The Religions of India
Thursday, November 15
You may choose
one of the following three topics for your final 10-page term paper,
though you are encouraged to explore a topic of your own choosing. In
either case, a brief statement that identifies your topic and explains
how you intend to pursue it will be due at the beginning of week 7
(Tuesday, October 23); I will also be happy to meet with you
individually to provide further guidance at any stage of the process.
1. The varnasrama-dharma
system has had a tremendous impact on the development of Indian
civilization. Describe the essential
features of the system and then explain its significance as the
foundation of “traditional” Indian society.
Do you think that varnasrama-dharma has played a
negative, or mixed role in defining the social and religious framework
pre-modern India? Can this system
maintain a meaningful role in present-day India, or is it in
conflict with the values of “modernity”?
2. Do a
comparative analysis of one Indian and one Judeo-Christian religious
tradition. Your examination should include
discussion of the similarities and differences both within and between
the “Eastern” and “Western” traditions and should work towards
statement that explains how the “comparative” approach has contributed
overall understanding of religion.
the term “Hinduism” is commonly used to refer to the primary religious
tradition of the Indian people, it should be noted that this use of the
arose during the modern era in response to a perceived need to
“dominant” tradition from others, such as Islam, Sikhism, Jainism,
and Christianity. Given the broad range
of “Hindu” responses to fundamental issues—such as whether the Vedas
“revealed” texts, whether ritual is necessary for salvation, and
ultimate reality should be understood in theistic or non-dualistic
argue that the term “Hinduism” is in fact meaningless.
On the other hand, one might also argue that
despite the diversity of the Hindu traditions, there is some underlying
“essence” that ties them all together.
Do you agree with either position, or would you propose a
|Since this is intended to be a research paper,
you must provide at least five “print” sources in addition to the texts that
are required for the course; you may also use web-sources if you so choose,
though you are discouraged from relying on them too heavily, as many web-sites
provide superficial, biased and/or incorrect information. Please note that you are required to provide
appropriate citations for both direct and indirect quotations using “Chicago” style footnotes and bibliography (for a summary
style, go to the “Bibliography” link on the course home page). Plagiarism is a very serious offense, so
if you have any doubts regarding what does or does not constitute plagiarism,
please refer to the “Plagiarism” link on my home page. I strongly recommend that you become familiar
with the boundaries of academic honesty…and don’t attempt to transgress
them. Essays that contain significant
instances of plagiarism will receive a 0 and be reported to the Office of
Academic Affairs in accordance with college policy.