One of the oldest living religions of the world, Hinduism is also widely regarded as, arguably, the most accommodative—inclusive in its essence, despite the distortions that creep into any faith over time. In this rich and illuminating collection, Karan Singh, one of the most admired and sensitive scholars of Hinduism in our time, draws upon seventy years of his writing on aspects of Hinduism, to show why he believes that ‘the spiritual equality that [Hinduism] teaches is more egalitarian than perhaps any other concept known to man’, and why it ‘still has the power to provide inspiration and illumination to many millions throughout the world, whether or not they formally belong to the Hindu faith’.
The collection opens with a long essay, an overview, which is among the most concise yet comprehensive introductions to Hinduism available for the general reader. This is followed by essays on some defining ideas, texts and exponents of Hindu philosophy: Vedanta, the Upanishads, yoga, vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the world as family), Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo. There are also essays on how secularism and diversity are fundamental to Indian democracy. The concluding sections of the book comprise fascinating recollections of travels to some sites of Hindu pilgrimage—including a visit to Bali in Indonesia—and a personal selection from sacred and secular texts of Hinduism.
This absorbing, thoroughly accessible collection, which cuts through noise, narrow-minded or pedantic punditry and obfuscation, belongs on the bookshelf of anyone interested in one the world’s great faiths.