Hinduism is perhaps the world's oldest major religion, This comprehensive book explores its rich historical and cultural development, from its Indian roots to its vibrant application in the present, global context. The first section examines the origins of Hinduism, exploring the holy texts and their teachings about the self, the law of karma, and the cycle of birth and death. The second part focuses on spiritual practices - the four main paths and the many Hindu deities. The final section analyses Hindu society, culture and arts. This accessible book provides the perfect reference for anyone wishing to explore the compelling faith and culture that is Hinduism.
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"Introducing Hinduism" offers a guide to the key philosophical, literary, mythological and cultural traditions of this extraordinarily diverse faith. It untangles the complexities of Hinduism's gods and goddesses, its caste system and its views on sex, everyday life and asceticism. This work answers questions including: Why do Hindus revere the cow? Must Hindus be vegetarian? And much more...
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Your hands-on guide to one of the world's major religions The dominant religion of India, "Hinduism" simply derives from the word "India" and refers to a wide variety of religious traditions and philosophies that have developed over thousands of years. Today, the United States is home to approximately one million Hindus. If you've heard of this ancient religion and are looking for a reference that explains the intricacies of the customs, practices, and teachings of this ancient spiritual system, Hinduism For Dummies is for you! * Provides a thorough introduction to this earliest and popular world belief system * Information on the rights, rituals, deities, and teachings associated with the practice of Hinduism * Explores the history and teachings of the Vedas, Brahmans, and Upanishads * Offers insight into the modern daily practice of Hinduism around the world Continuing the Dummies tradition of making the world's religions engaging and accessible to everyone, Hinduism For Dummies is your hands-on, friendly guide to this fascinating religion.
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The Ramayana is one of the great epics of the ancient world, with versions spanning the cultures, religions and languages of Asia. Its story of Rama's quest to recover his wife Sita from her abduction by Raavana, the Lord of the Underworld, has enchanted readers and audiences across the Eastern world for thousands of years. Daljit Nagra was captivated by his grandparents' Punjabi version as a child, and has chosen to rejuvenate the story for a new generation of multicultural, multi-faith readers. By drawing on scenes originating in versions such as those from Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, as well as the better-known Indian Ramayanas, and by incorporating elements of Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain and secular versions, Nagra creates a consciously multicultural Ramayana. This dazzling version is both accessible and engaging, written in Nagra's typically vibrant and eclectic language, and bursting with energy, pathos and humour.
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An engrossing and definitive narrative account of history and myth that offers a new way of understanding one of the world's oldest major religions, The Hindus elucidates the relationship between recorded history and imaginary worlds. Hinduism does not lend itself easily to a strictly chronological account: many of its central texts cannot be reliably dated even within a century; its central tenets karma, dharma, to name just two arise at particular moments in Indian history and differ in each era, between genders, and caste to caste; and what is shared among Hindus is overwhelmingly outnumbered by the things that are unique to one group or another. Yet the greatness of Hinduism - its vitality, its earthiness, its vividness - lies precisely in many of those idiosyncratic qualities that continue to inspire debate today. Wendy Doniger is one of the foremost scholars of Hinduism in the world. With her inimitable insight and expertise Doniger illuminates those moments within the tradition that resist forces that would standardize or establish a canon. Without reversing or misrepresenting the historical hierarchies, she reveals how Sanskrit and vernacular sources are rich in knowledge of and compassion toward women and lower castes; how they debate tensions surrounding religion, violence, and tolerance; and how animals are the key to important shifts in attitudes toward different social classes. The Hindus brings a fascinating multiplicity of actors and stories to the stage to show how brilliant and creative thinkers - many of them far removed from Brahmin authors of Sanskrit texts - have kept Hinduism alive in ways that other scholars have not fully explored. In this unique and authoritative account, debates about Hindu traditions become platforms from which to consider the ironies, and overlooked epiphanies, of history.
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"The Bhagavad Gita", a scintillating jewel embedded in the great Sanskrit epic "Mahabharata", is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna set against the background of war. At the beginning of the poem, we learn that there is going to be a great war for the rule of a kingdom. On the battlefield, with armies of the Kuru clan ranged against each other, Arjuna and Krishna explore the necessity of war and the nature of the human soul. The eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita encompass the whole spiritual struggle of a human soul, and the central themes of this immortal poem arise from the symphonic vision of God in all things and of all things in God.
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Chakras are the body's subtle energy centres vital for our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. This comprehensive book provides a detailed guide to the characteristics of each chakra and how you can work with them to heal and balance every aspect of your life. Beginning with an outline of the key energy concepts including prana, the nadis and kundalini energy, the book goes on to explain the basic techniques for working with chakras, including: meditating on yantras, the geometric representation of chakra energies; mantras; exercises; and journaling. Saradananda then explores in depth each chakra in turn, describing its key characteristics and related physical disorders, providing helpful yoga poses and breathing techniques and giving clear information on how to recognise the signs that your chakra is overactive, underactive or balanced. You will also discover how the chakras relate to each other and find advice on protecting yourself while working energetically. This is an essential book for everyone wanting to achieve total well-being through understanding and working with these vital energy centres.
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The latest work from B.K.S. Iyengar, the world's most respected yoga teacher. Foreword from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. B.K.S. Iyengar has devoted his life to the practice and study of yoga. It was B.K.S. Iyengar's unique teaching style, bringing precision and clarity to the practice, as well as a mindset of 'yoga for all', which has made it into a worldwide phenomenon. His seminal book, 'Light on Yoga', is widely called 'the bible of yoga' and has served as the source book for generations of yoga students around the world. In 'Core of the Yoga Sutras', he applies this same clarity to the philosophical core of yoga-the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are 196 aphorisms forming the foundational text of yoga philosophy. Each sutra is short and to the point - each being only a line or two long. B.K.S. Iyengar has translated each one, providing an insightful commentary and explanation for modern readers, as well as linking the various themes throughout the sutras to one another. Each sutra is presented as Sanskrit text, transliteration and English translation, followed by B.K.S. Iyengar's unique commentary and authority only he can bring to the work. B.K.S. Iyengar's insight on the sutras show the reader how we can transform ourselves through the practice of yoga, gradually developing the mind, body and emotions, so we can become spiritually evolved. This is a wonderful introduction to the spiritual philosophy that is the foundation of yoga practice.
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'I have heard the supreme mystery, yoga, from Krishna, from the lord of yoga himself.' Thus ends the Bhagavad Gita, the most famous episode from the great Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata. In its eighteen short chapters Krishna's teaching leads the warrior Arjuna from perplexity to understanding and correct action, in the process raising and developing many key themes from the history of Indian religions. The Bhagavad Gita is the best known and most widely read Hindu religious text in the Western world. It considers social and religious duty, the nature of sacrifice, the nature of action, the means to liberation, and the relationship of human beings to God. It culminates in an awe-inspiring vision of Krishna as God omnipotent, disposer and destroyer of the universe. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
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Attributed to Valmiki, thought to be India's first poet, the Ramayana's origins date back thousands of years when it was first committed to Sanskrit. Since then, generations of children the world over have grown up with its story of Rama's quest to recover his wife Sita from her abduction by Raavana, the Lord of the Underworld. The tale has been celebrated in many languages and has spread to many other countries including Nepal, Tibet, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is used as a Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Islamic, Sikh as well as a secular text, and lives in many art forms too: in drama and dance, in sculpture and painting, in prose and in poetry. Daljit Nagra was captivated by the versions his grandparents regaled him with as a child. Now an award-winning poet of dazzling gifts, he has chosen to bring the story to life in a vivid and enthralling version of his own. Accessible and engaging, and bursting with energy, Nagra's Ramayana is a distillation and an animation for readers of all ages, whether familiar with or entirely new to this remarkable tale.
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Covering all the major Hindu practices, festivals, beliefs, gods, sacred sites, languages, and religious texts, this is the most comprehensive Hinduism dictionary of its kind. It contains 2,800 entries on everything from Tantra to temples, from bhakti to Divali, as well as biographical entries for key thinkers, teachers, and scholars. All entries are clear, concise, up to date, and fully cross-referenced. With its coverage spanning 3,500 years of Hinduism - from the religion's conception to Hinduism in the 21st century - this brand new A-Z also acknowledges the historical interplay between Hindu traditions and others, for example, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, and Islamic. Detailed appendices include maps, pronunciation guide, a chronology, principal sources and further reading, and useful websites. This dictionary is an invaluable first port of call for students and teachers of Hinduism, theology, Asian studies, or philosophy, as well as the related disciplines of history, sociology, and anthropology. It is also an ideal source of reference for all practicing Hindus and for anyone with an interest in Indian religions and culture.
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Sri Ramana Maharshi is widely thought of as one of the most outstanding Indian spiritual leaders of recent times. Having attained enlightenment at the age of 16, he was drawn to the holy mountain of Arunachala in southern India, and remained there for the rest of his life. Attracted by his stillness, quietness and teachings, thousands sought his guidance on issues ranging from the nature of God to daily life. This book brings together many of the conversations Maharshi had with his followers in an intimate portrait of his beliefs and teachings. Through these conversations, readers will discover Maharshi's simple discipline of self-enquiry: knowing oneself and looking inwards as the road to true understanding and enlightenment. This updated edition will appeal to anyone looking for peace, self-awareness, and guidance on how to embrace the self for well being and calm.
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According to ancient Yogic tradition, your soul has four distinct desires: the desire for purpose, the drive to become who you are meant to be; the desire for the means (money, security, and health) to prosper in this world; the desire for pleasures like intimacy, beauty and love; and, the desire for spiritual fulfillment and lasting freedom. Learning to honour these four desires is the key to happiness, and to a complete and balanced life. But how can you discern what will truly satisfy your desires? How can you increase your capacity to achieve them? What if your desires seem to conflict with one another? Is it really possible to live a spiritual life while also wanting material pleasures and success? For more than three decades, master teacher Rod Stryker has taught yoga in the context of its deepest philosophy. His course, called "The Yoga of Fulfillment", has helped thousands recognise their soul's call to greatness and to achieve their dreams. Now, in this wise and richly practical book, he has distilled those broad teachings into a road map for becoming the person you were meant to be. It is filled with revealing true stories, provocative exercises and practices for unlocking your inner guidance. And even if you've never done a yoga pose, you can follow this step-by-step process to: discover your soul's unique purpose - the one you came into this world to fulfill; recognise the goal(s) you need to focus on at any given time and enliven your capacity to reach them; overcome self-defeating ideas and behaviour; recruit your deepest energies and strengthen your resolve to meet any challenge; and, learn to live with joy at every stage of your growth. "The Four Desires" is nothing less than a complete path toward living your best life possible - a life that is rich in meaning and in means, a life that attracts and emanates happiness.
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In the Hindu world-view, threshold is a profoundly important concept that represents a passage between one space and place and another, creating a visual bridge between the secular and the sacred. Accordingly, the literal threshold a person crosses when entering and exiting a home or business symbolizes the threshold one crosses between the physical and spiritual realms of existence. Hindus have long believed it is possible to affect a person's well-being by using diagrams to sanctify the "threshold space." The diagrams do so by "trapping" ill will, evil, bad luck, or negative energy within their colorful and elaborate configurations, thereby cleansing those who traverse the space and sending them on their way with renewed spirit, positive energy, and good luck and fortune. The creation of the threshold diagrams is steeped in Indian history and culture going back thousands of years. Practiced by women, it was long considered a vernacular art. But, as this pioneering book reveals, the diagrams represent highly sophisticated mathematical and cosmological underpinnings that have been handed down from one generation of women to the next.
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This collection by the Asian Art Museum is a collection of works depicting the ancient Rama Epic. The Rama Epic recounting the struggle of Prince Rama to defeat a demonic king, rescue his abducted wife, and reestablish order in the world has been a subject for visual and performing arts, literature, and religious thought in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia for many centuries. A huge number of artworks relating to the Rama legends have been made over the course of 1500 years in a dozen countries. The Rama Epic: Hero, Heroine, Ally, Foe illustrates some of the most important episodes involving the four primary characters: the hero, Rama; the heroine, Rama's wife Sita; the ally, Rama's faithful monkey lieutenant Hanuman; and the foe, the ten-headed demon king Ravana.
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Bhakti Yoga explores one of the eight 'limbs' of yoga. In the simplest terms, bhakti yoga is the practice of devotion, which is the essential heart of yoga and of Hinduism in general. In recent times, the term has come to be used in a rather simplistic way to refer to the increasingly popular practice of kirtan, or chanting in a group or at large gatherings. But bhakti yoga is far more complex and ancient than today's growing kirtan audiences are aware, and embraces many strands and practices. Edwin F. Bryant focuses on one famous and important school of bhakti and explores it in depth to show what bhakti is and how it is expressed. And he supplies his own renderings of central texts from that tradition in the form of 'tales and teachings' from an important work called the Bhagavata Purana, or 'The Beautiful Legend of God.' This clarifying work establishes a baseline for understanding, and will be welcomed by all serious students of the spiritual heritage of India.
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Yogananda, considered by many to be the father of modern yoga, has had an unsurpassed global impact thanks to the durability of his teachings, the institutions he created or inspired, and especially his iconic memoir, Autobiography of a Yogi. Since its publication in 1946, that book has sold millions of copies and changed millions of lives. But it doesn't tell the whole story. Much of Yogananda's seminal text is devoted to tales about other people and it largely overlooks the three vital decades he spent living, working and teaching in America. Huge chunks of his life - challenges, controversies and crises; triumphs, relationships and formative experiences - remain unknown to even his most ardent devotees. In this captivating biography, scholar and teacher Philip Goldberg fills the gaps, charting a journey that spanned six decades, two hemispheres, two world wars and unprecedented social changes. The result is an objective, thoroughly researched account of Yogananda's remarkable life in all its detail, nuance, and complex humanity. 'Yogananda would, I believe, want any book about him to not only inform but transform,' Goldberg writes. 'It is my hope that readers will be enriched, expanded and deepened by this humble offering.'
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One of India's greatest epics, the "Ramayana" pervades the country's moral and cultural consciousness. Believed to have been composed by Valmiki sometime between the eighth and sixth centuries BC, the "Ramayana" tells the tragic and magical story of Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, an incarnation of Lord Visnu, born to rid the earth of the terrible demon Ravana. An idealized heroic tale, the "Ramayana" is also an intensely personal story of family relationships, love and loss, duty and honour, of harem intrigue, petty jealousies and destructive ambitions - all this played out in a universe populated by larger-than-life humans, gods, wondrous animals and terrifying demons.
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Take a fresh look at India's great epic with The Illustrated Mahabharata and rediscover the lost kingdoms, dynasties, and characters of the Mahabharata. Follow the tale as it unfolds through 18 parvas with stunning photographs, paintings, sculptures, and historical artefacts. Discover the principal characters of the Mahabharata and their family trees, and understand key moments from the birth of Pandavas and Kauravas to the death of the elders. Know the Mahabharata with this beautiful retelling of India's greatest epic.
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Beautifully illustrated with over 100 colour and sepia photos and illustrations, the present book includes a concise and sensitive biography of Anandamayi Ma with important selections from her oral teachings. Anandamayi Ma (1896-1982) was one of the great Hindu saints of the 20th century. She was born in present-day Bangladesh. As a person of remarkable piety, sanctity and wisdom, she came to the notice of both simple people and famous figures of India. During her long life, Anandamayi Ma traveled a great deal and assisted in the building or establishment of numerous ashrams and places of worship. Although born into a family that worshiped Vishnu, she became a devotee of Shiva. Her beatific presence and words of wisdom won her many followers and spread her renown. Many of Anandamayi Ma's sayings were written down and recorded in books. Through her teachings and the example of her life, Anandamayi Ma has inspired millions of individuals of diverse faiths and circumstances - from Prime Ministers, artists and industrialists to shopkeepers, beggars and monks including Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Jawarharlal Nehru, former Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Queen Mother of Greece and the former President of India, Ragendra Prasad. Without a doubt, Anandamayi Ma is one of the most beloved 20th century saints within her native India, and across the globe.
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The Kamasutra, composed in the third century CE, is the world's most famous textbook of erotic love. There is nothing remotely like it even today, and for its time it was astonishingly sophisticated. Yet, it is all but ignored as a serious work in its country of origin-sometimes taken as a matter of national shame rather than pride-and in the rest of the world it is a source of amused amazement, and inspires magazine articles that offer "mattress-quaking sex styles" such as "the backstairs boogie" and "the spider web". In this scholarly and superbly readable book, one of the world's foremost authorities on ancient Indian texts seeks to restore the Kamasutra to its proper place in the Sanskrit canon, as a landmark of India's secular literature. She reveals fascinating aspects of the Kamasutra as a guide to the art of living for the cosmopolitan beau monde of ancient India: its emphasis on grooming and etiquette (including post-coital conversation), the study and practice of the arts (ranging from cooking and composing poetry to coloring one's teeth and mixing perfumes), and discretion and patience in conducting affairs (especially adulterous affairs). In its encyclopedic social and psychological narratives, it also displays surprisingly modern ideas about gender and role-playing, female sexuality, and homosexual desire. Even as she draws our attention to the many ways in which the Kamasutra challenges the conventions of its time (and often ours)-in dismissing fertility as the aim of sex, for instance-Doniger also shows us how it perpetuates attitudes that have continued to darken human intercourse: passages that twin passion with violence, for example, and those that explain away women's protests and exclamations of pain as ploys to excite their male partners. In these attitudes, as in its more enlightened observations on sexual love, we see the nearly two- thousand-year-old Kamasutra mirror twenty-first-century realities. In investigating and helping us understand a much celebrated but under-appreciated text, Wendy Doniger has produced a rich and compelling text of her own that will interest, delight, and surprise scholars and lay readers alike.
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In a small medieval palace on Kathmandu's Durbar Square lives Nepal's famous Living Goddess - a child as young as three who is chosen from a caste of Buddhist goldsmiths to watch over the country and protect its people. To Nepalis she is the embodiment of Devi (the universal goddess) and for centuries their Hindu kings have sought her blessing to legitimize their rule. Legends swirl about her, for the facts are shrouded in secrecy and closely guarded by dynasties of priests and caretakers. How come a Buddhist girl is worshipped by autocratic Hindu rulers? Are the initiation rituals as macabre as they are rumoured to be? And what fate awaits the Living Goddesses when they attain puberty and are dismissed from their role? Weaving together myth, religious belief, modern history and court gossip, Isabella Tree takes us on a compelling and fascinating journey to the esoteric, hidden heart of Nepal. Through her unprecedented access to the many layers of Nepalese society, she is able to put the country's troubled modern history in the context of the complex spiritual beliefs and practices that inform the role of the little girl at its centre. Deeply felt, emotionally engaged and written after over a decade of travel and research, The Living Goddess is a compassionate and illuminating enquiry into this reclusive Himalayan country - a revelation.
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The ritual of offering food or Naivedyam to Lord Venkateshwara - a manifestation of Lord Vishnu - at the Tirumala Temple has existed since time immemorial, when Lord Vishnu decided to descend on Earth in the 'archa' form, or as an idol that can be worshipped. He commissioned Sage Vaikhanasa to prepare the ancient religious text Agama Shastra, which gives an elaborate description of the rituals to be conducted at the Tirumala Temple, the ingredients to be used to prepare prasadams, procedures for a priest to follow, precautions to be taken, and the Veda mantras to be recited at each step. With rare photographs and detailed step-by-step recipes, the book describes the various kinds of food offerings made, with specifications about the quantity, ingredients, preparation, variety of food, and particular times when they should be served. This sacred volume is a must-have for every Lord Venkateshwara devotee.
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