SOAS University of London

Department of Religions and Philosophies

Classical Hindu Text in Translation: Epics and Puranas -15PSRC167

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The aim of the course is to make students more familiar with the content and religious background of Sanskrit epic and puranic literature as well as with the problems of their interpretation, concentrating on the texts that are regarded as constituting the epitome of the Hindu "Great Tradition". Material for the course will be selected from the Mahabharata (including the Bhagavadgita), the Ramayana, and certain major Puranas (read in English translation). All these texts, which will be discussed critically, are important for understanding Indian culture, its religion, history and arts, past and present.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course, a student should be able to demonstrate…

  • a critical overview of the transmission of Hindu religious literature
  • a more detailed knowledge of the ideas of classical Hinduism as manifested in the literature chosen for the course
  • familiarity with the problems of interpretational approaches to the Indian epic.
  • an understanding of the impact of the epic tradition on medieval and contemporary Hinduism, including its representation in Hindu art and modern media


One two hour lecture per week over 22 weeks.

Method of assessment

  • One three hour exam worth 50%
  • Two Essays each worth 25% and 3000-3500 words long


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules