Discover the contemporary Relevance of Hindu Dharma

Course content:

The Vedic Hindu paradigm (or cosmology) represents an alternative to the Western paradigm. The paradigm of Western thought is centered on the idea of linear progress in time, that relentlessly renders tradition, and the thought of prior generations obsolete. It presents itself in opposition to tradition, on the principle that whatever value traditions might have had for humanity in the past, they have been decisively superseded by the progress of thought. The Vedic Hindu paradigm presents itself as timeless i.e., that it encapsulates principles, values and ideas that do not age with time, and become relevant again and again, in every age and era, and even for all of humanity. The ground covered by this course will include a subset of the following themes, as selected through a democratic process by the students themselves:

  1. Purushartha – Living a whole, complete, and fulfilled life
  2. Ashrama Dharma – The Stages of a human life
  3. The Wheel of Samsara – Karma, Janma and Reincarnation
  4. Oneness and Identity – the conclusions of Vedanta
  5. Dharma versus Religion – A Categorial misalignment
  6. The Hindu concept of Brahman, and its unfolding into Purusha and Prakriti
  7. The transcendental and the Material worlds – in Hindu Dharma
  8. The Scope of the Vedas – Vedic Teachings about Teaching the Vedas
  9. Moksha, Freedom and Salvation – A comparative inquiry
  10. Yoga – A means for self-transformation
  11. Sanatana – Timelessness versus Historicism – The place of Hindu Dharma in world religion
  12. Cyclic Time versus Linear History – The central cosmological difference
  13. From the Vedas to NASA – Astronomy and Time and the antiquity of Hindu culture
  14. Avatars, Rishis, Yogis, Gurus and Acharyas – the continuously unfolding revelation
  15. People of the Book versus People of a Library
  16. Teaching Dharma versus Preaching and Proselytization
  17. Sanskrit – The mother of the World’s Languages
  18. The centrality of the Bhagavad Gita – the dialog between Krishna and Arjuna
  19. Speaking about the Epics – The Ramayana and the Mahabharata
  20. One God, Many Gods, Father God, Mother God, Angry God, and Friendly God
  21. Murti, Deity or Idol – Explaining worship through images
  22. Diversity, Plurality, Democracy and Hindu Culture
  23. The three Gunas – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas – the basis for good and evil
  24. The three Doshas – Ayurveda and the interface to material nature
  25. Hindu Dharma, Holy Cows, and global Ecology and Sustainability
  26. Modernity according to the Hindu sages of yore
  27. Ahimsa – Non-violence and Vegetarianism in Hindu Dharma
  28. Jyotisha – Explaining Vedic Astrology to the uninitiated
  29. Darshana – Ways of understanding the Cosmos
  30. The Vedic Cosmology and the Dharma Traditions – Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism
  31. Progressivism and Historicism – Chronological Snobbery
  32. Colonization, Colonial Consciousness and Postcoloniality
  33. Who were the real Pagans? The world before Monotheism.
  34. Varna, Jati, and Caste – A clash of incommensurable paradigms
  35. The Guna, Karma paradigm of Varna and Jati
  36. The Aryan Race and the Racial Paradigm of Caste

Course Learning Objectives:

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Vote and determine which themes from this list are of interest for them
  2. Discover the timeless and immediate relevance of Hindu Dharma for themselves
  3. Distinguish the paradigm of Hindu Cosmology from the Western paradigm
  4. Deepen and broaden their knowledge and understanding of Hindu Dharma
  5. Learn to communicate about Hindu Dharma to diverse groups with confidence
  6. Build the skills required to become an Ambassador of Hindu Dharma in time

Class Structure:

There will be a minimum of 2 contact hours with the faculty every week for 10 weeks. The class is structured in a way that promotes discussion and debate based on self-study and reflection each week. While the content being discussed in each class will be concluded within 120 minutes, the discussion time will be free format and can continue for an additional 60 minutes.

During the course, students will be required to submit one short essay and/or make one class presentation. They need not be academic quality papers – but should be based on students’ self-reflection on what they have learnt and assimilated so far.

Required/Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Faculty/InstructorShri Jeffrey Armstrong and Kalyan Viswanathan

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations

Program of Study: Community Education Program (CEP), Certificate Program in Hindu Studies (CPHS) 

Time: 05:00 pm EST – 07:00 pm EST

Start Date: 17th July 2021

End Date: 18th September 2021

Day: Every Saturday with one exception – the class will be on Sunday, July 25th 2021, instead of July 24th.

Quarter Offered: Summer 2021