Rated 5 out of 5 by Challenger The mechanics of Hindusim
I decided to hear this course after having heard several courses regarding Eastern Asia's culture and history. There are three great history in the TGC that focus on the east exclusively: "Foundations of Eastern Civilization", "From Yao to Mao", and "Fall and Rise of China". I found all three to be very valuable. Each of them investigates the topic from different perspectives, different eras and different time scales. However, none of them really focus on India, and a course that focuses on the history of India in the TGC is conspicuously missing. Having heard these three courses though, I realized that I had next to no clue about Buddhism and Hinduism. The first course I tackled in order to gain some knowledge was "Great World Religions – Buddhism", but I found this course given by professor Ekkel to be extremely disappointing – never reaching the depths I was expecting. I was therefore a bit apprehensive about this course… Fortunately, this course is totally different.
Professor Muesse did a fantastic job in explaining the roots of Hinduism (to the extent that this is known#, and the important major traditions and writings. He demonstrated how Hinduism is at the same time a Monotheism and a Polytheism, one religion and a collection of religions. Many aspects are relevant to this very day. A prime example is the caste system. I have often heard about the caste system in India, under which every person by birth belongs to a particular caste which he cannot leave during his lifetime except in very extreme cases. The caste system is still practiced today though formally it is illegal. In our modern Western world, this concept is almost intolerable. Professor Muesse explains the Hindu roots of this belief, and I found that once it was explained one can at least understand the roots if not accept their very physical consequences. A large part of the course #relatively speaking#, describes the three methods by which one can practice Buddhism: through Wisdom #and this is closest to rigorous philosophy in the Western world#, through action #which means either through combat or through normal work#, and through devotion which basically means monasticism. Another interesting aspect is the relationship to women: on the one hand women are always under the control of men in traditional Hindu society #be they fathers, husbands or children), but religiously goddesses play a big role in Hinduism and they are highly revered.
This has been a very short course on Hinduism, but I believe it achieved very nicely the goal that Professor Muesse sketched in the first lecture: to give a basic understanding of Hindu origins, traditions and customs. Professor Muesse presented the subject in an engaging and interesting fashion, and overall I feel the course was valuable.
May 18, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Avoirdupois Brilliant introductory course...
A masterful, authoritative introduction to the fascinating world of Hinduism which is so very different from Western life.
Dr Muesse's explanations of "religion", "India" and "Hinduism" are hypnotic, providing a perfect start to this wonderful series on one of the world's leading religions -- one with which most of us in the West are not very familiar, perhaps other than knowing it has a caste system and considers the cow to be a holy animal. A pantheon of 330 million gods may come as a surprise!
The professor has a compelling, naturally-flowing, moderately-paced style which truly makes listening easy and enjoyable; he goes into important detail on critical points, as time permits. His 12 half-hour talks are carefully constructed and sequenced.
When you finish this course, you will have a solid basic grounding in Hinduism; you will undoubtedly view its followers in a whole new light; you will have new understanding and appreciation, and you will indeed know what Hindus "believe". On balance, of course, it is important to remember that this is an introductory course.
A major achievement, one of Great Courses' best, and easily earns top recommendation.
June 26, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5 by marvmax Great Overview of Hinduism: A Super Large Task
This was great course as well. It was the 4th course of the great world religions that I listened to and I thought that it was excellent. Dr. Muesse did an excellent job. I don't know if he's a practitioner of Hinduism but he seems very involved in it. I did a search for him on google and he's very involved in meditation as it is practiced in India, and has been a teacher at Tamilnadu Theological Seminary in Madurai, India. I'm not sure exactly what that means but it sounds like a good recommendation that he understands Hinduism.
I'm not sure how old this lecture set is. I'm listening to it again, and it was given to me as a gift a while ago. He talks about the destruction of a Mosque as a recent event showing the tension between Hinduism and Islam. I had to research that as well and it says that it happened Dec. 2 1992, so maybe this is a very old set of lectures. However, I think this is a perfect illustration of the Islamic subjection of people. They build their mosques in areas designed to be as offensive to the subject people as possible. What could be worse to Hindus than to have a mosque built on the site of the birth of their God King Rama?
I did a search on Prof. Mussee to see if he's taught any more courses and he has; Confucius, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad and Religions of the Axial Ages. I can remember that I didn't like the set on Confucius and Religions of the Axial Ages was one of the first sets that I ever purchased and can't really remember it. I'll have to listen to them again and review them.
Anyway I really enjoyed this lecture series and would highly recommend it.
February 22, 2014
Rated 1 out of 5 by MurphtheSurf3 Well presented, good overview, but just too exotic
I belong to a group of retired people who take great courses together. We have studied, art, history, music and now religion.
This time around we decided to do ALL of the Worlds Great Religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.
I am going to leave our overall rating for each course in each of the five reviews I am writing here. Our final order as it turned out is the same order in which we viewed the courses: Judaism (4 Stars), Christianity (3 Stars), Islam (3 Stars), Hinduism (1 Star), Buddhism (No Stars),
Here is a case where the professor was interesting. lively, engaging, and comfortable. He presented a well formulated and clear study of the origins, texts, beliefs, and practice of Hinduism.
But the experience was just too far from our own, too exotic for us to make a connection except as observers of a tradition with roots so different from ours that we could not connect to it.
As a group our hope was to discover the core of the faith that attractive other human beings to it.....it never clicked....for us.
The bottom line was that the content was good, the professor capable and pleasant but overall effect was less than the sum of its parts.
February 14, 2014