The �Atlas of World Faiths� series aims to offer an in-depth look at world religions by examining related geography, history, biography, art, and other disciplines. Other titles in the series are
Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism. This volume opens by exploring what we know about the origins of this most ancient religion. Refreshingly, the author does not shy away from the controversies surrounding the Eurocentric theories that originated during the colonial period. Instead, he concludes that because of the antiquity of this faith, we may never really know where and how its earliest forms grew. Successive chapters address the course of history and its influence on the growth and development of Hinduism. Readers will learn about Hinduism�s first known texts, the Vedas, as well as other texts such as the Puranas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Poets and scholars of early Hindu empires are discussed. Here again the book is a refreshing change from the usual fare, addressing formerly-ignored material such as the southern kingdoms, the Bhakti reform movement, and the spread of Hindu culture and traditions to southeast Asia. The Muslim period is briefly addressed, although it seems odd that the author has chosen to use the Anglophone spelling of �Mogul� for the empire of that name, instead of the more phonetic �Mughal.� The clashes between the theology of Islam and what was seen as the idolatry of Hindus is addressed quite directly, but so are examples of cultural fusion and efforts to reconcile differences. The author takes a contemporary stance with reference to the rebellion of 1857. Gandhi�s roots in Hinduism and his efforts toreform by example, as well as his powerful role in the growth of Indian nationalism, are well addressed. Concluding chapters discuss Hindus around the globe and the practice of Hinduism in the modern world. One controversy that remains unaddressed is the growth of politicized extreme Hindu nationalism in India. Sidebars elucidate points from caste to traditional life stages, concluding on the final page with a prayer for world peace. Photographs, maps, charts, and paintings amply illustrate the text. The paintings tend to lean heavily toward ISKCON sources at the expense of neglecting other representations from the rich and diverse artistic traditions of India. Brief sketches of legendary and historic figures, a reading list, a list of multimedia resources, a timeline, facts and figures, a glossary, and an index constitute the back matter. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
Gr 4-6-Hinduism and Buddhism are explored in an accessible introductory manner, including information on their history, teachings, religious practices, culture and lifestyle, and the faiths' roles in today's global society. Vibrant full-color photographs are appropriately placed within the texts. Ideal for elementary school reports or for general interest, these titles are solid additions to most collections.-Amanda Conover Le, St. Johns County Public Library System, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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