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If you are interested at all Hinduism and ever wanted a better understanding, this is a great place to start.
I teach a Grade 11 World Religions course at my school and wanted to listen to a 'backgrounder' on Hinduism to help in my preparation. This book did the job beautifully--in fact, my only criticism is that is should have been longer.
The narrator, actor Ben Kingsley (who played the title role in 'Gandhi'), does a great job in reading this book with dignity and the gravitas a subject like this deserves. Throughout the book there are other accented voices who read excerpts from the Bhagavad-Gita (in an Indian accent) and commentary on Indian culture from English books (read in a British accent). This helps to break up the flow and is non-offensive.
Because Hinduism is so inextricably woven into the fabric of Indian culture, the book spends a great deal of time speaking of both religion and culture. In fact, if you are planning to travel to India, or you have an interest in India generally, you will find this audiobook very helpful to read. I have travelled to India on several occasions and this book accurately reflects both the culture and spirituality of modern India.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
Almost started enjoying this book until read some information which is patently false and would be considered offensive by many faithful Hindus, although Westerners, except for ISKON converts, would not easily notice them. The most glaring falsehood that this work propagates are as follows:describes Krishna's supposed 'love affair' with Radha (who allegedly married to somebody else)as a story which is canonical and part of Hindu belief. He further alleges that Gopis who danced with Krishna were married and had a "love affair" with him. The attempt is to portray the holiest figure of Hindus as a fornicator. This is the most glaring scholarly gaffe from this author and reveals serious shortcomings in his claim as a scholar of Hinduism.A brief examination, undertaken with sincere intent, would have revealed to him that Radha is a completely fictional character invented by poet Jayadeva around 12th century CE and that none of any canonical accounts of Krishna in Puranas and Mahabharata have any mention of Radha. With regard to supposed affair of Krishna with married Gopis, the author again shows callous disregard or ignorance of the Hindu, scriptures. According to Bhagavatham, whence this story comes, Krisnha was merely a boy of eight when he played pranks on Gopis. Out of hundreds of pages dedicated to Krishna, the episode describing the childhood pranks of Krishna with Gopis barely lasts a page. The rest of the scripture describes his miracles, statesmanship and military exploits in great detail.The author obviously ignored the canonical texts of Hinduism and built a narrative of Krishna as a playboy based on non-canonical stories which are popular only in a heretical fringe of Hindu society.Other glaring mistakes: failure to designate left-hand tantric practices as ostracized by lay Hindus,Sikh scripture not using Hindu names for God & containing Mira's verses,South Indian kings being Shudras,etc.
13 of 21 people found this review helpful