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Introduction to Dharmashastras

Introduction to Dharmashastras

Dive into the heart of our cultural and philosophical heritage with this comprehensive online course that offers a unique opportunity to explore the ancient texts that have shaped the moral and ethical framework of Indian society for centuries. Whether you’re a student of philosophy, a practitioner seeking deeper understanding, or simply curious about the rich tapestry of India’s spiritual heritage, this course is for you. With a blend of live sessions, class recordings, and a comprehensive reading list, you’re set to embark on a journey of discovery and enlightenment.

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30 Hours
Date & Time

31 January 2024 - 28 August 2024

6:00 PM IST-7:30 PM IST

Every Wednesday


Course Fee: $100
Enrollment Manual
Medium of Instruction
One year from the end date of the course
Online through INDICA Courses Portal
Contact Details



Dharmaśāstra texts occupy a prominent place in Indian textual tradition as authentic sources of dharma. Despite this, the contemporary engagement with the text has been prejudicial and problematic and most importantly, one of discomfort.

The contemporary Hindu society’s discomfort with Dharmaśāstra tradition in general and with texts such as Manusmṛti in particular owes much to the effects of colonialism and the destruction of indigenous education institutions, as a result of which the society has become deracinated having lost touch with this core aspect of our culture. In particular, people find it exceptionally difficult to relate to the teachings of the Smṛti texts owing to unfamiliarity with the purpose, textual landscape, and the underlying worldview of Dharmaśāstras. Furthermore, the Dharmaśāstra texts employ a unique language to convey its teachings about dharma which poses significant challenges to understand and appreciate it owing to presentism.

Course Objectives

This course seeks to fill the gap in contemporary approach and facilitate a better understanding and appreciation of Dharmaśāstras and their relevance to contemporary world by highlighting certain important aspects of their textual landscape and the worldview that informs them.

Course Outcomes

  • General understanding of the landscape and subject-matter of Dharmashastras.
  • Good grasp of fundamental tenets of Dharma and the interpretive principles that govern Dharmshastra texts.
  • Overall a better appreciation of Dharmashastra tradition and its relevance in contemporary world. 

Course Syllabus

  1. Anubandha Chatushtaya
  • The object, purpose, and competent student in the context of the study of Dharmashastra
  1. Origination, Transmission, Textual Landscape of Dharma tradition
  • Origination of Dharma Teaching in Bhagavan Brahmaa
  • Different lines of transmission of Dharma
  • Textual Landscape
  1. Key pointers for Studying and Interpreting Dharmashastras
  • Hermeneutics of Shraddha
  • Karma Siddhanta: The Law of Action and its Fruits
  • Locating Dharma: cosmologically, temporally, teleologically, functionally, and relationally
  • Subject Matter of Dharmashastra Tradition
  1. Tenets of Dharma
  • Samanya Dharma
  • Varna Ashrama Dharma
  • Stree Dharma & Purusha Dharma
  • Raja Dharma
  1. Dharma as Foundation for Moksha
  • Samanya Dharma as means for Chitta Shuddhi
  • Varna-ashrama Dharma as Yajna, Karmayoga and Bhaktiyoga

Reading List

Course includes

  • Live sessions
  • Access to class recordings for asynchronous participation
  • Certificate of Completion upon successful course completion


Nithin Sridhar

Nithin Sridhar has a degree in Civil Engineering. After working in the field of construction for some time, he has been writing on various subjects such as social issues, development, politics, religion, spirituality, and ecology.

His first book “Musings On Hinduism” provided an overview of various aspects of Hindu philosophy and society.

His book ‘Samanya Dharma’ enunciates upon general tenets of ethics as available in Hindu texts.

His latest book ‘Isopanishad: An English Commentary’ is an English translation and commentary on one of the prominent Hindu texts.

However, his most widely read book is “Menstruation Across Cultures: A Historical Perspective” which examines menstruation notions and practices prevalent in different cultures & religions from across the world.

He is the Chief Curator of Advaita Academy dedicated to the dissemination of Advaita Vedanta. Earlier, he served as the Editor of IndiaFacts- a portal on Indian history and culture. He is based in Mysuru, Karnataka.

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