TERM PAPER PROMPT RLST 005: Comparative and Interactional Aspect of Religion


The paper compares and contrasts two religions or two religious groups in terms of beliefs, scriptures, or practices.

Introduction to Asian Religions

The paper should be between 4-5 pages in length, double-spaced, 12 pt, and in letter paper

Your paper will be graded in terms of the following criteria:

I. Accuracy of Facts/ Comprehension of Materials II. Clarity and Coherency of Ideas III. Sophistication of Argument IV.   Quality of Presentation/ Writing Etiquette

Your paper will get a maximum of 40 points. Please the attached evaluation sheet below as your cover page. Your paper counts as 20 % the total

In a good paper, you address a question, make a thesis statement, draw on appropriate and reliable sources, demonstrate a good grasp of the claims, put claims and ideas in your own words or make good quotations with citations, and draw on evidence you have assembled to sustain And you make a good conclusion.

Regarding sources, please use the textbook, the additional readings posted on iLearn, and/or books and journal articles available at the Rivera

Your teaching assistants and instructor will guide you in how to write a good Please also make use of the available office hours, email consultations, or face-to-face meetings by appointment.

Comparative and Interactional Aspect of Religion

Compare and contrast two religions or two religious groups in terms of beliefs, scriptures, or practices.

For example,

  1. What are the main conceptions of deity in Hinduism and Buddhism? How is it that many Hindus describe themselves as monotheistic? How is it that many Buddhists describe themselves as non-theistic?
  2. How do Hindus and Buddhists define and understand karma and samsara? Are they different in understanding karma and samsara?
  3. How do Jains and Hindus envision moksa? Are they different in understanding final liberation?
  4. How do you explain the concept of human soul according to Hinduism and Buddhism?
  5. How do Buddhists understand the Buddha and how do Jains understand Mahavira?
  6. What role do scriptures play in Hinduism and Buddhism?

Compare the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and the 14th Dalai Lama in the modern world?

  1. How different is asceticism in Hinduism and Jainism?
  2. Why are Jains divided into Svetambara and Digambara sects? What are some of the differences between Svetambara and Digambara Jainism?
  3. What are the positions of women as understood in Hinduism and Jainism, in Hinduism and Buddhism, or in Sikhism and Islam?
  4. How does the life of the Buddha compare with the leader of another religious tradition?
  5. What values do Confucianism and Taoism share? What sets them apart?
  6. What are the similarities and differences between classical and Neo-Confucianism? What accounts for their differences?
  7. What are points of tension and convergence between Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism?

 The Role of Place and Context in Religion

One of the reasons for religious plurality in Asia and beyond is place. You will analyze what role place plays in shaping particular religious beliefs, rituals, and social norms. The notion “place” may include geography and physical environment, ethnicity, social norms, economy, politics, and culture.

For example,

  1. What factors have shaped the emergence of different religions in Asia? Why have religions become so diverse in the region?
  2. How did the Indus valley population and the Aryans influence the shape of Hinduism?
  3. What is the role of natural environment in Hindu beliefs in deities?
  4. Do you think that Guru Nanak intended to establish a new religion, independent of Hindu and Muslim traditions? What is the evidence in his works?
  5. What factors shaped the rise of Mahayana Buddhism in relation to the Theravada Buddhism?
  6. How and why does Confucianism emerge and develop in China and why Shinto in Japan?
  7. How and why is Chinese religion “syncretic”?
  8. What is the role of natural phenomena and culture in shaping Taoism?
  9. What are some of the ways in which expressions of Hinduism (Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, or Islam) in the diaspora (such as in the U.S.) differ from expressions in Asian countries?
  10. How and why has Islam become another Asian religion?

Dimensions of Change in

For example,

  1. How did Hinduism change from the Vedic era to the modern times?
  2. Do you think that the caste system has changed in India today? Why?
  3. How did Sikhism evolve in response to changing historical circumstances during the time of the ten Gurus?
  4. How did modern Sikhism come into being? What role did the Sing Sabha reform movement play in defining Sikh doctrine and practice?
  5. Do you think that Buddhism has changed since the time of Sakyamuni Buddha Gautama? Why?
  6. How did yinyang and social harmony become a crucial religious ethics among Confucians and Taoists?
  7. How have Chinese religious traditions tried to “modernize” themselves?
  8. What role did religion play in the creation of a “modern Japan”?
  9. What aspects of Islam have persisted from its birth to the present day and what have changed?

Key Concepts in Religion

For example,

  1. What is Brahman? And what is Atman? What is the relationship between Brahman and Atman? What is the relationship between Brahman and deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, and the Goddess?

Arhat and Boddhisattva,

  1. What is moksha? Explain the three ways to moksha discussed in the Bhagavad Gita?
  2. What is Puja? How do Hindus perform puja? How do they understand gods or goddesses in puja? What role does puja play in Hindu societies?
  3. What is Ahimsa? How did Mahatma Gandhi interpret Ahimsa?
  1. How do Sikhs understand Guru?
  2. What is “engaged Buddhism”? Why and how do Buddhists become “engaged”?
  3. What is the role of the Guru Granth Sahib in Sikh life?
  4. Why is the practice of kirtan (devotional singing) central to Sikh congregational worship?
  5. What role has the institution of the gurdwara played in the Sikh diaspora?
  6. What are the Four Noble Truths? Why is the doctrine of suffering central in Buddhism?
  7. Who are the “New Confucians”? What issues are they addressing? What are their goals?
  8. Discuss two of Japan’s most popular bodhisattvas and some of their powers to help human beings in the moments of crisis.
  9. What are some of the contributions of Zen Buddhism to Japanese culture? Be sure to reference both aesthetic and political aspects.
  10. What are the Pillars of Islam? Why do Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan? What are the impacts of fasting on a Muslim life?
  11. Why are Muslims from all over the world, including Asia, performing a pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca in Arabia? What are the impacts of the pilgrimage on a Muslim life?
  12. Have religious traditions helped or harmed the environment? Give your evidence.
  13. What are some of the points of intersection of religion and politics? Please provide one or two examples

4 Pages


5 References