Eastern Oregon University
Course Syllabus

Number of Course:  REL 326

Name of Course: Hinduism

Course Description: 
A survey of Hinduism, examining its complex system of doctrines, myths, rituals and spiritual practices, and its historical development.

Credit Hours:  5

Instructor: David Komito, david.komito@eou.edu, telephone office hours by arrangement

Time and place of the course: entirely online

Required Texts:  


  1. The Story of India, PBS Home Video DVD, 2008
  2. The Spiritual Heritage of India: A Clear Summary of Indian Philosophy and Religion, Prabhavananda, ISBN: 0874810353
  3. Ramakrishna and His Disciples, Isherwood, ISBN: 8185301182

Available on the course site for download at no charge:

  1. The Bhagavad-Gita
  2. The Upanishads
  3. The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali

Prerequisites: none

Course Requirements: Students will be expected to read all assignments, take all exams, submit the required essay and participate regularly on the course discussion board.

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be able to demonstrate the following about the primary texts, main schools of thought and historical development of Hinduism:

  1. increased vocabulary (i.e., the specific descriptive terminology utilized in Hindu religious literature and philosophical texts)

  2. content knowledge (i.e., the doctrines and practices of Hinduism)

  3. conceptual knowledge (i.e., the historical development of Hindu philosophical schools and religious doctrines, the intentions and meanings of their doctrines, the mutual inter-influences of different schools of thought and the expression of these doctrines in the life of a prominent saint)

Means of Assessment and Grading Policies:  

Means of Assessment

Learning OutcomeAssessed

Percent of grade

The seven short essay exams will assess students’ attainment of increased vocabulary, content knowledge, and conceptual knowledge about Hinduism and its primary texts. During weeks 2 through 8 students will submit a short essay exam.  Each exam question will be posted on Friday morning of the relevant week and is to be submitted by 11:59 PM on Saturday. 

1, 2, 3


Interaction on the course discussion board will demonstrate and assess students’ attainment of increased vocabulary and conceptual knowledge.  

1, 3


The final essay assignment will demonstrate students’ ability to apply their conceptual knowledge of Hinduism to a case study (weeks 9 and 10), which is to interpret a biography in the context of that conceptual knowledge. A draft of the final essay will be due by 11:59 PM on Saturday of the 10th week. The instructor will return the draft to students for revision as necessary and the final essay will be due by 11:59 PM on Saturday of the 11th week.

Since students will receive considerable feedback on their writing by having submitted seven short essays, it may not be necessary for students to revise the draft of the final essay. This will depend on the quality of the draft; if quality is high the draft will serve as a final paper and will be graded accordingly.



In all cases the following grading scale is applied:

  1. 90% of possible points = A

  2. 80% of possible points = B

  3. 70% of possible points = C

  4. 60% of possible points = D

  5. Less than 60% of possible points = Fail

Students will be permitted to retake only one exam when technical, family, health or work issues necessitate this. No late submissions on the course discussion board will be accepted.  The essay assignment will not be accepted late without the PRIOR approval of the instructor and only if family, health or work issues necessitate such.  The essay may not be revised and resubmitted.


Outline of Course, required readings and videos. Many links require a password for access, which will be posted in the course Blackboard site.

Note, be sure to read or view in order from top to bottom the items in each block of weeks.

Part I - Basics of Hinduism in Historical Context

Week 1

50,000 – 1000 BCE

Weeks 2 & 3

500 BCE – 200 BCE

Weeks 4 & 5

200 BCE – 300 CE

Weeks 6 & 7

300 CE – 1000 CE

  • View The Story of India: "Ages of Gold"
  • The Gupta Empire [Be sure to click the iconic links around this main information page.]
  • Read: Wolpert, India, pages 38 - 39.
  • Read: Hinduism:
    • Chapter 8: The Epics
    • Chapter 10, Major Hindu Sects
    • Chapter 11, Hindu Dieties and Puranic Mythology
    • Chapter 12: Hindu Art and Worship Rituals
  • Read The Spiritual Heritage of India, pages 79 - 86 and Chapter 6; The Ramayana and other scriptures
  • The Chola Empire spreads to Southeast Asia and Indonesia
  • Read The Spiritual Heritage of India, Chapters 14, 15 and 16 on Shankara and Advaita Vedanta.
  • The Pala state: the return of Buddhism as a state religion and the great monastic universities of Northeast India. With the destruction of the Pala state by invading Muslim armies Buddhism seemed to disappear from India -- or did it? In his time Shankara was sometimes called a "crypto-Buddhist"; with a bit of informed attention one can see that by the 11th century Buddhism and Vedanta, while not identical, were almost mirrors of each other.

Week 8

1000 CE – 1700 CE

Part II - A Case Study in Religious Life

Weeks 9 & 10

1700 CE – Present


Describe the nature of the course: This course is entirely online, with an emphasis on reading and understanding original source materials and has an expectation of significant interactivity on the course discussion board.  The course requirements also include viewing a DVD to get a feel for India as a place.

General Education Category and Outcomes: N/A

University Writing Requirement Outcomes: This course meets the university writing requirement.

Statement on Academic Misconduct: Eastern Oregon University places a high value upon the integrity of its student scholars. Any student found guilty of an act of academic misconduct (including, but not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, or theft of an examination or supplies) may be subject to having his or her grade reduced in the course in question, being placed on probation or suspended from the University, or being expelled from the University—or a combination of these.   Please see Student Handbook at: http://www.eou.edu/saffairs/handbook/honest.html

Statement on Americans with Disabilities: If you have a documented disability or suspect that you have a learning problem and need accommodations, please contact the Disability Services Program in Loso Hall 234. Telephone: 962-3081.

Syllabus Prepared By: David Komito

Date:  December 15, 2012