Renowned lecturer from The Teaching Company, Mark W. Muesse brings readers into an encounter with the world's oldest living religious tradition, known as Hinduism. Muesse's brief survey, challenges the perception of Hinduism as one religious tradition, showing how wonderfully rich and diverse this 5,000-year old story truly is. He traces the vast history and practices of classic and diverse traditions, moving from the origins in the Indus Valley up through classic and contemporary periods. Muesse exhibits a keen sense of the myriad spiritualities associated with Hinduism, demonstrating how the religious tradition is both monotheistic and polytheistic.
Drawing on personal experiences of Hinduism on the ground, this book provides a reflective context within which religious practices can be understood and appreciated. It conveys the rich realities of the Hindu tradition and the academic approaches through which they are studied. The chapters cover a wide range of topics, including dance, music, performance, festival traditions, temples, myth, philosophy, women’s practices, and divine possession. The engaging narratives are accompanied by contextual discussions and advice on such topics as conducting fieldwork, colonialism, Hindu seasonal celebrations, understanding deities, and aesthetics in Hinduism. All the entries are accompanied by photographs and suggestions for further reading.