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Orientation to Hindu Studies

Course Content:

This course will offer a preliminary reflection on the central themes and ideas of Hinduism leading to an understanding of the common foundations of the great variety of traditions and practices within the umbrella of Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism. It will survey 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. It will include reflections and perspectives on these core concepts, using selected readings from source texts such as the Vedas, Upanishads, Itihaasa, Bhagavad-Gita and Puranas. But it is not a Hinduism 101 course!
The course will also review the complex challenges that arise at the confluence of Hindu and western thought. The Hindu worldview 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, exploiter-exploited binary, and survival of the fittest. The distinction between a discourse of knowledge and a discourse of power will be drawn out, as two alternate paradigms. Through this, the course will develop an overview and insight into the design of the curriculum offered by the Hindu University of America i.e., the context, and the paradigm that informs that design. It will examine the impact of colonial
discourse on postcolonial Hindu experience and leave students with the pressing urgency of intellectual decolonization. And as it distinguishes between colonial perspectives that constitute the received knowledge on Hinduism, from the lived reality of Hindus, it will present the significance and importance of Hindu studies today, in a deeply moving, inspiring and transformative way.

Course Learning Objectives:
In this course students will be able to:
a) Explore alternate paradigms, various options and trajectories available within the Hindu Studies Program
b) Distinguish the central ideas and concepts that constitute the Foundations of Hindu Dharma
c) Evaluate different elective areas of study and Courses offered: Sanskrit Studies, Texts and Traditions, Yoga Studies, History and Method, Post-Colonial Hindu studies and Conflict and Peace studies.
d) Distinguish between pathways towards a deep study of Hindu thought, or towards deep engagement with western thought from a Hindu perspective
e) Discover and Create pathways for engagement with the Hindu Studies curricula

Class Structure:
There will be a minimum of 1.5 contact hours with one or more 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 90 minutes, the discussion time will be free format, and can continue for an additional 30 minutes. During the course, students will be required to submit one short essay. They need not be academic quality papers – but should be based on students' self-reflection on what they have learnt and assimilated so far, and what has touched and inspired them deeply.

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundation

Program: Certificate Program in Hindu Studies (C.P.H.S), Community Education Program (C.E.P), Doctor of Philosophy in Hindu Studies, Master of Arts in Hindu Studies (M.A.H.S)

Required/ Elective: This course is a prerequisite for admission into Masters’ and Doctoral program in Hindu Studies. It is also a required Core course for the Certificate Program in Hindu Studies.

Prerequisites: None.

Faculty: Mr. Kalyan Viswanathan(along with others)

Time: 09:00 pm EST – 10:30 pm EST

Start Date: October 14, 2022

End Date: December 23, 2022

Day: Friday

Quarter Offered: Fall 2022