RELG 231:

Religions of India

 

Professor: Daniel Meckel

          Office: Anne Arundel 110C. Ext. 4464

          Email: djmeckel@smcm.edu

          Office hours: Fridays 11:00-12:00 PM

Teaching Assistant: Will Frye
          Email:
cwfrye@smcm.edu

 

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.

 

HISTORICAL TIMELINE

The Story of India

http://www.pbs.org/thestoryofindia/timeline

 

Required Texts:

Wood, Michael  India

Koller, John  The Indian Way: An Introduction to the Philosophies and Religions of India


 

Course Schedule

 

 

Topics
Readings and Assignments



 

Sept 1: Introduction to the Course

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

                      Week 1

 

Sept 22:

HISTORY I: 60,000 BCE to 500 BCE

The Story of India: Beginnings

 

 

 

 

Download Map Exercises(th)

 

 

THE VEDIC TRADITIONS OF THE BRAHMANS

Early Veda: Maintaining the World through Proper Ritual and Righteous Action

Week 2

Sept 8:

I.  The Indus Valley Civilization

II. The Aryans and Vedic religion

 

·        Koller, Ch. 2

 

 

Sept 10: Vedas and the fire sacrifice

 

·        Koller, Ch. 3

 

Late Veda (Vedanta): Striving for Liberation by Renouncing the World

Week 3

Sept 15:

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

          II. The quest for liberation

 

·        Koller, Ch. 4

 

QUIZ 1

 

 

Ways of Life in Hindu Society

 Sept 17: 

          I.  Dharma and Moksha: The dynamic
                    tension in Hindu life and society

 

·        Koller, Ch. 5

 

 

Week 4

 

Sept 22:

HISTORY II: 500 BCE to 200 BCE

The Story of India: The Power of Ideas

Wood, Ch. 2

 

 

         

JAINISM AND BUDDHISM

 

The Jaina Path of Perfection

 

Sept 24 The Beginnings of Jainism

 

·        Koller, Ch. 6

 

QUIZ 2

 

 

Week 5

Sept 29: The Jaina Worldview

·        Padmanabhav (e-res)

 

 

The Way of the Buddha

 

Oct 1: Buddha and the

          Conditions of Suffering

·        Koller, Ch. 7, pp.128-149

 

QUIZ 3

 

 

Week 6

Oct 6: The Cessation of Suffering and the

                   Path to Enlightenment

 

·        Koller, Ch. 7, pp.149-161

 

 

Oct 8:  Yoga

 

·        Koller, Ch. 8

 

Week 7

 Oct 13: No Class (Fall Reading Days)

                           

 

 

Oct 15:  MIDTERM EXAM  (Bring Blue Books)

 

 

 

THE HINDU EPICS AND DEVOTIONALISM

Week 8

 

 

 

Sept 22:

HISTORY III: 300 BCE to 1000 CE

The Story of India: Ages of Gold

Wood, Ch. 4

 

 

 

Oct. 20: HISTORY: 300 BCE to 1000 CE

 

The Story of India:

Ages of Gold

 

·        Wood, Ch. 4

Oct 22: Mahabharata and

                   The Bhagavad Gita

·         Koller, Ch. 9 

 

 

Week 9

Oct 27:  The Ramayana

Oct 29: Bhakti (1)


          I.  Devotional Hinduism

          II. Lord Krishna

·        Koller, Ch. 10

 

QUIZ 4

  

Week 10

Nov 3: No Class: All Day Advising

 

 

Nov 5:  Bhakti (2)

          I.  Lord Siva

          II. The Goddess Traditions

 

·        Koller, Ch. 11

 

ISLAM IN INDIA

Week 11

Nov 10: History: 1100 CE to 1700 CE

 

The Story of India:

The Meeting of Two Oceans

 

·        Wood, Ch. 5

 

QUIZ 5

 

Nov 12: The Coming of Islam to India

 

·        Koller, Ch. 14

 

 

Week 12

 Nov 17: Sufism

·        Handouts

Nov 19: The Sufi Traditions in India

 

 

                   Week 13

Nov 24: Discussion

 

 

 

  

Happy Thanksgiving!  

THE SIKHS

Week 14

Dec 1: Sikh History

 

·        Koller, Ch. 15

 

QUIZ 6

Dec 3:  Sikh Doctrine and Practice

 

 

 

 

 

COLONIALISM AND FREEDOM

                   Week 15

Dec 8: History: 1700 CE to 2009 CE

 

The Story of India:

Freedom

 

·        Wood, Ch. 6

 

QUIZ 7

 

Dec 10:  The British Presence

                   and India’s Response

·        Koller, Ch. 16

 

                                                              FINAL EXAM

December  16, 7:00 PM -9:15 PM

 

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:
Self-Quizzes:
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 (60 points, 2 per exercise) 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 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 unexcused 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).