An Unfulfilled Search For a Ph.D In Hinduism


INDIA, July, 15th July, 2013 (by R. Sujatha, The Hindu): (HPI Note: readers wishing to comment on this report may email

Subadra Muthuswami, who has a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University, hoped to pursue her interest in Hinduism when she returned to India but discovered that no university in India offers a comprehensive course in Hinduism studies. Her quest to conduct research in Hinduism has remained in limbo

She discovered that the University of Madras has programs in Vaishnavism and Indian philosophy. She enquired with universities such as Madurai Kamaraj, Annamalai and Sastra, but without success. Finally, she went to Madras Sanskrit College in Mylapore, where she was informed that she could register as an independent research candidate or seek help from the University of Madras. “While you may study Indian philosophy in the philosophy department or Vaishnavism or Saiva siddhanta, which is in Tamil medium only, you cannot study the religion in all its constituent parts in India,” she said. She learnt that even Banaras Hindu University has a department in philosophy and religion but nothing specific to Hinduism.

According to Siniruddha Dash, head of Sanskrit department at University of Madras, there are six different philosophies in Hinduism and to master each of them, one may need 10 to 20 years. All philosophies are studied separately, just as in the learning of languages. Vaishnavism is a widely-practiced aspect of Hinduism, one of the reasons the University offers the programme, Dr. Dash added.

S. Panneerselvam, head of the department of philosophy said it is only a matter of nomenclature. “We offer 12 papers at the master’s level including Advaita and Hindu social philosophy. Senior professors say universities are secular places where Hinduism as a religion cannot be taught.

Sources in the University said when the department wanted to offer a paper in yoga (which is also a shastra) last year, the move was opposed on the grounds that it was endorsed by a political party. The University do have separate departments for Christian and Islamic studies.

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