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RELS309 The Body in Asian Religions

An examination of some of the ways in which body, gender and sexuality are constructed and practiced in cultures dominated by Hindu and Buddhist ideals.

The paper will examine the confluence of Asian religious and academic concerns with the body through consideration of technologies of the body (such as asceticism, yoga, semen retention, dismemberment and remembering of the body in ritual), idealised representations of the body (as heroic or divine), the role of the body as both vehicle for and hindrance to spiritual progress, and the religious significance of different bodies (male, female, 'other'). The paper will also critically examine the way representations of Asian religions in the West, both within and beyond the academy, have been dominated by a fascination with bodily practices such as sati, yoga and meditation.

Paper title The Body in Asian Religions
Paper code RELS309
Subject Religious Studies
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) First Semester, First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $913.95
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,073.40

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18 200-level RELS or RELX points
RELS 209, RELX 209, RELX 309
Schedule C
Arts and Music, Theology
(i) May not be credited together with RELS 233 or 333 passed in 2005. (ii) Students who have not passed the normal prerequisite may be admitted with approval from the Head of Department.

Dr Lina Verchery

Teaching staff

Dr Lina Verchery

Paper Structure
The paper is divided into six modules:
  • Hindu bodies
  • The body as instrument
  • Regulated bodies
  • Buddhist bodies
  • Bodhisattva bodies
  • 'Other' bodies
  • Essay 1 - 25%
  • Essay 2 (2,000 words) - 25%
  • Exam (three hours) - 50%
Teaching Arrangements

On campus: Two 1-hour lectures per week
Distance: Online discussion

A coursebook containing lecture notes and readings is available for this paper. Printed copies will be available through the printshop. The coursebook is also available as a PDF through Blackboard.
Course outline
View a sample course outline for RELS 309
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Information literacy.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to demonstrate
  • A sound factual knowledge of the treatment of issues relating to gender in Hinduism and Buddhism
  • An awareness of both diversity and uniformity in religious teachings and practices
  • An understanding of the social causes and consequences of the construction of gender and sexuality in religious thought

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First Semester

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

First Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Tuesday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22
Thursday 11:00-11:50 9-13, 15-22