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Introductions, Anthologies, Dictionaries & Other Resources
27 Recommended Titles

These titles constitute a core library
of books on the subject of Hinduism.

"Hinduism is currently followed by one-fifth of humankind."

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The Essence of Yoga : Essays on the Development of Yogic Philosophy from the Vedas to Modern Times

The Essence of Yoga : Essays on the Development of Yogic Philosophy from the Vedas to Modern Times
by Georg Feuerstein and Jeanine Miller

Inner Traditions, 1997, 192 pp.

"This important collection of classic essays in The Essence of Yoga give readers a chance to share some of the authors' insights into yoga and their deep conviction that these discoveries are of the highest significance for a proper understanding of the human condition.  Georg Feuerstein, one of the world's foremost scholars of yoga, and Jeanine Miller, long recognized for her insightful commentaries on the RgVeda, pool their considerable talents in a look at the development of yogic thought across the ages from Vedic times."

"From her expertise in the Vedas, co-author Miller offers her insights that help the Vedas come alive for the reader and realize how the yoga of today springs forth from a 5,000 year old tradition."

This work contains the following seven essays:

Some Notes on Rgvedic Interpretation (J. Miller and G. Feuerstein)
The Hymn of Creation. A Philosophical Interpretation (J. Miller)
Forerunners of Yoga: The [RgVedic] Kesin Hymn  (J. Miller)
The Heart of Rgvedic Religion: Agni, Flame Divine (J. Miller)

The Essence of Yoga (G. Feuerstein)
The Meaning of Suffering in Yoga (G. Feuerstein)
Meister Eckehart - Mystic or Yogin? (G. Feuerstein)

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Excerpts from The Kesin Hymn in the RgVeda

...The long-haired one [kesin] endures both worlds. The long-haired one is said to gaze full on heaven, the long-haired one is said to be that light.

The wind-girt sages have donned the yellow robe of dust: along the wind's course they glide when the gods have penetrated them.

Exulting in our seerhood, upon the winds we have ascended. Of us, you mortals, only our bodies do you behold.

Through the middle region flies the sage shining down upon all forms....

The wind's steed, the Lord of life's friend, is the god-intoxicated sage; within both oceans he dwells, the upper and the lower. . . .

The Rig Veda:  An Anthology of One Hundred & Eight Hymns

The Rig Veda:  An Anthology of One Hundred & Eight Hymns
Translated by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty.

Penguin Books, 1982, 352 pp.

"The Rig Veda (c. 1200–900 BC), a collection of more than 1,000 hymns, represents the first extensive composition in any Indo-European language. Fraught with paradox, the hymns are meant ‘to puzzle, to surprise, to trouble the mind’, writes Professor O’Flaherty, who has selected and translated 108 hymns for this volume. Details of daily life, the rich symbolism and mechanism of Vedic ritual, the pure poetry of the hymns – these elements combine to form a unique insight into early Indian mythology, philosophy and religion."

"For the general reader, as well as the scholar, The Rig Veda will be a source of constant interest and pleasure. Professor O’Flaherty’s translation is sound and eminently readable, allowing the hymns to yield up their beauty and their wisdom. Sanskrit hymns from the timeless world of myth and ritual."

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The Upanishads

The Upanishads
Translated by Juan Mascarů

Penguin Books, 1965, 144 pp.

"The Upanishads, the earliest of which were composed in Sanskrit between 800 and 400 BCE by sages and poets, form part of the Vedas - the sacred and ancient scriptures that are the basis of the Hindu religion. Each Upanishad, or lesson, takes up a theme ranging from the attainment of spiritual bliss to karma and rebirth, and collectively they are meditations on life, death and immortality."

"The poetic backbone of Hinduism, the millennia-old Upanishads transcend time. The selections offered here illuminate a path that is as 'narrow as the edge of a razor' but pregnant with freedom and bliss. Through vivid metaphors and timeless prose, learn how the path of yoga leads beyond the web of karma to the final, blissful union of the personal soul, atman, with the universal soul, Brahman."

"Speaking to the reader in direct, unadorned prose or lucid verse, the Upanishads collected here embody humanity’s perennial search for truth and knowledge."

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The Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita
Translated by Juan Mascarů

Penguin Books, 2003, 160 pp.

"The stirring spiritual poem in a beloved translation."

‘The task of truly translating such a work is indeed formidable. The translator must at least possess three qualities. He must be an artist in words as well as a Sanskrit scholar, and above all, perhaps, he must be deeply sympathetic with the spirit of the original. Mascarů has succeeded so well because he possesses all these." Times Literary Supplement

The eighteen chapters of The Bhagavad Gita (c. 500 BCE.), the glory of Sanskrit literature, encompass the whole spiritual struggle of a human soul. Its three central themes—love, light, and life—arise from the symphonic vision of God in all things and of all things in God."

"Juan Mascaro's edition of the Gita is undoubtedly one of the more attractive versions for the general reader who is approaching the Gita for the first time. Mascaro, besides being a Sanskrit scholar, is a sensitive translator who clearly resonates to the Gita. He tells us that the aim of his translation is 'to give, without notes or commentary, the spiritual message of The Bhagavad Gita in pure English."

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The Laws of Manu

The Laws of Manu
Translated and with an Introduction by Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty

Penguin Books, 1992, 448 pp.

"The several Brahmin hands who wrote the Laws of Manu drew on jurisprudence, philosophy and religion to create an extraordinary, encyclopaedic model of how life should be lived, in public and in private, by Untouchables as well as by priests and kings, by women as well as by men.  The Sanskrit text was first translated into English in 1794, and translations into other European languages swiftly followed. For Nietzsche the human wisdom of Manu far surpassed that of the New Testament; for the British Raj it seemed to be the perfect tool with which to rule the Hindu. No understanding of modern India is possible without it, and in the richness of its ideas, its aphoristic profundity and its relevance to universal human dilemmas Manu stands beside the great epics, the Mah„bh„rata and the R„m„yana."

"O'Flaherty provides a landmark translation, the first authoritative English rendering this century. It is also the first to set the unadulterated text in narrative form, making it accessible and enjoyable both to specialist scholars and to a wider audience."

See Table of Contents.

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The A to Z of Hinduism

The A to Z of Hinduism: A Historical Dictionary of Hinduism
by Bruce M. Sullivan

Scarecrow Press, 2001, 2nd edition, 280 pp.

"The book is divided into three parts: (1) an introduction, (2) the dictionary itself (the A-Z entries make up the bulk of the text), and (3) an extensive bibliography.

"The dictionary section has hundreds of entries, each at least a paragraph in length; some take a whole page. Entries include the Hindu religious tradition's major events, individuals, texts, sects, and concepts in the context of its historical development through various periods. In addition, sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites, the rituals performed as religious practices, the manifestations of Hindu religious sensibilities in biography, art, the caste system of social organization, mythology, and the theories of salvation developed through the history of Hinduism are also presented.

"A pronunciation guide to Sanskrit and Tamil, and a chronology of the history of Hinduism are included."

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The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice

The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice
by Georg Feuerstein

Hohm Press, 2001, 550 pp.

"Without a doubt the finest overall explanation of Yoga. . . . Destined to become a classic." Ken Wilber

"Most Westerners have a limited understanding of what the term yoga, which means 'union,' implies. Feuerstein describes yoga as a 'spectacularly multifaceted phenomena,' and performs a truly yogic feat by combining commentary with translated Sanskrit teachings, history with theory, the spiritual with the practical, and the classical with the contemporary. He illuminates every facet and phase of yoga from its roots in shamanism to its connections to the complex and dynamic spirituality of India, especially yoga's relationship with Hinduism and Buddhism. Feuerstein explicates the different yogic schools and profiles key yoga teachers. Yoga is a vast and vital universe maintained over the centuries by the discipline and persistence of its practitioners, who strive to join the physical with the spiritual, the 'individual self with the supreme Self.'  No more adept or comprehensive study of yoga aimed at a Western audience is to be found."

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The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga

The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga
by Georg Feuerstein

Shambhala,  2000, 357 pp.

"Any student of Yoga will want to know more about not only the practices of Yoga but also its history and spirituality. One of the best places to turn is to Georg Feuerstein's acclaimed Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga. With more than 100 illustrations (such as the many asana postures and chakra centers) and entries on everything from the Bhagavad Gita to Swami Vivekananda and from the Aryan invasion theory to biofeedback, you can't go wrong."

"Georg Feuerstein's The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga is destined to become a classic. The more than 2000 A-Z entries are organized in Sanskrit with easy-to-use English cross-references and the text is interspersed with many wonderful illustrations."

"Virtually anything that one wants to know about yoga is contained in these pages, from biographical listings (Sri Aurobindo, the founder of Integral yoga) to ancient gods (Kali, the destroyer of illusion) and simple poses (Bhujanga-asana, the Cobra). Feuerstein's research is exhaustive, impeccable and fascinating.  The writing is lively despite all the detail, and overflows with the author's unbounded enthusiasm for his subject."

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The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, 2 Volumes

Two volumes, 1000 pages
(500 pages per volume)

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism
by James G. Lochtefeld

Rosen Publishing Group, 2002, two volumes, 1000 pages (500 pages per volume)

"Hinduism is a vastly important world religion not only because of its mythology and philosophy but also on account of its rich cultural traditions. Whether through epic narratives of love and war by Sanskrit poets, the drama and devotion of Hindu dancers, or the teachings of yoga masters, the spread of Hinduism has enriched the lives of people throughout the world."

"This inclusive, two-volume encyclopedia contains entries on the history, practices, and beliefs of Hinduism, as well as the art and architecture, medicine, sects and social groups, and geographical centers of the religion."

"From Abhang to Zodiac, these two volumes contain over 2,500 thoroughly cross-referenced entries that clearly define terms and concepts related to the beliefs, practices, and history of Hinduism.  The entries cover a wide range of subject areas, including beliefs, rituals, art, celebrations, sacred places, history, religious organizations, biographies (of holy persons, theoreticians, and religious leaders), and much more. They are typically about 200 words long, though some are as long as 1000 words."

"The volumes are complete with black-and-white photos illustrating architectural, biographical, geographical, and mythological entries. Charts and maps provide added information."

Volume One:  A-M   Buy from

Volume Two:  N-Z   Buy from

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