Bhaja Govindam – A Topical Approach

Course content:

Bhaja Govindam, an important work of Sri Adi Sankara, can serve both as an entry point into Vedanta as well as a reminder of many teachings of the scriptures. It is a distillation in a highly simplified form of the teachings of the fundamental texts of Vedanta and, in particular, of Bhagavad Gita. In this course, students will learn Bhaja Govindam with its verses re-organized around some key topics: saguna and nirguna Brahman and the appropriate age to meditate on them; the ways wealth (artha) and desires (kama), though important, are binding; renunciation – what it is and its rewards; moksha or liberation; daily practices conducive to a spiritual life. The examination of the philosophical and spiritual aspects of the verses will be accompanied by a standard exercise in padaccheda, anvaya, and some vyakarana in a way to familiarity with Sanskrit. Though focused on the verses of Bhaja Govindam, many forays into fundamentals of Vedanta as needed will be made to explain the underlying concepts.

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

1. Learn about Sri Adi Sankara and his pivotal role.
2. Understand the importance of starting a spiritual journey early on.
3. Understand some basic concepts of Sanatana Dharma like: saguna and nirguna Brahman; the misleading characterization of the religion as idol worship or pantheistic; the theory and types of karma; what constitutes true renunciation.
4. Be cleared of any misunderstanding of Vedanta as necessarily relevant only to ascetics or as averse to the Purusharthas of artha and kama
5. Examine the level of appropriate importance to be given to worldly pleasures and the spiritual consequences of overindulgence in them.
6. Obtain an understanding of samsara (bondage) and moksha (liberation).
7. Learn many daily practices within the reach of everyone that are conducive to a spiritual life eliminating many stresses of daily life and conducive to moksha.

Class Structure:

There will be a minimum of 1 contact hour every week. Typical classes may involve a lecture of approximately 60 minutes followed by discussion and Q&A. Quizzes will be given at the end of each of the four major modules. A final class project involving a write up by the student of a summary of what was learned wil also be required.

Area of Study: Texts and Traditions

Program:  Certificate Program in Hindu Studies

Required/ Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into program of study.

Faculty: Dr. Vaidyanathan Ramaswami

Time: 09:00 pm EST – 10:30 pm EST

Start Date: October 13, 2022

End Date: December 22, 2022

Day: Every Thursday

Quarter Offered: Fall 2022