Antaranga Mandapam

In this course, students will accomplish the following:

  1. Learn to understand and deal with the internal confusion that this crisis has created
  2. Explore the Sangha as a healing space of lived and shared experience
  3. Correlate their life experience with select concepts from the Yoga Sutra
  4. Learn to learn from each other’s sharing
  5. Experience a shared sense of the sacredness of life
  6. Prepare for a journey of personal transformation

The traditional Hindu way of life had a holistic design, supported by a habitat that fostered harmony. People lived in their respective homes and worked in assigned areas. When the day’s work was done, it was customary to visit the temple. The temple was designed to take the person from the common everyday external orientation to an inwardness as they slowly wended their way to the garbhagriha (sanctum). By the time the person reaches the sanctum, they have shed their roles and their identities. From an openness of the heart devoid of all notions of self they receive the blessings of the divine. The person then circumambulates the temple and rests a while in the Mandapam.

In the Mandapam, the wisdom of the Vedas and the Upanishads, were recreated through discourses, music, dance, stories and theatre performances. The Itihasa or Purana would be the basis of these performative traditions. The performative traditions were meant to evoke the rasa inherent in life and to convey the deep truths of the Upanishads and Vedas in simple ways.

The Mandapam, therefore, became the space where the community engaged in contemplative dialog, and nurtured a sense of being held in one’s humanness. Even the Gods and heroes whose stories were narrated had issues to confront like any one of us do, but found Dharmic ways of doing so! This mirroring of one’s life in the story provided insights into choices one could make, in the face of grave challenges.

The Antaranga Mandapam course will recreate this healing space online.

Required/Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: None

Faculty/Instructor: Sri Raghu Ananthanarayanan

Quarter Offered: Spring  2020

Area of Study: Yoga Studies

Start Date: April 14, 2020

End Date: June 23, 2020

Day: Tuesday

Time: 9.30 pm – 10:30 pm – EST

Critical Issues in Hindu Studies

The European colonization of India was justified by the construction of a particular narrative, beginning in the nineteenth century centered on the “White Man’s Burden” of civilizing India and the Hindus. “Scholars” hired by the East India Company and European missionaries, sometimes in tandem and at others in isolation, created a certain narrative on the Hindus and India in order to justify their colonial rule and missionary activities respectively. With the growing influence of the Europeans over Indians, the narrative became a massive industry with more and more scholars joining the force adding more nuance and sophistication to the discourse. This narrative has acquired a life of its own and today can be considered as the “received knowledge” on India and Hindus. Whether this narrative squares with the self-understanding of pre-colonial Hindus is a matter which we will examine in subsequent courses; however in the current one, we will first educate ourselves with the various descriptors that the Europeans used to define the Hindus, critically examining the various agendas–which the fathers of the narrative were quite explicit about behind such scholarship. The aforementioned scholarship in many different ways informs the self-understanding of educated Hindus today, and if the current Hindus want to connect with the worldview of their ancestors as they move forward in time, it is important for them to become familiar with this European narrative and also with the motivations that shaped the discourse, to begin with. This discourse is a distortion and in order to correct it, it is important to become familiar with its nuances.

In this course, the student will 

  1. study in detail the writings of some of the early European Indologists like James Mill and Abbe Dubois in order to understand their characterization of Hinduism and Hindus as oppressive and hierarchical;
  2. understand the explicit motivations due to which such characterizations were made;
  3. be able to see clearly that such characterizations have become “received knowledge” on Hinduism and Hindus, which gets replicated and reproduced in mainstream academia from grade school to graduate studies whereas the motivations for creating such a construct have been made invisible;
  4. be able to see the basis of Academic Hinduphobia that exists in the mainstream today; 
  5. gradually begin developing the skills required to effectively counter the distorted narrative in academia and media.

Area of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations/Postcolonial Hindu Studies

Required/ Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study/ Must have completed Orientation to Hindu Studies or Concurrently enrolled in OTHS.

Instructor: Dr. Kundan Singh

Start Date: April 11, 2020

End Date: June 19, 2020

Day: Every Saturday

Time: 2:00 PM — 5:00 PM EST.

Quarter: Spring 2020

Holistic Yoga -Philosophy and Practice

Course Description:

Developed by the ancient Hindu sages in the Indian subcontinent, yoga is a psycho-somatic discipline with its roots going back over 5,000 years. The word “yoga” means “union” and hints at the final goal of yoga practice–to be in union with one’s true nature. This goal, which leads one on the path of optimal health and human wellness, can be achieved by following the practices developed as a part of an integrated and holistic system of yoga.

In this course, we will explore the concept of Pancha Kosha, the five sheaths of human personality as defined in yogic texts: Annamaya Kosha — the physical layer; Pranamaya Kosha — the vital layer; Manomaya Kosha — the emotional layer; Vijnanamaya Kosha — the intellectual layer; and finally the Anandamaya Kosha — the pure-consciousness layer of our existence.

Furthermore, we will study Sage Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, popularly known as Ashtanga Yoga. These eight steps give a comprehensive and systematic approach to developing one’s mind. Ashtanga Yoga includes Yama (guidelines for ethical relationships), Niyama (guidelines for ethical personal living), Asana (postures for physical practice), Pranayama (controlled and deliberate breathing patterns), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the mind from distractions), Dharana (focus of the mind upon a goal), Dhyana (the expansion of the focused mind into everyday life), and Samadhi (Complete Absorption in Oneself).

Yoga is not just a practice of asana and meditation on the mat. While such a practice constitutes the practice of Raja Yoga, the other three disciplines that we include are: Karma Yoga — the yoga of detached action; Bhakti Yoga — the yoga of love, acceptance, and devotion; and Jnana Yoga — the yoga of contemplation and reflection, completing the holistic practice of yoga. By combining all four streams of yoga — Raja yoga, Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, and Jnana yoga — one is able to achieve a state of peace, creativity, and fulfilment in life.

We will learn about each stream of yoga and delve deeply into Raja yoga, which focuses on disciplining the mind and body using yoga practices. This holistic yoga course contains guided physical yoga practices, lectures, discussions, and offline assignments.

Learning Outcome:

In this course students will be able to:

  • Learn basic yoga practices of breath-synchronized movements, asana, pranayama, and meditation.
  • Understand the scope and relevance of yoga philosophy and how to apply it to one’s daily life.
  • Apply yoga practices and concepts to manage their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
  • Gain clarity on the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita in relation to practicing yoga.
  • Explore the eight limbs of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga — yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and Samadhi.

Required/Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Admission to the program of study.

Faculty/Instructor:    Ashwini Surpur, Anil Surpur , Mr. N.V. Raghuraman ,

Area of Study:- Yoga Studies

Day:- Saturday and  Sunday

Start Date:- January 22, 2022

End Date:- February 6, 2022

Time:- Option 1: Sat and Sun – 7:00 am PST – 12:30pm PST (10am EST- 3.30pm EST)
             Option 2: Sat and Sun – 7:00 am EST- 9:00 am EST (followed by a break) and then 12.30 pm EST – 3.30 pm EST

Quarter Offered: Winter 2022

Intermediate Sanskrit – Words & Phrases

Course Content

  1. Study and use of the DevanAgari script, Origin of the sounds, Pronunciations
  2. Simple introductions and greetings
  3. Pronouns (sarvanAmapadAni), Persons (puruShAH), Numbers (vachanAni), and Gender (lingAH)
  4. Indeclinables (avyayAni)
  5. Simple conversations
  6. Numbers in Sanskrit, 1 through 100
  7. Common verbs
  8. Interrogative words
  9. Introduction to the simple present tense and the past tense
  10. Direct addressing (sambodhanam) – the Vocative case
  11. Expanding the vocabulary through nouns, pronouns, and verbs

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

  • Articulate the fundamental sounds that comprise Sanskrit pronunciation;
  • Recognize common Sanskrit words and phrases;
  • Discover building blocks of the language through everyday conversation; and
  • Identify and use basic structures like numbers, tenses, simple verbs, and other parts of speech.

Required / Elective: Required 

Program of Study: Certificate Program in Sanskrit Proficiency (CP SP) 

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Prerequisites: Completion of Beginner Phase of CPSP- (SAN0101-SAN0104), SAN0201

Faculty / Instructor: Sri Chandrasekar Raghu ,  Smt. Parvathi Sriram , Shri. Rajasekhar Darapuram

Quarter Offered: Summer 2022

Start Date: July 18, 2022

End Date: September 19, 2022

Day: Monday

Time: 8:00 pm EST – 9:30 pm EST

Introduction to Bhagavadgita

Learning Outcome:-

  1. Gain a comprehensive and consistent overview of the Bhagavad Gita as both a moksha-shastra and a yoga-sastra.
  2. Understand the scope and relevance of the pursuits of knowledge and action in the Bhagavadgita.
  3. Be able to resolve paradoxes and seemingly competing viewpoints in the verses.
  4. Gain clarity on the meaning of moksa, karmayoga, bhakti, and meditation, in the Gita.
  5. Discern some of the paradigms that underlie various interpretations of the Gita.

The non-dual vision presented in the Gita has its origin in the Upanishads, where it is revealed through a teacher-student dialogue. Consistent with this, the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita are delivered through a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Unlike the Upanisads, the Gita discusses at length the participants in this dialogue. The Gita also goes much further than the Upanisads in expanding the discussion of the philosophical teachings, approaching them from a variety of perspectives, sometimes precipitated by a question from Arjuna. Its uniqueness, however, lies in its elaboration of the necessary conditions for understanding its core teaching, and the means, including Ashtanga Yoga, for creating those conditions.  Our inquiry into the vision of the Bhagavad Gita presented in this course is based on the commentary of Sankara, the principal exponent of non-duality, advaita. Sankara’s is the earliest extant commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, and arguably the most consistent, as will be demonstrated in the course of our study through an examination of paradoxical verses. As we proceed, we will also gain a clear understanding of the meaning of moksha, karma yoga, bhakti, and meditation, as presented in the Gita. And throughout the course, we will see, over the shoulders of Arjuna, the relevance of the teachings of the Gita to our lives today.

Required/Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Admission to the program of study/Must have completed Orientation to Hindu Studies or Concurrently enrolled in OTHS.

Faculty/Instructor: Swamini Agamananda Saraswati

Quarter Offered: Fall 2021

Area of Study:- Hindu Studies Foundation 

Start Date:- October 9, 2021

End Date:-  December 19, 2021

Day:- Saturday & Sunday

Time:- 03:00 pm EST – 04:30 pm EST

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: July 15, 2022

End Date: September 23, 2022

Day: Friday

Quarter Offered: Summer 2022

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

The Vedas (Ṛgveda)

Course content:

Vedic texts constitute the foundation of the worldview and way of life that informs Hindu life and culture. The Ṛgveda is one of the oldest collections of hymns i.e. Mantras also called as rca-s in Vedic Sanskrit.   Like the other Vedas, Ṛgveda is also structured into sections called Saṁhitā (verses in praise of Vedic devatās or deities), Brāhmaṇa (ritual practice or liturgy), Āraṇyaka (the link between ritual and spiritual expositions) and Upaniṣad (spiritual and philosophical expositions or exegesis). While the Rgveda varies in content and purpose from the other Vedas, it contains the kernel of the Vedic worldview and its social and philosophical implications.

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Understand the arrangement of mantras in the Ṛgveda and an overview of their content
  2. Understand the Vedic worldview and its philosophy of life
  3. Recognize the variation and divergence of Vedic and classical Sanskrit language
  4. Distinguish the convergence and divergence in nature, features, form, content, structure, and utility of the four Vedas, with regards to Vedic practices.

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Required / Elective: Required


1) The medium of Instruction is Sanskrit

2)Only currently enrolled Sanskrit master’s certificate students can register for these courses. (MIT-SVS)

3) Admission into Master Program in Sanskrit through MIT-SVS

4) Completed previous MA Sanskrit Course 

Faculty: Dr. Ramanujan

Quarter: Winter 2023