Revealing® Eastern Religions

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Author: Cynthia Eller, Ph.D. (Claremont Graduate University)

About the author: Revealing® Eastern Religions

Cynthia Eller is Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University and Editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. She has written numerous books in the fields of women and religion, ethics, and women’s studies, including Living in the Lap of the Goddess: The Feminist Spirituality Movement in America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1995) and The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won’t Give Women a Future (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000).

Dr. Eller regularly teaches introductory courses in religion and world religions. Like all religion faculty, she hopes to draw her students into an appreciation of the world’s religions and instill a desire in her students to explore further through upper-division classes. In Revealing® World Religions and Revealing® Religion, Dr. Eller has developed digital texts that convey basic concepts and subject matter, illustrate lived religion in a compelling way, and reinforce learning in ways unavailable with a printed text. These courseware titles are a new kind of textbook for a new generation of learners.


Revealing® Eastern Religions Highlights

Revealing® Eastern Religions Highlights

  • Students explore the principles and practice of the major contemporary eastern religions in a clearly organized framework.
  • Uses cutting edge multimedia technologies. Narration, animation, and sound enliven the learning experience.
  • Achievement Profile emphasizes progress and acts as a clearly organized table of contents and navigational hub.
  • Assistance Palette includes integrated Bibliography, Glossary, Search, Recent Pages, Notes, Review, and Support tabs.
  • Try-Its encourage analytic understanding of content.
  • Designed for adoption in college and university eastern religions courses. Affordable student cost.
  • Instructors who adopt Revealing® Eastern Religions for class use receive access to the time-saving Thinking Strings Interactive Grade Book® at no charge.
  • Runs on both Apple Macintosh® and Windows® computers.
  • Podcast available for portable study.
  • Content is fully customizable to meet the needs of specific courses. Contact us for more details.


Copyright © 2004-2016 Thinking Strings, LLC

Table of Contents

Exploring Religion

What is Religion?

  • Goals: What is Religion?
  • Religion & Religions
  • One Reality or Many?
  • Defining Religion
  • Theoretical, Practical, Sociological
  • Religious Specialists
  • Religious Syncretism
  • Summary: What is Religion?

Types of Religions

  • Goals: Types of Religions
  • Eastern & Western Religions
  • Families of Religions
  • Ethnic & Universal
  • Theisms
  • The Ineffable
  • Atheism & Agnosticism
  • Summary: Types of Religions
  • Try It: Types of Religions

Studying Religion

  • Goals: Studying Religion
  • Why Is There Religion?
  • Functionalism
  • Theorists of Religion
  • Ways to Study Religion
  • Belief & Unbelief
  • Why Study Religion?
  • The Religious Quest
  • Summary: Studying Religion
  • Try It: Studying Religion


Defining & Finding Hinduism

  • Goals: Defining Hinduism
  • Religion in Ancient India
  • Religions of India
  • Hinduism’s Expansiveness
  • How Old is Hinduism?
  • Sanatana Dharma
  • Indian Definition of Hinduism
  • Religious Conflict in India
  • World Distribution
  • Summary: Defining Hinduism
  • Try It: Defining Hinduism

The Birth of Hinduism

  • Goals: The Birth of Hinduism
  • Timeline of Hinduism
  • Indus Civilization
  • Aryan Invasion Theory
  • Caste System
  • Early Vedic Religion & Ritual
  • Vedic Gods
  • Agni & Soma
  • Vedic Scriptures
  • Summary: The Birth of Hinduism
  • Try It: The Birth of Hinduism

Hinduism After the Vedas

  • Goals: Hinduism After the Vedas
  • Hinduism’s Relationship to Buddhism
  • The Epics
  • Classical Texts
  • Tantric Texts
  • Islam in India
  • Colonial Powers in India
  • Indian Independence
  • Summary: Hinduism After the Vedas
  • Try It: Hinduism After the Vedas

Philosophy of Hinduism

  • Goals: Philosophy of Hinduism
  • Basic Tensions in Hinduism
  • Brahman
  • Atman
  • Maya
  • Karma
  • Reincarnation in Hinduism
  • Samsara
  • Moksha
  • Cosmogenesis & Kaliyuga
  • Summary: Philosophy of Hinduism
  • Try It: Philosophy of Hinduism


  • Goals: Yoga
  • Types of Yoga
  • Jnana Yoga
  • Karma Yoga & Arjuna
  • Bhakti Yoga & Mirabai
  • Raja Yoga
  • Hatha Yoga
  • Four Stages of Life
  • Sannyasin
  • Varieties of Yoga
  • Summary: Yoga
  • Try It: Yoga

Schools of Hindu Philosophy

  • Goals: Schools of Hindu Philosophy
  • Samkhya Philosophy
  • Purusha & Prakriti
  • The Three Gunas
  • Meditation & Consciousness
  • Vedanta
  • Qualified Nondualism
  • Tantric Hinduism
  • Kundalini Yoga
  • Tantra
  • Summary: Schools of Hindu Philosophy
  • Try It: Schools of Hindu Philosophy

The Hindu Pantheon

  • Goals: The Hindu Pantheon
  • Nature of the Hindu Pantheon
  • The Trimurti
  • Vishnu
  • Rama
  • Krishna
  • Shiva
  • Devi
  • Lesser Deities
  • Summary: The Hindu Pantheon
  • Try It: The Hindu Pantheon

Puja & Pilgrimage

  • Goals: Puja & Pilgrimage
  • Hindu Practice
  • Hindu Tradition
  • Hindu Devotional Practice
  • Darshan & Puja
  • Procession & Pilgrimage
  • Gurus
  • Temple Worship
  • Music & Chant
  • Hindu Sacred Dance
  • Summary: Puja & Pilgrimage
  • Try It: Puja & Pilgrimage

Hinduism in the West

  • Goals: Hinduism in the West
  • Hinduism Outside India
  • Swami Vivekananda
  • Transcendental Meditation
  • Yoga in the West
  • Summary: Hinduism in the West
  • Try It: Hinduism in the West


The Life of the Buddha

  • Goals: The Life of the Buddha
  • Siddhartha Gautama
  • Siddhartha’s Context
  • From Birth to Age 30
  • Four Passing Sights
  • Siddhartha as Renunciate
  • Siddhartha’s Awakening
  • Buddha as Teacher
  • Sangha
  • Parinirvana
  • Summary: The Life of the Buddha
  • Try It: The Life of the Buddha

Philosophy of Buddhism

  • Goals: Philosophy of Buddhism
  • The Four Noble Truths
  • The Five Precepts
  • The Three Jewels
  • Dharma
  • Dependent Co-Arising
  • No Self (Anatta)
  • Nirvana
  • Arhat
  • Reincarnation in Buddhism
  • Summary: Philosophy of Buddhism
  • Try It: Philosophy of Buddhism

The First 400 Years

  • Goals: The First 400 Years
  • Transmission & Spread of Buddhism
  • King Asoka
  • Schools of Buddhism
  • Major Branches of Buddhism
  • Buddhism in First Century CE
  • Summary: The First 400 Years
  • Try It: The First 400 Years

Theravada Buddhism

  • Goals: Theravada Buddhism
  • Pali Canon (Tipitaka)
  • Becoming an Arhat
  • Women in Theravada Buddhism
  • Theravadan Meditation
  • Theravadan Iconography
  • Worship of the Buddha
  • Sri Lanka
  • Major Theravadan Temples
  • Thailand
  • Summary: Theravada Buddhism
  • Try It: Theravada Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhism

  • Goals: Mahayana Buddhism
  • The Bodhisattva Ideal
  • The Buddhist Pantheon
  • Three-Body Doctrine (Trikaya)
  • Skillful Means (Upaya)
  • Mahayana Scriptures
  • Mahayana Buddhist Philosophy
  • Summary: Mahayana Buddhism
  • Try It: Mahayana Buddhism

Vajrayana Buddhism

  • Goals: Vajrayana Buddhism
  • Origin of Vajrayana Buddhism
  • Buddhism in Tibet
  • Tantric Buddhism
  • Buddhist Mantras
  • Vajrayana Iconography
  • Vajrayana Meditation
  • Tibetan Deities
  • Milarepa
  • Summary: Vajrayana Buddhism
  • Try It: Vajrayana Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhism in China

  • Goals: Mahayana in China
  • Buddhism Enters China
  • Chan (Zen) Buddhism
  • Pure Land Buddhism
  • Huayan Buddhism
  • Master Xu Yun
  • Chinese Buddhist Iconography
  • Buddhism in China Today
  • Mahayana in Korea
  • Mahayana in Vietnam
  • Summary: Mahayana in China
  • Try It: Mahayana in China

Mahayana Buddhism in Japan

  • Goals: Mahayana in Japan
  • Buddhism Enters Japan
  • Nara Period
  • Shingon Buddhism
  • Tendai Buddhism
  • Kamakura Period
  • Jodo Shu Buddhism
  • Nichiren Buddhism
  • Zen Buddhism
  • Devotional Practice
  • Summary: Mahayana in Japan
  • Try It: Mahayana in Japan

Buddhism in the West

  • Goals: Buddhism in the West
  • Schools of Buddhism in the West
  • Insight Meditation Society
  • Shambhala
  • City of 10,000 Buddhas
  • Plum Village
  • Engaged Buddhism
  • Women in Western Buddhism
  • Summary: Buddhism in the West
  • Try It: Buddhism in the West


Emergence of Sikhism

  • Goals: Emergence of Sikhism
  • The Sikh Religion
  • The Punjab
  • Blending Hinduism & Islam
  • Guru Nanak
  • Summary: Emergence of Sikhism
  • Try It: Emergence of Sikhism

Life of Guru Nanak

  • Goals: Life of Guru Nanak
  • Guru Nanak’s Family
  • Birth of Guru Nanak
  • Nanak as a Young Man
  • Nanak’s Epiphany
  • Nanak’s Travels
  • Nanak’s Travels
  • Nanak’s Ashram
  • Nanak’s Death
  • Summary: Life of Guru Nanak
  • Try It: Life of Guru Nanak

Sikh Theology

  • Goals: Sikh Theology
  • Sikh Monotheism
  • A Personal God
  • The Sikh View of Human Nature
  • Reincarnation & Liberation
  • Union with God
  • Summary: Sikh Theology
  • Try It: Sikh Theology

The Ten Gurus

  • Goals: The Ten Gurus
  • The First Guru
  • The Second Guru
  • The Third Guru
  • The Fourth Guru
  • The Fifth Guru
  • The Sixth Guru
  • The Seventh & Eighth Gurus
  • The Ninth Guru
  • The Tenth Guru
  • Summary: The Ten Gurus
  • Try It: The Ten Gurus

The Khalsa

  • Goals: The Khalsa
  • Founding the Khalsa
  • Sikh Identity
  • The Warrior Ideal
  • Sikh/Muslim Conflict
  • Summary: The Khalsa
  • Try It: The Khalsa

Sikh Scripture

  • Goals: Sikh Scripture
  • Adi Granth
  • Mul Mantra
  • Authors of the Granth
  • Translations of the Granth
  • Dasam Granth
  • Other Sikh Scriptures
  • Summary: Sikh Scripture
  • Try It: Sikh Scripture

Sikhism in India and the Diaspora

  • Goals: Sikhism in India and the Diaspora
  • Sikhism after Guru Gobind Singh
  • Ranjit Singh
  • Sikhs and the British Empire
  • The Partition of India
  • Sikh Separatism
  • Sikhs in the Punjab Today
  • Sikhs in the Diaspora
  • Variants of Sikhism
  • Summary: Sikhism in India and the Diaspora
  • Try It: Sikhism in India and the Diaspora

Rituals and Rites of Passage

  • Goals: Rituals and Rites of Passage
  • Sikh Worship
  • The Gurdwara
  • The Langar
  • Birth
  • Initiation
  • Marriage
  • Death
  • Summary: Rituals and Rites of Passage
  • Try It: Rituals and Rites of Passage

Sikh Holidays

  • Goals: Sikh Holidays
  • The Cycle of Sikh Holidays
  • Baisakh
  • Hola
  • Diwali
  • Sikh Commemorations
  • Sikh Processions
  • Sikh Pilgrimage
  • Summary: Sikh Holidays
  • Try It: Sikh Holidays


Ancient Chinese Religion

  • Goals: Ancient Chinese Religion
  • China’s Indigenous Religions
  • The Warring States Period
  • Ancient Chinese Religions
  • Ancient Chinese Philosophy
  • Taoism & Confucianism
  • Summary: Ancient Chinese Religion
  • Try It: Ancient Chinese Religion

Beginnings of Taoism

  • Goals: Beginnings of Taoism
  • Laozi
  • Origins of the Tao Te Ching
  • The Tao Te Ching
  • Zhuangzi
  • Transliterating Chinese
  • Summary: Beginnings of Taoism
  • Try It: Beginnings of Taoism

Philosophy of the Tao

  • Goals: Philosophy of the Tao
  • What is the Tao?
  • The Ten Thousand Things
  • The Ineffable Tao
  • Wu-Wei
  • The Nature of Human Beings
  • Yin & Yang
  • The Importance of Nature
  • Summary: Philosophy of the Tao
  • Try It: Philosophy of the Tao

Taoism as a Religion

  • Goals: Taoism as a Religion
  • Philosophy or Religion?
  • Celestial Master Taoism
  • Magic & Alchemy
  • Supreme Clarity Taoism
  • Numinous Treasure Taoism
  • Summary: Taoism as a Religion
  • Try It: Taoism as a Religion

Taoist Pantheon

  • Goals: Taoist Pantheon
  • Basic Features
  • Hierarchy of the Pantheon
  • Major Deities
  • Kwan Yin
  • Land God
  • God of Wealth
  • The Eight Immortals
  • Ho Hsien Ku
  • Other Taoist Deities
  • Summary: Taoist Pantheon
  • Try it: Taoist Pantheon

Second Millennium CE

  • Goals: Second Millennium CE
  • Later Sects of Taoism
  • Orthodox Unity Taoism
  • Integral Perfection Taoism
  • White Cloud Abbey
  • Taoist Temples
  • Wang Ling Guan
  • Taoist Priesthood
  • Summary: Second Millennium CE
  • Try It: Second Millennium CE

Taoist Meditation & Medicine

  • Goals: Taoist Meditation & Medicine
  • Breathing Exercises
  • The Spiritual Embryo
  • Holding the Ones
  • T’ai-chi Ch’uan
  • Taoist Martial Arts
  • Traditional Medicine & Acupuncture
  • Herbology
  • Macrobiotic Diet
  • Summary: Meditation & Medicine
  • Try It: Taoist Meditation & Medicine

Taoist Ritual Practices

  • Goals: Taoist Ritual Practices
  • Chinese Festivals
  • Chinese Astrology
  • Feng Shui
  • Yijing
  • Calligraphy
  • Healing Rituals
  • Ancestor Veneration
  • Chiao
  • Summary: Taoist Ritual Practices
  • Try It: Taoist Ritual Practices

Taoism in the Modern Era

  • Goals: Taoism in the Modern Era
  • The Decline of Taoism
  • Taoism Under the Manchus
  • Taoism & Western Imperialism
  • T’ai-p’ing Rebellion
  • The Communist Revolution
  • Taoism in China Today
  • Taoism Outside Mainland China
  • Summary: Taoism in the Modern Era
  • Try It: Taoism in the Modern Era


The Life of Confucius

  • Goals: The Life of Confucius
  • Early Life of Confucius
  • Confucius as a Young Man
  • Teacher & Philosopher
  • Summary: The Life of Confucius
  • Try It: The Life of Confucius

Fundamentals of Confucianism

  • Goals: Fundamentals
  • A Moral Philosophy
  • Confucianism as a Religion
  • Five Great Relationships
  • Rectification of Names
  • Five Virtues
  • Male Dominance in Confucianism
  • Human Nature in Confucianism
  • Confucian Ideals for Government
  • Yin & Yang in Confucianism
  • Summary: Fundamentals
  • Try It: Fundamentals

Confucian Texts

  • Goals: Confucian Texts
  • Significance of Confucian Texts
  • The Five Classics
  • The Book of Rites
  • The Four Books
  • The Analects
  • The Great Learning
  • The Book of Mencius
  • Summary: Confucian Texts
  • Try It: Confucian Texts

Early Confucian History

  • Goals: Early Confucian History
  • After Confucius
  • Mencius
  • Mozi
  • Xunzi
  • The Han Dynasty
  • Confucian Religion
  • Veneration of Confucius
  • Confucian Priesthood
  • Summary: Early Confucian History
  • Try It: Early Confucian History

The Modern Era

  • Goals: The Modern Era
  • Confucianism & Buddhism
  • Neo-Confucianism
  • The Great Ultimate
  • Sitting Meditation
  • Becoming a Sage
  • Wang Yangming
  • Reforms in Confucianism
  • Confucianism in the Modern Era
  • Summary: The Modern Era
  • Try It: The Modern Era


Early Japanese Religion

  • Goals: Early Japanese Religion
  • Indigenous Japanese Religion
  • The Japanese People
  • Prehistoric Japan
  • Early Shinto
  • Shamanism
  • Early Shinto Gods & Goddesses
  • Summary: Early Japanese Religion
  • Try It: Early Japanese Religion

Shinto After Buddhism

  • Goals: Shinto After Buddhism
  • Shinto & Chinese Religions
  • Shinto & Buddhism
  • Shinto Writings
  • Separating Shinto & Buddhism
  • Meiji Restoration
  • State Shinto
  • After World War II
  • Summary: Shinto After Buddhism
  • Try It: Shinto After Buddhism

Key Characteristics of Shinto

  • Goals: Key Characteristics
  • Major Concerns of Shinto
  • Purity
  • Tradition in Shinto
  • Honoring Nature
  • The Land of Japan
  • An Optimistic Religion
  • Orthopraxis in Shinto
  • Summary: Key Characteristics
  • Try It: Key Characteristics

Shinto Mythology

  • Goals: Shinto Mythology
  • Origin Myth of Shinto
  • Izanami & Izanagi
  • The Birth of Fire
  • Izanagi’s Return
  • The Birth of Amaterasu
  • The Heavenly Rock Cave
  • Amaterasu’s Descendants
  • Summary: Shinto Mythology
  • Try It: Shinto Mythology


  • Goals: Kami
  • Definition of Kami
  • Types of Kami
  • Traits of Kami
  • The Kami & Humans
  • The Waving Cat
  • Kami Iconography
  • Summary: Kami
  • Try It: Kami

Shinto Shrines

  • Goals: Shinto Shrines
  • Shinto Shrines in Japan Today
  • Torii
  • Shimenawa
  • Shrine Architecture
  • Features of Shinto Shrines
  • Enshrined Kami
  • The Three Treasures
  • Summary: Shinto Shrines
  • Try It: Shinto Shrines

Shinto Worship

  • Goals: Shinto Worship
  • Worshipping the Kami
  • Visiting a Shrine
  • Oracles & Charms
  • Occasions for Visiting a Shrine
  • Shinto Funerals
  • Priest-Led Worship
  • The Shinto Priesthood
  • Shinto Worship at Home
  • Summary: Shinto Worship
  • Try It: Shinto Worship

Shinto Festivals

  • Goals: Shinto Festivals
  • Occasions for Festivals
  • New Year’s Festivals
  • Rice Festivals
  • Other Shinto Festivals
  • Processions in Shinto
  • Shinto Dance & Theater
  • Shinto Pilgrimage
  • Summary: Shinto Festivals
  • Try It: Shinto Festivals

Religious Blending in Japan

  • Goals: Religious Blending in Japan
  • Who Practices Shinto?
  • Taoist Elements in Shinto
  • Confucian Elements in Shinto
  • Buddhist Elements in Shinto
  • New Religious Movements in Japan
  • Shinto Outside Japan
  • Summary: Religious Blending in Japan
  • Try It: Religious Blending in Japan

Religious Pluralism

The World’s Religions

  • Goals: The World’s Religions
  • Making Meaningful Comparisons
  • Universal & Ethnic Religions
  • Orthopraxis & Orthodoxy
  • Sacred Time
  • Founders, Prophets, & Teachers
  • Sex, Life, & Death
  • One God or Many?
  • Summary: The World’s Religions
  • Try It: The World’s Religions

New Religious Movements

  • Goals: New Religious Movements
  • Religious Change
  • Millennial Movements
  • Universalist Religions
  • Nature Religions
  • New Age Religions
  • Summary: New Religious Movements
  • Try It: New Religious Movements

Religion in the 21st Century

  • Goals: The 21st Century
  • The Secularization Thesis
  • Fundamentalism
  • Interreligious Dialogue
  • Women’s Religious Leadership
  • Religion in Popular Culture
  • Looking Forward
  • Summary: The 21st Century
  • Try It: The 21st Century

Watch the videos…

Click the links below to watch short videos about features of Revealing® World Religions.

Students are offered a compelling look at the principles and practice of some of the world’s major religions. The seven modules include:

  • Exploring Religion
  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Sikhism
  • Daoism
  • Confucianism
  • Shinto
  • Religious Pluralism

Revealing® Eastern Religions includes seven modules (corresponding to textbook chapters) that cover the religions most often taught in introductory eastern religions courses–Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Shinto–along with modules on the academic study of religion and on religious pluralism in the 21st century. The text is designed to convey the maximum amount of information in the most user-friendly manner, and to reinforce learning with interactive exercises and a large bank of review questions. Compared to other introductory eastern religions textbooks, Revealing® Eastern Religions is vastly more experiential.

Evocative images of the religions presented appear at the rate of one for roughly every seventy words of text, a ratio that print textbooks cannot begin to match. Inclusion of context-appropriate scriptures lessen the need for adjunct texts such as anthologies of primary readings. Finally, an extensive, and easily searchable glossary and bibliography provide additional resources for students, including the proper pronunciation of key terms in the study of the world’s religions. The narration provided is a tremendous asset for students with learning differences and for those whose native language is not English.

Though clear links are drawn between religions related to one another (e.g., Hinduism and Buddhism), the modules, like chapters in a textbook, can be studied in whatever order the instructor prefers. Future editions of Revealing® Eastern Religions will incorporate Jainism and Zoroastrianism. Text, images, audio clips, and exercises are all updated on a semester-by-semester basis, improving existing material and offering the results of fresh scholarship as soon as it is available.

Revealing® Eastern Religions is not a slave to technology; rather it uses it to make students’ learning experience richer, more meaningful, and ultimately, better retained. It is a highly flexible product, capable of being used in conjunction with traditional print textbooks, anthologies, and primary texts, as the instructor prefers. Revealing® Eastern Religions is an easy fit for distance learning courses, but it is first and foremost designed for regular classroom use. By teaching the basics of world religions in an engaging manner that is proven to enhance independent learning, Revealing® Eastern Religions frees up class time for the kind of learning that classrooms provide best: student interaction, discussion, and the opportunity to address specific student needs and interests. If you are tired of assigning material that students don’t read, or that leaves them struggling to retain basic information, you will be thrilled with Revealing® Eastern Religions.