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This author provides an essential outline of Hindu culture and religious practice. The explanation of karma, reincarnation and other esoteric aspects of the East are well developed and presented. A very enlightening read.
I had little to no knowledge about the religion of Hinduism prior to reading this book. Now I think I have a good grasp on the subject. The books lives up to the praise that the blurbs on the back of book . I suspect Hinduism has many more dimensions , more depth than I had originally expected for it. I know this sounds like crass chauvinism but I often wondered how a country so old as India had so much suffering and poverty . But I have began to realize that the history of India has it's roots in a deep spiritual tradition that is amazing in it's ability to see things in totally different fashion from we in the West see things. Now I don't plan on converting anytime soon, trust me, but I see Hinduism with much less of a cynical eye now. Good book to begin with , but I suspect that the religion of Hinduism has more lessons, more layers than meets our jaded Western eyes . If you want to be able to organize some good ways of framing an inquiry into this religion I would say this book is the best place to start.
One of the obstacles in studying Hinduism is finding a book that doesn't inundate each sentence with difficult Sanskrit words.
Thankfully, although this book does have some Sanskrit, every single word is promptly defined and sometimes even more than once. Advanced concepts that have a Sanskrit term are often broken down with modern-day analogies, which I frequently found to be extremely helpful. Honestly, some of the analogies I've read in this book are among the best I've come across.
As if that weren't enough, there is a glossary in the back for quick reference. I rarely had to use it as the in-book definitions were often sufficient.
A quick look at the table of contents shows how thorough this book is in explaining Hinduism. It certainly revealed the basics of Hinduism faster than trying to wade through the many couplets of the Rigveda Samhita on my own.
To accompany the text are several diagrams and pictures, my personal favorite being the chart that shows the staggering amount of Hindu scriptures and how they all break down.
The chapters on Karma and Reincarnation, potentially some of the most difficult to grasp, were explained very well and at length. However, I was disappointed at the brevity of the chapter on Predestination (a measly page).
On the scholarly side, there are frequent footnotes referring to the Upanishads, Rig Veda and other texts, but they're not exhaustive. For example, page 186 says that "Hindu scriptures speak of two goals pursued by man: the pleasant and the good". Unfortunately, there is no reference for either of these. I'm sure there is one, but it'd be nice to have a footnote referring to it so one can see for themselves.
Having studied other cults and religions, I found these three things of great interest: Page 125 mentions "Samskaras", which, when you read about them, sound eerily familiar to the engrams mentioned in Scientology. Page 140, where it mentions the purification of objects, reminded me of similar practices in Wiccan tradition. In addition, I was amazed at the shared beliefs between Hinduism and Christianity (love thy enemy, body as temple, etc).
For one who wishes to understand Hinduism, in my estimation this is not a perfect book on the subject, but definitely touches all the major subjects and explains things in plain English exceptionally well.
I really enjoyed this book. As someone who is very clueless about Hinduism, I do wish it had been a bit more in depth and would have loved some hindu legends (which it does not cover) but it was a good primer.