RELIGIONS FROM INDIA

FALL 2014
RELIGION 117

 

 

 
Reading
Course Description Grading
Schedule The Term Paper Vocabulary

 

Students are recommended NOT to print out this syllabus as it may change during the semester. However, if, for any reason, you really do need a printed copy, click this link for a Pdf formatted version.

 

 


REQUIRED READING:
Gavin Flood, An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Richard Robinson, Willard Johnson, and Thanissaro Bikkhu, Buddhist Religions: A Historical Introduction. Wadsworth, 2005.
Various Sacred Scriptures of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions that will be provided on My.Westminster.

 

RECOMMENDED READING:
Wendy Doniger, The Rig Veda and The Laws of Manu (with Brian K. Smith).
Robert Ernest Hume, The Thirteen Principal Upanishads.
de Bary, William Theodore, Sources of Indian Tradition.
Brockington, John, The Sacred Thread.
Eliade, Mircea, Yoga, Immortality, and Freedom.
Stoler-Miller, Barbara, The Bhagavadgita.
Patanjali, The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.

Edward Conze, Buddhist Texts through the Ages.
E. A. Burtt, The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha.
Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught.
Sue Hamilton, Early Buddhism: A New Approach.
Donald Lopez (ed.), Critical Terms for the Study of Buddhism.

 

ON-LINE RESOURCES:
Religious Tolerance.Org
V. Jayaram's Hindu Homepage


COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course will be a study of the histories, narratives, rituals, and scriptures of Hinduism and Buddhism and other traditions from India.

The assigned reading must be done before the classes and class will involve discussion of the reading as well as explanatory lectures from the professor.


OUTCOMES

Religion Major (World Religions Track) Mission Statement.

The program in World Religions aims to provide students with an understanding of religion in most of its various historically significant forms. This major provides a valuable perspective for understanding the significance of religion in the context of both world events and individual human life. It requires an appreciation of the role of religion in other educational areas such as sociology, psychology, history, and literature. Its mission is to provide students with a reliable, detailed, but broad exposure to a variety of foreign cultures across human history while requiring them to consider and analyze critically the implications and entailments of religious expression and behavior within those cultures. Reliable information from geography, social and political history, and current events as well as from a wide variety of cultural studies and sacred scriptures must be analyzed in order to achieve these ends.

Religion Major (World Religions Track) Outcomes

  • To acquire knowledge of the History of Religions, of global human Culture, and of the Natural World.
  • To acquire intellectual and practical skills, including critical and creative thinking, research and analysis, and written and oral communication skills.
  • To become practiced in integrative learning, including the synthesis and application of knowledge from a variety of sources and skills from a variety of disciplinary approaches to unfamiliar and complex situations.
  • To acquire a greater understanding of all people, including ourselves, as individuals in a culture comparable with all other human cultures.

Course (REL 117, Religions from India) Outcomes

The general aims of this course are, first, to acquire a reliable knowledge of the history of those religions that originated on the Indian subcontinent and to critically consider and understand the implications of that data. The basic research skills of the academic study of religion must also be acquired and practiced as tools for the construction of relevant and durable opinions about material. Third, the skills required to communicate those opinions clearly and persuasively will be practiced.

So-the acquisition, the analysis, the assessment, and the articulation of information will all be practiced and evaluated.

All student work should be well-researched, well-reasoned, and well-written.

Successful students in this course will demonstrate their abilities:

  • to acquire reliable knowledge of the history of the major religious traditions of India
  • to consider critically various theories of Indian religious history
  • to acquire a critical understanding of Indian religions
  • to articulate that understanding
  • to construct relevant, informed, and durable answers to their own questions about the religions of India
  • to articulate and communicate those answers clearly
  • to be prepared to discuss those answers graciously with people of differing opinions

GRADING

Grades will be based on a total of 500 possible points:
There will be five quizzes, one on each section of the course. There will be one term paper of approximately 3,000 words, whose topic must be determined by Thursday, October 30th. There will be a final examination whose form will be discussed during the course. Attendance to the classes is required, as is participation in class discussions. Attendance and participation will be graded. The grading distribution will be as follows:

Assignment

Number

Each worth

Total Worth

Quizzes

5

30

150

Vocabulary

1

50

50

Term Paper

1

100

100

Examination

1

100

100

Attendance and Participation

1

100

100

TOTAL POINTS

500




Academic Integrity
(see p. 22 of the Student Handbook and the Academic Integrity Policy.ppt on your My.Westminster Class Handouts Page)

Westminster College as an institution and I as an individual both pursue a strict policy of academic honesty. Plagiarism: leading your reader or listener to believe that what you have written or said is your own work, when, in fact, it is not, will be treated severely. But always remember that while using someone else's work without declaring your source is dishonest, doing the same thing and citing the source is good scholarship! Books must be cited in the correct bibliographic style (see here) and personal sources can also be cited.

Your instructor reserves the right to use the plagiarism software at Turnitin.com.


VOCABULARY

Hindu and Buddhist vocabulary is mainly from Sanskrit, the Ancient Indian Sacred language. This might appear complex and difficult at first but it is a very precise phonetic language and its basics can be easily mastered with some effort and application. To that end students will be introduced to the standard system of transliteration, diacritical marks, and pronunciation and will be required to keep a vocabulary notebook containing correctly transliterated and briefly defined terms. This notebook may be inspected by the instructor at any time. For examples of the vocabulary see the various quizzes and for correctly transliterated words see both the textbook and the documents on the My.Westminster class website.


SCHEDULE OF CLASSES

Week 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|11|12|13|14|15|16|

This class will meet at 11:00 on Tuesday and Thursday in Patterson Hall 207

I will be available in my office in Patterson Hall 336 from 10:00 until 11:00 every day (and at other times by arrangement).



Week 1. Introduction to Hinduism.

Tuesday 8/26
Introduction to the course, the syllabus, the class webpages, etc.
The Geography of South Asia: Make sure you know the basic geography of India (see Maps of India) and the location of all of the countries involved.
See these maps (1) and (2).
Reading assignment: Flood's "Introduction," pages 1-4.

Thursday 8/28
The transliteration and pronunciation of Sanskrit vocabulary.
Reading assignment: Read Flood's "Introduction," 1-4 & "Diacriticals.doc" on your My.Westminster Handout section for today's class
& "Points of Departure," 5-22 for the next class.


Week 2.
Tuesday. 9/2
Introduction continued: Flood's "Points of Departure" considered.
Reading assignment for Thursday's class: Flood's "Ancient Origins," 23-35.

Thursday. 9/4
"Ancient Origins," A consideration of the Indus Valley Civilization.
Data and Interpretation: Dravidian and Vedic Culture, competing hypotheses.
Reading assignment for Tuesday's class: Flood's "Veda," 35-50, and "Rig Vedic Hymns.doc" on My.Westminster.
Flood's "Dharma," 51-74, and "Laws of Manu.doc" on My.Westminster. See also this website on the Veda.


Week 3.
Tuesday. 9/9
The Vedas and Vedic Gods. Rta and Dharma, the Laws of Manu, Vedic Society: Varnashramadharma, and Hindu Social Roles: gender and politics.
Reading assignment: Flood’s “Yoga and Renunciation,” 75-94, “Yoga in Hindu Traditions,” 94-102.

Thursday. 9/11
Yoga and Renunciation. Yoga in Hindu Traditions.
Reading assignment: Review all of Flood up to page 102.


Week 4.
Tuesday. 9/16
Discussion and Review.
Reading assignment: Prepare for Quiz #1, which will cover Flood up to page 102.

Wednesday 9/17: There will be a trip to visit the Hindu Srivenkateshwara Temple in Pittsburgh leaving at 4:30 this evening.

Thursday. 9/18 QUIZ #1.
Reading assignment: Robinson, Johnson, and Thanissaro (hereafter RJT) xix-21.


Week 5.
Tuesday. 9/23
Buddhism: Introduction and the Awakening of the Buddha.
Reading assignment: RJT 22-42.

Thursday. 9/25
The Buddha as teacher and the Development of Early Indian Buddhism.
Reading assignment: RJT 43-84.


Week 6.
Tuesday. 9/30
Abhidharma and the Period of the Three Vehicles. The Search for the Mahayana and Early Medieval Indian Buddhism.
Reading assignment: RJT 84-106.

Thursday. 10/2
Early Medieval Indian Buddhism, concluded.
Reading assignment: RJT 106-123. Review up to page 123 and prepare for Quiz #2.


Week 7.
Tuesday. 10/7
Discussion and Review, preparation for quiz #2.

Thursday. 10/9
QUIZ #2 will cover RJT up to page 123.
Reading assignment: RJT 124-142.


Week 8.

Tuesday. 10/14
Buddhism in Late Medieval and Modern India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia.
Reading assignment: RJT 143-171.

Thursday. 10/16
The Post Colonial Period. Buddhism in Central Asia and China.
Reading assignment: RJT 172-192.
On the transliteration of Chinese into English, see this link.
For a map of China see here.
Reading assignment: RJT 192-210.


Week 9.

Tuesday. 10/21
Buddhism in China, continued and concluded.
Reading assignment: RJT 210-218.

Thursday. 10/23
Buddhism in Korea and Vietnam.
Reading assignment: RJT 219-267.


Mid-Term Break: Saturday October 25th - Tuesday October 28th

Week 10.
Thursday. 10/30
Buddhism in Japan.
Reading assignment: RJT 268-291.
You are required to submit a Topic and Thesis Statement for your term paper today.
Week 11.
Tuesday. 11/4
Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhism comes West. Preparation for Quiz#3.
Reading assignment: RJT 292-311. Prepare for Quiz#3 (RJT 124-311).

Thursday. 11/6
QUIZ #3 will cover RJT pages 124-311.
Reading assignment: Flood, 103-127.


Week 12.
Tuesday. 11/11
Hindu Narrative Traditions, an introduction to the Epics and Puranas, Vaishnavism.
Reading assignment: 128-138.
You are required to submit an annotated bibliography for your term paper today.

Thursday. 11/13
Shaivism and Tantrism.
Reading assignment: 139-158.


Week 13.
Tuesday. 11/18
The Goddess and Hindu Ritual.
Reading assignment: Flood, 158-173. Prepare for QUIZ #4.

Thursday. 11/20
QUIZ #4 will cover Flood pages 103 - 173.
Reading assignment, Flood, 174-273.


Week 14.
Tuesday. 11/25
Hinduism and the Modern World.
Reading assignment, preparation for the last Quiz.
Today is the absolutely last chance to submit a preliminary draft of your term paper to be checked by the instructor.
Week 15.
Tuesday. 12/2
QUIZ #5 will cover Flood pages 174 - 273.

Thursday. 12/4
Last Class:
The term paper is due in today.
The Final Examination will be discussed and distributed.
Student Assessments of the course.
Your vocabulary notebooks can be handed in today.


Week 16.
Finals Period, Monday December 8th and Tuesday 9th.
Reading Day, Wednesday December 10th.
Finals Period, Thursday December 11th. 
Term ends Thursday, December 11th.


SOME NOTES ON THE TERM PAPER.

All students will submit a typewritten or word-processed critical essay of 10-12 pages (double spaced, that is about 3,000 words). This paper is due in on Thursday, December 4th.

You are required to obtain the approval of the instructor for your paper topic and thesis by Thursday, October 30th.

You are required to submit an annotated bibliography for your paper by Tuesday, November 11th. This should contain at least five appropriate sources with a brief (no more than 50 words) description of the contents of each source. You must have at least as many print sources as you have Internet sources!

These are not reports but argumentative essays: that is to say they are editorialism rather than journalism--your own views are as essential as knowledge of your subject material. The standard of your technical writing as well as your accuracy and argument will be taken into consideration. To that end, here is a short list of common avoidable writing errors which should help you to avoid simple mistakes which will otherwise reduce your grade.

Papers cannot be accepted after the due date (Thursday, December 4th).

You may hand in a rough draft of your paper to be checked anytime up to Thursday, November 25th.

General requirements of an argumentative essay .

1. Papers must have a title which states the topic of your essay. In order to maintain the focus on Religions from India as the topic of this course your papers should be entitled "Religions from India: . . . " with your topic or focus following the colon. Papers must be submitted electronically.

2. You must have a thesis, argument, and a conclusion. "Thesis" is defined as "a proposition laid down or stated, especially as a theme to be discussed or proved" (Oxford English Dictionary). You must explain to your reader why you believe that your thesis is correct, and clearly state the conclusion of your thought. This is mainly to help you to focus your thoughts.

3. The arguments and research which support your thesis should make the main body of the essay.

4. Source material (books, but don't forget articles in journals and encyclopedias, even newspapers and personal interviews) should be integrated into your argument as evidence, example, or illustration. You MUST document the sources of all quotations, statistical information, and paraphrased material.

5. Your conclusions must be clearly stated. They can be negative as well as positive. Don't worry if you find that your original thesis is insupportable. As long as your conclusion is based on your research negative results areas valuable as positive ones. Just re-write your introduction to reflect your results.

6. You must give a separate list of sources (entitled "References" or "Bibliography" or "Works Cited") at the end of your paper. In alphabetical order give the full name of each author, surname first, then first name, followed by the title of the work. Book and journal titles should be italicized (underlining should be avoided and used only if italics are not available, as in hand- or typewritten manuscripts). Article titles should be in quotation marks. Details of publication must be included. For example:

Batson, C. Daniel and W. Larry Ventis. The Religious Experience. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Ferré, Frederick. "The Definition of Religion." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 38/1 (1970): 3-16.

Fieser, James (Ed.), The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/, August 22nd, 2010.

(For Internet sources the minimum required information is author name, URL --that is the "http://filename/etc.htm"--and the date you took it from the Internet. REMEMBER: You must have at least as many print sources as you have Internet sources!

In-text citations can then be given in the form: (Author, page number) or, if the same author has more than one work listed in your bibliography, (Author year, page number). Thus: (Batson and Ventis, 62) or (Ferré 1970, 14) or (Fieser 1996, no page number).

Your bibliography does not count as part of your length (3,000 words as stated above).

PLEASE ASK ME IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT ANY OF THIS!


The quizzes will all follow the same form. There will be a closed book quiz on the vocabulary indispensable to a proper comprehension of Asian religions. This will take approximately twenty minutes and will constitute one third of the value of each quiz. Each quiz will be worth a total of thirty points from a grand total of 500 points covering the entire course. After the closed book vocabulary section of the quiz there will be an open book essay section in which you will be required to write an essay style response to one question selected from the material covered since the previous quiz.
| Quiz #1 | Quiz #2 | Quiz #3 | Quiz #4 | Quiz #5 |


Quiz #1 will cover Flood to page 102.
(see "Quiz#1Sample.doc" on your My.Westminster class page for the properly transliterated form.)
Vocabulary:
agni
aranyaka
artha
asana
ashrama
atman
bhagavad-gita
bhakti
brahmacharin
brahman
Brahmana
deva
devi
Dharana
dharma
dhyana
Dravidian
Durga
guna
Indra
jnana
kshatriya
karma
kama
Manu Smrti
Mohenjo-daro
moksha
pratyahara
pranayama
puja
raja
rishi
shakti
samadhi
samhita
samnyasa
samsara
smrti
Soma
shruti
shudra
sutra
rta
upanishad
vaishya
varna
vac
yoga
Sample Essay Questions:

  1. What is Hinduism? What problems are attached to the use of this term?

  2. What is the Hindu Veda? Explain its divisions and approximate dating.

  3. "The idea of an identity between the worshipper and the deity has even been called ... one of Hinduism's 'axiomatic truths' " (Flood, 15-16). Explain.

  4. What are the two theories concerning the origins of the Vedic culture?

  5. Describe the principle deities of the Rg Veda.

  6. Varnashrama-dharma is the basic structure of Vedic society. Describe this structure.

  7. Although "dharma" might be simply translated "duty," it is a more complex concept within Hinduism. Explain this idea and its sources according to the texts, and our sources of knowledge about it.

  8. What are the general ideological features of Hindu renunciation?

  9. What is the “orthogenetic” theory of renunciation? What other theories of renunciation are there?

  10. What important features does the concept of yoga contain? Include the Yogasutra of Patañjali specifically in your consideration.


Quiz #2 will cover RJT xix-123.

Vocabulary:
adhikara
anubhava
arhat
asrava
avadana
bhikshu
bhikshuni-sangha
buddhacarita
buddha-kshetra
dharani
dhyana
dharma
duhkha
garbha
hinayana
jataka
karika
madhyamaka
mahayana
manas
nirvana
nama
paramita
pitaka
prajnaparamita
prasada
pratitya-samutpada
pratyeka-Buddha
pudgalavadins
rupa
sangha
shakyas
shakyamuni
shamatha
shramanas
shravakas
samsara
samvega
skandhas
stupa
sukhavati
svabhava
tathagata
tripitaka
triratna
tushita
upaya
vinaya
vipashyana
yogacara
Sample Essay Questions:

  1. Explain and describe the tripitaka. What is particularly important about it? (RJT 46-47, 62)

  2. What is the Triratna? Explain its component parts in some detail and its significance for the practicing Buddhist. (passim)

  3. What are the three "vehicles" of Buddhism? What leads Robinson and Johnson to conclude that they are separate religions? (RJT xxi)

  4. The narrative of Siddhartha's "Great Renunciation" introduces the two emotions of samvega and prasada. What are these and how might they relate to the two qualities of dhyana: shamatha and vipashyana? (RJT 7, 30)

  5. What are the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha's teaching? Give as much detail as you can about each. (RJT 25 etc.)

  6. According to Buddhist doctrine, what traps a person in samsara, how can one break free, and what might one achieve by this? (RJT 9-10, 15-16, etc.)

  7. Do Buddhists worship the Buddha? Discuss Buddhist devotionalism. Was it a valuable step in making Buddhism universal, or was it a perversion of the religion's original aims? (RJT 39-42)

  8. Who was Ashoka and what is his significance for the History of Buddhism? (RJT 58-62)

  9. What are the jatakas and the avadanas? On what points do they agree and how do they differ? (RJT 68-72, 77-78)

  10. What developments in Buddhist philosophy do Ashvaghosha's Buddhacarita and the Milinda-panha illustrate? (RJT 92)

  11. Explain Nagarjuna's fourfold negation. What is it and how might it work? (RJT 94-98 etc.)

  12. What is the Mahayana? Explain the history of the term. How did it differn from "Mainstream" Buddhism? (RJT 103-16)

  13. Discuss the varieties of "tactical skill" (upaya-kaushalya). Identify different varieties with different texts. (RJT 112)


Quiz #3 will cover RJT 124-311.

Vocabulary:
adhikara
avatamsaka
bon
bushido
butsudo
ch’an
ching-te
dharmakaya
gelug
geshe
kami
kuan-yin
mandala
mappo
mushin
marga
nembutsu
nien-fo
nirmanakaya
paramita
parishad
puñña
rinzai
sambhogakaya
satori
shinto
siddha
t’ien-t’ai
tantra
tulku
uji
vajra
visuddhimagga
wat
Sample Essay Questions:

  1. Explain the Buddhist Trikaya or Three Body Doctrine.

  2. Explain the function of popular Buddhism in a typical Indonesian Village. Discuss the possible benefits.

  3. Discuss the fate and the fortunes of Indian Buddhism from the 7th Century C.E.

  4. What is the Vajrayana and how does it differ from the other “vehicles” of Buddhism?

  5. Why might an Indonesian Buddhist monk undertake the perilous journey to India and abandon his seniority to become newly re-ordained?

  6. How did the Pali Canon come into its present written form?

  7. “The Sangha, in particular, was Buddhism’s most revolutionary contribution to Chinese Society,” (RJT, 175). Discuss the significance of the Sangha as a new development in the history of religions.

  8. The distinction between “sudden” and “gradual” methods of Buddhist teaching and practice becomes very important in Chinese Buddhism, particularly but not solely in T’ien-t’ai, one of the major multisystem Schools. Explain this distinction.

  9. How did military activity in China assist in the establishment of Chinese Buddhism, especially in the 3rd and 4th centuries of the Christian Era?

  10. Ching-te is a particularly distinctive and successful East Asian school of Buddhism. Describe and discuss this school with a particular emphasis on Amida/Amitabha.

  11. What laid the groundwork for the great doctrinal syntheses of the Sui and T'ang dynasties? (185) Briefly outline the main characteristics of the T'ien-tai, Hua-yen, Ching-te, and Ch'an schools of the period.

  12. “The interpenetration of these three dimensions [religion, politics, and aesthetics] can be regarded as a distinctive feature of Japan’s contribution to the Buddhist tradition,” (RJT, 240). Discuss.

  13. Compare Dogen (1200-1253 C.E.) and Nagarjuna (fl. 150 C.E.).

  14. How have Buddhist ideas become present in contemporary Western Culture?


Quiz #4 will cover Flood 103-173.
Vocabulary:
Alvars
ahamkara
ardhanarishvara
avatara
bhagavan
bhoga
chakra
diksha
ghora
gopis
itihasa
jivanmukti
lingayats
Mahishasura
maithuna
mantra
matsya
mudra
maya
nataraja
narasimha
nagas
pashupati
prakrti
purusha
rajas
shaktas
shakti
samadhi
sattva
satya
siddhi
smartas
strisvadharma
sadhana
sadhus
tamas
tantra
tapas
yuga
Sample Essay Questions:

  1. Discuss the concept and nature of the Hindu Epics as itihasa or historical mythology.

  2. In what way is the Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata a metaphor for human life? What evidence is there of such a metaphorical status for this work?

  3. What are the main themes in the Bhagavadgita.

  4. Give an outline of Puranic Cosmology.

  5. Very briefly describe the main characteristics and worship of the god Vishnu (or Shiva, or the Mahadevi).

  6. The Shvetashvetara Upanishad of the 5th or 4th centuries B.C.E. marks the early transition from monism to theism. Describe and discuss that transition with reference to Sanskritization and the development of Vaishnavism and Shaivism.


Quiz #5 will cover Flood 174-273.
Vocabulary:
advaita
ahamkara
ahimsa
astika
bhashya
Brahmo Samaj
dalits
darshana
duhkha
gayatri
harijans
hindutva
ishta-devata
ishvara
jati
mahavakya
mantra
mimamsa
murti
nastika
nyaya
pandit
preta-loka
samkhya
samskara
sanatana dharma
satya
satyagraha
shabda
shankara
shrauta
svarga
upanayana
vaisheshika
vedanta
vedanta
Sample Essay Questions:

  1. Describe and discuss Hindu Tantrism as practiced by the Shakta traditions.

  2. Into what four types can ritual processes be divided? Give examples of these types as they occur in Hinduism.

  3. There are traditionally sixteen Hindu samskaras or rites of passage. Give an account of the most important of these.

  4. What are the basic elements of Hindu ritual? What kind of puja do the majority of Hindus practice?

  5. Discuss the Hindu understanding of mantras in ritual.

  6. What are the general features of the orthodox Hindu Darshanas? What do they accept as valid means of obtaining knowledge?

  7. Describe the religious understanding of the Hindu grammarian school.

  8. Briefly describe the six orthodox systems of Hindu philosophy.

  9. “Samkhya is also an atheistic system, whereas the yoga darshana admits of the idea of God or the Lord (Ishvara) as a special kind of self (purusha) which has never been entangled in prakrti, and which can be the focus of meditation” (Flood 235). Discuss.

  10. A fundamental distinction among the classical Hindu darshanas is the question of dualism versus monism. Describe this distinction as it is manifest in these schools of thought.

  11. Compare and contrast the philosophies of Ramanuja and Shankara.

  12. What are the characteristic features of the Hindu Renaissance?

  13. Describe and discuss the presence of Hindu Gurus in the Modern West.


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