Hinduism is not a religion,it is a science in itself
Must read book for all
Great job done by the author
Dr Sandeep Dhavan
Gastroenterologist, Chandigarh, India
NEW IDEAS PRESENTED IN A NEW WAY
I think anyone who wants to learn more about Hinduism, or just being inspired to expand their level of awareness of the religion that so many follow, they should definitely read this book.
I was very impressed by the high quality writing and research that went into this book, “Hinduism-Beyond Rituals, Customs, and Traditions” by Promod Puri. I thought the book was very thorough on the topic of Hinduism and all it encompasses, and intelligently constructed in a way that has a great flow from one topic to the next. The author has a gift for explaining his ideas/viewpoints and the writing was very good. The pacing and structure is perfect and I think anyone who wants to learn more about Hinduism, or just being inspired to expand their level of awareness of the religion that so many follow, they should definitely read this book. It really makes you think, and see in in a different light. It is probably recommended for older teens and up, and I could totally see this being used in a college classroom. (5 stars).
– By Essie Harmon – Goodreads; Shelfari; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers
The way he writes and puts it all together is very educational, eye-opening, and ultimately transformative.
This book, “Hinduism: Beyond Rituals. Customs and Traditions” by Promod Puri was actually far more interesting and insightful than I first expected it to be (no offense to the author). I just wasn’t sure what I was getting myself in for, but as I started reading I was transfixed by Mr. Puri’s impressive knowledge of Hinduism and the many facets of it, and how it relates to life in general… and the way he writes and puts it all together is very educational, eye-opening, and ultimately transformative.
“Hinduism…” is an absolute ‘must read’ for anyone who wants to learn more about this fascinating religion. I feel like Mr. Puri does a fantastic job of writing in such a way that is informative and engaging at the same time, and I found myself interested the whole way through. It is quite dense and full of information, as it should be. A wonderful read, a definite keeper.(5 stars)
Review by Ashok Bhargava
The principal idea pursued by Promod Puri’s is to explore meaning of the term ‘Hinduism’ and thereby to understand the Hindu identity in a wide-open structure both traditionally and in the modern world.
I have often heard people saying that Hinduism is so vast and deep that many seers have spent their lifetime to ascertain its expanse and complexity without success. I think Mr. Puri has captured the spirit and core of Hinduism in merely 122 pages (14 chapters) very successfully and I congratulate him on his success.
Promod’s book provides significant knowledge and insight into a range of topics concerning the philosophies and the literature of Hinduism with an easy understanding of the beliefs and values of the Hindu traditions to encourage us to think about the meaning of these ideas in our own personal life and for the world as a whole.
Since manifestations of Hinduism have varied from age to age, from community to community, from person to person, we learn that to be a Hindu one does not have to practice any specific set of observations, follow any particular beliefs, and any prophet or believe in any particular god or gods.
Hinduism depends neither on any particular historic event, comparable to birth of Christ or the hegira i.e. journey of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina, nor on revealed truth, comparable to the Gospels or the Koran. It has neither a founder nor an established institution to prescribe a specific meaning to numerous sacred books like Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad-Gita and Ramayana.
In fact, Hinduism has always been a religion of such wide-ranging beliefs and practices that a belief or a practice that is followed by some Hindus may be shunned by others.
Since its Vedic origins, the religion has grown to encompass more and more philosophical and theological schools (yoga and Vedanta) and independent sects (Vaishnavas and Shivites). In addition to that it has branched out into the separate religions of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
These schools, sects and religions propound, accept, reject and reinterpret a multiplicity of doctrines such as dharma, karma, avatar, samsara, bhakti, yoga, moksha, murti puja and maya etc. All gradation of beliefs, from the crudest to the refined have coexisted in Hinduism from the earliest times, making it the most syncretic religion in the world.
When the author says Hinduism is a democracy of conflicting, contradicting and controversial thoughts and theories, he appears to be proclaiming oneness of humanity in Hinduism despite outrageous violation of human dignity promoted by Manusmriti in management of society and that of self.
I think Mr. Puri’s book implies the following points:
– we can never come to reality by just considering shortcomings that have crept into Hinduism.
– The spirit of Hinduism can be summed up as professed in New Testament, “the kingdom of God is within us and we are all children of God.”
– Hinduism does not lack definition but defining.
Vancouver-based Ashok Bhargava is a poet, essayist and inspirational speaker. He has published four books of poetry. He is president of Writers International Network Canada.
By Naveen Gopal
Vice President Pacifica Partners Financial Services
Most of us who grew up practicing Hinduism in our daily lives often understand the religion through rituals (poojas), mantras, stories (like the Ramayan) and a series of rules and obligations. We often wonder how we’d teach these customs to our kids in the age of social media, selfies and the internet.
Hinduism has a reputation for being vast, democratic and multi-faceted, and this book does an excellent job of boiling it down, helping the reader understand its philosophy, where it came from and why it relevant today, especially in this age of awareness.
The book explores the history and evolution of the religion and also importantly discusses who influenced the religion, both good and bad. Some philosophers encouraged scientific curiosity and rational thought, while others (for example) sought to divide its followers by advocating the caste system. It discusses science, karma and yoga, and helps shed light on how to apply its ancient wisdom today.
Ultimately the book is a detailed but concise overview of a very dense and complicated topic, and the reader is left encouraged to look deeper into the parts of Hinduism that interests them the most. It does require the reader to focus and pay attention, and a dictionary might be useful too. I found myself rewarded with a greater awareness of its relevance and a sense of how I might apply the thinking in my own life.
Promod Puri is a distinguished Canada-based South Asian journalist and prolific essayist. In his book- “Hinduism…..” he tried to cover the historical evolution of Hindu dharma and its major philosophies, theistic doctrines, social codes, rituals and practices.
As far as methodology is concerned Puri has applied analytical approach. He interprets everything rationally and denounces irrational snobbery. Being a Hindu, he doesn’t use any smoke screen to hide his anguish, frustration or guilt-consciousness, and outrightly condemns centuries old decayed, dis-functional and torturous Hindu social traditions and customs. He dealt in length demonic treatment of untouchables and downtrodden (Dalit) segments of society.
He focuses on issues and challenges which modern person of Hindu community are facing. Commendable job in putting Hindu religion from historical development to present practices. This Puri has done on his own terms without any obsession of classical tradition of discussion based on school of philosophies and theistic doctrines. He identified the tumult of terrific inhuman practices and racked the truth which is all spread over religiously regulated life of a common person of Hindu community.
He writes thoughtfully and straight from the heart. His intelligence is not dimmed because of his repetition on the subject of untouchables. His book and its contents will motivate not only Hindu reform-loving people but all those also who will cherish his banner of equality, dignity and justice to all living beings on earth. He moves from Hindu problem and turns it a global one. Puri emerges as a vanguard of Hindu reforms.
Puri came up with the categories of philosophies, yogas, scriptures and sciences, music, dance and drama and thoroughly explained it. Of course, he cited several quotations from Manu Smriti to buttress his arguments.
It would not be out of way to say that- ‘one life is not enough to cover all Hindu scriptures’. Of course, Puri has no commitment with any particular Hindu creed or ideology. Although, Puri seems to be leaning on Western scholars while describing the period of the development of Hindu religion and writings of scriptures but adhered with the basic values.
As for as the symbolic significance of idolatry, spirituality, karma-dharma and temple rituals are concerned, he picked up the true spirit of Hindu belief system and offered impressive interpretations for example- “Idolatry establishes direct one to one relationship between a devotee and the divinity”(p.36), “ Arti and several other elaborate adoration generate a spiritually charged atmosphere of reverence and sacredness” (p.45), and “ Hinduism’s democratic framework the management of self is what we call a way of life” (p.122).
He quoted three verses/mantras 1. Om purnamidam…2.Aum bhur bhuvah… 3.Aum dyauh shanti… because of their sublime quality of universality, peacefulness, harmony and secularism. Obviously, he enriched the Hinduism by adding the scientific interpretation of above mantras including Aum and Naad etc.
He dealt in length the caste and class problem in Hindu society which has degraded and horribly contaminated the social and religious fabric. I have discovered two traits 1. Exposing the social imbalance and 2. Hope for the improvement. In support of the later trait he has described the reform movements and invaluable contribution of the Messiah of Acchoots and Dalits- Dr. B.R.Ambedkar.
Puri completely rejected an irrational and non-logical writings of Manu and appeared as a radical and anti-traditionalist.
There is marked difference in the present Hindu society because of an enhancement in education, urbanization and constitutional laws that are en-cracking upon the inflexible traditions.(p83). People are severing their relationship with evil Hindu customs and rituals. It can be safely admitted that reform movement in Hindu religion is gathering momentum.
“Consequent to Hinduism’s democratic framework the management of self is what we call a way of life”, a mantra to be enchanted. (p.122)
His lucidity of language carries the freshness and clearness that is immensely impressive, and easily comprehensible. Puri is a writer of uncommon brilliance and interpretive innovations, and he applied effectively appropriate terminology to strengthen his arguments.
This book appears to be his life’s work and carries delightful blend of scholarly and analytical explanation, and further it provides general reader a concise and easily understood facts of Hinduism. It fulfills the need of authentic exposition of Hinduism.
Finally, I would like to conclude that Promod Puri’s works stand out before us to be complimented and appreciated.
Canada-based Shrinath Prasad Dwivedi is a known figure in North America’s Indology circles. He has written several books in poetry and edited anthology of South Asian origin writers. He is president of South Asian Literary Society of Canada, Hindi Sahatiya Parishad and the Global Hindu Foundation of Canada.
Some say Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world and one that is still widely followed. Others say it is more than a religion, a way of life, as those following other religions also practice yoga in one form or the other. It is not just about one God or a set of adherents that bind followers, rather it has evolved over the years and encompasses within its ambit everything from financial guidance to health concerns to familial issues.
Promod Puri illustrates Hinduism beyond its popular perception. A graduate from Panjab University’s School of Communication Studies, he worked with a few newspapers before migrating to Canada. He was the editor of The New Nation, a Canadian newspaper and started The Link, retiring only after 30 years in journalism. Hinduism — Beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions explores Hinduism’s spiritually liberating and progressive aspects.
In times when the religion is in news for all the wrong reasons, the book sheds light on the liberal outlook of Hinduism, which the author approaches as an ever-evolving faith. He underlines the importance of rituals and also how certain practices can negatively impact the image of the religion. Tracing the origins of Hinduism, he elucidates the theory behind universally revered chant of Om and mantras that form an important fraction of Hinduism. From idol worship and the scriptures to the scientific advancements attributed to the sages, teachers and proponents of the faith, he points out both the good and the bad about Hinduism.
Yoga and meditation are also dealt with as are other aspects like dharma, karma, arth, moksha…. An interesting and quick read for those who are interested in knowing more about the religion without going through tomes and scriptures.
Mughals had a defining influence on India. They changed the architectural landscape of the country. As much the Mughal rulers were known for their tales of love, they were as popular for battles for the throne. Fighting between brothers, killing them and imprisoning parents, they did everything to rule the then biggest empire of India. With each sibling staking claim to the throne and asserting it as his right, the empires were always dealing with spies, cross-spies, surprise attacks and counter-attacks.
Srinivas Rao Adige is an alumnus of Doon School, Dehradun and St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi and has been serving as an IAS officer. In his first novel, The Mughal High Noon, he combines his love for Indian history with his passion for writing. A beautifully written book, it lays out history while reflecting the emotions at play that pitch blood against blood.
Shahjahan is one of the most popular Mughal rulers and the book opens with the news of his deteriorating condition. Dara, along with his doting and authoritative sister Jahanara, prepares to overrule the norms for the benefit of their father. An overwhelming sense of uncertainty starts engulfing the empire with many thinking the emperor is dead and that the news is being censored to benefit those in the palace looking to inherit the throne. In this atmosphere, enmity between the brothers festers.
Dissatisfied at being sent to the Deccan region, Aurengzeb just needs a push to claim the throne. Any qualms about claiming the throne while the emperor still lives are dispelled by previous rulers who did the same. Patricide was not unheard of and it made sense to emerge stronger than be dead. His fear that Dara being close to the emperor would be crowned the next king makes him mount an attack on the empire. One of the most tyrannical kings, absolute power becomes his ultimate aim. Whatever might have been his motivation in extending the reach of his faith, he made a place for himself in the history of India as the one who put power before his family, murdering them in cold blood.
Well-written and well-researched, it is an easy read that gives you a glimpse into the accession battles fought in that era. The book introduces you to Jahanara’s role in the turmoil.
Religion is the opium of the people, Karl Marx said. Since times immemorial, various school of thoughts debated on the role religion plays in our lives to strengthen order and unify society rather than being a divisive force. Author Promod Puri’s book ‘Hinduism beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions’ doesn’t pose as mere religious tokenism but is a real, honest attempt to analyze our fundamental values and the relevance of Hindu culture in the modern age.
At one shot, the book serves as fodder to put things in the right perspective, lauding social values but at the same time questions obsolete rituals to redress the wrongs that continue to plague us since ages. It’s the need of the hour to not only assess the Hindu culture but revise the teachings, albeit, interpretations of things.
The book was sent to me by the author for review.
Why are there so many gods and goddesses in Hinduism? Why worship an idol? Is going to temple mandatory in the faith? What impact does the caste system have on Hindu society? Why do some rituals make perfect sense while others are so vague? What are the secular and diverse characters in Hinduism? What physics principles constitute the sound of Om? What is karma and its role in our day to day lives?
The book explains the scientific and rational basis of the Hindu way of life in a very simple and concise manner. It’s precisely such kind of rationality which is lacking when obsolete beliefs and rituals are super imposed to make us believe in a far-fetched reality. Unfortunately, there are many myopic interpretations in the Hindu way of life that instil fears in believers and compels them to perform illogical rituals.
The fact is the true function of Hinduism is based on scientific logic and rationale. Promod Puri rightly put things in perspective, ‘The identity of Hinduism lies in its wide-open structure which allows and let develop diverse and distinct ideologies and practices…without any governing body or binding scriptures, studies in Hinduism and individual experiences.’
He speaks in the right manner to explore the system to enrich one’s spiritual state of being rather than being contented to follow as a matter of blind faith. Hinduism has always been a philosophy, embedded in our way of life.
Author Promod Puri doesn’t shy away in tapping on misplaced caste beliefs and blind ridden tradition that mars progress in the Hindu way of life. You name it, you get it… charlatans, bizarre rituals and fear factors. There are many self-claimed and fake gurus who have been twisting Hinduism for their own selfish benefit. The author assesses how such beliefs lead to the fanaticism that misinterprets the Hindu philosophy. He valiantly refers to the dark practice of Sati and animal sacrifice which is still predominant in several quarters. The caste system is also highlighted where we discriminate on the basis of ascribed superiority where the untouchable are still discriminated or women are still not allowed to enter temples in some places. Speak about male bastion! It remains a blot on humanity. No wonder many of us are departing from the true essence of Vedas.
“Om Purnam is one of the most significant statements ever made anywhere on earth at any time. This small sutra contains the whole secret of the mystic approach towards life…It still remains the Everest of human consciousness.”
Ramayan and Mahabharata
In the book, an interesting contrast is made between the most well-read and critiqued literature such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, who are as distinct from each other but they converge in form.
The author rightly explains how Mahabharata is most understood by the royalty and the educated class rather than the commoner. It holds significance for the Mahabharata is the product of the capitalist class who holds the belief that it’s the ultimate truth that cannot be questioned.
As the author says, ‘The absence of more Arjuns…in the dialogue along with the allegory of violent ambiance of a battlefield, constitute a puzzle in the esoteric philosophies of Gita.’
Ramayana remains a metaphorical study in the way Ram’s glory is chanted as ‘Maryada Purush’. His adventures are no doubt fascinating but he can and should be questioned on being termed the perfect husband. It pretty sums up the agni pariksha modern women in our society are going through and how they are labeled as sluts. It whittles down to our understanding of the Ramayana in a patriarchal society.
Manu Smriti and Social reforms
“By a girl, a young woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house.”
“A virtuous woman who after the death of her husband constantly remains chaste, reaches heaven, though she has no son, just like those chaste men.”
Promod Puri’s book assesses Manu Smriti’s law in the most intelligent way which is a blot to the pure and disciplined Hindu way of life.
Manu Smriti is wrong in all its forms where he pitches for human indignity and the scorn he holds for women, those at the lower ladder in the class stratum. He makes no bone about his prejudice for women in society where she shouldn’t have any say not only on matters of households but of prime importance. Sadly, Manu Smriti obsolete views are echoed by so many men and women are still degraded, ripped off their dignity. The hatred for women and their treatment as second class citizens is still vibrant in a demeaning manner and fulfilling of blind patriarch obligations.
There have been social reformers such as Jyotirao Pule, Swami Vivekananda and of course, Dr B R Ambedkar who in his book ‘Annihilation of Caste’ who was at the forefront of the fight for social justice and equality. The book addresses the issue. Certainly, the social reformers represented the glorious moments in Hindu religion, seeking a redress of inequalities and questioning the dominant mentality of the upper class.
While Hinduism beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions is an eye opener and a very practical guide to lead a healthy life based on the principle of equality, there are certain things that could have been better explored. For instance, idol worship is presented by the author as one-to-one relationship and principle of non-duality, should have been elaborated at length. In the same vein, the chapter about ontology where the author offers interesting insight on Nyaya Sutra on matters of validity in Hinduism lacks succinct explanation. It’s a very interesting philosophy that should have been debated in an expanding fashion and tapping its roots as well as relevance in today’s society.
The book, Hinduism beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions is a must read which offers an objective criticism that goes beyond the Hindu way of life. It is well researched, objective and an insightful book that offers a healthy critique of the foundation of Hinduism, where often emphasis in laid on false pride, ego and un verified claim at times. Promod Puri’ explains arthas in a very competent and detailed manner and addresses the basic tenets of the rich Hindu philosophy.
May 8, 2016 edition
By Aditi Garg
Some say Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world and one that is still widely followed. Others say it is more than a religion, a way of life, as those following other religions also practice yoga in one form or the other. It is not just about one God or a set of adherents that bind followers, rather it has evolved over the years and encompasses within its ambit everything from financial guidance to health concerns to familial issues. Promod Puri illustrates Hinduism beyond its popular perception. A graduate from Panjab University’s School of Communication Studies, he worked with a few newspapers before migrating to Canada. He was the editor of The New Nation, a Canadian newspaper and started The Link, retiring only after 30 years in journalism. Hinduism — Beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions explores Hinduism’s spiritually liberating and progressive aspects. In times when the religion is in news for all the wrong reasons, the book sheds light on the liberal outlook of Hinduism, which the author approaches as an ever-evolving faith. He underlines the importance of rituals and also how certain practices can negatively impact the image of the religion. Tracing the origins of Hinduism, he elucidates the theory behind universally revered chant of Om and mantras that form an important fraction of Hinduism. From idol worship and the scriptures to the scientific advancements attributed to the sages, teachers and proponents of the faith, he points out both the good and the bad about Hinduism. Yoga and meditation are also dealt with as are other aspects like dharma, karma, arth, moksha…. An interesting and quick read for those who are interested in knowing more about the religion without going through tomes and scriptures.