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Hinduism Beliefs & Practices Volume I

Major Deities and Social Structures

In the series Religious Beliefs & Practices

Jeaneane Fowler was formerly Head of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Wales, Newport, and later an Honorary Research Fellow. Her publications include Hinduism: Beliefs and Practices (Choice Outstanding Title, 1997); with books in the same series on Humanism, Chinese Religions, Tai Chi, Nichiren Daishonin: Buddhism in Wales, and books on the Philosophy of Hinduism and the Philosophy of Taoism; and a text and commentary on the Bhagavad Gita.

Originally published in 1997 – "A wonderful balance of detail and clarity with excellent introductory essays on the Indus Valley, the Vedic Period, the Upanishads, and devotional Hinduism," Religious Studies Review; Choice Outstanding Academic Book – selling over 10,000 copies, and now revised and expanded to two volumes (Volume II: Religious History and Philosophy)

Herewith an outstanding introduction to Hinduism and the many expressions of the religion in India. The evolution and nature of the major Hindu deities occupies substantial sections of the book as well as social structures such as class and caste that inform not only ritualistic practices and approaches to divinity but also societal norms. Thus, the historical roots of present-day beliefs and practices and the religious contexts in which they are based are examined. Current issues such as the struggle for greater independence for women in all aspects of social and economic living are raised. The book also incorporates the ways in which Hinduism is expressed in the colourful festivals and the sacred pilgrimages throughout India. No prior knowledge of Hinduism is required. Contents include: Fundamental Beliefs; Scriptures; Class and Caste; The Four Stages of Life; Gods and Goddesses (Siva); Gods and Goddesses (Sakti); Gods and Goddesses (Visnu, Krisna and Radha); Ritual in the Home and Community (Worship); Ritual in the Home and Community (Life-cycle Rites); Women in the Home and Community; Sacred Times and Places: Festivals and Pilgrimage

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-622-6
Paperback Price: £24.95 / $34.95
Release Date: November 2014
Page Extent / Format: 340 pp. / 246 x 171 mm
Illustrated: No



1 Fundamental Beliefs
The meaning of the term "Hinduism"
The Hindu concept of God
Samsara: the cycle of reincarnation
Karma: the law of cause and effect
Dharma: what is right
Moksa: liberation from sa9s1ra

2 Scriptures
Sruti: Veda
Itihasas: the two epics
The Ramayana
The Mahabharata
The Bhagavad Gita
Devotional songs and poetry
Agamas and Tantras

3 Varna and Jatr: Class and Caste
Class: varna
Caste: jati
The influence of bhakti
Contemporary issues

4 Asrama-dharma: Stages of Life
The asramas
Brahmacarin: the celibate student
Grhastha: the householder
Vanaprastha: the forest dweller
Samnyasin: the renouncer
Artha: wealth
Kama: pleasure, desire
Dharma: what is right
Moksa: release

5 Gods and Goddesses: Siva
The asceticism / eroticism of Siva
The Siva linga
Hermaphrodite Siva: Ardhanarsvara
Symbols of Siva
Siva's entourage
The dances of Siva

6 Gods and Goddesses: Sakti: The Divine as Female
The dualities of the goddesses
Sakti and Dei2: the Mother Goddess
Uma / Sati
Uma / Parvati
Sri / Lakmi
Local goddesses

7 Gods and Goddesses: Visnu, Krsna and Radha
The Vaisnava religions
Visnu's avataras
Krsna and Radha

8 Ritual in the Home and Community: Worship
Puja in the home
Puja in the temple
Puja at shrines
Puja to local goddesses

9 Ritual in the Home and Community: Life-Cycle Rites
Rites for conception and pregnancy
Birth rites
Samskaras for infancy and childhood
Marriage: vivaha
Adultery and divorce
Death: antyesti
The sati

10 Women in the Home and Community
The status of women in India
The family
Food: anna

11 Sacred Times and Places
The Kumbha Mela

Further Reading

The book is very useful in many ways. It provides a comprehensive introduction, verse-by-verse annotation of the eighteen chapters (also supplemented with notes), suggestions for further reading, a glossary, and an index of Sanskrit terms as well as an index of English terms. The commentarial material is often insightful, as when the reference to death, old age, and sickness in 13.8 is linked with the parallel in the account of the Buddhas life (Fowler 2012: 221) and the explanation of daivam (18.14) is clarified with the help of commentaries on the text (279).
From the review in International Journal of Hindu Studies

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