SOAS University of London

Department of Religions and Philosophies

Religious Philosophies of Ancient and Medieval India

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2016/2017
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Full Year

This course aims to provide an introduction to the conceptual world of classical Indian philosophical discourse, covering such questions as the nature of Being, the identity of the Self, the relationship between reality, cognition and language, and the prospects for spiritual liberation. 

No prior knowledge of either philosophy or South Asian culture is necessary.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

Upon successful completion of this course students will be acquainted with many of the fundamental issues of philosophical speculation and debate that have informed the religious discourse of Hinduism. In addition, they will have developed specific logical and analytical skills that will allow them to comprehend basic philosophical arguments and test their validity. Finally, students will have acquired the conceptual vocabulary to examine in detail the specific relationships between abstract, systematic thought and the formulation of religiously significant propositions.

Scope and syllabus

The course will explore the diverse ways in which these questions have been approached by various Brahmanical schools, including Nyaya-Vaisesika, Samkhya- Yoga, Purva-Mimamsa, Uttara-Mimamsa ('Vedanta'), and the grammarians. Particular attention will be paid to issues relating to the historical formation of the systems, and their interactions with each other.The course concludes with a comparative look at the Indian and European philosophical traditions. 

Method of assessment

2 essays (2,500 words each) (worth 40% and 60%))

Suggested reading

  • Frauwallner, E (1986) History of Indian Philosophy, vol.1.
  • Matilal, BK Perception: An essay on classical Indian theories of Knowledge .
  • Potter, K H (1991 reprint) Presuppositions of India's Philosophies.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules