Vedanta and Samkhya Philosophy

Dr Raj Balkaran

In this course, we will cover two of the six Indian philosophical systems, Vedanta and Samkhya. In the course, we will include a close look at the life and teachings of Shankaracharya, the great teacher of Advaita. Enrolling on this course is the perfect introduction to Hindu philosophy.

We will begin with a brief look at all six systems of Hindu Philosophy before considering Vedanta and Samkhya in greater detail. After this, we will delve into individuals such as Ramanuja and Madhvacharya. We will look at how these philosophers contributed to the Vedanta philosophy.

To learn more about this course, read the course breakdown below. To view other courses, click here.

Start Date: 16 January 2022

Enrolments for January term still open for a limited time.

Tutor: Dr Raj Balkaran

Course Creator: Dr Nick Sutton

Course Duration: Seven Weeks

Optional Assessment: Essay

£110

Session One: An Introduction to Advaita Vedanta

We begin our study with the Advaita school of Vedanta. We pay particular attention to the teachings of Shankaracharya.

Session Two: The Life and Works of Shankaracharya

There are said by some sources to be ten biographies of Shankaracharya. Of these, only five seem to exist today, the best known of which is called the Shankara Digvijaya, written by Madhava Vidyaranya in the fourteenth century.

Session Three: The Teachings of Shankaracharya

We look at Shankaracharya’s ideas. These are largely built upon the teachings of the Upanishads, on the aphorisms of the Vedanta Sutras, and on the writings of earlier acharyas, most notably Gaudapada.

Session Four: Ramanuja and Visishtadvaita

In this session we are going to look at another of the main schools of Vedanta, the Visishtadvaita (visishta advaita). This is generally associated with the work of Ramanujacharya, a Tamil Brahmin teacher who lived in the South of India in the 11th century AD.

Session Five: Madhvacharya and the Dvaita Vedanta

The contribution of Madhvacharya to the overall system of Vedanta is too often minimised or overlooked altogether. We take a look at his work and its relevance.

Session Six: Understanding Samkhya

There are few today who would identify themselves as adherents of the Samkhya system of religious philosophy. However, this was not the case in the past when Samkhya appears to have rivalled Vedanta. We might classify Samkhya, along with Vaiseshika and Nyaya, as an interesting ancient phenomenon but no longer of any great relevance to the contemporary Hindu tradition. To do so would, however, be a mistake, for despite there being few overt manifestations of Samkhya, it continues to have a significant influence over Indian religious thought.

Session Seven: The Samkhya-Karika

For this second of our two sessions on Samkhya we focus on a close reading of the Samkhya Karika, which is widely accepted as the principal text outlining the ideas of the Samkhya system.

Your Tutor

Dr Raj Balkaran

Dr Raj Balkaran

Dr Raj Balkaran is a scholar of Sanskrit narrative texts and the author of The Goddess and the King in Indian Myth (Routledge 2018), The Goddess and the Sun in Indian Myth (Routledge 2020). Having taught comparative religion and mythology at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies for a decade, he now Tutors at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies where he also serves on the Continuing Education Department’s Course Development Board. Alongside his academic training, he has received extensive spiritual training as part of an oral tradition dedicated to the transmission of Indian wisdom teachings. Integrating his academic and spiritual training, he has founded the online School of Indian Wisdom where he designs and delivers original online courses centred on the practical life wisdom to be found in the philosophical, mythological and spiritual traditions of ancient India. Beyond teaching and research, Dr Balkaran runs a thriving life consulting practice and hosts the New Books in Indian Religions podcast.  

Introduction to Hindu Philosophy: Vedanta and Samkhya
Vedanta and Samkhya Philosophy
£110