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.    Define and compare the notions of ananda and lila as they apply to the nature of the divine in the Krishna literature.  Illustrate the ways in which each is expressed in the stories of Krishna, using multiple examples.  Then describe the forms of devotional relationship appropriate to each.

2.    Briefly define the “lively tension” (a la Kinsley) between dharma-focused traditions and moksha-focused traditions in Hindu history.  Illustrate two ways in which this tension is resolved through syntheses in the Classical Period.

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

4.    Compare the Buddhist and Jain visions of liberation.  Then discuss the ways in which these different visions require different means to their attainment.

5.    Unpack the notions of Darshan, Rasa, and Mantra.  Then illustrate and compare the ways in which each notion points to a different experience of the sacred in India


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 (spelling counts);

(c) clarify concepts whenever you refer to them