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Vedanta: A Simple Introduction Paperback – May 1, 1999
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As a scholar and practitioner of Vedanta, I can say with confidence that this is the best introductory text on Vedanta available in the English language. It manages to communicate this subtle and complex philosophy in terms that are clear and, as the title suggests, simple. But it does so without oversimplifying. I regularly assign this text to my students (college students taking introductory courses on Indic religions) and they have consistently praised it for the clear and engaging style in which it is written. One student reported to me that when she started reading it, she could not put it down until she had read it cover-to-cover. It really is that engaging. It is, of course, an introductory text. I recommend that readers interested in the various schools of Vedanta other than the modern Ramakrishna-Vivekananda-inspired interpretation of Advaita look to other works. But for novices, and especially for those interested in Vedanta as a spiritual practice rather than from a purely scholarly perspective, this book can't be beat. --Unsolicited comments from a professor
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I would also like to say that the reviewer who bashed this book essentially for not being a Christian work has utterly missed the point. This is not Christianity, it's Vedanta! It would be like bashing a book by a Christian author for not talking about Brahman, or samsara...
The concepts in Vedanta go back thousands of years, but the Vedanta Society itself was just started in the late 1800's by disciples of one of India's greatest saints, Ramakrishna. It's like the Bible goes back 2000 years but a church may have just began recently based on the Bible. A beginner might ask what is the relationship between Hinduism and Vedanta. Vedanta is part of Hinduism just like Catholicism or Protestantism are branches of Christianity. Hinduism has many parts to it, many scriptures, many schools, many spiritual teachers. The Vedanta Society unifies all of them into one spiritual view in a brillaint way. The schools of Hinduism tend to teach different parts of Hindu spirituality. For the most part they all agree with one another, though there might be some minor differences they compliment each other brilliantly (I guess I like that word).Read more ›
This book lives up to its subtitle of "A Simple Introduction." Everyone should finish this diminutive treatise with a basic understanding of one of the world's oldest religions. Short chapters discuss the major elements: the oneness of existence, the divinity of all, maya or illusion, karma, reincarnation, Vedanta ethics (yama and niyama), the Avatar, the harmony of all religions, and spiritual practice. One chapter delineates the four types of yoga practice: Bhakhti yoga, the path of love and devotion; Jnana yoga, the path of knowledge (also known as Advaita); Karma yoga, the path of work; Raja yoga, the path of meditation. Aspirants usually focus on one of these paths, but not to the complete exclusion of the others. Vedanta recognizes that not everyone follows the same path. Nonetheless, the goal remains the same. All paths lead to self-affirmation. The final chapter discusses the 19th century revitalization of Vedanta by Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi, and Swami Vivekananda. Through these pivotal individuals Vedanta became a practice of service to humankind. The Ramakrishna Order was born. The book closes with Vivekananda's tumultuous visit to America in 1893 and the founding of Vedanta Centers in America.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this. It's what it says it is, "a simple introduction," but also insightful and enlightening. I find the ideas helpful and uplifting.Published 9 months ago by J. Dillon
Not the 1999 edition. Received the 2011 edition published in Kolkata India and not for shipment outside the Indian subcontinent. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Dreamer
I read this book a couple times a year just to bring my thoughts back to the basics.Published 13 months ago by Steven P.
As a relative newcomer to the Vedanta philosophy, I found this to be the clearest, most concise introduction I've ever read. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kaavya
Truly a very crisp and concise introduction. I wish the Swamin had gone ahead and covered all the steps involved in Raja Yoga. Nevertheless, inspiring.Published 15 months ago by GOWRISHANKAR