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By Klaus K. Klostermaier

The 3rd version of this well-regarded creation to Hinduism provides new fabric at the religion's origins, on its kinfolk with rival traditions, and on Hindu technology.

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Extra resources for A Survey of Hinduism, Third Edition

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The identity of Hinduism rests primarily on the particular line of verbal revelation on which the Hindu tradition is grounded. The Vedas and the other books, which are held sacred as scriptures by Hindus, differentiate Hinduism from other religions possessing their own specific holy books, and they permit at least in a negative way a definition of the essentials of Hinduism over against what is not Hinduism. While acceptance of the Veda as revealed is certainly the most basic criterion for declaring oneself a Hindu—the preferred self-designation of Hinduism in Indian languages is Vaidika dharma, the “Vedic Law”—there is another genre of literature that has shaped the minds and hearts of present-day Hindus much more profoundly: the two great epics, Mahābhārata and Rāmāyana, and the voluminous Purāṇas, the true Bibles of Hinduism.

The defenders of the Aryan invasion theory call everyone who is not on their side “fundamentalist Hindu,” “revisionist,” “fascist,” and worse, whereas the defenders of the indigenous origin of the Veda accuse their opponents of entertaining “colonialistmissionary” and “racist-hegemonial” prejudices. ” They accuse its originators of superimposing—for a reason—the purpose and process of the colonial conquest of India by the Western powers in modern times onto the beginnings of Indian civilization: as the Europeans came to India as bearers of a supposedly superior civilization and a higher religion, so the original Aryans were assumed to have invaded a country that they subjected and on which they imposed their culture and their religion.

He might have been joking or lying—so better try it first on yourself. Vikra did so, and thus killed himself with the boon he had received. The story has as its main theme the superiority of Viṣṇu over Śiva, who has to appeal to Viṣṇu to save his life. O R T H O D OX Y B AT T L I N G H E R E S Y This incident reveals something of the rivalry that exists between the different saṃpradāyas, the various churches and sects of Hinduism. 26 Between them there had often been competition for the dominance of Viṣṇu, Śiva, and Devī; not seldom also intolerance and fanatical zeal.

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