In this introduction to Hinduism, we look first of all at Hindu religious practice, including temple ritual and the meditational techniques of classical yoga. We then move on to explore social Hinduism, and in particular issues of caste and gender, before considering the ways in which the religion has sought to respond to the challenges posed by foreign rule and the onset of modernity. In the final part of the course, we take the opportunity to look in a little more detail at some of the great works of Hindu religious literature.
This introduction to Hinduism consists of seven sessions delivered on a weekly basis.
Introduction to Hinduism, Session One: Devotion, Worship, and Ritual
In this session we consider how devotional teachings are reflected in ritual and spontaneous worship. We also include a brief discussion of Vedic fire rituals and Hindu temple worship.
Session Two: Knowledge and Yoga
We continue our consideration of Hindu religious practice with a look at how spiritual knowledge is pursued, with an emphasis on yoga exercises.
Session Three: The Caste System
Turning to social Hinduism, we now consider the caste system, and how it is related to Hindu beliefs. We also look at examples of Hindu opposition to caste barriers.
Session Four: Gender Issues
In this session, we consider the role and status of women in Hindu religious teachings as well as marriage and family life.
Session Five: Modern Trends, Part 1
We begin to consider how a number of modern Hindu teachers have sought to reinterpret and reform the tradition. How have they challenged established practices in relation to caste and gender? How do they seek to establish forms of Hinduism appropriate for the modern age.
Session Six: Modern Trends, Part 2
We move into the post-independence (1947) era, considering how Hinduism has been affected by secularism and the pervasive influence of modernity.
Session Seven: Reading Hindu Texts
We conclude by looking at some of the most important Hindu texts, including passages from the Upanishads and Bhagavad-gita, as well as Hindu devotional literature.
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 at Oxford University
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.