From the Jacket
In India, there has long been a tendency to emphasize the spoken word which is passed on alive from an individual teacher to each individual student. But, through the development of modern media, more use is now made of the written word which records information externally, in institutions that have been industrially, socially and culturally organized.
How then can we understand the Hindu tradition as alive today with its ancient emphasis upon the spoken word and the living individual? That is the question which this book investigates, Accordingly, it asks for a broader understanding of history, which would allow for a rightful accounting of the Vedas and of other oral learning.
Through its continued imphasis upon the living word, the Hindu tradition asks for a deeper understanding of reasoned inquiry. Such a reasoning does not work primarily through mechanical instruments in the restricted way that modern physics does. Instead, it works essentially through a reflective investigation of our living faculties, which are thus cultivated and clarified.
The goal of truth is not here sought through an institutional consensus; but rather as a common ground, which is approached quite differently through different personalities and institutions of culture.
About the Author
Ananda Wood, as his name suggests, is one of those people with a rather mixed background. He was born and brought up in India, studied mathematics at King's College, Cambridge, and went on to a Doctorate in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. After completing his university education, he returned to India, where he has now settled down to concentrate on a long-standing interest, in the modern interpretation of Advaita philosophy.
This book is one of many attempts to make some sense of Hinduism as a living tradition, which is now joining into a globalizing world. This particular attempt is centred on the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, so it provides only one of many points of view. Each view has its insights to contribute for a general audience, including those who might see things quite differently.
A general reader will notice that diacritical marks are often used, to transliterate words that come from Sanskrit. These marks show how to pronounce the Sanskrit letters, as indicated roughly in the footnote below. The reader need not worry too much about this, because English equivalents are provided repeatedly, to help avoid the need for Sanskrit terms.
In the end, it doesn't really matter whether Sanskrit terms are used or avoided. What matters is a willingness to investigate beliefs and assumptions that are taken blindly for granted, by force of unexamined habit, in one's own language and ideas and attitudes.
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