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.
Session Seven: Hindu Religious Philosophy: A Personal Deity
We turn our attention to the schools of Hindu thought that postulate the existence of a personal Supreme Deity and who advocate worship and devotion as the principal form of practice to be undertaken in pursuit of liberation from rebirth.
HOW IT WORKS
Course delivery is 100% online
Seven weekly sessions
Study in your own time
Your tutor is available by email and forums
You can communicate online with your fellow students
All course materials are delivered via the web
Student forums with tutor participation
Recorded lectures available in video and mp3 format
Lecture notes available online and as pdf
Audio interviews with specialists in Hindu Studies
Supplementary materials taken from the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies teaching and research programme
Assessment is optional and is on the basis of successful completion of a single essay of 2000 words, with the exception of Introduction to Sanskrit which is assessed on weekly course work.
Courses can be completed in as little as seven weeks. There is a final deadline for essays of twelve weeks from the beginning of the course.