Many potential students have expressed interest and desire to participate in the College courses, but due to geographical and personal reasons, many of them are not able to benefit from this educational offering. Hence, the Theology and Religious Studies faculty, with the purpose of addressing this educational need, is expanding its offering with a Distance Learning campus. In addition, the Distance Learning mode will make the programme more accessible to a wider range of potential students. More about online program here.

The module will cover the following topics:
• Defining Hinduism
• The Vedas and Vedic ritualism
• Dharma-shastra, caste and gender
• The Upanishads and the renouncer traditions
• Devotional traditions
• Tantric texts and traditions
• Vaishnava traditions
• Shaiva traditions
• Shaktism and worship of the Goddess
• Modern Hindu Reformers
• Contemporary Hindu Movements.

5383516-word-cloud-concept-illustration-of-hinduism-religion-glowing-light-effect• The complexities of understanding, comparing and representing religious traditions; problematizing the notion of ‘world religions’; interpretive approaches.
• Christianity and Hinduism: their core beliefs and practices within (various) historical frameworks and with reference to related traditions (Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Sikhism).
• Broad differences between eastern and western thought; various metaphorical and linguistic frameworks.
• Key concepts: the ultimate reality, canonical texts – hermeneutics and schisms, human condition and destiny, models and dilemmas of institutionalization, sacred action and morality.
• Responses to the challenges of modernity – traditions, transformations and issues of interpretation, negotiation and representation.

  • Introduction to issues of traditional and modern scholarly interpretation of a Hindu text and presenting a broad overview of the position of the Bhagavad Gita in the Hindu tradition up to Charles Wilkin’s English translation in 1785.
  • The Bhagavad Gita and the Bible: A consideration of some Christian responses to, and interpretation of, the Bhagavad Gita in 19th and early 20th century.
  • The Universal Gita: A consideration of Neo Vedantic representations of the Bhagavad gita in India and the West, with particular reference to the contributions of Swami Vivekananda, Swami Prabhavananda, and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.
  • The Gospel of Action: In this session we will explore the influence of Hindu nationalism on representations of the Bhagavad Gita with particular reference to Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Aurobindo Ghosh.
  • Gandhi’s Gita: In this session we examine Gandhi’s allegorical interpretation of the Gita, the doctrine of ahimsa and his influence on Western and Hindu views of the Gita.
  • The Counter Culture and the Bhagavad Gita: This session explores representations of the Gita in the West in the 1960’s and early 70’s with particular reference to Swami Bhaktivedanta and the emergence of ISKCON. 

TheoryConcentration on the main themes and debates within each approach in the study of religion:
1. The main discussions within the field of Anthropology of Religion (i.e. unilinear evolution) with reference to the theories developed by Tyler and Evans-Pritchard
2. The main discussions within the field of Sociology of Religion (i.e. religion as a function of society) with reference to the theories developed by Marx and Weber.
3. The main discussions within the field of Psychology of Religion (i.e. religion and the individual) with reference to the theories developed by Freud & James.
4. The influential contribution of M. Eliade within the field of Phenomenology.
5. Orientalism.

bhakti sastriThis module introduces students to the literary and theological contribution of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada focusing particularly on critically exploring his presentation of the Bhagavad Gita within the context of Vedic texts and in dialogue with modern cultural contexts. It also considers key methodological issues of textual interpretation. The module may also include Caitanya Vaishnava theological themes and issues such as the five themes of the Bhagavad Gita according to Baladeva Vidyabhusana and Prabhupada, the soul and transmigration, symptoms of a self-realized person, devotional theism vs. impersonalism (monism), renunciation of work vs. work in devotion, the yoga processes, mind and sense control, cultivation of knowledge, levels of God realization, worship of God vs. worship of other deities, bhakti and ananya-bhakti, levels of devotion, varnasrama-dharma, and the three gunas.

Aims

  • EmpiricistsTo provide students with brief and clear overview of the historical development and core issues in Western philosophy.
  • To provide understanding of some answers Western philosophers have given to the most essential questions of life using logical argumentation.
  • To develop the ability to grasp the essence of a philosophical argument and evaluate it in a coherent spoken and written form according to various main philosophical standpoints/traditions.
  • To provide a practical understanding of the function and content of philosophical argumentation in the Western philosophical tradition.

Methods

Lectures; group discussion; questionand answer sessions; debates; pair and group work; problem solving; practiceessay questions; reviews; individual reading and homework; use of hand book forthe course; power point presentations; other interactive exercises; videos; useof media.

Appropriate forms of delivery andassessment will be offered to distance learning students to ensurecomparability of learning opportunity. Lectures and seminars onsite will bevideo recorded; within 24 hours the video will be available in the moodleenvironment. We will also have separate MP3 audio recordings of the class.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module thestudents will demonstrate an ability to:

  1. Discuss the main issues within western philosophy with reference to specific contributions of important thinkers.
  2. Logically analyse and evaluate philosophical arguments with reference to the main representatives and theories within Western Philosophy.
  3. Reflect on the ideas encountered and employ logical arguments to support or question personally held beliefs.
  4. Undertake academic research of relevant publications and periodicals.

Assessment andReassessment Components and Weighting

1) A 2,000-word review of a (a) abook, (b) chapter in a book, (c) article, or (d) documentary or other video(50%) [Learning Objective 1, 2, 3].

2) A 2,000-word essay (50%) [LearningObjective 1, 3, 4].

Reassessment: Two 2,000-word essays(50% each).

History of Vaishnava ThoughtAims:

  • To provide a basic understanding of the major doctrines of prominent Vaishnava Acharyas and their writings.
  • To analyse the conditions of the formulation and the historical development of the Acharyas’ teachings.
  • To encourage students to think carefully about the theological/philosophical issues as articulated within this discourse, in relation to the concept, practice and experience of bhakti.

Methods of Learning and Teaching and Formative Assessment

Lectures; reading; group discussions; question and answer sessions; debates; pair and group work; power point presentations; practice essay questions; reviews; individual reading and homework; other interactive exercises; videos; use of media.
Appropriate forms of delivery and assessment will be offered to distance learning students to ensure comparability of learning opportunity. Lectures will be available in the moodle environment. We will also have separate MP3 audio recordings of the class.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of the theological ideas and varying interpretations of Vedanta of prominent theologians/teachers in the Vaishnava tradition.
  • Have an understanding of why and how different interpretations of Vedanta determine practice.
  • Evaluate the merits and short-comings of both hagiography and critical scholarship in the study of prominent Vaishnava teacher/theologians.
  • Be able to participate in varied forms of theological argumentation.