Introduction to Hinduism
This course provides a broad survey of Hindu Studies, touching briefly on a range of different topics all of which are covered in more detail in other courses.
The principal idea here is to explore what is meant by the terms 'Hinduism' or 'Hindu Dharma' and thereby go some way towards an understanding of what is meant by the Hindu identity and the significance of this identity, both traditionally and in the modern world.
The course will provide significant knowledge and insight into a range of topics concerning the philosophies and the practices of Hindu Dharma. It will provide an understanding of the beliefs and values of the Hindu traditions and also encourage you to think about the meaning and significance of these ideas in your own life and for the world as a whole.
Although courses may be taken in any order, this is an excellent starting point.
The course consists of seven sessions delivered on a weekly basis.
Session One: Hinduism and the Hindu Identity
What does it mean to be a Hindu? What are the difficulties involved in defining the Hindu identity.
Session Two: Origins and Historical Development
What are the origins of Hinduism and historically, how has the tradition developed?
Session Three: The Hindu Scripture
This session reviews the contents and teachings of some of the principal scriptures of the Hindu tradition and considers the question of authority within religion.
Session Four: Hindu Religious Philosophy
Here we outline the main strands of Hindu religious belief and note the varying theological perspectives of Shankara, Ramanuja, and Madhva.
Session Five: Hindu Religious Practice
What are the main features of Hindu religious practice – including temple worship, murti puja, and pilgrimage. What is the connection between practice and belief?
Session Six: Hindu Society – Caste and Gender
We examine the traditional Hindu social system in terms of caste hierarchies and gender roles, and consider the ways in which these are changing in modern Hinduism.