Why I Am A Hindu by Shashi Tharoor is a beautiful book that describes the concept of Hinduism, explores how it’s followers practice it and what sets it apart from other religions. Shashi Tharoor has done a brilliant job of creating, what I would like to call, a layman’s guide to Hinduism. I wouldn’t say that he explores Hinduism in detail, but rather creaks open the door just enough to create curiosity; to want to go in there and explore further.
The book has some lovely transaltions of the Rig Veda that explain the concept of God in Hindu philosophy and the creation of the Universe:
Who really knows? And who can say?
Whence did it all come? And how did creation happen?
The gods themselves are later than creation,
So who knows truly whence the great creation sprang?
Who knows whence this creation had its origin?
He, whether He fashioned it or whether He did not,
He, who surveys it all from the highest heaven,
He knows—or maybe even He does not know.
— Rig Veda, X.129
Tharoor has sprinkled such beautiful translations of shlokas all over the book, which in turn make you yearn to read the original sanskrit sholkas. I wish he had included those as well. Nevertheless, the book is a joy to read, filled with pages of wisdom and rich history of Hinduism.
The book traces the evolution of Hinduism over time and how it sustained under the political dominance of rulers of another faith. How did India not become a fully Muslim country as other Asian countries such as Maldives, Malaya and Indonasia? What led Hindus to idol worship and how it helped save the religion from extinction? How some practices such as restrictions into temples, child marriage and sati were born and how they became an ugly evil over time? The book tells us all this and more. It explores the reason behind the willingness of Hindus to be tolerant and accepting other faiths.
The book is a treasure cove, which compels you to linger on every thought introduced on every page, making it impossible to rush through the book. It is the kind of book you will want to savour at your own slow pace. This is the first book on the subject where I have identified with the author’s thoughts.
There very few books that have changed my perspective on life and this is one of them. Which books have done that for you?
Get your copy of Why I Am A Hindu here:
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. The review, however, is honest and unbiased.