This volume presents material drawn from the classical Hindu texts, as well as other sources, to familiarize readers with the outlines of classical Hindu thought. It provides a bunch of readings organized around certain set concepts, quarried from Hindu religious texts of the past. It discusses material from classical Hindu texts relating to the themes of the divine realm such a bra hman, devi, rvara, trimurti, and so on, as well as of the mundane realm, such as jiva, sarhstlra, karma, dharma, and so on. It also covers the concepts which link the two realms, such as those of maya, and the overcoming of it through yoga, to attain moka. Some selections also throw light on what classical Hinduism has to say about the human being as a social being, through such concepts as varna, tirama, and the pururt has.
The volume would be of interest to all students and scholars of Hinduism, and particularly those interested in exploring Hindu philosophy and theology.
Arvind Sharma, formerly of the I.A.S., is the Birks Professor of Comparative Religion in the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He has published extensively in the fields of Indology and Comparative Religion, and is currently engaged in promoting the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the World’s Religions. He was the co-convenor of the congress on World’s Religions After September 22: An Asian Perspective, which met in Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi in January, 2009.
THE Sourcebook of Classical Hindu Thought presents material from the classical Hindu texts, and a few other sources, in accordance with a well-defined template. The purpose of this Preface is to familiarize the reader with this template.
This template presents source material pertaining to classical Hindu thought in accordance with six themes. The first theme deals with the nature of the divine realm in classical Hinduism, beginning with Brahman as the ultimate reality, and then moving on to individual deities. This material is covered in chapters 1-8. This is then followed by material pertaining to the mundane realm in classical Hinduism. The world, in which we live, rather than the divine realm above us, constitutes the theme here and thus includes a discussion of the concepts of jiva, sañisara, karma, and dharma. This material is covered in chapters 9-12.
If there is a divine realm posited in classical Hinduism, and a mundane realm admitted as well, then the question arises: How are these two related to each other? This provides the third theme and is covered in chapter 13 on maya.
If classical Hinduism assumes, as it does, that a person’s liberation or salvation ultimately lies in establishing contact with the divine realm in such a way that the gulf between the divine realm and the mundane realm is transcended, then the question as to how this might be accomplished naturally follows. The comprehensive term for ways of making this connection between the two realms in classical Hinduism is yoga, through which moka is attained. Chapters 14-17 provide source material from classical Hindu texts on these points.
It is true that the Hindu tradition talks about a divine realm, and a mundane realm, and explores the nature of their relationship and ways of crossing over. In this sense it could be said to be other-worldly. But classical Hinduism also pays close attention to the reality of a human being as a social creature. It does not look upon a human being as one merely intent on seeking liberation or salvation but accepts that human beings are social animals. This fifth theme is covered in chapters 18 to 20.
Finally the question arises: From where are all these themes emerging? From the Hindu scriptures, of course. The foundational scriptures of Hinduism, the Vedas, thus constitute the sixth and final theme of the book.
It will become obvious to the reader, as she or he goes through the book, that one theme follows another. The reader might thus wish to contemplate this template as one way of mapping the universe of classical Hinduism.
Children’s Books (51)
Brahma Sutras (85)
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