Spirituality and culture are synonyms in the Indian context. To be cultured, in the highest sense, is to be spiritual. The more advanced a culture becomes, the more spiritual it becomes because spirituality is the hallmark of a highly evolved mind.”

– Extract from Indian Culture: Its Timeless Appeal and Ageless CharmThe Vedanta Kesari 2012 December Special Issue, p499.

Bharatiya adhyatmik aitihyar sarsankshep (or Essentials of Spiritual Heritage of India) is a two-year certificate course (in Bengali) that covers Indian scriptures, ancient and modern. Every year there are 80 days of classes on Saturdays and Sundays. The classes are held from 3.15 pm to 5.45 pm, with a short break. The talks are delivered in Bengali, but the handouts of the course material are given in English. The answers in the exams can be written in English/Bengali/Hindi.

The Scriptures and topics covered in the course are listed below. An overview of the course, covering all these books, is presented in the beginning of the year, and then 2-3 Scriptures are covered each year. The classes are held in such a way as to present before the students the entire spiritual history of India. Most of these Scriptures are covered fully, but the larger ones are covered in part (essentials).

The Scriptures covered in the course

  1. Vedas
  2. Taittiriya Upanishad
  3. Prashna Upanishad
  4. Katha Upanishad
  5. Kena Upanishad
  6. Mandukya Upanishad
  7. Isa (Isha or Ishavasya) Upanishad
  8. Mundaka Upanishad
  9. Aitareya Upanishad
  10. Ramayana
  11. Mahabharata
  12. Bhagavad Gita
  13. Smritis
  14. Tantras
  15. Raja Yoga
  16. Narada Bhakti Sutras
  17. Chandi
  18. Bhagavatam
  19. Inspired Talks of Swami Vivekananda
  20. Aspects of Indian Philosophy with emphasis on Acharyas Shankara, Ramanuja, and Madhva.
  21. An overview of other major religions in India: Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

Detailed Course Syllabus

Module 1:  Vedas and Vedic Sages

(Total No. of lectures: 20)
  1. Overview of the Vedas: Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Vedangas
  2. The Vedic gods
  3. Selected Vedic Suktas: Agni, Medha, Nasadiya
  4. Peace Chants (Shanti-mantras) with meaning
  5. Vedic Rishis

Module 2: Upanishads and Upanishadic Sages

(Total no. of Lectures: 80)
  1. Overview of the Upanishads
  2. Ishavasopanishad
  3. Kathopanishad
  4. Kenopanishad
  5. Brihadaranyaka and Chhandogya Upanishads
  6. Upanishadic Sages: Yajnavalkya, Satyakama, Svetaketu, etc.

Module 3: Sri Rama and Ramayana Tradition

(Total No. of lectures: 40)
  1. Valmiki and his Ramayana
  2. Adhyatma Ramayana
  3. Overview of Ramayana Traditions
  4. Sri Rama Sages: Tulasidas, Tyagaraja, etc.

Module 4: Vyasa and Mahabharata Tradition

(Total No. of lectures: 80)
  1. Overview of Mahabharata
  2. Important Selected Sections of Mahabharata
  3. Vidura Neeti, Sanat Sujateeya, etc.
  4. Mahabharata Sages: Vyasa, Vishwamitra, Shukadeva, Ashtavakra, Dattatreya, etc.
  5. The Various Gitas mentioned in Mahabharata

Module 5: The Bhagavad-Gita

(Total No. of lectures: 60)
5.1. Overview of the Bhagavad-Gita
5.2. Chapterwise Discussion of the Gita

Module 6: Smriti Shastra

(Total no. of lectures: 20)
1.0. Overview of the Smritis
1.1. Manu Smriti
1.2. Other Smritis

Module 7: The Tantras

(Total no. of lectures: 20)
2.1. Overview of the Tantras
2.2. Mahanirvana Tantra
2.2. Tantrasara

Module 8: The Puranas

(Total No. of lectures: 60)
  1. Overview of the Puranas
  2. The Eighteen Puranas—A Bird’s Eyeview
  3. Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana
  4. Sri Krishna Sages: Surdas, Mirabai, etc.
  5. Chandi

Module 9: Scriptures and Saints of Other Religions

(Total No. of lectures: 40)
  1. Buddhism
  2. Jainism
  3. Sikhism
  4. Zorastrianism
  5. Judaism
  6. Christianity
  7. Islam

Module 10: Vedanta-Acharyas and Saints of Various Traditions in India

(Total No. of lectures: 20)
5.1. Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva
5.2. Saints of Bhakti Traditions
5.3 Bhakti Sutras

Module 11: The Ramakrishna Tradition

(Total No. of lectures: 40)
5.1. Sri Ramakrishna and His Gospel
5.2. Sri Sarada Devi and Her Message
5.3. Swami Vivekananda and His Works
5.4. Direct Disciples of Sri Ramakrishna

Download the Course Syllabus: PDF