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Introduction to Hindu Religions


Admission requirements



This course provides a general introduction to the religious cultures associated with Hinduism, from a historical as well as a thematic perspective. The course traces the historical background and development of the various religious and cultural traditions that converged into the notion of a pan-Indian religion under the label Hinduism. The course takes an open and pluralistic approach to the study of Hindu religions, drawing attention to the diversity of traditions, but also aims at defining general features of the notion of a unified religion. Students will also be introduced to the modern and contemporary lives of Hinduism through the colonial, post-colonial and contemporary periods, both within India and in Hindu communities spread across the world.

Topics addressed in the course will include: identity formation of ‘Hinduism’; ritual and religion of the Vedas; Hindu mythology, theology and philosophy; devotion and pilgrimage; Hinduism and society; relation to other religions such as Buddhism, Jainism and Islam; Hindu social, intellectual and political movements in the modern period; rise of contemporary Hindu nationalism; and Hinduism beyond India.

The course will welcome students to understand Hinduism historically, both as theory and practice, and also, as a social, cultural and political formation.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of key terms, concepts, texts and traditions of Hindu religions.

  • Familiarity with the historical background and development of Hindu religions.

  • Awareness of the diversity of Hindu religious cultures and traditions.

  • Familiarity with the cultural and political dimensions of Hinduism in the modern and contemporary world.

  • Critical awareness of the relation between theory and practice in studying Hinduism.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Assessment method


2 written examinations: one written examination (w) at the end of the first block (50%) and one written examination with essay questions (we) at the end of the second block (50%).
The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


The final mark of the course is established by determining the weighted average. Both written examinations: 50%.


The individual exams cannot be retaken. There is one opportunity for a re-sit of the entire course (100%).

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Selected readings will be announced on Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte.
Registration Contractonderwijs.