An in-depth study of the Bhagavad-gita - an exposition of belief and practice that has had an immeasurable influence on the formation of Hindu Dharma.
In this course we make a detailed study of the text and the principal religious ideas contained within the Bhagavad Gita's eighteen chapters and seven hundred verses.
We will look for the main themes of Krishna’s discourse and to try to establish the principal ideas presented in each chapter.
The Mahabharata and Ramayana
A broad study of the stories and characters in these favourites of Indian scripture. Stories are told of the descent of the Deity and the conflict that ensues between good and evil with a subtlety that makes these great works as relevant today as they have ever been.
In both works stories are told of the descent of the Deity to earth and the conflict that ensues between good and evil. And yet these accounts are never one-dimensional, for there is a subtlety to the storytelling that makes these great works as relevant today as they have ever been, both for those who believe in the divinity of Rama and Krishna and indeed for all of us who are experiencing the exigencies of the human condition.
Readings from the Puranas
The Puranas play a vital role in contemporary Hinduism - containing many of the stories and concepts central to Hindu dharma. This course is built around selected readings from the Bhagavata Purana, the Shiva Purana and the Markandeya Purana.
The Puranas play a vitally important role in the construction of contemporary Hinduism for it is in these works that many of the stories and concepts central to Hindu dharma are to be found. The most obvious example of this are the accounts of Krishna’s early life, which are absent from the Mahabharata but are narrated at length in the Vishnu Purana and most notably in the Bhagavata Purana (often referred to just as the “Bhagavata”or as the “Srimad-Bhagavatam”).
The Vedas and Upanishads
This course provides a broad understanding of some of India's most vast and sacred texts, their themes, and the beliefs and practices they advocate.
The Vedas and the Upanishads are truly vast in their extent and there are few if any scholars, academic or Hindu, who can claim to have anything but a limited knowledge of their contents. Hence there is no possibility of covering the full extent of this literature and what we aim to do here is to present a broad outline of the principal themes and then indulge in a more detailed study of a limited number of selected passages.