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By Klaus K. Klostermaier

The 3rd version of this well-regarded advent to Hinduism provides new fabric at the religion's origins, on its family with rival traditions, and on Hindu technological know-how.

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Extra info for A Survey of Hinduism, Third Edition

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Painted gray ware culture in the western Gangetic plains, dated ca. 1100 bce, has been found connected to earlier Indus Valley black and red ware. It would be strange indeed if the Vedic Indians had lost all recollection of such a momentous event as the Aryan invasion in supposedly relatively recent times—much more recent, for instance, than the migration of Abraham and his people, which is well attested and frequently referred to in the Hebrew Bible. T H E B EG I N N I N GS OF H I N DU I S M 23 I N DUS C U LT U R E OR S A R A S VAT Ī C I V I L I Z AT ION ?

2. 17 The admission of some of the top scholars (like Geldner, who in his translation of the Ṛgveda—deemed the best so far—declares many passages “darker than the darkest oracle,” or Gonda, who considered the Ṛgveda basically untranslatable) of being unable to make sense of a great many Vedic texts—and the refusal of most to go beyond a grammatical and etymological analysis of these—indicates a deeper problem. The ancient Indians were not only poets and literateurs, but they also had their practical sciences and their technical skills, their secrets and their conventions that are not self-evident to someone who does not share their world.

The identity of Hinduism rests primarily on the particular line of verbal revelation on which the Hindu tradition is grounded. The Vedas and the other books, which are held sacred as scriptures by Hindus, differentiate Hinduism from other religions possessing their own specific holy books, and they permit at least in a negative way a definition of the essentials of Hinduism over against what is not Hinduism. While acceptance of the Veda as revealed is certainly the most basic criterion for declaring oneself a Hindu—the preferred self-designation of Hinduism in Indian languages is Vaidika dharma, the “Vedic Law”—there is another genre of literature that has shaped the minds and hearts of present-day Hindus much more profoundly: the two great epics, Mahābhārata and Rāmāyana, and the voluminous Purāṇas, the true Bibles of Hinduism.

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