SOAS University of London

Department of Religions and Philosophies

Vedic Interpretations

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

This course explores the position of the Vedas within the framework of classical Indian thought. It seeks to define the various interpretive strategies that Indian thinkers have employed in regard to the Vedas, focusing particularly upon the methods of the MàmùÇsakas and the SphoÈavùdins. At the same time, students will be introduced to the conceptual tools developed within the field of hermeneutics throughselected readings from St. Augustine, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, and others. Themes include the process of canon formation, definitions of and orientations to tradition, and the possibility of achieving understanding through interpretation.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On completion of the course students should be able to do some or all of the following:

  • demonstrate a familiarity with the corpus of Vedic texts;
  • present comparisons of the interpretive frameworks offered by differing schools of indigenous thought;
  • apply various contemporary theoretical models to the interpretation of the Vedic religion and its text in the light of contemporary Western theoretical thought;
  • asses the internal logic of the argumentation used by academic and traditional thinkers;
  • apply interpretive paradigms to unfamiliar primary sources related to the Vedic canon.

Suggested reading

  • Halbfass, Wilhelm. Tradition and Reflection: Explorations in Indian Thought. SUNY, 1991. 
  • Timm, J.R. ed. Texts in Context: Traditional Hermeneutics in South Asia. SUNY, 1992. 
  • Coward, H.G. The SphoÈa Theory of Language: A Philosophical Analysis. Motilal Banarsidass, 1980.


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