Spring 2010

REL 336: Situating Bhagavad Gita in Hindu Philosophical Schools

Instructor: Deepak Shimkhada, Ph.D.

This course will examine the Bhagavad Gita in the context of Hindu sacred texts embedded in the Vedas followed by the Upanishads which are collectively called the Sastras. In order to understand the religious aspects of the Hindus, the history and contents of the Sastras are equally important. So the first part of the course will situate the Bhagavad Gita in the rubric of Vedic tradition now popularly known as Hinduism. While the Vedas are hymns sung in praise of the gods, the Upanishads are the foundation of Indian philosophy that grapple with the issues of epistemology and ontology directed toward knowing the nature of reality called Brahman. The Bhagavad Gita, though derived from India's longest epic, the Mahabharata, is a philosophical discourse belonging to the Upanishadic tradition.
To examine the various philosophical strands found in the Bhagavad Gita, we will analyze important passages carefully to arrive at the full understanding of the composer’s intended meaning. Because it is a seminar course, there will be no exams; however, each student is expected to actively participate in weekly discussion in the classroom. At the end of the semester a research paper is due, followed by a short oral presentation. The lectures will be illustrated with art, music and films.
The class meets in Harper Hall, Room 2, Thursday 6:00-8:50 p.m.

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