The Bhagavad Gita: Ancient Poem, Modern Readers

Application deadline: March 1, 2018
NEH Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers

NEH Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers

July 9–27, 2018, Yale University
Richard H. Davis, Director
“In the morning,” wrote Henry David Thoreau, describing his time at Walden Pond, “I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavat Geeta, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.”

In this three-week seminar, we too will bathe our intellects in the philosophy of the Gita. We will engage in an intensive study of this seminal work, both in its original context and as it has continued to live through the readings and reinterpretations of modern thinkers, Indian, English, and American. College and university teachers, including non-tenure track or adjunct faculty, are invited to apply.  It will be suited to faculty in any humanistic discipline; no prior knowledge of Hinduism or South Asian languages is expected. 
Mural depicting B. G. Tilak composing his Bhagavad Gita commentary while in Mandalay Prison.
The Bhagavad Gita: A Biography written by Richard H. Davis

The Bhagavad Gita

Written in the early centuries CE, the Bhagavad Gita took shape within the massive epic Mahabharata, and offered a profound reflection on the moral, philosophical, and religious issues at the heart of the epic.  It offers a concise and attractive point of entry for the study of Hinduism. 

Though composed in classical India, the Bhagavad Gita has become an indisputably modern work of global range.  From its first English rendering in 1785, the Gita has circulated widely throughout the world.  It has engaged modern American readers as diverse as Henry David Thoreau, T. S. Eliot, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Aldous Huxley.  During the past 150 years, the Gita has served as a key work for political leaders and religious thinkers in India, including Swami Vivekananda, Aurobindo Ghosh, B. G. Tilak, and Mahatma Gandhi.


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For further information contact:
Richard Davis, Project Director