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Spring SAVY 2013 Week 5: World Religions

Posted by on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in SAVY blog.

Last Saturday we moved from the Abrahamic Faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) to what we are calling the “Pluralistic Faiths” (Hinduism and Buddhism). We started off by reviewing the Abrahamic Faiths we had covered in order to compare similarities and differences between them. For instance, students noted that the Qur’an in Islam functions similar to the Torah in Orthodox Judaism. They also observed that Muhammad, as the founder of Islam, is not comparable to Jesus in Christianity, because Muhammad is not divine.

Then we moved on to talk about Hinduism, which operates with a very different concept of the Absolute than is present in the Abrahamic Faiths. Hinduism is a pantheistic religion. Brahman is in all things – the process of creation, change, and dissolution in the natural world. To help students think about this concept, we had them go outside and “find nature.” I stole this activity from a former colleague, and it worked brilliantly! (I attribute this more to the students than the instructor.) Some students brought in dead leaves and blades of grass. One student brought in a piece of a brick she found buried in the dirt, observing that it was “nature” because because the outside world reacted to it. That was the springboard we needed to apply our observations to the concept of Brahman. Having taught Hinduism several times, I have to say that these students seemed to “get it” with ease.

We also talked about some of the Hindu deities, such as Ganesha and Shiva, and how Hinduism thinks of them as aspects of the same reality. This led to an interesting discussion of whether Hinduism is polytheistic or monotheistic. Every student took a side, and yet every student was able to see the validity of the point of view they did not take.

Next week we wrap things up by talking about the life of the Buddha, his teachings, and the different branches of Buddhism that exist in the world today, followed by a culminating exercise to compare and contrast the religions  we discussed (if time allows), and finally Open House! We cannot wait to see you. It has been a wonderful SAVY!

P.s. Here’s the Prezi of our unit on Hinduism.

P.p.s. I know the dates are wrong on the first slide; one of our students pointed that out to me. (-;

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