Introduction to the Vedic Ritual

Course Description:

To the modern mind, Hindu rituals often appear to be merely repetitious and meaningless activity. And indeed, they can be performed in a way that accentuates their essential meaninglessness. But they have the power to prepare the restless mind for inwardness, as well as for appropriate engagement with the world. Ritual is the laboratory where the mind is purified, settled, and prepared for higher knowledge i.e., Para Vidya. In this course the participants will learn to perform simple rituals, with the right understanding and attitude, and integrate their value into their daily life.

Course content:
Hinduism i.e., Sanatana Dharma, is a way of life that requires the embrace of spiritual practice, Sadhana or Abhyasa. Rituals, i.e., the repetitive performance of certain practices, are essential to this Sadhana and Abhyasa. In order to recognize the power of ritual, two things are necessary. First, the practitioner must be open minded, and suspend their disbelief in the value of the ritual for the time being. Second, they must bring a quality of emotional involvement (i.e., Bhavana), into the practice. One has to be willing to move beyond the seemingly merely mechanical nature of the ritual to fully enter into and experience an immersion into the ritual space. This immersion cannot be grasped through an intellectual or moral cognition alone, but it can be deeply experienced through sustained practice, which then gradually purifies and transforms the mind. Our daily life must include both intellectual and moral understanding, but it should also transcend them. To accomplish this performance of daily ritual (Nitya Karma) is essential. In this course of study, the faculty will introduce the students to essential Sandhya Vandana for both men and women, selected Vedic mantras, stotras, and Ashtottaras, basic puja, and simple Homa procedure. While encouraging the students to embrace the practice, the faculty will also help the students evaluate their own spiritual progress, through measurable metrics. Students will experience an increasing understanding of the importance of Dharma in their own lives.

Course Learning Objectives:
In this course students will be able to:
a) Integrate the performance of rituals as a part of their daily lives
b) Perform the daily Sandhyavandana
c) Perform the daily puja to his/her Ishta Devata
d) Chant hymns from the Vedas, stotras, and Ashtottaras
e) Perform simple havan at home
f) Know the use of various religious utensils used in ritual

Class Structure:
There will be a minimum of 1 contact hour with the faculty every week. 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 60 minutes, the discussion time will be free format, and can continue for an additional 30 minutes maximum. During the course, students will be required to submit one short essay of around 1000 – 1500 words, or videos of their practice. They need not be academic quality papers or professional videos – but should be based on students' self-reflection on what they have learnt and assimilated so far.

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundation

Program:  Community Education Program

Required/ Elective: Core

Prerequisites: Admission into program of study. Knowledge of the Sanskrit alphabet is desired but not mandatory.
but not mandatory

Faculty: Sri. Sree Aswath

Time: 09:00 pm EST – 10:30 pm EST

Start Date: October 11, 2022

End Date: December 20, 2022

Day: Every Tuesday

Quarter Offered: Fall 2022