The Textual Tapestry
Threads of Indian Tradition
What are the key Sanskrit texts of Ancient Indian thought?
What wisdom do they impart?
This course offers in-depth reading of key sacred texts from every epoch of ancient India, including Vedic hymns, Upanishadic teachings, Epic excerpts, Puranic lore and Tantric teachings.
You will gain familiarity of important historical developments, philosophical teachings, values, world-views, popular deities and common practices.
Most importantly, this course offers insight into how these moving parts of Indian thought fit together in the life of Indian wisdom traditions.
You will gain the ability to navigate the multi-millennia "Indian Jungle" of Indian thought and practice entailing
- a comprehensive, meaningful context into which you can place your knowledge of Hinduism, past and future
- the ability to relate to Hindu practitioners of various stripes
- the opportunity to deepen your own practice, if you are a practitioner or aspiring practitioner
No previous knowledge or training is required to benefit from this series, provided you are interested in the topic.
The Sacrifice Strand
This Module surveys the Sacrifice Strand of the Hindu Tapestry established within ancient Aryan worldly tradition. This Strand focuses on ritual action and social standing.
We can think of this as “karma yoga”, the path of action. Key themes include the Sanskrit language, the Vedic revelation, Vedic gods and the Vedic fire sacrifice.
Hymn to Agni
Hymn to Indra
The Knowledge Strand
This Module surveys the Knowledge Strand of the Hindu Tapestry. This is the path of other-worldly insight established in the classical Hindu philosophical schools of thought.
We can think of this strand as “jnana yoga”, the path of spiritual knowledge. Key themes include maya, karma, moksha, samsara and the state of spiritual enlightenment.
The Education of Śvetaketu
Core WisdomTeachings from
The Synthesis Strand
This Module surveys the Synthesis Strand whereby worldly Sacrifice and otherworld Knowledge Strands are spun together to weave the ideological bedrock of Indian tradition to this day.
We can think of this strand as “nishkama karma yoga”, the path of wisdom in action. We look to the great Sanskrit epics Ramayana and Mahabharata for core Indian teachings and and exemplars.
Valmiki Ramayana Book II:
Rama Renounces the Throne
The Pandavas in the Forest
The Devotion Strand
This Module surveys the Devotion Strand of the Hindu Tapestry featuring well-known Puranic tales crystallizing the idiom of devotion to a personal deity.
We can think of this as “bhakti yoga”, the path of devotion. We examine popular forms of worship and common Hindu deities, e.g., Ganesh, Shiva, Durga.
Vishnu Purana: Churning the Ocean
Shiva Purana : Shiva destroys Kama
Markendeya Purana: Devī Slays Mahisha
The Transformation Strand
This Module surveys the Transformation Strand of the Hindu Tapestry featuring Tantric techniques used to awaken divine energy, and transform the world around us and our very bodies.
We can think of this as “shakti yoga”, the path of divine power. Key components include kundalini shakti, mantra, yantra, tantric rituals.
Vijnana Bhairava Tantra
The Textual Tapestry
In this final Module, we examine how the five Strands come together to form the Hindu Tapestry of modern times where practitioners engage a synergy of Sacrifice, Knowledge, Devotion, Transformation and Epic emulation.
We examine the interplay of these five paths (action, spiritual knowledge, desire-less action, devotion and spiritual power) within personal worship and communal worship.
Dr. Raj Balkaran is an expert in Indian traditions. Skilled at applying ancient Indian teachings to modern life, he dovetails academic training, live storytelling, and life wisdom to nourish his students’ hearts and minds alike.
He is also an avid spiritual practitioner and initiate into ancient Indian wisdom practices, which he has been engaged in for nearly two decades.
He has extensive experience teaching academics, continuing studies learners, and practitioners alike, and is a seasoned online educator who serves on the Course Development Board at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.
See https://rajbalkaran.com for more information.
"As Dr. Raj likes to say Hinduism is a jungle and without a guide it can be overwhelming and confusing. There is so much information and much of it seems contradictory. However, Dr. Raj is both a scholar and a practitioner and has a way of engaging with his students to provide insights and clarity. His brilliant teaching style has accelerated my understanding and given me so many 'aha' moments that I am encouraged to go further. He has a gift for providing the exact explanation appropriate for that student at that time. His passion and encouragement have helped me in my studies and I am forever grateful to him." - Carol McEwan, UK