I’ve seen the book Am I A Hindu? on Amazon before but I didn’t give it much attention. After all, I know the answer to that question for myself. I am most definitely a Hindu!
But my mom found it in a sale recently and brought it to me. So now that I look at it, it is so much more than the title suggests! I am impressed with how much information is packed into this book and how many questions and answers. The table of contents is three pages long. Here is the first page of it:
Not only does it address many aspects of Hinduism, it also talks about some of the questions that people coming from a western background are likely to wonder about. There’s parts on sin, on drug use to attain higher states of consciousness, on sati, women, diet, untouchables,creation, science, holy days, occultism, aum, mantras, meditation, brain waves, yoga, tantra, idol worship, kama sutra, etc. I mean, it really covers every detail I could imagine!
Here is what he has to say about what he hopes to achieve through the practice of Hinduism:
“Daddy, what do you or anyone try to achieve through the practice of Hinduism? It is easy to say ‘salvation,’ but that is the ultimate goal. Right now, we are trying to achieve peace and harmony in life. In a way we are trying to have a stress-free life. The Hindu way of life aids that effort. Those who follow Hinduism are generally calm at heart and they express their calmness in their day-to-day life. They do not scream and shout when their dinner is not served on time or if they are caught in a traffic jam or if they have just lost their job. Once in a while they also get agitated, but that state of mind is only temporary. As I told you before, it is quite easy to follow Hinduism, because Hinduism believes that ignorance is the root of all evils and true knowledge is the answer to all problems. First, try to understand the truth, and then try to practice and realize that truth. So, most of us who adhere to Hinduism are not trying to become Gurus or hermits or philosophers. We are just trying to have a stress-free, peaceful life. If that is achieved, then one has really profited by the study of Hinduism. The methods described are very simple, and anyone can practice them.”
I also was intrigued when he pointed out that the ten avatars of Vishnu actually follow an evolutionary track in order.
I’m excited to dive in and read this book cover to cover.
From what I’ve seen so far it is a book that I will be recommending to all new Hindus or people considering Hinduism or wanting to learn more about it. The book is not perfect and there will be places where the author has a particular interpretation that may not be someone else’s interpretation. But that is one of the beauties of Hinduism, it recognizes that there are different perceptions and different ways to understand universal truth.
Am I A Hindu? was published in 1992, which is longer ago than I am quite willing to admit!
Despite being twenty-five years old, it has aged well. There are things and philosophies in Hinduism that are eternal, of course. There is a ton to learn in this book. The author seems very well versed in both Christianity and Hinduism, which allows him to explain some of the misunderstandings and miscommunications that can happen between people approaching God from an eastern perspective v.s. a western perspective. The author is far more…forgiving of Christianity than I have been of late and emphasizes the ways in which Hindu philosophies can mesh with following Jesus as a form of the Almighty.
So who is this author of Am I A Hindu?From the preface:
“For my part I have read quite a number of books on Hinduism as well as on other religions. I feel all true religions of the world tell one and the same truth, but in Hinduism the truth is explored scientifically…”
He also states that he is dedicating the book to the poor of India and all profits are being given to charity.
I have been unable to find out anything more about Mr. Ed. Viswanathan. When I Google his name, nothing but descriptions of Am I A Hindu? come up!
I leave you with the author’s final thoughts:
“…I am also not asking you to dump the comforts materialism provides you. I am only requesting that you study the truths taught in Hinduism, since Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. Later, if you find a better way to answer all the problems, if you see science can solve all riddles in life, you may dump Hinduism and all other religions. Good luck! Please remember, the most important aspect of Hinduism is being truthful to yourself. If you lack that quality, you will be able to grasp neither religion nor science.”
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