Reading Preparation Tests (RPTs) with Terms & Excerpts

The reading preparation tests (RPTs) used in this course are designed to ensure that you have properly prepared for the more complex thinking required for team assignments, by doing your best to view the film and read the assigned readings, especially and primary sources, before your team meets to complete those assignments. RPTs will be administered on-line--first to individual students, and then to teams working as a group--during class time, in one of the computer labs on the second floor of Mendocino Hall, on the first Tuesday of each three-week sub-unit (see syllabus for exact dates).

NOTE: use of RPTs as described above is significantly different from testing you will most likely have encountered in other courses, in that the test occurs after only very brief consideration of the reading during lecture, and before in-depth processing of the reading material in class. In preparing for these tests, therefore, most students find themselves needing to allow more time than they are used to for reading assigned materials.

Your Task: For each RPT #1-4 (and also for the trial RPT, labeled "#0"), the bottom of the on-line version of this page lists (1) about ten terms & names drawn from the assigned readings, and sometimes related to material in on-line PPTs; and (2) four excerpts, one each drawn from the required primary sources listed in the schedule. RPTs will require you to answer ten multiple choice questions regarding these two types of materials.

1.  Each RPT will begin with five (5) questions related to one or more of the twelve terms & names. In order to prepare for each of these questions, for each term or name you should be able to identify:
(a) the tradition of which it is a part and (for a term) its basic meaning OR (for a name) to whom or what the name refers;
(b) key ideas/events (including dates) linked to that term/person, and several specific examples/details related to those ideas/event; and
(c) the significance of that term or person for the wider tradition of which it is a part.

2. Each RPT will also contain five (5) questions regarding two or three of the excerpts (which will be reproduced in full on the test). In order to prepare for each of these questions, for each excerpt you should be able to identify:
(a) the precise name of the original source from which the chosen excerpt is drawn, and the purported composer(s) of the work (name and/or at least characteristics), and the probable locale and/or date of its composition (so far as any of these can be ascertained);
(b) the relevant details preceding and leading up to the excerpt; and
(c) the relevant details following and further dealing with issues raised in the excerpt.
[By "relevant," I mean those details which a person needs to know to understand the significance of everything in the excerpted passage.]

Time Limits & Point Values: Both individuals and teams will be allowed roughly fifteen (15) minutes to complete each RPT, though extra time may be granted if needed. Summaries submitted for extra credit must be typed and submitted before receiving the RPT dealing for the corresponding sub-unit. Each question will count for five (5) points, for a total of 50; summaries will be credited up to 5 extra points each, for a maximum of ten (i.e., if two summaries are submitted).

Academic Honesty: You may choose, if you wish, to study for RPTs in the company of other students, especially other team members. You should be forthright, however, in asking those who have not first prepared independently to study on their own. Also please be discriminating in listening to others' study group contributions, since you yourself are ultimately responsible for what you say about each excerpt. During the exam, make sure to keep your gaze fixed either on your own paper or at some distant object at the front of the room or ceiling; gazing at one or more other students' papers will be treated as attempted plagiarism. (See my statements about the importance of academic honesty in FAQ, #10-13.) Finally, regarding extra credit, your submission must be unique; sets of nearly identical or even strikingly similar submissions will be returned without points.

Extra Credit Summaries

Students may raise their RPT score for a given unit by submitting a summary of one of the optional primary sources listed in the schedule, next to the date of the RPT for that unit. Any points earned from summaries are added directly to the the immediately RPT of the unit to which the optional sources pertain.


In order to receive full credit, these summaries must concisely and insightfully incorporate the following:

  1. a one sentence synopsis of key ideas, themes, and/or issues addressed in the reading as a whole (vs. simply the opening paragraphs or pages), which includes the full name and author of the chosen source.
  2. three excerpts, each 2-4 sentences long, that illustrate some aspect of your synopsis; and
  3. a two to three sentence comparison and contrast of this source to one or two of the required sources studied during the same unit.

Other Requirements:

Each summary may add up to five points to your RPT score, for a maximum of ten points for two summaries. One word of CAUTION: the shortest extra credit readings are not necessarily the easiest ones to summarize!!

Terms & Excerpts (from required primary sources):

for RPT #0 (Trial)
[based on RIIP, 1-7; WSMI, ix-xii, 3-4; SMV, 9-12; CP, 1-4, 9-15, 21-31 & Dimensions of Religious Culture]


Terms: supernatural

            Night of Power


"...he began speaking slowly and clearly above the low sawing of the crickets outside. 'Imagine a white, eight-petaled lotus. On it sits the Buddha, golden, his right hand touching the earth in front of him, his left hand in his lap. A brilliant light issues from his forehead, and it touches your forehead, eliminating all defilements of speech, that we may speak only words of compassion. Light from his heart touches your heart, eliminating all defilements of mind. The Buddha dissolves in pure light. That light suffuses your whole body...'"

"...he spoke of the principles of the inner and spiritual world as very much like those that govern the physical world. They can be observed and confirmed repeatedly. 'The principles that operate in the outer universe, discoverable by scientists, are called natural laws. But there are subtler laws that rule the hidden spiritual places and the inner realm of consciousness; these principles are knowable through the science of yoga.' India's yogis have experimented for hundreds of years in the inner realm. They have refined their knowledge of inner terrain."

"Now, Walpola Piyananda not only wears shoes, socks, and sweaters but also drives around Los Angeles and is experimenting with new forms closer to those of Western clergy. The first level of training prepares one to teach Dharma school, give talks on the Dharma, and conduct meditation classes; the second requires four years of college, three years of training with a qualified senior monk, and prepares the initiate to be a lay...minister. This would be a step short of fully ordained monasticism but would enable one to conduct religious services such as weddings and funerals and to be a chaplain in a university or hospital."

"At the endof this time, the clay images are returned to a body of water--the sea or a river--which is the proper way to dispose of an image that has once been the temporary focus of worship. Back home in India at the conclusion of [the ceremony], there are great processions in which worshipers bring hundreds of images...from neighborhood and temple shrines to the seacoast for the rite of immersion, called visarjana. In 1991 Hindus from all over the San Francisco Bay area launched this tradition in America. Gathering at the Baker Beach parking lot, they formed a parade with their painted clay images..., carrying them to an artillery site in the old Presidio that they have converted into a temple for the occasion.."


for RPT #1


Terms: Aryan

            Gautama Shakyamuni

            discernment/wisdom [=prajña]
            awakening [=bodhi]
            unbinding [=nirvana]


"At dawn on the next day, in their own houses they recalled the deities in their daily ritual. After eating and having gathered up their equipment and food, they went off, making a pretense of seeing the pavilions and ponds, all to mislead them. Having said good-bye to their wives, they remembered their own kulta devatas [family deities]....At that time, all of them hastily gathered together and hastily went to the Brahmaputra shore with the golden sand. Then the black-eared king of horses Varanaka arrived nearby."

" are worthy of a gift, unsurpassable field of merit, and a recipient of sacrifice! What is given to your reverence is of immense fruit....It is amazing, Venerable Gotama, it is wonderful, Venerable Gotama! Just as if one might raise what has been overturned, or reveal what has been hidden, or point out the way to him who has gone astray, or hold out a lamp in the dark so that those who have eyes may see objects, so likewise has the Truth been explained by Venerable Gotama in various ways. Therefore, I take refuge in him..."

"In the perfumed bathing halls, beautified by columns that shine with encrusted pearls, with awnings that shine with garlanded pearls, with floors of shining pure crystal, full of urns inlaid with fine gems, full of delicate flowers and perfumed waters, there shall I prepare a bath for the tathagatas and their sons, accompanied by music and song. With incomparable and pure graments, impregrnated with the smell of incense, I wipe clean their bodies, and then give them select, perfumed tunics, dyed in exquisite colors. With delicate heavenly clothing, soft to the touch, of many colors, and with fine ornaments, I cover...Lokeshvara [Avalokiteshvara] and the other bodhisattvas. With the best perfumes that fill a billion worlds with their scent I anoint these [bodhisattvas, who are] monarchs among the sages, whose bodies shine with the brightness of well purified, burnished and polished gold."

"What is the reason we speak of 'Bodhisattvas'?
Desirous to extinguish all attachment, and to cut it off,
True non-attachment, or the Bodhi of the Jinas is their future lot.
'Beings who strive for Bodhi' are they therefore called.
What is the reason why 'Great Beings' are so called?
They rise to the highest place above a great number of people;
And of a great number of people they cut off mistaken views.
That is why we come to speak of them as 'Great Beings.'"


for RPT #2


Terms: Jina


            Rudra (=Shiva)


"When a brahman, kshatriya, vaishya, pure sudra, or one of the anuloma castes...reaches a state where his karman is equable and his mala ripened, then the highest Shakti first falls on him. A great faith in the highest knowledge is then born in him, and he becomes detached by realizing the faults inherent in attachment to sensory objects and the like. When such detachment arises, he should approach the house of a teacher in order to learn the highest knowledge."

"In the very center, within the palace, is another lotus, which is the base for the principal deity...and his consort. The center of the lotus contains a red sun disk; it sits on top of, and thereby obscures, a white moon disk and the green disk of the lotus flower....The petals of the lotus, again, are the petals of the heart chakra and their colors are those of the accompanying deities."

"Praise to the Arhats, the Lords, who cause the beginnings,...who by themselves have attained enlightenment, the best of men, lions amoung men, excellent lotuses among men, excellent perfumed elephants among men, the best in the world, lords of the world, benefactors of the world, lights of the world, illuminators of the world, givers of freedom from fear, givers of insight, givers of the path, givers of refuge, givers of enlightenment, givers of dharma, expounders of dharma, leaders of dharma, guides of dharma, the best world emperors of dharma, possessors of the irrefutable best knowledge and faith, freed from bondage, the victors, the conquerrors, who have crossed over, who brings others across..."

"I know that immense Person, having the colour of the sun and beyond darkness. Only when a man knows him does he pass beyond death; there is no other path for getting there. This whole world is filled by that Person, beyond whom there is nothing; beneath whom there is nothing; smaller than whom there is nothing; larger than whom there is nothing; and who stands like a tree planted firmly in heaven."


for RPT #3


Terms: puja


            Shaiva Siddhanta



"...I have heard in toto all the scriptures which have come forth from the union of Rudra and his pair shakti..., including the Trika together with its divisions. I have heard the Trika which is the quitessence of all the scriptures and also all its further essential ramification. But...even now my doubt has not been removed. What exactly is the essential nature of Bhairava?"

"Arising from Rudra's fire, and fierce (raudra), Canda is the color of lampblack, dreadful, carries trident and hatchet, and has four faces and four arms. He spits great flames from his mouth, and has twelve red eyes. The crescent moon adorns his matted locks, a snake is his bracelet, and another snake is his sacrificial thread. He holds a rosary and an ascetic's water-pot, and sits on a white lotus throne. He removes all pain from those who bow with devotion."

"'When he has thus constructed Shiva's throne, the priest with firm mind and restrained faculties should fill his cupped hands with flowers, and visualize an embodiment'...the worshiper imaginatively puts together, portion by portion, a complete portrait of Sadashiva. He visualizes in order each of the fives faces, ten weapons, and so on, then consolidates these parts into a unified image. He next transports the visualization into the linga. 'When he has visualized the embodiment, the worshiper should then invoke it onto that previously described throne of Shiva...'"

"...the two, enjoying themselves with their friends with various humorous remarks, taste the happiness of sleep for a while, truest of sages They then sit happily among their friends on a broad, shining seat and, wagering each other's garlands, kisses, embraces, and clothes, play dice with love amidst the banter of merriment. His dear one scolds him when, though beaten, he says, 'I have won,' and begins to take her garlands and things. And after being scolded, [he] with his hands on his lotus-face becomes despondent and makes up his mind to go..."


for RPT #4


Terms: Mahmud of Ghazna
            Mughal dynasty
            Sufi Islam


            East India Company


"One day,...the lamp of the Chishtis...was in a state of joy and expansion, in the intoxicated feast of select divine manifestations of the essence and royal attributes, which is the encompassing sea of divine illuminations. He was totally immersed in the sea of annihilation, drowned and absorbed in God, when suddenly a loving voice from the divine presence reached his conscious hearing, saying,'...ask for whatever desire you have , for it will be given to you, and request whatever object you have, for it will appear from the hidden veil into the manifest world.' Since the state of absorption overpowered him, he remained silent."

"The guru leads and instructs his disciple, freely bestowing his grace;
Cleansing his mind of the refuse of falsehood, teaching him how to repeat the Name.
By the guyru's grace his bonds are severed; set free he renounces all that defiles.
The wealth of the Name is the gift of the guru, and he who receives it is wondrously blessed.
Saved by the guru both here and hereafter, he dwells with his Guide and Protector forever

"Then these days of fasting come...the five days of Bhishma...These come during the month of Karttika. So the month of Karttika came. Krshna said, 'Let me see how I can bring you home.' The month Karttika is a very holy one. Lord Krshna goes to bathe in the Yamuna River during that month, the whole month. And in the house, brahmans had to be served, sacred fires had to be lit, scriptures had to be read. "

"Stay within yourself, mind; don't go into anyone else's room.
You will get what you need right here. Search in your own inner chamber.
Cintamani is like the philosopher's stone, that greatest tresure able to bring countless riches:
Her front door is strewn about with so many jewels.
Going on pilgrimage is a journey of sorrow, mind.
Don't be soo eager. Bathe in the three streams of bliss.
Why not be cooled at their source, your bottom-most mystic center?

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