Department of Religious Studies
Module: Religions of Northern India

Description:

Students will explore the major religious traditions of Northern India, with special attention granted to the traditions and teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.

Objectives:

  1. To study Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and Islam in the socio-cultural context of Northern India
  2. To study Tibetan Buddhism under several high lamas (Rinpoches)
  3. To visit the major temples and shrines of these religious traditions, including the Taj Mahal
  4. To establish an email relationship with a Tibetan refugee two months prior to departure and spend significant face-to-face time with their email partner while in Dharamsala, India
  5. To provide students an optional opportunity to fulfill their Service Learning requirement while in Dharamsala.

Readings

Powers, J. (2007). Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, Revised Edition. New York: Snow Lion Publications. 512 pgs. ISBN: 1559392827

Sikora, J. (2002). Religions of India: A User Friendly and Brief Introduction to Hinduism, Sikhism, and the Jains. Boston: Writers Club Press. 116 pgs. ISBN: 0595247121

Student are also required to view three DVDs on the religions of India, the life of the Dalia Lama and Tibetan Buddhist art. These DVDs located at the circulation desk of Magale Library.

Tentative Itinerary for May/June, 2013

Monday, May 27

Depart Shreveport

Tuesday, May 28
Arrive at Delhi, India
Greeted by Professor Guidry and our Tibetan Guide Tsering and head to hotel
Sleep and drink plenty of water
Hotel Star Plaza Delhi
5158, Krishna Market, Main Bazaar, Pahar Ganj,
New Delhi - 110 055, INDIA
Tel: (91-11) 41698651, 23586810, 23586816, +91-8800635464, +91-9810343913
Fax: (91-11) 23586008
E-mail: stargroupofhotels@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 29
Spend the day sleeping, reading, writing, & drinking water
7:00AM – Walking tour of local temples other holy places (optional) and
breakfast
11:00AM - Group gathering in lobby – India Orientation and Agra Preparation. Safety issues when engaging local populations and a brief introduction to cultural practices and taboos.
Buy snacks and fruit for breakfast on the way to Agra.
7:00PM - Group Dinner and more sleep

Thursday, May 30
4:00AM Jeeps depart from hotel for Agra. Guided tour of the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the modern world. PLEASE do a bit of research on the Taj Mahal before our departure. Return to hotel early evening. Dinner on your own.

Friday, May 31
Breakfast on your own
10:00 AM – Meet in lobby for a Delhi Metro and Bicycle Rickshaw trip the Tibetan Colony of Mashnu Katila and have a group lunch there. (optional) It is recommended to sleep in if you are tired.
Buy snacks and fruit for tonight’s train ride
5:00 PM – Group gathering about tonight’s train Pathankot
9:00 PM – Depart for New Delhi train station for train to Pathankot
10:00 PM – Train departs for Patankot. Night train with sleeping berths.

Saturday, June 1 - Dharamsala
7:00AM - Train arrives Pathankot
Group breakfast at Jyoti Restaurant in Route
11:00AM - Arrive in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala. Check into rooms at Ahimsa Guest House. After guest house check-in, break into 3 small groups for a tour of the town and lunch.
Free afternoon to rest, drink water, read and write.
5:00PM - Dharamsala Orientation meeting at Guest House. We will review the possibilities and expectations of the mutual learning partner experience. This meeting will prepare participants to best serve the Tibetan refugee partner, primarily through teaching your partner English. We will also discuss how one might avoid unintentional cultural clashes with Tibetans.
6:00PM – Meet at the Guest House, Tour of His Holiness Dalai Lama Temple and Kora (Circular path surrounding his home and gardens)by Tsering
7:30-8:30PM - Group Dinner at Guest House
8:30PM – Movie in Group Room (Cry of the Snow Lion)
Ahimsha Guest House
Temple Road, Dharmasala
Phone: 9816689222

Sunday, June 2 - Dharamsala
7:00AM – Meditation in group room (optional)
7:30AM - Group breakfast at Ahimsa Guest House
9:00AM - Spend three hours with Tibetan Mutual Learning Partner. This time should be spent teaching your partner either English or computer skills while learning about their lives. Your partner's tendency will be to want to serve as your personal tour guide in an attempt to show hospitality (This could be a culture clash you can write about). Thank them for their willingness to show you the sights but remind your partner of the purpose of your scheduled time. You might accept the offer for another time other than the 9:00AM to Noon time period, should your schedule allow it. Also, this work should be done one on one; do not meet in groups.
12:00PM - Lunch on your own. You might treat your Tibetan Learning Partner to lunch if you wish.
3:00PM - Meet at LHA Downtown Library - Lecture and Q&A with Ama Adhe, Elder Tibetan Woman, torture survivor of 28 years in a Chinese Communist work camp\prison.
6:30PM – At the guest house, a Question and Answer session with Professor Guidry about the India experience thus far.
7:30PM - Group dinner at guest house
8:30PM - Movie in group room: "What Remains of Us"

Monday, June 3 - Dharamsala
7:00AM – Meditation in group room (optional)
7:30AM – Group breakfast at guest house
9:00AM – noon - Spend three hours with Tibetan Mutual Learning Partner. Lunch on your own.
12:00PM – Lunch on your own.
3:30PM – Meet in the LHA Library for a briefing about Conversation Class
4:00PM – Conversation Class at LHA office (optional).
6:00PM – Yoga on the guest house roof top (optional)
7:30PM – Group dinner at guest house
8:30PM – Movie in group room: TBA

Tuesday, June 4 - Dharamsala
7:00AM – Meditation in group room (optional)
7:30AM – Group breakfast at guest house
9:00AM – Spend three hours with Tibetan Mutual Learning Partner.
12:00PM – Lunch on your own.
3:00PM – Meet at the Guest House for lecture by Tibetan Doctor on Tibetan medicine and its relationship with Buddhist philosophy and astrology
6:00PM – Yoga on the guest house roof top (optional)
7:30PM – Group dinner at guest house
8:30PM – Movie in group room (optional)

Wednesday, June 5 – Dharamsala
7:00AM – Meditation in group room (optional)
7:30AM – Group breakfast at guest house.
9:00AM – Spend the morning with your Tibetan mutual learning partner
12:00PM – Lunch on your own
3:00PM – Meet at LHA Library – Lecture followed by a brief tour and talk at GuChuSum, which works with hundreds of former Tibetan political prisoners.
6:00PM – Yoga on the guest house roof top (optional)
7:30PM – Group dinner at guest house
8:30PM – Movie in group room The Cup ( This is a fun film about one of the Monasteries we will be visiting in Bir)

Thursday, June 6 – Dharamsala
7:00AM – Meditation in group room (optional)
7:30AM – Group breakfast at guest house
9:00AM – Spend three hours with Tibetan Mutual Learning Partner.
12:00PM – Lunch on your own.
3:00PM – Meet at LHA downtown to tour the LHA Charitable Trust and receive a talk on community social work practice with the Tibetan refugee population, given by Prof. Neil Guidry, LCSW. Talk followed by question and answer session about your Mutual Learning Partner experience thus far.
4:00PM – Conversation class at LHA (optional)
6:00PM – Yoga on the guest house roof top (optional)
7:30PM – Group dinner at guest house, followed by a short meeting about tomorrow’s trip to Bir.
8:30PM – Movie in group room: Kung Fu Hustle

Friday, June 7 - Dharamsala – Bir
7:00AM – Meditation in group room (optional)
7:30AM – Group breakfast at guest house
8:30AM – Clean rooms and pack
9:30AM – Jeeps depart from guest house for Bir. In route we will stop for a group lunch and a tour of Norbulinka, the Institute for the preservation of Tibetan Art and Crafts.
5:00PM – Orientation meeting at the hotel followed by a tour of Bir.
6:30PM – Sunset walk through the Tea Fields, see how tea is grown and harvested (optional)
7:30PM – Dinner on your own but you might consider Friends Cafe.
Choling Guest House
Bir Tibetan Colony
Bir, India (only one street with no name)
phone 9418913976


Saturday, June 8 - Bir

7:30AM – Breakfast on your own
9:00AM – Either a two hour hike or a 15 minute taxi ride through the surrounding small Indian farming villages to the area's main monastery, Sherab Ling Kagyu Gompa. Experience the vast array of traditional Tibetan art work, and see stupas.
12:00PM - Group lunch at the monastery
1:00PM – Trek or taxi back to the guest house
5:00PM – Meet at guest house for lecture and Q&A on mantra practice and ritual in Tibetan Buddhist practice by Professor Guidry. Bring your questions that you have been sitting on!

Sunday, June 9 - Bir
5:00AM – Meditation Practice with the monks of Palyul Nyingma Monestary (optional)
7:30AM – Breakfast on your own
9:00PM – Tour of Palyul Nyingma Monestary . Experience a little of the daily routine and lifestyle of Tibetan monks. 10:30 – A Tibetan Rinpoche will give us a lecture on Tibetan Buddhism and instruction on how to use a specific Mantra to generate Compassion.
12:00 - Group Lunch
Free afternoon – The Monastery has a Fair Trade gift shop and a Tibetan Rug factory that is great for gifts.
6:30PM - Sunset walk through the Tea Plantation (optional)
7:30PM – Dinner on your own. Pack in preparation for tomorrow's departure to Tso Pema.

Monday, June 10 – Bir – Tso Pema
7:30AM – Breakfast on your own
9:00AM – Jeeps depart hotel for Tso Pema, which means Lotus Lake. This town is also known as Rewalsar. It will be a four-hour jeep ride. Please take motion sickness medication prior to departure. En route we will stop in the city of Mandi for lunch and to visit local tailors to have Indian-style clothing made. You will wear these clothes at a special group dinner to be held on our second night in Mandi. Women might consider traditional saris while men might look for Kurta Pajamas, basic Hindu menswear. Accessorize your attire with scarfs. The clothing will be ready for you upon our return to Mandi.
4:00PM – Arrive in Tso Pema and check into hotel. Tso Pema is a lake sacred to Buddhist due to a myth regarding the famous Tantric practitioner Padmasambhava and his Indian partner, Mandarava, who subsequently brought Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet. The lake is also believed to be sacred by Hindus and Sikhs.
5:00PM – Orientation meeting in group room then break into small groups to tour the Hindu temples, the Sikh Gurudwara and the LHA Community Library Project.
7:00PM – Optional experience evening puja at Sikh Gurudwara.
7:30PM – Dinner on your own.
Hotel Lotus Lake
Lotus Lake Street (again, only one street)
Rewalsar, India
phone 01905-280239

Tuesday, June 11 - Tso Pema
7:30PM – Breakfast on your own.
9:00AM – Hike up the mountain! This hike is necessary preparation for those participants who want to do the Triune hike later in the trip. For those participants not interested to hike, are not planning to hike Triune, or are feeling under the weather; a jeep will be departing the hotel at 10:00AM to take you to the top of the mountain.
10:30AM – Tour the Tibetan nun's convent, consisting of a few buildings and several caves. Most of these women have been long-term retreatants. Experience Tantric Buddhist practices inside one of the caves and hang prayer flags after participating in a prayer incense offering (known as a type of Puja ceremony). The nuns will prepare a special vegetarian lunch for the group, a highlight of the trip. After lunch you may either take a jeep back to the hotel or hike down the mountain.
6:00PM – Meet in group room to reflect on your experiences of the day.
7:00PM – Dinner on your own.
8:00PM – Movie in hotel restaurant: TBA

Wednesday, June 12 – Tso Pema - Mandi
7:30AM – Breakfast on your own
9:00AM – Meet in front of hotel to attend Dharma talk on compassion talk on compassion and emptiness by an elder Tibetan nun, “Annie Tenzie”. She is a 70 year-old Nun and Master of Dzogchen and Mahamudra in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Annie Tenzin’s entire life is religious practice. She is a pure vegetarian and an expert in the Tibetan Nyung Nay fasting retreat. She is a main teacher to the Nuns in the Tso Pema area and is considered a living example of Bodhichitta, the good heart practice.
11:00AM – Visit a Tibetan nursery school supported by LHA
12:00PM – Lunch on your own
1:00PM – Load up in jeeps in front of hotel and depart for Mandi (a 35-minute drive).
3:30PM – Mandi Orientation
4:30PM - Tour the Indian market and visit the tailors to do a fitting of the clothes you had made.
he Indian market and visit the tailors to do a fitting of the clothes you had made.
6:00PM – Social Hour in the Palace Garden
7:30PM – Group dinner in Copacabana restaurant (casual attire)
Raj Mahal Palace Hotel
Mandi, 175001, Mandi District, HP, India
Phone : +91-01905-222401,322401
Mobile : 09816021126
Fax : +91-01905-223434

Thursday, June 13 - Mandi
8:00AM – Walking tour which will include numerous Hindu temples, shrines, and the dungeon where Mandarava was kept. Meet in the garden in front of hotel. he garden in front of hotel.
Lunch on your own.
3:00PM - Meet in Palace Garden for walking tour to Tarna Mandir, located on top of the hill in the center of Mandi with panorama views of the town. Tarna Mandir is a very unique Mother Goddess temple, with a set of two dozen paintings depicting various forms of the Mother Goddess. The garden by the Temple is the legendary location of Padmasambhava’s first teachings in Zahor after he was freed by the Kind, and was consecrated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1957. The hike is steep.make adjustments. The rest of the afternoon: relax, read and write.
6:00PM – Social Hour in the Palace Garden. Wear your new clothes. Bring your cameras.
7:30PM – Group Dinner in Copacabana restaurant

Friday, June 14 – Mandi
9:00AM – Meet in Palace Garden for walking tour to Tarna Mandir, located on top of the hill in the center of Mandi with panorama views of the town. Tarna Mandir is a very unique Mother Goddess temple, with a set of two dozen paintings depicting various forms of the Mother Goddess. The garden by the Temple is the legendary location of Padmasambhava’s first teachings in Zahor after he was freed by the Kind, and was consecrated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1957. The hike is steep.
12:00PM - Lunch on your own
Free afternoon to rest of the afternoon: relax, read and write.
6:00PM – Social Hour in the Palace Garden.
7:30PM – Group Dinner in Main Royal Dining Hall (dress in your new clothes again if you like!)

Saturday, June 15 – Mandi - Gallu
8:00AM – Free morning for reflection, relaxation and packing. Be sure to eat a late breakfast or early lunch.
1:00PM – Jeeps leave for Gallu, a five hour drive. Please take motion sickness medication at least 30 minutes prior to departure.
6:00PM – Arrive in Gallu, a guest house half way up the trail to Triune.
7:30PM – Group dinner at hotel
8:30PM – Safety Meeting about the Trek to Triune
Those not wishing to do the Trek to Triune will have the option to remain at the Gallu guest House for an extra night for rest and relaxation. The group will rejoin you on the way down.

Sunday, June 16 - Gallu - Triune
7:00-8:00AM – Group breakfast at the guest house.

8:00AM – Start hike up Triune mountain. This hike is a popular nine km. walk from Dharamsala to a ridge at 2,827 m. (9,275 ft.). We will stay in a very rustic mountain lodge with no indoor or outdoor toilet facilities, indoor plumbing, electricity or heat. But any discomfort you experience will be off-set by the incredible vistas and the sense of personal accomplishment. Will stop along the way to Triune several times for tea, lunch and snacks. Dinner will be prepared by a local man who lives on the mountain.
6:00PM – Sunset hike in search of Hobbits, Yetis and other mystical creatures!
7:30PM – Group dinner

Monday, June 17 – Dharamsala
For those participants on Triune
8:00AM – Breakfast on your own
11:00AM – After breakfast, pack up your stuff and begin the hike downhill to Dharamsala. Stop along the way for tea, lunch and snacks. Be careful on the way down and avoid walking by cattle...they might kick you.
Consider spending your afternoon volunteering at LHA downtown, doing service learning, a cooking class, getting massage, writing in your journal, relaxing at the guest house, etc.
5:30PM – Meet at LHA Downtown for yoga (optional)
7:00PM – Group dinner at guest house.

Monday, June 17 - Dharamsala
7:30AM - Group breakfast at guest house
9:00AM - Spend morning with your Tibetan Mutual Learning Partner
Lunch on your own
Afternoon: TBA
5:30PM Meet at LHA Downtown for yoga (optional)
7:00PM Group dinner at guest house

Tuesday, June 18 - Dharamsala
7:30AM - Group breakfast at guest house
9:00AM - Spend morning with your Tibetan Mutual Learning Partner
Lunch on your own
Afternoon free for shopping or to spend extra time with your Tibetan Partner.
5:30PM Meet at LHA Downtown for yoga (optional)
7:00PM Group dinner at guest house. Invite your Tibetan Mutual Learning Partner to a special Farewell Dinner Celebration at the guest house. Wear the clothes you had made in Mandi.

Wednesday, June 19 – Dharamsala - Amritsar
7:00AM – Group breakfast at guest house. Pack before leaving.
8:00AM – Depart in jeeps for Amritsar (five hour ride)
4:00PM – Lecture by Dr. David Otto on Sikh Religion and Golden Temple.
Lunch and Dinner on your own
7:00PM – Optional Golden Temple sneak preview

GRAND HOTEL Address: Queen's Road |
Opp. Railway Station, Amritsar 143 001, India
Phone: 01832 562424

Thursday, June 20 – Amritsar - Delhi
7:00AM – Breakfast on your own.
8:00AM – Visit the Sikh Golden Temple
12:00PM – Lunch on your own. Pack for departure
4:00PM – Walk across the street to train station.
5:00PM – Train departs for Delhi. Dinner (of sorts) on train. Bring fruit and snacks if you wish.
10:00PM – Arrive in Delhi. Take jeeps to hotel.
Hotel Star Plaza Delhi
5158, Krishna Market, Main Bazaar, Pahar Ganj,
New Delhi - 110 055, INDIA
Tel: (91-11) 41698651, 23586810, 23586816, +91-8800635464, +91-9810343913
Fax: (91-11) 23586008
E-mail: stargroupofhotels@gmail.com

Friday, June 21 - Delhi to Helsinki, Finland

9:50AM Depart Delhi for Helsinki. Note: be sure to exchange any Rupees you may have left for either Euros or US dollars. It is against the law to remove Rupees from India. For this reason, you will not be able to exchange them for another currency outside of India.
5:05 PM Arrive in Helsinki

Saturday, June 22 - Helsinki
Enjoy a wonderful European city. See the sites. Have a hamburger (your first in four weeks).

Sunday, June 23
9:00AM Depart Helsinki
5:45 PM Arrive in Atlanta
8:05 PM Depart Atlanta for Shreveport
8:56 PM Arrive in Shreveport

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