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All About Hinduism (From Vedas to Devas and Past to Present)

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Item Code: NAL081
Author: Ashok Tyagi
Language: English
Edition: 2015
ISBN: 9788175417960
Pages: 392
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Weight 600 gm
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Fully insured
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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More than 1M+ customers worldwide
100% Made in India
100% Made in India
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23 years in business
Book Description
About the Book

This book, meant for the present generation interested in understanding Hinduism, covers its entire history of 5000 years in a capsule form. It endeavours to expose its readers to the great Indian heritage of Vedas, Upanishads, Epics and Puranas. At the same time, it touches upon critical doctrines, philosophies and other components that make Hinduism a ‘Way of Life’, different from other home grown and prophetic religions of our time.

The book raises the curtain from several popular myths surrounding our epics and the scientific advancement claims during ancient India. It also raises the veil from key issues, such as humanity /divinity of lord Rama and Krishna, Aryans and their arrival in India, the Saraswati River and its disappearance, period of the composition of Vedas, etc.

Hinduism is considerably greater than the way of worshipping associated with it. Needless to add, it is a great heritage that has made universal and timeless global contributions for enlightening and sustaining the entire humanity

About the Author

Ashok Tyagi (1960), Chartered Accountant, brings a world-view rooted in pragmatism of an immensely successful corporate Chief Executive. His hands-on understanding of religio-cultural nuances evolved out of studies of several belief systems being practised the world over. The essential goodness of human beings versus existential need of religion helped him pursue his drive to re-visit Hinduism, the religion of his birth. His renunciation of blind-faith makes him a present day thinker with Indian roots. He dedicate this lucid insight to the children and the curious.

Mr.Tyagi, a modern hermit, pursues intellectual vocation living in Surabaya, Indonesia with his wife Esha.


Most of the educated, urban and modern-day Hindus proudly identify themselves as being liberal,tolerant and more secular than followers of some other belief systems. However, when it comes to deeper questions relating to the finer doctrines, theology, metaphysics of religion, mythology vs. reality, and the forms of God, one tends to get entangled in generalities rather than having specific answers. A question that may seem simple at first like the difference between Hinduism as a way of life and as a religion may baffle many of us as Hinduism like any other religion is a complex subject with many mysterious facets which is difficult for most to comprehend.

Although there is a rich literary stream replete with explanations claiming to present interpretation of esoteric concepts in apparently intelligible way, there is an obvious dearth of a genuine source of information about a macro-perspective on the subject. One can always find bits and pieces of information on the history and growth of Hinduism but to put together all the pieces of the puzzle not only requires the tedious task of dealing with varied languages, styles and aphorisms but also trusted translations and commentaries that offer an analysis that is not overly academic or abstruse for an ordinary man to understand.

Most Hindus today are aware of Hinduism's esteemed heritage here several Rishis and Munis achieved insurmountable accomplishments in all spheres of humanity and much ahead than a lot of other cultures, both surviving and dead. In spite of the challenges posed by the modern day life pressures, more and more adults are keen to get in touch with their spirituality or connect with their roots like never before. More and more people are aspiring to gain a deeper understanding of their religion out of sheer curiosity as well as with a desire to pass on such knowledge about their culture and "Sanskar" to their next generations. Studies suggest that youngsters today are more inclined towards acquiring theological knowledge in comparison to the previous generations -one reason may be their heightened exposure to information in comparison to previous generations who were preoccupied with either the freedom struggle or struggling to arrange their economic means of survival.

India's cultural evolution is full of steep ups and downs as well as twists and turns similar to most long journeys passing through unchartered territories. To make matters worse, a good part of it dates back to an epoch when all forms of knowledge and wisdom were passed onto generations merely by the spoken word. No wonder that a large part of our history is recorded in the form of thoughts and words. It is a different matter, however, that these very words and thoughts became revelations recorded as sacred scriptures that came to be known as Vedas and Upanishads that are highly regarded and appreciated by the entire world as one of the finest human creations relating to the inner psychic world of human beings.

We often see panelists on prime time national TV programmes representing different religions embroiled in debates trying to prove the superiority of their own religion over others. In such situations, one generally feels under-qualified to form an opinion or even sceptical about the truths. At that point it becomes clear that to have an understanding of the comparative positions between different religions, one should not only have a grasp of his/her own religion but also a certain degree of exposure to the basics of other religions as well. In a secular society like India that is truly a bouquet of diverse flowers, it becomes a necessity to gain an insight on the fundamentals of other religions lest real facts be overlooked.

I am able to relate myself with these scenarios completely. My own childhood was typical of children from middle-class families where we all get from our parents regular words of encouragement for doing good deeds to accumulate good karmas(deeds) and instilling fear of God for all wrong-doings. These teachings were coupled with occasional visits to temples to cement the belief in the existence of an omnipresent God. However, having lived a major part of my initial childhood with my grandfather, I was constantly nudged by him to read religious books (including Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas and story books such as Panchatantra). He would also cross-examine me about references from various books as riddles and answering those correctly meant earning brownie points. It was his ideas that drew me closer to our scriptures and other concepts that, much later, I was to understand as tenets of Hinduism (not sure if such tricks can be played anymore on youngsters from current generation). In his later years, my father also was to spend more of his spare time in reading of Hindu scriptures and I used to wonder why one should spend so much time with religious books and why should he need to read the same book so many times over. It didn't make so much sense at that time.

After school and college, professional education takes lot of energy and there is no time for exploring God and his designs as His endless hurdles of real life become more urgent to cross over. Later life grips with all its pulls and pressures. Marriage, career advancement, and children result in forced suppression of time for learning for everything religious. Desire still remains, sometimes even strong, but neither there is inclination to pursue nor vigour to go deep in developing understanding for religions in a serious way. Real world, in that respect, is certainly cruel and demanding.

For many of us who are exposed to working with people from other cultures and religious leanings, the desire for seeking deeper understanding about our own religion may also come from external comers. For example, in my first ten years of working outside India, I got into situations with people from very diverse cultural backgrounds who came out showing obvious curiosity for Indian culture in general and Hinduism in particular.

On my own part, sharing unique features from Indian culture as always fulfilling and at one such engagement, my guest preferred discussing about specific role of Brahmins in Indian religious evolution and cultural landscape. On being told that I myself am a Brahmin by birth, his questions became even more penetrating and embarrassing. Apparently he knew well in detail about our caste system, Vedas, Shastras and the likes. Honestly, I was found wanting on quite a few questions and felt very small that he knew about Indian heritage much more than I did. And this was not the first time that I felt so.

Surely, knowing about Hinduism is very complex. There are so many versions for each issue and everything always remain in a flux of uncertainty. Nobody seems to be eying for finality in any manner. It is like a miracle that we are all Hindus inspite of all the 'Diversities' that we have. Clearly, that so called 'Unity' evades the naked eye on every plain. After all, there are so many scriptures, so many Gods, so many branches and so many languages. Then we have a vast history of over five thousand years with so much of transformations happening all the time. One constantly hears that Hinduism is not a religion but a "way of life" or as Atal Bihari Vajpayee often said "Unity in Diversity" but one can better appreciate this entire philosophy after going over following ruling by Supreme Court of India in one of its landmark judgment and it said:

"Unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim anyone Prophet, it does not worship anyone God, it does not believe in anyone philosophical concept, it does not follow anyone act of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not satisfy the traditional features of a religion or creed. It is a way of life and nothing more. "

I am sure every reader will appreciate this dilemma in very clear light by the end of the reading of this very book. Because more we know about Hinduism, more we tend to realize how little we knew about it. It is indeed beyond any single human to completely understand every single concept and aspect of Hinduism in one's lifetime.

Coming back to my own experience, soon after completing my fiftieth year, events culminated fast, one after another, and made it possible for me to opt for a life of Vanprashtha, albeit in modified form. Today, I will certainly call it some divine intervention that prompted me to give up the career as CEO of an established company, at the age of 51 and pursue learning about Hinduism and its surroundings as a full-time passion with a new found vigour. Over next couple of years, I could switch from one source to another sniffing about Vedas, Upanishads, and evolution of Hinduism and all other social surroundings influencing and getting influenced with its evolution. Soon came the realization that just going deep into Hinduism is not enough as nothing grows in isolation. Every development has a cause and effect, and sometimes an interlinked chain of events is inseparably intertwined with each other.

This guided me to look for historical perspectives on one side and study of parallel religions of Buddhism and Jainism as home grown faiths on the other side. Similarly, Islam has been communicating with Hinduism in India for over a thousand years and at times involving strong arguments and even violent confrontation. Even Christianity has been in direct communication with Hinduism for last three hundred years or so and, for most part, as a religion of the rulers of the land. A good reflection on these religions is, therefore, quite essential for understanding some twists and turns within Hinduism. ever before had I realized the extent of influence absorbed by Hinduism emerging out of some sweet and some sour interactions with these religions. This study also brought out the unique ability of Hinduism of its readiness and openness to absorb new concepts and traditions from other religions almost so regularly. Its open arm ability to absorb new concepts and traditions help it maintain its virility all through its journey. There is no parallel to this ability of Hinduism in any other religion the world over. Similarly, deeper understanding about other religions helps one establish stark similarities and differences which in turn force you to go to the logics and take a call on its being right or wrong.


1Hinduism: An Introduction1
Social Structure during Early Vedic Period13
2The Vedas: A Great Human Heritage18
Other Three Vedas26
The Brahmanas29
3Upanishads: The Philosophical Treatises32
Contributing to the Theology of Ancient Hinduism32
4Traditions of Shramana40
5Harappan Civilization and Vedic India: Two Sides of the Same coin44
Interesting Findings46
Major Break-Through46
6Unique Hindu Doctrines54
Accumulated Karma as the Cause of Reincarnation57
Life Divided in Four Stages57
Society Divided in Four Classes64
Sadachar (Critical Virtues)67
7Sanskrit: The Language of Hinduism 73
The Tree of Languages74
Stages of Sanskrit: Excellence Refined78
Sanskrit's Literary Treasure: Broad Classification80
Sanskrit's Relation with Hindi88
8Emergence of Buddhism 90
The Basic Four Truths Doctrine by Buddha92
Noble Eight-Fold Path93
Meditation Teachings by Buddha95
Personality Described96
Selected Clauses from Dhammapada97
Concept of Nirvana in Buddhism99
Concept of Boddhisattva99
Branches of Buddhism100
Buddhism and Hinduism101
Teachings of Mahavira105
10Hinduism during Mauryan Empire110
Resurrection of Classical Hinduism113
11Comments on Major Shastras116
Dharma Shastra116
Artha Shastra118
Kama Shastra120
12The Mahabharata and Ramayana125
Historical Perspective of the Period of their Compositions125
Bhagvad Gita and Its Teachings145
13Emergence of Caste System in Hinduism 154
14Golden Period of Indian Civilisation 158
15Yoga: The Spiritual Connect of Hinduism 162
The Raja Yoga165
Steps to Achieve Final Goal167
Karma Yoga (The Yoga of Action)175
Bhakti Yoga (The Yoga of Devotion)176
Gyan Yoga (The Yoga of Knowledge)176
16Composition of Puranas178
Historical Perspective at the Time of Writings of Puranas178
Socio-Cultural Background180
Numbers and Classifications181
Language and Content182
Hinduism Goes out of Hands of Brahmins182
Shiva and Vishnu Calling Shots183
17Sects of Hinduism190
18Purusharthas in Hinduism199
Very First Aim of Life - Dharma201
Second Aim of Life - Artha202
Third Aim of Life - Kama204
Final Aim of Human Life - Moksha205
19Beginning of Murti Puja (Idol Worship) 207
20Evolution of Temples and Allied Practices 212
Forms and Types of Hindu Temples215
Major Temples of India217
North Indian Temples and Foreign Aggressors220
21Daily Rituals, Rites, Yajnas and Japas 222
Vedic Fire Ceremonies222
Daily Rituals223
Sanskaras (Sacraments)224
Regular Jap (Chanting) of "Aum"225
Outward Symbols in Hinduism225
22Indian Philosophies228
Categorisation of Indian Philosophical Schools230
Sankhya Philosophy231
Yoga Philosophy234
Nyaya (Logical Reasoning) Philosophy235
Vaisheshika Philosophy237
Mimamsa (Critical Inquiry) Philosophy239
Vedanta Philosophy240
Charvaka Philosophy243
Ajivika Philosophy244
Buddhist Philosophy245
Jain Philosophy246
23Emergence of Islam from Arabia248
Pre-Islamic Arabia249
The Qur'an as a Piece of Fine Literature252
Islam's Attitude Towards Other Religions254
Violence and Islam255
Condition of Women in Islam257
Sects in Islam259
Sunnah, Hadith and Shariah260
24Adi Shankaracharya: The Scriptor of Modern Hinduism262
Akharas and Naga Sadhus265
25Other Elements of Later Hinduism 268
Forms of Gods268
Murti Puja (Idol Worship)269
Importance of Cow271
Triads of Hinduism272
26Ancient India: Advancements in Sciences274
27Position of Women: From Ancient India to Present 280
28Hinduism under Delhi Sultanate 289
29Bhakti Movement in Hinduism 292
30Hinduism under Mughal Period 299
Women under Mughals303
Religious Fusion around this Time304
31Social Evils Manifesting in Medieval India 305
32Hinduism Under British Raj313
Social Significance of Britishers Arriving in India at Different Periods316
The Great Indian Rebellion of 1857318
Social Reform Movement of 19th Century320
Main Social and Religious Organisation during Raj324
33Hinduism and Independent India 330
34Global Spread of Hinduism336
35Sanatan Dharma: The Real Hinduism 342
36Challenges Being Faced by Hinduism 349
Apathy in Education349
Lack of Public Debates about its Character350
Resurrection of Intellectual Discussions350
Focus on Whole rather at its Parts351
Need for Combining Hinduism with Ayurveda, Vedanta and Astrology351
Forcing Support from Governments352
Promote Unity among all its Practitioners352
Not to Shy Away from its Superiority353
Promote its Unity on Collective Basis353
Need for Shunning Caste and Creed differentiations354
Extend Protection to Weak and Suppressed355
37Future of Hinduism356
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