Invitation to Asian Religions

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 9/2/2015
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Supplemental Materials

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  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.
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Featuring a unique, consistent, and modular chapter structure--"Teachings," "History," and "Way of Life"--and numerous pedagogical features, Invitation to Asian Religions invites students to explore Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Chinese religions (Confucianism and Daoism), and Shinto with respect and a sense of wonder. This chapter structure enables students to navigate each religion in a consistent and systematic way and helps students to make comparisons between religions. The book describes the essential features of each religion and shows how the religions have responded to basic human needs and to the cultural contexts in which they developed. The authors also encourage students to develop an appreciation for what religious beliefs and practices actually mean to their adherents.


A consistent, modular chapter structure--"Teachings, "History," and "Ways of Life"--enables students to navigate each religion in a consistent and systematic way and helps them to make comparisons between religions

A lucid and accessible writing style imparts a sense of invitation, welcoming students into the beliefs and practices of religious adherents around the world

A large team of authors with diverse specialties ensures that each religion is covered with true expertise

"Voices" present personal, candid interviews with a diverse array of people sharing the ways in which they live their faiths

"Seeking Answers" sections at the end of each chapter encourage students to compare the ways in which different religions address the same essential questions

"Visual Guides" offer keys to important religious symbols in easy-to-read tables for quick reference and comparison

Chapter-opening maps and timelines throughout the text provide geographical, social, and political context for each religion's development

"For Review" and "For Further Reflection" questions prompt students to reexamine essential concepts and invite students to think critically and to engage in deeper analyses

Key terms are boldfaced at their first appearance and defined in the glossaries that follow each chapter and also in the glossary at the back of the book

Suggestions for further reading direct students to some of the best and most recent print and online resources on each tradition

Also available to suit your course needs:

Invitation to World Religions, Second Edition: 978-0-19-937836-4

Invitation to Western Religions: 978-0-19-021127-1

Author Biography

Jeffrey Brodd is Professor of Humanities and Religious Studies at California State University, Sacramento.

Layne Little is Lecturer of Religious Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Bradley Nystrom is Professor of Humanities and Religious Studies at California State University, Sacramento.

Robert Platzner is Professor of Humanities and Religious Studies at California State University, Sacramento.

Richard Shek is Professor of Humanities and Religious Studies at California State University, Sacramento.

Erin Stiles is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Table of Contents

Approaching the Study of World Religions
Religion as a Subject of Academic Inquiry
What Religions Do
Religious Questions and Challenges
Basic Components of Religions
Historical Development
Way of Life
Religions in the Modern World
Modernization and Related Phenomena
The Changing Roles of Women in Religions
The Encounter of Religion and Science
An Academic Approach to the Study of Religions
Balance and Empathy
Comparative and Multidisciplinary Approaches
The Teachings of Hinduism
Hindu Beliefs about Divine Reality
The Individual and the Quest for Liberation
Three Paths to Liberation
Vendanta: The Predominant School of Hindu Philosophy
The Individual and Society
* VOICES: An Interview with Jayashree Venkatesan
Hindu Sacred Texts
The Sects of Hinduism
The History of Hinduism
The Indus Valley Civilization
Who Are the Aryans?
The Vedic Period
The Age of the Guptas
The Development of Bhakti
* Early Hindu Encounters with Islam and Rule Under the
Mughal Dynasty
* Colonial Critique and the Hindu Reformers
* Gandhi and the Struggle for Indian Independence
Hindu Nationalism and Hindutva
The Future of Hinduism
Hinduism as a Way of Life
Seeing the Divine Image: Temples and Icons
Forms of Worship
Rites of Passage
Women in Hinduism
Festivals and Holidays
Performance Traditions
The Teachings of Buddhism
The Life of the Buddha
The Essentials of the Buddha's Teaching
VOICES: An Interview with Katherine Sei
The History of Buddhism
The Period of the Buddhist Councils
Theravada Buddhism
Mahayana Buddhism
Vajrayana Buddhism
Buddhism in India
Buddhism Beyond India
The Western Transmission
Buddhists in the World Today
Buddhism as a Way of Life
Who Is a Buddhist?
The Buddha's Teachings on Ethics and "Skillful Means"
Meditation and the Cultivation of Mind
Mantra, Liturgical Ritual, and Chanting
Conversion and Ordination
Women in Buddhism
Sacred Places and Objects of Veneration
Holidays and Festivals
Funerary Rites
The Teachings of Jainism
Mahavira, the Twenty-fourth and Last Tirthankara of
This World Cycle
An Eternal Succession of Tirthankaras
Jainism and Hinduism
Ahimsa and Asceticism: Jainism's Ideals
Theory of the Universe
Liberation and Salvation
The History of Jainism
The Indian Historical Context
The Legacy of the Tirthankaras: Jainism through the
Jainism in Today's World
Jainism as a Way of Life
Digambaras and Shvetambaras
VOICES: An Interview With Girish Shah
The Ascetic Life
Jainism and Women
The Religious Life of the Jain Laity
The Teachings of Sikhism
The Life of Guru Nanak
Sikh Scripture
On God, the Human Condition, and Spiritual Liberation
Teachings of Guru Gobind Singh and the Khalsa
The History of Sikhism
Guru Nanak's Successors
Guru Gobind Singh and the Khalsa
Sikhs and Nationalism
Sikhs in the Diaspora
Sikhism as a Way of Life
VOICES: An Interview with Onkar Singh
Daily Devotional Practices
Sikh Worship in the Gurdwara
Life Cycle Rituals
Worship, Work, and Charity
Women and Sikhism
Sikh Identity
The Teachings of Confucianism and Daoism
Ancient Chinese Religious Views
The Teachings of Confucius
Confucianism and Women
The Teachings of Daoism
Daoism and Women
The History of Confucianism and Daoism
The History of Confucianism
The History of Daoism
Confucianism and Daoism as Ways of Life
Confucian Rituals
VOICES: An Interview with Jason Ch'ui-hsiao Tseng
Daoist Practices
The Teachings of Shinto
The Meaning of Kami
Creation Myth in the Kojiki
VOICES: An Interview with Watanabe Minoru
The History of Shinto
Medieval Shinto
The Modern Period
Shinto in Japan Today
Shinto as a Way of Life
Fertility Rites
Women in Shinto
Rites of Purification, Presentation, Petition, and

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