Fall 2020 Indian Religions / Religions of India






2m41s Book Intro by late Ram Dass

Fun Ram Dass Story 

UT Library Alternatives

online courses: HVUS.06.007 + HVUS.06.008 ~ seminar courses: USUS.06.080 + USUS.06.136


Session 1: Research Methods Setup


Research Methods are the focus of our first session: First, we will have a formal course introduction to Asian religion via an authentic canonical Buddhist source (Phena Sutta: Foam). 

  • Please download the template & info for your


    • (2)  course assignment/research tools!

      • NOTE: Get the password key to access the downloads from the instructor!

For this session, if we have time, we will also have some educational gaming, based on some relevant media.

Citavi is the recommended reference manager, due its outline structuring capabilities very helpful for clear academic writing. See easy instructional videos here (these can also be helpful for overcoming "writer's block." Citavi is installed in the UT library computer room computers. For Linux users, Mendeley is recommended. Review the Citavi cloud share folder literature information & Center for Oriental Studies library holdings for research paper + presentation ideas!

Session 2: Hindu Tradition Literature

II: Hindu Tradition Literature:


Sri Aurobindo Ghose. Upanishads-II Kena and Other Upanishads: Taittiriya Upanishad: Brahmananda Valli. Sixth impression. The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo 18. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 2001 [1914-1916]. [Originally published in monthly review Arya 1914-1916]. Accessed October 4, 2019. https://www.sriaurobindoashram.org/sriaurobindo/writings.php.


Lecture slides and a relevant Panopto lecture video are available.

Session 3: Classical Indian Philosophy and Vedanta

III: Introduction to Swami Vivekandanda and his 1893 World Fair Speech.

Rodrigues, E. A. “Brihaspati Graha.” From The Complete Hindoo Pantheon, Comprising the Principal Deities Worshipped by the Natives of British India throughout Hindoostan. Accessed September 23, 2020. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brihaspati_graha.JPG.

Students will get

Interesting regional engagement with Indian religion can be seen through a taste of a visit to India video series of interviews in India with yoga teachers (in Russian).

Link to a copy of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (English translation with original Sanskrit) is here!

Panopto VIDEO and SLIDE SETS are available for overview LECTURES on Classical Indian Philosophical Schools and Vedanta.

Session 4: Jainism

IV: Jainism:

Pic of jain lokas
from Jain. Key to Reality, 2011.


After some mood meditation warm up review of past sessions, we will

Instructor Lecture Slides on the Jain tradition. See also the accompanying Panopto VIDEO lecture about Jainism.

For a historical reference to Jains, see this discussion mentioning discussion of influence of Jains "Nigantha Nataputta, otherwise Mahavira" in Buddhist Theravada sutras (500 BC).

Welcome also to appreciate the autumn Navaratri Festival with a Mood Music Redux.

Session 5: Buddhism

V: Buddhism: Theravada & Mahayana Foundations

Śakyamūni Buddha image from Tibet c. 18th century © Rubin Museum of Art, NY; Educational Fair Use




Śakyamūni Buddha image from Tibet c. 18th century  

© Rubin Museum of Art, NY; Educational Fair Use



We start with a warm-up acclimatize to Buddhism via a contemporary Buddhism video lecture of Lama Osel Hita Torres, a younger Spanish lay Buddhist man who spent his childhood raised and trained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk at a Tibetan Monastery in India.

We have been introduced to Sri Aurobindo's description of vedanta spiritual perspectives and here below see the historical Buddha Sidhartha Gautama present the Four Foundations over 1000 years previously. Here is a video lecture description of how these mindfulness hermeneutics are applied in practice, by Ram Dass  ("...they would have gone right through the door into timelessness. In a moment, there is no time; time is the relation between two moments. When you live in one moment, you are not living in time. Okay, new moment.")

We will take a tour of principle significant Buddhist literature, via

  • Kalama Sutta - Buddha Shakyamuni's message on the empirical, discerning approach to religion and spirituality
  • Satipatthana Sutta (Sutra):
    • Four Foundations of Mindfulness
      • Four Noble Truths
      • Eightfold Path
  • Pancha Sila & Bodhisattva paths of Buddhist morality and ethics

There is a great overview of Indian Religions in the beginning of the text Buddhist Logic written by "Fyodor Ippolitovich Shcherbatskoy or Stcherbatsky (Фёдор Ипполи́тович Щербатско́й) (30 August 1866 – 18 March 1942)." Although there are diverse opinions about him by different scholars, I have always been a big fan, and this link should really help students to continue building the philosophical and historical connections between the South Asian religions. {Pw key for the download is same as others - get it from the instructor}

Instructor Lecture Slides on the Buddhism in two sets: Theravada & Mahayana. See also the accompanying Panopto VIDEO lecture about Buddhism.

Session 6: Divine Feminine

VI: Goddess Spirituality/Divine Feminine session

Sri Durga -Wikimedia Commons
Prajna Paramita - Wikimedia Commons
Nepal Kumari - Wikimedia Commons

Joydeep. “Durga Burdwa.” [Sculpture of goddess Durga in a public gathering at the time of Durga festival at Burdwan, West Bengal, India.]. Accessed November 21, 2020. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Durga_ Burdwan_03_10_2011.JPG.

Bagabondo. “Prajnaparamita Java.” [Prajnaparamita female Bodhisattva of the "Perfection of Wisdom", Java, Indonesia]. Accessed November 21, 2020. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Prajnaparamita_Java.jpg.

Clemensmarabu. “Kumari Devi ("Living Goddess") Of Kathmandu.” Accessed November 21, 2020. https://commons.wikimedia.org /wiki/File:Nepal_Kumari.jpg.

Some further videos are available here about women in Buddhism :

Study Buddhism. “Khandro Rinpoche - Women in Buddhist Texts.”  (~4m)

The Dhamma Protector. “"Women in Buddhism" by Karma Lekshe Tsomo.” [from 2006 4th Global Buddhist Conference in Perth] (~9m)

Study Buddhism. “Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo – the Role of Women in Buddhism.” (5m)

Great Big Story. “Kung Fu Nuns.” (3m)

Sakyadhita I.A.W. “Women in Buddhism: Unity and Diversity.”  (seminar topic sessions from a Sakyadhita conference)

Tihar - Dipavali Treat: Aerial Video Footage of Swayambhu Stupa UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kathmandu, Nepal  Huang, Daniel. “Monkey Temple Dji Drone Kathmandu Nepal [With Flute Music Accompaniment].” Accessed November 13, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B42osD5LwhU.

See also LECTURE SLIDES and the accompanying Panopto VIDEO lecture on DIvine Feminine.

Session 7: Sikhism

VII: Sikhism

Guru Nanak - Wikimedia Commons







We will enjoy the publications available about the Sikh tradition:

Here is also a heart-rendering confessional narrative about how Sikhs have been fatally misunderstood. I hope you all will read it and explore the Sikhglory.alagshabadyug.org website!

Please see the Panopto Video Lecture and Lecture Slides!

Session 8: Social Movement Leaders

VIII: Social Movement Leaders: Gandhi, Ambedkar, Vandana Shiva, Arundhati Roy etc.


This session will look at contemporary social movements, with special attention to Dr Ambedkar and struggles of "untouchables" using a very special artistic biography. 

book cover

Session 9: Contemplative Practices

IX: Meditation Traditions: Pramayana, mantrayana, satipathana, shamatha, vipasyanagray matter image


With the wealth of our familiarity with Indian religions having engaged with the prior sessions, we now will be introduced to the contemplative heart of the Indian religions. We will see and hear the traditional Vedic presentation of the contemplative nervous system: the prana body, and also consider some contemporary contemplative scientific research findings. The Vajrayana Buddhist tradition practiced by Tibetan Buddhists closely follows the details of the Vedic presentation.





Feel free to enjoy this online event streamed on December 23, 2020: Honoring Ram Dass: A Virtual Celebration of his Life and Legacy. 1st Death Anniversary of Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) including some rare documentary film excerpts! (Meditation presentations from ~55m)