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Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #5)

3.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  374 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Hinduism is practiced by about 80 percent of India's population, and by about 30 million people outside India. But how is Hinduism defined, and what basis does the religion have? In this Very Short Introduction, Kim Knott provides clear insight into the beliefs and authority of Hindus and Hinduism, and considers the ways in which it has been affected by colonialism and mod ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 15th 2000 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published April 23rd 1998)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #5), Kim Knott
عنوان: هندوئیسم : درآمدی بسیار کوتاه؛ نویسنده: کیم نات؛ مترجم: البرز پورجعفری؛ تهران، ثالث، 1389، در 165 ص؛ شابک: 9789643806019؛ موضوع: هندوئیسم قرن 20 م
James Williams
Jun 21, 2015 James Williams rated it liked it
For such a short book the author wastes a remarkable amount of time on padding and on commentary on her own writing structure. I wish that there had been both more quotations from the Hindu scriptures in it, so that there was something there to taste, and also more opinion expressed - it's too even-handed on the various historical and social debates it skates over, almost to the point of being no-handed.
Sometimes Knott seems to fall into the trap of using "religion" as a category exclusive of e
Jan 26, 2014 mwr rated it it was ok
Shelves: hindu, 1998, 31-32
I understand the constraints that writing a 100 page introduction to something as complex as Hinduism poses, but I don't think there can be any cogent rationale given for the emphasis here. Far too much on colonialism, sexism, diasporism (much without any real discussion so that it seemed oddly formulaic and abstract--we must talk about these things because it would be improper of us to pass over them in silence). On reading this, you would be well equipped to know what the appropriate things to ...more
Apr 28, 2012 Choonghwan rated it liked it
I picked this book last year. The title was much engaging and enticing. When I was in India in late 1990s for a business trip, Indian people and their living were very shocking to a ignorant foreigner like me. Economic disparity and social division was too great. I have been in need of something which would help to reconcile cognitive dissonance.

In spite of its humble title - a very short introduction, it is over ambitious to cover various aspects of Hinduism - religious tenets, history, coloni
J.G. Keely
Jan 03, 2013 J.G. Keely rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, religion
One hurdle in studying Eastern religions is having to unlearn all of the bad research of the European Theosophists and authors like Hesse, who took in foreign phrases and concepts and conflated them with well-established Christian spiritual notions. I was often reminded of this while reading a used copy of this book, in which some naive former soul had left marginalia every few pages declaring that The Dream of Brahma was 'just like in Christianity' or some equally precocious notion.
Mark Nangle
Jun 18, 2015 Mark Nangle rated it liked it
There are some great titles in this Very Short Introduction series by Oxford University Press. They cover a wide variety of subjects and you get titles such as Particle Physics, Choice Theory, Jazz, African History, Derrida, Quantum Theory and over two hundred other interesting titles. Hinduism A Very Short Introduction is a welcome addition to the series and in terms of succinctness and readability it does a great job introducing a complex and wide ranging subject in an informative and contempo ...more
As it is a very brief introduction, it doesn't go into much detail, but it does provide a nice overview of Hinduism in terms of philosophy, ritual, gender and caste, literature, politics, history and geography. It doesn't have the most compelling narrative I've ever read, but it also doesn't make your brain feel like it's melting. For more information about the philosophical aspects, see A Very Short Introduction to Indian Philosophy by Sue Hamilton.
M. Ashraf
Mar 08, 2016 M. Ashraf rated it liked it
Shelves: vsi
A good overview on Hindusim,
but just like the VSI on Buddhism it was too short to have a clear perspective on them and require more reading to grasp/understand them.
But reading both, makes it clear, how these Eastern 'religions' systems are different from the main definition of religion and from Judaism, Christianity and Islam... how we question and approach other beliefs based on our definition of what is a religion?

Comparing Hinduism to Christianity, we see that it does indeed have a God – on
G. Branden
Oct 26, 2014 G. Branden rated it liked it
This book does what it says on the label--it's an informative and brief introduction to Hinduism. I'd almost say that it is an extended introduction to Hindu vocabulary above all; the author, Kim Knott (a self-identified Christian Quaker) is at pains to explain how Hinduism isn't a religion the way many westerners think of a religion.

Since an exploration and justification of the boundaries of the concept of religion are outside this book's purview are beyond the scope of the work, I can't blame
Aug 30, 2014 Akshi rated it really liked it
Even as an Indian with more than ample exposure to Hinduism, reading this scholarly work, has proven to be a worthwhile exercise. In spite of being a "very" "short" introduction, Knott has managed to introduce the reader to a wide variety of issues concerning Hinduism - from its basic tenets to its exclusionary nature, to how it got shaped due to the colonial encounter and present day concerns as Hinduism has spread itself beyond its "fatherland". She has put down many things we Indians know "in ...more
Dec 21, 2014 Simon rated it it was ok
i don't know whether it is because it is a very difficult endeavor to write a 'very short introduction' to such a huge, old and complex religion, or because the author herself didn't succeed in delivering a clear short description, but the end product - the book - is not quite appealing or clear enough.
i think that the main reason is that Hinduism is a complex system of religious thought with a multitude of myths and books and historical development shaped it over thousands of years; but that do
Nov 20, 2015 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Disappointingly superficial. Reads less like a systematic overview than a set of term papers on selected topics in Hindu history, culture and practices. The last part, in which the author covers Hindu populations outside of India, is both dull and, at this point, considerably dated. And,as other reviewers note, she repeatedly pads her discourse by describing at length what she's about to discuss before going on to discuss it. I'm guessing that the topic really is too broad for this format. The r ...more
Jun 21, 2015 Jeff rated it liked it
It's difficult to summarize a centuries-old religion in a very short space, so kudos to Kim Knott for making that attempt. I was looking for a book that might summarize the main deities and legends of Hinduism (like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, This book does briefly address those things, but barely. On the other hand, if you are looking to understand what Hinduism is today, this little book is more useful. I do have to note that the author seems to waste a lot of very limited word space ap ...more
The Style Page
Oct 04, 2013 The Style Page rated it it was ok
Shelves: asia, india, religion, hinduism
After reading Klaus K. Klostermaier's book A Short Introduction to Hinduism, I downgraded my rating of Kim Knott's Hinduism: A Very Short Introduction from 3 stars to 2 stars.

I was wary about the chapter on women and dalits, as the treatment of women and dalits has been a cudgel to beat Hindu society. The chapter also plays into the Western stereotype of India as "caste, curry, and cows." I think that Knott included the chapter as her Western audiences associate Hinduism and caste.

I want to po
Justin Evans
Dec 30, 2011 Justin Evans rated it liked it
It's becoming really obvious to me that the OVSI series is handicapped a bit by the general academic climate: here's a well-written, sympathetic and reasonably objective book about Hinduism. Knott is perfectly transparent about her approach, which is to discuss Hinduism for the most part as it exists today, rather than dealing with the history. Fair enough. I prefer a more historical approach, but I understand that you can't do everything in a book that is so Very Short. Generally she does a goo ...more
Nov 16, 2013 KC rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
I imagine that many yuppie types, like me, think of yoga only as American yoga classes: mostly geared towards fitness types with a few new-age type people sprinkled in. I’ve only been to a few yoga classes, and did find it interesting from a physical perspective, but never really thought too much about any spiritual aspects. I did not know until reading this book that what I thought of as “yoga” is actually Hatha Yoga, and along with Karma Yoga, the path of action, Raja yoga, the royal path (dee ...more
Feb 17, 2014 Ed rated it really liked it
Another excellent title from the Very Short Introduction series. Well written, concise, informative and did just what I wanted. I found it especially interesting for its overview and for the many strands it covered, plus it looked at its subject from a variety of perspectives including overseas Hindus, women and castes. Hard to imagine a better short introduction.
Özgür Göndiken
Nov 01, 2014 Özgür Göndiken rated it it was ok
"Introduction" is not a convenient definition for the book because the notions which was mentioned in there are complicated and "too Hindoo" for beginners. Moreover, the topics in the content are disconnected with each other; and too remote to be informative, but baffling.
Kevin de Ataíde
Feb 08, 2015 Kevin de Ataíde rated it liked it
Useful short introduction but perhaps more useful if written by a Hindu, thus providing an insider's view. Doubtless, OUP could have found some such person - but, no matter, I'll find that book.
Aug 19, 2012 Andrew rated it liked it
Well-written, academic approach to Hinduism. Introduction to? Hardly. While I appreciate the need for a feminist angle on Hinduism (or religion in general for that matter), I don't see why it's necessary for it to be included at all in an introductory book. I was hoping for some slightly dumbed-down information on the subject for those of us who know very little about it.

Solely for the reason of it being a misleading title, I'm giving it only 3 stars. If they had titled it something like "Hindui
May 31, 2016 David rated it liked it
Shelves: purged-books
I approached this book with very little knowledge about Hinduism and an open mind. The author does a good job of presenting Hinduism in an unbiased manner, which I appreciate. She does not shy away from discussing the caste system and the treatment of women and untouchables.

The stories found in the religious texts were extremely interesting to me and I may consider reading some of these texts for more understanding. I was not as interested in the cultural aspects of Hinduism toward the end of th
Jan 19, 2015 Kristofer rated it did not like it
Shelves: vedanta
This book is from a series of short monographs of religion and philosophy. Considering the word count constraints, the author focuses a considerable amount on the role of women and untouchable castes at the expense of detail that would better illustrate the cosmology and basic beliefs of Hinduism. Certainly, these are important angles to explore in order to understand contemporary Hinduism and India, but one needs a better foundation in the basics to give these themes context. All in all it felt ...more
Feb 07, 2016 Kirsten rated it liked it
This was a great overview of Hinduism and various complex issues connected with it. The style is well organized, writing is erudite, and complexities are intriguing. It's a quick read that I'd recommend to anyone curious about the Hindu tradition.
Keegan Bucy
Oct 04, 2015 Keegan Bucy rated it liked it
Good introduction to Hinduism.
Feb 14, 2014 Aaron rated it really liked it
A good introduction/overview. I wasn't sure which philosophical direction I wanted to take my research in Hinduism, but this helped significantly.
Certo, per far stare tutto l'induismo in poco più di cento pagine, Kim Knott ha dovuto sforbiciare non poco.
Ma la cosa sorprendente è che, nonostante la brevità del libro e la vastità dell'argomento, qui si riesce a trovare quasi tutto l'essenziale, in cenni, certo, ma con una chiarezza tale da renderlo un'opera di divulgazione utilissima per chi si avvicina per la prima volta all'argomento.

Prima lettura Aprile 2006
Seconda lettura Giugno 2009
Terza lettura Aprile 2010
Carlos Burga
Jun 13, 2014 Carlos Burga rated it really liked it
I found this book through a world religions class and was simply blown away by it. The book was incredibly well written, informative without having to be overly verbose. I felt this sort of book was ideal for those subjects of which you were curious about but did not want to invest more than a day reading about. I think of this series as a better edited and fact checked Wikipedia.
Sep 16, 2011 Sandra rated it really liked it
A pretty good way of getting an over view of the subject. I would recommend to anyone want to get his "foot through the door", so to speak. but barely has time to read. I read it over the weekend, and that honestly all the time I have. Provides many sources to reader if wanting to deepen knowledge in a particular area. Very Objective also.
Mari Biella
Nov 28, 2013 Mari Biella rated it really liked it
As the title says, a very short introduction indeed. The book focuses on contemporary Hindu movements and Indian society, somewhat to the detriment of an historical or purely religious perspective. A good entry point for anyone who wants a quick introduction to the Hindu world.
Useful, if dense. It's fairly clear the author's specialty is in diasporas, as the focus on the multitude of hinduisms detracts somewhat from establishing the basics.

Still, if you are curious about the main streams of thought, it's a helpful intro.
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