75724 - Religions and Philosophies of India (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

Through the course, students, besides acquiring advanced knowledge about South Asian philosophical thought and religious ideas, develop the ability to formulate valid judgments in the fields of the history of South Asian philosophy and religions and to critically recognize philosophical and religious positions along with their ethical and political implications. Students are expected to become familiar with the relevant specialist literature. An expected outcome is that students become able to progress autonomously in research.

Course contents

Bhakti and tantra in medieval/pre-modern Hinduism.

 

The analysis of the historical importance of devotional ("bhakti-") and tantric currents in the formation of medieval Hinduism will follow the following themes:

- The concept of "experience" in the study of mysticism and in philosophical and religious comparison.

- Features of personal relationship with the divine in bhakti.

- Aesthetic categories and description of the mystical experience.

- Duality / Non-duality.

- Yoga in medieval India. Practices of immortality in haṭhayoga.

- What is Hinduism? The Indian dossographers and the problem of the constitution of the unity of Hinduism in pre-modern times.

 

 

Readings/Bibliography

Please note:
Students who are not familiar with Indology should read the text of Giorgio R. Franci, Induismo (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2000), which provides a good introduction.

 

Reading list for attending students:

1. Franci, G.R., La bhakti: l'amore di Dio nell'induismo , Fossano: Esperienze, 1970.

2. Padoux, A., Tantra, tr. it. Torino : Einaudi, 2011.

3. Rigopoulos, A., Hinduismo, Brescia: Queriniana, 2005, capp. 6 (“Le nove caratteristiche della bhakti”), 7 (“Il guru”) e 8 (“Lo yogin”).

 

Reading list for non-attending students:

1. Franci, G.R., La bhakti: l'amore di Dio nell'induismo , Fossano: Esperienze, 1970.

2. Padoux, A., Tantra, tr. it. Torino : Einaudi, 2011.

3. Rigopoulos, A., Hinduismo, Brescia: Queriniana, 2005, capp. 6 (“Le nove caratteristiche della bhakti”), 7 (“Il guru”) e 8 (“Lo yogin”).

4. Torella, R., Introduzione a Vasugupta, Gli aforismi di Śiva, con il commento di Kemarāja , a cura di R. Torella, Milano: Adelphi, 2013.


Suggested readings for the short written work (see below, Assessment methods):

Subject 1. Historical significance of tantra in medieval Hinduism. Immortality practices in Hathayoga and Indian alchemy.

- Torella, R., Introduzione a Vasugupta, Gli aforismi di Śiva, con il commento di Kemarāja , a cura di R. Torella, Milano: Adelphi, 2013.

- White, D.G., Il corpo alchemico : le tradizioni dei Siddha nell'India medievale , Roma : Mediterranee, 2003.

- [Hahayoga-pradipikā , tr. it.] , La lucerna dello hatha-yoga , a cura di G. Spera, Torino: Promolibri, 1990.

- [Śiva-sahitā , tr. it.] Lo yoga rivelato da Śiva, a cura di M. P. Repetto. - Torino : Promolibri, 1990.

- [Gheraṇḍa-sahitā , tr. it.] Insegnamenti sullo yoga : Gheranda-samhita, a cura di S. Fossati, Torino : Promolibri, 1994.

 

Subject 2. The concept of "experience" in the study of mysticism and in the field of philosophical and religious comparison (possible explorations in the territories of the Hindu bhakti, of medieval Indian mysticism, of the Indo-Islamic culture, and twentieth-century Japanese philosophy).

- Halbfass, W. The Concept of Experience in the Encounter Between India and the West, in Halbfass, W., India and Europe, pp. 378-402.

- [Majma'Al-barayn di Dārā Sikōh, tr. it.] La congiunzione dei due oceani, a cura di S. D'Onofrio e F. Speziale, Milano: Adelphi, 2011.( The book contains a remarkable introductory essay by S. D'Onofrio and F. Speziale)

- Caracchi, P., Rāmānanda. Un guru tra storia e leggenda, Alessandria: Edizioni dell'Orso, 2017.

- Milanetti, G., Il dio senza attributi: yoga, conoscenza e devozione nella pratica spirituale dei "Sant" , Roma: Ubaldini, 1984.

- Milanetti, G., Il divino amante: la pratica spirituale indiana della via dell'amore, Roma: Ubaldini, 1988.

- Haberman, D.L., Acting as a Way of Salvation : a Study of Raganuga Bhakti Sadhana, New York ; Oxford: Oxford University press, 1988.

- Nishida Kitarō, Il corpo e la conoscenza: l'intuizione attiva e l'eredità di Cartesio, a cura di Matteo Cestari, Cafoscarina, Venezia 2002.

- Nishida Kitarō, Uno studio sul bene, a cura di Enrico Fongaro, Bollati Boringhieri, Torino 2007 (The book contains a remarkable introductory essay by G. Pasqualotto).

 

Subject 3. The Indian doxography and the problem of the construction of the unity of Hinduism in pre-modern era.

- Halbfass, W., The Sanskrit Doxographies and the Structure of Hindu Traditionalism, in Halbfass, W., India and Europe, Albany: S.U.N.Y. Press, 1988, pp. 349-368-

- Nicholson, A. J., Unifying Hinduism : Philosophy and Identity in Indian IntellectualHhistory , New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2010.

- Lorenzen, D.N., Who invented Hinduism?, in «Comparative Studies in Society and History» 41/4 (Oct. 1999), pp. 630-659.

Teaching methods

The course consists of taught classes, with commented readings of texts.

Assessment methods

Oral examination, with a simultaneous discussion of a short written work (max. 10,000 characters) produced by the student on a topic agreed with the teacher.

The exam interview starts from a brief discussion of the essay, which is followed by two questions regarding the two main topics of the course (bhakti and tantra).

The assessment takes into account the strength of the preparation, the student's ability to critically deal with methodological problems, the clarity and the ability to use appropriate scientific terminology.

Grading is based primarily on an assessment of the student's preparation, but will also take into account her/his ability of analysis and synthesis, clarity in both written and oral exposition, and use of an appropriate language and terminology.

More specifically:

  • An comprehensive vision of the topics dealt with in the course, the capacity for their critical analysis, and the use of a precise and appropriate terminology, will be evaluated with excellent to good marks;
  • A good / acceptable, but not in-depth knowledge of the subject, a limited ability in elaborating a synthesis and in producing an analysis, a use of an acceptable but not always accurate language, will be evaluated with marks ranging form mere pass level to average;
  • The lack of knowledge of the topics dealt with, the lack of preparation in elaborating analysis and synthesis, the use of inaccurate terminology and the lack of familiarity with the course bibliography, will lead to the failure to pass the examination.

This course (6 CFU), while being independent, can also be a module of the integrated course "Indian Civilisation". If the student has the integrated course (12CFU) in the study plan, the final grade will result from the arithmetic average of the marks obtained in the two components ("Religions and philosophies of India" and "Intellectual history of modern and contemporary India").

Office hours

See the website of Saverio Marchignoli