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Continuing Education Department

The OCHS Continuing Education Department (CED) was established to make Hindu thought and culture available to as wide an audience as possible.

The courses are notable for the distinctive ethos underpinning the teaching and learning process. The broad aims are twofold. Firstly, they provide a high degree of factual knowledge about the belief systems and religious practices embodied in Hindu culture. Secondly, they utilise this basis to encourage examination of the very notion of Hindu identity. Students are thus invited to use the detailed knowledge they acquire as a means of exploring the essential meaning of the Hindu life as practiced in this country and elsewhere.

Online courses

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Introduction to Sanskrit

We integrate traditional Indian and Western methods to provide an interactive experience of learning Sanskrit. This course is ideal for beginners and those with some experience who would like to reinvigorate their studies. We focus on pronunciation and learning through sound, as well as reading, writing, and a little grammar using chapters from Yogāvatāraṇam: The Translation of Yoga. Joining theory with practice, this course is taught through video lectures, audio, and written material, with weekly assignments to help you learn at home.

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Introduction to Hindu Philosophy–Vedanta and Samkhya

In this course, we look at Vedanta and Samkhya, two of the six Indian philosophical systems that are recognised as orthodox because they accept the Veda as revealed scripture. We begin with a brief look at all six of the systems before considering Vedanta and Samkhya in greater detail. These two still have the most relevance today, and this would apply to Vedanta in particular, although Samkhya is still highly significant for reasons that will become clear as the course progresses.

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Introduction to Hinduism–Ritual, Yoga, Caste, and Gender

In this introduction to Hinduism, we look first of all at Hindu religious practice, including temple ritual and the meditational techniques of classical yoga. We then move on to explore social Hinduism, and in particular issues of caste and gender, before considering the ways in which the religion has sought to respond to the challenges posed by foreign rule and the onset of modernity. In the final part of the course, we take the opportunity to look in a little more detail at some of the great works of Hindu religious literature.

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Introduction to Hinduism–History, Text, Philosophy

This course provides a broad survey of Hindu history, scripture, and thought.

The principal idea here is to explore what is meant by the terms ‘Hinduism’ or ‘Hindu Dharma’ and thereby go some way towards an understanding of what is meant by the Hindu identity and the significance of this identity, both traditionally and in the modern world.

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Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita is an exposition of belief and practice that has had an immeasurable influence on the formation of Hindu Dharma. In this course we study the main themes of Krishna’s discourse and the principal ideas within the eighteen chapters (700 verses) of Bhagavad Gita.

You are provided with a full English translation of the Gita and discussions of the meaning and significance of these verses. We also reflect on the contemporary significance of the teachings and their relevance to the modern world.

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Philosophy of Yoga

A detailed study of the origins and development of Yoga.

We begin with the ideas of Vedanta and Samkhya on which the earliest expositions of Yoga are based. This preliminary study will then provide a basis for a consideration of the teachings on Yoga found in the Upanishads, Bhagavad-gita, and Yoga Sutras as well as a thorough review of the Tantric roots of Hatha Yoga practice.

This course gives a detailed understanding of the fundamental ideas on which Yoga practice is based and the ways in which it has developed during the ensuing millennia.

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Vedas and Upanishads

This course provides a broad understanding of the Vedas and the Upanishads and the beliefs and practices they advocate. The Vedas and the Upanishads are truly vast in their extent and there are few if any who can claim to have full knowledge of their contents. Hence what we aim to do here is present a broad outline of the principal themes and then indulge in a more detailed study of a limited number of selected passages.

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Three Short Upanishads

This course is a detailed study of three of the shortest of the major Upanishads: the Kena, the Ishavasya and the Mandukya. Despite the brevity of these works, they are fundamental to the doctrines taught by Hindu Dharma. In many ways they can be regarded as foundational works for Hindu religious teachings. Because these Upanishads are so short we can undertake a verse-by-verse study, with reference to the commentary of Shankaracharya and others. As we proceed we will reflect on the significance of the teachings in relation to the contemporary practice of various forms of Hindu spirituality.

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The Puranas

The Puranas play a vitally important role in the construction of contemporary Hinduism for it is in these works that many of the stories and concepts central to Hindu dharma are to be found. This course is structured around selected readings from three of the major Puranas, the Bhagavata Purana, the Shiva Purana and the Markandeya Purana, and is based on a close reading of specific passages that relate to Vishnu and his avatars, to Shiva, and then finally to Durga, the great Goddess.

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India's Epics: The Mahabharata and Ramayana

A broad study of the stories, teachings, and characters of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. In both works stories are told of the descent of the Deity to earth and the conflict that ensues between good and evil. And yet these accounts are never one-dimensional, for there is a subtlety to the storytelling that makes these great works as relevant today as they have ever been.

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