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1 GCE Religious Studies RSS09 World Religions 1: Buddhism OR Hinduism OR Sikhism Report on the Examination 2060 June 2013 Version: 1.0

2 Further copies of this Report are available from aqa.org.uk Copyright 2013 AQA and its licensors. All rights reserved. AQA retains the copyright on all its publications. However, registered schools/colleges for AQA are permitted to copy material from this booklet for their own internal use, with the following important exception: AQA cannot give permission to schools/colleges to photocopy any material that is acknowledged to a third party even for internal use within the centre.

3 General Comments There has been a considerable increase in the students taking this unit in June 2013, with more students taking the Hinduism option than in previous years. There was a very wide range of ability shown in the students work with some excellent scripts with consistently high level marks and others which were struggling to gain an E grade. Section A Buddhism Question 1 Samsara and the three marks of existence 01 In attempting to examine the Buddhist understanding of the cycle of death and rebirth, the students presented a wide variety of answers due to the open nature of the question. The question required a good understanding of the meaning of the concepts of samsara and the law of karma and how they relate to each other. The causes of the endless cycle of rebirth through ignorance, greed and hatred were well understood by most students. Better answers showed a thorough treatment of the topic with evidence and examples from relevant Buddhist teachings. These included the Buddhist understanding of the nature of death as the cessation of bodily /material existence and the continuation of consciousness based on the teaching on the five skandhas. The need to escape the trap of samsara through a life based on the noble eightfold path was a relevant point mentioned by some students. 02 Most students were able to present some sound arguments for the statement that a Buddhist way of life is completely dominated by beliefs about death and rebirth, by referring to the hope for a good rebirth through moral actions. However, some successfully argued against the statement by showing how the goal of enlightenment was also a dominant influence as well as a life based on metta, generosity and compassion. Question 2 The Four Noble Truths 03 In examining the Buddhist teaching on tanha (craving) most students were able to explain the nature of craving as the cause of suffering (dukkha) as stated in the second noble truth. Others clearly explained the three kinds of craving and how they contributed to life in samsara. However some students tended to include reference to a variety of teaching and concepts such as dukkha, the five skandhas and karma but did not relate the material to the central concept of tanha and also repeated material that was more relevant to The assessment of the claim that Buddhists will never be free from craving until they attain nibbana was quite well answered by a minority of students but not very well by the majority. The better answers argued that craving would be an inherent part of human nature until nibbana was finally gained, as even the wish to attain nibbana is a subtle form of craving. They also recognised that craving could be reduced and controlled by the life of renunciation undertaken by monks and is also absent in some states of mind in meditation. They argued that total freedom from craving was different from temporary freedom during a Buddhist s lifetime. 3 of 7

4 Question 3 The Eightfold Path 05 Most students were able to provide a good outline of the nature of morality with a clear explanation of the three aspects of the noble eightfold path, right action, right speech and right livelihood. However, not everyone addressed the second part of the question well, i.e. examine its importance in the eightfold path. This required an understanding of how morality contributed to and is guided by wisdom, and how morality is the basis for the right state of mind for meditation. 06 This was a popular question and well answered by most students, as they were able to argue for both sides of the issue that Buddhists practise morality for their own benefit rather than for the benefit of others. Some referred to the view that the Theravada tradition is focussed on the path to liberation for oneself alone and others referred to the role of morality within the Mahayana tradition which is geared to the liberation of all beings. Question 4 The Sangha 07 The relationship between the monastic and lay community was described well by most students in relation to the roles and responsibilities of each aspect of the sangha. However, the better answers examined the nature of the relationship as a reciprocal one in which the monastic and lay community are equally dependent upon each other for material and spiritual well-being. 08 The view that the monks need the lay community more than the lay community needs the monks was quite well answered and some good arguments and reasons why the monks are totally dependent on the lay for their physical survival were presented. However, those students who attempted to assess the relative importance of spiritual over material well-being produced the best answers. Section B Hinduism Question 5 The Hindu concept of God 09 This was quite well answered by most students, who referred to the various forms of personal deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesh and the goddess Lakshmi and especially the avatars of Vishnu, Krishna and Rama. Some students used the concept of atman as a personal form of Brahman as it is the indwelling spirit in every living being. Whilst this was a valid interpretation, without reference to the particular personal manifestations of Brahman they could not be awarded the higher levels of marks. 10 For some students the assessment of the view For Hindus, God is knowable only in the personal form proved quite challenging due to their uncertainly about how to interpret knowable. This phrase is explicitly stated in the specification and refers to the issue about the transcendence and abstract nature of Brahman, making God in this form difficult to know or relate to. The manifestation of Brahman in personal deities makes it possible for Hindus to have a direct relationship with God. On the other hand the process of self-realisation, i.e. the realisation that the innermost being (atman) has the same nature as Brahman, makes Brahman knowable. 4 of 7

5 Question 6 Means to liberation in Hinduism 11 Most students were able to explain the paths of karma yoga and bhakti yoga but did not always explain how they are paths to liberation. The former is the path of good deeds and duty with the discipline of non-attachment as the means of breaking the bondage with the material world and the latter as the path of devotion in which submission and selfless love of God leads to ultimate union. 12 Most were able to provide good and balanced arguments in agreement and disagreement with the view that karma yoga is the highest form of yoga. Question 7 Worship in Hinduism 13 The higher level answers selected and organised the material well, identifying the forms of worship such as puja, havan and yajna and their key features together with the main features of festival celebrations, supported with appropriate examples. The less good answers provided too much irrelevant detail about one form of worship. 14 Most students answered very well the assessment of the view Temples are essential to the Hindu way of life, as they were able to argue for the essential role of temples in maintaining Hindu religious traditions but also refer to the many aspects of the Hindu way life which is fundamentally based in dharma. Question 8 The Hindu way of life 15 Some excellent answers were presented in response to the question Examine the nature and role of temple priests and gurus in Hinduism, in which the students were able to make a very clear distinction between the two types of holy men and their particular role in Hindu religious traditions. Good details and examples were provided to show their understanding of the place of temple priests and gurus in the Hindu way of life. Less good answers were unclear about the differences between the two and their roles as performers of rituals and teachers. 16 The better responses to the statement In Hinduism, gurus are more important than temple priests, showed an understanding and appreciation of the more fundamental issue about the relative importance of spiritual liberation and ritual practices. Section C Sikhism Question 9 The Gurus 17 In examining the life and achievements of Guru Gobind Singh the better answers selected the most salient features and provided sufficient thoroughness and detail to give an accurate account. There was tendency for some students to write down everything they knew about Guru Gobind Singh without attention to coherence or relevance. 5 of 7

6 18 Some good discussion was presented in response to the claim that Guru Gobind Singh is the most important Guru for Sikhs today, in which students recognised his role in establishing the Sikh community and traditions in a distinctive and practical way. The spiritual importance of Guru Nanak as the founder of the faith as well as the acknowledgement that all the Sikh Gurus had importance of one kind or another was well expressed. Question 10 Festivals 19 Most students were able to give an adequate outline of the celebration of Diwali in the home and community but did not explain its meaning very well. This required an understanding of the historical events that Diwali commemorates, which shows Sikh heroism and willingness to risk life to save others in danger even if they are of a different faith, so it reasserts the Sikh values of valour and compassion for others. 20 The better responses to the statement that the celebration of Diwali is a vital part of Sikh life and faith today referred to the particular circumstances of contemporary society which make such celebrations vital or not. The more secular environment of modern Sikhism especially in diaspora makes these celebrations both more meaningful as a means of reaffirming Sikh values and less important in the context of other priorities. Question 11 The Guru Granth Sahib and the Gurdwara 21 Most students were able to describe the main features of the Golden Temple complex at Amritsar but were unable to explain their significance. For example, the lake surrounding the temple signifies the importance of spiritual cleansing and the four entrances signify the openness of Sikhism to people from the four quarters of the world. 22 Most students were able to present balanced arguments in agreement and disagreement with the statement The Golden Temple at Amritsar has little relevance for Sikhs in the United Kingdom today. They recognised the greater importance it might have to Sikhs in the UK as a means of strengthening their cultural identity as well as the possibility that it had less relevance to them because of its historical links with the Punjab and its distance from British culture. Question 12 Diwan and langar 23 Most students were able to explain the nature of worship in the Sikh home but not many were able to explain its purpose. This required them to show that it was a daily reminder of the intention to lead a God-centred life, and to ensure the presence of God in the family home as well as giving solidarity and unity to the Sikh family. 24 There were some good responses in agreement and disagreement to the statement that For Sikhs, worship in the home is more meaningful than worship in the gurdwara, and most were able to present a balanced argument for both sides of the issue. 6 of 7

7 Mark Ranges and Award of Grades Grade boundaries and cumulative percentage grades are available on the Results Statistics page of the AQA Website. Converting Marks into UMS marks Convert raw marks into Uniform Mark Scale (UMS) marks by using the link below. UMS conversion calculator 7 of 7

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