The Hindus: An Alternative History

Front Cover
Penguin, 2009 - Religion - 779 pages
12 Reviews
From one of the world?s foremost scholars on Hinduism, a vivid reinterpretation of its history

An engrossing and definitive narrative account of history and myth that offers a new way of understanding one of the world?s oldest major religions, The Hindus elucidates the relationship between recorded history and imaginary worlds.

Hinduism does not lend itself easily to a strictly chronological account: many of its central texts cannot be reliably dated even within a century; its central tenets?karma, dharma, to name just two?arise at particular moments in Indian history and differ in each era, between genders, and caste to caste; and what is shared among Hindus is overwhelmingly outnumbered by the things that are unique to one group or another. Yet the greatness of Hinduism?its vitality, its earthiness, its vividness?lies precisely in many of those idiosyncratic qualities that continue to inspire debate today.

Wendy Doniger is one of the foremost scholars of Hinduism in the world. With her inimitable insight and expertise Doniger illuminates those moments within the tradition that resist forces that would standardize or establish a canon. Without reversing or misrepresenting the historical hierarchies, she reveals how Sanskrit and vernacular sources are rich in knowledge of and compassion toward women and lower castes; how they debate tensions surrounding religion, violence, and tolerance; and how animals are the key to important shifts in attitudes toward different social classes.

The Hindus brings a fascinating multiplicity of actors and stories to the stage to show how brilliant and creative thinkers?many of them far removed from Brahmin authors of Sanskrit texts?have kept Hinduism alive in ways that other scholars have not fully explored. In this unique and authoritative account, debates about Hindu traditions become platforms from which to consider the ironies, and overlooked epiphanies, of history.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - le.vert.galant - LibraryThing

A collection of trees depicting the vast forest of Hinduism, giving a better overview than generalities. The author shifts her focus throughout the history, but there is a subtle design and a variety ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jrcovey - LibraryThing

Whatever the layer of Hindu tradition, or period of Indian history, Doniger has fascinating things to say about it—the sources of Indus Valley civilization, the relationship between the sacrifice ... Read full review

All 8 reviews »

Contents

The Man or the Rabbit in the Moon I
1
Working with Available Light
17
50 Million to 50000 bce
50
50000 to 1500 bce
65
2000 to 1500 bce t
85
1500 to 1000 bce
103
800 to 500 bce
135
600 to 200 bce
164
300 to 600 ce
370
600 to 900 ce
406
650 to 1500 ce
445
800 to 1500 ce
473
800 to 1300 ce
503
1500 to 1700 ce
527
1500 to 1700 ce
551
1600 to 1900 ce 514
574

The Three or Is It Four? Aims of Life in the Hindu Imaginary
199
400 bce to 200 ce
212
300 bce to 300 ce
252
300 bce to 300 ce
277
100 bce to 400 ce
304
100 bce to 900 ce
338
1800 to 1947 ce
610
1900
636
1950
654
Inconclusion or the Abuse of History
687
Other Indian Languages
695
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

Wendy Doniger holds two doctorates in Sanskrit and Indian studies from Harvard and Oxford. She is the author of several translations of Sanskrit texts and many books about Hinduism and has taught at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and at the University of California at Berkeley. She is currently the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago.

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