On Hinduism

ISBN : 9780190455101

Wendy Doniger
682 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jan 2016
Send mail

In this magisterial volume of essays, Wendy Doniger enhances our understanding of the ancient and complex religion to which she has devoted herself for half a century. This series of interconnected essays and lectures surveys the most critically important and hotly contested issues in Hinduism over 3,500 years, from the ancient time of the Vedas to the present day. The essays contemplate the nature of Hinduism; Hindu concepts of divinity; attitudes concerning gender, control, and desire; the question of reality and illusion; and the impermanent and the eternal in the two great Sanskrit epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Among the questions Doniger considers are: Are Hindus monotheists or polytheists? How can atheists be Hindu, and how can unrepentant Hindu sinners find salvation? Why have Hindus devoted so much attention to the psychology of addiction? What does the significance of dogs and cows tell us about Hinduism? How have Hindu concepts of death, rebirth, and karma changed over the course of history? How and why does a pluralistic faith, remarkable for its intellectual tolerance, foster religious intolerance? Doniger concludes with four concise autobiographical essays in which she reflects on her lifetime of scholarship, Hindu criticism of her work, and the influence of Hinduism on her own philosophy of life. On Hinduism is the culmination of over forty years of scholarship from a renowned expert on one of the world's great faiths.


Introduction: Foreword into the Past

A Chronology

I. On Being Hindu

Hinduism by Any Other Name

Are Hindus Monotheists or Polytheists?

Three (or More) Forms of the Three (or More) - Fold Path in Hinduism

The Concept of Heresy in Hinduism

Eating Karma

Medical and Mythical Constructions of the Body in Sakskrit Texts

Death and Rebirth in Hinduism

Forgetting and Re-awakening to Incarnation

Assume the Position: The Fight over the Body of Yoga

The Toleration of Intolerance in Hinduism

The Politics of Hinduism Tomorrow

II. Gods, Humans and Anti-Gods

Saguna and Nirguna Images of the Deity

You Can't Get Here from There: The Logical Paradox of Hindu Creation Myths

Together Apart: Changing Ethical Implications of Hindu Cosmologies

God's Body, or, the Lingam Made Flesh: Conflicts over the Representation of Shiva

Sacrifice and Subsitution: Ritual Mystification and Mythical Demystification in Hinduism

The Scrapbook of Undeserved Salvation: The Kedara Khanda of the Skanda Purana

III. Women and Other Genders

Why Should a Brahmin Tell You Whom to Marry?: A Deconstruction of the Laws of Manu

Saranyu/Samjna: The Sun and the Shadow

The Clever Wife in Indian Mythology

Rings of Rejection and Recognition in Ancient India

The Third Nature: Gender Inversions in the Kamasutra

Bisexuality and Transsexuality Among the Hindu Gods

Transsexual Transformations of Subjectivity and Memory in Hindu Mythology

IV. Kama and other Seductions

The Control of Addiction in Ancient India

Reading the Kamasutra: It Isn't All About Sex

The Mythology of the Kamasutra

From Kama to Karma: The Resurgence of Puritanism in Contemporary India

V. Horses and Other Animals

The Ambivalence of Ahimsa

Zoomorphism in Ancient India: Humans More Bestial Than Beasts

The Mythology of Horses in India

The Submarine Mare in the Mythology of Shiva

Indra as the Stallion's Wife

Dogs as Dalits in Indian Literature

Sacred Cows and Beefeaters

VI. Illusion and Reality in the Hindu Epics

Impermanence and Eternity in Hindu Epic, Art and Performance

Shadows of the Ramayana

Women in the Mahabharata

The History of Ekalavya

VII. On Not Being Hindu

"I Have Scinde": Orientalism and Guilt

Doniger O'Flaherty on Doniger

You Can't Make an Omelette

The Forest-Dweller

Appendix I: Limericks on Hinduism

Appendix II: Essays on Hinduism by Wendy Doniger

List of Abbreviations




About the author: 

Wendy Doniger is the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago and the author of over 30 books, most recently The Hindus: An Alternative History.

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.