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Martha G. Newman, Chair BUR 529, Mailcode A3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-7737

Fall 2005

R S 302 • History of Religions of Asia

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43405 MWF
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
utc 3.102

Course Description

This is a survey course of the major religious traditions of Asia. The approach will be quasi-historical. The main focus will be on the beliefs, practices, rituals, and customs of several major religions in social context. The course will combine lectures with numerous multimedia presentations to illustrate the readings and lecture instruction. We shall start with South Asia and its long standing religions of the Hindus, Jains, and the Buddhists. We shall also inquire into the more recent religions, either imported such as Islam, or newly developed religions in response to the needs for revitalization, for example, Sikhism. Spread of Buddhism from India to the rest of Asia will take us into Tibet and then into China. Considering the vast expanses of China and its long existence, we shall also examine several of the religious traditions that are of Chinese making, such as Taoism, Confucianism, as well as Chinese Buddhism. Japan is another country which has adopted Buddhism and developed it according to its own understanding and needs. In this context, we shall study Zen Buddhism, with a brief look at the Japanese religion called Shinto. We shall also briefly "visit" other Asian countries and examine the kinds of Buddhism, people of those countries practise. We shall view the beliefs and practices in parts of South East Asia which have adopted Hinduism and transformed it into their own religion. Most Asian countries have several major religions well alive side by side, which requires considerable religious tolerance. A discussion on religious tolerance or its absence (see communalism in India) will form the last topic of the course

Grading Policy

Midterm 30% Final 30% Two quizzes 10% ea. Oral presentation or paper 20%


Oxtoby, Willard G. (ed.) World Religions: Eastern Traditions Other readings TBA


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