Religious Studies

Asian religions

Get started

Buddha: A Very Short Introduction

This short reading examines the complex and sometimes conflicting information that Buddhist texts give about the life and teaching of the Buddha. What can we learn about the social and political background of India in the Buddha's time? How did his thought develop into what constitutes Buddhist thought today? How has Buddhism survived so well through the centuries? What is the contemporary relevance of Buddhism?

Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction

This short reading introduces the reader to the teachings of the Buddha and to the workings of Buddhism in daily life. It looks at the distinctive features of Buddhism, examining who the Buddha was and what his teachings were. By considering how Buddhist thought has developed over the centuries, this reading considers how contemporary dilemmas can be faced from a Buddhist perspective.

Confucianism: A Very Short Introduction

To understand China, it is essential to understand Confucianism. First formulated in the sixth century BCE, the teachings of Confucius would come to dominate Chinese society, politics, economics, and ethics. This short reading explores the major philosophical ideas of the Confucian tradition, showing their profound impact on state ideology, imperial government, the civil service examination system, domestic life, and social relations over the course of twenty-six centuries. It focuses on two of the Sage's most crucial philosophical problems—what makes for a good person, and what constitutes good government—and demonstrates the enduring significance of these questions today and how the Confucian tradition sits alongside Western ideas and technology. 

Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction

Hinduism is practised by nearly 80 per cent of India’s population, and around 70 million people outside India. This short reading offers an overview of this major religion, discussing key topics such as the centrality of the Veda as religious texts, the role of Brahmins, gurus, and storytellers in the transmission of divine truths, and the cultural and moral importance of epics such as the Ramayana. It considers the impact of changes in technology, flourishing social media, and the challenges facing it in the 21st century such as the impact of Hindu nationalism and the politicization of Hinduism on Hindus worldwide. 

Sikhism: A Very Short Introduction

The Sikh religion has a following of around twenty-four million people worldwide, and is ranked as the world’s fifth largest religion. This short reading introduces newcomers to the meaning of the Sikh religious tradition, its teachings, practices, rituals, and festivals. It highlights and contextualizes the key threads in the history of Sikhism, from the first Gurus to martyrdom, codes of conduct, militarization, and the increasingly significant diaspora. Examining gender, caste, and the changes that are currently underway in the faith, this reading considers contemporary Sikh identities and their role in our world.

Tibetan Buddhism: A Very Short Introduction

This short reading provides the essential features of Tibetan Buddhist history, teachings, and practice. The Tibetan Buddhist tradition has known over thirteen centuries of continuous development. During that time, it has spread among the neighbouring peoples – the Mongol, Himalayan, and Siberian peoples, Manchus and Chinese – and is now also practised in Europe and America. This shor reading considers what this religion teaches; the position of the religious leader, the Dalai Lama, and how his succession will be assured; and political contestation and suppression of Tibetan Buddhism in China.

Top resources

Use search tools specifically about Asian Religions to quickly find the most relevant scholarly sources for your independent study and research.

More information?