were there any surprising shifts in their perspectives that resulted from their experience?

Season Two

Season Two focuses on the philosophical tradition known as “Nyaya,” and how they think we should handle controversies, debates, and coming to know more broadly, though narratives which include conversation with Stephen Phillips and Matthew Dasti, experts in Nyaya philosophy.





Season One

Season One explores a series of topics, from how tweets are like sutra texts to Netflix binging to pandemics and disease, though interviews with experts and narrative formats.

Find Episodes by Topic

Abhinavagupta aesthetics announcements argumentation authority Ayurveda Bryan Van Norden Bryce Huebner Buddhism Chandrakirti cognitive science commands David Hume debate deontic logic disease doubt drama Elisa Freschi emotion emotions epistemology equivocation fallacies film grounding inference interview Jayanta Bhatta Jay Garfield Madhyamaka medicine meditation metaphysics Nagarjuna Neil Mehta nyaya Patricia Sauthoff Questions of King Milinda reasoning Religion testimony trust truth Yale-NUS College

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