There are few places in the world in which South Asian religions are taught as comprehensively as at the University of Toronto. Thanks to a high number of world-renowned specialized teachers and researchers the religious traditions of South Asia that can be studied at UofT comprise Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism and Zoroastrianism, with some fields covered by more than one faculty.
The University of Toronto units that offer courses or programmes in which to study South Asian religions are the following:
Programmes in which to study South Asia are:
The Department of Humanities at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC) offers a Specialist, Major and Minor Programme in Global Asia Studies
The data and topics students learn to work with range from the performing
arts, ritual, social institutions and practices, narrative, historiographical and poetic
texts to doctrinal, scientific and theological literature.
The methodologies students are trained in are shared by the humanities and
the social sciences and involve anthropological, historical, literary, philosophical, postcolonial and text-critical approaches.
The historical periods taught and in which graduate students may seek their
specialization cover the whole range, from the ancient to the modern era.
The languages offered either as courses, as individual directed readings or for
which graduate supervision by faculty can be provided are Apabhraṃśa, Arabic,
Avestan, Burmese, Gujarati, Nepali, Newar, Sanskrit, Urdu/Hindi, Pahlavi, Pāli, Persian, the Prākrits, Tamil and Tibetan.
The courses regularly taught are first of all second-year-level introductions to the individual religious traditions of South Asia represented at UofT. More advanced undergraduate courses comprise introductions to literatures such as Islamic or Buddhist hagiography and historiography, the Sanskrit epics, the Upaniṣads, the śāstras, yoga, ayurveda, logic and Buddhist philosophy, canonical Pāli Buddhist texts, Buddhist tantric literature or anthropological studies of South Asian religious communities and practices such as ritual, healing or textual production. Graduate courses intensively train students to produce accurate and contextualized translations of individual texts in their source languages, mainly in Sanskrit, Pāli and Literary Tibetan, but can also involve e.g. critical readings of local vernacular hagiographies and historiographies in translation, the discussion of a critical term crucial for the study of South and Southeast Asian religions or the review and discussion of select authors and studies that have been groundbreaking in the respective fields of research.
Extracurricular activities greatly enrich the intellectual life of UofT students in
Southern Asian religions. The events offered by the Centre for South Asian Studies, the NumataLecture Series, the annual Roop Lal Jain Lecture, the Burma Lecture, as well as the annual event series The Newars and Their Neighbours are just the some of those regular academic events contributing to a rich programme through which students can encounter top researchers presenting cutting-edge work on Southern Asia. In addition to this, faculty working in Southern Asian Religion organises, on a rotational basis, a reading group that meets four times during each academic year to jointly read from cover to cover and discuss a monograph that has had a particularly strong impact on the field. All these are opportunities to join the strong community of Southern Asian religions students and instructors that has emerged at UofT.