Dates: 08/01/2018 - 11/02/2018
Mode of Delivery: Online
Level:4 (Year 1)
Credit Value: 10 (for regular BA Study)
All of humanity converges in one person – Arjuna — to hear the divine instruction disclosed in the Bhagavad Gita. However, to understand, apply, and disseminate this teaching, the entirety of humanity diverges to produce a vast spectrum of multiple translations and interpretations. The profusion of various modern interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita was anticipated and even encouraged by the Gita’s first English translator, Sir Charles Wilkins: “…it was thought better to leave many of the most difficult passages for the exercise of the reader’s own judgments than to mislead him by such wild opinions as no one syllable of the text could authorize.” Prior to elaborating on the most prominent modern interpretations, we will position the Bhagavad Gita within the broader picture of Hindu tradition, discussing the commentaries of the three great Vedantists: Sankara Acarya, Madhva Acarya and Ramanuja Acarya. From Vedantic representations we will proceed to Neo-Vedantic, with particular reference to the contributions of Swami Vivekananda and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. The Bhagavad Gita, as the Doctrine of Activism, will be explored in the context of Hindu nationalism, with particular reference to Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Aurobindo Ghosh. Our discourse on allegorical interpretation of the Gita will be based on Gandhi’s commentaries. Finally, in addition to exploring various interpretations within the Hindu tradition, we will explore selected representations of the Gita in the West, such as those of Alen Ginsberg, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, etc., with particular reference to Swami Bhaktivedanta’s presentation of the Gita and his critique of others’ approaches. The Gita’s global presence will be further addressed by exploring its role in contemporary media. In addition to acquainting students with a range of modern interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita, this module aims to explore reasons behind these divergent understandings by considering theological backgrounds, socio-political contexts, and dynamics of religious insider/outsider reading of a text. Simultaneously, the module will encourage students to consider the relevance of these interpretations for the Hindu tradition today. This module supplements the Canonical Bhakti Sastri 1 module and serves as a preparation for the Modern Hinduism module. As assessment for this module, students will write a short (2000-word) essay.
This module is Bhaktivedanta College’s BA degree program in Theology and Religious Studies, accredited by the University of Chester. To pursue the BA, you must complete the application procedure and be accepted into the program. The academic year starts in September. This module can also be taken without special requirements. You may study the BA module as an auditing participant, independent of BA accreditation, without an obligation to complete the final assessment. You would be expected to complete the reading assignments, view/hear the lectures, and take part in the discussion forums. By clicking “Enrol Now” you will be redirected to Bhaktivedanta College Online Campus, where you will proceed with registration and payment. The Paypal fee for this module is €99 fully inclusive. Once your registration is complete, you will have access to the virtual classroom and all learning materials. Upon successfully completing this module, you will be awarded with a Certificate of Attendance mailed to your home address.
Anupama dasi (Ana Knez) holds a M.A. in Philosophy and Religious Studies from the Jesuit College at the University of Zagreb and a B.A. in theology from Bhaktivedanta College. Anupama currently teaches Encountering World Religions, Modern interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita and Bhakti sastri.
Expected Student Learning Activity and Contact Hours100 hours notional learning hours of which 16 hours will be contact time. Distance learning students will have access to videoed or recorded lectures and seminars and to a moodle interactive learning environment.
Attendance GuidanceStudents are expected to attend all lectures and seminars. Distance learning students will participate in the lectures as explained in section 11 of this module descriptor.
Module Content•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.
Aims•To acquaint students with a range of modern interpretations of the Bhagavada Gita, and the reasons for these divergent understandings. •To allow students to consider the relevance of these interpretations to the Hindu tradition today.
Methods of Learning and Teaching and Formative AssessmentLecturing, whole class discussions, presentations by students, group discussions, video excerpts, power point presentations, interactive learning exercises. Appropriate forms of delivery and assessment will be offered to distance learning students to ensure comparability of learning opportunity. Lectures and seminars onsite will be video recorded; within 24 hours the video will be available in the moodle environment. We will also have separate MP3 audio recordings of the class.
Learning outcomesAt the end of this module, students should be able to demonstrate:
- 1. Show an understanding of the issues regarding origin and composition of a Hindu text and of reading it separate from its commentaries.
- 2. Demonstrate knowledge of the multiple interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita and the socio-political context that each of these represents.
- 3. Evaluate how insiders and outsiders to a tradition differ in their readings of a text.
- 4. Appreciate different methods of scriptural interpretation.
Assessment and Reassessment Components and WeightingAs assessment for this module, students will write a short (2000-word) essay. Reassessment: As assessment.
Key referencesAurobindo, Sri (1995). The Bhagavad Gita and its Message. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust , Pondicherry. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, A.C. (1989). Bhagavad Gita As it Is. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Los Angeles. Edgerton, F. (1994). The Bhagavad Gita, Translated and Interpreted. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusets. Minor, R. (1986). Modern Indian Interpreters of the Bhagavad Gita. SUNY Press, Albany. Robinson, C. A. (2006). Interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita and Images of the Hindu Tradition. Routledge, Oxford. Sharma, Arvind (1986). The Hindu Gita: Ancient and Classical Interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita. Duckworth, London. Sharpe, E, (1985). The Universal Gita; Western Images of the Bhagavad Gita. Duckworth, London. Tilak, B.G (1959). Gita-Rahasya (2 vols). Tilak Bros, Poona. Strohmeier, J (ed.) (2000). The Bhagavad Gita according to Gandhi. Pub Group West.