SKT 304 | Vedic Sanskrit: Defense Against the Dark Arts

February 19 - April 18, 2024


Course Description

This course is aimed at a student competent in both Classical and Vedic Sanskrit. It begins on the assumption that students have either taken SKT 303 | Intro to Vedic Sanskrit¬†or learned the language by some other means. The topic of this course is primarily the mantras of the PaippalńĀda AtharvńĀŠĻÖgirasa, or the words of the Atharvans and the AŠĻÖgirases, the name given to the Atharvaveda before it had secured for itself the coveted status of Veda. We will focus on the PaippalńĀda tradition because it has been much less well studied than the Ňöaunaka, but recent completion of critical editions allow us to investigate materials usually unavailable outside of an archival setting.

In particular, we will focus on the prophylactic power of this material, by which I mean its ability to protect from evil and misfortune. Although the title of this course is a jocular invocation of a class one might take at Hogwarts‚ÄĒmake no mistake‚ÄĒwe will guard against merely conceiving of what these texts do as spells, magic, or sorcery. In fact, we want to look at these texts¬†with new eyes to try to best understand how it is that speech might ward away disaster.¬†

Course Preview

Video Poster Image

Course Modules

Module 1 ‚ÄĒ Looking at Prophylactics from a Comparative Perspective
Module 2 ‚ÄĒ ŠĻögvedic Antecedents and the ŠĻögvidhńĀna Tradition
Module 3 ‚ÄĒ To the Night and Against Bad Dreams
Module 4 ‚ÄĒ To Plants
Module 5 ‚ÄĒ¬†Against Sorcerers and Witches
Module 6 ‚ÄĒ¬†Against Battle and Treachery
Module 7¬†‚ÄĒ¬†Against Poison and Disease
Module 8 ‚ÄĒ¬†Against Vermin and Hail
Module 9 ‚ÄĒ¬†Against Wives and Nymphs

Course Structure

  • 18 Live Class Sessions (90 min)
  • Mondays & Wednesdays 9:00-10:30am Pacific¬†Time (California)
  • All live sessions will take place via Zoom and will be recorded for later viewing.¬†

Students Will Receive: 

  • 18¬†Live class sessions + recordings (90 min each)
  • 5 YSACP Credits
  • 27 Hours of CE credit with YA
  • Additional Readings (PDF)
  • Final Exam
  • Yogic Studies Certificate upon completion (PDF)
  • Access to the private Yogic Studies Online Community Forum

Dr. Caley Smith

S&R Palvia Endowed Veetraag Vigyaan Professor in Jain Studies at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia

Caley Smith is a scholar of early South Asian religious history and political imagination. His work focuses primarily on the conceptual continuities and disruptions between the Vedas and emergent ascetic and householder traditions. He is currently the S&R Palvia Endowed Veetraag Vigyaan Professor in Jain Studies at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia. His current book project, The Invisible Mask, explores the ritual impersonation of the god Indra its influence on the impersonation-recitation traditions of early Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

Enrollment is OPEN

Regular Tuition


One-Time Payment

  • Lifetime¬†access to¬†SKT 304

Regular Tuition

$100 x 3

Three Monthly Payments

  • Lifetime¬†access to¬†SKT 304

Vedic Sanskrit Series

This course is part of a series of courses on Vedic Sanskrit taught by Dr. Caley Smith. Students can sign up for either course individually, or enroll in both and save with the special bundle pricing. 

Vedic Sanskit Bundle


One-Time Payment

  • Lifetime¬†access¬†to¬†SKT 303 + 304

  • Save $120 by enrolling in¬†both¬†courses!


This course is eligible for 27 hours of Continued Education (CE) credits with Yoga Alliance

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