Final Exam Medium-Length Essay Questions


Two of the questions below will appear, exactly as are, on the final exam.  I will choose the two randomly and together they will be worth nearly 50% of the total exam score.  You will be asked to write for approximately 20 minutes on each.  Preparing full, detailed, and accurate responses to these questions will help with other parts of the exam as well.




The Questions


1.    How do we need to live our lives before we can follow the advanced path to liberation?  Why is this necessary?  Answer from the standpoint of Patanjali’s ashtangayoga the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path; then compare.

2.    Identify and broadly characterize the world-maintaining and world-renouncing traditions of India.  Describe their emergence and interaction in history (be specific).

3.    Describe and illustrate the paradoxical nature of Lord Siva and then compare this with Lord Visnu and the Goddess. 

4.    Fundamentally, who are we as human beings and why do we suffer?  Answer from the standpoints of Jainism, Buddhism, and Vedanta.  Then compare.

5.    The traditions that come to be called “Hinduism” begin with early Vedic religion and continue through the Vedantic and Bhakti traditions.  Throughout this history we see changes in (a) the dominant notion of ultimate being and power (i.e., the divine), and (b) ideas about how we can know and relate to this being.  Characterize these changes and locate them historically.


In your essays, it is 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 (spelling counts);

(c) clarify concepts whenever you refer to them