|Review: A Concise Encyclopaedia of Hinduism.
Hinduism or "Sanatana Dharma" for traditionalists, is a great religion. In fact, "Sanatana Dharma' is more appropriate as it means to convey "the ancient and eternal spiritual path to perfection followed by its believers". Hinduism is not only ancient but also relevant even to the modern times. The biggest and the most beautiful advantage of Hinduism is that it offers wide spectrum of choices and proffers several alternatives to suit to different types of sadhakas. It has space for both for the sadhaka who meditates on non-dual Brahman (the Absolute) to the worshiper of images. However, not many books are available covering every aspect of this great and ancient religion "Hinduism". To fulfill this requirement, Pujya Swami Harshananda of Ramakrishna Mission, Bangalore, has taken upon himself successfully the responsibility of writing an exhaustive omnibus type of work to bring to high light many obscure areas of Hinduism.
The matter is spread over three volumes and arranged in the English alphabetical order for easily locating the subject he wants to know by an average reader. (Volume 1 covers subjects begin with A to G, Volume 2 with H to P and Volume 3 with Q to Z). The main topics dealt with in greater detail are religion, philosophy, mythology, rituals, scriptural works, festivals and pilgrim centres. The other topics described include astrology, biographies of religious personalities, iconography, Samskrit language and literature, temples and religious institutions.
Care has been taken to deal with the four Vedas, their subsidiary works and allied literature. Several important Vedic Suktas, yagas or sacrifices as also unfamiliar concepts and terms have also been carefully described. Along with the major Upanishads and the Mahapuranas, several minor Upanishads and the upapuanams too have been dealt with. While the essay on the Ramanaya is fairly exhaustive, the one on Mahabharatam is more condenses because of its immense size. However, the various topics dealt with in it like dharma or the minor Gitas or the Yakshaprasna do find a place as independent articles.
Since Buddhism, Jainism and Sikkism are closely allied to Hinduism, they too have been described briefly along with the biographies of their founders.
With major references, line-drawings, halftone pictures, photographs at appropriate places and brief biographical notes of the better known Indologists have also been given at the end as appendices.
The author, Rev. Swami Harshananda, started this stupendous task in 1975. After almost 33 years of pregnancy, the Pujya Swamiji has delivered The Trinity (three volumes) as a wonderful reference book and every sadhaka in Hinduism should possess and read these volumes with interest and reverence that they deserve. The followers of Hindu religion owe a debt to Pujya Swamiji for blessing the sadhakas in the Hindu religion with these volumes. There is absolutely no doubt in emphasizing the fact that the students of Hinduism as also the Hindu society will find this work very useful in understanding the essence of Hinduism in the right spirit.
The reader can easily notice the scholastic work with reverential faith of the Author Pujya Swamiji. The book is a precious treasure for many other reasons. The book is certainly a good companion and valuable addition to one seeking to follow the spiritual path in Hinduism. The hard bound cover with wonderful background photographs are a treat to the eyes.
This great effort has been blessed by several Presidents
of Ramakrishna Mission, such as Swami Virajananda (6th President), Swami
Vishuddhananda (8th President), Swami Ranganathananda (13th President),
Swami Gahanananda (14th President) and Swami Atmasthananda (15th President).
The volumes have bee dedicated Sri Saradadevi - the Holy Mother, the Divine
Spouse of the Divine Lord, Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
1. Name of the Book: A Concise Encyclopaedia of Hinduism.
P. Gopi Krishna