Been a while since you guys saw a book review from me, right? My apologies. I actually find them kinda difficult, so I’ve been reading books but not reviewing them…
Anyway, with my birthday money this year I brought myself a copy of Hinduism for Dummies by Dr. Amrutur Venkatachar Srinivasan. It’s published by John Wiley & Sons Inc and a new copy is £14:99/US$19:99/CN$23:99.
Hinduism is such a vast and complex faith, I wanted to start with something basic! And, as well as this being a ‘for dummies’ book, Dr. Srinivasan seemed like a reliable author to start things off with – he is a practicing Vaishnavite (that’s a denomination of Hinduism), the primary founder and first president of the Connecticut Valley Hindu Temple Society, spent eight years studying Sanskrit, has written other books and papers, taught courses at the University of Connecticut and Wesleyan University, and is a pujari (Hindu priest) who performs religious ceremonies like weddings.
The book is organised into 6 chapters; Introducing Hinduism, The Hindu Pantheon and Its Religious Leaders, The Sacred Texts, Hinduism in Practice, Delving Deeper into the Hindu Concept of Reality, and The Part of Tens (Ten Common Questions about Hindus, Ten Common Prayers and Ten (Plus) Traditional Mantras). All of it was interesting and easy to read, and the simple format makes it easy to look things up later. I liked how ancient and modern practices were written about, and that (condensed versions of!) stories from the Hindu epics were included. It was also nice that the author has a sense of humor, doesn’t act like he’s the ultimate authority on all Hindu thought, doesn’t spend half the book explaining why Vaishnavites are better than other Hindus, and is generally down-to-earth. Sort of like your good-natured Hindu Uncle.
From a personal standpoint, I was really interested to read about the concept of dharma. The yoga of karma resonated with me too – sounds positively…Sigyn-ish. I also discovered that I can’t get along with quite a lot of Hindu philosophy lol. So I guess I won’t be converting any time soon. But I definitely want to learn more about Hinduism, and this book taught me a lot of basic ideas and definitions to get me started.
If anyone else has read this, or has any questions, please go ahead and leave your own thoughts in the comments 🙂