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.
Wendy Doniger [O'Flaherty] graduated from Radcliffe College and received her Ph. D. from Harvard University and her D. Phil. from Oxford University. She has been a full professor in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago since 1978 and is the author of many translations of Sanskrit texts as well as books about Hindu mythology and cross-cultural mythology, particularly about illusion, animals, gender, and sex, most recently The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade, The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was, and The Hindus: An Alternative History.
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 ; Notes ; Bibliography ; Index