Welcome to the

Hindu Thought and Practice

course support page!

A required course for the Certificate in Hindu Studies and Diploma in Applied Theology programs.

In this 8 week course we will explore foundational aspects of Hinduism.

Our approach to the subjects of this course is traditional, yet informed by contemporary scholarship and responsive to modern challenges. At Ramakrishna Seminary our focus is on the practical applications of religious thought and philosophy to the active spiritual lives of our students. Emphasis is given to personal spiritual development, cultural authenticity and service of God in the world.

This course consists of 8 modules, one module per week.  Materials for this course will be a combination of original content (such as live webinars, recordings, and writings from the instructor) and curated content (such as PDFs of articles, essays and selections from books and journals, readings from textbooks, and links to online videos and articles). 


Each Monday students will have access to the new module’s study material related to the following Sunday’s live class-lecture via Zoom. These Sunday lectures will be given by the instructor at 3:30pm (PST) and will last approximately two hours.


We will also have a more informal Zoom meeting on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8pm (PST) for questions and discussions.


Recordings of lectures and discussions will be posted within a few hours of the live meetings for those who could not attend.

Your Instructor

Recommended Textbook


Rev. Swami Dr. Bhajanananda Saraswati


A Hindu monk, priest, author, and educator with more than twenty-six years of experience in presenting the teachings and practices of Sanatana Dharma, Indian philosophy and the Hindu devotional schools.


Most study material for this course will be provided by the instructor as part of the modules. But we recommend acquiring this small, inexpensive, and easily available book to serve as a general introduction to the study of Hinduism.

Hinduism, A Very Short Introduction

Kim Knott, Oxford University Press, 2000

"This book is instantly accessible in its approach without being in any way condescending or an oversimplification. Each of the chapters tackles a crucial issue or web of interconnected issues, none of them straightforward and yet all conveyed with an elegance and simplicity that belies their inherent complexity."

~ from back cover


Evaluation of Student Performance

This course is worth 8 Seminary Credits, and can be taken for either Credit or No Credit.


No Credit Option

Students not taking the course to earn Seminary Credits are not required to turn in written assignments or a final paper, but are expected to participate in online lectures and discussions and keep up with assigned readings and other materials.

Credit Option


Attendance and Class Participation: Students, who are taking this course for Seminary credit, are expected to attend weekly online lectures and discussions. If students must miss a live lecture, they are expected to watch the recording of the session and to participate in the discussion forum.


Class assignments: Each module includes assigned reading and/or engagement with other curated material such as articles, videos, audio files, PDFs, etc. These assignments and their supporting material will be available on these Course Support Pages. Short writing assignments that may be assigned should be emailed to the instructor as Word files.

Final paper: At approximately the halfway point of the course several topics will be suggested for students to choose from for their writing project. The final paper should be six to twelve pages in length and be handed in or emailed to the instructor as a Word file within a week after the final day of the course.


Attendance and class participation    40%

Class assignments                                    40%

Final paper                                                  20%

90% - 100%     A (Credit)

80% -89%        B (Credit)

70% - 69%       C (Credit)

Under 70%      No Credit

Accessing Course Modules 

Click on the module links below to access online meetings, supportive materials, and assignments

(Access restricted to registered students)

MODULE 1: Sanatana Dharma – Hinduism and Its Self-Understanding

August 17 - August 23 



MODULE 2:  Hindu Cosmology – Cycles Within Cycles

August 24 - August 30



MODULE 3:  Textual Traditions — The Scriptures and Their Commentaries

August 31 - September 6


10 vedas.jpg

MODULE 4:  Sects and Lineages – Unity and Diversity

September 7 - September 13


vaishnava sadhus.jpeg

MODULE 5:  Darshana – Classical Schools of Indian Philosophy

September 14 - September 20



MODULE 6:  Karma, Reincarnation, and our Final Destination

September 21 - September 27



MODULE 7:  Varna and Ashram — Ancient Ideals of Dharma and Their Modern Challenges

September 28 - October 4



MODULE 8:  Purushartha – the Four Goals of Human Life

October 5 - October 11


Ramakrishna Seminary is an educational ministry of Kali Mandir,

a registered 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit religious organization founded in 1993

Ramakrishna Seminary 

P.O. Box 4700

Laguna Beach, CA 92652

(949) 715-6712


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All courses, certificates, diplomas and degrees offered by Ramakrishna Seminary are religious in nature and meant for the personal and professional enrichment of mature spiritual seekers.  Prior to enrollment, students should not assume that credits will be accepted by other schools, businesses or governmental agencies.  Learn more>>