Synopses & Reviews
Hinduism is practiced by about 80 percent of India's population, and by about 30 million people outside India. But how is Hinduism defined, and what basis does the religion have? In this Very Short Introduction
, Kim Knott provides clear insight into the beliefs and authority of Hindus and Hinduism, and considers the ways in which it has been affected by colonialism and modernity.
Knott offers succinct explanations of Hinduism's central preoccupations, including the role of contemporary gurus and teachers in the quest for spiritual fulfillment; and the function of regular performances of the Mahabharata and Ramayana--scriptures which present the divine in personal form (avatara) and provide models of behavior for everyone, from kings and warriors to servants and children, and which focus on the dharma, the appropriate duties and moral responsibilities of the different varna or classes. The author also considers the challenges posed to Hinduism at the end of the twentieth century as it spreads far beyond India, and as concerns are raised about issues such as dowry, death, caste prejudice, and the place of women in Hindu society.
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Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects -- from Islam to Sociology, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume provides trenchant and provocative -- yet always balanced and complete -- discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject developed and how it influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all readers an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever area of study one deems important or appealing, whatever topic fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.
About the Author
is Head of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds and the President of the British Association for the Study of Religions. She has written on modern Hinduism, religions in Britain, and gender and religion.
Table of Contents
1. The scholar and the devotee
2. Knowledge and revelation
3. Understanding the self
4. Divine heroes: the epic tradition
5. The divine presence
6. Hinduism, colonialism, and modernity
7. Challenges to Hinduism: Women and Dalits
8. Crossing the black waters: Hinduism beyond India
Conclusion: Hind dharma, Hinduism, and Hinduisms