Religions of Ancient India


Course Schedule


Topics, Texts, Videos

Videos in Green


Reading Assignments


Primary Texts in Purple

Recommended Readings in Orange

Quizzes &
Written Assignments




Week 1

Tu Aug 28: Introduction to the Course:

Aims, Content, Workload, Evaluation





Thu Aug 30:  The Story of India: Beginnings


·      Koller, Ch. 1

·      Video Worksheet 1 (in-class)


Week 2

Tu Sept 04: Beginnings of Indian Civilization / Geographical and Linguistic Features

·      Trautmann, Ch. 1



Map Assignment 1 posted today. 
Due Sept 13 in class
(See Assignments page)


1400-500 BCE


Early Vedic Traditions


Thu Sept 06:  Aryan Worldview and Society



·      Koller, Ch. 2, pp. 23-32

·      Trautmann,  Ch. 2


·      SPQ01, Koller, Ch. 2, pp. 23 (from “The Vedas”) to 32.



Week 3

Tu Sept 11: Creation and Cosmos in the Vedas



·      Koller, Ch. 3

·      Rig Veda 10.90 - Purusha Sukta [BB]

·      SPQ02: Koller, Ch. 3


Th Sept 13: Ecstatic Visions and the Fire Sacrifice

Alter of Fire






·      Map Assignment 1 Due in Class

·      In-class video worksheet 2



Late Vedic Traditions

Week 4

Thu Sept 20:  Upanishads -- The Conditions of Human Existence.



·      Koller, Ch. 4

·      Mundaka Upanishad (excerpt) – Sacrifices: Unsteady boats on the ocean of life [BB]

·      SPQ03: Koller, Ch. 4



Week 5

 Tu Sept 25: Upanishads -- The Divine, the Self, and Liberation



·      Chandogya Upanishad (excerpt) – The essential reality underlying the world [BB]

·      Map Assignment 1 corrections due in class.


Th Sept 27: Quiz and Story of India Episode


The Story of India: The Power of Ideas


·      Trautmann, Ch. 3



·      In-class video worksheet 2




500-320 BCE



Week 6

Tu Oct 02: Introduction to Buddhism


Video: The Buddha






Th Oct 04: Buddha’s teaching on the 

                 Conditions of Suffering





·      Kohler Ch. 7, pp. 128-149

·      SQ04: Koller, Ch. 7, pp. 128-149


Week 7

Tu Oct 09: No Class (Fall Reading Days)

Th Oct 11: Buddha’s teaching on the

                        Cessation of Suffering


·      Kohler, Ch. 7, pp. 149-162

·      In-class video worksheet

·      SPQ05: Koller, Ch. 7, pp. 149-162

·      Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta – Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dharma (Buddha’s First Sermon) [BB]







Week 8

Th Oct 16:  Jainism: An Introduction

Video: The Frontiers of Peace





·      Koller, Ch. 06


·      SPQ06: Koller, Ch. 6

·      In-class video worksheet







Th Oct 18:  MIDTERM EXAM  (Bring Blue Books)






Week 9

Tu Oct 23: Story of India:

                       Spice Routes and Silk Roads





Th Oct 25: Empires

·      Trautmann, Ch 4


·      SPQ07: Freebee


Week 10

Th Oct 30:  No class (All Day Advising)



Th Nov 01: Yoga: Central Features, Samkhya Philosophy



·      Koller, Ch. 8

·      SQ08: Koller, Ch. 8



Week 11

Tu Nov 06: Yoga: Patanjali’s Eight-Limbed Yoga


·      Bryant, The Subject Matter of the Yoga Sutras [BB]

·      SPQ09: Subject Matter of the Yoga Sutras [BB]

Th Nov 08: Yoga: Mahamantra and Sound



Coward, Hearing the Sacred [BB]

·      SPQ10: Coward, Hearing the Sacred [BB]



Week 12

Tu Nov 13: Story of India: Ages of Gold


·      In-class video worksheet



Syntheses of Early and Late Vedic Traditions


Th Nov 15: The Ways and Aims of Vedic Life:

                     Purusharthas and Ashramas,

                     The Bhagavadgita



·      Koller, Ch. 9




·      SPQ11: Koller, Ch. 9



Week 13

Thanksgiving Break




320 CE – 1000 CE

Week 14

Tu Nov 27: The Classical Age and Bhakti



·      Koller, Ch. 10







·      SPQ12: Koller Ch. 10

Th Nov 29: Darshan



·      Eck, Ch. 1



Week 15

Tu Dec 04: Shiva & Vishnu / Krishna


Guest Lecturer: India Oates


·      Koller, Ch. 11



·      SPQ13: Koller Ch. 11

Th Dec 06:  The Goddess Traditions


·      Eck, Ch. 3



                                                          FINAL EXAM


Wednesday December 12th,  9:00 – 11:15 PM

Lib 114





At the completion of RELG231, students will be able to articulate the core features of multiple religious traditions founded in Ancient India as demonstrated by Speaking accurately about the central ideas of multiple Indian traditions.


At the completion of RELG231, students will be able to explain the historical and cultural context of the major traditions of Ancient India as demonstrated by Making accurate statements regarding the emergence and historical embededness of multiple and major traditions in Ancient India.


At the completion of RELG231, students will be able to explain both historical and cultural aspects of major traditions in Ancient India as demonstrated by Analyzing the influence of historical and cultural phenomena upon the formation of traditions fin Ancient India.


At the completion of RELG231, students will be able to use the vocabulary of Indological Studies or specific religious traditions to articulate the nature of ecstatic cults and possession in India as demonstrated by Speaking and writing about Ancient Indian religions in such a way that draw on the Indological vocabulary of Religious Studies.


At the completion of RELG231, students will be able to use appropriate sources in discussions of Indian religious traditions and phenomena as demonstrated by Integrating the central ideas of scholarly articles in class discussions.




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