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    The ancient origins, classical traditions and contemporary forms of Hinduism and Buddhism including Hindu mythology, teachings of the Buddha, religious disciplines such as yoga and meditation, expression of devotion in art and architecture, spread of Indian religions to the West.

    Perhaps a quarter of the world's population can be described as either Hindu or Buddhist, and many more live in cultures that have been deeply influenced by these religious traditions over the past two-to-three thousand years. However, to many people, Hinduism and Buddhism remain exotic, unfamiliar faiths. What do Hindus do? Who was the Buddha? Why are there so many deities? What is enlightenment? This paper explores these questions and many others. We will examine the ways in which Hinduism and Buddhism are intertwined with Asian culture, society and history, and we will ask questions about the relationships between Asian religions and 'the West'. In studying these religions, we look closely at myths and rituals, texts and cosmologies, devotion and meditation, gods and goddesses, heavens and hells, morality and transgression, reality and rebirth, suffering and ultimate liberation.

    About this paper

    Paper title Introduction to Hinduism and Buddhism
    Subject Religious Studies
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period(s) Semester 1 (Distance learning)
    Semester 1 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    RELX 102
    Schedule C
    Arts and Music, Theology

    Professor Ben Schonthal:

    Teaching staff

    Lecturers: Professor Will Sweetman and Professor Ben Schonthal

    Paper Structure
    The paper devotes equal time to Hinduism and to Buddhism. It also includes formal instruction in essay writing for Religious Studies.

    • Glossary 10%
    • Essay (2,000 words) 40%
    • Final exam (two hours) 50%
    Teaching Arrangements

    The Distance Learning offering of this paper is taught remotely.

    On campus there are two lectures (each one hour) per week.

    For on-campus and distance students there are eight optional tutorials (one hour; for distance students via Zoom).

    A coursebook containing lecture notes and readings is available for this paper. Printed copies will be provided for distance students and are also available through the printshop. The coursebook is also available as a PDF through Blackboard.
    Course outline
    View sample course outline for RELS102
    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy, Self-motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to:

    • Outline the historical development of Hinduism on the basis of a sound factual knowledge of its characteristic forms and key concepts
    • Relate the religious practices of Hindus to their underlying philosophical and theological ideas; discuss the issues raised by the perpetuation of the Hindu tradition in the form of new religious movements within and beyond India
    • Outline the origin and early development of Buddhism in relation to some of its central ideas and practices
    • Identify and give an account of the distinctive ideas and practices of Theravada Buddhism; discuss the development of Theravada Buddhism in modern South and Southeast Asia and its spread beyond Asia
    • Accurately use specialised terminology relevant to the different phases of Hinduism and of early and Theravada Buddhism


    Semester 1

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught through Distance Learning
    Learning management system

    Semester 1

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught On Campus
    Learning management system


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    A1 Monday 13:00-13:50 9-13, 15-22
    Wednesday 13:00-13:50 9-13, 15-22


    Stream Days Times Weeks
    Attend one stream from
    A1 Thursday 13:00-13:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22
    A2 Thursday 14:00-14:50 9-13, 15-16, 18-22
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