This specially commissioned reader of the key written and oral texts by spiritual teachers from India, from the Rig Veda (3500 BC) to the present day, covers all the major traditions: Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and "new" Indian religions. The texts are presented in overlapping sections, each comprising a historically and thematically defined stage of a religion. This allows the development of the various traditions to be followed without their being isolated from one another. No single book could adequately select texts representing all aspects of Indian religion (ritual, institutions, ethics, myth, philosophy, experience), hence the focus of this reader is on individual religious experience. And since most Indian traditions preserve texts featuring experiential religion, and this selection covers a wide range of traditions, the book provides a comprehensive introduction to the history of religions of South Asia. The introduction discusses the phenomenon of spiritual experience and its relationship to organised religion and current controversies in the study of mysticism.
The book should appeal to all readers interested in India and Eastern religions and to undergraduate students of religions and of South Asian culture.
Peter Heehs is Director of Historical Research at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, Pondicherry, India. He is the author of five books, the most recent of which is Nationalism, Terrorism, Communalism (1998), and contributes to Modern Asian Studies, History Today and Art India
Contents: Introduction I: Foundations (c. 1200 BCE to c. 300 CE) - The Vedas - The Upanishads - Jainism - Theravada Buddhism - Sankhya and Yoga II: Developments (c. 200 BCE to c. 1000 CE) - The Bhagavad Gita - Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism - Tantra - The Puranas III: Elaborations (c. 150 to 1700 CE) - Spiritual Philosophies - Indo-Persian Sufism IV: Reformulations (c. 700 to 1850) - Devotional Mysticism - The Sant Tradition - Sikhism - Popular Yoga Traditions - Popular Sufism V: Continuity and Innovation (1850 to 2000) - Twelve Spiritual Teachers of Modern India - Four Spiritual Poets of Modern India.