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Am I A Hindu? The Hinduism Primer Paperback – November 1, 1993
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From Library Journal
This primer, serving some of the vast sweep of Hindu belief and practice, takes the form of dialog between a Hindu father and his American-born son. The son wants to understand his family's religious traditions and discover what is relevant for him today. The book is useful not only to American Hindus but to those who want a nontechnical introduction to Hinduism as lived today. The book also explains how Hinduism engages in dialog with Western science and culture. Recommended for large public libraries and undergraduate collections.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
The best introduction to the tenants of Hinduism I have yet read. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Though if you r a new bee to hinduism and want to know the facts of the religion..this is the book for u....
In summary, I would say this book is for cultural Hindus who want an easy to read in an 'other than religious format' to get insight into who they are. It is also a good read for people like me who want to read about Hinduism in a bottom line yet insightful fashion. Well written.
Though I myself was a born Hindu, and did learn bits and pieces of the religion from family, friends, by watching movies etc. I have been largely non-religious in terms of rituals and practice. Relying on religion only for wisdom and philosophy. This book helped me to get a complete picture.
What started off as "Sanatana Dharma" or "righteousness forever". The invading Persians in the 6th century BC coined the word "Hindu" referring to the banks of the Indus river on which these people lived. It also means "river people" in Persian.
Several Hindu gods evolved over a period of time. Visual representations came up for people to focus their worship on. Main gods are the trinity-Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver), and Shiva (destroyer). Main scriptures are the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and the Bhagavad Gita. The main concept is that of "Brahman" which is the soul of everything in the universe. Everything goes on in cycles of birth and death. For the beings and the universe alike. Vishwanathan also explains the stories behind festivals such as Diwali and Holi.
Bhagavad Gita being the most popular book whose fans include Warren Hastings, the first Governor General of British India who rightly predicted that Gita will survive the end of the British dominion. Aldous Huxley, Alexander Von Humboldt, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Arthur Schopenhauer and Robert Oppenheimer were the other famous admirers. Gita advocates selfless actions. It teaches the importance of the annihilation of desire and ego. It teaches the different ways to control the mind and the senses.
Vishwanathan explains that mythologies like Ramayana and Mahabharata were written to explain the concepts in story form to the masses. Since the scriptures are too esoteric for simpletons like me to understand, the simpler stories make sense. He also goes on to say that one may or may not believe that these myths really occurred.
Hinduism does not project itself as the only way to God-realization. It claims no monopoly on wisdom. It tolerates all forms of thoughts. Like "tantra" which is controversial in its approach. And atheism is also accepted. A Hindu Yogi will never try to convert a person from another religion to Hinduism. Since it tolerates different opinions, there are bound to be contradictions. Vishwanathan also admits some drawbacks like the role of women and the caste system. He mentions that role of women was more related to societal ecosystem and was roughly the same the world over. It improved gradually with time in most of the societies. He is also very balanced in quoting from and appreciating other religions.
Vishwanathan explains why cow is considered as sacred in India which makes McDonalds not to offer beef in India. When Aryans settled down in India, cow was the only animal they had domesticated. It provided them with milk, meat, butter and yogurt. The dead cow's skin was used to make shelters and clothing. The community was indebted to the cow. The story of gratitude does make sense.
Meditation and Yoga are the two aspects which appeal to the intellectuals. There is nothing religious about these two practices. While Yoga helps in the physical and mental well being of a person, meditation helps in control of the mind. The brain was found to be experiencing alpha waves at more vibrations per second while meditating, which are not otherwise found in the brain.
In summary, this book is an excellent source for a balanced overview of this ancient mystic Eastern way of life, which was never an organized religion. Kudos to Vishwanathan for having done such a splendid job !
Most recent customer reviews
Despite its title, Am I a Hindu, is not meant for someone raised with a Hindu background hoping to...Read more