Asian Religions

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Write two separate 800–1,000-word essays responding to the two prompts below. The goal of this assignment is not to create a normative view of what Asian religions should be, but a descriptive and analytical view of what they have been historically and in the modern period. Your essays should attempt to capture as much of the scope of the materials from this course as possible.

You will not need to conduct outside research for your essays. You should find enough material from our readings over the semester to provide sufficient evidence. You must make use of at least five (or more) different texts from the class readings for each essay. It behooves you to keep these varied, and not overlap as much as possible. You may also refer to multimedia sources in your essay, but they will not count as part of the required five texts. Support your argument by giving evidence from both primary and secondary sources.

  • Submit your assignment as one attachment (in MS Word format) that contains both essays. Make sure to name your file:
  • Your essays should be double-spaced in twelve-point Times New Roman font (or something similar), with no more than a one-inch margin all around.
  • Include a title page with your name, date, course title, assignment title, and Honor Code pledge. Papers without the Honor Code attached will not receive a grade.
  • Use MLA or Chicago citation style, with a bibliography of all works cited at the end of each essay (not included in word count).

Make sure to include a thesis statement and to follow proper essay structure (for the second option), with topic sentences at the start of every paragraph and a “so-what” sentence at the end of each paragraph. Include an introduction/hook and a conclusion.

  1. What are ways in which Asian religions both converge and diverge from one another? Begin by discussing the term “Asian religions” and argue if it is (or is not) a useful term that can be applied to the religious traditions we have examined during the semester and provide your own definition of what Asian religions are. Using the definition you have set out as a starting point, then choose two different religions we have discussed this term and compare and contrast them. Form an argument about whether they share more in common or if they are mainly different from one another. You will be arguing whether the term “Asian religions” especially as you have defined it is a useful term that can be used for the religions you chose and broadly applied to others we have studied. Consider also whether or not there are underlying themes that connect the religions. The best answers will be precise and thoughtful in coming up with a definition of Asian religions and carefully relate to it throughout the essay.
  2. In this course, we have spent time examining Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Sikhism, including their doctrines, primary source texts, and ways in which modern practitioners apply the religions to their daily lives. Based on your readings, what are some ways the practices of believers has differed or does differ from practices or beliefs professed in their sacred scriptures? Do practitioners always follow their religious teachings to the word? What are ways in which practitioners embody and adapt their religious beliefs to the modern world? The best answers will be specific regarding the religions discussed and the practices highlighted, and may choose to highlight a particular type of practice (such as rituals, sacrifices, festivals, clothing, or food, to name but a few ideas).

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