Academic Programs in Hinduism


Hinduism is a broad term used to identify the followers of religions sourced to the Vedic traditions originating from ‘Bhārat (India)’ and evolving from a referential historic period of 3000 BCE up to the current period. This program is focused to strengthen the understanding of Hinduism from the perspective of source works, universal values of relevance and historical perspective. The three program core courses are designed to address this need. The electives/thesis option is offered for advancing subject knowledge in any specific or supplemental aspect of the program.

Master’s Degree (or Advanced Diploma in Hinduism)

Requirements (Minimum 30 credits)

University Core Courses – 9 credits

HUC 5001 Principles of Hinduism – 3 credits
HUC 5002 Practices of Hinduism – 3 credits
HUC 5003 Basic Sanskrit – 3 credits

Hinduism Program Core Courses – 9 credits

HIN 5001 Basic Hindu Scriptures – 3 credits
HIN 5002 Universal Teachings of Hinduism – 3 credits
HIN 5003 Historical Development of Hinduism – 3 credits

2 Elective Courses – 6 credits

Master’s Thesis or 2 Additional elective courses – 6 credits

Doctoral Degree (Fellow award)

Students may be admitted directly to the Doctoral program, when they meet the admission requirements to Hindu University (Bachelor’s Degree with 6 credits of Philosophy/Religion courses) and the admission committee approves such admission; or they could register for the Master’s program and transfer their registration to the Doctoral program after taking a few courses, or after completing the requirements for the Master’s degree.

Requirements (Minimum 60 credits)

The distribution of credit requirements is as follows. All the course credits for HUA Master’s Degree (or Advanced Diploma) Program are directly applicable to doctoral Fellow) program

University Core Courses – 9 credits as above
Program core courses  – 9 credits as above
Electives – 12 credits
Doctoral Thesis – 30 credits

HUA Diploma Program in Hinduism

 This Diploma Program in Hinduism is designed to help students get an integrated perspective on the religions and philosophies that have originated from ‘Bhārat’, the spiritual homeland of Hinduism. The program courses are designed to (a) bring in the integrated perspective of the multiple religions covered under the term Hinduism and (b) to highlight the meaning of ‘Hindu Identity’ in terms of religion, spirituality and cultural practices.

HUA Diploma in Hinduism Requirements  A total of 18 credits in six courses

3 University Core Courses (as mentioned above) – 9 credits

2 Program Courses in Hinduism

HIN 5104 Message of Srimad Bhagavad Gītā – 3 credits
HIN 5002 Universal Teachings of Hinduism – 3 credits

1 Elective from the following courses

HIN 6101 Katha Upanishad – 3 credits
HIN 5301 Jainism – 3 credits
HIN 5302 Buddhism Buddha Dharma – A Practical Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism – 3 credits
HIN 5311 Sikhism –  3 credits

 HUA Diploma Program in Gītā Studies

 Śrīmad Bhagavad Gītā is considered to be the key scripture in Hindu tradition at a status equivalent to that of the Bible for Christianity and the Koran for Islam. For centuries, millions of Hindus have found solace and comfort in the words of wisdom in Gītā’s verses. The first translation of Gītā in the English language appeared in 1785 and that publication has been recognized as one of the “striking events in the universal history of philosophy.” Today the Gītā is considered by Eastern and Western scholars alike to be among the greatest spiritual texts the world has ever known. In the words of Aldous Huxley, “Bhagavad Gītā is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. It is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value… to all of humanity.” According to Albert Einstein, “When I read the Bhagavad Gītā and reflect on how God created this Universe, everything else seems so superfluous.” Undoubtedly understanding of the message of Gītā is a must for every scholar of Hinduism.

This Diploma Program in Gītā Studies is designed to help students to learn the essence of Gītā to a level needed to adapt the teaching of Gītā to one’s own situation and communicate the message to others.

Diploma Requirements

2 University Core Courses

HUC 5001 Principles of Hinduism – 3 credits
HUC 5003 Basic Sanskrit – 3 credits

4 Courses in Gītā Studies

GIT 5001 Gītā Studies-I – 3 credits
GIT 5002 Gītā Studies -II – 3 credits
GIT 5003 Gītā Chanting – 3 credits
GIT 5004 Gītā project – 3 credits

Core courses for Graduate (or Advanced Diploma) programs in Hinduism

 HIN 5001 Basic Hindu Scriptures                                          3   credits

Categorization of basic Hindu scriptures by time line, gradation of primary and secondary authority, languages, authorship, highlighted tradition of philosophy, yoga, tantra and life style. Structure and material presentation in different basic scriptures diversity in the Veda, Upaniṣhads, sūtras, Gītā, epics, Smṛiti’s and Śhāstras. Traditions of faith and philosophy in relation to the basic scriptures readings of select textual portions from basic scriptures and linking it with the principles, practices, ethics and contemporary relevance in relation to specific issues like spirituality, religious identity, rituals, family norms, ethical values, health, profession, education and entertainment. Selections recommended from the following Veda’s (Śhanti mantras, Puruṣha sūkta, Śrī sūkta, Bhāgya sūkta, hiraṇya garbha sūkta, devi sūkta, Rudra – Praśhṇa) Upaniṣhads (major Upaniṣhads and Yoga Upaniṣhads), Rāmayaṇa, Mahābhārata, Dharma sūtras, Gruhya sūtras, Vedāṇgas, Ayurveda, Yoga sūtras, Bhagavad Gītā, Dhammapada, Jaina sources, Adi granth, Tulsi Rāmayaṇa, BhāgaVāta, Manu smṛiti, commentaries by masters, prayers in Hindu traditions and worship.

HIN 5002 Universal Themes in Hinduism                                   3   credits

Inquiry into central principles and practices of Hinduism that exercise global influence and appeal particularly in areas of metaphysics the nature of the physical world, worldly life, the nature of the individual soul, and ultimate reality, the four fold values of life viz. Dharma, Artha, Kāma, Mokṣha. Duties and responsibilities of a Hindu, Ṛta, rebirth, sin and atonement. Special features of Hinduism such as theism v/s atheism, monotheism v/s polytheism, ethical values such as truth, happiness, suffering, justice, non-violence, charity, gratitude, purity, forgiveness, universal love, peace, concern for environment, global welfare, humanism; equality and freedom of thinking and belief.

HIN 5003 Historical Development of Hinduism                      3 credits

Sources for the study of the history of Hinduism; Vedic Period – Vedic tradition; Sarasvati-Indus Valley Civilization Sites, details of excavations & findings, religion of Sarasvati-Indus valley civilization. Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) – its basis; Negation of AIT, Negation of Aryan Migration theory; Alexander’s period; Epic Period; Purānic period; the Gupta period; Śhankarāchārya and other Āchāryas. Muslim invasions and rule, conversions & destruction of Hindu places. Devotional movements, British rule, Christian missionaries, British education policy; renaissance and reforms; BrahmaSamaj, AryaSamaj, Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi. Freedom movement; and post-independence developments Partition of India, Secularism, political system, Hindu Diaspora, universality in Hinduism.

Elective courses in Hinduism

 HIN 5101 Hindu Law Books                                                               3 credits

Designed to analyze the Hindu code of life style and conduct social, cultural and legal significance of Smṛitis /Dharma Śhāstra i.e. religious social law books, as compared to Śhṛuti, the revealed scriptures; special emphasis on fundamental Hindu laws by Manu, a review of the works of Āpastambha Dharma sūtra, Gautama Dharma Śhāstra, Kautilya’s Artha Śhāstra, Yajñavalkya Smṛuti, Kāmandaki Nītisāra, particular application towards the four goals of life viz. Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Mokṣha. (Same as HNP 5101)

 HIN 5102 Hindu Historical Epics                                             3 credits

Examines cultural, historical, religious and literary importance of Hindu Epics; main emphasis on Rāmayaṇa and the Mahābhārata, myths and legends in epics, comparison of epic myths and legends with other ancient civilizations of the world, Veda’s, Upaniṣhads and Epics; spiritual meaning in Epics; Epics as guide books for human conduct; effect of Epics on successive literature, their place in world literature and the spread of the universal message beyond the borders of India.

 HIN 5103 Purāṇas                                                                    3 credits

Overview of eighteen major Purāṇas devoted to Viṣhṇu (Viṣhṇu Purāṇa, BhāgaVāta-Purāṇa, Naradiya Purāṇa, Garuca-Purāṇa, Padma-Purāṇa, Varāha- Purāṇa), Brahma Purāṇa, Brahmāṇca Purāṇa, Brahmavaivarta Purāṇa, Mārkaṇceya Purāṇa, Bhaviṣhya Purāṇa, Vāmana Purāṇa), and Śiva (Śiva Purāṇa, Skāṇca Purāṇa, Matsya Purāṇa, Kūrma Purāṇa, Linga Purāṇa, Agni Purāṇa), an introduction to minor Purāṇas, concept of Avatāra; central themes such as cosmogony, sociology, history, geography, ethics, eschatology and theology of Purāṇas. (Same as HNP 5103).

HIN 5104 Message of Śrīmad Bhagavad-Gītā                       3 credits

Chapter wise review of the contents of Śrīmad Bhagavad-Gītā to highlight the key concepts and the essence of Gītā’s teachings; course presentation emphasizes the concept mapping approach for learning from scriptures; term papers by participants to share individual understanding.

HIN 5201 Śaivism                                                               3 credits

Focus on growth and development of Śaivism; Vedic traditions, Purāṇa, Tantra, Yoga, mythology, legends of Śiva; meditation; asceticism (Dakṣhiṇāmūrti), other forms like NataRāja, linga; Southern and Northern Śaivism; Śiva and Śhakti worship in togetherness; Śiva and Viṣhṇu as two aspects of the same divinity.

HIN 5202 Vaiṣṇaivism                                                        3 credits

Study of source works from Vedic traditions about Viṣhṇu, form and worship, concept and rituals, cosmic mythology; Viṣhṇu in many forms, BhāgaVāta Purāṇa; Bhagavad Gītā; medieval Vaiṣṇava saints, from Bengal to west, and from south to Kashmir; Viṣhṇu and Śiva as two aspects of same divinity.

HIN 5301 Jainism                                                                3 credits

Jaina traditional history, jaina scriptures, life and teachings of Tīrthankaras, Vardhamāna Mahāvīra; selective study of Angas; Ascetic Jain traditions and family traditions of digambara and śhvetāmbaras; Jain cosmology, epistemology and logic; key concepts distinct from Vedic philosophies, Jīva, Ajīva, pudgala, seven fold presentation; ethics, professions for livelihood, holy places, monasticism and theories of karma and reincarnation.

 HIN 5302 Buddhism Buddha Dharma – A Practical Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism                                                               3 credits

The vitality of Tibetan Buddhism in exile has exceeded anything anyone could have predicted. Students explore the culture, religion, philosophy, ethics and psychology of Tibetan Buddhism, all the while learning how so many use it as a personal path to overcome the “dukha” (suffering, discontent, unease) that arises in our lives simply because we are human beings. Buddhism’s central focus is the mind, and its rich lineage of teachings and practices not only uncover why we experience “unease,” but also identify the insights and skills with which we can begin to overcome the habits of mind that bring about our suffering, replacing them with methods of mind that lead to personal (and ultimately global well-being

 HIN 5303 Early Buddhism                                                   3 credits

Buddhists traditional history, Buddhism scriptures, life and teachings of Gautama Buddha; selective study of Tripitaka’s and Dhammapada; ascetic traditions and family traditions of Buddhists; cosmology, epistemology and logic; key concepts distinct from Vedic philosophies, Shunya vada, nirvana, ethics, professions for livelihood, Buddhist tantras and martial arts, Tibetan Buddhism, spread of Buddhism, Dalai Lama, holy places, theories of Karma, Bodhisatva.

 HIN 5304 Later Buddhism                                                  3 credits

Post Nāgārjuna Buddhism, Schools of Buddhism; prevalence of Buddhism in Tibet, Ceylon and Asia, Buddhism in China, Japan with new presentation formats, Buddhism in the modern times, globalization and Buddhism.

 HIN 5311 Sikhism                                                               3 credits

Beginning with life and teachings of Guru Nanak, lives and teachings of succeeding nine Gurus, their contributions, Śrī AdiGranth (compiled by Guru Arjan Dev) and their impact, basic teachings, basic teachings, values, modern versions of khalsa, globalization and Sikhism.

 HIN 5401 Hindu Medieval NirGuṇa Mysticism                   3 credits

Medieval Nirguṇa saints of India, Bhakti and philosophy movements arising from south, spread over entire India; saint poets and poetesses, from all castes and classes; their message of equality; faith in one God, Brahman; universal love; peace and harmony, contemporary relevance. (Same as HNP 5401)

HIN 5402 Hindu Religious Sects                                          3 credits

Current understanding of ‘castes and sects’ as a part of modern Hinduism religious identity, traditions     of Varṇa and Jātii, reasons for divergent understanding in historical India under the British rule, contacts with west, challenges of modernism, colonialism, social and religious reform movements viz. Brahmo Samaj, Arya Samaj, RamaKriṣhṇa mission, Dev Samaj, Radha Swami, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, ISKCON, BAPS, Swadhyāya, Art of Living, Osho and other sects, Globalization and reformatting of the ‘sects’ in Hinduism and returning to the Varṇa model by qualities.

HIN 5403 Śhankara and Hindu Renaissance              3 credits

South as cradle of Hinduism, Adi Guru Śrī Śhankarāchārya of Kaladi, his life, writings and commentaries, his mission, his followers, impact of his vast travels, institution of Sannyāsa, reformation of various Sampradāyas, the Mutts started by him, Advaita philosophy; Śhankarāchārya as harbinger of Hindu renaissance and integration of India, Advaita philosophy and modern physics.

HIN 5404 Contemporary Hinduism                                     3 credits

Examination of recent, post-independence Hinduism in India; vigorous need for reform; Hinduism in age of technology; new challenges and changes; reforms and social restructure; renewed call for unity; synthesis of various segments of Hinduism; media and Hinduism; Hinduism in global religious perspective, Diaspora, Nationalism versus religiosity, contemporary philosophies of Swami Bhakti Vedanta Prabhupada, Rājanish, Swami Chinmayananda, Śrī Ravishankar; emergence of Yoga and Ayurveda in the west.

HIN 5501 Places of Hindu Pilgrimage                                3 credits

Hindu ‘Tīrtha’ tradition with sourced texts from Mahābhārata; mapping of ‘sacred’ Śiva, Viṣhṇu , Śhakti’ to the geographical land’, ‘body’ and nature for creating the holy spiritual land identity, history and significance of prominent Tīrtha, holy place, historical, political and religious significance of holy places in mountains, forests, plain lands, rivers and ocean banks. Importance of these places for Hindus – Kāśhī, Gayā, Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Puri, Badṛikāśhrama, Somnath, Dwaraka, Kailas, Pahshupatinath, Kanyakumari, Kāmarup, BodhGayā, Mount Abu, Jain temples, Buddhist Viharas, Golden temple, Konark, Madurai, Sarnath, Kashmir, in the light of Purāṇas and other sources (faith perspective, economics, culture, renewal of faith and traditions), annual festivities in the holy places, concept of sacrilege and purification; historical references, emergence of new ‘holy places’.

 HIN 5502 Hindu Temples and Architecture                        3 credits

Study of ancient medieval and contemporary styles Harappa, Maurya; Ashoka’s times; Persian and Greek influences; under various kings from south to Kashmir, east to west.

HIN 5503 Hindu Religious Art, Dance, Music                     3 credits

Indus Valley Civilization, divine origins and religious and spiritual significance of arts, concepts of gods and goddesses, art and aesthetics in the Veda’s, other ancient and classical texts, religion in poetry, painting, dance, drama and music, representation of art in temple architecture, symbolism in temple architecture.

 HIN 5504 Hinduism Religion and Literature                      3 credits

Studies divine origin of language, briefly surveying Śhṛutis and Smṛitis and also texts like Rāmayaṇa and Mahābhārata including the Gītā, Tirukkural, Thevarams, divya prabandhams and the like; selective approaches in socio-religious and ethical compositions that have molded Hindu mind over the millennia.

 HIN 5505 Hindu Festivals                                                   3 credits

This course surveys some main Hindu festivals their origins, developments, celebrations and rationales; discussions include various categories of festivals; seasonal such as Vasant Panchami, Baisakhi, Pongal-Samkranti, Yugadi, Navaratri, Sharad Purnima, Guru Pūrnima; devotional festivals such as Amarnath Yatra (Kashmir), Rath Yatra (Puri), Shivratri, Ganesh Chaturthi, Dussehra-Durga Pūjā, Diwali, Rama Navami, Kriṣhṇa Janamashtami; birthdays of Buddha, Mahavir, and Guru Nanak; social festivals like Holi, Teej, Raksha Bandhan; Kumbha and Kumbhi.

HIN 5506 Hindu Rituals and Saṃskāras                            3 credits

This course covers saṃskāras or sacraments as bedrock of Hindu Samskriti (culture); their significance for individual and society, their roots in Veda’s, Upaniṣhads and Smṛiti; special reference to some major (out of sixteen) ones, e.g. Nāmakaraṇa (naming of the baby), Chūdākarma (shaving of child’s head), Upanayana-Yajnopavita (sacred thread ceremony) start of the study of Veda’s or education, and Vivāha (marriage), besides the ceremony of entering Vana- prastha, Sannyāsa and the Antyeṣhti (last rites) and annual ceremony (shrāddha).

HIN 5521 Personality Assessment from Hindu Tradition          1 credit

With a basic understanding of Indian philosophy and how it has led to the ‘emergence’ of the field of Indian psychology, you will learn how personality is understood and assessed from the traditional way of thinking and how it is applicable even today to understand our own selves and to realize our full potential and of those around us to lead a successful and harmonious life.

 HIN 5601 Hinduism in North America                                3 credits

Advent of Swami Vivekananda in Chicago in 1893, followed by Swami Yogananda and missions of various masters and groups, such as Satya Sai Baba, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Swami Muktananda and Swami Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta (founder ISKCON), Divine Light Mission, Osho, Swami Chinmayananda, SatchiDānanda, Śrī Ravishankar, Anandamaye ma and others.

HIN 5602 Hinduism around the World                               3 credits

Hindus and Hinduism beyond native spiritual land; Hindus contribution to economy and culture of new lands of settlement world over viz., in Asia, Africa, Trinidad, Guyana, Hawaii, Europe, UK, Holland, Americas, Pacific Islands, Australia, Fiji, China, Japan, Korea, Eastern Europe, South East Asia, particularly in religious, social and cultural areas.

HIN 5900 Independent Study 1                      variable 1-3 credits

Participation in an individualized mode of instruction at the beginning graduate level as arranged with faculty.

 HIN 6100 Selected Topics in Hinduism           variable 1-3 credits

Special topics not included above, to be taught by resident or visiting faculty as approved by the department.

HIN 6900 Independent Study 2                      variable 1-3 credits

Participation in an individualized mode of instruction at the advanced graduate level as arranged with faculty.

HIN 6999 Master’s Thesis                                                   6 credits

Research of sufficient merit and originality on a topic in Hinduism leading to a Master’s Degree.

HIN 7999 Doctoral Thesis Research                                        30 credits

Research of sufficient merit and originality on a topic in Hinduism leading to a Doctoral Degree

Courses for Diploma in Gītā Studies

 GIT 5001 Gītā Studies-I                                                      3 credits

This course provides detailed discussion of the contents and message in the first nine chapters of Gītā. The emphasis is on the key concepts and interpretation of the Gītā teachings as relevant in today’s life situations.

 GIT 5002 Gītā Studies-II                                                     3 credits

This course provides detailed discussion of the contents and message in chapters 10 through 18 of Gītā. The emphasis is on key concepts and interpretation of the Gītā teachings as relevant in today’s life situations.

 GIT 5003 Gītā Chanting                                                                                                 3 credits

Learning of Sanskrit language to a level needed for understanding and chanting Gītā’s verses. (Prerequisite HUC 5003 Basic Sanskrit)

 GIT 5004 Gītā Project                                                                                                 3 credits

An independent project aimed at the application of Gītā’s message to specific situations; topic to be decided in consultation with the instructor; interim and final reports to be written and presented to the class. (Prerequisites GIT 5001 and GIT 5002 Gītā Studies I and II.)

Note Courses listed in the HUA Diploma programs may be used as elective courses for the Advanced Diploma or Master’s Degree program, subject to the approval by student’s Academic Advisor. Any combination of courses HIN 5104 (Message of Srimad Bhagavad Gītā), GIT 5001 (Gītā studies -I) and GIT 5002 (Gītā studies -II) cannot be taken for more than 6 academic credits.

  Summary of Requirements for Hinduism Programs for Coursework and Thesis Option


HINDUISM PROGRAMS HU Master’s Degree (or Advanced Diploma) Program (30 credits) HU Diploma in Hinduism (18 credits) HU Diploma in Gītā Studies (18 credits) Doctoral Program (HU Fellow) (60 credits)
HU Core courses HUC 5001 HUC 5001 HUC 5001 HUC 5001
HUC 5002 HUC 5002 HUC 5002
HUC 5003 HUC 5003 HUC 5003 HUC 5003
Program Core Courses HIN 5001 HIN 5104 GIT 5001 HIN 5001
HIN 5002 HIN 5002 GIT 5002 HIN 5002
HIN 5003 GIT 5003

GIT 5004

HIN 5003
Electives Options Course- Work option Selection of 4 elective courses

(12 credits)

One course ( 3 credits) N/A
Thesis option Two Elective Courses (6 credit) + Thesis (6 credits) Four Elective Courses (12 credits)

+ Thesis (30 credits)