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Ādi Śaṅkara

This course provides a comprehensive explication of Ādi Śaṅkarācārya’s philosophy. Students will gain an understanding of his views of phenomenal reality, perception, scripture, revelation, the soul, transmigration, dharma, creation, nescience, and ultimate realization. They will be introduced to his thought systematically, showing how he develops his hermeneutics and argues for the cogency of the non-dual (advaita) standpoint vis-a-vis alternative viewpoints.

Area of Study: Text and Traditions

Required/ Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor:  Dr. Vishwa Adluri

 

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

Bhakti and Philosophy

Students will read several of the most important primary sources for bhakti. They will gain an understanding of the philosophy underlying the concept of bhakti and how bhakti enables moksha i.e. salvation for the individual soul. The course will also provide a basic introduction to concepts such as non-dualism, ontology, cosmology, emanation, procession, and the relation of the macroscopic universe to the individual. Students will simultaneously gain an appreciation for different textual genres and how poetics corresponds to the fourth puruṣārtha of mokṣa.

Area of Study: Text and Traditions

Required/ Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor: Dr. Vishwa Adluri

Brahmasūtras

Learning Outcomes:

The course covers a brief introduction to the text, its compositional history, some text-historical scholarship ranging from Deussen to Hacker, and controversies in contemporary scholarship. The major portion of the course will be devoted to understanding the structure of the text, exposition of key themes and the logical disputation of rival views. At the end of this course, students will gain: (1) a good grasp of the philosophical textual tradition of Hinduism: Upaniṣads, Brahmasūtras and the Bhagavadgītā; (2) an understanding of the Brahmasūtras: their comprehensive theory of Brahman and the rigorous logic underlying it; and (3) an overview of the reception of the text within the tradition and in recent critical scholarship and the issues raised in these contexts.

Area of Study: Text and Traditions

Required/ Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor: Dr. Vishwa Adluri

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

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

Mahābhārata III: War Books

Conventionally, the very title “Mahābhārata” conjures up images of a great war in which eighteen armies were annihilated. Using divine weaponry and mystical war formations, and having Kṛṣṇa Vāsudeva on their side, the Pāṇḍavas triumph over the Kauravas. Who are these combatants and what does their heroism signify? What dilemmas of dharma arise as part of the battle? In the 6th Parva of the Mahābhārata, we find Kṛṣṇa giving the Bhagavadgītā to Arjuna, revealing himself as Brahman. His presence as the karmaphaladāta informs key events in the battle. In the final book 10, Rudra empowers Aśvatthāman to annihilate the progeny of the heroes, thus closing out the laya cycle of the epic, which began in Book 6 with the fall of the Brahmā-figure Bhīṣma pitāmaha. These theological threads, the complex temporal shifts in the narrative, and the constancy with which human motives are interrogated prevent a simplistic reading of the Mahābhārata as just another war story. Rather, the epic presents us with a deep understanding of time, the nature of the universe, human purpose, and ultimate reality.

Areas of Study: Text and Traditions

Required/Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Must have completed Orientation to Hindu Studies or Concurrently enrolled into Orientation to Hindu Studies

Instructor: Dr. Joydeep Bagchee  Dr. Vishwa Adluri 

Day: TBD

Start Date: TBD

End Date: TBD

Time:- TBD

Quarter: TBD

Mahābhārata IV: Epic Philosophy

Along with the study of the philosophy of different parvans, commentators such as Śaṅkara and Rāmānuja will be introduced to show the continuity as well as changes in the philosophical tradition. Within this tradition, the Mahābhārata will emerge as an important bridge between the Vedic revelation and classical schools of Indian philosophy. Additionally, we will read relevant sections of the Mahābhārata for thoughtful answers to the problems of applied ethics such as violence, anthropocentricity, patriarchy, privilege systems, and our obligations to society and to the environment.

Areas of Study: Text and Traditions

Required/ Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Must have completed  or  be concurrently enrolled in Orientation to Hindu Studies

Instructor: Dr. Vishwa Adluri   Dr. Joydeep Bagchee

Day:- Every Saturday

Start Date:- July 10,  2021

End Date:- September 25, 2021

Time:- 10:00 am EST – 01:00  pm EST.

Quarter: Summer 2021

Mahābhārata V: Bhakti and Contemporary Hinduism

This module covers the Mahābhārata’s reception in the commentaries and lived Hinduism, especially the Pañcarātra tradition, which links the Mahābhārata with Āgama texts and temple worship. The literary tradition including poets such as Bhāsa, Kalidāsa, Rājaśekhara as well as the aesthetic tradition of Abhinavagupta will be covered. This module will also explore the popular reception of the epic through performing arts, retellings, and dramatic adaptations.

Areas of Study: Text and Traditions

Required/ Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Must have completed Orientation to Hindu Studies or Completed Orientation to Hindu Studies

Instructor:Dr. Joydeep Bagchee Dr. Vishwa Adluri

Day:- TBD

Start Date:-TBD

End Date:-  TBD

Time:- TBD

Quarter: TBD

Mahābhārata VI: Methods and Scholarship

This module will prepare students to engage actively and critically with Western views of the epic and the latest scholarship on the basis of the philosophical interpretation developed in the previous modules. We will evaluate the views of Western scholars—in particular, the prejudice that the Mahābhārata is a badly composed text, a “literary nonsense” (Winternitz) or a “monstrous chaos” (Oldenberg), and that it is an amalgamation of an older heroic oral bardic epic and Brahmanic philosophical, ritualistic, and didactic elements (the so-called “pseudo-epic” according to Hopkins). Finally, this module will introduce students to concepts in narratology and the question of authorship: Who is the enigmatic author called “Vyāsa”?

Areas of Study: Text and Traditions

Required/ Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Must have completed Orientation to Hindu Studies or Completed Orientation to Hindu Studies

Instructor: Dr. Vishwa Adluri

Day:- Every Saturday

Start Date:- 9 January 2021

End Date:-  20 March 2021

Time:- 10:00 am EST – 01:00  pm EST.

Quarter: Summer 2021

Orientation to Hindu Studies

Course Content:

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 – orientation to Hindu studies- 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.

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundation

Program: Certificate Program in Hindu Studies, Community Education Program, Doctor of Philosophy in Hindu Studies, Master of Arts in Hindu Studies

Required/ Elective: 

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

Faculty: Mr. Kalyan Viswanathan(along with others)

Learning Objectives:

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 pathwa for engagement with the Hindu Studies curricula

Time: 09:00 pm EST – 10:30 pm EST

Start Date: 16th July 2021

End Date: 24th September 2021

Day: Friday

Quarter Offered: Summer 2021

The Mahābhārata I: From Beginning to End

In this course, Books 1 and 18, (Ādiparvan and Svargārohaṇaparvan), the first and last books (parvans) of the epic, will be studied to provide an overview of the epic “as a whole.” We shall read these two major books in detail. The first minor book of the Ādiparvan or the Book of the Beginning contains a clear statement of its character and purpose. The Mahābhārata is declared to be pañcamaveda, specifically, the Veda of Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsa; it is also an Upaniṣad connecting the human to the Divine, with its presentation of Kṛṣṇa Vāsudeva as Brahman. The second minor book (upaparvan) provides a summary of the text, whereas the third minor book provides a pedagogic “initiation” into the text and the hermeneutic keys to its interpretation. The text thus itself answers the question of how we ought to read the Mahābhārata. We shall read the entire Ādiparvan, focusing carefully on the Vedāntic import of prominent episodes such as the Garuḍa narrative and the narrative of the four Śārngaka birds, with which this major book closes. In the final part of the course, we shall read the Svargārohaṇaparvan with which the epic and the snake-sacrifice of Janamejaya closeout. What issues does this brief book raise with regard to the interpretation of dharma and salvation?

Areas of Study: Text and Traditions

Required/ Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Must have completed Orientation to Hindu Studies or Completed Orientation to Hindu Studies

Instructor: Dr. Vishwa Adluri

Day:- Every Saturday

Start Date:- 9 January 2021

End Date:-  20 March 2021

Time:- 10:00 am EST – 01:00  pm EST.

Quarter: Winter 2021

The Mahābhārata II: Dicing and Exile

The Pāṇḍavas build a city in the wilderness with the help of the Asura Maya and embark on a campaign of conquest, which culminates in the consecration of Yudhiṣṭhira at the rājasūya. At the very moment of triumph, life takes a dramatic turn, impelled by deep forces in our human nature. Jealous of the Pāṇḍavas, the Kauravas invite the Dharmarāja Yudhiṣṭhira to a dicing game. After winning through cheating, they humiliate Draupadī and force the princes into exile. The period of exile contains a detailed account of a pilgrimage, which combines sacred history and geography with pedagogy. This section contains important sections such as the revelation of the Seer Mārkaṇḍeya and the Rāmopākhyāna or the story of Rāma Dāśarathi. The final year of exile is the carnival-like period of incognito from which the princes emerge ready for battle. The episode of disguises allows us to rethink history and literature in a new light: the episodes hide the characters but reveal their deeper natures, and complicate narrativity by placing a self-conscious play, with elements of cross-dressing, ribaldry, and mimesis, within the larger epic. The episode of the gograhaṇa in which Arjuna single-handedly defeats the entire Kaurava army foreshadows events to come in the great conflagration.

Areas of Study: Text and Traditions

Required/ Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Successfully completed Mahabharata – I / Admission into Program of Study

Instructor: Dr. Vishwa Adluri

Quarter:- Spring 2021

Day: Every Saturday

Time: 10:00 am EST -01:00 pm EST

Start Date: 10th April 2021

End Date: 26th June 2021

Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa

Students will apply theoretical tools developed within psychoanalysis by Freud and Lacan which will allow them to approach the text self-critically. We shall read the entire text, analyzing some key passages from literary and philosophical perspectives that also reveal who we have become and who we wish to be. Students will learn to appreciate the Rāmāyaṇa as a profound character study, exploring the relation of the individual to society and to dharma. We will read extensive sections of the narrative, discuss and engage with topics that concerned commentators and explore the limitations of modernist critiques of Rāmāyaṇa and contemporary Indian society based on this text.

Area of Study: Text and Traditions

Required/ Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Instructor: Dr. Vishwa Adluri