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Event Series Event Series: Sacred Sites of Asia

Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar


A Series of Monthly Zoom Lectures

These are the remaining lectures in this series focused on sacred sites in Asia.

Monday 1 May 2023

The Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar

Charlotte Galloway

The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, is a sacred Buddhist site that has a legendary history reaching back to Buddhism’s origins. While holding a role as Myanmar’s most revered monument, the Shwedagon is also a politicised site, and has been at the centre of some of the most contentious periods of the country’s history. This presentation will highlight the Buddhist significance of the site as well as its place in Myanmar’s more recent history. A ‘must see’ for local and foreign tourists, the reach of the Shwedagon’s cultural importance is also addressed.

Charlotte Galloway is an art historian and has been researching in Myanmar for over 20 years. A repeat visitor to the Shwedagon when in Yangon, Charlotte remains fascinated by the physical structures and social interactions that occur at the Shwedagon. She was a consultant for the ZED & Arte France documentary Wonders of Men – Myanmar, the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Monday 5 June 2023

Feminine Power and Masculine Desire in the Yoginī Temples of India

Richard Barz

Between the 9th and 13th centuries CE, some 15 very unusual Hindu temples were constructed in central India, mainly in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. Most are either in ruins or, apart from two of them, no longer in use. The temples are remarkable because they are roofless and nearly all circular, features practically unknown in Hindu temples of any age. They were built open to the air to allow entrance to yoginīs, a class of dangerous and powerful aerial female spirits, and mostly round to accommodate 42, 64 or 81 of their images. Provision was also made for the worship of Shiva and his feminine aspect or shakti. Dr Barz will discuss the five surviving more or less intact yoginī temples and the images of individual yoginīs still present in three of them as well as the yoginī statues now found in museums. He will also describe the tantric ceremonies that were conducted in these temples until as late as the early 16th century.

Richard Barz was senior lecturer in the Australian National University from 1972 until he retired in 2012, where he taught Hindi and Urdu, Indian religion and politics and occasionally Sanskrit. He has also taught at the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney and universities in the United States and Denmark. His publications include The Bhakti sect of Vallabhācārya and, with A. Doron and B. Nelson, An Anthology of Writings on the Ganga. At present, he is engaged in research on the yoginī temples of India.


Monday 17 July 2023

Potala: The Sacred Palace of Tibet

Judy Tenzing

Towering above the once forbidden city of Lhasa in Tibet stands the magnificent palace of the Dalai
Lamas – the Potala. From the mid-17 th century it has been the centre of the Tibetan theocracy and home to
the Dalai Lamas – the Gelugpa rulers of Tibet and of Mahayana Buddhism. In its expanding iterations the
Potala has witnessed the most turbulent times in Tibet’s history. Its extraordinary dzong-style architecture
led to it being listed as a World Heritage site in 1994. This lecture will look at the story of this great
citadel and its place in Tibet’s dramatic history.

Judy Tenzing’s life has centred around the Himalaya and the great sub-continent – and Tibet. Once she
completed her tertiary studies in South Asian history, she spent a decade living and working in the region
as a tour and trekking guide. Over the following four decades Judy has continued to feed her passion and
study by hands-on experience as a travel guide and lecturer. She is the author of the definitive book on
Sherpa mountaineering history, Tenzing and the Sherpas of Everest (2001) and is currently working on a
new project set in the region. Judy travels frequently to India, Bhutan and Nepal and maintains close ties
with their wonderful people.

HOW TO BOOK: Please email Chris Manning Please make all bookings and payments in advance. No refunds.


You will be able to pay for individual lectures when they are posted on the website.


1 May, 2023
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm AEST
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