Hinduism: The Basics
Hinduism: The Basics introduces readers to the third largest, and arguably the oldest, living religious tradition. It opens a vista into the rich and dynamic ethos of the Hindu religious tradition in India and other parts of the world. The book explores the variety of philosophical schools, priestly rituals, and popular practices common in the Hindu faith, presenting the layered diversity of its traditions and how they function in everyday life.
Chapters unpack key concepts from the tradition and discussions about its various aspects, including:
- The historical development of Hinduism
- Religious practices such as pilgrimage, meditation, and life cycle rituals
- The organisation of Hindu society into castes and related social justice issues
- The spread of Hinduism around the world, the rise of Hindu nationalism, and other challenges of modernity
- The continuum between sacred texts in both elite Sanskrit and in South Asian vernacular languages
- Hindu worldviews including karma, reincarnation, and ethics
- The vitality of indigenous cultures in every form of Hinduism
Featuring glossaries, timelines, suggestions for further reading, and a list of key deities as well as practices, this is an ideal introduction to Hindu beliefs and traditions for undergraduates and others new to the study of Hinduism.
1. Hinduism in History
2. Foundational and Formative Sacred Texts and Concepts
3. Functional Sacred Texts: Vernacular Performativity
4. Social Organization and Goals for Individual Life
5. Religious Action and Expressions
6. Embracing Modernity
7. Hinduism Beyond India
'Hindus and non-Hindus alike caution us that Hinduism defies every definition of the term "religion." How then to lay out its basics? Yet Neelima Shukla-Bhatt does just that, skillfully relating major concepts and moments of historical evolution to the everyday practices of Hindus around the world. Gender and social station get special attention. It's a triumph!'
John Stratton Hawley, Columbia University, USA
'An extraordinary achievement! Neelima Shukla-Bhatt has written an easy-to-read introduction to a continuous and complex, ancient and modern religious tradition. She enables us to see Hinduism grounded in daily life and religious practice while also introducing us to the wide range of sacred texts and the multitude of gods. Here readers will encounter a vibrant religious tradition.
Diana L. Eck, Harvard University, USA