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The Self and the World in Indian Story

Fall 2017
Religious Studies
RELS 3101
Instructor: Dr. Christopher Austin
Lec. Fri. 9:35-12:25
prerequisite: any 2000-level RELS course or permission of the instructor

Good citizen or renouncer? Shall we participate in the life of the world, invest ourselves in work, family, community and nation? Or leave it all behind to pursue liberation and personal realization in solitude? All South Asian religions are defined by their response to this basic tension between embracing and renouncing the world. RELS 3101 reflects on this fundamental religious and social dynamic in Hinduism, Indian Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism through a close reading of diverse Indian story literature both ancient and modern:

  • hagiography or legendary biography
  • autobiography
  • epic literature
  • folk tales
  • myth
  • 20th century and contemporary Indian fiction

Through these stories we will discover that most South Asian religion expresses itself, in complex and fascinating ways, in the middle ground between the poles of worldly engagement and renunciation.

Brahmins performing a sacrifice for the maintenance of cosmic order


Click HERE [PDF 379 KB] for syllabus.