The Hindus
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The Hindus

Sub title: An Alternative History

Author: Wendy Doniger

An engrossing and definitive narrative account of history and myth that offers a new way of understanding one of the world's oldest major religions, The Hindus elucidates the relationship between recorded history and imaginary worlds. Hinduism does not lend itself easily to a strictly chronological account: many of its central texts cannot be reliably dated even within a century; its central tenets"karma, dharma, to name just two"arise at particular moments in Indian history and differ in each era, between genders, and caste to caste; and what is shared among Hindus is overwhelmingly outnumbered by the things that are unique to one group or another. Yet the greatness of Hinduism"its vitality, its earthiness, its vividness"lies precisely in many of those idiosyncratic qualities that continue to inspire debate today. Wendy Doniger is one of the foremost scholars of Hinduism in the world. With her inimitable insight and expertise Doniger illuminates those moments within the tradition that resist forces that would standardize or establish a canon. Without reversing or misrepresenting the historical hierarchies, she reveals how Sanskrit and vernacular sources are rich in knowledge of and compassion toward women and lower castes; how they debate tensions surrounding religion, violence, and tolerance; and how animals are the key to important shifts in attitudes toward different social classes. The Hindus brings a fascinating multiplicity of actors and stories to the stage to show how brilliant and creative thinkers"many of them far removed from Brahmin authors of Sanskrit texts"have kept Hinduism alive in ways that other scholars have not fully explored. In this unique and authoritative account, debates about Hindu traditions become platforms from which to consider the ironies, and overlooked epiphanies, of history.

Book Reviews

Staggeringly comprehensive book-Pankaj Mishra in New York Times . Courageous and scholarly book-David Arnold in Times Literary Supplement .....This tremendously spirited, agile and learned book should be the standard history of Hinduism for many years to come-Chandrahas Chowdury in Mint .....Without doubt a monumental and work that is awe-inspiring and humbling in its scale'.......Devdutt Pattanaik in Mid-Day.

[An] erudite .....alternative history'....... don't miss this equivalent of a brilliant graduate course from a feisty and exhilarating teacher-Michael Dirda in Washington Post .....Wendy Doniger. serves us a feast of tasty historical events and interpretative myths'.......Kittye Delle Robbins-Herring in Feminist Review

Doniger is an unstoppable teller of tales and a brilliant interpreter of them-Sunil Khilani in Outlook. Doniger's is an amazingly breathtaking book in its sweep. Indeed, before this, one would have thought such a book could never be written-Bibek Debroy in Indian Express. The narrative sweep is epic.......Wendy Doniger,

with exceptional brio, tells us how the story of Hinduism continues to multiply-S Prasannarajan in India Today . At last, there is a witty, elegant and academically rigorous volume presenting this multi-everything faith in an accessible form-Salil Tripathi in Tehelka. There is no book like Doniger's which so meticulously and faithfully interprets the Hindu spirit, which clearly distinguishes itself for its catholicity and comprehensiveness of approach-A K Bhattacharya in Business Standard.

Doniger's delightful style makes light work of a substantial subject and weighty ideas'.......Verve .....It turns out be one of the fascinating books written on the Hindus.......ever-Sachin Kalbag in Mail Today Doniger's work.

vast in scope, wide in its range, so captures the mind that it is difficult to put it down once one starts reading it. 'M V Kamath in Sentinel.

Masterful study of the evolution of Hinduism-Time Out. Anyone seriously concerned with Hinduism in the contemporary world will be well-advised to read, enjoy, engage, and even argue with the book-A R Venkatachalapathy in Hindu

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Published by

Penguin Books India


15 Sep 2011





Book Format





Indian Subcontinent only


Non-Fiction, History





Price (Rs.)


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