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Robert Crosnoe, Chair CLA 3.306, Mailcode A1700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-6300

Fall 2009

SOC 321K • Sociology of Indian Epic--Honors

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
46515 TH
3:30 PM-6:30 PM
BUR 480

Course Description

This course mainly examines the Indian epic of the Mahabharata in its social, cultural, spiritual, and political dimensions, as well as their implications for modern societies. The epic has been estimated to be seven to eight times as long as the Iliad and Odyssey combined. The first part of the course will analyze how personal, kinship, social, and political arrangements in the early part of the epic set the stage for later conflict, violence, and war. The second part of the course will explore chapters from the Bhagavad-Gita to construct and conceptualize the nature of the non-dualistic perspective. Such a perspective will also address the science of knowledge and the path to human liberation in the midst of overwhelming tragedies and discord. The classic Gita is the epitome of Vedic teachings, compiled by the ancient seer Vyasa. The Gita, which appeared in the middle of Mahabharata, is the dynamic conversation between Krishna (the master) and Arjuna (the hero) when the opposing armies were ready to attack each other. This part of the course will contribute to the theory of knowledge and the sociology of religion.

During our journey, students will also be exposed to concepts and ideas such as: Self and society, matter and consciousness, epistemological and ontological reality, dharma, path of love and non-violence. The course finally covers the nature of action (karma) in its many dimensions since action becomes the dynamic element in constructing reality at the personal and collective. By using a variety of techniques, the course will create an environment that encourages active participation and discussion during the learning process.

The course may use classroom activities such as reading with expression to help the students understand and experience the universal themes of the Epic.

Grading Policy

Research paper 40%
Writing assignments (short papers) 40%
In-class assignments and participation 20%


P. LAL, The Mahabharata of Vyasa: the condensed version from Sanskrit
C. Rahagopalachari ('Rajaji' or C.R.), Mahabharata
Bhagavad-Gita, The Song of God, Translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, with an introd. by Aldous Huxley
Brunton, Paul What is Karma?


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