AS-LEVEL RELIGIOUS STUDIES

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1 AS-LEVEL RELIGIOUS STUDIES RSS09 World Religions 1: Buddhism OR Hinduism OR Sikhism Report on the Examination 2060 June 2015 Version: 0.1

2 Further copies of this Report are available from aqa.org.uk Copyright 2015 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 RSS09 World Religions 1: Buddhism OR Hinduism OR Sikhism General Comments The entry for this component has increased and the scripts revealed a full range of ability. The Buddhist section was taken by over 80%, Hinduism by 12% and Sikhism by 9% of students. Section A: Buddhism Question 1 Samsara and the three marks of existence 01 This was the most popular question in this section and answered well by most students. They tended to write extensively about the meaning of the concept of anatta and its relationship to the other marks of existence of dukkha and anicca even though an outline was required. Less attention was given to the second part of the question which required an examination of the implications of the concept anatta for the Buddhist attitude to life. Most recognised that a belief in this concept might make a person less self-centred and egoistic but the higher levels were awarded to those who developed this further into the attitude of acceptance of change and suffering. Anatta can lead to a recognition that all living beings are basically the same and connected as they are made up of the same constituent elements of mind and body which leads to a more compassionate attitude to life. Also a realisation of the futility of attaching to material gain and success is a result of a belief in anatta which very few students mentioned. 02 Most students supported the view that the concept of anatta is not relevant for most Buddhists because it was too abstract and difficult to understand and it was relevant because it was one of the truths taught by the Buddha. However those that mentioned that anatta was less relevant than some of the other marks of existence because it was less evident in everyday life and experience and more speculative and philosophical in nature gained higher level marks. Some recognised that the relevance was based in the dynamic interaction between body and mind which enables people to understand their own human nature and helps to develop the wisdom required for nibbana. Question 2 The Four Noble Truths 03 This was the best answered question in this section as most students had a very good understanding of the main teachings of the four noble truths and the meaning of the concepts of dukkha, samodaya, nirodha and magga. Although an outline was required, many students wrote too extensively on this and did not examine the relationship between these truths. Some referred to the medical analogy of symptoms diagnosis and cure of suffering, but the higher level answers clearly indicated the causal relationship between each of these four truths. 3of 7

4 04 Whilst most students were able to argue the case that the Four Noble truths did have an effect on the Buddhist way of life, very few recognised the central issue posed by the question which was that a belief has no effect unless it is put in to action and practice by following the noble eightfold path of morality meditation and wisdom. Question 3 The Eightfold Path 05 This was the least well-answered question on this section which required and examination of the nature and importance of meditation in the Eightfold Path. Nature required a knowledge and understanding of the three specific aspects of meditation on the eightfold path which are right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. Higher level answers examined each of these in their various aspects but most gave generialised answers about meditation. With regard to the importance of meditation, most students did state that it led to enlightenment, but did not develop the point further into the ways in which meditation contributes to the other aspects of morality and wisdom. 06 Answers to this question varied greatly and gave students the opportunity for independent thinking. Most recognised that meditation could solve the problems of the world by giving people a peaceful outlook on life, but few argued the case against this claim that the practice of meditation can solve many problems in today s world. Sometimes political and economic measures can be more effective and necessary and meditation alone is not enough to solve certain kinds of global problems. Question 4 The Sangha 07 In response to this question, most students examined how the lay sangha provided a refuge for the monastic sangha through its material and physical support, and that the monastic sangha was a refuge for the lay community by providing spiritual guidance and understanding of the dhamma. However, very few gained the higher levels which required a full understanding of the phrase Sangha as refuge in the question. This required an understanding of how the lay sangha is a refuge for the lay people within it, just as the sangha is a refuge for the monks and nuns in their disciplined lifestyle. 08 The answers to this were sometimes better in their understanding of the concept of sangha than the AO1 part of this question. The evaluation skills of AO2 were more apparent in the answers to this question which required an assessment of the view that the sangha as a refuge is more important for the monastic community than for the lay community. Some good arguments were presented in support of the view, stating that the demands and commitment of those who choose to join the monastic sangha make the sangha an essential part of this lifestyle. Arguments against the view pointed out that the lay community can create a caring and harmonious society which contributes to the well-being of all Buddhists, both monastic and lay. 4of 7

5 Section B: Hinduism Question 5 The Hindu concept of God 09 This question was answered reasonably well by most students but too much attention was given to giving the details of the powers and attributes of Lakshmi and Durga without proper attention being given to the command to examine the nature and role of goddesses in Hinduism. The latter required an understanding of the goddess Shakti as the life giving and creative energy of Brahman and the activating forces which enables the male gods to exert their power. 10 The AO2 part of this question was very well-answered as students were able to provide well-balanced and equally convincing arguments and evidence for the goddess as the most significant form of God in Hinduism, as well as goddesses being less significant or equally significant to other deities. Question 6 Means to liberation in Hinduism 11 Most students showed a sound knowledge of the forms of jnana and bhakti yoga but did not always make explicit the similarities and difference between them as paths to liberation. 12 This seemed to be challenging question but some very good answers presented well expressed arguments against the view that jnana yoga is not relevant to Hindus in the 21st century. These pointed out that the practice of meditation is more widely practiced and accessible in the 21st century and valued as a source of insight and psychological balance. Also, more Hindus today are educated and able to study the scriptures and philosophy required by jnana yoga. Question 7 Worship in Hinduism 13 This was not always well answered as some students did not notice the words which are common to worship in the temple and the home. Responses to this tended to present a generalised account of the forms of worship in both the home and the temple. The question required a more judicious selection of features of worship most notably puja, darshan, arti and prashad with some reference to certain rites of passage. 14 Answers to this AO2 question were mainly well-expressed and balanced in their assessment of the view that, for Hindus, worship is an essential part of daily life. Those who recognised the home as central to the Hindu way of life and the incorporation of daily worship into the domestic setting as being a very important and a distinctive feature of Hinduism, gained the higher level marks. 5of 7

6 Question 8 The Hindu way of life 15 This was the least well-answered question on this section. Students tended to present a very generalised knowledge of the nature of ashrams and their role in the Hindu way of life. Those who linked the ashram to the quest for spiritual goal of moksha and the brahmacharya and sannyasin stages of life, gained higher level marks. Also recognition of the role of ashrams with reference to some examples as providing important international centres for renowned Hindu teachers and philosophers, gave more depth and detail to some answers. 16 Again the AO2 part of the question was answered with better skill than the AO1, as students recognised the issue that ashrams express a renunciation of material and worldly concerns in order to pursue spiritual enlightenment. The conflict between the worldly life of the householder and the world rejecting lifestyle of the sannyasin is expressed in the ashram. Some good arguments were presented both in support and against the statement that ashrams express the highest ideals of the Hindu way of life. Section C: Sikhism Question 9 The Gurus 17 Most students answered this reasonably well but although they explained in some detail how Guru Gobind Singh formed the Khalsa in 1699, they paid less attention to the second part of the question which required them to examine the reason why it was created. This could have included the need for a strong body of courageous and committed Khalsa members to defend the Sikh faith at a time of attack and persecution from the Moghul Emperors. In addition to this was the need for clear outward signs of identity to distinguish the Sikhs from other religions at that time. 18 Whilst most of the students were able to argue in support of the statement that, Without the courage and leadership of Guru Gobind Singh, the Khalsa would never have been formed, those who addressed both the courage of Guru Gobind Singh as well as the qualities of his leadership gained better marks. The highest levels were given to those who were able to offer strong counter arguments such as the Sikhs were already developed into a distinct community so the Khalsa might have formed naturally and Guru Gobind Singh simply made it into a dramatic public event. Question 10 Festivals 19 Most students answered this question on the social and religious significance of the festival celebrating Guru Nanak s birthday quite well. The better answers made a clear distinction between the social and religious significance pointing out the unique spiritual qualities, moral perfections and achievements of Guru Nanak. 6of 7

7 20 Most students were able to provide a well-balanced evaluation of the view that the festival celebrating Guru Nanak s birthday makes no contribution to Sikh life and faith today, and answered all aspects of the question including the contemporary relevance, as well as the distinction between Sikh cultural life and religious faith. Some students did not address the issue at all and simply stated that the festival was important to Sikhs. Question 11 The Guru Granth Sahib and the Gurdwara 21 This question was popular and very well answered by most students. Some explored the various dimensions of Sikh life experiences in the gurdwara through its promotion of spiritual life in worship, cultural life in festivals, rites of passage and educational progammes and social life expressed in sewa and langar. 22 Most students were able to give good reasons for agreeing with the statement, the gurdwara today is mainly a social institution rather than a religious one, as the embodiment of sewa and langar is so evident there. However the higher level marks were given to those who challenged the distinction between religious and social, in particular reference to the gurdwara, which most effectively combines and integrates both dimensions. Question 12 Diwan and langar 23 This question was also well-answered and received the highest marks on this section of the paper. Most students had sound and accurate knowledge of the practice of langar in its present day context. Not all however were fully aware of the historical context of caste distinctions at the time of Guru Nanak. 24 Some very good answers were presented in response to the assessment of the view that Langar has lost its importance in Sikhism. Students recognised the radical and revolutionary aspects of langar in the context of injustices of caste in Indian society in the past, but argued the case that it still had a role to play in contemporary society. Poverty is still evident in the world and in developed countries the purpose of langar unites and consolidates the Sikh community. 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 7of 7

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