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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 

Antaranga Mandapam

In this course, students will accomplish the following:

  1. Learn to understand and deal with the internal confusion that this crisis has created
  2. Explore the Sangha as a healing space of lived and shared experience
  3. Correlate their life experience with select concepts from the Yoga Sutra
  4. Learn to learn from each other’s sharing
  5. Experience a shared sense of the sacredness of life
  6. Prepare for a journey of personal transformation

The traditional Hindu way of life had a holistic design, supported by a habitat that fostered harmony. People lived in their respective homes and worked in assigned areas. When the day’s work was done, it was customary to visit the temple. The temple was designed to take the person from the common everyday external orientation to an inwardness as they slowly wended their way to the garbhagriha (sanctum). By the time the person reaches the sanctum, they have shed their roles and their identities. From an openness of the heart devoid of all notions of self they receive the blessings of the divine. The person then circumambulates the temple and rests a while in the Mandapam.

In the Mandapam, the wisdom of the Vedas and the Upanishads, were recreated through discourses, music, dance, stories and theatre performances. The Itihasa or Purana would be the basis of these performative traditions. The performative traditions were meant to evoke the rasa inherent in life and to convey the deep truths of the Upanishads and Vedas in simple ways.

The Mandapam, therefore, became the space where the community engaged in contemplative dialog, and nurtured a sense of being held in one’s humanness. Even the Gods and heroes whose stories were narrated had issues to confront like any one of us do, but found Dharmic ways of doing so! This mirroring of one’s life in the story provided insights into choices one could make, in the face of grave challenges.

The Antaranga Mandapam course will recreate this healing space online.

Required/Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: None

Faculty/Instructor: Sri Raghu Ananthanarayanan

Quarter Offered: Spring  2020

Area of Study: Yoga Studies

Start Date: April 14, 2020

End Date: June 23, 2020

Day: Tuesday

Time: 9.30 pm – 10:30 pm – EST

Aryanism and Indology

Students will gain a historical overview of German Indology from its origins to the present. They will read basic source texts for German attitudes towards ancient and modern India, especially the Vedic period, Brahmanism, and Hinduism. They will learn how German nationalism, theories of racial supremacy, the quest for Aryan identity, and Protestantism and Lutheran anti-Semitism shaped the discipline of Indology. German Indology’s role in fostering National Socialism and the treatment of Jewish Indologists will also be discussed. Students will also be expected to read and analyze excerpts from Rammohan Roy, Dayanand Saraswati, Tilak, and Ambedkar in light of their knowledge of Indology.

Areas of Study: History and Methods

Required/ Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study/ Must have completed Orientation to Hindu Studies or Concurrently enrolled in OTHS

Instructor: Dr. Joydeep Bagchee

Start Date: 5 April 2020

End Date: 14 June 2020

Day: Every Sunday

Time: 11 – 2 pm EST

Quarter: Spring 2020

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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HUA’s Certificate Program in Sanskrit Proficiency is a foundation for students of all ages, post-High School (Grade 12 or GED).  It is taught by HUA Faculty, via user-friendly Online Platform, featuring a hybrid learning model combining live virtual classrooms as well as pre-recorded video content.

It is a detailed 2-year program of study that prepares beginning students, i.e. those without prior knowledge of Sanskrit, to achieve a level of proficiency with the Sanskrit language (Samskritam) that will enable them to – access Sanskrit Texts directly (without translation or mediation), converse in Sanskrit i.e. speak fluently and comprehend it (just like other languages they know).

The Program is aimed at beginning students with a passion to learn a new language, those who are keen to engage with the texts and literature of Hinduism and its numerous derivative knowledge systems.  No prior knowledge of Sanskrit is assumed, therefore while the initial medium would be English, it is expected that as students advance in their proficiency, the language of instruction shifts gradually to Sanskrit.

What are the Learning Objectives?

The Program is both intensive and fulfilling, enabling systematic and incremental study of the Sanskrit language along six dimensions.  In this Program, the students will gain proficiency in:

  • Reading Sanskrit text fluently, pronouncing the “alpa-prANa” and “mahA-prANa” syllables correctly – paThanam /uccAraNam
  • Writing stories, letters, essays, and conversations in Sanskrit – lekhanam
  • Experiencing Sanskrit audio/video along with live conversations, and comprehending them substantially – shravaNam
  • Speaking grammatically correct Sanskrit, comprehendible by others fluent in the language, and which they can respond to – sambhAShaNam
  • Understanding the structure, patterns, and design of the language – vyAkaraNam, and
  • Independent working knowledge of both spoken and written Sanskrit – avagamanam.

What is the Program Structure?

The Program is structured in the form of an 8-Quarter (2 years) sequence, 3-Credit hours each.  This will add up to 240 hours of instruction and 480 hours of self-study in total.

Students will have the option of taking a “Sanskrit Proficiency Test” at any time after the half-way point, i.e. after the first year of study, which lets them advance to Master’s Level Certificate Programs, or Master’s Degree in Sanskrit, or Full completion of the Proficiency Certificate course.

Structured innovatively using curriculum and textbooks designed by Samskrita Bharati USA (SBusa.org), the Program will be based upon material contained in the SBusa-published books “Mukulam”, “Kusumam”, and “Saurabham”, augmented with other appropriate course content.

Number of Credits: 3 per quarter, 8 quarters, i.e., 24 Credit Hours in total.

Sanskrit Pronunciation, Simple Words and Phrases

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(SAN - 1001) Starting from the alphabets, gain proficiency in scriptwriting, accurate pronunciation, domain-based words, genders, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, numbers, ... Read More
Basic Sanskrit Vocabulary and Structure

Basic Sanskrit Vocabulary and Structure

(SAN-1002) Graded lessons in frequently used tenses, verb forms, verb classifications, past participles, gerunds, infinitives, and prefixes, through simple stories ... Read More
Nouns and Declensions In Sanskrit

Nouns and Declensions In Sanskrit

(SAN-1003) Gain proficiency in the first five declensions, the simple present, and future tenses, and the Imperative mood in detail, ... Read More
Sanskrit Grammatical Structures and Verses

Sanskrit Grammatical Structures and Verses

(SAN-1004) Gain proficiency in the fifth, sixth, and seventh cases, through shlokas (verses), stories, and conversations. Students will also get ... Read More
Tenses, Parts of speech, Poetry Analysis in Sanskrit

Tenses, Parts of speech, Poetry Analysis in Sanskrit

(SAN-2001) Gain proficiency in the different lakAras, the Vocative case, adjectives, gerunds, prepositions, wise sayings, rearranging the words in verse ... Read More
Conjugates, Active, Passive, & Impersonal Voices, Sanskrit Literature

Conjugates, Active, Passive, & Impersonal Voices, Sanskrit Literature

(SAN-2002) Gain proficiency in the 4 types of conjugates (sandhis), anvaya-krama, Atmanepada, passive voice, bhAve-prayoga, and “kta” usage, through simple ... Read More
Sanskrit Poetry, Literature, Writings, and Biographies

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(SANS-2003) Gain proficiency in the vidhiling lakAra, certain usages, 4 more types of sandhis, anvaya-krama,  and 2 laukeeka-nyAyas (maxims / ... Read More
Prefixes, Compounds, Sanskrit Maxims & Analogies

Prefixes, Compounds, Sanskrit Maxims & Analogies

(SAN-2004) Gain proficiency in the prefixes / upasargas, 4 more types of sandhis, anvaya-krama,  and one more laukeeka-nyAya (maxims / ... Read More

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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Conjugates, Active, Passive, & Impersonal Voices, Sanskrit Literature

Course Content

  1. 4 types of sandhis (svara-sandhi, guNa-sandhi, vRuddhi-sandhi, and yaN-sandhi)
  2. Prose order (anvaya-krama)
  3. Atmanepada verbs
  4. karmaNi-prayoga (Passive voice)
  5. bhAve-prayoga (Impersonal voice)
  6. “kta” usage
  7. Introduction to 4 great poets of Sanskrit literature (vAlmeeki, vyAsa, mAgha, and kAlidAsa)

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

  • Distinguish some of the basic types of conjugates;
  • Express sentences in different voices and verb endings;
  • Capture the essence of the biographies of great poets; and
  • Practice their skills at writing simple stories and essays.

Required / Elective: Required 

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Program of Study: Certificate Program in Sanskrit Proficiency (CP SP)

Prerequisites: Successful completion of SAN-2001 

Faculty / Instructor: Sri Chandrashekhar Raghu / Sri Srinath Chakravarthy 

Quarter Offered: Summer 2021

Start Date: TBD

End Date: TBD

Day: TBD

Time: TBD

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

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

Foundation for Holistic Therapeutic Yoga

Detailed Course Description

This course will teach yoga therapy fundamentals, such as the anatomy and physiology of common chronic ailments, basic medical management of a disorder, yogic management of a disorder, case studies, and best therapeutic yogic practices. In addition, students will learn how to use yoga tools such as asanas, pranayama, relaxation, and meditation techniques. Students will also learn an integrated approach to yoga therapy concepts, research methodologies, and how to integrate traditional holistic systems with yoga therapy. Students will learn concepts of psychology, the yogic concept of the mind, its distractions, and techniques of calming it down. Students will also learn yoga philosophy through ancient yogic texts, their relevance to modern life, and their application in yoga therapy. Finally, students will gain exposure to how to teach specific groups such as senior yoga, prenatal yoga, yoga for kids, yoga for stress, and yogic life coaching. Throughout this course, students will be participating in self-reflection (svyadhyaya) and disciplined practice (sadhana) to improve their own experience and be able to practice yoga at all levels of their personality.

Learning Objectives

  • Gain an understanding of anatomy, physiology, and basic knowledge of chronic ailments
  • Understand the medical management process of a disorder as well as its yogic management process as per the integrated approach to yoga therapy model
  • Learn the yogic model of the mind and how to manage it
  • Utilize techniques to modify existing yoga practices and provide a safe way to practice yoga for individuals with health constraints
  • Learn how to implement therapeutic yoga techniques within your existing yoga practice

Required/Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Foundation and Teaching Methodology for Holistic Yoga

Faculty/Instructor:TBD

Quarter Offered: TBD

Area of Study:- Yoga Studies

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 

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 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/Must have completed Orientation to Hindu Studies or Concurrently enrolled in OTHS.

Faculty/Instructor: Swamini Agamananda Saraswati

Quarter Offered: Spring 2020

Area of Study:- Hindu Studies Foundation 

Start Date:-  April 11th, 2020

End Date:-  June 20th, 2020

Day:- Saturday & Sunday

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

Nouns and Declensions In Sanskrit

Course Content

  1. The first declension / Nominative case
  2. Introduction to rAmAyaNam
  3. The second declension / Objective case, the simple present tense
  4. Introduction to nAtya-shAstram
  5. The third declension / Instrumental case, the future tense
  6. Introduction to pancha-tantram
  7. The third declension / Instrumental case, the imperative mood
  8. Introduction to vyakarana-shAstram
  9. The fourth declension / Dative case
  10. Introduction to mahAbhAratam
  11. The fifth declension / Ablative case
  12. Introduction to darshana-shAstram

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

  • Distinguish and Classify noun declensions;
  • Appreciate basic verses from select passages;
  • Examine and Recognize the grammatical outline of Sanskrit;
  • Practice reading, writing, and composing simple passages; and
  • Use different parts of speech and their variations.

Required / Elective: Required 

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Program of Study: Certificate Program in Sanskrit Proficiency (CP SP)

Prerequisites: Successful completion of SAN-1002 

Faculty / Instructor: Sri Chandrashekhar Raghu / Sri Srinath Chakravarthy

Quarter Offered: Fall 2020

Start Date: September 21st, 2020

End Date: December 12th, 2020

Day: Every Wednesday & Friday

Time: 9:00-10:30pm 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 April 2020

End Date:- 19 June 2020

Time:- 9-10pm EST

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