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Many Many Gods of Hinduism By Swami Achuthananda

The author of Many Many Gods of Hinduism, Swami Achuthananda, has such a quirky and tongue in cheek writing style that I wanted to keep reading just to hear him relate Hinduism to his readers.  The writing is well done, thoughtful, and provoking.  I have to admit when I first picked up this book I was expecting something akin to an encyclopedia of the gods of Hinduism but this is not the case.  However the author does go into detail about several of the millions of gods of Hindu but he claims they are all of one god, Brahman, instead of the many gods outsiders to the religion claim they have.  This simple misconception was new to me and I wanted to continue reading to understand what it was that I had been missing from classes and other books I had read.  I took multiple religious courses in college and this was news to me.  I never clearly understood the religion but this book taught me a lot I had never heard before.  One of the biggest head turners for me was the discussion of an Ayrian race and where this race came from and how it was believed they came into India and used the swastika as a religious holy symbol.  It really opened my eyes to how this all connected to World War II and how the swastika is actually still considered a religious and holy symbol today.  The author is well versed in not only religion and philosophy but also on history and gave an accurate and concise history to help establish why Hinduism does what it does.  The Indian words that are used can at times make this work a little hard to understand (but the author even addresses this in his book) and overall it’s been one of the most clearly written book I have read on the subject matter.  The most controversial aspect of this book is easily his final section which goes into a discussion about authorities in the Hindu world and provides counter arguments for those he feels are wrong.  For me, it was exciting to see both sides of the coin.  However, in the same vein, the author briefly discusses Christianity and other religions that he uses to establish the differences between that religion and Hindu and several of the interpretations are inaccurate about the faith which I was disappointed in since he talks about the openness of Hindu to other religions.  It wasn’t necessarily bashing other religions but I wish he had spent some time studying the other religions if he was going to compare and contrast them and acknowledged the difference of opinions within other religions the way he does Hindu.  The book also has extensive footnotes and index in it which makes finding things very easy and the footnotes were easily flipped back and forth in Kindle.  Hinduism is a hard religion to understand in that there is no central book or founder of the religion.  Christianity has the Bible, Jewish people have the Torah, and Muslims have the Quran but Hinduism uses many works written over a rather lengthy bout of time that it can because very confusing.  And as a person from America the words can sometimes just wear us down because we don’t understand them.  The author tells us which books are used as sacred scriptures for the Hindus and explains how each came to be.  He even discusses how Buddhism and Hinduism relate and how India has come to be a religious melting pot that opens itself to allowing people to practice many religions while being tolerant of one another.  There was so many new things I learned from this book that even if you have given Hinduism a look before I suggest you read this book and look at the information you probably have never heard.  This book makes that less of a hassle because the author describes terms in the passages and gives translations.  Therefore, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is wanting to learn about Hinduism as it is one of the easiest to understand and most thorough of the books I have ever read regarding the subject.

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