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Vedanta: A Simple Introduction Paperback – May 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 90 pages
  • Publisher: Vedanta Press & Bookshop (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874813735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874813739
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 4.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Clear, easy to comprehend, and concise, this small book is packed full of pertinent information (on)the core issues of life. --Yoga International Magazine, 1999

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

From the Inside Flap

A refreshingly clear and engaging introduction to Vedanta. Highly recommended - Huston Smith, author of World's Religions

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Customer Reviews

Truly a very crisp and concise introduction.
GOWRISHANKAR
I'm highly recommending it both to Hindus who want to learn more about their faith and to non-Hindus who want to understand what Hinduism is really about, at its core.
Kaavya
A funny happened to me when I bought and started reading this book.
Will

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery D. Long on February 14, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 the religions of South Asia) 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.

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...
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Will on March 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
If you want a very brief intro into Vedanta that you can read in a couple of hours this is it. If you want a more in depth book that places it within Hinduism then 'The Spiritual Heritage of India' by Swami Prabhavananda is excellant. Both books are by writers from the Vedanta Society. The best teachers of Vedanta are from that organization. A funny happened to me when I bought and started reading this book. It seemed very deja vu, like I had read it all before. Then I remembered that this came from a website online, the Vedanta Society of Southern California. This book and that website do a good job explaining the basics of Vedanta and the Vedanta Society, though not in much detail. But it's a good place to start and see if you have interest in it, then move on to a more detailed book like 'Spiritual Heritage' which is one of the most incredible books on spirituality I've ever read. Borders also offers 'Spiritual Heritage' to readers.

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).
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Grateful Reader on November 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
I found this book absolutely amazing. Vedanta is an ancient philosophy and way of life, and its literature is voluminous. The "Simple Introduction" manages to condense the basic insights of Vedanta inside the convers of a tiny book that is both informative and inspiring. The book made me look deeper into my own life and ask questions I had never asked before. I now feel more free intellectually and emotionally, and more hopeful of leading a life of contentment and lasting fulfillment. We want more books of this type!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By ewomack TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 7, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Vedanta arose from the Sanskrit texts known as "The Vedas." As ancient as they come, the Vedas arguably remain the world's oldest religious texts. They also embody a progression of thought that evolves from polytheism to monism. Vedanta builds on the Vedas' monistic tendencies, or the idea that all things are "one." One reality. One truth. Nothing exists apart from anything else. This idea gets stretched to its absolute limit. According to this book Vedanta even says: "Love your neighbor as yourself because your neighbor is yourself."

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.
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