Author: Bansi Pandit
The Hindu Mind: Fundamentals of Hindu Religion and Philosophy for all ages
Hinduism, the religion of Hindus (originally known as Sanatana Dharma), is the oldest surviving religion in the world. Unlike other religions, Hinduism did not originate from a single person, a single book, or at a single point in time. The religious and philosophical literature of Hindu religion is vast, diverse, and covers thousands of years of accumulated spiritual experiences of a large number of Hindu sages and saints. Therefore, it is difficult, almost impossible, for a beginner to know where to start to learn about Hinduism without screening volumes of literature.
Though there are numerous books available on Hinduism, most of them are not suitable for study by the beginners. The language and writing styles of most of the books on Hinduism are too complex for beginners to comprehend. To that extent, this book has been specially prepared to include simple language, modern writing and communication skills, and clarity of thought for easy comprehension by the readers of all ages.
A two-fold need for this book has been recognized. First, there are those who are curious and wish to learn the basic concepts of Hinduism without indulging in extensive time-consuming research or becoming mired in the complexities of Hindu religious thought. Second, there are children born in Hindu families, especially outside India, who may lack the environment or the opportunity to receive some basic education in their own religion during their formative years. As a result, such children may feel somewhat empty in their adult lives, or have great difficulty generating a deep conviction of their own being.
The purpose of this book, therefore, is to assist the students of all ages in assimilating the fundamental concepts of Hinduism, and to provide them with a road map for further travels in the land of Hindu religion, if they so desire.
The Contents of the book
Since the express purpose of this book is to present the fundamentals of Hindu religious thought in an easily understandable format, a serious effort has been made to provide the material in a logical manner and to keep the language simple and straightforward. Basic concepts are stressed with the hope that once the student has acquired an understanding of the fundamentals of Hinduism, he (or she) can proceed on his own accord to gain a better understanding of the higher teachings contained in other books. Accordingly, this book includes the following special features:
(1)The book is divided into five parts. Parts I through IV discuss all essential aspects of the Hindu religious tradition. To broaden the reader's understanding of the material presented, Part V includes tables, appendices, works cited, suggested readings for higher studies, and a glossary. Figures are included with their respective chapters.
(2)Frequently asked questions with answers pertaining to various aspects of Hindu religion have been included in last chapter 42.
(3)Each chapter is complete in itself and can be read independently of the others. The reader may, therefore, find some material repeated.
(4)Cross-references to other sections of the book have been frequently provided in each chapter, as necessary, for a more comprehensive understanding of the material.
Whenever a Sanskrit word initially appears in a chapter, the English translation is provided in parenthesis. However, the meanings of many Sanskrit words cannot possibly be conveyed through simple one-word translations. For this reason, a glossary with a pronunciation guide is provided in Part V of the book.
With Part I as a background, each chapter in Parts II through IV is essentially self-contained. This arrangement provides flexibility in arranging a course for teaching Hinduism. Various chapters in Parts II, Ill, and IV can be read in a different sequence without difficulty.