Introduction to Hinduism: History, Text, Philosophy
This course provides a broad survey of Hindu history, scripture, and thought.
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 literature 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.
The course consists of seven sessions delivered on a weekly basis.
Session One: What is 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 History of the Hindu Tradition
What are the origins of Hinduism and how has its historical development influenced Hindu belief and practice?
Session Three: The Historical Development of Hinduism
We look at the new forms of Hinduism that came to prominence around two thousand years ago. We then consider the effect that foreign rule had on Indian religion.
Session Four: The Hindu Scriptures, Part I – The Vedas
We consider the important question of the role and authority of scripture in the Hindu religious tradition, concluding with a discussion of the four Vedas and the type of religion they reveal.
Session Five: The Hindu Scriptures, Part II – The Upanishads and Other Texts
We look at the Upanishads and consider other important texts that have been influential in shaping Hinduism.
Session Six: Hindu Religious Philosophy
We take a look at the six schools (shad-darshana) of Indian philosophy.