Final Exam Medium-Length Essay Questions


Each question that follows is quite general.  It could be asked to you by any intelligent person who wants to know more about religion in India.  As someone who has now studied the major religious traditions of India, you are asked to give scholarly answers to these general questions.  Do not let their generality lead you to give equally general answers.


In your essays, it is thus very important that you:

(a) be specific about sub-traditions, movements, sects, texts, persons, historical events and periods -- even if the question doesn’t specify them.  For example, it is too general to refer to “Hinduism” as one tradition;

(b) use terms appropriately and accurately throughout your answers;

(c) clarify concepts, and

(d) refer to texts when possible


Two of these questions will appear, exactly as are, on the final exam.  They will be chosen randomly and will be worth 50 points each.  You will be asked to write for approximately 20 minutes on each.  Your answers should draw from the assigned readings, lecture materials, and videos.



The Questions


1.    Discuss the significance of (1) sound, (2) sight, and (3) performance, as ways of knowing the Divine in the Hindu traditions.  Compare with other Indian traditions when possible.

2.    Compare the ways in which a Sikh, Buddhist, and Jain might answer this question: What is the ultimate aim of religious life and how do I achieve it? Be sure that you make comparative statements and do not simply present three separate answers to the question.

3.    Describe the nature and sources of mystical experience and practice in Hinduism and Islam as found in India.  Discuss their similarities and differences.


4.    Sikhism has both mystical and worldly aspects.  Describe these and, from a scholarly viewpoint, discuss the sources of each.

5.    Compose and answer a focused question that requires comparison between Hindu, Sikh, and Jain practice.