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Welcome to
The Guru Tradition
Course Page

गुशब्दस्त्वन्धकारः स्यात् रुशब्दस्तन्निरोधकः ।
अन्धकारनिरोधित्वात् गुरुरित्यभिधीयते ॥ १६॥

"The syllable gu indicates darkness, the syllable ru means its dispeller,
Because of the quality of dispelling darkness, the Guru is thus termed.

~ Advayataraka Upanishad, 16


A required course for the Certificate in Hindu Studies and Diploma in Applied Theology programs. (This course can also be taken independently of our Certificate or Diploma programs.)


The Mother Goddess was worshiped in Her myriad forms by much of the ancient world. With the development of the monolithic forms of monotheism, goddess worship has been largely destroyed, suppressed, forbidden, replaced, masked, or forgotten. In India goddess worship has continued unbroken since ancient times. In this eight-week course we will explore the development of goddess worship in India, including its past and current expressions in the lives and practices of Her devotees throughout the world. Our approach to these subjects will be traditional, yet informed by contemporary scholarship and responsive to modern challenges. While this is not a class on “how to worship” the Goddess, our focus at RKS is always the practical applications of religious thought and philosophies to the active spiritual lives of our students. Emphasis is given to personal spiritual development, cultural authenticity, and the service of God in the world.

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

Each Monday students will gain access to the new module’s study material via the Student Portal of the RKS website. Each Sunday at 3pm (Pacific Time) there will be a live webinar via Zoom that will include a 90-minute class lecture followed by 30 minutes for discussion. Recordings of webinars will be posted within a few hours of the live meetings for those who cannot attend the live broadcast. Students will also have access to a dedicated “Student Page” (on Google Classrooms) for up-to-date information, handouts, study questions, turning in assignments, and discussions with fellow students and faculty.  We aim to keep classes small, personal, and intimate.

By participating in any class, course, or program given by Ramakrishna Seminary, students consent to our Terms and Conditions Agreement.

Tuition for this course (originally $500) has been reduced to $350 in consideration of the financial strain that many of our students are experiencing due to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Limited scholarships may be available.  To register or pay tuition for this course, please contact our Registrar at



(Please consider contributing to the RKS Scholarship Fund, to help ensure that no sincere student is denied the opportunity to study due to finances.)

Course Instructor

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Rev. Dr. Swami Bhajanananda Saraswati


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



Most study material for this course will be provided by the instructor as part of the modules, but students are requested to acquire Dr. David Kinsley's Hindu Goddesses.

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Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition

by David R. Kinsley,

‎Motilal Banarsidass  2005

(A PDF of this book will also be made available to students.)


Evaluation of Student Performance



This 3-unit course is worth 3 Seminary Credits, and can be taken for either Credit or No Credit. 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. Students who are taking this course for Seminary Credits 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.

Each module includes assigned reading and/or engagement with other curated material such as articles, videos, audio files, PDFs, etc.  Writing assignments must be turned in via the Google Classroom "Student Page" for this course.


Attendance/Participation                      50%

Class assignments                                    50%


Passing grade for Seminary Credit        70% and above


Accessing Course Modules 
Click on the module links below to access online meetings, supportive materials, and assignments.
(Access restricted to enrolled students)


Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 0f Copyright Act in 1976, allowance is made for “Fair Use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. All rights and credit go directly to its rightful owners. No copyright infringement intended. Fair Use Definition: Fair use is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, research or scholarship. It provides for the legal, non-licensed citations or incorporation of copyrighted material in anther author’s world under a four-factor balancing test.  All opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Kali Mandir or Ramakrishna Seminary.

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February 28 - March 6


ACHARYA ~ The Guru in Vedic and Classical Periods


Access Module 1

Available February 28th


March 7 - March 13


NAKED IN ASHES ~ The rise of asceticism & the role of the sadhu


Access Module 2

Available March 7th


March 14 - March 20


MATHAS, PEATHAMS & GADHIS ~ The development orthodox seats of authority


Access Module 3

Available March 14th

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March 21 - March 27


VĀK UVĀCHA ~ Women saints, ascetics, & gurus in the Indian tradition


Access Module 4

Available March 21st

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March 28 - April 3


 DIKSHA  ~ The Importance of the guru in Tantra, Yoga, and Bhakti


Access Module 5

Available March 28th

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April 4 - April 10


CHARISMA ~ Modern gurus and their missions.



Access Module 6

Available April 4th

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April 18 - April 24


SEX, MONEY & POWER ~  Dangers and  challenges in the guru-disciple relationship.


Access Module 7

Available April 24th

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April 24 - May 1


SAMPRADAYA ~ Linage, identity, and the stream of tradition


Access Module 8

Available May 1st

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