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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 

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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The Certificate Program in Preparatory Sanskrit provides students a unique opportunity to learn Samskritam (aka Sanskrit in its anglicized form) at their own pace. No prior knowledge of Samskritam is assumed, and teaching starts with basic instruction in English. After successful completion of four courses of study, the student will be able to read and understand original texts like Bhagavad Gita or Ramayana without the need for translations.  

It consists of simple and interesting lessons accompanied by pre-recorded audio for the initial two levels. Lessons include stories, puzzles, and glimpses of Samskritam literature along with an innovative method of language learning.

There are four 4-Credit Hour courses of study in this program titled in Sanskrit 1) Praveśaḥ 2) Paricayaḥ 3) Sikṣā and 4) Kovidaḥ. Each course of study typically takes 2 quarters i.e. 22 weeks and must be taken sequentially. The committed student may be able to complete the Certificate Program in 2-years, earning 16 credit hours in the process. This Preparatory Sanskrit Certificate will enable the student to pass the Sanskrit Language Proficiency Test (SLP), required for the Master’s Level Certificates in Sanskrit, which will be taught predominantly in the Sanskrit language.

The first course, Praveśaḥ will begin with English transliteration of Sanskrit script for the initial lessons and will include lessons for mastering the Devanagari script. Downloadable MP3 audio for the Praveśaḥ and Paricayah courses provide an opportunity for the students to listen to the audio develop their pronunciation of the Sanskrit language. As the students learn to access Sanskrit without the help of English, the transliteration will be phased out gradually.

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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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Hindu Conflict Resolution

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Introduction to Conflict and Peace Studies

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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

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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 

German 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

Instructor: Dr. Joydeep Bagchee

Start Date:- 05th January

End Date:- 22nd March

Day:- Sunday

Time:- 12pm – 3pm EST

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

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

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

 

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

In contemporary times, before India came to be recognized for its prowess in the software industry, it was Yoga that gave it standing on the world stage. In the United States alone, there are yoga studios galore and yoga has become a multibillion-dollar industry. As it entered the popular consciousness, however, the ancient practices of Yoga have undergone substantial changes, with they at times having been reduced to mere physical exercises. This course will revolve around interrogating the following questions: 1. What is the correct and true understanding of Yoga as understood and enunciated by the sage Patanjali? 2. What is the role that asanas loosely translated as body postures have in the scheme of Yoga? 3. If asanas are mere one part or limb of the Yoga world, what are the other limbs that are equally if not more important? 4. Is there a systematic or gradual psycho-spiritual evolution that runs through all the eight limbs of Yoga? 5. What are the psycho-spiritual consequences if we focus only on asanas and maybe a bit of paranayama, loosely translated as breathing exercises, to the exclusion of the other limbs of Yoga? This course, in other words, will give an authentic understanding of the world of Yoga as described by the sage Patanjali. Since Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are built on the Darshana of Sankhya, this course in the beginning stages itself will unpack the worldview of Sāṅkhya, and given that the Bhagavada Gītā is a synthesis of Sāṅkhya and Yoga, it will prepare the students for a deeper philosophical understanding of the Bhagavada Gītā.

In this course, the student will

  1. gain a traditional understanding of Yoga as enunciated by the sage Patanjali;
  2. acquire the full meaning of the term Yoga as it is understood in contemporary enunciation of sages;
  3. understand the nuances of psycho-spiritual evolutionary growth that Yoga entails;
  4. learn about the philosophical foundations on which Yoga is predicated.

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations

Required/Elective:  Required

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor:  Dr. Kundan Singh

 

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