Back of the Book
This is a discerning and lucid articulation of Hindu belief and practice. Professor Rambachan combines insight born out of his own devotion with mastery of relevant texts and traditions to create a gem of a book. He describes worship in its familial and temple contexts, holding before the reader the aim of worship as unbroken awareness of God in all of life. This awareness intensifies and expands the religious and moral meaning of life, death, and human action, Dharma, moksa and rebirth, and other classical Hindu teachings, are set forth with an elegance of style and economy of words. Rambachan is especially attentive to common misunderstandings of Hindu teachings. He shows how Hinduism avoids determinism, encourages freedom from ignorance and for joyful celebration of life, and issues forth in compassionate concern for others. The final chapter, 'a Hindu Looks at Jesus', will be of special value for Hindu- Christian dialogue. It is difficult to imagine a more accessible, concise and helpful introduction to the profound themes of Hinduism.
Anantanand Rambachan is an Associate Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Rambachan earned his Ph. D. at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.
He has been working, in recent years, on Hindu epistemology and on the interplay between scripture and personal experience as sources of valid knowledge. He has published accomplishing the Accomplished: The Vedas as a Valid Source of Knowledge in Sankara. His writings appears in various scholarly journals such as Philosophy East and West, Religion, Religious Studies, Journal of Dharma, and World Faiths Insight.
In 1987, Rambachan was awarded Trinidad's second highest national honor, the Chaconia Gold Medal, for public service.
During the years 1983-86, I was invited, on various occasions, by the British Broadcasting Corporation to record a series of talks on Hinduism. These lectures were transmitted around the world on the radio series entitled, "Reflections". Twenty-one talks, each just under five minutes in length, were diverse and included discussions of Hindu worship, the goal of Hindu life, a Hindu view of Jesus, death and dying in Hinduism, and the spirituality of action in the Bhagavadgita.
Several friends have prompted me to make these talks available in book-form, and it is with their encouragement these are offered here. Amendments have been made to the lectures for the purpose of publication, but I have attempted to preserve the conversational tone with which they were originally delivered. Speaking about Hinduism requires selectivity and generalization and the material presented here reflects the deep influence of the Vedanta, and particularly the Advaita, tradition on my understanding of Hinduism.
I am deeply grateful to Pauline Webb of the British Broadcasting Corporation who invited me to deliver these lectures and who patiently taught me my first lessons in radio broadcasting. I am thankful to Dr. Jon Moline, the Dean of Saint Olaf College, who generously supported the preparation of this manuscript, and Brett Rabe and Craig Rice who undertook the typing and formatting. I am indebted to my wife, Geeta, who assisted in various ways with the original broadcasts and who has been a source of encouragement and valuable suggestions. Finally, I wish to record my appreciation to the many BBC listeners who responded with questions and letters of encouragement.
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