Conceptual and Philosophical Frameworks in Asian Traditions

Home/ Conceptual and Philosophical Frameworks in Asian Traditions
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSOL3EN2034

Semester and Year Offered: Winter semester 2018

Course Coordinator and Team: Diamond Oberoi Vahali

Email of course coordinator: diamond[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: Interest in philosophical discourses and conceptual frameworks

Course Objectives/Description/Aim: This course involves encouraging researchers to engage with metaphors textual and/ or non-textual, to illustrate resonances of these concepts across cultures and traditions. Researchers would be encouraged to engage with the concepts from the Indian subcontinent and its neighbours and place them critically beside ideas and narratives available from other traditions. They will also be encouraged to develop an understanding of histories and cultures of Asia. In the process this course will promote a dialogue with texts which illustrate and engage with the concepts significant to the research. Some of the concepts the researcher would be expected to engage with, through class discussions, assignments, presentations, workshops, projects and group activities, are as follows:

  1. The universal themes of life and death, concepts of time (kaal), void, nothingness, space, home, exile, dreams, threshold, transgression, play, journey, quest, love, union, and separation vis-a-vis philosophical, mystical, artistic, musical and literary traditions of Asia.
  2. The tradition of text and manuscript, narratives, temporality and spatiality, poetics, aesthetics, and linguistic philosophies.
  3. The relationship between different genres and art forms, performance and performativity.
  4. The tropes/ motifs/ literary devices such as irony, satire, the comic and the tragic.
  5. The legacies of craft and architecture.

Course Outcomes:

On the successful completion of the course:

  1. The students will become familiar with the most significant philosophical discourses existing in Asia.
  2. They will develop the ability to conceptualise.
  3. They will become familiar with a few concepts related to basic human values such as compassion and empathy for all beings besides several other concepts related to love, death, self, void, impermanence and transience of all existence.
  4. They will develop the critical ability to conceptualise literary historiography within a more fluid paradigm.
  5. They will develop the ability to see the fluid crosscurrents of literary traditions and their interactions across Asia.
  6. They will develop the skill to articulate their ideas orally through extensive class interaction.
  7. Through the assessments related to each module they will be able to engage deeply with the modules and will develop skills related to academic writing which will help them in taking their thesis forward.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module I: Rethinking Literary Historiography across the Indian subcontinent

Devy, G.N. “History and Literary History”. The G.N. Devy Reader. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2009.

Devy, G.N. “The Conventions of Literary History”. The G.N. Devy Reader. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2009.

Mukherjee, Sujit. “Propositions”. Cultural Diversity, Linguistic Plurality and Literary

Traditions in India.

Satchidanandan, K. “Reflections: The Making of Indian Literature: The Need for Alternative Genealogies”. Indian Literature. Vol. 37, No. 3 (161) (May-June, 1994), pp. 5-7. Sahitya Akademi.

Module 2: Crosscurrents of Mystical and Mythic traditions across Asia: The Ramayana tradition, the Krishna cult, the Sufi/Bhakti tradition, the Panchtantra tradition, the Kabir tradition.

Ramanujan. A. K. “Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation.” The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Kakar, Sudhir. “Cults and Myths of Krishna.” The Inner World : A Psychoanalytic study of Childhood and Society in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Satyanath, T. “Understanding South Asia: South-East Asian Cultural Contacts: An Alternative Perspective”.

Das, Sisir Kumar. “The Mad Lover”, Indian Literature, vol. XLVII, no. 215, no. 3, May-June 2003, Sahitya Akdemi, New Delhi, pp. 149-78.

Virmani, Shabnam. dir. Had-Anhad . 2008.

Module 3: Conceptualising Love

Gill, Harjeet Singh. “The Cosmology of Heer Waris”. The Semiotics of Conceptual Structures. New Delhi: Bahri Publications, 1996.

Shah, Waris. Heer Ranjha. Trans. Muhammad Munawar Butt. Charleston: CreateSpace, 2013.

Makhija, Anju and Hari Dilgir (trans). “Sasui Punhoon”. Shah Abdul Latif: Seeking the Beloved. New Delhi: Katha, 2005.

Rumi: “This is Love”

Baul Song “I am the Boat”

Module 4: Understanding Death

Sogyal, Rinpoche, Patrick Gaffney, and Andrew Harvey. Ed. “The Bardo of Becoming”. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 2002.

Stryk, Lucien. “I Fear Nothing: A Note on the Zen Poetry of Death”. The Awakened Self: Encounters with Zen. New York: Kodansha International, 1995.

Smith, Jane Idleman and Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad. The Islamic Understanding of Death

and Resurrection. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Module 5: Philosophical discourses across Asia: Buddhism, Zen, Tiep Hein and Tao.

This module will look at concepts related to Self, Humility, Void, Nothingness, Impermanence and Compassion through the philosophical traditions in Asia.

Hanh, Thich Nhat. “Interbeing”. Understanding Our Mind. New Delhi: HarperCollins, 2008.

Hanh, Thich Nhat. “Mindfulness”. Understanding Our Mind. New Delhi: HarperCollins, 2008.

Tiep Hien: The 14 Mindfulness Trainings of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing

The Simple Way of Lao Tsze. Delhi: Book Faith India, 1999.

Stryk, Lucien. “Buddhism and Modern Man”. The Awakened Self: Encounters with Zen. New York: Kodansha International: 1995.

Bullah Shah, Kafi No 7, tr. K. S. Duggal, in Medieval Indian Literature, Vol. 3, Ayyappa Paniker, gen,ed., Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1996, p. 1066.

Tentative Assessment schedule with details of weightage: Class participation must reflect a deep engagement with the course. The students are expected to read all the readings in great depth, they are expected to be punctual and regular. The term paper must open up a new literary paradigm or a conceptual or philosophical framework across Asia which has not been discussed in the class.



Date/period in which Assessment will take place



Class participation

Throughout the  semester



5 Short Assignments

Continuous throughout the semester

50% (10% each)


End Semester Term Paper and presentation

End semester



Reading List: The list is included in the main modules


  • Barry, Vincent E. Philosophical Thinking about Death and Dying. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2007.
  • Devy, G. N. Indian Literary Criticism: Theory and Interpretation. 2002. Hyderabad:
  • Orient BlackSwan, 2009.
  • Feldhaus, Anne. Connected Places: Religion, Pilgrimage, and Geographical Imagination
  • in India. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
  • Kakar, Sudhir. Intimate Relations. New Delhi: Viking,1990.
  • Randhawa, Mohindar Singh. Kangra Paintings on Love. New Delhi: National Museum, 1962.
  • Rao, Venkat D. Cultures of Memory in South Asia: Orality, Literacy and the Problem of Inheritance. New Delhi: Springer India, 2004.
  • Sogyal, Rinpoche, Patrick Gaffney, and Andrew Harvey. Ed. The Tibetan Book of Living
  • and Dying. San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 2002.
  • Tally, Robert T. Jr. Spatiality: The New Critical Idiom. New York: Routledge, 2013.
  • Turner, Victor. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. New York: Cornell University Press, 1966.
  • Valerian Rodrigues. The Essential Writings of B.R. Ambedkar. Oxdord: OUP, 2004.
  • Yan, Li.The Illustrated Book of Changes. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1997.
  • Zimmer, Heinrich. The King and the Corpse.Ed. Joseph Campbell. Delhi: Motilal
  • Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, 1999.
  • Lamoreaux, John C. The Early Muslim Tradition of Dream Interpretation. New York: State University of New York Press, 2002.