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The Bhagavata Purana is one of the most important, central and popular scriptures of Hinduism. A medieval Sanskrit text, its influence as a religious book has been comparable only to that of the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Ithamar Theodor here offers the first analysis for twenty years of the Bhagavata Purana (often called the Fifth Veda ) and its different layers of meaning. He addresses its lyrical meditations on the activities of Krishna (avatar of Lord Vishnu), the central place it affords to the doctrine of bhakti (religious devotion) and its treatment of older Vedic traditions of knowledge. At the same time he places this subtle, poetical book within the context of the wider Hindu scriptures and the other Puranas, including the similar but less grand and significant Vishnu Purana. The author argues that the Bhagavata Purana is a unique work which represents the meeting place of two great orthodox Hindu traditions, the Vedic-Upanishadic and the Aesthetic. As such, it is one of India s greatest theological treatises. This book illuminates its character and continuing significance."
"Encountering Kali "explores one of the most remarkable divinities the world has seen--the Hindu goddess Kali. She is simultaneously understood as a blood-thirsty warrior, a goddess of ritual possession, a Tantric sexual partner, and an all-loving, compassionate Mother. Popular and scholarly interest in her has been on the rise in the West in recent years. Responding to this phenomenon, this volume focuses on the complexities involved in interpreting Kali in both her indigenous South Asian settings and her more recent Western incarnations. Using scriptural history, temple architecture, political violence, feminist and psychoanalytic criticism, autobiographical reflection, and the goddess's recent guises on the Internet, the contributors pose questions relevant to our understanding of Kali, as they illuminate the problems and promises inherent in every act of cross-cultural interpretation.
The present book is a collection of essays written at different points of time and published in reputed journals and books. What blends them together is the use of the primary source material in the form of a vast compendium of Puranic literature (backed by epigraphic, archaeological and anthropological data), which has been utilized to arrive at conclusions pertaining to changes in Indian society and religion during the later half of first millennium AD when the major Puranas were being compiled. The period represents a watershed in Indian history, for it marked a transition from a commercially viable economic order to a closed feudal economy. The social and religious dimensions of the brahmanical system were particularly impacted by such a transition resulting in some innovative forms of restructuring. It has been the purpose behind most of the present articles to reassess and utilize the available Puranic evidence for getting fresh insights into the rationale and precise nature of these changes. The key areas of thrust in these articles are changes in material culture, awareness and mode of dealing with environmental issues, gender based differentiation, recent ritual formations such as Mahadana and Tirthas as well as the utilization of myth as a mode of expressing historical reality.
This volume offers unexpected insights into the history of the Veda, the earliest texts of South Asia, and their underlying oral transmission. In side-by-side facsimiles, Michael Witzel and Qinyuan Wu present the two oldest known Veda manuscripts, the Vajasaneyi Samhita of the White Yajurveda and its contemporaneous sister text, a Vajasaneyi Padapatha, recently found in western Tibet. These two manuscripts have retained an unusual style of representing the pitched accents, and their juxtaposition in this edition invites comparison between the oral Veda transmission of a thousand years ago and the recitation still maintained today. Both manuscripts are important testimonies for the history of the Vedas, their medieval transmission, and their first codification in writing. As such, they are of great interest to historians, Indologists, and scholars studying the interface of oral and written traditions.
A historical and comparative study grounded in close readings of important works, this book explores the dynamics of the theory and practice of yoga in Hindu and Buddhist contexts. Author Stuart Ray Sarbacker explores the fascinating, contrasting perceptions that meditation leads to the attainment of divine, or numinous, power, and to complete escape from worldly existence, or cessation. Sarbacker demonstrates that these two dimensions of spiritual experience have affected the doctrine and cultural significance of yoga from its origins to its contemporary practice. He also integrates sociological and psychological perspectives on religious experience into a larger phenomenological model to address the multifaceted nature of religious experience. Speaking to a broad range of methodological and contextual issues, Samā dhi provides numerous insights into the theory and practice of yoga that are relevant to both scholars of religious studies and practitioners of contemporary yoga and meditation traditions.
Before the passage of the Hindu Widow's Re-marriage Act of 1856, Hindu tradition required a woman to live as a virtual outcast after her husband's death. Widows were expected to shave their heads, discard their jewelry, live in seclusion, and undergo regular acts of penance. Ishvarchandra Vidyasagar was the first Indian intellectual to successfully argue against these strictures. A Sanskrit scholar and passionate social reformer, Vidyasagar was a leading proponent of widow marriage in colonial India, urging his contemporaries to reject a ban that caused countless women to suffer needlessly.
Vidyasagar's brilliant strategy paired a rereading of Hindu scripture with an emotional plea on behalf of the widow, resulting in an organic reimagining of Hindu law and custom. Vidyasagar made his case through the two-part publication "Hindu Widow Marriage," a tour de force of logic, erudition, and humanitarian rhetoric. In this new translation, Brian A. Hatcher makes available in English for the first time the entire text of one of the most important nineteenth-century treatises on Indian social reform.
An expert on Vidyasagar, Hinduism, and colonial Bengal, Hatcher enhances the original treatise with a substantial introduction describing Vidyasagar's multifaceted career, as well as the history of colonial debates on widow marriage. He innovatively interprets the significance of "Hindu Widow Marriage" within modern Indian intellectual history by situating the text in relation to indigenous commentarial practices. Finally, Hatcher increases the accessibility of the text by providing an overview of basic Hindu categories for first-time readers, a glossary of technical vocabulary, and an extensive bibliography.
Introducing Hinduism, 2nd Edition is the ideal sourcebook for those seeking a comprehensive overview of the Hindu tradition. This second edition includes substantial treatments of Tantra, South India, and women, as well as expanded discussions of yoga, Vedanta and contemporary configurations of Hinduism in the West. Its lively presentation features: case studies, photographs, and scenarios that invite the reader into the lived world of Hinduism; introductory summaries, key points, discussion questions, and recommended reading lists at the end of each chapter; narrative summaries of the great epics and other renowned Hindu myths and lucid explanations of complex Indian philosophical teachings, including Sankhya and Kashmir Saivism; and a glossary, timeline, and pronunciation guide for an enhanced learning experience. This volume is an invaluable resource for students in need of an introduction to the key tenets and diverse practice of Hinduism, past and present.
"While focusing on the central problem of evil, O'Fiaherty illuminates every aspect of Hindu thought." (Choice). "This is Dr. O'Flaherty's third book on Indian mythology, and the best yet. The range and number of myths handled is dazzling ...Moreover, her fluent and lucid style make reading a pleasure ...a major contribution to the study of religion in general and Hinduism in particular." (Times Literary Supplement). "This scholarly work is a welcome and valuable addition to Hindu studies because it corrects the widespread belief that Hindu thought does not recognize the problem of evil. The author shows conclusively that the mythology of tribal societies and the Puranas deal with this question extensively. She traces certain conceptual attitudes towards evil from the Vedic period to the present day." (Library Journal). "O'Flaherty has accomplished an important double task. She has reoriented our thinking on the Indian experience of evil as it has been given literary expression in the mythological texts of the Sanskrit tradition and to a lesser extent in the Tamil and tribal traditions as well. She has also provided, in this rich and exquisitely crafted book, a new set of vantage points from which to re-read familiar Indian myths and encounter new ones...Origins is both a superb piece of scholarship and a lively, witty and engagingly written book." (South Asia in Review). "The author performs a brilliant feat in her textually exegetical and hermeneutical handling of the numerous and many-faceted myths. The study is highly pertinent and valuable ...The authorial translations from the Hindu and Pali texts are refreshing ...and her comments are illuminating. Thus the Hindu view of evil comes out as something not simplistic and arbitrary but as an approach which is careful, complex, and richly eclectic...This is a highly readable volume written with verve, sparkle and occasional light touches of decent humor." (Asian Student). "For serious students of mythology, theology and Hinduism, this book is must reading." (Religious Studies Review).
This book investigates women's ritual authority and the common boundaries between religion and notions of gender, ethnicity, and identity. Nanette R. Spina situates her study within the transnational Melmaruvathur Adhiparasakthi movement established by the Tamil Indian guru, Bangaru Adigalar. One of the most prominent, defining elements of this tradition is that women are privileged with positions of leadership and ritual authority. This represents an extraordinary shift from orthodox tradition in which religious authority has been the exclusive domain of male Brahmin priests. Presenting historical and contemporary perspectives on the transnational Adhiparasakthi organization, Spina analyzes women's roles and means of expression within the tradition. The book takes a close look at the Adhiparasakthi society in Toronto, Canada (a Hindu community in both its transnational and diasporic dimensions), and how this Canadian temple has both shaped and demonstrated their own diasporic Hindu identity. The Toronto Adhiparasakthi society illustrates how Goddess theology, women's ritual authority, and "inclusivity" ethics have dynamically shaped the identity of this prominent movement overseas. Based on years of ethnographic fieldwork, the volume draws the reader into the rich textures of culture, community, and ritual life with the Goddess.
Deepak Sarma completes the first outline in more than fifty years of India's key philosophical traditions, inventively sourcing seminal texts and clarifying language, positions, and issues. Organized by tradition, the volume covers six schools of orthodox Hindu philosophy: Mimamsa (the study of the earlier Vedas, later incorporated into Vedanta), Vedanta (the study of the later Vedas, including the "Bhagavad Gita" and the "Upanishads"), Sankhya (a form of self-nature dualism), Yoga (a practical outgrowth of Sankhya), and Nyaya and Vaisesika (two forms of realism). It also discusses Jain philosophy and the Mahayana Buddhist schools of Madhyamaka and Yogacara. Sarma maps theories of knowledge, perception, ontology, religion, and salvation, and he details central concepts, such as the "pramanas" (means of knowledge), "pratyaksa" (perception), "drayvas" (types of being), "moksa" (liberation), and "nirvana." Selections and accompanying materials inspire a reassessment of long-held presuppositions and modes of thought, and accessible translations prove the modern relevance of these enduring works.
This RSS is perhaps the most controversial organisation in contemporary India. This book explores the mission, method and motive of the RSS and suggests that the ideological core of the RSS - Hindu Rashtra - is political and not cultural. It argues that K B Hedgewar the founder of the RSS, had a clear political mission, while M S Golwalkar, his successor, despite his saintly appearance and overt distaste for 'politics', sharpened and amplified its ideology Nevertheless, deep down the RSS remained political. This book goes on to delineate how Balasaheb Deoras, the third chief, who did not have much of a fancy for 'culture', plunged into Indian politics on the organisational and ideological foundation created by his predecessors. Deoras seriously pursued the homogenising agenda of the RSS to integrate different sections like the Dalits, tribals and women into the fold of the Hindu Rashtra. Rajendra Singh, the successor of Deoras, consolidated the political mission by getting control over the State and reaching out to civil society more effectively. K.S. Sudarshan, the present chief, while attempting to retain a tight control over State power, simultaneously reinforces Hindutva. The author concludes by arguing that the RSS - from Hedgewar to Sudarshan - continues its tryst with politics to convert India into a Hindu Rashtra. Highly readable and of contemporary relevance, this book would be of immense interest to political scientists, political sociologists and all those interested in present-day India.
Easwaran's best-selling translation of the ancient wisdom texts called the Upanishads is reliable, readable, and profound. In the Upanishads, illumined sages share flashes of insight, the results of their investigation into consciousness itself. In extraordinary visions, they have direct experience of a transcendent Reality which is the essence, or Self, of each created being. They teach that each of us, each Self, is eternal, deathless, one with the power that created the universe. Easwaran's translation of the principal Upanishads and five others includes an overview of the cultural and historical setting, with chapter introductions, notes, and a Sanskrit glossary. But it is Easwaran's understanding of the wisdom of the Upanishads that makes this edition truly outstanding. Each sage, each Upanishad, appeals in a different way to the reader's head and heart. In the end, Easwaran writes, "The Upanishads are part of India's precious legacy, not just to Hinduism but to humanity, and in that spirit they are offered here."
Hinduism: A Contemporary Philosophical Investigation explores Hinduism and the distinction between the secular and religious on a global scale. According to Ranganathan, a careful philosophical study of Hinduism reveals it as the microcosm of philosophical disagreements with Indian resources, across a variety of topics, including: ethics, logic, the philosophy of thought, epistemology, moral standing, metaphysics, and politics. This analysis offers an original and fresh diagnosis of studying Hinduism, colonialism, and a global rise of hyper-nationalism, as well as the frequent acrimony between scholars and practitioners of Hindu traditions. This text is appropriate for use in undergraduate and graduate courses on Hinduism, and Indian philosophy, and can be used as an advanced introduction to the problems of philosophy with South Asian resources.
In this unique and exhilarating autobiography, Allan Jones - Canada's first blind diplomat - vividly describes how an untreatable eye disease slowly decimated his visual world, most challengingly during his postings in Tokyo and New Delhi, and how he discovered and took to heart the revelatory Indian philosophy that changed his life. Advaita Vedanta, the most iconoclastic and liberating of the classical Indian philosophies, profoundly altered the author's experience of self and world. He found that the true self, as distinct from the individual ego, far exceeds the boundaries of individuality. It lies beneath sightedness or blindness and is absolutely unaffected by the latter. This welcome shift of perspective was reinforced by startling discoveries in contemporary physics, evolutionary biology, and developmental psychology that are fully consistent with Advaitic metaphysics. As for the practical applications of metaphysics, this book demonstrates step by step how Advaitic insight and practice significantly reduce physical and psychological tension. The most telling examples have to do with adjustments compelled by extreme circumstances. Thus Jones describes how he drew upon Advaitic mindfulness techniques to maintain his white cane mobility skills in the teeth of permanent spinal, nerve, and muscle pain. The arc of Beyond Vision moves from the claustrophobically personal to the openness of the transpersonal. It begins in a dysfunctional family background, breaking out into a full life encompassing an adventurous foreign service career, spiritual exploration, and an unconventional kind of marital love.
This volume examines several theoretical concerns of embodiment in the context of Asian religious practice. Looking at both subtle and spatial bodies, it explores how both types of embodiment are engaged as sites for transformation, transaction and transgression. Collectively bridging ancient and modern conceptualizations of embodiment in religious practice, the book offers a complex mapping of how body is defined. It revisits more traditional, mystical religious systems, including Hindu Tantra and Yoga, Tibetan Buddhism, Bon, Chinese Daoism and Persian Sufism and distinctively juxtaposes these inquiries alongside analyses of racial, gendered, and colonized bodies. Such a multifaceted subject requires a diverse approach, and so perspectives from phenomenology and neuroscience as well as critical race theory and feminist theology are utilised to create more precise analytical tools for the scholarly engagement of embodied religious epistemologies. This a nuanced and interdisciplinary exploration of the myriad issues around bodies within religion. As such it will be a key resource for any scholar of Religious Studies, Asian Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Philosophy, and Gender Studies.
The Dancing God: Staging Hindu Dance in Australia charts the sensational and historic journey of de-provincialising and popularising Hindu dance in Australia. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, colonialism, orientalism and nationalism came together in various combinations to make traditional Hindu temple dance into a global art form. The intricately symbolic Hindu dance in its vital form was virtually unseen and unknown in Australia until an Australian impresario, Louise Lightfoot, brought it onto the stage. Her experimental changes, which modernised Kathakali dance through her pioneering collaboration with Indian dancer Ananda Shivaram, moved the Hindu dance from the sphere of ritualistic practice to formalised stage art. Amit Sarwal argues that this movement enabled both the authentic Hindu dance and dancer to gain recognition worldwide and created in his persona a cultural guru and ambassador on the global stage. Ideal for anyone with an interest in global dance, The Dancing God is an in-depth study of how a unique dance form evolved in the meeting of travellers and cultures.
Ishita Pande's innovative study provides a dual biography of India's path-breaking Child Marriage Restraint Act (1929) and of 'age' itself as a key category of identity for upholding the rule of law, and for governing intimate life in late colonial India. Through a reading of legislative assembly debates, legal cases, government reports, propaganda literature, Hindi novels and sexological tracts, Pande tells a wide-ranging story about the importance of debates over child protection to India's coming of age. By tracing the history of age in colonial India she illuminates the role of law in sculpting modern subjects, demonstrating how seemingly natural age-based exclusions and understandings of legal minority became the alibi for other political exclusions and the minoritization of entire communities in colonial India. In doing so, Pande highlights how childhood as a political category was fundamental not just to ideas of sexual norms and domestic life, but also to the conceptualisation of citizenship and India as a nation in this formative period.
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