Current Courses


Past Courses


Spring 2007


Sanskrit II / REL 141  

CRN 17171  

Mon Wed 12:00 -1:20 pm OLIN 203  

Distribution D or Foreign Language, Literature & Culture  

The Spring semester continues the study of Sanskrit foundations begun in the Fall, and introduces readings of Sanskrit texts in the original. The readings will include selections from the Indian epic Mahabharata. We will also continue our recitation practice, to gain an appreciation of the aural quality of the "perfected language."

History of Early India / REL 221  

CRN 17078  

Tu Th 9:00 - 10:20 am OLIN 301  

Distribution C/D or Humanities  

This course offers an overview of the early history and culture of South Asia, from its earliest urban civilization in the Indus Valley (2500-1800 BCE) up to the classical period of the Gupta dynasty in northern India (300-550 CE). Within this three-millennium frame, we will look at archeological reconstructions of the Indus Valley civilization and textual reconstructions of early Indo-Aryan or Vedic culture, the period of second urbanization in the Indo-Gangetic plain and the transition from tribal organization to kingdoms, the rise of the Mauryan imperial formation, the emergence and growth of heterodox orders of Buddhists and Jains and responses to their challenge from orthodox Hindus, the post-Mauryan period of Central Asian rule, and the articulation of a classical Indian culture during the Gupta period. While tracing this chronological history, the course will pay greater attention to key issues and debates within Indian history: social hierarchy and the development of caste society, the status of women, the roles of religious specialists in the political order, and the ideology and practice of kingship.

Fall 2006    


Hindu Religious Traditions / REL 117

This course will provide an historical overview of the series of religious movements in India collectively referred to as Hinduism. For the foundations of classical Hinduism, we will read from a vast corpus of mythic and epic literature and familiarize ourselves with the gods, goddesses, and heroes that have been central to Hindu religious practice throughout history. We will explore a range of social and devotional paths taken by Hindus by examining caste structure and social location, as well as the paths of action, devotion, and wisdom (karma, bhakti, and jnana, respectively). Moving into the contemporary context, we will focus on modern ethnographic accounts of how the tradition is lived, both in India and the United States, with a special eye to the construction of sacred space through temples and pilgrimage.  


Sanskrit / REL 140  

Sanskrit is the language of ancient India, the language in which such works as the Bhagavad Gita , the great Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, and the Upanisads were written. In this course students will learn the grammar and syntax of Classical Sanskrit and acquire a working vocabulary. In the second semester students will read substantial portions of original texts in Sanskrit.

Devotion & Poetry in India / REL 228 

Bhakti means "participation in" or "devotion to" God. From 700 C.E. to 1700 C.E., in every region of India, bhakti poet-saints sang songs and lived lives of intense, emotional devotion to their chosen gods. The songs, legends, and theologies of these saints and the communities they established permeate the religious life of India. This course explores the world of bhakti through its poetry. We examine issues of poetics and theology, bhakti and opposition to orthodox social conventions, bhakti and gender, the interactions of Hindu devotionalism and Islamic Sufism, the role of bhakti in Indian music, and the problem of bhakti in twentieth-century Indian literature.