The course is intended to provide undergraduates with a foundational guide to the history, culture and philosophy of India and introduce them to the main themes and debates relating to that history. It is also intended to equip them with certain basic skills including individual and group work, project research, seminar presentation and essay writing.
IDEA OF INDIA
Dharma: The Source of Spiritual and Cultural Unity of India – In this lecture, we will discuss the fundamental concept of dharma and the role it plays in shaping various streams of Indian Knowledge System. We will find out the essential difference between Dharma and Religion for better understanding of Indian spirituality and scriptures. We will also explore the concept of Dharma as the most important uniting force in India.
Sacred Spaces: The Source of Geographical Unity of India – In this lecture, we will discuss the Indian concept of space and how geography and philosophy integrate into a seamless whole. The cultural integration of India was an important contribution of the Gangetic civilization, with the creation of a sacred geography grafted over the two Epics and various pilgrimage tradition and all-India myths.
State and Society in India – In this lecture, we will discuss the distinct concepts and system of polity and governance that developed in India over time. This lecture will highlight democratic mechanisms that were put in place to restrict or channel the ruler’s powers. We will look at some of the dominant features and mechanisms of early Indian society, with inputs from literary, archaeological and epigraphy sources.
Indian Philosophy – In this lecture, we will discuss some of the following questions: – What is distinctive about Indian Philosophy as compared to other modern philosophy? How ‘Human’ is defined in various philosophies of India. What constitute being Human? What similarity and difference we find in Human and other living species? What is the highest goal proposed for humankind?
Schools of Thought Systems – Among the above knowledge systems, India’s various philosophical and belief systems have pride of place and will be outlined here, beginning with the classical systems of Vedanta, Nyaya and Samkhya and exploration continues with Mimasa, Vaisesika and Yoga. In this lecture, we will cover the Muni Traditions including Buddhism, Jainism and also atheistic schools.
Ethics and Values – India developed its own distinct systems of ethics and values. In this lecture, we will study their basic principles and case studies showing how these values survive to this day in diverse sections of Indian society.
Indian Logic – In this lecture, we will discuss the exercise of reasoning and the practice of argument as recorded in the early texts of India. It became the basis of very honorable and well-known tradition of Shastrartha; an open enquiry and debate to reach the truth. This tradition is also connected with the question of ontology, epistemology and dialectics.
Education in Ancient India: In this lecture, we will discuss the age old principles and practices of the Gurukuls and Patshalas that prevailed all over India for centuries in unbroken continuity. Pedagogical concepts such as Sravana, Manana and Nidhidyasana that are unique to the India will be explained in this lecture.
Women in Ancient India: In this lecture, we will examine the place and role of women in early Indian society as far as the sources allow us to reconstruct it. Indian women have played a crucial role in the construction of Indian family and society while contributing significantly to Indian literature.
Indian Models of Economy, Business and Management: In this lecture, we will discuss the fundamentals of Indian models of economy, business management. Contrary to dominant academic opinion, there are Indian models of economy. There are Indian models of economy which are functioning all over rural and urban India. They are taught and sustained by traditional Indian values and function in a traditional Indian set-up.
Indian Calendar – In this lecture, we will discuss the science behind Indian calendar. Indian calendar is a collective term for the various lunisolar calendars traditionally used in India. We will discuss how traditional Indian calendar is an accurate and scientific calendar, which avoids superstition and historical untruths. In India, agricultural success required a good calendar which could tell the monsoons accurately. The Indian calendar has a concept of the rainy months of Sawan and Bhadon, known to every Indian child through the culture.
Indian Ecology – In this lecture, we will illuminate on the unique aspects of Indian ecological sense. India has a unique vision of ecology. Unlike some other dominant civilizations in the world, India always developed human institutions which were in harmony with Nature, its flora and fauna. The practice of agriculture, like other things, is also not uniform across cultures and civilization. India had a unique agricultural tradition which incorporated the human resources as well as the natural conditions most optimally.
Foundations of Indian Art – Unlike some other cultures, Arts in India are a unified whole and their different disciplines cannot be seen in isolation. A common philosophical foundation runs through every form of Indian art making every discipline a part of the bigger whole and yet complete in itself. In this lecture, we will discuss the foundational principles of Indian art.
Indian Aesthetics – In this lecture, we will explore how India has a unique theory of what is good, what is beautiful and what is true. The theory of what is beautiful constitutes the discipline of Indian aesthetics. Aesthetics in India is more than the theory of ‘how it looks’. It goes deeper into the human psyche and explores the reasons of why something appears beautiful to the human eye.
Indian Theory of Emotion – In this lecture, we will discuss and understand emotions and the affect from Indian traditional point of view. Works of Bharathmuni and the concept of rasa or aesthetic relish is central to this approach to understanding affective experiences as dealt with in the Natyashastra of Bharathamuni. These views underline the recommended path for self-transformation. Regulating emotions, both emotional experience and emotional expression, is an integral part of the recommended “principles of living.”
Indian Drama – While in the West, Drama is a sub-genre of Literature, in India, Drama is the primary art form, from which every other art form including literature emerged. India holds the unique distinction of having the first systematic text on the art of Drama and Aesthetics. The Rasa Theory is the most fundamental and complete philosophy which cuts across all disciplines of Arts. In this lecture, we will cover these topics.
Indian Painting – Painting in India has always been a tradition too closely wedded with sculpture. The same aesthetic and iconographic principles which work for sculpture work for painting, with obvious adjustments for the reduced dimension. Only in the medieval era did it become somewhat independent of sculpture. In this lecture, we will discuss the form of Indian Painting as well as its historical development.
Architecture as the Sacred Geometry – This will explore the principles and practices of classical Indian architecture, in India and beyond, and its attempt to embed the cosmos in sacred as well as secular structure. No other civilization has achieved the heights in sculpture and architecture that India has achieved and yet, surprisingly, this seemingly concrete art form has evolved to convey the subtlest principles of Indian philosophy. In this lecture, we will go deep into Architecture as Sacred Geometry.
Temple as a Living Tradition – Temple in India is not just a physical structure. Along with being a repository of almost all forms of Indian Arts including architecture, sculpture, painting, music, dance and theatre, it is also a living tradition, a living entity. It also functioned as a legal authority and a hub of economic activity of the town. Also managing agriculture and food practices of the people and places connected to it, the Hindu temple is a complete social institution along with being a spiritual institution. In this lecture, we will highlight these aspects.
Indian Music – In this lecture, we will discuss the basic features of Indian Classical Music. Ancient Indians were deeply impressed by the spiritual power of music, and it is out of this that Indian classical music was born. India is said to be the birthplace of many world famous music, dance and art forms. The Indian classical music is one of the ancient musical traditions in the world and is the base for many other music genres. The two important genres of Indian classical music are Carnatic music and Hindustani music. We will discuss the time theory of Raga to understand the intimate connection between time and music and how it has evolved in India.
INDIAN LANGUAGES & LITEARTURE
Indian Languages and Grammar – In this lecture, we will discuss how India has always attached the highest value to knowledge and as all knowledge is constituted in language, great value has been attached to the study of language in all its dimensions: sounds, words, sentences, metres, etymology and meaning. For the older Indian civilization, Grammar (vyākaraṇa) is the core science and therefore there is a long-attested tradition of texts and grammarians in India.
Indian Literature – In this lecture, we will delve into various aspects of literature. India has the largest pantheon of written texts in the world along with one of the most vibrant of oral cultures. A piece of literature often functions both as a written text and an oral tradition. First of all, there are the Shastras. The Vedas and the Upanishads are the most fundamental spiritual texts of India with many Puranas and Agamas adding different aspects to this ever growing pantheon. Added to this, there are Dharma Shastras advising on ethics and morality of the society. Then comes the Kavya Literature of India. India has the longest epic in the world, The Mahabharata, as well as The Ramayana. But this is not the end of it. Incorporating and learning from the folk traditions, India also has one of the largest collection of folk tales in the world. Most of the famous folk tales all over the world including the Aesop’s Fables and the Arabian Knights were inspired by the Panchatantra other story collections in India.
INDIAN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
History of Science in India: In this lecture, we will discuss India’s contributions to the world of science are generally either under-represented or misrepresented. In this lecture, we will offer an introduction to the field, starting with a general historical context to developments in astronomy, mathematics and chemistry.
History of Technology in India: India’s technological achievements are generally better known, yet remain underrepresented. In this lecture, we will deal with agriculture, urbanism, early craft techniques and metallurgy. We will also cover topics such as constructions, transport, textiles, paper and writing, along with some miscellaneous technologies. Water management was given special importance and produced a variety of systems and devices.
India and the World – I: In this lecture, we will discuss how India has shaped the world, and how the world has shaped India. We will examine how India richly interacted with other cultures and civilization. We will explore exchanges, channels and methods of influence with Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece.
India and the World – II: In this lecture, we will discuss how India has shaped the world, and how the world has shaped India. We will examine how India richly interacted with other cultures and civilization. We will discuss the exchanges with central Asia and China and with South East and Far-East Asia.
INDIAN LIFE SCIENCES
Ayurveda – In this lecture, we will discuss the chief characteristics of Indian medical and health tradition. We will discuss how Ayurveda is perhaps the earliest form of Integrative Medicine practiced by humanity.
Historical Evolution of Medical Tradition in India: In this lecture, we will cover many health-related topics, including plural medical systems, Ayurveda and other forms of traditional Indian medicine, health and environment, religion and healing. We will trace the evolution of Indian medical tradition by discussing the prominent Ayurvedic acharyas and texts of the ancient period.
The Indus-Sarasvati Civilization: In this lecture, we will introduce students to the first civilization on the Indian Subcontinent, its main features and achievements, especially in the fields of urbanism and technology. Contrary to earlier thinking, while the Harappan urban order disintegrated from about 1900 BCE, it left a considerable legacy in areas as diverse as construction techniques, technology, metrology, religion, arts and crafts.
The Aryan Debate – Can Vedic culture be identified from any archaeological record in India or Central Asia? In this lecture, we will discuss the issue of methodology (with the horse issue as a case study); a look at literary evidence (including the Sarasvati issue); and linguistics, along with the various contending theories.