World Scripture: South Asia

Instructor:  Arlin Larson

  • Thursday Afternoon
  • 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • Required Texts

As cultures coalesced before the common era, religious texts emerged that proved formative and enduring into the modern world. Two had their home in India. ‘The Bhagavad Gita” (Song of God) has been a central focus of Hindu spirituality into our day. It was beloved by Mahatma Gandhi and presented by Indian prime minister Modi to the United States government as India’s spiritual treasure. Ostensibly a dialogue between the warrior king Arjuna and Krishna, its setting is the upcoming clan warfare. Arjuna seeks divine guidance about his spiritual duty in relation to the inevitable carnage. Arising in the conversation are discussions of various paths (yogi) to spiritual realization – duty (karma), knowledge (jnana), contemplation (raja), and devotion (bhakti). Bhakti is central in contemporary popular Hinduism. At about this same time, Buddhism broke off from Hinduism as a separate religion. It’s literature and practice are vast, but the closest we have to the original teachings of the Buddha is the Dhammapada (Eternal Truth and the Way). The Buddha (Enlightened One) shows a path for overcoming the world’s futility and pain.

Required texts: Required texts: Bhagavad Gita, Stephen Mitchell translator, Harmony Book, ISBN 978-0-609-81034-.
Dhammapada, Harischandra Kaviratna translator, Theosophical University Press, ISBN 0-911500-40-5

The Rev. Dr. Arlin T. Larson has taught Senior College courses on a variety of topics in philosophy and religion. He received his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He is now retired after a career in parish ministry, college chaplaincy, and college teaching, most recently serving First Congregational Church of Searsport, ME.