The purpose of this course is to introduce the religious traditions of Asia, with a primary focus on the Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, Confucian, Daoist, and Shinto traditions (people, events, ideas, and texts)

history

Description

Introduction to

Asian Religions 


Columbia College • Fall 2019

Casey Collins, MA 

[email protected]


                                     


Course Description

The purpose of this course is to introduce the religious traditions of Asia, with a primary focus on the Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, Confucian, Daoist, and Shinto traditions (people, events, ideas, and texts), along with a secondary focus on Islam, folk traditions, and new religions in Asia, which have all played major roles in the history and cultures of Asia and beyond. The course is structured around key theoretical approaches to religious studies, which students will learn to recognize and use analytically. The course will also introduce key aspects of religion: ritual, history, hagiography, cosmology, text, and community. 

In each unit of this course we will survey the beginnings, development, and modern continuance of a religious tradition. One of the core themes of the course is the tension between belief and practice, and related issues of individual goals vs. social life in each tradition. Another important theme is plurality and change over time. While it is difficult to fully explore the diversity of a single tradition, let alone over one dozen, in a course of thirteen weeks, special attention will be given to highlighting these themes in each tradition.

Upon successful completion of the course, students will have a basic familiarity with the major Asian religious traditions and key concepts in religious studies. Students will be able to discuss Asian religions in the context of the academic discipline of religious studies, with special attention to material culture and historical and sociological methods. Students will encounter primary religious texts in translation, encyclopedia-style articles, and academic essays in addition to the course text. Students will demonstrate their knowledge in class discussion, through a course-long exploration project, written tests (multiple-choice, true-false, and short essay), and a cumulative final exam. 


Course Outline


UNIT ONE :  THE VEDIC TRADITIONS

• Introduction 

• Indus Valley Civilization & Vedic Religion

• Upaniṣad and Manusmṛti 

• Epics and Devotion  

UNIT TWO :  THE NON-VEDIC TRADITIONS — JAINISM AND BUDDHISM

• The Life of Mahavira 

• Jain Beliefs and Practices

• Buddha: The Life of Gautama Buddha 

• Dharma: The Teachings of Gautama Buddha

• Sangha: The Disciples of Gautama Buddha


MIDTERM


UNIT THREE : ISLAM AND SIKHISM

• Islam: A Very Brief Introduction

• Sikh Beginnings: The Life of Guru Nanak and the Ten Gurus

• Sikh Developments

UNIT FOUR : CHINESE AND KOREAN TRADITIONS

• Early China 

• Confucianism and Daoism

• Korean Shamanism


UNIT FIVE : JAPANESE TRADITIONS

• Shintō and Shugendō

• Buddhism in Japan 

• New Religions in Japan

 

FINAL EXAM




Prerequisites: C+ or higher in English 098 

Required Text: World Religions: Eastern Traditions, Oxtoby, et al. (2014). 



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