RS 1B06 World Religions 2012-13 Prof. A.M. Pearson
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW and TUTORIAL DISCUSSION (Term One only)
In addressing the following questions for tutorial discussion and review purposes, make reference to the
lectures, any films, supplementary material and Jakobsh text in particular. These questions are helpful
preparation for the quizzes and the exam.
(1) Definitions of Hinduism: Why is Hinduism particularly difficult to define and encapsulate?
(2) The Earliest Stage of Indian Religion: What is noteworthy about the ancient Indus Valley
Civilization (or ‘Harappan’) and its (possible) contribution to features of later Hinduism?
(3) The Religion of the Vedas: Who were the “Indo-Europeans”? What are the origins of the Vedas?
What were the chief features of Vedic religion? What is the role of the Vedic gods? How and why do
humans worship them?
(4) The Upanishads: What are the Upanishads? What were some of the questions posed during this
period and in these texts? What alternatives to Vedic ritual did they offer?
(5) Brahman and Atman: Define the terms Brahman and Atman and discuss how the Upanishads
attempt to explain the relationship of Atman to Brahman.
(6) Karma: What is the Hindu doctrine of karma? Explain the relationship between karma and rebirth.
Discuss the benefits and liabilities of embracing such a view as karma and rebirth.
(7) Moksha: What is moksha? How does detaching oneself from pleasure and pain relate to the
attainment of moksha?
(8) Yoga and meditation: What does the term ‘yoga’ refer to? Why are there different types of yoga?
(compare Hatha, Raja, and Kundalini). What are their purposes? [Be aware that the way the term ‘yoga’
is used in the Bhagavad Gita differs somewhat from the way it is used when referring to one of the above
types of yoga.] Why would Patanjali's eight steps in his Yogasutras include ethical precepts? How do
these practices work together for the end goal?
(9) The Bhagavad Gita: Review the summary of key teachings of the BG. What are the “three ways to
liberation” explained in this text?
(10) The Caste System: What are the five main social classes found in India? How is this system
justified in Hinduism? Does this division of society have parallels with other cultures?
(11) The Stages of Life: Highlight the four stages of life shaped by the ancient upper-caste ideal. How
do women and lower castes fit into this schema?
(12) The Four Aims (purusartha): What are the four aims/goals according to the Dharmashastras, and
how do they relate to stage in life and caste? What are women’s ‘duties’? 2
(13) Devotional Hinduism and Hindu Gods:
(a) How is bhakti expressed in the poems/songs of the ‘saints’ both from South India (the Alvars and the
Nayanmars) like Appar, and from North India (the bhaktas) like Mirabai? How is bhakti expressed in
other Hindu religious literature?
(b) What is puja? Who officiates? Where? What are the elements in a puja?
(c) Which major gods constitute the Trimurti and what interlinked forces do they represent?
(d) What is the avatara concept and how does it relate to the figures of Rama and Krishna? Who is
Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita?
(e) Describe and analyze some of the features and symbols associated with Shiva. How does he differ
from other gods? (What are the symbols associated with Vishnu?)
(f) Explain the concept of a female consort of a deity. If there are goddesses in Hinduism, why has
women’s religious/social status been lower than men’s?
(1) Who is the founder of Sikhism? What are the significant events recorded about his life, especially in
the Janam Sakhi literature?
(2) What are its most authoritative texts? How is the “holy book” treated in the Sikh tradition?
(3) Who are the Sikh gurus and what roles did they play in the formation of Sikh identity and traditions?
(4) What is the Khalsa? Who can be a member? How?
(5) What are the “five Ks” and their significance? What issues have arisen in Canada around them?
(6) How do Sikh teachings bear similarity to or depart from Hindu (and Muslim) ones?
(1) The Life of the Buddha: Outline the Buddha’s life according to the legends. What were the ‘four
sights’? What happened under the Bodhi tree? What was the Buddha’s last advice to his disciples?
(2) The Basic Teachings of Buddhism:
(a) What was the Buddha’s first sermon about? What is meant by the Buddha’s “noble silence” (on
metaphysical questions), that is, what kind of questions did the Buddha leave “undeclared” and why?
What were the most important questions about existence on which the Buddha concentrated? What facets
of Indian Vedic belief and practice did early Buddhist literature reject? And why?
(b) The Four Noble Truths: (i) What kind of suf