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RELS212 Love and Heroism: Religions of South India

Examines the themes of love and heroism in three religious traditions indigenous to South India (Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism) and the enculturation of Christianity and Islam in South India.

This paper examines how the distinctive culture of South India has shaped the major religions of India. The first half of the paper will focus on Hinduism, exploring the roots of the kind of passionate devotion to gods and goddesses that has become the primary form of Hindu religious practice. Temples, theologies and the caste system all developed differently in the south. We then turn to Buddhism and Jainism, which flourished in South India in an often combative relationship with Hinduism and have left their mark on southern culture in the form of literature and architecture. In more recent times, South India has also been the site of encounters between Muslims, Christians and Hindus, and the paper concludes by considering how Islam and Christianity have been accommodated in the religious landscape of South India.

Paper title Love and Heroism: Religions of South India
Paper code RELS212
Subject Religious Studies
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2020, expected to be offered in 2021
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $904.05
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,954.75

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36 points
RELS 312, RELX 212, RELX 312
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology
Associate Professor Will Sweetman:
Teaching staff
Lecturer: Associate Professor Will Sweetman
Paper Structure
This paper is divided into five modules:
  • Introducing South Indian Hinduism
  • Village and temple Hinduism
  • The heterodoxies: Jain and Buddhist traditions
  • Christianity and Islam
  • Shared spaces: Christians, Muslims and Hindus
  • Essay outline - 5%
  • Essay (2,500 words) - 35%
  • Exam (three hours) - 60%
Teaching Arrangements
For on-campus students there are two 1-hour lectures per week.

For distance students there are fortnightly tutorials (via Otago Connect).
A coursebook has been developed for this paper and will be available in print and PDF form.
Course outline
View sample course outline for RELS212
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 this paper will have gained
  • A sound knowledge of the historical development in South India of three Indic religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism) and the enculturation of two other religions (Christianity and Islam) in South India
  • An understanding of the cultural context of South India, in particular the cankam literature and its enduring influence upon religion in South India.
  • An awareness of the primary themes of love and heroism in these religious traditions and the cankam literary conventions that have shaped them.

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Not offered in 2020, expected to be offered in 2021

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