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 motheists 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 rewned 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.