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Across the Universe: Hindu Dharma and Western Creative Arts

Course Description: 

This course is both a celebration and a deep analysis of artists who opened Western eyes and ears to the treasures of Hindu Dharma. As Phil Goldberg documented in his book American Veda, and his previous HUA courses, the wisdom of the rishis has filtered into the soil of American life through many streams. They include some of the world’s most beautiful and beloved literature, cinema, music, and other works of art. This creative transmission—which has been both explicit and implicit, both obvious and subtle—has transformed millions of lives while producing expressions of genius that will inspire and illuminate for centuries to come. Each week we’ll meet legendary masters and virtuosos, and we’ll immerse ourselves in the rasa of their brilliant creations. The course will elevate our appreciation of India’s timeless spiritual heritage as well as of certain poetry, novels, films, and music.

Course content: 

In this course, we will explore how Celebrated Artists, Writers, and Musicians embraced Hindu Dharma and Transmitted it Through Creative Works. Each week we’ll explore a different set of artists and art forms, bringing the content alive through images, poems, passages of prose, videos, and especially music. We’ll meet legendary Indian artists—most notably Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray, and Maestro Ravi Shankar—whose colossal impact on the West went far beyond the enjoyment of their work; they opened minds and hearts to the spiritual essence of Hindu culture. Most of the course will focus on how Hindu teachings—as disseminated directly by gurus, swamis, and yoga masters, as well as through books and art—transformed the lives and work of leading artists, authors, and musicians in the West. And we’ll see how, in turn, those creative geniuses transmitted Hindu principles to vast numbers of people. Along the way we’ll examine—and thoroughly enjoy—the flowering of genius inspired by dharmic wisdom and liberated by yogic practices. We’ll go back to Britain’s great Romantic poets—William Blake, William Wordsworth, John Keats, et al—the verse of 19th Century icons—Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman (America’s foremost bhakta)—and the explicitly dharmic themes of poets T.S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, Gary Snyder, and Allen Ginsberg. We’ll ponder the Hindu-inspired themes in the luminous prose of novelists such as Herman Hesse, Somerset Maugham, and especially J.D. Salinger. We’ll look at clips from Ray’s immortal Apu Trilogy, and the films of Jean Renoir, Louis Malle, and the Merchant-Ivory company, as well as classics like “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Razor’s Edge” and the “Star Wars” series, even lesser-known films like “The Legend of Bagger Vance,” which was inspired by the Bhagavad Gita. But the art form we’ll spend most of our time with is music. The chief catalyst for the musical transmission was Ravi Shankar. We’ll explore the sitar master’s astonishing impact beginning in the 1950s, when he was introduced to classical music audiences by the violinist Yehudi Menuhin (the pair won a 1967 Grammy for the album “West Meets East”); and on to his discovery by jazz artists, especially John and Alice Coltrane and flutist Paul Horn; and finally, to his watershed friendship with George Harrison. Their mentor-student relationship opened the floodgates to the Beatles’ embrace of meditation, their sojourn in a Rishikesh ashram, their advocacy of Hindu ideas, and of course some of the most memorable—and spiritually transformative—songs of all time. All in all, the course will be a feast for the eyes and ears as well as the mind and heart.

Course Learning Objectives:

In this course students will be able to:

  1. a)     Understand the profound impact of Hindu Dharma on Western literature, cinema, music, and other art forms.
  2. b)     Appreciate the remarkable contributions of leading Indian artists, such as Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray, and Ravi Shankar.
  3. c)     Identify and evaluate the subtle (sometimes hidden) ways that Hindu precepts and practices influenced legendary Western writers, musicians, and other artists.
  4. d)     Discover the many ways Hindu Dharma has been adopted by creative Westerners and skillfully adapted to new forms and expressions.
  5. e)     Learn about Western history and culture from different angles.
  6. g)     Appreciate more deeply works of genius you already admire.
  7. h) Discover artists and works of art you will now cherish.

Class Structure:

The class will meet once a week for 10 weeks, for 90 minutes. The teacher’s presentation, with the help of pictures, written texts, and audio and video recordings, will last approximately 60 minutes. The remaining time will be devoted to questions and open discussion. There will be recommended readings and website links for each class, and one assignment: a written reflection—or the equivalent in an art form of their choosing—on what the student learned from the course and how it might influence their life. 

Area of Study: Text and Traditions

Prerequisites: Admission into program of study

Required / Elective: Elective

Faculty/InstructorDr. Philip Goldberg

Start Date: October 11, 2022

End Date: December 20, 2022

Day: Every Tuesday

Time: 08:00 pm EST – 9:30 pm EST

Quarter Offered:  Fall 2022

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:

This course focuses on the conceptual overview of the three “Schools of Vedantic Thought”: Advaita, Dvaita and Visistadvaita known as “mata-traya”. It covers 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 is an advanced level course. however, fundamental concepts of Advaita, Visistadvaita and Dvaita will be covered in reasonable detail. Basic level knowledge of Sanskrit will be useful but not necessary. Any reference to Sanskrit verses will be explained in English. Since it is a
11-week course, it will be difficult to go into detailed analysis of the commentaries of Acharyas on the Upanishads, Brahma sutras and the Bhagavadgita, known as the Prasthana-traya . A detailed explanation of these three views may take more than several hundred hours of lectures. However, relevant portions of these texts will be dealt with at an introductory level.

At the completion of this course, students will gain a greater clarity regarding common misconceptions held by many people, regarding these three perspectives. At the end of the course, one will be able to understand conceptually these three schools of thought at a reasonable level of depth. The focus is not on the scriptural texts such as Brahma Sutras, Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. However, the concepts will be explained and references to these scriptures will be given with some explanation as to how these acharyas come up with their school of thought. At the end in 2 or 3 lectures, concepts will be introduced to arrive at some form of reconciliation between these three schools: Advaita, Dvaita and Visistadvaita

Course Learning Objectives:

In this course students will be able to:

1. Distinguish the unique views and concepts of these three schools of thought.

2. Understand the implication of the differences between these schools of thought.

3. Relate the concepts to the scriptural texts : Brahma-sutras, Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads

4. Understand the references to the concepts in the major works of Acharyas of these schools of thought.

5. To understand some concepts to arrive at a reconciliation between these three schools of thought Advaita, Dvaita and Visistadvaita

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 one short essay of around 1000 to 1500 words. 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: 10:00 am EST – 11:30 am EST (7:30 pm IST – 9:00 pm IST)

Day: Every Sunday

Start Date: October 9, 2022

End Date: December 18, 2022

Quarter Offered: Fall 2022

Advanced Sanskrit – Cases Moods, and Suffixes

Course learning Objectives :

• Comprehending short stories
• Creative writing skills
• Using indeclinables (avyayAni)
• Using suffixes (pratyayAH) and Cases (3rd, 4th and 5th vibhaktis)

• Writing conventions & Combining sentences

Course Content:

1. Short stories.
2. Introductions to every-day conversations in Sanskrit through different scenarios.
3. Reading, writing, and comprehending longer stories, essays, verses, etc.
4. Exercises to fine tune tenses, moods, vibhaktis, and suffixes

Required / Elective: Required 

Program of Study: Certificate Program in Sanskrit Proficiency

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Prerequisites: Successful completion of SAN0301

Faculty / Instructor: Sri Chandrashekhar Raghu , Smt. Brindha Aangarai Venkataraman

Quarter Offered: 

Start Date:

End Date:

Day:

Time:

Advanced Sanskrit – Expressions, Prefixes, & Cases

Course Contents:

  1. “tumun” expressions
  2. visheShaNa – visheShya bhAva
  3. Upasarga
  4. shatR suffix
  5. vibhaktayaH
  6. Exercises

Learning Objectives:

  1. Using intentional expressions
  2. Refreshing Cases (vibhaktis)
  3. Using the Past tense
  4. Using the Adjectives & Prefixes
  5. Using the Continuous tense

Required / Elective: Required 

Program of Study: Certificate Program in Sanskrit Proficiency

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Prerequisites: Successful completion of SAN0302

Faculty / Instructor: Sri Chandrashekhar RaghuSmt. Brindha Aangarai Venkataraman

Quarter Offered: 

Start Date:

End Date:

Day:

Time:

Advanced Sanskrit – Grammatical Structures and Verses

Course Content

  1. The fifth declension / Ablative case for pronouns
  2. Introduction to Ayurveda
  3. The sixth declension / Genitive case, the ktavatu usage, gerunds
  4. Introduction to BhAgavatam
  5. Wise sayings and their meanings in Sanskrit
  6. The seventh declension / Locative case

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

  • Analyze noun and verb structures of verses and proverbs.
  • Recognize passages from popular Sanskrit texts; and
  • Paraphrase using grammatically correct Sanskrit.

Required / Elective: Required 

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies 

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

Prerequisites: Successful completion of SAN0303 

Faculty / Instructor: Sri Chandrashekhar Raghu , Smt. Brindha Aangarai Venkataraman

Start Date: April 12, 2022

End Date: June 14, 2022

Day: Tuesday

Time: 8:00 pm EST – 9:30 pm EST

Quarter Offered: Spring 2022

Advanced Sanskrit – Poetry, Literature, Writings, and Biographies

Course Content

  1. Vidhiling lakAra, tavyat, aneeyar usages
  2. 4 types of sandhis (yAntavAntAdesha-sandhi, pUrvarUpa-sandhi, shchutva-sandhi, and jashtva-sandhi)
  3. Prose order (anvaya-krama)
  4. Maxims and Analogies (laukeeka-nyAya) – sthAlipulAka-nyAya, ghaTTakuTeeprabhAta-nyAya
  5. Introduction to 3 great poets of Sanskrit literature (bANa, gangAdevee, tirumalAmbA)
  6. Letter writing in Sanskrit

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

  • Construct phrases with additional tenses and conjugates;
  • Examine important proverbs embedded in the literature;
  • Create correspondence via standard letter writing norms; and
  • Inquire further into biographies of poets and litterateurs.

Required / Elective: Required 

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

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

Prerequisites: Successful completion of SAN0402

Faculty / Instructor: Sri Srinath Chakravarty

Quarter Offered: Summer 2022

Start Date: April 12, 2022

End Date: June 14, 2022

Day: Tuesday

Time: 8:30 pm EST – 10:00 pm EST

Advanced Sanskrit – Prefixes, Compounds, Maxims & Analogies

Course Content

  1. Prefixes / upasargas
  2. 4 types of sandhis (anunAsika-sandhi, anusvAra-sandhi, parasavarNa-sandhi, and visarga-sandhi)
  3. Prose order (anvaya-krama)
  4. Idiom (laukeeka-nyAya) – pankha-prakShAlaNa-nyAya
  5. Common sayings / proverbs
  6. Writing simple essays in Sanskrit

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

  • Synthesize prefixes and suffixes to enhance vocabulary;
  • Integrate more complex conjugates in sentence structure;
  • Critique the meanings behind key maxims and analogies; and
  • Produce stories and essays incorporating the above concepts.

Required / Elective: Required 

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

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

Prerequisites: Successful completion of SAN0403

Faculty / Instructor:

Quarter Offered: Summer 2022

Start Date: July 19, 2022

End Date: September 20, 2022

Day: Tuesday

Time: 8:00 pm EST – 09:30 pm EST

Advanced Sanskrit – Tenses, Moods, & Cases

Course Content:

  1. Imperative Mood
  2. 2nd vibhakti
  3. 7th vibhakti
  4. Future tense
  5. Past tense
  6. 6th vibhakti
  7. Numbers
  8. Wise sayings

Learning Objectives:

  1. Using different tenses, moods, and cases (2nd, 6th & 7th vibhakti)
  2. Using future and past tense in detail
  3. Using larger numbers
  4. Reading, writing, and comprehending longer stories, essays, verses, etc.

Required / Elective: Required 

Program of Study: Certificate Program in Sanskrit Proficiency

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Beginner phase (SAN0204)

Faculty / Instructor: Sri Srinath Chakravarty 

Start Date: October 6, 2022

End Date: December 15, 2022

Day: Thursday

Time: 8:00 pm EST – 9:30 pm EST

Quarter Offered: Fall 2022

Advanced Sanskrit -Tenses, Parts of speech, Poetry Analysis in Sanskrit

Course Content

  1. Introduction to lakAra, especially the 4 important ones
  2. The sambodhanam declension / Vocative case
  3. Use of some prepositions and their associated declensions
  4. How to rearrange a shloka to understand the verse meaning
  5. Adjectives and their genders

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

  • Identify and utilize tenses, cases, and parts of speech;
  • Recognize various adjectives and associated genders;
  • Interpret poetic verses and define their prose order; and
  • Compose stories and conduct conversations in detail.

Required / Elective: Required 

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

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

Prerequisites: Successful completion of SAN0304

Faculty / Instructor:  Sri Chandrasekar Raghu , Smt. Brindha Aangarai Venkataraman, Smt. Pallavi Amin

Quarter Offered:  Summer 2022

Start Date: July 19, 2022

End Date: September 20, 2022

Day: Tuesday

Time: 8:00 pm EST – 9:30 pm EST

Advanced Sanskrit- Conjugates, Voices & Sanskrit Literature

Course Content

  1. 4 types of sandhis (svara-sandhi, guNa-sandhi, vRuddhi-sandhi, and yaN-sandhi)
  2. Prose order (anvaya-krama)
  3. Atmanepada verbs
  4. karmaNi-prayoga (Passive voice)
  5. bhAve-prayoga (Impersonal voice)
  6. “kta” usage
  7. Introduction to 4 great poets of Sanskrit literature (vAlmeeki, vyAsa, mAgha, and kAlidAsa)

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

  • Distinguish some of the basic types of conjugates.
  • Express sentences in different voices and verb endings.
  • Capture the essence of the biographies of great poets; and
  • Practice their skills at writing simple stories and essays.

Required / Elective: Required 

Area of Study: Sanskrit Studies

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

Prerequisites: Successful completion of SAN0401 

Faculty / Instructor:  Sri Chandrasekar Raghu , Dr. Shraddha Modi

Start Date:  October 18, 2022

End Date:  December 20, 2022

Day: Every Tuesday

Time: 08: 00 pm EST – 9:30 pm EST

Quarter Offered: Fall 2022

An Immersive exploration of the iconic “Autobiography of a Yogi”

Course content:
We will read, ponder, and discuss Autobiography of a Yogi from start to finish, covering approximately fifty pages in each session. We will examine deeply the specific events depicted in the book in their historical, cultural, spiritual, and thematic context. The first 27 years of Yogananda’s life unfolded mainly in Bengal at an important moment in Indian history; he spent virtually all of the next 32 years in America (with the notable exception of one year in his homeland), spanning the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and World War II. His classic autobiography was published in December, 1946. Themes to be examined include: Yogananda’s descriptions of core Hindu teachings; his skillful adaptation of Hindu dharma to modern American culture and values; his attempts to balance innovation and tradition; the nuances of the guru-disciple relationship (Yogananda was both a devoted chela and a guru to many); the racism and bigotry he encountered as a public-facing Hindu in America; Yogananda as an example of a renunciate in the world, and of someone deeply committed to his dharma; how to understand the miraculous feats of yogic mind power his book famously depicts.
Importantly, the course will also emphasize what Yogananda left out. As the author of the groundbreaking biography The Life of Yogananda, Philip Goldberg will fill in the many gaps, bringing to light facts about the writing of the book and its publication, plus important details about Yogananda’s complex and fascinating life that are not mentioned in Autobiography of a Yogi—or, in many instances, anywhere else. Yogananda’s book is as relevant today as it was 75 years ago. The life it depicts is unique in many ways, but it is also a model for all who strive for spiritual advancement amidst the challenges of worldly life.

Course Learning Objectives:
In this course students will be able to:
a) Explore deeply the seminal book that has launched millions of spiritual quests and illuminated millions of lives throughout the world.
b) Examine core principles and practices of Hindu Dharma through the work of the most influential guru to come to the West.
c) Better understand the challenge of adapting Dharmic teachings to Western culture, values, and beliefs in the scientific era.
d) Evaluate Yogananda’s contribution to the meeting of East and West, spirituality and science, ancient and modern.
e) Better understand how yogic principles and practices can enhance everyday life in the modern world.
f) Internalize key lessons from Yogananda’s life to uplift our own.

Class Structure
There will be ten lessons of 90 minutes each. The class will be structured in a way that promotes discussion, with an initial overview and orientation followed by a facilitated conversation. At the end of the course, students will be asked to submit a short essay based on self-reflection on their most important takeaways from the course.

Area of Study: Yoga Studies

Prerequisites: Admission into program of study

Required / Elective: Elective

Faculty/InstructorDr. Philip Goldberg

Start Date: July 12, 2022

End Date: September 20, 2022

Day: Every Tuesday

Time: 08:30 pm EST – 10:00 pm EST

Quarter Offered:  Summer 2022

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 12, 2022

End Date:- December 21, 2022

Day:- Wednesday

Time:- 10:00 pm EST – 11:30 pm EST

Quarter Offered: Fall 2022