Instructor:   Prem Pahlajrai

Office:         231 Gowen Hall
Office Hours:

                     T 8:00-9:00,

                    Th 10:30-11:20 and by appt.

Course Website:

Class time:   MW 1:30-3:20

Classroom:  SAV 164


Course Description & Goals

In this course we shall undertake a close reading of the Gītā and examine the various facets of the text and its reach:

·  the Gītā's literary, historical and cultural context

·  doctrinal contributions of the Gītā to Hinduism

·  textual criticism of the Gītā

·  the Gītā's influence on Indian nationalism

·  the Gītā's reception in the West

·    the genre of imitative Gītā literature


All texts will be read in English translations, no knowledge of Sanskrit or other Indian languages is required. There are no pre-requisites for this class, though a prior course on Hinduism and/or Eastern Religions will be helpful.


The primary goals of this course are to familiarize ourselves with this literature and the practices and teachings that are presented here, and to understand the concerns & motivations of their creators and the various perspectives from which these can be interpreted.  We will use writing as a means to organize our understanding and work our ideas into coherent arguments. Our goal in class sessions will be to engage with the ideas and issues raised by our readings, with the active participation of all students.

Assignments and Grading policy

The final grade in Asian 498B will be based on the following factors:

·         10% - Class Preparation & Participation , which includes bringing passages to discuss in class, asking questions, and making thoughtful academic arguments

·         35% - Responses to readings on WebQ, GoPost response paragraphs and peer feedback on specified topics.

·         25% - Mid-term Paper, 6-8 pages long (double-spaced, 12pt. font, 1” margins), on a topic to be announced;

·         30% - Final Term Paper, 12-13 pages, with a max. 10 minute presentation in class during Finals time (worth 10% of Final Paper grade).

Required readings

The following book (available from the University Bookstore) is required. In addition, we will read other selections and secondary readings made available as PDFs online through the course website.

Barbara Stoler Miller, tr. (1986) The Bhagavad-gītā: Krishna's Counsel In Time Of War. Bantam Classics Edition


General Guidelines

·         All readings must be completed before the class in which they will be discussed. and should be read using close reading techniques that will be covered in class. Responses to specific issues pertaining to the reading will be required to be posted via WebQ by 10:30am on the day for which the reading is assigned.

·         All term papers are to be turned in electronically via DropBox by the announced deadline. These should be typed in 12-point font and double-spaced, with one inch margins, saved as either .doc, .docx, or .pdf prior to uploading.

·         All essays will be graded on: having a defensible thesis statement, the use of textual support, and the overall strength and clarity of the argument. These elements will be discussed in class.

Policy on Attendance and Late Assignments

Students enrolled in ASIAN 498B are expected to attend all classes and are responsible for all material covered in class. If you are unable to attend a class, it is your responsibility to find out from another student what was covered and what assignments were given. Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class. Any missing or unexcused late assignments will receive no grade. If, owing to exceptional circumstances such as illness, death in the family, etc. (substantiated by appropriate medical or other documentation), you are unable to submit an assignment on time, it is your responsibility to inform the instructor as early as possible and to make alternate arrangements. While in class, the student’s conduct needs to be such that a productive learning environment for all is maintained. Students engaging in behavior that distracts other students or interferes in the ability of the instructor to teach will be asked to leave the classroom and will be considered as absent on that day.

Policy regarding Academic Honesty

All students are expected to follow University of Washington standards of academic honesty, to be found at Cheating and plagiarism, i.e. submitting anyone else's work as your own (whether it be an essay written by another student, downloaded from the Internet, or use of others’ published work without citation), are strictly forbidden. Cases of suspected plagiarism will be reported immediately to the Committee on Academic Conduct of the University's Office of Undergraduate Education.

For graduate students in Asian Languages & Literature only

If you are a graduate student in the Department of Asian Languages & Literature, you must take this course for a letter grade (4.0 scale).  You may not elect S/NS grading.  (Please see section 5.1.0 of the graduate Policies & Procedures.)  If you elect S/NS grading, you will jeopardize your academic standing.