Hinduism by Promod Puri

Hinduism

Beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A short introduction to Hinduism that focuses on the spiritual and metaphysical aspects of the religion more than its daily practice.

Debut author Puri writes that he wasn’t raised Hindu but has explored the religion as an adult, largely through earnest, online searching. He admires Hinduism’s questioning, “democratic” nature: “Hinduism is liberal. It is secular. It is diverse. And it has depth.” Eschewing better-known facets of the religion, such as its festivals, ritual observances, and class system, he seeks instead to shed light on the scriptures and philosophy that underpin the faith. After providing some brief historical background, beginning with the Indus Valley civilization of 2000 B.C., he quickly brings myth alongside fact, noting that the Hindu understanding of time is divided into four cyclical ages, moving from chaos to restoration and back. Concise chapters explain yoga and meditation, iconography, temples and home shrines, and the lack of competition between science and religion. Sections on the word “Om” and other mantras offer engaging information on etymology and even quantum theory—“Om” is considered in Hinduism to be the primal sound that inaugurated the universe and suffused it with energy. One chapter gives helpful synopses of the major Hindu scriptures, including the Bhagavad Gita, a guide to performing one’s religious duty without attachments. Hinduism “has opted to be not a closed chapter,” Puri remarks, which has allowed many generations’ worth of commentary on texts such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana. This book deftly illuminates Hinduism’s “intermingling of ideas and principles,” although its discussion of abstract notions varies in usefulness. A definition of ontology is entirely unenlightening, for instance, whereas the concepts of dharma, karma, and moksha are described with admirable clarity. Overall, the book can’t be faulted as a primer to the less-understood aspects of Hinduism. However, the author’s strange grammar and unusual phrasing frequently results in muddled sentences, such as, “Besides its literate depths mantra’s pervasiveness and absorption in conscious mind are the essentials of its numinous integrity.”

This book’s prose may lack polish, but the uninitiated will still learn plenty from this comprehensive yet succinct guide.

ISBN: 978-1-5195-1252-9
Page count: 130pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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