The name is as ubiquitous as is origin and nature. Scholars say that an ancient civilization flourished in the upper Indian valleys of seven rivers known as "Saptha Sindhus". Under the Irano-Grecian influence, 'Saptha Sindhu' became "Haptha Hindu"; ultimately, the civilization itself came to be known as 'Hindu'. 'Hinduism' is a compendious world, ;of recent origin, to describe the ideas and ideology of that civilization, which later spread throughout India. Its connotation transcends mere religious and encompasses the very way of life.
Gatholicity is a unique feature of Hinduism. It does not have one God, one book, or ;one dogma. It is incomparable in its ability to imbibe ideas and doctrines from all over, assimilate and adapt them as its own. "As no bhadrah kratavo yantu vishwatah" ('may auspicious thoughts come to us from everywhere') is its credo. Believer and non-believer, theist and atheist, mundane and spiritual, are equally accommodated in its fascinated study by eminent western scholars, unity in apparent diversity is its attraction. It defies exact definition. It has many faces, each with its own alluring charm, none of which represents the whole.
I have read with interest Mr. Bhasin's book, The Eassence of Hinduism. As the author says in the preface, the book is mainly intended to cater to the youth, largely westernized or brought up abroad, with no moorings in Indian culture and thought. For them, it could serve as a catalyst to excite their curiosity to learn more to discover their roots.
To a scholar of History, culture or Shastras, several statements made in the book may be unacceptable; some may even be open to dispute or debate. Debate and dissent are certainly welcome. "Vaade vaade jayate tattvabodhah" ('From debate is born true knowledge'). To the person unacquainted with Hinduism, the book offers an overview. The author's efforts would be amply rewarded if that happens.
Back of the Book
Hinduism is both a civilization and a congregation of religions; it has neither a beginning, founder, nor a central authority, hierarchy, or organization. Because it integrates a variety of elements, Hinduism constitutes a complex but largely continuous whole. It is a composite of diverse doctrines, cults, and ways o life.
"The Essence of Hinduism" explains what is generally referred to as "HINDUISM" both concisely and meaningfully. It also provides readers with the fundamentals of Hindu philosophy in a historical context. With this background, readers can adapt their understanding of Hinduism to the new values and conditions that have developed through mass education and industrialization.
This book is not a dinner; but it is surely a good appetizer which will enormously benefit the reader.
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