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Your hands-on guide to one of the world's major religions
The dominant religion of India, "Hinduism" 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 systemInformation on the rites, rituals, deities, and teachings associated with the practice of HinduismExplores the history and teachings of the Vedas, Brahmans, and UpanishadsOffers 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.
According to traditions going back to pre-Vedic times, Kali sprang from the third eye of the Goddess Durga as a destructive and terrifying manifestation of feminine power sent to lay waste to the forces of evil. Throughout India to this day, Kali is worshipped as the destroyer of bondage, capable of liberating her devotee from all rules and subjugation. In The Tantric Kali, Daniel Odier presents the mythology, practices, and rituals of Kali worship in the Tantric Kaula tradition within Kashmiri Shaivism. He reveals the practices of Vamachara, commonly known as the Left-hand Path but more accurately translated as the Path of Shakti. In this tradition the body itself is Kali's temple, and it is therefore unnecessary to reject or deny the body to know union with the divine. Instead, nothing is regarded as pure or impure and there is complete freedom from rules. Focused on working directly with forbidden emotions and behaviors, this path allows the seeker to transcend obstacles to liberation through sexual union. According to the Kaula Upanishad, "In your behavior do the opposite to what the norms dictate but remain in consciousness." This is the essence of Tantra. Kali is absolute reality: manifested as woman intoxicated by desire, she frees the tantric practitioner from all desire except union with the divine.
Originally published in 1997 -- "A wonderful balance of detail and clarity with excellent introductory essays on the Indus Valley civilization, the Vedic Period, the Upanishads, and devotional Hinduism," Religious Studies Review; Choice Outstanding Academic Book selling over 10,000 copies, and now revised and expanded to two volumes (Volume II: Religious History and Philosophy). Herewith an outstanding introduction to Hinduism and the many expressions of the religion in India. The evolution and nature of the major Hindu deities occupies substantial sections of the book as well as social structures such as class and caste that inform not only ritualistic practices and approaches to divinity but also societal norms. Thus, the historical roots of present-day beliefs and practices and the religious contexts in which they are based are examined. Current issues such as the struggle for greater independence for women in all aspects of social and economic living are raised. The book also incorporates the ways in which Hinduism is expressed in the colourful festivals and the sacred pilgrimages throughout India. No prior knowledge of Hinduism is required. Contents include: Fundamental Beliefs; Scriptures; Class and Caste; The Four Stages of Life; Gods and Goddesses (Siva); Gods and Goddesses (Sakti); Gods and Goddesses (Visnu, Krisna and Radha); Ritual in the Home and Community (Worship); Ritual in the Home and Community (Life-cycle Rites); Women in the Home and Community; Sacred Times and Places: Festivals and Pilgrimage.
There is no single basic version of a Hindu epic; each is told and retold with a number of minor and major variations over the years... Hindu epics are living organisms that change constantly. - Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty The Hindu religion is quite possibly the oldest religion. It is also the most diverse - we don't even know just how many Hindu gods there are. And its extensive epic verses include the Ramayana and the Mahabharata - the latter being the longest known epic in history (it's seven times longer than The Iliad and The Odyssey combined). From elephant-headed Ganesha to fierce, blue goddess Kali and through fascinating, less widely known deities, Hindu Myths is an excellent introduction to understanding the varying tales of creation in Hinduism, the major deities, the major texts and the principal concerns of the mythology. In Hindu epics, everything is impermanent including matter, love and peace. Magic and miracles thrive, gods are defeated and fear for their existence, triggering wars or debates. Death threatens and re-threatens life, while life finds a way to creatively re-emerge thus conquering death. Eros persistently prevails over chaos. Illustrated with 130 colour and black-&-white photographs, artworks and maps, Hindu Myths is an exciting, engaging and highly informative exploration of a fascinating and highly influential world that will appeal to anyone interested in Hinduism, mythology or history.
An Introduction to Swaminarayan Hinduism, third edition, offers a comprehensive study of a contemporary form of Hinduism. Begun as a revival and reform movement in India 200 years ago, it has now become one of the fastest growing and most prominent forms of Hinduism. The Swaminarayan Hindu transnational network of temples and institutions is expanding in India, East Africa, the UK, USA, Australasia, and in other African and Asian cities. The devotion, rituals, and discipline taught by its founder, Sahajanand Swami (1781-1830) and elaborated by current leaders in major festivals, diverse media, and over the Internet, help preserve ethnic and religious identity in many modern cultural and political contexts. Swaminarayan Hinduism, here described through its history, divisions, leaders, theology and practices, provides valuable case studies of contemporary Hinduism, religion, migrants, and transnationalism. This new edition includes up-to-date information about growth, geographic expansion, leadership transitions, and impact of Swaminarayan institutions in India and abroad.
Since its inception over two hundred years ago, Swaminarayan Hinduism has flourished into a transnational movement described as one of the fastest growing Hindu groups in the world. Despite being one of the largest and most visible Hindu traditions both in India and the West, surprisingly little is known about what the Swaminarayan fellowship believes. An Introduction to Swaminarayan Hindu Theology provides a comprehensive doctrinal account of the Swaminarayan tradition's belief system, drawing on its rich corpus of theological literature, including the teachings of Swaminarayan himself and classical commentaries on canonical Vedantic texts. Part I delineates the sources and tools of Swaminarayan Hindu theology, while Part II systematically expounds upon its distinctive five eternal entities - Parabrahman, Aksarabrahman, maya, isvara and jiva - and mukti (spiritual liberation). In presenting these key themes theologically and lucidly, Swami Paramtattvadas makes the Swaminarayan Hindu belief system intelligible to scholars, students and serious readers.
Originally published in 1997 "A wonderful balance of detail and clarity with excellent introductory essays on the Indus Valley civilization, the Vedic Period, the Upanishads, and devotional Hinduism," Religious Studies Review; Choice Outstanding Academic Book selling over 10,000 copies, and now revised and expanded to two volumes (Volume I: Major Deities and Social Structures) Herewith an outstanding introduction to the development of the religion of Hinduism from earliest times. While historical tradition is explored from as far back as pre-Aryan times in the fascinating ancient civilization that existed in India a few thousand years BCE, later expressions of religion and philosophy that informed early Hindu tradition are gleaned from its sacred texts. The author examines how present beliefs and practices have been informed by past traditions, and the resulting accommodation in Hinduism today. The book serves as an introduction to the two strands of theism and philosophical thought that emerged from early scriptures as they are expressed independently in Hinduism as well as in those traditions where they are woven together to create new religious movements. No prior knowledge of Hinduism is required. Contents include: The Indus Valley Civilization; The Vedic Period; Vedanta; The Advaita Vedanta of Sankara; Influential Theories (Samkhya and Yoga); Devotional Hinduism; The Bhagavad Gita; Songs of the Poets; The theistic philosophy of Ramanuja; The devotional theism of Caitanya; Unity and diversity.
This gorgeously illustrated gift edition of a spiritual classic details the story of the magical, heroic Hanuman. The timeless story of the monkey-god Hanuman is that of a valiant superhero, best known for battling the demon Ravana in the classic tale "Ramayana". Although Hanuman has the mystic ability to shrink and expand, and to leap great distances, it is his sensitivity and devotion to King Rama that make him such a memorable character. As a youth, Hanuman's mischievousness often landed him in trouble with the village elders. Finally they cast a spell causing him to forget his immense powers. Hanuman grew up thinking he was an ordinary monkey. His potential was realised only later when he was compelled to rescue Sita, the kidnapped wife of Rama, from the clutches of Ravana. This delightful mini book features gorgeously illustrated images of Hanuman from both traditional and contemporary artists.
Patanjali wrote this collection of yoga wisdom over 2,000 years ago. They are amongst the world’s most revered and ancient teachings and are the earliest, most holy yoga reference.The Sutras are short and to the point - each being only a line or two long. BKS Iyengar has translated each one, and provided his own insightful commentary and explanation for modern readers.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.The Sutras are also a wonderful introduction to the spiritual philosophy that is the foundation of yoga practise.The book is thoroughly cross-referenced, and indexed, resulting in an accessible and helpful book that is of immense value both to students of Indian philosophy and practitioners of yoga.
In the last few decades, yoga has helped millions of people to improve their concepts of themselves. Yoga realises that man is not only the mind, he is body as well. Yoga has been designed in a such a way that it can complete the process of evolution of the personality in every possible direction. Kundalini yoga is a part of the tantric tradition. Even though you may have already been introduced to yoga, it is necessary to know something about tantra also. Since the dawn of creation, the tantrics and yogis have realised that in this physical body there is a potential force. It is not psychological or transcendental; it is a dynamic potential force in the material body, and it is called Kundalini. This Kundalini is the greatest discovery of tantra and yoga. Scientists have begun to look into this, and a summary of the latest scientific experiments is included in this book.
Nobel Prize-winner Octavio Paz offers a dazzling mind journey to the sources of poetry. Poet, diplomat, writer, philosopher, hailed as an "intellectual literary one-man band" by the New York Times Book Review, Nobel Prize-winner Octavio Paz was a key figure in the Latin American Literary Renaissance and in world literature. In this entrancing work, part prose-poem and part rumination on the origins of language and the antic, erotic, sacred nature of poetry, Paz takes inspiration from Hanuman, the red-faced monkey chief and ninth grammarian of Hindu mythology. On a journey to the temple city of Galta in India-which Paz finds partially ruined in a leaf-filled countryside surrounded by forbidding hills-Hanuman's mythical encounters serve as the springboard for the poet's speculations on all manners of things, from movement and fixity to meaning and identity, the reality behind language, and the nature of nature. Images of the holy city, complete with the marauding monkeys for which it is known, constantly obtrude on his musings. Perhaps the most poetic of Paz's prose works, The Monkey Grammarian is visual: every page is rich in images, of palaces and temples, pilgrims and sadhus, and the monkey god himself. Paz's probing, crystalline prose makes this an unforgettable voyage of the mind.
Shiva, the most ancient and complex deity of the Hindu pantheon, has been portrayed in many contrasting lights: destroyer and benefactor, ascetic and householder, wild demon slayer and calm yogi atop Mount Kailash. Drawing from the Hindu sacred text the Shiva Mahapurana--said to be written by Shiva himself--Vanamali selects the essential stories of Shiva, both those from his dark wild side and those from his benevolent peaceful side. Vanamali discusses Shiva's many avatars such as Shambunatha and Bhola, as well as Dakshinamurti who taught the shastras and tantras to the rishis. She explores Shiva's relationships with Durga, Shakti, Sati, and Parvati and with his sons Ganesha and Kartikeya. Examining Shiva's acceptance of outsiders, Vanamali explains why ghosts and ghouls are his attendants and why his greatest devotees are demon kings, like Ravana. She includes famous Shiva stories such as the Descent of the River Ganga and Churning the Milky Ocean as well as those that reveal the origin of the festival of lights, Diwali; his creation of the cosmic couple, or hierogamos; and how Shiva and Parvati taught the world the secrets of Kundalini Shakti. The author also draws upon Shaivite teachings to illustrate the differences between Western science and Vedic science and their explanations for the origins of consciousness. Integrating Shiva's two sides, the fierce and the peaceful, Vanamali reveals that Shiva's form depends on the needs of the devotee. Understanding his teachings allows one to see through the illusions at the root of all grief and alienation in human life, for Shiva is the wielder of mayawho does not fall under its spell. While Ganesha is known as the remover of obstacles, Shiva is the remover of tears.
This book explores the diversity of Hindu goddesses and the variety of ways in which they are worshiped. Although they undoubtedly have ancient origins, Hindu goddesses and their worship is still very much a part of the fabric of religious engagement in India today. The book offers an introduction to a complex and often baffling field of study. Part I, "Beliefs" provides a series of encounters with a range of Hindu goddesses starting with the idea of 'Goddess' as a philosophical concept. Topics include textual evidence for belief structures, goddess mythology, and the importance of 'the Goddess' in Tantrism. Part II, "Practices" leads the reader through the tangled web of goddess worship, pausing along the way to examine the contrast between temple and local worship, the splendour of festivals and the importance of pilgrimage to those places in India where goddesses are considered to reside. A Conclusion provides details of contemporary developments in goddess worship, such as the appearance of new deities who supply the needs of worshipers in the twenty-first century. No prior knowledge is necessary as the book is aimed at undergraduate students and anyone interested in the religions and philosophy of India.
Tukoba (Tukaram) was a seventeenth-century Bhakti Sant (saint-poet) of the Varkari movement in Maharashtra. He is still considered the best Marathi poet. These new translations by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar seek to capture the wonder of his writing, his lyricism and his profound meanings.
The great Indian epic rendered in modern prose
From the kingdom of Ayodhya to the isle of Lanka, we are transported to a land that has inspired morality and spiritual tradition for thousands of years. On the eve if his enthronement, Rama, the beloved prince of Ayodhya, is banished to the forest as a result of a sinister plot. Along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, Rama accepts his destiny and departs as the kingdom mourns his loss. His exile, however, proves to have a deeper meaning as Rama becomes the protector of the forest sages and sparks the fury of Ravana, the seemingly invincible demon who terrorizes both humans and gods alike. In a vengeful act, Ravana kidnaps Sita, taking her across the ocean to Lanka. Now Rama, with the help of an army of monkeys, must fight to reclaim his dear bride and his honor.
The book throws light on the nature of various inner powers which we already possess and use more or less unconsciously, as well as with latent powers within, which are as yet undeveloped. The book is of interest to the general reader as well as to the spiritual seeker.
Approximately two thousand years old, The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjaliis the landmark scripture on classical yoga. The translation and commentary provided here by Georg Feuerstein are outstanding for their accessibility and their insight into the essential meaning of this ancient and complex text. A scholar of international renown who has studied and practiced yoga since the age of fourteen, Feuerstein also brings to The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali his experience as a professional indologist. His faithful and informed rendering of the aphorisms (sutras) is based on extensive personal research into the Sanscrit sources. Each word is explained so that the entire text becomes readily available to the western reader and student of yoga.
Today in the West, scientists and philosophers, mystics and seekers
of higher consciousness are intensively searching for means of
releasing the vital energy (kundalini) that lies latent in each of
us. Tantra, which does not deny the body, but harnesses its
energies and powers for spiritual growth, is the most detailed and
authoritative teaching of this kind in existence. In "Kundalini:
The Arousal of the Inner Energy," Ajit Mookerjee writes of the core
experience of Tantra, the process in which the energy is awakened
and rises throughout the energy centers (chakras) to unite with
Pure Consciousness at the crown of the head.
The roots of monasticism may go back as far as 1700 BCE, to ascetic practices in ancient India. Since that time, the monastic world has naturally developed its own extensive and distinct vocabulary. Countless volumes have been written on monasticism yet many do not clearly define obscure or vernacular terms. Some terms may be found in standard dictionaries but without in-depth explanations. This first comprehensive dictionary--not a proselytizing work but a reference with historical and biographical focus--fills the gap, with a worldwide scope covering not only Christianity, but all faiths that have monastic traditions, including but not limited to Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism.
In this book Paramahansa Yogananda offers prayers and affirmations that beginners and experienced meditators alike can use to awaken the boundless joy, peace, and inner freedom of the soul.
Includes introductory instructions on how to meditate. An encouraging guide that teaches us through our own experience how to spiritually enrich our everyday life.
Beginning with the foundational visions of the Vedas, Dr Fowler examines each traditions vision of reality in a systematic way that focuses on how it understands the self, the highest reality, causality, knowledge, and liberation. Because the six major Hindu philosophical traditions Mimamsa, Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisesika, and Vedanta complement each other in important ways as well as compete with each other in some ways, this systematic comparison of the fundamental topics of each tradition enables us to see the beautiful tapestry of the Hindu way of life that these traditions have created. This book offers the reader who wishes to understand the philosophical basis of Hinduism a clear and comprehensive introduction. It also provides a solid foundation for the reader who wishes to go on to advanced and detailed studies of any of the Hindu philosophical traditions. From the Foreword by John M. Koller, author of The Indian Way and Asian Philosophies
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