12/03/2014 Hastie Lecture Series- A Master Spirit of This Age’: Western Philosophy, Eastern Mysticism, and the Career of William Hastie

A Master Spirit of This Age’: Western Philosophy, Eastern Mysticism, and the Career of William Hastie to be held from 5.30-6.30 in the Seminar Room in 4 The Square and hosted by Theology and REligious Studies

Roderick Grierson
Director and Menteşezâde Research Fellow
Rumi Institute, Near East University

When the Rev. Prof. William Hastie died in 1903 at the age of 61, his friends and admirers at the University of Glasgow founded a Hastie Club and a program of Hastie Lectures to ensure that he was not forgotten. His path to the rank of Professor of Divinity had been highly colourful, involving scandals while he was Principal of the Scottish College in Calcutta that led to bankruptcy, imprisonment, and assault by outraged Hindu nationalists. Although these incidents have been cited in recent publications about attitudes in the nineteenth century to questions of race, class, sex, and religion, many of his opinions seem far more modern than might have been expected of a Presbyterian missionary at the time. Indeed, some of them would seem relevant to current hopes of encouraging a productive dialogue between Christians, Muslims, and Hindus more than a century after his death. The four Hastie Lectures of 2014 will therefore offer the first comprehensive examination of the apparently contradictory evidence of his life and his writings and an assessment of the significance of his legacy in India as well as in Scotland. Was he ‘among the greatest Scotsmen of his time’, as a biographer claimed in 1926? Was he ‘the most preposterous appointment’ to a professorial chair in the history of the University of Glasgow, as the journal of the university’s graduate association alleged in 1984? If the truth lies somewhere between these two extremes, should it be placed closer to the former or to the latter, and have recent discussions of Orientalism or Postcolonialism made the task of understanding such a man any easier?   

Wednesday 12th March- A Scholar Gypsy: Hastie in Scotland, Germany, and India

Monday 17th March - Outrage and Enlightenment: Hastie in the Bengali Renaissance

Wednesday 19th March- ‘The Excellent Jeláleddín’: Hastie, Hegel, and Rumi

Friday 21st March- ‘Thirsty Votaries’: Hastie and the Cult of Omar Khayyam


First published: 13 March 2014