Reading Assessent Tests (="RATs") with Terms & Excerpts

The reading assessment tests 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. RATs 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 RATs 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 RAT #1-4 (and also for the trial RAT, 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. RATs will require you to answer ten multiple choice questions regarding these two types of materials.

1.  Each RAT 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 RAT 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.]

Additionally, extra credit may be given, in connection with each RAT, for submitting a 4-5 sentence summary of one of the optional primary sources listed in the schedule for the corresponding sub-unit, with a maximum of two summaries submitted per RAT. In order to receive full credit, these summaries must include:

(a) the precise name of the source, the purported composer(s) of the work (including name and/or characteristics), and the probable locale and/or date of its composition (so far as any of these can be ascertained);
(b) an overview of key ideas, themes, and/or issues addressed in it;
(c) mention of two or three specific details dealt with in central parts of the source.

Time Limits & Point Values: Both individuals and teams will be allowed roughly fifteen (15) minutes to complete each RAT, though extra time may be granted if needed. Summaries submitted for extra credit must be typed and submitted before receiving the RAT 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 RATs 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.

Terms & Excerpts (from required primary sources):

for RAT #0 (Trial)
[based on TAU, vi-vii; WTA, iii-iv; DS, xxi-xxv; BGM,ix-xi; Larson, 44-54 & excerpts from Eck (the last two in CP)]


Terms: dimensions of religious culture
            Vedic religion
            wings to a
            General Cornwallis
            banyan tree


"Volunteers were sweeping and cleaning the shrines inside the temple. They prepared the central shrine for the image of Lakshmi, the auspicious goddess of wealth and blessings. The shrine on the right would house the image of Vishnu and the left, Ganesha. The dark granite images of the gods, sculpted by sacred artists south of Madras, had been shipped to Boston in crates. For weeks they had stood in the construction site, unconsecrated but carefully and respectfully treated. Now, during this week of ceremonies, they were prepared and bathed."

"...Krishna devotees celebrate their annual Chariot Festival, or Ratha Yatra. They bring the saucer-eyed images of Lord Krishna, his brother Balarama, and his sister Subhadra out of the temple and place them on a large chariot, or ratha, which they pull through the streets of the city on a pilgrimage among the people, a yatra. These public processions of the gods are common throughout India. They bear some resemblance to the festival processions of St. Anthony, the Virgin Mary, or Jesus through the streets in Italian or Portuguese Catholic cultures. For Hindus, this is a time when the movement of people to temple is reversed, and the deity leaves the temple to greet them in the streets."

"[An] image had been moved outside and placed under a flower-decked, four-posted canopy. People lined up with small vials of perfumed water, incense, and flowers, as well as paper-thin gold leaf, to make offerings.... One by one, each came before the[image], lit the incense, and then stood for a moment, hands folded in prayer, before stepping up on the platform to pour water on the [image] and apply a paper of gold leaf. Inside the temple women from the temple sat at special tables to receive donations for the baskets of food and supplies, including new, folded saffron robes, that would be presented to the monks sitting on the raised platform along the side of the temple hall."


for RAT #1


Terms: Indus Valley

            Rg Veda


"...preparing the build agni [that is, the fire altar], he...gathers him [Agni] within his self: for it is from within his own self that he makes him to be born, and one's source determines who one is....He then sings the Song of Truth for, as the gods have said, 'Let us make the truth his mouth: thereby we will become the truth, truth will turn onto us, and our hopes in performing the ceremony will come true.'...He then places a lotus leaf in the center of the site. The lotus leaf is a womb. Thus he places a womb[from which Agni may be born] on the site....Then he places a gold plate on [the ground]. This gold plate is the distant sun that shines on all creatures here on earth...."

"Who breathes out with the out-breath--he is the selfof yours that is within all. Who breathes in with the in-breath--he is the self of yours that is within all. Who breathes across with the inter-breath--he is the self of yours that is within all. Who breathes up with the up-breath--he is the self of yours that is within all. The self within all is this self of yours....You can't see the seer who does the seeing; you can't hear the hearer who does the hearing; you can't think of the thinker who does the thinking; and you can't perceive the perceiver who does the perceiving. The self within all is this self of yours. All else besides this is grief!"

"I draw you up for Agni and for the earth; I draw you up for the wind and for space; I draw you up for the sun and for heaven; I draw you up for the waters and for the grasses....May I be together with the gods coming in the evening. May the gods coming in the evening bring me well-being. I wish to mingle with the cattle....May I be together with the gods coming in the mornin.g May the gods coming in the morning bring me well-being. I wish to mingle with the cattle..."

"I am the queen, the collector of treasures,
the most wise, the first of those worthy of praise.
The gods have set me in diverse places.
I enter into and abide in many homes.
Whoever sees, whoever breathes, whoever hears spoken words:
he gains nourishment through me alone.
He does not recognize me, yet he lives within me.
Listen everyone! What I say is worthy of faith!


for RAT #2


Terms: shramana/samana

            Ashoka Maurya
            Pali Canon
            this/that conditionality


"...he flies up into the sky, touches the sun with his hand, makes his body into many bodies, and so on....He is also credited with...traveling distances by flight, and of traveling to other realms, such as that of the devas, to converse with beings there....[his] supernatural powers are used in service of his compassion, chiefly to teach and convert others....superior to humans,...he is also the ideal human being, showing in his life the perfection of their capacities. Similarly, although above the gods, he is also assimilated to them and credited with their powers: for example, he can live a long time, he knows the thoughts of others, he can fly through the air."

"He should go out to meet the guest, receive him according to his age, and have a seat brought for him--if possible, some say, a seat that has many legs. He should wash the guests's feet....He should have water brought for the guest; according to some, in a clay pot. If the guest is a student who has not yet retruned home, there is no need to have water borught for him....After addressing the guest with kind words, the host should refresh him with drinks, and food, or at a minimum with some water, and offer him a room, a bed, a mattress, a pillow with a cover, and lotion."

" 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 various ways."

"A canopy up in the sky, was stretched out over everything.
The sun and moon and all the stars were drawn on it in gold.
Flags of different sorts were raised, a floral carpet laid;.
and incense rose into the sky, like blossoms from the earth.
The real sun and moon and stars were sparkling and seen by all,
and even thought it was high noon the sun cooled like the moon.

The gods made offerings of garlands scented with divine perfume
and worshiped...with song, with music, and with dance."


for RAT #3


Terms: frames of reference
            right exertions
            factors of awakening

            noble truths
            Vaasudeva Krshna
            Bhagavad Gita


"Now what do you think: Are there any people in Uruvelakappa who, if they were murdered or imprisoned or fined or censured, would cause sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair to arise in you?...And are there any people in Uruvelakappa who if they were murdered or imprisoned or fined or censured, would cause no sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair to arise in you? Now what is the reason, why the murder...of some would cause you sorrow...and the murder...of others would cause you no sorrow? "

"...just as if a sack with openings at both ends were full of various kinds of grain--wheat, rice, mung beans, kidney beans, sesame seeds, husked rice--and a man with good eyesight, pouring it out , were to reflect, 'This is wheat. This is rice. These are mung beans. These are kidney beans. These are sesame seeds. This is husked rice,' in the same way, monks, a monk reflects on this very body from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down, surrounded by skin and full of various kinds of unclean things: 'In this body there are head hairs, body hairs, nails teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, gorge, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine."

"Just as creatures with bodies pass through childhood, youth, and old age in their bodies, so there is a passage to another body, and a wise man is not confused about it. The contacts of the senses with their objects, which produce sensations of cold and heat, confort and disconfort, come and go without staying...Endure them....The wise man whom they do not trouble, for whom happiness and unhappiness are the same, is fit for immortality."

"Just as if a man, wanting to make a small fire blaze up, were to place wet grass in it, wet cow dung, & wet sticks; were to give it a spray of water and smother it with dust. Is it posible that he would make the small fire blaze up?...In the same way, when the mind is sluggish, that is the wrong time to develop serenity as a factor for Awakening, concentration as a factor for Awakening, equanimity as a factor for Awakening. Why is that? the sluggish mind is hard to raise up by those mental qualities."


for RAT #4


Terms: smrti
            Gupta dynasty


"Beginningless, middleless, endless, almighty,
Many-armed, with eyes that are sun and moon,
I see you with mouths that are blazing fires
Setting fire to this world with your incandescence.

All space that extends between heaven and earth,
All horizons are filled by you alone;
Having seen your dreadful and wondrous form
The three worlds shudder, great-spirited one!"

"When he has finished all his daily obligations, he should sit facing the east on a place that has been swept and smeared with cowdung; worship the food as it is being brought...and thereafter reamined silent. When the food isplaced before him, he should sprinkle water over it clockwise, reciting the Great Calls. While continuing to hold the vessel in his left hand, he drinks some water prior to the meal...and makes five offerings of food to the vital breaths..."

"By you is everything supported, by you is the world created;
By you is it protected... and you alsways consume (it) at teh end of time.
At (its) emanation you have the form of creation; in (its) protection (you have) the form of steadiness;
Likewise at the end of this world (you have) the form of destruction, O you who consist of the world!
You are the great knowledge, the great illusion, the great insight, the great memory,
And the great delusion..."

"The lustre of his face was hardly visible on account of the lustre of the gems decorating the neck of the snake Shesha; he was shining like a hundred moons; and his splendour was equal to the rays of a myriad of suns. He was clad in a yellow robe (radiant like gold), imperturbable; decorated with all kinds of gems; and shining with the lustre of a diadem ressembling the sun in colour, and with (splendid) ear-rings."


Dimensions of Religious Culture

Reading Assessment Tests (TOP)

Frequently Asked Questions

Observation Journal