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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Heidi R. Pauwels
Seattle Campus


Varieties of Hindu religious practice; the diverse patterns of religious thought and action among contemporary Hindus. Includes ritual behavior, village Hinduism, tantrism, sadhus, yoga, sects, the major gods and their mythologies, religious art, and the adjustments of Hinduism to modernity. Recommended: RELIG 202 or one South Asian culture course.

Class description

INTRODUCTION TO HINDUISM This course will survey Hinduism from its beginnings to modern times, introducing the most influential cults, ideals, praxes and institutions. Developments will be studied more or less chronologically, emphasizing those aspects that are directly relevant to to current attitudes and practices.

Student learning goals

Overview of history of "Hinduism"; recognition of major iconography and stories; basic concepts and mainstream philosophies and their institutionalization; major praxes understood against worldviews

Reading, listening in original, and analysis of scripture in different contexts.

Problematize term "Hinduism"; insight in its complexity and interchange with other religions; understanding the politics behind it; debating controversial politicized issues

Application to modern cults: ability to classify source of different elements that constitute contemporary manifestations of Hinduism (cults, philosophies, praxes, art and film)

Recognition of religious elements in South Asia's popular and high arts, ranging from visual, literary, musical, dance-drama.

Recognition of multiple political agendas of sources (devotional, scholarly, political)

General method of instruction

Lecture with audio-visuals Student-led discussion Prepared class debates and presentations Student presentations on use of sources for final application paper

Recommended preparation

Recommended preparation: Relig 202 or Asian 203

Class assignments and grading

Students are expected to prepare daily readings for each class and to integrate the readings with their lecture notes after each lecture. There are weekly question assignments to help the student accomplish such, and this will be integrated into a final class portfolio. Students will participate in small-group discussion, each student will prepare and lead one discussion section during the quarter. Mid-term project: prepared debate on controversial issues or presentation on "living" Hinduism. Final paper: Analysis of a contemporary manifestation (cult/author/ text/movement..) of Hinduism in the light of what we learned in class; preceded by class presentation on sources to be used for paper.

Evaluation: class participation and weekly question sheets (25%) leading discussion section (5%) midterm project (20%) final portfolio (20%) final paper/presentation (25 + 5%) NOTE: all assignments need to be completed by due date to get credit!

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Heidi R. Pauwels
Date: 05/08/2009