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Hinduism: A Short History (Oneworld Short Guides) Paperback – 3 Feb 2000

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Amazon Review

The Hindu tradition can seem overwhelmingly complex--compared with other major religions it is not "organised"; there is no "identifiable human founder", such as Jesus, Buddha or Mohammed, and Hindus have never been interested in drawing up a "definition" of their beliefs. This fluid attitude has led to a rich diversity from "naked sadhus practising archaic forms of penance", to elephant-headed gods to the hundreds of thousands of deities in the Hindu pantheon--the staggering array can seem unfathomable to the outsider.

Klostermaier, one of the foremost writers on Hinduism, addresses the difficulties of a concise history from the outset. He suggests the religion is probably much older than commonly thought; that the Vedic tradition dates back to "possibly as early as 6000 BC", then he goes on to debunk the prevailing beliefs surrounding the "so-called" Aryan invasion theory that most textbooks still assert, namely that Hinduism began when the Aryans invaded India around 1500 BC. Klostermaier argues convincingly that "there is absolutely no archeological or literary evidence for this theory," that "it was the brain-child of foreign colonies who could but imagine that all elements of higher culture in India must have come from outside that backward country."

Klostermaier also gives an accessible overview of the religion, and gives a concise analysis of its main strands and philosophies, ending with a look at what's been happening in recent times. In keeping with his other books on the subject, including Hinduism: A Short Introduction and A Survey of Hinduism, this is an impressively erudite and authoritative work, backed up with extensive footnotes and references, a full glossary and an exhaustive bibliography. The weight of Klostermaier's knowledge may make this heavy-going for readers completely new to Hinduism but anyone with a serious interest will find this an essential reference book. --Louise McNamara


'Solid, comprehensive scholarship... I enjoyed reading it.' - Harold Coward, University of Victoria

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of Klostermaier's 'Hinduism: A Short History' 16 Jun. 2011
By Ryan Mease - Published on
Format: Paperback
This history is well intentioned, but eventually it becomes far too boggled by the author's undying affection for sanskrit terminology. I was eventually overwhelmed by the frequent references to specific religious concepts drawn directly from the Sanskrit. Reading become a labor rather than a pleasure. The history seems fair-handed and thorough.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best scholarly work on Hinduism 4 April 2002
By Peter Pratir - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is a rare mixture of scholarly research and a sympathetic feel towards Hinduism and India.
Every page has dozens of historical data and profound reseach.
No wonder, that it is being used in many of the American universities like Rutgers in New Jersey and McGill in Canada.
A must read for anybody interested in India and/or Hinduism
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb introduction! 24 Jan. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is one of the best introductions to Hinduism. It will be ideal as a textbook in religion classes. Klostermaier has written a series of illuminating books on Hinduism and this is a worthy member of this wonderful set.
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