Religious Studies | Topics in Hindu Religious Traditions: The Indian Epic in Comparative Perspective
B420 | 27850 | R. Manring

Above class requires prerequisite: REL-B220, REL-R255, India Studies
course, or permission from the Instructor
Above class carries Culture Studies A credit
Above class carries COLL A&H distribution credit
Previously REL-R458

What is our duty as human beings?  In this course we will explore how
ancient Indian intellectuals answered this question. The Mahābhārata
is one of the foundational texts of Indian civilization and is a world
classic offering tremendous mythic and psychological insight into the
human condition.  We will examine that classical Indian epic,
stressing its role as a living tradition that is constantly being
recreated and reinterpreted.  We’ll read significant excerpts from the
epic itself, alongside recent scholarship on its literary, religious
and historical contexts.  We’ll also consider it as performance
tradition and so will view and discuss recordings of several modern
stagings of the Mahābhārata.  Students will also consider recent
novels (all available, if not originally written, in English) treating
sections of the epic.

Class meetings will include a great deal of discussion.  We will also
make use of video materials and lecture, to help bring the material
alive in the classroom.  Students will be responsible for leading
discussion for at least two class meetings, and will complete six
short written assignments and one final project.

The primary purpose of this course is for you to gain an appreciation
of the past, present, and no doubt future significance of this epic in
India.  You should leave this course with the ability to spot
references to the text in news reports, popular cinema, and even
casual conversation.  You should also gain the following from your
participation in this class:

-Familiarity with the complex notion of dharma in Indian society;
-A keener awareness of how the epic genre embodies cultural norms and
transcends time;
-An appreciation, if not love, of Indian literature in different eras.