Being Hindu; Hindol Sengupta; Penguin India; Pp 256; Rs 399
The book is a personal journey in trying to understand What Being Hindu means to the author and many others. The author has gone his decade-old effort to understand his faith
Unfortunately many Hindus are not aware of ‘What, does it mean to be a Hindu? They are neither conscious of its rich and varied culture and heritage nor are they
properly informed of its distinctive place in the comity of religions. They are totally in the dark about uniqueness of Hinduism, who and what makes a Hindu, its treatment of God, its
distinctive relationship with science and history, etc.
In the remarkable book, Being Hindu, eminent writer Hindol Sengupta, author of six books, including Recasting India; How Entrepreneurship is Revolutionizing the World’s Largest Democracy, analyses the different aspects of Hinduism in an amazing way. About the book, India Today wrote, ‘Being Hindu provides bold and innovative perspective that links ancient and modern, cultural and philosophical Hinduism into a vast panorama, according to a deep personal narrative that is both fascinating and thought provoking.’ He declares, “A nuanced understanding of what it means to be Hindu and how to handle the Hindu identity in the twenty first century is critical in India’s comprehension of its role in the modern world.”
Magician in the Desert; Gaurav Rao; Bloomsbury;
Post Globalisation Politics of Language in Maharashtra;
The book is a slightly revised version of the Thesis titled ‘Post Globalisation Politics of Language in Maharashtra’ submitted to the University of Mumbai for Ph.D. The book details the trajectory of Language policy and Politics in Unified Maharashtra and the struggle for the creation of Unified Maharashtra and the awareness about Marathi
Internal Migration in Contemporary India; Deepak K Mishra; Sage Publishing; Rs 995; Pp 343
This volume addresses the impact of migration on society, highlighting the inter-linkages between individual and societal aspirations. It interrogates the role of the state and non-state agencies involved in various aspects of the life and livelihoods of migrant workers and provides a critical assessment of the policy frameworks and instruments affecting migration.
Access to Health Services; Tulika Tripathi; Gyan Publishing House; Pp 193; Rs 441
About the book, he states that, “This book is a personal journey in trying to understand what being Hindu means to me and many others I have met through my decade-old effort to understand my faith.”
In the introduction, quoting several instances he beautifully explains how he got interested and became
conscious of his identity as a Hindu and what it meant to be a Hindu. He finds that “Even though millions of Indians have been going about their daily rituals depending on the strain of Hinduism they followed, I noticed a growing ennui and hesitance about declaring themselves Hindu, especially among the general youth, as well as my colleagues and friends. I felt it too.”
He says that what is missing was a studious attempt to understand what is really happening to a billion-strong faith. There is little understanding on how Hindus see themselves and their role in this world. The book takes the reader to a journey of 10 chapters, each filled with the writer’s personal experiences and discusses different aspects of Hinduism. In the chapter ‘How to write about Hindus,’ he says that when asked, most Hindus would struggle to explain the principles, history and belief systems of their faith. “There is a reason why this is true. Conversion or proselytizing has never been core to the worldview of Hinduism in any shape or form, as it is an essential practice in Islam and Christianity.”
The author makes a brilliant analysis of the relationship between Hinduism and the State of India and how that relationship has evolved where it stands today. He writes, “The idea of a unified, plural, composite
cultural homeland called Bharat or Bharata has existed for almost 3000 years, though it could be much older, around the time the first foundational text of Vedanta literature, the Rig Veda, was composed, compiled and
memorized.” He states that there was always a clear understanding of the measure and breadth of the geography that constitutes the nation and “At every level, whether through myth or history or popular distance
measurement, the geography of the nation was embedded deep and
reasonably in popular imagination.”
About the much debated Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), quoting the findings of the American Journal of Human Genetics published in 2011 after a three year long research led by a team of international scientists, Hindol Sengupta states that it proved that that Indians have had the same genetic construct for the last 60,000 years. The study had proved that people all over India have common genetic traits and orgins, all Indians have the same DNA structure and no foreign genes or DNA has entered the Indian mainstream in the last 60,000 years.
What makes one a Hindu? How does one know that one is a Hindu? What one does every day, or even any day that conclusively proves that one is a Hindu? All these questions, which an ordinary Hindu would find it difficult, are exhaustively answered in the book.
In the chapter ‘Who is the One True God,’ he takes the reader to different faiths of the world and states that, “Hinduism’s differentiator, as it were, is that it starts the journey not with answers but with questions. This questioning has its roots at the very foundation of Hindu philosophy, in the Rig Veda, the first of the ancient texts.” He states that the path, in Hinduism is ‘relentlessly personal and steadfastly analytical,’ and at its core, within its collective institutional memory, the idea that anything can be re-examined and re-imagined is a unique freedom.
Any close reading of Hindu texts would reveal that for a Hindu there had been never any inherent conflict with science. Quoting several remarkable findings of the rishis in various branches of Science, such as Astronomy, Mathematics, Chemistry, Medicine, etc, the author argues that Hindu philosophy had a long and elaborate history of engaging and imaging facts about life, which modern science has validated and argues that Hindu philosophy had never been intimidated by science.
In the chapter, ‘How do books portray God,’ the writer states that India’s greatest contribution is its philosophical thought and writes, “The philosophical multiplicity of Hindu thought actually only provokes further the idea of accommodation, questioning and individual processes and methodologies.”
The book, a must read for all those who love this great country, is a journey of a common Hindu to understand why for Hindus their faith is one of the most powerful arguments for plurality, for unity in diversity and even more than the omnipresent power of God, the sublime courage and conviction of man. n