About the Book
‘Hinduism: Path of the Ancient Wisdom’ gives the ancient history of Hinduism. This book is like a map of Hinduism, which shows from where one should start his or her spiritual journey, and where the journey ends. This is also a guidebook to those who don’t know what Hinduism is, especially for those Hindus who are settled in foreign countries and have no knowledge of their own religion.
The Hindu Mind: Writing this book has been like playing the second inning of my life. The first inning was my medical career of over forty years in Mumbai, India. After retiring, my wife and I set up base in the United States. It was then that a friend gave me a book titled The Essentials of Hinduism by the learned Swami Bhaskarananda of Seattle, Washington. The book fascinated me so much that I read it many times and later developed a close relationship with the author. I resumed a childhood habit of reading extensively, but this time, my reading was not for just any book; rather, it was exclusively for works on Hinduism. There was an urge to explore and search the deeper meaning embedded in the Hindu faith.
About the Author
Dr. Hiro Badlani practiced ophthalmology for 40 years in Mumbai, India. After retiring, he moved to the U.S. to join his children. He has dedicated the last decade, what he calls "the second inning" of h life to the study of Hinduism and its teachings.
Hinduism is the oldest surviving religion in the world. it has evolved from prehistoric times through various phases of ongoing development and includes religious and spiritual literature which is vast and diverse.
Hinduism has a glorious past of ongoing spiritual thinking. Perhaps a great number of diverse tribal and ethnic groups converged together on the sacred land of India, and some of the highly evolved souls made profound inquiries about the life and its ultimate purpose. They discovered that all beings of creation, human as well as nonhuman, are connected with each other through eons of birth cycles as one large family of the world civilization. Hindu thought consistently emphasizes the concept of spirituality. Across millennia, Hindu seers have propagated the idea of unity of all mankind regardless of faith and place. ‘All are in One and One is in all’ is the foundation of Hindu religious thought.
The author acknowledges that there may be some controversy regarding the origin of Aryan community that is associated with the creation of the earliest scriptures of the Hindu religion. But there is no doubt that the seed of Hindu religious and spiritual thought sprouted first in the holy land (Punya Bhmi) of India. Numerous ancient Rishis contemplated on riverbanks, mountaintops, and the forests. In their deep sojourns, they established a secure communion with the Divine. From this spiritual union, they heard the inner voice of God and created thou- sands of sacred hymns, which would form the eternal Vedas. The Vedas were not spoken/written by a single author but by many highly enlightened and virtuous masters. These scriptures attained supreme authority in Hinduism and are still considered sagacious today. Hindu theology, however, soon charted a new direction. The old teachings were respected and revered but subtly changed to absorb the enlightened ideas and philosophies of the sages and saints of the time. However, no force or violence was deployed to incorporate the new thoughts and ideas. Changes also came in succession through the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Srimad Bhagavatam, and many other sacred writings. Through more such changes, several daughter religions came into existence, such as Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Many new sects (sampardayas) also were organized. New ideas percolated, giving the impetus to grow and survive through oncoming challenges. The dynamic character of Hinduism became well established with a free flow of ideas and philosophies.
The author is a person with a scientific background and as such has made a significant effort to present a book on religion that incorporates reason and rationality as far as possible. This book is applicable to everyday living. The author shows that Hinduism is not so much a set of dogmas as it is a way of life. Many pearls of wisdom are offered as guiding principles but not as ‘dos and’ don’ts’. Hinduism is a living faith of nearly one billion people in the world. The author has given extensive coverage to religious teachings and principles and many mantrus, slokas and important quotations from Hindu scriptures are generously inserted in the book. Passages from the most learned sages, authors, and poets through the ages are also included. Although all religions are not same, their endeavor is to seek truth through various ways and paths. This book makes an important attempt to show that the basic core of all religions is essentially same or similar.
This book provides a well groomed summary of all aspects of Hinduism in a simple and straightforward language. It includes 63 chapters spread over 367 pages. The overall con- tents are organized as follows:
Chapters 1 through 18 discuss the origin of Hinduism and its scriptures, Hindu spirituality, Hindu code of conduct, soul consciousness, the divine path of virtue, and Hindu Trinity. Chapters 19 through 42 include topics such as teachings of Ramayana, Mahabharatta, Bhagavad Gita, ancient philosophy of Yoga, Buddhism, jainism, Sikhism, teachings of Bhagavatam and spiritual teachings of some of the popular Hindu saints such as Vivekananda, Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Chinmayananda and many other spiritual masters. Chapters 43 through 56 provide discussions on Hinduism and science, meditation, satssngh (holy company), Ayurveda, vegetarianism, Hindu wedding, Hindu symbols and icons, Hindu customs, festivals, interfaith issues and Hinduism and fine arts. The remaining chapters 57 through 63 include discussions on evolution of Hindu temples, a pilgrimage through India, Hindu temples in USA and rest of the world, and Hindu prayers.
This book is useful for the young reader, in particular, the youthful Hindu Diaspora in India and other countries, where Hindus are now settling in large numbers. At the same time, any non-Hindus who would like to learn about Hindu philosophy and India will also find this book of immense benefit.
Writing this book has been like playing the second inning of my life. The first inning was my medical career of over forty years in Mumbai, India. After retiring, my wife and I set up base in the United States. It was then that a friend gave me a book titled The Essentials of Hinduism by the learned Swami Bhaskarananda of Seattle, Washington. 111e book fascinated me so much that I read it many times and later developed a close relationship with the author. I resumed a childhood habit of reading extensively, but this time, my reading was not for just any book; rather, it was exclusively for works on Hinduism. There was an urge to explore and search the deeper meaning embedded in the Hindu faith.
Over the past ten years, I have read more than one hundred books, taking notes and underlining the important passages, and I have devoted virtually all my resources to this passion of knowing more about Hinduism and doing inner reflection. I also discussed various aspects of the Hindu religion with many spiritual masters, sages, swamis, and other academic scholars, who helped formulate the concept of this book. With the vast storehouse of information in many philosophical volumes, the different interpretations, and the mystic descriptions-some of which I am still unable to fully understand-it seemed like a Herculean task to make something out of this mountain of data, but I decided to take a very simple route. I have chosen to write a straightforward book that is easy to read and understand and to present it with the fewest controversies, complex theories, and critical judgment.
In the bargain, I admittedly have compromised its academic authority. In fact, this book is not written as a scholarly treatise; it is more for non-academics who would like to have some authentic information on Hinduism. It is designed to entice the young reader; in particular, the youthful Hindu Diaspora in America and other countries where Hindus are now settling in large numbers. At the same time, I hope that many non-Hindus who would like to learn about Hindu philosophy and India will find this book useful.
I am a person with a scientific background and as such have tried my best to present a book on religion that can pass the acid test of reason and rationality as far as possible. Above all, I have tried to present a book on religion that may be applicable to everyday living. It is my perception that the main purpose of religion is to impart moral guidance. It has been said repeatedly that Hinduism is not so much a set of dogmas as it is a way of life. There are, however, many pearls of wisdom offered as guiding principles but not as dos and don’ts. More important, Hinduism is a living faith of nearly one billion people and is perhaps the most ancient religion in the world. I therefore have given extensive coverage to religious teachings and principles in this book. I have liberally inserted many of the mantras, slokas, and important quotations from Hindu scriptures. Passages from the most learned sages, authors, and poets down through the ages are also included.
Hinduism has an ancient past. Perhaps a great number of diverse tribal and ethnic groups converged together on the sacred land of India, and some of the highly evolved souls among them meditated profoundly in the quest of many enquiries. They discovered that all beings of creation, human as well as nonhuman, are connected with each other through eons of birth cycles as one large family of the divine, Vasudbaiva Kutumbkam. Hindu thought repeatedly emphasizes this concept of spirituality. Across millennia, Hindu seers have propagated the idea of unity of all mankind regardless of faith and place. All religions lead to the same destination. It will be my truthful endeavor to pursue this philosophy in tile book.
For the first time an attempt has been made through these pages to give an account of the history of Muslim rule in Tirhut (1206- 1765 A. D.) and in that sense it can be called a pioneer work. During the period under review Tirhut played a very important part in the history of North-Eastern India and the Hindu Kingdom of this region (C. 1097-1532 A. D.) was just like an island in the vast ocean of Muslim dominated area of North India. Even after 1532 A. D., the Kingdom of Tirhut had an autonomous status and the Muslims of the land opposed tooth and nail the establishment of Mughal ascendancy in this region. The story of this struggle is narrated here on the basis of all the available sources. North Bihar, as Tirhut is usually known, has so far been neglected and I hope that the present work will stimulate further studies on the subject. I am thankful to my teacher, Professor Syed Hasan Askari, who spared no pains in going through the book. No amount of word can express my deep sense of gratitude to him. I crave the indulgence of my readers for my shortcomings, Plates could not be incorporated due to certain unavoidable and technical reasons and for that ommission, I beg to be excused.
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