History of Science, Philosophy & Culture in Indian Civilization Vol. VII, Part 4
Edited by N.S.S. Raman
Distributed By Coronet Books Inc.
810 pages, Illustrated
The volumes of the `Project on the History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization' aim at discovering the main aspects of India's heritage and present them in an interrelated way. Inspite of their unitary look, these volumes recognize the difference between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. The project is not being executed by a single group of thinkers and writers who are methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. The Project is marked by what may be called `methodological pluralism'. Inspite of its primarily historical character, this project, both in its conceptualization and execution, has been shaped by scholars drawn from different disciplines. It is for the first time that an endeavour of such a unique and comprehensive character has been undertaken to study critically a major world civilization.
As is well-known, Hinduism is one of the oldest religions of the world with approximately one billion followers and about 85% of them in its homeland, India. The word `Hinduism' is perhaps a misnomer for what appears like a `religion', but as has been described by Sarvepally Radhakrishnan, is more of `a culture than a creed'. As pointed out in this volume, the word `Hindu' is derived from `Sindhu', the Sanskrit name for the river Indus, and the original inhabitants of the Indus Valley and beyond were so called by foreigners, especially by the Islamic invaders. Because of the lack of any fixed dogma or doctrine, the absence of any one holy book propounding any fixed doctrine and the absence of any organised church or institution that can bring its followers together, Hinduism has emerged as a complex religion based as it is, like the ancient Greek religion, on freedom of thought, belief and expression and also on tolerance and non-violence. At the same time Hinduism presents the students of world religions with a serious difficulty of bringing together the various beliefs, doctrines, customs and institutions under the same roof called Hinduism.
Various accounts of Hinduism published so far therefore, give us only partial pictures of this unique faith. In this Volume 45 scholars representing various disciplines and in different professions, have come together to contribute 63 chapters on various colourful aspects of Hinduism covering historically a very wide area, from vedic religion to modern Hinduism. Topically they cover various basic concepts, textual studies, customs, rituals and legal institutions, studies of Hindu social organizations, various movements and cults, like Saivism, Vaisnavism etc., Hindu art, aesthetics and architecture, response to and relation with other Indian religions, and modern Hinduism represented by great reformists like Raja Rammohun Roy, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore etc., and finally the volume concludes with a chapter on the reaction of of Hinduism to science and technology.
The methodolgy of study as a whole is objective, balanced and unbiased neither partisan nor unfairly critical, and no attempt has been made to defend any of the shortcomings of Hinduism or to glorify any of its merits.
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