very readable and certainly most helpful, with a new and original perspective conveyed in a succinct introductory style. (Ursula King, University of Bristol)
Hinduism is practised by about 80 per cent of India's population, and by about 30,000,000 people outside India. But how is Hinduism defined, and what basis does the religion have? In this "Very Short Introduction", Kim Knott provides concise insights into the central preoccupations of Hinduism. These include the role of contemporary gurus and teachers in the quest for spiritual fulfilment and the function of regular performances of the Mahabharata and Ramayana scriptures. These present the divine in personal form (avatara) and provide models of behaviour for everyone, from kings and warriors to servants and children, and which focus on the dharma, the appropriate duties and moral responsibilites of the different varna or classes. The text also considers the challenges posed to Hinduism at the end of the 20th century as it spreads far beyond India, and as concerns are raised about issues such as dowry death and caste prejudice, and the place of women in Hindu society. Combining a succinct and authoritative overview of a major religion with analysis and observation, this "Very Short Introduction" should make interesting reading for Hindus and non-Hindus alike.