This book collects a series of lectures presented in the mid-eighties by the eminent Indologist A.L. Basham. In these lectures, Basham traces the tradThis book collects a series of lectures presented in the mid-eighties by the eminent Indologist A.L. Basham. In these lectures, Basham traces the tradition that he calls "classical Hinduism" from its origins in the early Vedic religion of the Aryans (the author dismisses suggestions that the religion of Indus Valley/Harappa culture displayed aspects of Hinduism) to the full flowering of Upanishadic philosophy and Bhakti devotionalism. Along the way, he touches on themes in Indian thought that also conditioned the development of other traditions, like Jainism and Buddhism.
The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism is a mere 112 pages in length (exclusive of appendices and notes), but it presents a solid overview of Hindu history emphasizing its philosophical and theological ideas and its major texts. Basham's observations on the origins of asceticism and the evolution of the key interrelated concepts of karma,, samsara, and moksha are speculative but fascinating--his hypothesis is that this complex of doctrines was "discovered" nearly simultaneously by independent sages and only gradually spread into the broader Indian consciousness. The chapter on the Bhagavad-Gita is also illuminating in its approach--Basham notes the differing, sometimes contradictory theologies of various passages and provides a good non-specialist overview of textual-critical perspectives on the work. The final chapter, written by the editor, Kenneth G. Zysk, completes the historical picture by tracing the course of Hinduism in India after the medieval period, and in the West.
Overall, this would be a solid first book on Hinduism for most general readers, although Gavin Flood's An Introduction to Hinduism is probably the introduction of choice. Basham's focus on the philosophical and theological side of Hinduism leaves out much of the popular religiosity that is the Hinduism of the vast majority of Indians historically, and Flood presents a much more balanced view....more
Still far and away the best introduction to the Orthodox Church. Ware's approach is systematic (he divides the text into historical and thematic sectiStill far and away the best introduction to the Orthodox Church. Ware's approach is systematic (he divides the text into historical and thematic sections for clarity). He is an irenic voice, avoiding the shrill anti-Westernism of some Orthodox scholars while clearly presenting both the shared heritage of the Christian East and West and their deep and abiding differences....more
This important book serves as a useful corrective to typical liberal-Christian theologies of religious pluralism, as well as the indifferentism that pThis important book serves as a useful corrective to typical liberal-Christian theologies of religious pluralism, as well as the indifferentism that plagues a great deal of secular comment on religion. Dinoia takes the claims of the religions seriously--if a Theravada Buddhist, for example, seeks the cessation of the cycle of craving and suffering through pursuit of the blissful extinction of the ego that he calls nirvana, one does him no justice by claiming that he is really pursuing the Christian ideal of eternal life in the Beatific Vision of the Trinity. Dinoia argues that the diversity of religions is real (e.g., they're not all "basically the same"), and he makes the case that this diversity is providential in a Christian theological sense....more