This course focuses on the main developments and expressions of Hinduism in India. First, we begin with a discussion of the pre-Āryan, indigenous religious context of the Indus Valley, and then turn to the emergence of the Vedas, the earliest stratum of the Hindu tradition. We will then examine the development of the Hindu Upaniṣads, a highly philosophical genre of literature that significantly questions the religious efficacy of the sacrificial, ritual-based Vedas. Finally, we will turn to the devotional and ritual contexts of the many gods and goddesses, and what is sometimes called “popular Hinduism.” Along the way, we will explore such major topics as: the changing conceptions of sacrifice; the inquiries into the nature of the self; the nature of the Ultimate; the role and development of devotion; mythology; ritual and its functions; the influence of Buddhism and Islam; and the character of Hinduism in modern India.
1. To gain a broad understanding of the historical development of Hinduism;
2. To become familiar with the basic religious, philosophical, and social aspects of Hinduism;
3. To develop a comparative understanding of Hinduism as it relates to other religious traditions;
All assignments must be completed on time. Turning in anything late will lower your grade on that assignment by 1/3 of a letter grade, and an additional 1/3 for each additional day. In order to receive a passing grade in this course, you must complete all assignments.
Grades will be based on: 1. Two 1200-1500 word essays - each of which will count for 35% of the final grade. The first of these is due on 3 October, the second on 14 November; and 2. Active participation in class discussions, which will count 30% of the final grade.
About Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the use of another person’s distinctive ideas or words without acknowledgment. The incorporation of another person’s work into one’s own requires appropriate identification and acknowledgment, regardless of the means of appropriation. The following are considered to be forms of plagiarism when the source is not noted:
- word-for-word copying of another person’s ideas or word
- the mosaic (the interspersing of one’s own words here and there while, in essence, copying another’s work
- the paraphrase (the rewriting of another’s work, yet still using their fundamental idea or theory)
- fabrication (inventing or counterfeiting sources
- submission of another’s work as one’s own
- neglecting quotation marks on material that is otherwise acknowledged
I take plagiarism very seriously. If you plagiarize, you will receive a zero on that assignment. You should know that all essays will be checked; software is widely available, including on Canvas, that will allow you to check your own work to be sure you have not unwittingly plagiarized. Please use these tools.
1. Gavin Flood, An Introduction to Hinduism (Cambridge)
2. Diana L. Eck, Darsan (Columbia)
3. Laurie Patton, trans, The Bhagavadgita (Penguin)
4. U.R. Murthy, Samskara (Oxford)
5. C.J. Fuller, The Camphor Flame (California)
There is also a collection of required readings that are linked to the assignments.
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