This module is a blend of theoretical and practical approaches to human devotion to God. It will take you on a journey through the academic world of comparative religious and social studies, and into the realm of yoga meditation and self-discovery, while it prepares you for future studies with us or others elsewhere.
Time: 7 weeks (Feb 6 - March 26 2012)
Teacher: Jahnava-lila dd
Week 1: Orientation week
Where are we? This week is meant for welcoming the students and introducing the weekly topics. Students are asked for personal experiences, their expectations from this module, etc. Historical approaches to the bhakti movement from India (Alvars in South India;Vraja in the north; in West Bengal). Srila Prabhupada's bhakti movement in the West.
Week 2: Intro. to a yoga culture
Yoga means to link, to reconnect in our body and mind, to the soul and God. Contrasts modern Western modern yogas and traditional Eastern ones. Definitions of yoga, according to Bhagavad-gita. Bhakti as a supreme yoga of divine love and devotional service.
Week 3: Matter and spirit
The first step in spiritual query is asking, Who am I? Defining the self as spirit soul, different from the body or matter. Defining elements. Meditation (I am not this body) to help internalize the basic ideas.
Week 4: Karma and reincarnation
By imbibing the concept of a universal law (karma and reincarnation), students will grasp the basic concepts of the Gita, an essential foundation for developing the qualities of a true spiritualist. We take an interreligious, inclusive approach.
Week 5: Integrating spiritual culture and modernity
Spiritual culture? Vedic culture: its values and ways of life. Perhaps the oldest spiritually integrated culture. By contrasts we show a need for the respiritualization of modern society and suggest the skills you need to do it.
Week 6: Varnasrama-dharma
Varnasrama-dharma means the eight natural divisions of society in two categories: spiritual and social. Comparison with natural divisions in other cultures. Possibly a workshop to see where you fit in and how the divisions can cooperate.
Week 7: Pillars of religion
Comparative approach; similarities between Vaishnavism and Abrahamic religions. Explanation of Hinduism.