Tantric Yoga, Tandoori Chicken and the Taj Mahal: Introduction to the Civilizations and Cultures of the Indian Subcontinent

History 11

Fall 2017
Section: 
1
Instructor: 
Location: 
2 LeConte
Day & Time: 
MW 5-6:30
Class Number: 
46335
Units: 
4

The Indian subcontinent (today the home of Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan) is often imagined as an exceptional and timeless space and place: home to a dizzying array of ancient philosophical traditions; spiritual and physical inquiry; long-standing traditions in art, literature, architecture, aesthetics, music and dance. Birthplace of two of the worlds great traditions (Hinduism and Buddhism) and home to the largest Muslim population in the world, the subcontinent has seen dozens of dynasties ruling peoples who speak scores of languages and worship thousands of gods on the one hand, and only One on the other. In this course, we will take a rapid jaunt through this dizzying land in its past and present, and through all its manifold contradictions, from the sublime heights of abstract philosophy to the brutal realities of postcolonial poverty; from the masterpieces of art and architecture to the teeming cities of the subcontinent; from the epics represented in its traditions of dance and music to its contemporary obsession with Bollywood and cricket, that Indian game accidentally birthed in Britain. Our inquiries will be driven by a single question, that is of relevance to every inhabitant of the south Asian subcontinent and many others beyond it: how do we reconcile the lands millennia of civilization with the tortured fractures of its present?