Why I Am A Hindu by Shashi Tharoor – Book Review

Book – Why I Am A Hindu

Author – Shashi Tharoor

Publisher – Aleph Publishers

No. of pages – 302

Stars – 3.5/5⭐

About the book

In Why I Am a Hindu, one of India’s finest public intellectuals gives us a profound book about one of the world’s oldest and greatest religions. Starting with a close examination of his own belief in Hinduism, he ranges far and wide in his study of the faith. He explains, in easily accessible language, important aspects and concepts of Hindu philosophy like the Purusharthas and Bhakti, masterfully summarizes the lessons of the Gita and Vivekananda’s ecumenism and explores with sympathy the ‘Hinduism of habit’ practised by ordinary believers. He looks at the myriad manifestations of political Hinduism in the modern era, including violence committed in the name of the faith by right-wing organizations and their adherents. He analyses Hindutva, explains its rise and dwells at length on the philosophy of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, its most significant ideologue. He is unsparing in his criticism of extremist ‘bhakts’ and unequivocal in his belief that everything that makes India a great and distinctive culture and country will be imperilled if religious ‘fundamentalists’ are allowed to take the upper hand.

A book that will be read and debated now and in the future, Why I Am a Hindu is a revelatory and original masterwork.

Review

Why I Am A Hindu is logically divided into three sections where the first part is a close examination of his own belief in Hinduism. From tracing its origins to dwelling deep into the ideologies of Hinduism, he wrote about the Great Souls of Hinduism like Adi Shankara, Patanjali, Ramanuja and especially Swami Vivekananda.The Hindu philosophy very nicely explained here in this part

The second part of the book is purely all about Politics and Hinduism. It kinda gave me an impression that the very purpose of the book is politics and not philosophy.

What worked for me with this book is that it introduces the fundamentals of Hinduism quoting extensively from various sources right from the Vedas to Upanishad and the various schools of thought. It rightly points out the fact that Hinduism as an organic religion which does not have any single authority. This accommodative nature of this religion is well documented and introduced. I am very much impressed about how extensively Shashi Tharoor has researched about this topic. He has not left any page unturned.

This Book can be seen as testimony to the soft Hindutva turn that Indian politics is taking. A must read book for all the people who grew disillusioned and started questioning what Hinduism stood for. This book might or might not answer your questions but would make you accept that it’s fine if you can’t define it.

I will recommend it to anyone who wants to understand Hinduism in English and also for the once who likes or want to know about politics.

– Kinjal Parekh
youtube.com/c/KinjalParekh

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