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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism

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3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  237 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Presents the history, customs, and beliefs of Hinduism, describing the mysteries and myths that sustained its growth over the centuries.
Paperback, 432 pages
Published November 1st 2001 by Alpha
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(showing 1-30)
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Sydney O (Сидней О)
I had some questions about Hinduism, and though that this would at least be a good head start to learn the basics and get some of the vocabulary down.
There is a lot of information in this book, even if it is a little disorganised at times and hard to keep track of. There doesn't seem to be any concise layout, which made it hard to keep up with this already complex topic to begin with.
There were quizzes after each main subject to help the reader estimate their knowledge, and if you wanted to be
...more
Nurab
Jan 16, 2016 Nurab rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ms. Johnsen has done a good job explaining some details of Hinduism. But there are few places where I could feel the author is infatuated with this old culture. Of course, there are good side and bad side to almost everything. I appreciate Ms. Johnsen for highlighting the characteristic of hinduism. But as before, even though I learned something from the book, I know that I do not know many things.

What made me want to read this book?
I never thought I would meet several people in the western hemi
...more
Davis
Jan 21, 2015 Davis rated it it was ok
Shelves: religion, hinduism
Hey guys, did you know how great Hinduism is? Like, so great! Older and better than any other tradition - after all, it's what all other religions were like before Christianity and Islam and the stamping out of pagan traditions.

That was basically the book. It was absolutely awful. The author was so full of how great Hinduism is, and the bias completely showed through in her work. Also, she mentions all of these special things, for which I couldn't find any corroborating evidence for online. And
...more
Czarny Pies
Oct 08, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who knows at least one Hindu.
Recommended to Czarny by: Pi Patel.
Shelves: religion
The Complete Idiot Guides on religions have the great virtue of presenting how religions are practiced in a contemporary North American setting. Their goal is always to help a new practitioner understand what his faith involves will entail a practical level. They consistently shy away from theological controversies that have no significance on how one actually practices the faith.

It is no accident that the author of the Complete Idiot's guide is an adult convert. The basic goal of the publisher
...more
Rob
Sep 22, 2013 Rob rated it it was amazing
This was a really good read. I had originally gone looking for some of the actual Hindu holy books. But, discovering that they were a bit hard to find, I grabbed this one for an introduction to the religion. It was a good decision. I learned a lot, and the author's style was friendly, easy to follow, and enjoyable. She made a few comments about other religions that seemed a bit over-broad, creating a few unfair comparisons. But only a few in a nearly 400 page book. Most of the book is not a "com ...more
Kate
Jul 10, 2009 Kate rated it it was amazing
This is now a 'bathroom book' I feel like I need to put it back on the nightstand and power through it before going to India and practicing Hinduism myself ;)


These books rock - I read the idiots guide to Judaism and learned a ton and now that I am marrying a Hindu and am expected to practice I thought I would start to brush up - Hinduism rocks and is kind of the 'word' or 'definition' I have been looking for to describe my 'spiritual' beliefs but I just didn't know it - it is so spot on. weird h
...more
Ashley
Feb 17, 2011 Ashley rated it really liked it
I used to be a little off-put by the concept of an Idiot's Guide, especially on subjects that weren't something I felt like you break down and teach in stages, like grammar or plumbing, but I have a few of this series now, and I've found them to be very well researched as well as nicely written. I never at all feel talked down to or like concepts are presented too slowly. Also, in the case of this book, the subject matter is presented sensitively and comprehensively by someone with both a vast k ...more
Kamna
May 18, 2013 Kamna rated it it was ok
Interesting read for getting a basic idea / foundation for Hinduism. However, the author sometimes has a "Isn't that cute?" attitude toward Hindu mythologies, often skipping over the real meaning behind those myths. I also don't feel that the author is an expert on the subject of Hinduism. It would be a more meaningful book if it included interviews with Hindus (who aren't gurus, sages, etc.) to understand how the religion is practiced.
Shishir
Jul 15, 2014 Shishir rated it liked it
A broad coverage of a vast subject. Ranging from historical perspective to current day fads of New Age Religions. While I found this book informative and enlightening, I also found ideas that overly reinforced author’s confirmation bias. Overall it is a useful guide to terms and aspects of this eternal mystical and pluralistic Religion.
Greg
Dec 06, 2011 Greg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was definitely informative, and broke down the Hindu religion as simply as possible. The writer was a bit too enthusiastic, though. I wish she had been more objective.

I read the iBook on my iPhone, which was a bit tedious. It would be nice to have a physical copy of this book for reference.
Nancy
Jan 11, 2010 Nancy rated it did not like it
Shelves: never-finished
I stopped reading this book, as it was seemingly disorganized. This may be the result of a religion that is itself quite complicated and experienced in a fashion that is so very different from my Western culture bias. At any rate, this book could not compare with the book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Islam" which I thought was excellent.
Christine Esche
Aug 17, 2009 Christine Esche rated it liked it
like all idiot's guide books about religion, it is a bit defensive and says little that might seem negative about the religion to the average western reader, but other than that a very informative book! Great read. Great reference.
Gloria
Feb 06, 2009 Gloria rated it really liked it
By reading this book, I've learned how much I truly love the Hindu religion.

This book if filled with so much information I will definitely be re-reading it many times. This first read is just for fun. The next one will be to retain information.
Kathie Noga
Jul 31, 2012 Kathie Noga rated it it was amazing
She really knows the subject well and can explain Hinduism to any one who is not a Hindu what the tradition is all about. Her style of very conversational and interesting. I use this book as a reference when I do blogs on the feminine in Hinduism. A very enjoyable read.
LadyOwl
Aug 28, 2016 LadyOwl rated it it was amazing
I loved this book because it explained so many things about the Hindu Religion I was unaware of. I found it so informative, and interesting. It was also refreshing to read about the workings of the religion from the viewpoint of someone who follows it, versus someone of another faith.
Hemants
Sep 21, 2012 Hemants rated it it was amazing


A thorough and wide analysis of Hinduism, it's practice and philosophy. Being a Hindu even I learned a thing or two about my own religion that I thought I knew pretty well. Excellent work!
Barb
Nov 27, 2013 Barb rated it it was amazing
Great book with excellent information about Hinduism.
Matt
Nov 21, 2012 Matt rated it liked it
Pretty sweet. Maybe a little too generous with some of the stuff, but, on the whole, does a great job of synthesizing and summarizing what appears to be a complex and difficult tradition.
Catherine
I didn't care for the writing style, but there was some good information.
Monet
Aug 21, 2008 Monet rated it it was amazing
It took me a while to get through this book because I kept having to put it down and sit there for a few minutes with that, "Duuuuude" blank look of awe on my face.

Very rich information.
Ashley Chew
Aug 06, 2014 Ashley Chew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
lots of info. but not as interesting as some other books I've read on the subject. It lost my interest the 2nd half of the book.
Leslie Jonsson
Jun 04, 2015 Leslie Jonsson rated it really liked it
I'm so confused, but that is not the fault of the author, Hinduism is just confusing for me.
Bad Tim
Jun 30, 2008 Bad Tim rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pagan
an entertaining and worthwhile overview of a complex religion. left me wanting to learn more...
Ed
Aug 20, 2009 Ed rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
The author walks the Western mind through the world's oldest religion with the largest body of scriptures of any faith. I have a much better understanding of the nature of this belief system.
Nikki
Oct 18, 2009 Nikki rated it really liked it
Very, very interesting information about the world's oldest religion.
Kelley
Jan 24, 2008 Kelley rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
I wanted a layman view of this complicated religion. I very much enjoyed her style and approach to the content.
Feliz
Aug 20, 2008 Feliz rated it liked it
provided enough information to grasp your attention and explain views, as well as correlate them to other lines of thought.
Kely
Dec 04, 2010 Kely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very helpful in explaining the world's oldest religion.
Savita
Dec 31, 2010 Savita rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, nonfiction
Quite a few signs that it's definently aimed for adults...But is definently helping me learn about my religion.
Siobhan
May 29, 2013 Siobhan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hinduism
Great book! I loved it!
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“Here is an important twist you need to understand. God doesn’t create heaven and hell. We do. Whatever plane of consciousness we find ourselves in after the body drops away is a world of our own making, according to the Hindu seers. If our thoughts have been predominantly cheerful and benevolent, our after-death experience is similar. If our thoughts have been filled with violence and anger, our afterlife will be, too. The climate in the life after death is the atmosphere of our own minds. Our karma—the mental vectors we’ve created by our thoughts and actions—carries us to a high state, a low state, or an okay in-between state. We’re in control—if we’re living life consciously. If we’re not directing our lives with awareness, then the unconscious tendencies stored in our subtle body take control when we die. For many Hindus, a long stay in heaven is just what the doctor ordered, and some Hindus devote considerable effort to building up enough karmic velocity to transport them into a higher world after they jettison their bodies. Eventually, the karmic forces that propelled you into a disembodied realm peters out. Your stay in that world is up—it’s time to return to a physical body. You remember how much you enjoyed sex. You remember how much you enjoyed whipped cream puffs. You remember how much you wanted to go to Mars. You remember that your brother-in-law owes you $3,000. Your unfulfilled desires draw you back to an appropriate physical body and—poof!—here you are again. The obstetrician is cutting your umbilical cord and slapping your bottom while you wail helplessly at the indignity. You traded the old model in for a new vehicle. Hopefully, thanks to good karma, you’ve traded up.” 1 likes
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