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Anticolonialism and Postcolonialism

Much more than the economic exploitation of the colonized, the colonization process hovers around destroying their cultural fabric. This necessarily involves the production of literature on the colonized and the creation of institutions through which the understanding of the colonized within and without their culture is significantly altered. There have been influential writers during the colonial period who understood the impulse of power and domination behind the production of literature on the colonized “other,” and there have been others who have analyzed the psychological and sociological effects of colonization. Through the literature of writers such as Aime Cessaire, Albert Memmi, Franz Fannon, Edward Said, Ashish Nandy, and S. Balagangadhara, this course will give the students the theoretical tools to understand the impact of colonialism on the psyche and culture of the Hindu people.

In this course, the student will

  1. be given a sound introduction to literature and theorists whose work will be extremely beneficial in critically examining the European literature that was generated on India and Hinduism in the colonial times;
  2. will be given the framework and the container to study the cultural and civilizational impact of European literature on India and Hinduism during the colonial times;
  3. will begin to gain a vision of how European Indology significantly altered our self-understanding as Hindus and our representation to the world, the impact of which we continue to deal with in a postcolonial world.

Areas of Study: Postcolonial Hindu Studies

Required/ Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor: Dr. Kundan Singh

 

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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We usually associate colonialism with political domination and economic exploitation. Colonialism, however, has involved representation, study, classification, and ordering of the colonized through “intellectual” works encompassing translations, commentaries, travelogues, surveys, etc. which were disseminated through the establishment of academic institutions. This intervention systematically destroyed the native worldview of the native ways of positioning and locating themselves in the world.

In short, colonialism has involved the conquest of culture through what is now being recognized in academia as “epistemic violence.” India, Hindus, and Hinduism were the victims of the epistemic violence, where reams were written to disconnect them from their epistemological and cosmological underpinnings. The effects have been twofold: 1) In current mainstream academia, the same distorted and demonized discourse continues in politically correct ways. 2) Postcolonial India has not systematically analyzed the sinister and distorted discourse, which was unleashed on its culture and traditions in general, and Hinduism in particular. The Certificate program in “Postcolonial Hindu Studies” will systematically explore colonialism as a discourse, i.e. the literary, representational, and ideological component of its political and material dominance. It will carefully examine how Hindus reading colonial texts assimilated and internalized westerns theories and hypotheses about themselves and took on western ways of looking at themselves as the “truth” about their own culture and civilization. It will seek to penetrate the mystical amnesia of colonial aftermath and understand the ways in which the living Hindu culture and civilization have been denounced and marginalized as a consequence of colonial rule in contemporary discourse. It will explore ways of decolonization, i.e. the process of calling into question European categories and epistemologies and seeking freedom from colonial forms of knowledge and thinking. Finally, it will examine and facilitate modes of retrieval, recovery, and rejuvenation of the pre­colonial Hindu culture and knowledge.

In order to complete the Certificate Program in Postcolonial Hindu Studies, six courses comprising of 18 credit hours will have to be completed. Students will have to first complete the Orientation to Hindu Studies course (1 Credit Hour) and then the following 6 courses:

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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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The Mahābhārata II

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Philosophy of Science and Hinduism

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Philosophical Foundations of Orientalism

Philosophical Foundations of Orientalism

Orientalism employs a technique termed “deconstruction.” In order to effectively and critically examine a colonial and postcolonial discourse, it is
Orientalism and Hinduism

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Arthaśāstra

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Śhānti Parva

Śhānti Parva

To elaborate ideas of good governance and duties of a ruler towards his subjects and Dharma as enshrined in Śānti
Bhagavad gita

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Distilled from the Upaniṣad, the Śrīmad Bhagavad-Gītā is a fundamental text of Hindu Dharma which has given rise to many
Anticolonialism and Postcolonialism

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This course introduces the theories of various anticolonial and postcolonial writers in order to create a framework for a critical
vedanta

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Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa

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Ādi Śaṅkara

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In religious studies, bhakti is often described as devotion or intense feeling, and presented as “faith” in contrast to “reason.”
Ancient Greek Philosophy

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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

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

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Hindu Conflict Resolution

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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
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Orientation to Hindu Studies

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

Contesting Neo-Hinduism

The course, in the beginning, introduces writings of the western authors who claim that there is something called “neo-Hinduism,” which is significantly and characteristically different from “traditional Hinduism.” Once those claims are situated, the evidence of those claims will be critically examined and will lead naturally to insight into the agendas, motivations, and general ignorance of these writers who are behind the creation of the “neo-Hinduism” theory. The course will then veer into showing how contemporary Hinduism transcends the binary divide of traditional and neo, and that even when it has innovated and answered the contingencies of the colonial context, it has always maintained its continuity with the past and that it has not compromised with its core cosmology.

In this course, the student will

  1. be able to learn about the coordinates on which the divide between traditional and neo-Hinduism has been created;
  2. be able to critically examine the evidence on which the divide has been created;
  3. be able to learn that binaries like traditional and neo do not apply to Hinduism, for Hinduism transcends and exceeds the traditional and contemporary divide.

Area of Study: Postcolonial Hindu Studies.

Required/Elective:  Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor: Dr. Kundan Singh

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

Fellowships in Advanced Studies are available to scholars who already possess a Ph.D., in any field, but wish to pursue post-doctoral research in the field of Hindu Studies. Students admitted into the advanced studies program, can expand their research interests, explore many of the available Doctoral level seminars and courses, and augment their knowledge. Most advanced studies fellows are expected to apply with a proposal for writing a book or thesis on a subject that they have already been researching or have an interest in.

We will be soon announcing the programs.

Orientalism and Hinduism

This course covers in nuanced detail what Edward Said means by “Orientalism”–what its characteristics and descriptors are. Said holds that “Orient” or the “East” did not exist out there that was objectively captured by the Europeans; rather it was created and constructed through the handiwork of writings generated by colonialists and missionaries, and by “scholars” hired by them. This construction, with its coordinates in power and domination, has had lasting sociological, political, psychological, and economic consequences, both for people with European ancestry and for people with non-European ancestry. Said’s “Orientalism” is thus an important tool to analyze first the imagination of India and Hindu society in European consciousness, and then the efforts that were undertaken by the British colonial power to translate the imagination into concrete sociological reality through what Gramsci calls as civil society (schools, colleges, and universities) and political society (the bureaucracy and the police). To put it succinctly, this course will revolve around critically understanding Said’s theory of Orientalism and how the European imagination of India and Hinduism significantly altered their discourse and consequently their understanding in the colonial and postcolonial contexts.     

In this course, the student will

  1. gain a complete understanding of what Edward Said meant by the term “Orientalism”;
  2. be able to see for himself or herself the evidence for “Orientalism” in the colonial context of India;
  3. be able to appreciate how the Orientalist discourse is still alive in representations of India and Hinduism even today.

Area of  Study: Postcolonial Hindu Studies 

Required/Elective:  Required

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor: Dr. Kundan Singh

Philosophical Foundations of Orientalism

For an analysis to be sound, poignant, and pointed, it is important to understand the philosophical base and container within which the analysis is conducted. One of the techniques that postcolonial discourse uses is deconstruction. Deconstruction essentially means examining the sociological-political-historical-economic contexts within which a given reality or “truth” comes into existence, which over a period of time become eternal, timeless, and context-independent. Though there are many philosophers who have used the technique of deconstruction for various enunciations, this course will introduce the philosophical underpinnings of deconstruction through the writings of Nietzsche and Foucault. There has been a decisive impact of Foucault on Said’s Orientalism and Foucault was widely influenced by Nietzsche. This philosophical container will give a wide base to students to deconstruct the European writings on India and Hinduism.

In this course, the student will 

  1. learn what the technical term widely used in academia today, deconstruction, actually means;
  2. appreciate the philosophical and historical underpinnings of deconstruction;
  3. be able to apply the technique of deconstruction in critically examining the colonial and orientalist writings on India and Hinduism.     

Area of StudyPost Colonial Hindu Studies, History and Method

Required/Elective:  Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor: Dr. Kundan Singh

Philosophy of Science and Hinduism

Science is a human activity, which has a certain philosophy behind it. In order to gain an in-depth understanding of science, one needs to know at least the enunciation of some important philosophers of science like Francis Bacon, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, and Imre Lakatos. In the backdrop of this understanding, this course will discuss if Hinduism and Yoga are science or they far exceed the construction of science as currently understood by philosophers and layman alike.

In this course, the student will 

  1. understand science, not from a commonsensical or ideational standpoint, but from a philosophical and practical viewpoint–the way science has been understood and practiced in the western world;
  2. develop the capacity to discuss in a nuanced way whether Hinduism and Yoga qualify as science as currently understood and practiced within the western world; 
  3. develop an understanding of the “science” of Hinduism and Yoga from their own philosophical and cosmological standpoints and not from the perspective of western philosophy of science.

Area of StudyPostcolonial Hindu Studies 

Required/Elective:  Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor: Dr. Kundan Singh

 

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