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Arthaśāstra

Kautilya’s Arthaśāstra, written around 300 BC, is a text on statecraft, a book of political realism. It deals with various topics including war and diplomacy, how a king can retain his kingdom and become a conqueror, how to make allies and know the enemies, and how to make treaties. It focuses on elements, what can be termed in modern usage diplomacy, such as the doctrine of a silent war, propaganda, secret agents, how to use women as weapons of war, and how to use religion and superstition to advantage. According to Kautilya, “power is (possession of) strength” and “strength changes the mind.” More importantly, Kautilya emphasized power to control not only outward behavior but also the thoughts of one’s subjects and enemies. According to him, “one possessed of personal qualities, though ruling over a small territory … conversant with (the science of) politics, does conquer the entire earth, never loses.” Kautilya is the founder of Mandala Theory of foreign policy, which can be termed as a precursor of the theories of political realism and balance of power. Kautilya favored righteous war than greedy and demoniacal wars. The course will delve into various elements of this insightful text and juxtapose the main ideas in the text with similar theories and approaches in the modern world. The students will be able to draw parallels between the core ideas embedded in this ancient text with many modern ideas.

There are courses and programs at various levels of conflict resolution and peace studies at various institutions worldwide. Though these courses and programs offer useful perspectives on conflict and peace, a perspective from Hindu philosophy and practices is lacking. Hinduism, known as Sanatana Dharma, offers many enabling approaches to solve conflicts by addressing their root causes. Since the ancient period, Hindu scriptures and thinkers have pondered over conflicts and explored paths for peace. Starting from Shanti Parva of Mahabharata and Kautilya’s Arthashastra to writings of the modern Indian thinkers such as Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo, rich elements can be found in Hindu thought reflecting on conflicts and their solutions.  The certificate program will broadly cover these aspects of Hinduism. It will explore some of the core concepts such as Dharma, Satya, Ahimsa, Samvada, Dharmayuddha, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam from the point of view of their relevance to the field of conflict resolution.

  • 1 or 2 courses per quarter (3/6 credits)
  • 18 credits required to complete program

Elective Course

Elective courses offered in any given year will vary. Courses taken in other areas offered at HUA or at other universities may be accepted for transfer credit with prior approval of the HUA office.  Any course offered at HUA will automatically qualify for elective credit.

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Depending on the area of study, the Certificate Program in Hindu Studies prepares a student to become a teacher, a public intellectual, a spokesperson, a writer, and an expert ambassador in the ‘public square’. Anyone including, already employed professionals or prospective degree
students may apply to the Certificate Program in Hindu Studies. This Certificate Program is open to all, and there are no prerequisites enforced, other than the consent of the Program Director.

The Certificate Program in Hindu Studies may be earned by taking 6 courses in an area of study, for a total of 18 Quarter Credit hours.

  • The Certificate Program in Hindu studies is targeted towards people who wish to develop deeper expertise in a specific area of Hindu thought, without pursuing a degree.
  • Students have significant flexibility in the pace at which they complete their course credits i.e., some may take one course per quarter over six quarters, while others may be able to complete the certificate in two quarters
  • Some certificate course credits may be transferable towards a Diploma or Degree program at a later stage
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As part of Hindu University of America’s commitment to ongoing community education, most courses available at the university including Graduate Division courses are open for registration from members of the community as continuing education students. Anyone including already employed professionals and prospective degree students may apply to any single course as a special student if they can demonstrate that they have the prerequisite preparation. They may discuss their preparedness to take any course with the course faculty or instructor.

  • The continuing education stream of courses is targeted towards people who wish to learn ongoingly, without pursuing a specific degree or certificate.
  • There are no prerequisites enforced, other than those required by the faculty, and anyone may register. We invite prospective students to try out a course or two and come back for more
  • Courses taken as part of community education can be bundled together to earn certificates at a later stage.
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Gandhian Philosophy

The relevance of Mahatma Gandhi for the contemporary world, characterized by turbulence, is indisputable. Gandhi’s principles of Ahimsa (non-violence) and Satyagraha (love for the truth) stemmed from his religious tradition, and he applied these principles to political action in South Africa and India. The course introduces a Gandhian perspective on conflict resolution and peacebuilding. It examines ideas of Gandhi in academic and policy debates towards the development of rich and multiple perspectives and pathways to address the gap between principles and practice. It also explores the relevance of Gandhi for contemporary global issues including, but not limited to, inter-state and intra-state conflicts, climate change, religious extremism, rich-poor divide, education, economic development, and women empowerment. Gandhian ideas such as frugal economy, Gram Swaraj (grass-roots democracy), Ram Rajya (ideal state), trusteeship, social service, Swadeshi (self-reliance), bread-labor, social and religious harmony, and optimal use of resources will also be explored in the course. The students taking this course will be able to apply a Gandhian perspective on the prevailing discourses on human life and society and appreciate the significance of dialogue among civilizations and cultures.

Hinduism & Peace

This course examines the elements of Hindu thought that deal with conflict resolution. Starting from the ancient period to the present, various Hindu scriptures and thinkers have pondered over conflicts at various levels and explored paths for peace. Starting from the Śānti Parva of Mahābhārata to the writings of the 20th-century Indian thinkers, various useful elements can be found in the Hindu thought reflecting on various conflicts in human society and their solutions.  The course will bring to the learners a broader understanding of the  Hindu thought and its problem-solving aspects, and their relevance for the contemporary world. Hindu thought is rich in providing various paths to realize peace. For instance, while for Kautilya, a strong state is a necessary pillar for peace, Swāmi Vivekānanda emphasized universal acceptance and toleration as two core elements for sustainable peace. The course while introducing students the core elements of the Hindu thought that focus on conflict and peace, explores their conflict resolution potentials. It also aims to encourage students to explore a complex and interesting subject in their own way while drawing on the Hindu scriptures and philosophers.

Hinduism and Conflict Resolution

Course Description:

The course explores Hindu ideas and their relevance for conflict resolution. Though there is a vast literature on conflict and peace studies, the Hindu ideas are seldom factored in the mainstream discourse. The course aims to fill this critical gap while dispelling myths about Hindu ideas on conflict resolution. A closer examination reveals that Hindu thought from the very ancient period dealt with conflict at multiple levels and explored pathways for their transformation. A hallmark of the Hindu thought is its spiritual approach to conflict and its emphasis on the interlinkage of conflicts at various spheres including psychological, social, cultural, political, and economic. Whether it was the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra or Pitamaha Bhishma’s advice at the end of the Mahabharata war or Kautilya’s famous exhortation to Indians to unite against invading Greeks, or Ashoka’s remorse during the Kalinga war or Gandhi’s struggle against the British rule, they reveal to us powerful ideas and their relevance for a discourse on conflict resolution and peacebuilding. While introducing students the core elements of the Hindu thought that focus on conflict and peace, the course explores their conflict resolution potentials. It encourages students to explore a complex and interesting subject, for example the India-Pakistan conflict or the India-China conflict, in their own way while drawing from the Hindu scriptures and philosophers.

Class Structure:

There will be contact hour with the faculty every week. The class is structured in a way that promotes discussion and debate based on self-study, research and writing assignments each week. At the end of the course, students will be required to submit a short essay. 

Course Learning Objectives: 

  1. Gain a broader understanding of Hindu thought and its problem-solving and conflict resolution dimensions. 
  2. View contemporary conflicts from a Hindu conflict resolution lens and explore the relevance of the Hindu perspective for the contemporary world. 
  3. Examine a contemporary conflict while drawing on the Hindu conflict resolution theories and practices.

Area of Study: Conflict and Peace Studies

Required / Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Faculty: Dr. Debidatta. A. Mahapatra

Day: Friday

Start Date: 9th July 2021

End Date: 17th September 2021

Time: 006:00 pm EST – 09:00 pm EST

Quarter Offered: Summer 2021

Human Rights: A Hindu Perspective

Though its origin could be traced to the ancient and medieval periods, human rights as a concept and policy instrument became popular in the 20th century, particularly after the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948. There are many scholarly studies on the subject, but most of them adopt a Eurocentric approach. Scarcely there are studies which bring into focus a Vedanta perspective on the subject. The concept of practical Vedanta, popularized by Swami Vivekananda in the late 19th century, could be considered a precursor to the idea of human rights. Vedanta philosophy, Swami Vivekananda argued, has no value unless it addresses everyday problems confronted by human society including the exploitation of the weak, discrimination against women, and problems like poverty and illiteracy. He argued that for universal peace it is necessary that individuals come out of their selfish boundaries and think of the world as one family (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam). This Vedanta perspective with its deep philosophical and practical underpinnings is relevant for human rights policy and practice

In this course the students will be able to:

  1. Survey the evolution of the concept of human rights from a Vedanta perspective.
  2. Study select Vedic hymns to demonstrate how those hymns could be considered the foundation of human rights. 
  3. Relate the ancient knowledge with the modern concept of human rights and apply that knowledge for the benefit of human society and the world.

Area of Study: Conflict and Peace Studies

Required / Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Faculty: Dr. Debidatta. A. Mahapatra

International Politics: A Hindu Perspective

Violation of moral principles has emerged a norm than the exception in international politics. States and global institutions have proved ineffective to checkmate violent conflicts. It is not they are incapable or lack resources. The problem lies elsewhere. Ego is a major cause behind much of the hazards in international politics. Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo argued, like individuals, states have egos– amplified through national habits, prejudices, and idiosyncrasies. When applied to international politics, they lead to jingoism, exploitation, and wars, leading to practices like colonialism and imperialism. Colonialism and imperialism were only manifestations of an exploitative substructure. The root, the ego, is intact, and its manifestation has acquired new shapes. The Indian philosopher argued that state ego could evolve when state leaders think in terms of human unity. The establishment of the United Nations, after the failure of the League of Nations, was hailed a right step in this direction. The UN was established with a promise to ensure dignity and equality to all states. Has this happened?

In this course the students will be able to:

  1. Gain a broad understanding of international politics and various theories related to it.
  2. Interpret international developments from a Hindu spiritual perspective.
  3. Identify the patterns of international politics in which narrow national interests play dominant roles, and explore methods to address them.

Area of Study: Conflict and Peace Studies

Required / Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Faculty: Dr. Debidatta. A. Mahapatra

Introduction to Conflict and Peace Studies

Conflicts are omnipresent in human relations. They are neither inherently good nor bad, but simply facts of life. A conflict situation arises when individuals or groups pursuit incompatible goals. These competing goals can range from needs within the family to competition over scarce resources between members of a community or between states. When competition turns violent, conflict resolution becomes essential as the costs rise with short term and long term implications. This course introduces some of the leading theories of conflict and conflict resolution. The goals of this course are threefold: to introduce students to the background and characteristics of conflict and peace studies; to explore a multitude of tools and explanations used by scholars in order to understand peace and conflict; and, to encourage students to explore a complex and interesting subject in an innovative manner through drawing from the existing theories. The course begins with an introduction to conflict theories, focusing on various ways to approach conflict. It also focuses on the conflict at various levels – individual, group, intra-state, and interstate. The course then focuses on various approaches to conflict management and conflict resolution.

 

Philosophy of Nonviolence

This course will examine the philosophical dimensions of the concept of nonviolence and focus on select philosophers and nonviolent movements. For Mahatma Gandhi, one of the pioneers of nonviolent struggle, nonviolence is as old as the Himalayas. It will, hence, be a meaningful exercise to explore how this idea and its practice evolved in different cultures and societies, and how various thinkers and practitioners shaped it. While Kant believed republicanism can provide a base for peace among nations, Tolstoy based his advocacy of peace on theology and shaped Gandhi’s idea and practice of nonviolence. On the other hand, thinkers like Kautilya and Hegel believed war can be a necessary instrument to build a peaceful society. This interdisciplinary course will draw from research in sociology, psychology, political science, anthropology, and related disciplines to explore how concerns of peace and nonviolence shaped ideas of scholars in these disciplines and informed theory and practice of nonviolence.

In this course the students will be able to:

  1. Explore linkages between the concepts of peace, war, and nonviolence.
  2. Gain an understanding of the evolution of nonviolence idea and practice in different cultures and traditions. 
  3. Identify factors that promote or obstruct a culture of nonviolence in the contemporary world.

Area of Study: Conflict and Peace Studies

Required/Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor: Dr. Debidatta. A. Mahapatra

 

Śhānti Parva

Śhānti Parva broadly elaborates the duties of the ruler, dharma, compassion, and good governance. It contains lessons on these virtues given by dying Bhīṣma to Yudhiṣṭhira and his brothers. It also contains words from sage Vidura. Śānti Parva has three parts or sub-books: Rājadharma Anuśāsanaparva Parva, elaborating the duties of kings; Apadharma Anuśāsanaparva Parva, focusing on the rules of conduct while facing adverse situation; and, Mokṣa Dharma Parva, elaborating behavior and rules to achieve Mokṣa. One can argue that peace remains the central theme of the book, amidst conflict and war. The book goes deep into the roots of hatred and war and focuses on ahiṃsā or non-violence as imperative for a happy life. It adopts a philosophical and spiritual approach to war while arguing that war ends neither in victory nor defeat, but in great destruction and death. It discusses the legitimate source and use of power, and moral duty to revolt when it turns into tyranny. While accepting conflicts as inevitable parts of human life, it argues that truth is the supreme guiding principle for the kings. According to Bhīṣma, “There is nothing which leads so much to the success of kings as Truth, the king who is devoted to Truth enjoys happiness both here and hereafter. Even to the Rishis, O king, Truth is the greatest wealth. Likewise, for the kings, there is nothing that so much creates confidence in them as Truth.” In many ways, the book holds a mirror image of our contemporary society in which corruption and misuse of power have created myriad conflicts and reveals how Truth, particularly in the relations between the states, can help resolve many of these conflicts.

The Dharma Of Global Sustainability

Course Content:

The course is intended for the youth of this world who are facing some of the gravest environmental challenges ever faced by any generation of human beings. It is also intended for all those who love the youth of this world, for the youth cannot solve these challenges on their own while their parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunts continue to pile on more grave challenges for them to solve.

The course will rely heavily upon an updated version of the 2011 book, “Carbon Dharma: The Occupation of Butterflies”.  The nine chapters of the book will be the basis for the course material for Sessions 2-10 of the course, while the introductory session will provide an overview of what the course will cover. The topics that will be covered are as follows:

Session 1: Overview of the course
Session 2: Focusing on transformation through the metaphor of metamorphosis
Session 3: The law of Karma and why actions and inaction matter
Session 4: An exploration of Hindu Dharma and how it informs our actions today
Session 5: Applying Dharmic concepts to our sustainability challenges
Session 6: Framing the Kurukshetra of our times and how the Bhagavad Gita informs our right action
Session 7: The Caterpillar culture – an examination of the “Kaurava” side that we must shed
Session 8: The Butterfly culture – an examination of the “Pandava” side that we must nurture
Session 9: How do we all become Climate Healers – the many stepped journeys towards global sustainability
Session 10: Awakening through awareness into the realm of global sustainability

Course Learning Objectives:

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Understand the profound impact of Hindu Dharma on any plausible solutions to our environmental challenges
  2. Appreciate the impact that our daily actions have on our environmental and social predicaments.
  3. Identify the power that we have to transform our world.
  4. Understand that we have all the tools and technologies we need to transform our world.
  5. Discover the enormous breadth, variety, and depth of our Dharmic teachings.

Class Structure:

The class will meet once a week for up to 90 minutes. The teacher’s presentation, with the help of audio and video recordings, will last approximately 45 minutes. The remaining time will be devoted to questions and open discussion. There will be 10 such sessions followed by an additional session devoted to the presentation and discussion of student and teacher reflections regarding what they learned from the course and how they expect it will influence their lives

Prerequisites: None

Area of Study: Conflict and Peace Studies

Faculty / Instructor:  Dr. Sailesh Rao

Required / Elective: Elective

Start Date:  July 14, 2021

End Date: September 22, 2021

Time: 9.00 pm EST – 10.30 pm EST

Day: Wednesday

Quarter Offered: Summer 2021

The Yoga of Global Transformation

Course Description:

This course explores the impact of applying the fundamental Hindu axiom, “Everything happens for the best” on the modern questions of environmental degradation and social injustice. It will advance and explore the hypothesis that humanity has been engaged in an unconscious quest to stabilize the earth’s temperature and prevent the earth from going back into another ice age ever again. We did this by playing a game that rewarded selfishness, greed, and apathy similar to the loaded dice game organized by Shakuni in the Mahabharata. As a consequence, the Earth is marinating in ever accumulating toxic pollution even as ecosystems are degraded and the climate is changing. Now, we are each called to fight our personal battle of Kurukshetra and transform ourselves to treat all Life as sacred in order to preserve that on which we depend for our own survival. The course will rely heavily upon an updated version of the 2016 book, “Carbon Yoga: The Vegan Metamorphosis”.  The nine chapters of the book will be the basis for the course material for Sessions 2-10 of the course, while the introductory session will provide an overview of what the course will cover. The topics that will be covered are as follows:

Session 1: Overview of the course
Session 2: The “fundamental axiom” of Hinduism
Session 3: Why a Western beginning in the industrial era needs an Indian ending
Session 4: Why everything is perfect, and everything must change
Session 5: The first question: “Who Are We?” as a species
Session 6: The second question: “What Is Our Relationship with The World?”
Session 7: The third question: “Why Are We Here?”
Session 8: The new game of Aquarius to promote selflessness, generosity, and activism
Session 9: How to transform yourself and transform your world
Session 10: The lifelong journey towards moral singularity

Course Learning Objectives:
In this course students will be able to:

1.     Understand the profound impact of Hindu teachings on our worldly outlook and how it changes our story telling

2.     Appreciate the impact that the games we play have on the world around us.

3.     Devise new games that can transform ourselves and transform our world.

4.     Understand that the quest for global sustainability is a collective one in which we all have a duty to help our fellow humans and fellow beings.

5.     Discover the enormous breadth, variety, and depth of Hindu Dharmic teachings.

Class Structure:

The class will meet once a week for up to 90 minutes. The teacher’s presentation, with the help of audio and video recordings, will last approximately 45 minutes. The remaining time will be devoted to questions and open discussion. There will be 10 such sessions followed by an additional session devoted to the presentation and discussion of student and teacher reflections regarding what they learned from the course and how they expect it will influence their lives.

Prerequisites: None

Area of Study: Conflict and Peace Studies

Faculty / Instructor:  Dr. Sailesh Rao

Required / Elective: Elective

Start Date: Wednesday, April 14th, 2021

End Date: Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021

Time: 9.00 pm – EST – 10.30 pm – EST

Day: Wednesday

Quarter Offered: Spring 2021