RELS 101



For this exam you will choose two topics – one from the Hinduism topic list and one from the Buddhism topic lists below.   Your responses must be typed in essay format – that is, no lists, outlines, bullets.  Your responses should be about 250-350 words in length.  You should not need to go over this length. 

Your responses should be typed in Times New Roman 12 font and single spaced.  You do not need a title page. Grammar and mechanics will be part of the final grade consideration.


As you will be citing material from the text (do not use outside sources) or from lecture you do not need a works cited page but you do need to use in text citations for quotations.  Quotations need to be clearly indicated as such.  While quotes are good here and there the bulk of your answers must be your own wording.  Retyping the wording from the text is plagiarism and zero credit will be given for the exam as a whole.

You will submit your exam in Blackboard using the assignment link provided in the Tests/Quizzes section in the Essay exams file folder.  You will find not only the link for submission but you will also see the attached assignment parameters.  Do not e-mail your exam and do not copy and paste your response in the submission box. 


Exam one due Wednesday, July 10 by 10:00 pm.




Topic One: Five distinct liberal movements began in the 19th century in India as a response to the teachings of Christian missionaries and education offered in Western history and science (see page 122 and following of the text – Reactions to Western Religion and Science). Compare and contrast two of these movements with reference to the following: the founder, key tenets or beliefs, religious and political activity.  After you have done this, respond briefly to the author’s statement on page 122 that Hinduism is “one of the most liberal and one of the most conservative religions.”  What have you learned about Hinduism so far, from both lecture and your reading of the section of the text that would seem to support that statement?

Topic Two: In the section, Social Reform (p 126), there are five areas of social change and reform described: Caste problems, Child marriage and widowhood, population problems, political change, religious liberalism and reaction.  Choose two of these areas of change and address the following: the historical basis of the existing social problem, the nature of the problem itself (e.g., what are the living conditions of the untouchables, etc.), and the changes that are developing in the area you have chosen.  If there is a specific religious or political leader associated with the change, you will want to mention them as well.

Topic Three: The Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita teach that our inner Self is the Atman – which is the divine within.  This divine Brahman is, in turn, within all things: the Brahman-Atman.  First, compare this notion with the Buddhist Annatta or no-soul concept.  Which of these concepts makes the most sense to you (if you had to choose one)?  Why?  Finally, what do you think might be some advantages, ethically speaking, of understanding everything in terms of Brahman-Atman?


Topic One: In the teachings of the Buddha, we see an emphasis on human psychological issues, not metaphysical philosophy. The psychology of desire was the focus of his Great Enlightenment. The Buddha rejected speculative philosophy as a way of liberation. Psychological analysis shaped the Buddha's ethical teachings, as in the Three Marks of Existence. Why do you think the Buddha focused on psychology instead of philosophy? How do you think this focus affected the spread of Buddhism throughout India and the world?

Topic Two: In the textbook section, Buddhism Today (p 203), the author indicates the Buddhism has been experiencing a revival in southern Asia and Japan.  What are the reasons the author gives for this revival?   What is it about the basic teachings of Buddhism that make it so appealing in the US – in your point of view?  In answering this second question, please refer directly to specific teachings.  Finally, on pages 205-208 there are five countries experiencing Buddhist revival.  Choose one and discuss the unique part Buddhism plays in your chosen country.  If there are prominent Buddhist religious and political leaders you will want to reference them.

Topic Three: Setting Buddhism aside for a second, what do you think we mean in our culture when we talk about “pain and suffering?”  Looking at the text and lecture notes, what does Buddhism mean by suffering?  What are the similarities and differences between the two descriptions? Each of the several Mahayana schools we discussed has their unique means by which we can overcome suffering and attain nirvana. Which of the Mahayana schools seems to you to be the most difficult to follow?  The easiest?  Finally, what do you think seems to be more religiously substantial – imitating the founder of a religion or depending on compassion from a deity?