Theology and Religious Study Year 1 - TRS3

Level: 6 (Year 3)

Credit Value: 20 (for regular BA Theology and Religious Study)


The module will provide an exploration of the concept of reality of the following six Indian philosophies:

•Orientation to Sad Darshana (six philosophies): Why study Sad Darshana? An exploration and discussion of the historical context and relevance to the broader Hindu tradition.
•Karma Mimamsa philosophy of elevation through performance of duty.
•Vedanta 1: epistemology and historical context of Shankara’s non-dualism; ontology and soteriology: a consideration of key philosophical and theological concepts.
•Vedanta 2: epistemology and historical context of Ramanuja’s qualified non-dualism; ontology and soteriology: a consideration of key philosophical and theological concepts.
•Vedanta 3: epistemology and historical context of Madhva’s dualism; ontology and soteriology: a consideration of key philosophical and theological concepts.
•Nyaya philosophy of logic and reason.
•Vaisheshika philosophy of Vedic atomic theory.
•Sankhya philosophy of dualism.
•Yoga philosophy of self discipline for self realization.
•A consideration of the Sad Darshana from a Gaudiya Vaishnava perspective: Baladeva’s Vedantic response to the other Darshanas.

This module focuses on the transformations of Hinduism during modernity and late modernity, while covering, as background, the development of Hinduism and the bhakti movement during Islamic rule. One of the key objectives of the module is to understand the history of modern Hinduism as part of the cultural, social, and philosophical contexts of its time, attending especially to how the tension between nondualistic and personalistic worldviews take varied shapes in these contexts. Central to our historical approach will be attention to the growth and development of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

A consideration of the historical context, sources, authorship, theology and central narratives of one or more of the following Chaitanya Vaishnava literary works, and how they have shaped the contemporary practice of Chaitanya Vaishnavas:

• The Chaitanya-Bhagavata of Vrindavana Dasa Thakura.
• The Brhad-Bhagavatamrta and Hari-bhakti-vilasa of Sanatana Goswami.
• Prarthana and Prema-bhakti-candrika of Narottama Dasa Thakura.
• The works of Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura: Sarartha-Darsini, Madhurya-kadambini and others. • The works of Bhaktivinoda Thakura, focusing especially on Jaiva-Dharma.
• The literary contribution of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

The Caitanya-caritamrita (“The Nectar Acts of Sri Caitanya”) is the magnum opus of Krishnadas Kaviraja, a sacred biography that is foundational for all followers of Sri Caitanya and his path of Krishna-bhakti. As such it has served Sri Caitanya’s followers since its completion in the early 17th century as a source of theological understanding, devotional inspiration, and means of connection with Sri Caitanya and his immediate associates. In this course we will explore the Caitanya-caritamrita from several perspectives, providing students with frameworks for reading and relishing this text as a lifetime literary companion, but also for considering various angles of understanding such as the text’s hints about historical and social conditions. Whether or not one is already familiar with the Caitanya-caritamrita, the content and delivery of this course are sure to open one to a deeper appreciation of the Caitanya Vaishnava tradition.