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Advaita Vedanta: A Method

Learning Outcome:-

  1. Develop a clear understanding of Advaita Vedanta as a method, and the ramifications of that.
  2. Gain a comprehensive understanding of Advaita epistemology and its role as a key to understanding the vision of the Upanisads.
  3. Connect the epistemology to Advaita ontology and the fulfillment of its soteriological end.

In this course, we will examine the methods (prakriyas) used in the Upanisads to reveal the existence and nature of the non-dual reality.  We will begin with a basic discussion of Advaita epistemology to understand the important claim of the Upanisad that it provides, not just information about the non-dual reality, but the means through which one can directly know it. First, we will undertake a close reading of Sankara’s introduction to the Brahmasutra, and commentary on Taittiriya Upanisad 2.1.1 to establish the core principles of superimposition and negation as well as implicative statements. With these parameters, we will study dialogues in the Mundaka, Taittirya, and Mandukya Upanisads that employ the foundational method of inquiry into cause-effect, and also, the methods of analysis of the levels of our waking experience and analysis of the three states of waking, dream, and sleep. Throughout, we will be connecting what we discover to the soteriological aim of Advaita Vedanta—release from human suffering and the cycle of birth and death.

Required/Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Introduction to Advaita Vedanta

Faculty/Instructor: Swamini Agamananda Saraswati

Quarter Offered: Winter 2020

Area of Study:- Hindu Studies Foundation 

An Overview of the Veda

The Vedic-view of the purpose of life as explained by the four puruṣārthas – Dharma, Artha, Kāma, and Mokṣa will be discussed. An overview of the four Vedas, each consisting of the two major categories, which are further subdivided into different portions, the arrangement of the mantras into mandalas and aśtaka systems, internal classifications of each Veda into Samhitā, Brāhmana, Āraṇyaka, and Upaniṣads will be covered. The Veda’s structural hierarchy and purpose, and supplementary texts of the Vedic corpus such as – Sūtra – Bhāṣya – Vyākhyā – Ṭīkā – Ṭippaṇī – Prapaňcikā – Saṅgraha – Kārikā – Vṛtti – Vārtika – Prakaraṇa – Vāda – Khaṇḍana, including an overview of the six Darśanas will be examined, in addition to the differences between śruti and Smṛti

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Recognize the whole Vedic body of knowledge and its layout.
  2. Understand the inter-relationships of the various components of the Vedic corpus.
  3. Inquire into the concept of human progress in relation to the timelessness of ancient Vedic knowledge.
  4. Explore the relevance of the Vedic body of knowledge in today’s age.
  5. Examine contemporary views and interpretations of the Veda.

Areas of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations

Required / Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Admission into a program of Study

Faculty:  Sri Swāmi Svātmānanda

Ancient Greek Philosophy

Course Content:

Students will receive an intensive introduction to the core issues in ancient Greek philosophy by reading excerpts and complete texts from ancient philosophers including Parmenides, Empedocles, Plato, Aristotle, and Proclus, writing response papers, engaging in-class discussion, and submitting a final paper.

Students will gain insight into philosophical discourse and terminology, as well as intellectual tools with which to contribute to today’s philosophical and theological disputes.

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations

Required/ Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor: Dr. Edward P. Butler/ Dr. Vishwa Adluri

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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Comparative Religion: Death and Meaning

Learning Outcomes:

This is a comparative course in the Abrahamic, Greek, and Hindu paradigms. At the end of this course, students will be able to: 

  1. Understand the phenomenon of death and its importance to religion; 
  2. Interpret, analyze and critique the views on death and meaning in major religions of the world; 
  3. Show the relationship between death, salvation, and personal identity; and 
  4. Discuss and clarify philosophical arguments as they arise in these texts.

Required / Elective: Required

Faculty: Dr. Vishwa Adluri

Prerequisites: Admission into a program of study

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations

Quarter Offered: Spring 2020

Critical issues in Hindu Studies

The European colonization of India was justified by the construction of a particular narrative, beginning in the nineteenth century centered on the “White Man’s Burden” of civilizing India and the Hindus. “Scholars” hired by the East India Company and European missionaries, sometimes in tandem and at others in isolation, created a certain narrative on the Hindus and India in order to justify their colonial rule and missionary activities respectively. With the growing influence of the Europeans over Indians, the narrative became a massive industry with more and more scholars joining the force adding more nuance and sophistication to the discourse. This narrative has acquired a life of its own and today can be considered as the “received knowledge” on India and Hindus. Whether this narrative squares with the self-understanding of pre-colonial Hindus is a matter which we will examine in subsequent courses; however in the current one, we will first educate ourselves with the various descriptors that the Europeans used to define the Hindus, critically examining the various agendas–which the fathers of the narrative were quite explicit about–behind such scholarship. The aforementioned scholarship in many different ways informs the self-understanding of educated Hindus today, and if the current Hindus want to connect with the worldview of their ancestors as they move forward in time, it is important for them to become familiar with this European narrative and also with the motivations that shaped the discourse, to begin with. This discourse is a distortion and in order to correct it, it is important to become familiar with its nuances.

In this course, the student will 

  1. study in detail the writings of some of the early European Indologists like James Mill and Abbe Dubois in order to understand their characterization of Hinduism and Hindus as oppressive and hierarchical;
  2. understand the explicit motivations due to which such characterizations were made;
  3. be able to see clearly that such characterizations have become “received knowledge” on Hinduism and Hindus, which gets replicated and reproduced in mainstream academia from grade school to graduate studies whereas the motivations for creating such a construct have been made invisible;
  4. be able to see the basis of Academic Hinduphobia that exists in the mainstream today; 
  5. gradually begin developing the skills required to effectively counter the distorted narrative in academia and media.

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations

Required/ Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor: Dr. Kundan Singh

Discover Life by Exploring India

This course involves 35 days of the journey in India, including 9 destinations, 6 different areas of study and an immersive experience of the lifestyle of Yoga and Ayurveda. 

In this course students will be able to: 

  1. Explore the different aspects of the self and various modalities of relationship with the environment 
  2. Examine the wisdom of ancient traditions in the light of the challenges of modern life 
  3. Develop a greater understanding of the history, culture and traditions of India
  4. Deepen your research into your own fields of intellectual interest, while gaining entirely new perspectives on life 
  5. Gain the ability to comprehend global challenges and identify creative solutions 

This course can be taken as a part of several different programs or as a stand-alone course. It can also be taken by people who have no academic interest, and simply want to enjoy travel to a world that is at once both ancient and contemporary.

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Adriana Salazar

The Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Hindu Studies, builds on the foundations already developed by the Master’s Degree in Hindu Studies and offers students opportunities for deep specialization within a tradition or knowledge-system (also called Sampradāya a) and cross-disciplinary study, both across Hindu traditions and knowledge-systems as well as contemporary disciplines in the liberal arts, social sciences and humanities. Students can access courses offered both by HUA as well as its affiliate institutions and are developed for professional careers in teaching, writing, and scholarship, as well as public service, leadership and global engagement with religious organizations, social service and non-profit organizations and educational institutions.

  • For students who already possess a Master’s Degree in Hindu Studies, 60 Quarter Credit hours, or 20 courses are required to earn a Doctoral Degree
  • Students who do not have a Master’s Degree in Hindu Studies but possess an equivalent of 2-years of post-bachelor’s degree education in the liberal arts, humanities or social sciences, may also apply. They may receive partial equivalency credit for courses they have taken as part of the Master’s Degree they have.
  • Students who do not have a Master’s Degree already may apply for an accelerated MA-PhD Degree program.
  • Typically, 90 Quarter Credit hours, or 60 Semester Credit Hours are required to earn an integrated Master’s and Doctoral Degree
  • Once admitted into the accelerated program, students will have the option of completing their study with a terminal Master’s Degree or continue with their Doctoral Degree
  • To earn a Doctoral Degree, students will have to take a set of Research level “Core Courses” and specialize in one or two Areas of Study, at the Doctoral Seminar level
  • All Students must pass a Doctoral Qualifying Exam, (DQE), and demonstrate an adequate level of proficiency in Sanskrit, in order to qualify for the Doctoral Thesis phase of the Program
  • Students must write a Doctoral Dissertation based on original research as part of the Thesis Phase of their program. Ordinarily, the Doctoral Dissertation may take at least two years or more
  • Special Students with prior experience in religious, social work or community service, may be eligible to participate in a “Thesis Only” Doctoral Program, provided they qualify by successfully taking the Doctoral Qualifying Exam and can establish equivalency with the course work requirements
  • This “Thesis-Only” Option will require the student to write a Thesis over 36 months (or longer) and establish the equivalency for 60 Quarter Credit Hours.
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Textual Criticism

Textual Criticism

This course teaches the fundamentals of textual criticism. Alongside a historical survey of scribal and editorial practices, we shall explore
The Humanities and the University - I

The Humanities and the University – I

Inspired by neo-humanism, the research university was to facilitate self-cultivation, aesthetic appreciation (especially through a knowledge of classical antiquity), and
The Philosophy of History

The Philosophy of History

Building on “Historical Methods and Sources,” this course introduces students to the philosophy of history, i.e., the philosophical inquiry into
Historical Methods and Sources

Historical Methods and Sources

As a mode of knowing, history has acquired unparalleled prestige. We now think that to know when, where and under
The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment

The Age of Enlightenment or, simply, the Enlightenment extended from the late seventeenth to the eighteenth century. This epoch had
German Indology

German Indology

German Indology, a field of inquiry that emerged in nineteenth-century Germany calls itself the “science of Indian antiquity” and “the
Critical issues in Hindu Studies

Critical issues in Hindu Studies

This course outlines the critical issues involved in the European understanding of Hindus and India, developed within the framework of
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a foundational text for understanding the world of Yoga. Using this text, the course will
Gandhian Philosophy

Gandhian Philosophy

To mainstream the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi towards developing a new and enabling perspective from Hindu philosophical tradition to make
Hindu Conflict Resolution

Hindu Conflict Resolution

An exploration of Hindu thought, particularly those elements which are relevant from a conflict resolution perspective.
Introduction to Conflict and Peace Studies

Introduction to Conflict and Peace Studies

An overview of conflict resolution and peace studies with a focus on the major theories and their application to contemporary
Symbol of OM

Orientation to Hindu Studies

An overview of the unique programs, areas of study and courses offered by Hindu University of America. Preliminary reflection on

Freedom and Reality: An Introduction to Advaita Vedanta

Learning Outcome:-

  1. Effectively analyze the nature of the human problem.
  2. Discern the difference between knowledge and action as means (sadhana) for a given end and the sphere of applicability of both.
  3. Understand Advaita Vedanta’s epistemology and its relevance to the human problem.
  4. Gain clarity on the Advaita view of reality and non-duality.
  5. Recognize and analyze the differences between some modern and ancient interpretations of Advaita. and the traditional view.
  6. Learn the prerequisites for the knowledge of Advaita and the skills required to gain them.
  7. Understand the place of Yoga in gaining the vision of  Advaita

The vision of Advaita Vedanta is that one, non-dual consciousness is the content of you, the world and the cause of the world. It is both immanent and transcendent and can be known by a human being who has equipped himself/herself with the necessary prerequisites.  This knowledge, contained in the Upanisads, releases the individual from the problem of human suffering. In this course we will explore the nature and substance of this liberating knowledge through key dialogues in some of the major Upanisads, using as a guide the commentary of Sankara, Advaita’s seminal exponent. We will also engage with selections from the Bhagavad Gita, which elaborates upon topics handled with characteristic brevity in the Upanisads. In addition to expanding on the metaphysical teachings of the Upanisads, the Gita treats the prerequisites for understanding the teachings, under the rubric of karma-yoga, in great detail. This will include a discussion of the place of Astanga Yoga in Advaita Vedanta. We will conclude by examining some competing views on Vedanta, including modern interpretations. The course is designed to introduce in a comprehensive but accessible way, the vision of Advaita Vedanta.

Required/Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Admissions into a Program of Study

Faculty/Instructor: Swamini Agamananda Saraswati

Quarter Offered: Winter 2020

Area of Study:- Hindu Studies Foundation 

History of Dharmaśāstras I

Learning Outcomes:

Readings for the course will demonstrate the complexity of being human, being ethical, and exploring the ultimate meaning of life. Although the course is designed as an overview, we will focus on crucial issues concerning social justice: inequalities in income, privilege, caste, access to resources and education, and the consequences of bad governments and individual greed. The course is based on P. V. Kane’s comprehensive work History of Dharmaśāstra. Part I is required to register for Part II. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: (1) understand the breadth and depth of the textual tradition of dharma; (2) know key texts, their chronology, key concepts and the debates surrounding them; (3) learn how to read, interpret and research based on primary texts; and (4) knowledgeably draw on the tradition for understanding contemporary issues.

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations

Required/ Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor: Dr. Vishwa Adluri

History of Dharmaśāstras II

Learning Outcomes:

Readings for the course will demonstrate the complexity of being human, being ethical, and exploring the ultimate meaning of life. Although the course is designed as an overview, we will focus on crucial issues concerning social justice: inequalities in income, privilege, caste, access to resources and education, and the consequences of bad governments and individual greed. The course is based on P. V. Kane’s comprehensive work History of Dharmaśāstra. 

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: 

    (1) Understand the breadth and depth of the textual tradition of dharma 

    (2) Know key texts, their chronology, key concepts and the debates surrounding  them; 

    (3) Learn how to read, interpret and research based on primary texts; and 

    (4) Knowledgeably draw on the tradition for understanding contemporary issues.

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations

Required/ Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Completion of History of Dharmaśāstras I

Instructor: Dr. Vishwa Adluri

Quarter Offered: TBD

Introduction to Bhagavadgita

Learning Outcome:-

  1. Gain a comprehensive and consistent overview of the Bhagavadgita as both a moksa-sastra and a yoga-sastra.
  2. Understand the scope and relevance of the pursuits of knowledge and action in the Bhagavadgita.
  3. Be able to resolve paradoxes and seemingly competing viewpoints in the verses.
  4. Gain clarity on the meaning of moksa, karmayoga, bhakti, and meditation, in the Gita.
  5. Discern some of the paradigms that underlie various interpretations of the Gita.

The non-dual vision presented in the Gita has its origin in the Upanisads, where it is revealed through a teacher-student dialogue. Consistent with this, the teachings of the Gita are delivered through a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Unlike the Upanisads, the Gita discusses at length the participants in this dialogue. The Gita also goes much further than the Upanisads in expanding the discussion of the philosophical teachings, approaching them from a variety of perspectives, sometimes precipitated by a question from Arjuna. Its uniqueness, however, lies in its elaboration of the necessary conditions for understanding its core teaching, and the means, including Ashtanga Yoga, for creating those conditions.  Our inquiry into the vision of the Bhagavadgita presented in this course is based on the commentary of Sankara, the principal exponent of non-duality, advaita. Sankara’s is the earliest extant commentary on the Bhagavadgita, and arguably the most consistent, as will be demonstrated in the course of our study through an examination of paradoxical verses. As we proceed, we will also gain a clear understanding of the meaning of moksa, karmayoga, bhakti, and meditation, as presented in the Gita. And throughout the course, we will see, over the shoulders of Arjuna, the relevance of the teachings of the Gita to our lives today.

Required/Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Admission to the program of study

Faculty/Instructor: Swamini Agamananda Saraswati

Quarter Offered: Winter 2020

Area of Study:- Hindu Studies Foundation 

Start Date:-  06th January 2020

End Date:-  17th March 2020

Day:- Monday & Wednesday

Time:- 2:00-3:30 pm EST

Orientation to Hindu Studies

An overview and insight into the design of the curriculum offered by the Hindu University of America. A survey of the central ideas of Hinduism – covering an Ontology of key Sanskrit terms and the principal ideas that are central to the cosmology, practice, and expressions of Sanatana Dharma. The course will include reflections and perspectives on these core concepts, using selected readings from source texts such as the Vedas, Upaniṣhads, Sutras, Itihaasa, Bhagavad-Gītā, Purāṇas and Dharma-Śhāstras. The Hindu world-view based on Dharma with its emphasis on duties and responsibilities and sustainability of life will be contrasted with contemporary ideologies and their focus on rights and privileges, competition and survival of the fittest. The distinction between a discourse of knowledge and a discourse of power will be drawn out. 

In this course students will be able to: 

  1. Explore various options and trajectories available within the Hindu Studies Program
  2. Distinguish the central ideas and concepts that constitute the Foundations of Hindu Dharma; Reflect on the Hindu Studies Foundations area
  3. Inquire into and evaluate different elective areas of study and Courses offered: Sanskrit Studies, Texts and Traditions, History and Method, Post-Colonial Hindu studies and Conflict and Peace studies.
  4. Distinguish between pathways towards a deep study of Hindu thought, or towards deep engagement with western thought from a Hindu perspective
  5. Discover and Create customized pathways for engagement with the Hindu Studies curricula

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations

Prerequisites: None

Faculty / Instructor:  Kalyan Viswanathan (along with others) 

This course is a recommended prerequisite for all students who wish to enter into the Graduate program.

Day:- Thursday

Start Date:- 9 January 2020

End Date:- 19 March 2020

Time:- 9-10pm EST

Research and Writing Preparatory Seminar

Learning Outcome

This course will address four main obstacles students face in writing papers: (1) finding a suitable topic for their paper, (2) developing that topic, (3) ensuring that the topic has a suitable scope for a paper, and (4) ensuring that sufficient literature exists on which to build their thesis. It will also teach them the essential skills for writing a persuasive and well-supported paper: (1) formulating the central inquiry of the paper, (2) developing arguments and supporting them with research, (3) structuring the paper and providing suitable headings and internal connections, (4) creating a bibliography, summarizing existing literature, and situating the paper’s thesis vis-à-vis existing scholarship.

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations

Required / Elective: Required

Faculty: Dr. Joydeep Bagchee

The Foundation of Vedānta

A systematic and methodological approach to the study of Vedanta will be presented. The pursuit of Vedanta through the Prasthana-traya (three-pronged approach) which includes the Śrīmad Bhagavad-Gītā, Brahma Sūtras, and the Upanishads, including prakarana granthas will be outlined. The Guru-Śhisya-Śhastra trilogy as key elements of a unique teaching tradition necessary for the transmission of knowledge and the envisioned transformation to occur will be elaborated in detail. The basic tenets of the varied schools of Vedanta – Advaita, Visiśtādvaita, Dvaita, Dvaitādvaita, Bhedābheda, Acintyabhedābheda, Śuddhādvaita, Śivādvaita, etc will be discussed.

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Recognize the preparation and prerequisites required for the study of Vedanta.
  2. Understand the nature of the Self, the Universe and the relationship between the two. 
  3. Compare Vedantic perspectives about the Self, Consciousness and the Universe with an ancient and contemporary scientific and philosophical understanding.
  4. Discover the transformative potential of Vedanta for conscious evolution, contentment, and happiness.

Areas of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations

Required / Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Faculty:  Sri Swami Svatmananda

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