Religions of Modern India

Spring Semester 2018

Course Outline:



Videos in Green

Reading Assignments

Primary Texts in Purple


Quizzes &
Written Assignments

Orange = Optional.  Red = Required



Week One

Jan 19: Introduction to the Course






Hindu Religious Traditions in Pre-Modern India (An Overview)

Week Two

Jan 22: Ways of Action: Brahmans, Ritual, and Caste


Š      Knott, chs. 1 & 2

Š      MSA ch. 1

Š      S&R01: Knott, chs. 1 & 2

Jan 24: Ways of Mystical Realization: Gurus, World Renouncers, and Liberation


Š      Knott, ch. 3

Š      MSA ch. 2, pp. 8-12

Š      S&R02: Knott, ch. 3

Jan 26: Ways of Devotion: Gods, Saints, and Worship


Š      Knott, chs. 4 & 5

Š      MSA ch. 2, pp. 12-17

Š      S&R03: Knott, chs. 4 & 5



Islam in India: Sufis and Moghuls

Week Three

Jan 29:  Story of India: The Meeting of Two Oceans



Š      Embree, The Foundations of Islam in India, pp. 383-391

Š      Video Worksheet 01

Jan 31: Islam and its Introduction to India

Š      MSA ch. 3




Week Four

Feb. 05:  The Sufi Traditions






Š      Aslan, Stain Your Prayer Rug with Wine [BB]

Š      Embree, Islamic Mysticism in India, pp. 447-450  [BB]

Feb 07: Video: I am a Sufi, I am a Muslim



Š      Embree, Islamic Mysticism in India, pp. 450-458  [BB]

Š      Video Worksheet 02

Š      S&R04: Mir, Teachings of Two Punjabi Sufi Poets [BB]

Feb 09:  The Moghuls



Š      MSA, ch. 4


Week Five

Feb 12: Sufism and Syncretism  under the Mughals:
Akbar’s “Divine Faith” and Dara Shikoh appropriation of Hindu Vedanta


Š      Embree, Islamic Mysticism in India, pp. 463-478, 483-489  [BB]

Š      S&R05: Shah Wali-Ullah – Sufism and the Crisis of Islam in India, in Embree, Islamic Mysticism in India, pp. 478-483. [BB]




The Sikh Tradition


Feb 14: The Sant Tradition and Nirguna Bhatki



Š      Vaudeville, C. “Sant MatSantism as the Universal Path to Sanctity” [BB]

Š      S&R06: Dharwadker, Kabir [BB]

Feb 16:  The Ten Gurus and Sikh History



Š      Embree, Sikhism: Faith and Practice, pp. 493-500


Š      S&R07:  McLeod, The Life of Guru Nanak [BB]



Week Six

Feb 19:  Sikh Doctrine and Practice



Š      Embree, Sikhism: Faith and Practice, pp. 500-509

Š      S&R08:  McLeod, Sikh Hymns to the Divine Name [BB]


Company Raj and British Liberal Reform


Feb 21:  British East India Company


Š      MSA, chs. 7 & 8







Š      S&R09: “The company that ruled the waves,” The Economist, Dec. 2011 [BB]

Feb 23: Liberalism, Christianity, and Empire



Š      Metcalf, Thomas R. “Liberalism and Empire” [BB]



Hindu Reform: Brahmo Samajh

Week Seven

Feb 26: Rammohun Roy

Š      Lavan, Spencer.  The Brahmo Samajh: India’s First Modern Movement for Religious Reform, pp. 1-6 [BB]

Š      SIT, pp. 15-35

Š      S&R10:  Roy, Rammohun, “The Brahmunical Magazine or the Missionary and the Brahmun, being a Vindication of the Hindoo Religion against the Attacks of Christian Missionaries” (1821), pp. 145-158 [BB]

Feb 28: D. Tagore and K. Sen











Š      SIT, pp. 36-38

Š      Lavan (ibid.), pp. 6-23

Š      S&R11: Debendranath Tagore: Re-Creator of the Brahmo Samajh.  SIT pp. 38-44

Š      S&R12:  Keshub Chunder Sen and the Indianization of Christianity.  SIT, pp. 44-52

Š      S&R13:  Dayananda Sarasvati: Vedic Revivalist

Mar 02: Gora


Š      Gora, chs. 1-14

Š      S&R14:  Salomon, Baul Songs [BB]

The Sati Debate

Week Eight

Mar 05: Perspectives on Suti:  Traditional, Colonial, Contemporary



Š      Courtright, The Iconographies of Sati [BB]

Š       S&R15:  Roy, Rammohun, “Translation of a Conference between an Advocate for and an Opponent of the Practice of Burning Widows Alive” (1818) [BB]


Š      S&R17: “Petition of Hindus Against the Abolition of Sati” (1829) [BB]


Š      S&R16:  Bentinck, William.  On Ritual Murder in India, 1829.

Mar 07: Gora

Š      Gora, chs. 15-31







Week Nine


Mar. 12 – 17: No Class (Spring Recess)