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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

 

Advaita Vedanta: A Method

Learning Outcome:-

  1. Develop a clear understanding of Advaita Vedanta as a method, and the ramifications of that.
  2. Gain a comprehensive understanding of Advaita epistemology and its role as a key to understanding the vision of the Upanisads.
  3. Connect the epistemology to Advaita ontology and the fulfillment of its soteriological end.

In this course, we will examine the methods (prakriyas) used in the Upanisads to reveal the existence and nature of the non-dual reality.  We will begin with a basic discussion of Advaita epistemology to understand the important claim of the Upanisad that it provides, not just information about the non-dual reality, but the means through which one can directly know it. First, we will undertake a close reading of Sankara’s introduction to the Brahmasutra, and commentary on Taittiriya Upanisad 2.1.1 to establish the core principles of superimposition and negation as well as implicative statements. With these parameters, we will study dialogues in the Mundaka, Taittirya, and Mandukya Upanisads that employ the foundational method of inquiry into cause-effect, and also, the methods of analysis of the levels of our waking experience and analysis of the three states of waking, dream, and sleep. Throughout, we will be connecting what we discover to the soteriological aim of Advaita Vedanta—release from human suffering and the cycle of birth and death.

Required/Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Introduction to Advaita Vedanta

Faculty/Instructor: Swamini Agamananda Saraswati

Quarter Offered: Winter 2020

Area of Study:- Hindu Studies Foundation 

Advaita, Viśiśtādvaita and Dvaita – The three flavors of Vēdānta śāstra

Course content:

Advaita, Viśiśtādvaita and Dvaita – the three flavors of Vēdānta śāstra also called the three “Schools of Vedantic Thought” cover the whole range of possibilities, with reference to the relationship between the three main entities in question i.e., Jiva (living beings), Jada (matter) and Ishwara (Lord) as being one and the same i.e., non-dual, (abheda), or fundamentally and irreconcilably different (bheda) or something in-between (visista). All the other schools of thought within Hindu thought, end up being some variation or combination of these three fundamental perspectives.

This course will examine the conceptual overview of the Bhagavad Gita, through selected verses, according to the perspectives of these three Acharyas (S, R, M), by exploring the original commentaries of the main Acharyas of these three schools in Sanskrit, instead of derived works. It will cover the fundamental concepts of Advaita, Viśiśtādvaita and Dvaita in reasonable detail, highlighting the areas where these Acharyas concur and where they differ. The Course will include the following:

  • Introduction and Background of Gita as per the three Acharyas (S, R, M)
  • Summary of Gita according to Shankarāchārya
  • Summary of Gita according to Sri Rāmānujācharya
  • Summary of Gita according to Sri Madhvāchārya
  • A “Samanvaya” or establishment of the close relationship between these three schools (mata traya samanvaya)

At the completion of this course, students will gain a greater clarity regarding common misconceptions held by many people, regarding these three perspectives.  Students will clearly understand how these three schools of philosophy approach the Bhagavadgita, which is one of the three main textual sources of Arsha Vidya or the “philosophy of the Rishis”, known as “PrasThana traya”, the other two being the Brahmasutras and the Upanishads.

Course Learning Objectives:

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Appreciate the Bhagavad-Gita from three perspectives of Advaita, Viśiśtādvaita and Dvaita.
  2. Distinguish the unique views and concepts of these three schools of thought.
  3. Access the essence of the Upanishads i.e., Vedanta through the Bhagavad-Gita.
  4. Deepen the understanding of the main Yogas of the Gita i.e., Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Dhyana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga
  5. Recognize how all these Yoga’s lead to “Sharanagati” or “Jnana”, no matter where they begin.

While no prior knowledge of Sanskrit is required, it will definitely be helpful. Prior knowledge of the perspectives of anyone Acharya will also be valuable.

Class Structure

There will be a minimum of 1 contact hour 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 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 two short essays of between 1000 and 1500 words each. They need not be academic quality papers – but should be based on students’ self-reflection on what they have learned and assimilated so far.

Required / Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Admission into a Program of Study

Faculty / InstructorMr. Krishna Kashyap

Time: 8:30 pm EST – 10:00 pm EST

Day: Every Monday

Start Date: October 11, 2021

End Date: December 20, 2021

Quarter Offered: Fall 2021

An Overview of the Veda

The Vedic-view of the purpose of life as explained by the four puruṣārthas – Dharma, Artha, Kāma, and Mokṣa will be discussed. An overview of the four Vedas, each consisting of the two major categories, which are further subdivided into different portions, the arrangement of the mantras into mandalas and aśtaka systems, internal classifications of each Veda into Samhitā, Brāhmana, Āraṇyaka, and Upaniṣads will be covered. The Veda’s structural hierarchy and purpose, and supplementary texts of the Vedic corpus such as – Sūtra – Bhāṣya – Vyākhyā – Ṭīkā – Ṭippaṇī – Prapaňcikā – Saṅgraha – Kārikā – Vṛtti – Vārtika – Prakaraṇa – Vāda – Khaṇḍana, including an overview of the six Darśanas will be examined, in addition to the differences between śruti and Smṛti

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Recognize the whole Vedic body of knowledge and its layout.
  2. Understand the inter-relationships of the various components of the Vedic corpus.
  3. Inquire into the concept of human progress in relation to the timelessness of ancient Vedic knowledge.
  4. Explore the relevance of the Vedic body of knowledge in today’s age.
  5. Examine contemporary views and interpretations of the Veda.

Areas of Study: Hindu Studies Foundations

Required / Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Admission into a program of Study

Faculty:  Sri Swāmi Svātmānanda

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

Antaranga Yoga

Learning Outcome:-

  1. Awaken the archetypal characters from the Mahabharata in one’s own life through dialogue and reflective activities
  2. Develop greater insights into one’s own psyche and patterns of the mind through an experiential engagement with the Mahabharata
  3. Experience yoga as an integral science beyond postures (asanas) or breathing techniques (pranayama).
  4. To develop the sakhi bhava (friendliness) and sakshi bhava (meditative listening) to be able to listen to our own self and the others from a deeper space
  5. To evoke healing processes within oneself

In this course, we explore our psyche using stories of characters from the Mahabharata, with an aim to bring clarity and meaning in our life. This 11-week course requires a pre-work of reading select stories from the Mahabharata and writing reflections before attending each session.

This course is not a didactic course on Mahabharata but enables one to delve into one’s psyche using the Mahabharata as a mirror into one’s mental processes. The course is dialogic and calls for a willingness to be self-reflective, share of oneself, and listen to others sensitively. This course is not recommended for anyone who is going through treatment for any psychological illness.

Required/Elective: Required

Prerequisites: Admission to the program of study

Faculty/Instructor: Sri Raghu Ananthanarayanan

Area of Study:- Yoga Studies

Start Date:- October 13, 2021

End Date:- December 22, 2021

Day:- Wednesday

Time:- 09:30 pm EST – 11:00 pm EST

Quarter Offered: Fall 2021

Anticolonialism and Postcolonialism

Much more than the economic exploitation of the colonized, the colonization process hovers around destroying their cultural fabric. This necessarily involves the production of literature on the colonized and the creation of institutions through which the understanding of the colonized within and without their culture is significantly altered. There have been influential writers during the colonial period who understood the impulse of power and domination behind the production of literature on the colonized “other,” and there have been others who have analyzed the psychological and sociological effects of colonization. Through the literature of writers such as Aime Cessaire, Albert Memmi, Franz Fannon, Edward Said, Ashish Nandy, and S. Balagangadhara, this course will give the students the theoretical tools to understand the impact of colonialism on the psyche and culture of the Hindu people.

Applied Vedic Science – Advanced (Āyurveda)

Course Content:

This course provides an in-depth appreciation of the science and practice of Āyurveda, through a study of one of the core texts pertaining to the portions suggesting regimen for individuals corresponding to the different seasons. This primary text in Sanskrit will be discussed, along with some of the major commentaries on the source text.

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Understand the sensibility in the system of Āyurveda that customizes its prescriptions based on factors that impact the health and wellbeing of people.
  2. Assimilate the role and relevance of Āyurveda as a manual of holistic wellbeing.

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Required / Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Completion of the Applied Vedic Science – Basic (Ayurveda)

Faculty / Instructor:  TBD

Quarter Offered:  TBD

Applied Vedic Science – Advanced (Jyotisha)

Course Content:

This course provides an introduction to basic mathematical operations, the Indian way, through the text named Līlāvatī.

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Understand the methodology and approach of theorizing and calculating in the Indic system of mathematics.

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Required / Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Completion of the Applied Vedic Science – Basic (Jyotisha)

Faculty / Instructor:  TBD

Quarter Offered:  TBD

Applied Vedic Science – Advanced (Vedanta)

Course Content:

This course introduces the student to the ontological schema proposed by three schools of Vedānta, namely, Advaita, Viśiṣṭādvaita, and Dvaita through the study of their primers.

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Understand the various ontological schema with which the same ontological content is presented based on variation of darśanas, all of them rooted in the Vedic tradition.
  2. Observe the variation in language usage that the different schools of Vedānta adapted in the presentation of their doctrines.

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Required / Elective: Elective

Program: MA in Sanskrit / Masters’ Certificate in Sanskrit

Prerequisites: Completion of the Applied Vedic Science – Basic (Vedanta)

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 / Instructor: TBD

Quarter Offered: Winter 2021

Applied Vedic Science – Advanced (Yoga)

Course Content:

This course introduces the portion of the Yogasūtras that defines and discusses the systematic means – sādhanā – of attaining the most exalted spiritual state and substantiates the process with reasons where necessary.

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Comprehend the means of attaining an exalted state of spirituality along with the systematic technical definitions of such means
  2. Logically understand the process presented in the Yogasūtras

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Required / Elective: Elective

Prerequisites: Completion of the Applied Vedic Science – Basic (Yoga)

Faculty / Instructor:  TBD

Quarter Offered:  Spring 2021

Applied Vedic Science – Basic (Āyurveda)

Course Content:

This course provides a survey of the science and practice of Ayurveda, through an overview of the key texts and contributions in the discipline. The concept of wellbeing, and not merely medication, that is central to Āyurveda is elucidated in the course.

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Understand the major contributors and their writings and commentaries that built up the applied science and knowledge system of Āyurveda.
  2. Assimilate the role and relevance of Āyurveda as a science of wellbeing.
  3. Recognize the different schools of Āyurveda based on their theories.

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Required / Elective: Elective

Prerequisites:  Completion of 12 Credit-Hours of Course work in the MA in Sanskrit / Masters’ Certificate in Sanskrit

Faculty / Instructor:  TBD

Quarter Offered:  TBD

Applied Vedic Science – Basic (Vedanta)

Course Content:

This course provides a survey of the basic philosophical tenets of the different schools of Vedānta and introduces their primary sources. This course also provides the opportunity to study comparatively the respective commentaries of a principal Upaniṣad to aid the student in understanding the philosophical standpoints of these different schools.

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Understand the role of Vedānta in governing the Indic way of life.
  2. Understand the convergences and divergences of views among the different schools of Vedānta.
  3. Observe the multiplicity of interpretations of Vedic literature and the rationale behind such interpretations forming the basis of tenets propounded by the different schools of Vedānta.

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Required / Elective: Required

Prerequisites: 

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 / Instructor: Dr. Mahabaleswara Bhat

Quarter Offered: Spring 2020

Start Date:-  March 10th, 2020

End Date:-  April end, 2020

Day:- Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

Time:- 8.00 pm to 9.30 pm EST

Applied Vedic Sciences Basic (Yoga)

Course Content:

This course introduces the categories of Yoga with their respective definitions, based on the Yogasūtras of Patañjali along with its prominent commentaries.

In this course students will be able to:

  1. Assimilate the role and relevance of the system of Yoga through a comprehensive understanding of the mental and cognitive categories in the Yoga system
  2. Comprehend the definitions of the categories according to the Yoga system with elucidations from various commentaries.

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Required / Elective: Elective

Prerequisites:  Completion of 12 Credit-Hours of Course work in the MA in Sanskrit / Masters’ Certificate in Sanskrit

Faculty / Instructor:  TBD

Quarter Offered:  Winter 2021

Arthaśāstra

Kautilya’s Arthaśāstra, written around 300 BC, is a text on statecraft, a book of political realism. It deals with various topics including war and diplomacy, how a king can retain his kingdom and become a conqueror, how to make allies and know the enemies, and how to make treaties. It focuses on elements, what can be termed in modern usage diplomacy, such as the doctrine of a silent war, propaganda, secret agents, how to use women as weapons of war, and how to use religion and superstition to advantage. According to Kautilya, “power is (possession of) strength” and “strength changes the mind.” More importantly, Kautilya emphasized power to control not only outward behavior but also the thoughts of one’s subjects and enemies. According to him, “one possessed of personal qualities, though ruling over a small territory … conversant with (the science of) politics, does conquer the entire earth, never loses.” Kautilya is the founder of Mandala Theory of foreign policy, which can be termed as a precursor of the theories of political realism and balance of power. Kautilya favored righteous war than greedy and demoniacal wars. The course will delve into various elements of this insightful text and juxtapose the main ideas in the text with similar theories and approaches in the modern world. The students will be able to draw parallels between the core ideas embedded in this ancient text with many modern ideas.

Aryanism and Indology

Students will gain a historical overview of German Indology from its origins to the present. They will read basic source texts for German attitudes towards ancient and modern India, especially the Vedic period, Brahmanism, and Hinduism. They will learn how German nationalism, theories of racial supremacy, the quest for Aryan identity, and Protestantism and Lutheran anti-Semitism shaped the discipline of Indology. German Indology’s role in fostering National Socialism and the treatment of Jewish Indologists will also be discussed. Students will also be expected to read and analyze excerpts from Rammohan Roy, Dayanand Saraswati, Tilak, and Ambedkar in light of their knowledge of Indology.

Areas of Study: History and Methods

Required/ Elective: Elective

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

Instructor: Dr. Joydeep Bagchee

Start Date: TBD

End Date: TBD

Day: TBD

Time: TBD

Quarter: TBD