Religions of Modern India

Spring Semester 2018

Course Outline:



Readings and Assignments

Readings are due for the day
on which they are listed








1.     Overview of Indian history and Hinduism – Knott

2.     Islam in India

a.     Story of India – meeting of two rivers

b.     Sufism

                                               i.     I am a Sufi video

                                             ii.     Selections from Lopez?   E.g., Teachings of Two Punjabi Sufi Poets

3.     Sikhism

a.     Selections from Sikh stories?

b.     SIT section on Sikhism

c.     Lopez selections

d.     Scriptures of the East, pp. 112-115


Last Time:

1.     Bose, Sugata & Ayesha Jalal.  Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy (3rd Edition).  Routledge2011  ISBN: 978-0-415-77943-2  

2.     Knott, Hinduism: A very short Introduction, Oxford.  ISBN: 978-0-19-285387-5
Tagore, Rabindranath.  Gora.  Penguin.  ISBN: 978-0-14-306583-8

3.     Gandhi, Mohandas K.  Hind SwarajRajpal and Sons (January 1, 2011) ISBN-13: 978-8170288510

4.     Fischer, Louis (ed) The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of his Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas.  Vintage Spiritual Classics.  ISBN: 9781400030507

5.     Hay, Sources of Indian Tradition: Volume Two


Not yet ordered:  Gora



Modern gurus




Devi.  A film by Satyajit Ray







Week One

Jan 19: Introduction to the Course



Š      MSA chs. 1 & 2, Interpreting “ancient India”



Hindu Religious Traditions in Pre-Modern India

Week Two

Jan 22: Ways of Action: Brahmans, Ritual, and Caste


Š      Knott, chs. 1 & 2 [SNQ 01]

Jan 24: Ways of Mystical Realization: Gurus, World Renouncers, and Liberation


Š      Knott, ch. 3 [SNQ 01]


Jan 26: Ways of Devotion: Gods, Saints, and Worship


Š      Knott, chs. 4 & 5 [SNQ 01]



Islam in India: Sufis and Moghuls

Week Three

Jan 29:  Story of India: The Meeting of Two Oceans



Jan 31: Islam and its Introduction to India

Š      MSA, ch. 3


Feb 02: The Sufis



Š      Aslan, Stain Your Prayer Rug with Wine [BB]





April 15: Origins and History: From Guru Nanak to

                     Gobind Singh

Quiz 5

McLeod, chs. 1-2

Embree, ch. 16 pp. 493-500

April 20: Sikh Doctrine

McLeod, chs. 4

April 22: Sikh Literature: The Adi Granth and Janam Sakhis


Quiz 6

McLeod, ch. 6

Embree, ch. 16 pp. 501-511

Gurudwara reaction paper due


Week 15. Sants and Sikhs


Apr 26: Nirguna Bhakti and The Sant Tradition

            Sikh History





v  SIT, pp.371-378, 491-500

v  RIP, ch. 2: Kabir

Apr 28: Sikh Doctine amd Worhsip


v  SIT, pp. 500-510

v  RIP, chs. 5 & 30:The Life of Guru Nanak, Sikh Hymns to the Divine Name





Week Four

Feb. 05:  Sufi’s in India


Feb 07: The Moghuls


Š      MSA, ch. 4

Feb 09: Sufis in India





The Sikh Tradition


Week Five

Mar. 12: The Sant Tradition and Nirguna Bhatki



Š      Vaudeville, C. “Sant MatSantism as the Universal Path to Sanctity”

Mar 14:  The Ten Gurus and Sikh History



Š      Embree, ch. 16 pp. 493-500


Mar 16:  Sikh Doctrine and Practice


Š      Embree, ch. 16, pp. 500-510



Company Raj and British Liberal Reform

Week Six

Feb 19:  British East India Company


Š      MSA, chs. 7 & 8 HO3

Š      “The company that ruled the waves,” The Economist, Dec. 2011 [BB]

Feb 21: Liberalism, Christianity, and Empire


Š      Metcalf, Thomas R. “Liberalism and Empire” [BB]


Feb 22: Gora


Š      Gora, chs. 1-7



Hindu Reform

Week Seven

Feb 26: Rammohun Roy

Š      Roy, Rammohun, “The Brahmunical Magazine or the Missionary and the Brahmun, being a Vindication of the Hindoo Religion against the Attacks of Christian Missionaries” (1821), pp. 145-158 [BB]

Feb 28: Brahmo Samajh




Š      Lavan, Spencer.  The Brahmo Samajh: India’s First Modern Movement for Religious Reform [BB]

Mar 02: Gora


Š      Gora, chs. 8-14



Week Eight

Mar 05:


Mar 07:



Mar 09: Gora

Š      Gora, chs. 15-31



The Sati Debate

The Sati Debate in Colonial India


Š      Mani, Lata.  Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India [BB] SD6

Š      Roy, Rammohun, “Translation of a Conference between an Advocate for and an Opponent of the Practice of Burning Widows Alive” (1818) [BB] SD7

Š      “Petition of Hindus Against the Abolition of Sati” (1829) [BB]

Š      Bentinck, William.  On Ritual Murder in India, 1829. 




Week Nine

Mar. 12 – 17: No Class (Spring Recess)




Crown Raj

Week Ten

Mar. 19:


Mar 21:



Mar 23: Gora


Š      Gora, chs. 32-38





March 02: Take-Home Midterm Posted Here


Perspectives on Sati:
Traditional, Colonial, Contemporary


Š      Courtright, The Iconographies of Sati [BB] SD08



Week Eleven

Mar 26: The Revolt of 1857


Š      MSA ch. 9 HO4

Š      Premchand, The Chess Players [BB]

Mar 28:

Mar 30: Gora


Š      Gora, chs. 39-45




Week Twelve

April 02: Crown Raj, Religious Reform, and Swadeshi Nationalism


Š      MSA, chs. 10 & 11 HO5


April 04: The Ramkrishna Movement

Š      MSA chs. 12 & 13 HO6

Š      Williams, George.  The Ramakrishna Movement: A Study in Religious Change [BB] SD09

April 06: Gora


Š      Gora, chs. 46-52


Gora, chs. 46-52


Week Thirteen

April 09:


Š      MSA chs. 14 & 15 HO7


April 11:  Gandhi’s life and writings



Š      The Essential Gandhi.  Preface & Part One SQ10

Š      Part Two (chapters 8, 11, 14, 15, 16, 24)

April 13:


Š      Gora, chs. 53-59


Week Fourteen

April 16: Criticism of Gandhi and Criticisms of Gandhi


Recent published photos of the last ten years of Gandhi’s life (BBC)


Š      Attenborough’s Truth: The Politics of Gandhi [BB] SD12

Š      Lal, The Gandhi Everyone Loves to Hate [BB] SD13

April 18: Gandhi’s Nationalism and Critique of Modernity

Š      Gandhi, M. K., Hind Swaraj SD14


April 20:


Š      Gora, chs. 60-66




Week Fifteen

April 23: Tagore


Š      Tuck, D.  Rabindranath Tagore: Religion as a Constant Struggle for Balance [BB] SD15

April 25: Independence and Partition


In Pictures: India’s Partition


Š      MSA chs. 16 HO8

Š      Butalia, “Blood” and “Facts” [BB]

April 27:  No Class (Instructor away)


Š      Gora, chs. 67-76



Women and Marriage


April 23:  Hindu Women, Politics, and Religious Leadership during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries


Š      Falk, N.   Shakti Ascending [BB] SD16

April 25: Film – Jai Santoshi Ma




Hindu Nationalism and the Babri Masjid


The Ayodhya Campaign and

the Babri Masjid


Š      Tambiah, S. Hindu Nationalism, the Ayodhya Campaign, and the Babri Masjid SD19






Final Exam:  Due on Monday May 9th


See Blackboard for Exam Questions

Please submit via google







Portfolio Assignment:

Due by 11:59 PM, May 10. 
Please leave your portfolio in the tray outside of my office

Insert a piece of paper with the address to which
you would like the portfolio to be sent.


Students will compile a portfolio of their work through the semester.  The portfolio will help me to grade holistically, taking into consideration the overall trajectory in the level and quality of your work.  The 100 point score will reflect the apparent care that went into creating the portfolio, and the apparent thoughtfulness that went into your integrative reflections.  Be sure that your binder is large enough to allow for turning the pages.  The contents of the portfolio should be organized into the following sections, divided by labeled tabs for each section:





4.   EXAM 1 (Midterm)

5.   EXAM 2 (Final)

6.   INTEGRATIVE REFLECTIONS (Minimum 500 words total.)

a.  For this section, please compose a set of broad reflections on what you take to be the major insights (if any) that you have gained from the readings and discussions.  Be specific about readings.  Finish by describing the major questions about India that are left unanswered for you.

b.  Evaluate your own work in the class.  How do you think you did in listening, presenting, reading, and writing?  What would you do differently?





Assignments and  Grading

Summaries and Discussion Points [SD]

200 (10 each)


History Outline Entries [HO]

Exam 1

120 (30 each, top 4)

80 (10 per HO)


Exam 2








Final Grade Values
1000 Points Possible

920 to 1000 = A

         900 to 919 = A-

880 to 899 = B+

820 to 879 = B

800 to 819 = B-

780 to 799 = C+


720 to 779 = C

700 to 719 = C-

680 to 699 = D+

620 to 679 = D

600 to 619 = D-

599 & below = F


Track your progress on Blackboard