Review of Promod Puri’s Book Hinduism: Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions!
By Naveen Gopal
Most of us who grew up practicing Hinduism in our daily lives often understand the religion through rituals (poojas), mantras, stories (like the Ramayan) and a series of rules and obligations. We often wonder how we’d teach these customs to our kids in the age of social media, selfies and the internet.
Hinduism has a reputation for being vast, democratic and multi-faceted, and journalist-author Promod Puri’s book does an excellent job of boiling it down, helping the reader understand its philosophy, where it came from and why it relevant today, especially in this age of awareness.
The book explores the history and evolution of the religion and also importantly discusses who influenced the religion, both good and bad. Some philosophers encouraged scientific curiosity and rational thought, while others (for example) sought to divide its followers by advocating the caste system. It discusses science, karma and yoga, and helps shed light on how to apply its ancient wisdom today.
Ultimately the book is a detailed but concise overview of a very dense and complicated topic, and the reader is left encouraged to look deeper into the parts of Hinduism that interests them the most. It does require the reader to focus and pay attention, and a dictionary might be useful too. I found myself rewarded with a greater awareness of its relevance and a sense of how I might apply the thinking in my own life.
Naveen Gopal is based in Delta, BC.
REVIEW : HINDUISM: Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions
By Purva Grover
Founder & Editor – The Indian Trumpet, Dubai, UAE
Often, we’re not introduced to religion, rarely are we given a choice to pick one. Born in a Hindu family, you follow Hinduism, which as the debate goes is more than a religion; a way of life.
When you start reading the book, Hinduism: Beyond Rituals, Customs and Traditions by author (Editor-Journalist) Promod Puri, you get thick deep into this debate. Yet, no thoughts are forced upon you.
The book is a rationale read. There are facts, anecdotes, theories and examples; each one to his/her. It talks of rituals, and how they provide an architecture to a religion but they’re not cure-all miracles. “Such customs generate fanaticism,” the author writes.
For most of us, the history of Hinduism is what we grew up listening to, observed people following. Here, you learn of the ages, civilizations and periods that led to its origin.
Why do we chant the word Om, why does it bring peace to our senses? Is Hari Om just a greeting, mere two-word mantra? As kids, many of us were asked to scribble the words Om on the first page of our books, or taught to hum the Gayatri Mantra on special days – it energised us, why and how?
We worship an idol, visit a temple, especially if celebrating a festival. In modern age, we are told to perform the Surya Namaskar every morning, and told Hollywood celebrities do so too! A
Ramayana is still part of trousseau in many homes, a Mahabharata (if not read) is watched by families, together – for many of us, it was once a Sunday ritual. What do scriptures teach us?
And there are the controversial topics of caste and the honour of women that appear in this book too.
You may be dancing, singing or meditating – is that part of Hinduism too? If you fret over Karma, and believe your strength lies in the ‘self’ then you will find the last leg of the book most interesting.