This course is an introduction to one of the most important traditions of Hinduism, The Rāmāyaṇa. The Rāmāyaṇa is more than a work—or even a corpus—of literature; it is a phenomenon, a lived tradition, the source and inspiration for much art and cultural expression in South Asia, not to mention social and political forms. It is as vibrant and spirited a tradition today as a millennium ago in Indian history. In this course, we will acquaint ourselves with the primary story/stories of the Rāmāyaṇa, its larger-than-life characters, its governing questions and themes, as well as its pressure points. Who and what is Rāma, and what is his purpose? What is the world and worldview of the Rāmāyaṇa? What might the poet Vālmīki intend by the Rāma story? How do we account for its enduring salience to Hindu life? These are some of the questions that will occupy us in our study of the Rāmāyaṇa.
Even at its simplest, the Rāmāyaṇa is a complex and involved tale, and it will be difficult in six weeks to absorb it in its entirety. We will read excerpts out of The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: The Complete English Translation (Princeton University Press, 2022) by Robert P. Goldman in addition to some readings about the text by other translators and scholars. All readings will be provided in the course, no additional purchase is necessary.
Module 1 — So Many Rāmāyaṇas!
Module 2 — A Tale of Gods and Mortals – Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa
Module 3 — Rāmarājya in Historical Context
Module 4 — Doing the Right Thing
Module 5 — “Yes to Sītā, No to Rāma”? Women of the Rāmāyaṇa
Module 6 — Ādikāvya to Ayodhyā
- Each Weekly Module includes: 2 live classes, readings, and a quiz.
- Live Class Sessions (90 min)
- Tues/Thur @ 10:00-11:30am Pacific Time
- All live sessions will take place via Zoom and will be recorded for later viewing.
Students Will Receive:
- 12 live class sessions + recordings (90 min each)
- 5 YS Credits
- 18 Hours of CE credit with YA
- Course Syllabus (PDF)
- Weekly Readings (PDF)
- 6 Multiple Choice Quizzes
- Yogic Studies Certificate (PDF)
- Access to the private Community Forum
Dr. Arti Dhand
Associate Professor of South Asian Religions, University of Toronto
Arti Dhand's specializations include the great Sanskrit epics, the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata. Her 2009 book Woman as Fire, Woman as Sage explored ideologies of sexuality in the Mahābhārata. Her current work is The Twin Epics, a comparative analysis of the architecture of thought in the Sanskrit epics. She is also the host of the The Mahabharata Podcast, in which she aims to recount the text in its entirety!
This course is eligible for 18 hours of Continued Education (CE) credits with Yoga Alliance
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