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Hindu Studies Online

The OCHS Hindu Studies Onlne programme makes Hindu thought, culture, and practice available to anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world. There is no other requirement.

Students are given the tools to explore the meaning of Hinduism as practiced around the world and its relevance to modern life.

The programme is expanding rapidly and the links below give course and enrolment details. More information is available at



Bhagavad Gita

The Gita’s explanation of belief and practice has had a huge influence on the formation of Hindu thought. In this course we study the main themes of Krishna’s teachings 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

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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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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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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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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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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Hinduism and Sacred Sound: Chant and Music

This course presents a historical and theoretical study of chant and music in Hinduism. We begin with sacred sound in ancient India and proceed to important forms of chant and devotional music that have developed since.

Chant and music are interwoven throughout the entire fabric of Hinduism. Subject to theoretical discussion as well as practical prescriptions for use, chant and music are indispensible to Hindu life. The link between chant and music is the predominance of ideas of sacred sound going back to ancient India. Thus a familiarity with the basic concepts of sacred sound and Indian music are vital to an understanding of Hindu religious experience.

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Hindu Temples

This visually rich course explores two thousand years of Hindu temple tradition – the origins and evolution of temple traditions and regional styles in India and globally.

Kings, merchant guilds, wealthy patrons and even simple agricultural communities have poured time, labour and resources in constructing these glorious edifices. These in turn become enduring institutions embodying a kind of continuity that perpetually responds to the pulse of social evolution and development.

This course is an Art History class. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of Hindu symbolism and iconography and learn about the stories behind these images. We will gain insight into the life of temples by examining ritual and performance, adornment, processionals, and the festival calendar. We will also survey the spread of Hindu temples beyond India and Nepal by exploring the temples of Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, and recent architectural innovation in countries around the world.

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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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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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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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