This fall, students in Harvard University will study Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. The course in question is "Indian Religions Through Their Narrative Literatures" which will be taught by Anne E. Monius, who is the Professor of South Asian Religions at the University. The course will examine the religious traditions and communities of South Asia through the stories told. As part of the course description, Professor Anne E. Monius says that the course will study Indian religions from the poetic visions of Vyasa and Valmiki and to modern performances of the epics in urban street theatres and television serials.
Talking about the universality of the two epics, Anne E. Monius says, The Indian epics are long and complex narratives that speak to virtually every aspect of human experience. While the Mahabharata is a sobering tale of cataclysmic war and loss, the Ramayana is one of India's great love stories."
Anne E. Monius says that for over a century the scholars have studied these texts as philosophical and scriptural texts while largely ignoring the subcontinent's wealth of narrative literatures.
The course will not just examine the Sanskrit texts of the two epics but also look into dance performances, shadow puppet plays, modern fictional retellings, and televised renditions of the stories. Anne E. Monius believes that the two epics easily transcend boundaries of genres 'both in history and today'.
She believes that once the course is over, her students would be able to appreciate the richness of the texts and develop varied lenses with which to examine the different practices and traditions that make up what scholars have called "Hinduism."
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