Sources of Indian Civilization

Foreign Cultures 12

(HDS 3401)

Spring 2001: Tues. and Thurs. at 10:00

Instructor: Diana L. Eck

 

Office: The Study of Religion, Barker Center, 3rd Floor

Phone: 495-5781; email: dianaeck@fas.harvard.edu

Class Website: http:// www.courses.fas.harvard.edu/~fc12/

Teaching Fellows: Susan Schomburg (Head TF: 576-9108; schombur@fas.harvard.edu) with Timothy Dobe, Alexander Keefe, Justin McDaniel, Kevin McGrath, and Michael Linderman.

Indian civilization is a complex weave of many traditions and cultures. In this course we take a long trajectory through the history of the subcontinent, studying and following some of the threads that shape this complexity from the Indus civilization to today. We will read primary sources from the Vedas and Upanishads, the Buddhist and Jain movements, the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita, the Bhakti poets and songsters, the Sikh gurus, Muslim kings and Sufis, and nineteenth & twentieth century thinkers, reformers, poets, and nationalist leaders.

Feb. 1 Th. Introduction: Points of View

Feb. 6 Tu. Indus Civilization & Aryans: The Controversy

Feb. 8 Th. The Vedas: Creating a World

Film: "Altar of Fire." On a Vedic fire-rite.

Reading: Sources of Indian Tradition, Vol. I, Chapter 1. Cosmic and Ritual Order in Vedic Literature; Wolpert, A New History of India, Chapter 1, "The Ecological Setting," Chapter 2, "Indus Culture," Chapter 3, "The Aryan Age." For an overview of "points of view" see T.N. Madan, "Religion in India" (Daedalus, Volume 118, Number 4, 1989) pp. 115-146. Also begin reading Rajmohan Gandhi, Revenge and Reconciliation, the Introduction and pages 1-67.

[For more on these topics, see Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley

Civilization (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998), Chapters 1,3-6; Romila Thapar, "Ideology and the Interpretation of Early Indian History" in her Interpreting Early India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992, pp. See the articles on the "Aryan Invasion" theory on the website. On the sacrifice, see Thomas Hopkins, "The Creative Power of the Sacrifice" in The Hindu Religious Tradition (Encino: Dickenson Publishing, 1971) pp. 17-33. Foreign Cultures 12 Reserve Anthology]


Feb. 13 Tu. The Upanishads

Feb. 15 Th. The Upanishads

Film: "Four Holy Men" Forms of renunciation in India today.

Reading: Sources of Indian Tradition, Chapter 2, "The Ultimate Reality in the Upanishads," The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1-4; Katha Upanishad (Xerox); A New History of India, and Chapter 4, "North Indian Conquest and Unification."

[For more on the Upanishads, read Patrick Olivelle's Introduction to the Upanisads (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp.xxiii-lvi and Joel Brereton "The Upanishads" from Wm. Theodore de Bary and Irene Bloom, eds. Approaches to the Asian Classics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), pp. 115-135. The latter concerns major themes and ideas of the Upanishads. Foreign Cultures 12 Reserve Anthology.]

Feb. 20 Tu. The Jain Tradition

Feb. 22 Th. Film in class: "Frontiers of Non-Violence" On Jainism today.

Reading: Sources of Indian Tradition, Chapter 3, "The Basic Doctrines of Jainism," Chapter 4, "Jain Philosophy and Political Thought."

[For more on the Jains, read Kendall W. Folkert, "Jainism," in John R. Hinnells, ed. A New Handbook of Living Religions (New York: Penguin Books, 1997), pp. 341-368 and Padmanabh Jaini, "Mahavira and the Foundations of Jainism" from The Jaina Path of Purification (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1979), pp. 1-41. Foreign Cultures 12 Reserve Anthology]

Feb. 27 Tu. The Buddhist Tradition

Mar. 1 Th. The Buddhist Tradition

Film: "Footsteps of the Buddha" Buddhism in South Asia today.

Reading: Sources of Indian Tradition, Chapter 5, "Theravada Buddhism," Chapter 6, "Mahayana Buddhism," and Chapter 7, "The Vehicle of the Thunderbolt and the Decline of Buddhism in India." Wolpert, A New History of India, Chapters 5-7.

[For more on the Buddhist tradition in India, read Peter Harvey, chapters 1-4 of An Introduction to Buddhism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990) and Christopher Queen, "Dr. Ambedkar and the Hermeneutics of Buddhist Liberation," in Christopher Queen and Sallie King, eds. Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Liberation Movements in Asia, pp. 45-71. Foreign Cultures 12 Reserve Anthology]

Mar. 5 Tu. The Purusharthas: Kama, Artha, Dharma, Moksha

Mar. 7 Th. The Bhagavad Gita

Reading: Sources of Indian Tradition, Chapter 8, "Dharma," Chapter 9, "Artha," Chapter 10, "Kama," Chapter 11, "Moksha." Barbara Stoller Miller, trans. The Bhagavad Gita, entire.

Mar. 12 Tu. The Mahabharata

Mar. 14 Th. The Mahabharata

Film: "The Mahabharata" Peter Brook's three-part series.

Reading: William Buck, The Mahabharata. Also revisit Rajmohan Gandhi, Chapter 1, "The Mahabharata Legacy and the Gita's Intent," in Revenge and Reconciliation.

[For more, see the Introduction by J.A.B. Van Buitenen to The Mahabharata: The Book of the Beginning (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973). Foreign Cultures 12 Reserve Anthology]

Mar. 20 Tu. The Mahabharata

Mar. 22 Th. The Mahabharata

Film: "The Mahabharata" Peter Brook's three-part series.

Reading: William Buck, The Mahabharata

Apr. 2 Tu. Songs of the Saints: The Love of God

Apr. 4 Th. Songs of the Saints: Devotion to the Formless

Reading: John Stratton Hawley & Mark Jurgensmeyer, tr. Songs of the Saints of India; Sources of Indian Tradition, Chapter 12, "The Songs of Medieval Hindu Devotion."

Apr. 10 Tu. Islam in India: Kings and Cultures

Apr. 12 Th. Islam in India: Sufis

Reading: Sources of Indian Tradition, Chapter 13, "The Foundations of Islam in India," Chapter 14, "The Muslim Ruler in India," Chapter 15, "Islamic Mysticism in India." Rajmohan Gandhi, Revenge and Reconciliation, Chapter 3, "The Charge of Islam: Rage, Reflection, and Coexistence." Stanley Wolpert, A New History of India, Chapter 8.

[For further reading, see Wilfred Cantwell Smith, "The Crystalization of Religious Communities in Mughal India," in W.C. Smith, On Understanding Islam (The Hague: Mouton Publishers, 1981), pp. 177-196. Foreign Cultures 12 Reserve Anthology.]

Apr. 17 Tu. The Sikhs

Apr. 19 Th. The Sikhs

Reading: Sources of Indian Tradition, Chapter 16, "Sikhism: Faith and Practice." Rajmohan Gandhi, Revenge and Reconciliation, Chapter 4, "Empire and Conscience: Mughals, Sikhs, and Marathas.

[For further reading, see W. Owen Cole, "Sikhism," in John R. Hinnells, ed. A New Handbook of Living Religions (New York: Penguin Books, 1997), pp. 310-339. Foreign Cultures 12 Reserve Anthology.]

Apr. 24 Tu. Contexts of Colonialism: Hindu Developments

Apr. 26 Th. Contexts of Colonialism: Islamic Developments

Reading: Sources of Indian Tradition, Vol. II, Chapter 1, "The Opening of India to the West," Chapter 2, "Leaders of Hindu Reform and Revival," Chapter 3, "Nationalism Takes Root: The Moderates," Chapter 4, "The Marriage of Politics and Religion: The Extremists," Chapter 5,"Leaders of Islamic Revival, Reform, and Nationalism." Stanley Wolpert, A New History of India, Chapters 10-17. Rajmohan Gandhi, Revenge and Reconciliation, Chapters 5-7.

May 1 Tu. Gandhi and Tagore

May 3 Th. Gandhi and Modern India

Reading: Sources of Indian Tradition, Vol. II, Chapter 6, "Mahatma Gandhi: Nationalist India's Great Soul," Chapter 7, "Other Nationalist Leaders in the Decades Before Independence." Stanley Wolpert, A New History of India, Chapters 18-23. Rajmohan Gandhi, Revenge and Reconciliation, Chapters 8-9.

REQUIRED READING

Ainslee T. Embree, Sources of Indian Tradition: From the Beginning to 1800 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988)

Stephen Hay, Sources of Indian Tradition: Modern India and Pakistan (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988)

Rajmohan Gandhi, Revenge and Reconciliation (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2000)

Barbara Stoller Miller, The Bhagavad Gita (New York: Bantam Books)

William Buck, The Mahabharata (Berkeley: University of California Press)

John Stratton Hawley & Mark Jurgensmeyer, Songs of the Saints of India (New York: Oxford University Press)

Stanley Wolpert, A New History of India (New York: Oxford University Press)

Ordered for purchase at the Harvard Coop and the Divinity Bookstore (14 Divinity Ave.). Also on reserve in Lamont and Hilles Libraries. In addition to the required reading, a Foreign Cultures 12 Reserve Anthology will include a carefully selected group of supplementary readings for many of the sections of the course. These articles and book chapters will take you one step further in thinking about each of the topics. Within a few weeks, we will also provide some annotated bibliographies on the course website that may well serve as the starting point for your term paper.

FILMS

There will be a set of films shown in the semester that will be integral to the course. The film times will be at 4:00 and again at 7:00 on Thursdays.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

  1. Active section participation. Five short three-page reflections on the reading will be due in section during the weeks of Feb. 13, Feb. 27, Mar. 12, Apr. 2, and Apr. 17. There is no mid-term exam. These, along with your section participation, will cumulatively constitute 1/3 of the course grade.
  2. Term Paper. This gives you a chance to explore a topic germane to the subject matter of this course and close to your own interests as they develop. This paper should be about 15 pages in length. An extensive term paper bibliography will be posted on the web, and guidelines for the term paper will be distributed. You should begin discussing your interests with your section leader early in the term, and look through materials we cover late in the semester to discover possible topics there. Your own paper topic and bibliography should be submitted in final form to your section leader by Monday, May 1. The paper is due the last day of reading period: Wednesday, May 16, by 5:00 p.m. in Barker 307. The term paper will constitute 1/3 of the course grade.
  3. Final Exam on Wednesday, May 23. The exam will constitute 1/3 of the course grade.