RELG 231:

Religions and Cultures of India

 

Professor: Daniel Meckel

          Office: Anne Arundel 110C. Ext. 4464

          Email: djmeckel@smcm.edu

          Office hours: Tuesdays 12:00-1:00 PM

 

Course Summary

This course will provide an historical introduction to Indian Civilization in its major religious forms. We will study Hindu religions, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam and Sikhism, as these have developed, interacted, and given form to distinctive ways of life in India. We will trace the general outlines of India’s history, from pre-historical times up to the present, and learn about India’s religions and culture through historical studies, religious and philosophical texts, forms of devotion and ritual, stories of major religious figures (human and divine), and the arts.

 

Online Resource:

The Story of India:  http://www.pbs.org/thestoryofindia/timeline

 

Required Texts:

Embree,  Sourcebook of Indian Traditions, Volume 1
          Lopez,  Religions of India in Practice

Areas of Learning

Mapping

History

Terms

Image interpretation

Conceptual

Integrative

 

 

Course Schedule

 

 

Topics
Readings and Assignments

 

 

 

Jan. 18: Introduction to the Course

 

Readings and Assignments are due for
the day on which they are listed unless otherwise indicated

 

 

Jan. 20:

HISTORY I: 60,000 BCE to 500 BCE

The Story of India: Beginnings

 

 

 

Download Map Exercises(th)

 

 

BEGINNINGS: INDUS VALLEY AND THE ARYANS

Week 2

Jan. 25: The Subcontinent its Earliest Peoples

 I.  Geography of India

II.  The Indus Valley Civilization

 

·         RIP, pp.3-14

 

Jan. 27: Aryan Civilization and Early Veda

          I. The Aryans and Vedic religion

 

Video: Selections from Altar of Fire

·         SIT, ch.1 “Cosmic and Ritual Order in Vedic Literature”

 

 

Week 3

Feb. 01: The Forest Sages and Vedanta

          I.  Human suffering and the rounds of                       death and re-birth

          II. The quest for liberation

 

·        SIT, ch. 2 “The Ultimate Reality in the Upanishads”

·        Klostermaier,  “Atman and Brahman,” “Karma, Vidya, Moksha” (e-res)

 

 

 

India Today: Caste and World Renunciation

 Feb. 03: 

           I.  Varna and Jati
          II.  Sadhus

Video: Four Holy Men

 

·        Kinsley, Hindu Social Structure (e-res)

·        Flood, “Yoga and Renunciation” (e-res.): section on renunciation

 

************************

 

Week 4

Feb. 08:

HISTORY II: 500 BCE to 200 BCE

The Story of India: The Power of Ideas

 

QUIZ 1

 

 

         

JAINISM AND BUDDHISM

 

Feb. 10 The Beginnings of Jainism

 

[show video in the morning]

·        Koller, Ch. 6

 

QUIZ 2

 

 

Week 5

Feb. 15: The Jaina Worldview

·        Padmanabhav (e-res)

 

 

The Way of the Buddha

 

Feb. 17: Buddha and the

          Conditions of Suffering

·        Koller, Ch. 7, pp.128-149

 

QUIZ 3

 

 

Week 6

Feb. 22: The Cessation of Suffering and the

                   Path to Enlightenment

 

·        Koller, Ch. 7, pp.149-161

 

 

Feb. 24:  Yoga

 

·        Koller, Ch. 8

 

Week 7

 Mar. 01:

                            

 

 

Mar. 03:  MIDTERM EXAM  (Bring Blue Books)

 

 

 

Week 8

Mar. 08:

HISTORY III: 300 BCE to 1000 CE

The Story of India: Ages of Gold

 

 

 

THE HINDU EPICS AND DEVOTIONALISM

 

Mar. 10: HISTORY: 300 BCE to 1000 CE

 

The Story of India:

Ages of Gold

 

·        Wood, Ch. 4

 

Week 9

Mar. 15 & 17: Spring Break

 

 

 

Mahabharata and

                   The Bhagavad Gita

·         Koller, Ch. 9 

 

 

Week 10

Mar. 22:  The Ramayana

Mar 24: Bhakti (1)


          I.  Devotional Hinduism

          II. Lord Krishna

·        Koller, Ch. 10

 

QUIZ 4

  

Week 11

Mar. 29: No Class: All Day Advising

 

 

Mar. 31:  Bhakti (2)

          I.  Lord Siva

          II. The Goddess Traditions

 

·        Koller, Ch. 11

 

Week 12

Apr. 05:

HISTORY IV: 1100 CE to 1700 CE

The Story of India: The Meeting of Two Oceans

Wood, Ch. 5

 

 

 

ISLAM IN INDIA

 

Apr. 07: The Coming of Islam to India

·        Koller, Ch. 14

 

QUIZ 5

 

 

Week 13

Apr. 12: Sufism

·        Handouts

Apr. 14: The Sufi Traditions in India

 

 

  

THE SIKHS

Week 14

Apr. 19: Sikh History

 

·        Koller, Ch. 15

 

QUIZ 6

 

Apr. 21:  Sikh Doctrine and Practice

 

 

 

 

 

COLONIALISM AND FREEDOM

                   Week 15

Apr. 26:

HISTORY V: 1700 CE to 2011 CE

The Story of India: Freedom

Wood, Ch. 6

 

 

          Apr. 28: The British Presence

                   and India’s Response

 

·        Koller Ch. 16

 

QUIZ 7

 

 

 

                                                              FINAL EXAM

Tuesday, December  14, 9:00 AM -11:15 AM

 

Bring Blue Books

 

 

           Grading

Midterm Exam........................................................................................... 250

Final........................................................................................... 250

Map Exercises........................................................................................... 100 (50+25+25)

Video Worksheets........................................................................................... 30

Quizzes........................................................................................... 200 (top 5, 40 pts each)

Field Essays........................................................................................... 100

Participation........................................................................................... 100

 

 

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 and below = F

 

Track your progress in the class on Blackboard

  

Please Note:

v The combined scores for self- and graded-quizzes will be worth 15% of your final grade.  Thus your final grade will be influenced by how faithful you are to the reading assignments and to the review of your readings and notes from class.

v A comment on grading: If ever I find that a particular question on a test or quiz is missed by almost everyone, I will assume that it was unfair or too difficult and throw it out.  If ever you disagree with a grade, you can always come to me and protest, complain, persuade, etc.  I may or may not be convinced, but I will always listen.

v Participation: “Participation” means (1) wakeful presence, (2) preparation of reading assignments, (3) active involvement in class interactions, (4) punctual arrival at the beginning of class, and (5) completion of all in-class writing assignments.  Lack of any of these will affect the grade, excessive lack is reason for dismissal from the class.

 

Descriptions of Assignments:
In Class Writing:
these are in-class writing exercises for the purpose of anchoring your knowledge through active use of the information that you get from lectures, films and readings.  They will always receive full credit so long as they show that you are taking advantage of the opportunity and using them to learn.  I use these exercises and the graded quizzes (see below) because of research that shows convincingly that frequent quizzes are very effective in helping with recall. Also, they give me a chance to see how and whether each student is grasping the material.  Each student begins the semester with full points for the in-class exercises and I deduct two points if the assignment is either not done or dramatically incomplete. 

Graded Quizzes: There will be seven 15-minute graded quizzes.  At the end of the semester I will average only the top 5 quiz grades at 20 points each.  Questions on a quiz can cover anything from the reading assignments, video, discussion, and lectures that followed the previous quiz, and from the readings for the day of the quiz.  Graded quizzes will usually consist of short answers and definitions.  Several quizzes will include image identification. My own lecture notes and lists of terms will be posted on the “study aids” page of the web site to help you stay prepared for class discussions, quizzes and exams.  Missed quizzes receive no points. A quiz cannot be made up at any other time, regardless of the reasons for missing it.

 

Map Exercise: This assignment requires you to get familiar with the geography of the Indian sub-continent, including its especially sacred locations and features.  It will be graded for accuracy and elements of the exercise might show up on an exam.

 

Video Worksheets: You fill these out in class, after a video.  Again, I am looking here for you to use the opportunity to watch/listen actively and anchor your knowledge through writing.  Worksheets gain full points so long as the student gives a much as s/he can in responding to the question(s).

Midterm and Final Exams: The content of these exams and my criteria in grading them are described on pages linked to the “Assignments” page of the course website.

 

Other Important Info:


My Attendance Policy:
Attendance is required.  Without regular attendance, students do not tend to do well in the class.  If a student misses more than a couple of classes, I begin to register unexcused absences.  Each undocumented absence results in a 20 point reduction. A note from a doctor, dentist, coach, or funeral director will render any absence excused.  Without such a note, the absence will not be excused.  Please note that a phone call or email message saying that you are ill is not sufficient, nor is a note from the health center confirming an appointment.  I usually keep track of attendance through the in-class writing assignments (quizzes, video worksheets).  When I see that one is missing, I count it as an absence.

 

Office Hours:  My office number and hours are listed above.  Please make an appointment if you can, but feel completely free to drop by with your concerns, ideas, questions, etc.  I will always make time if I can.  If need be, we can certainly communicate by email, but in-person is always best.


Website, Online Syllabus, Email Communications, and Computer Failure. 

This online syllabus can be accessed through the Blackboard course page but I recommend that you bookmark it so as to bypass BB when it goes down.  Students are responsible for checking the online syllabus and their email every day.  I will announce any and all changes via email -- e.g., a changed deadline or altered reading assignment    Computer failure is not a valid excuse for a late assignment.  Broken or unreliable computer?  Use the computers at the college.  The syllabus is my best projection of how our time will be organized.  I might well alter the assignment schedule as seems appropriate or necessary; but I will not change the grading policies.

Academic dishonesty
in any form -- including plagiarism of self or others, falsified documentation of a doctor’s note, etc. -- will not be tolerated.  Cheating of any kind results, without exception, in an “F” for the course.


Food in class:
Drinks and snacks of the very quiet variety are allowed in class (e.g., poi, rasgula, duck pate), nothing else.

No activated cell phones in the classroom (so please turn them off).