After some suggestions from this group, I did finish reading this book. I think I get the point of this book. My problem with it is its inaccessibility. In plain words, it is hard to understand! It uses words that educated people may not know or understand, and assumes and builds on a background that only a tiny minority have! Not that I am afraid of learning new things; with my academic bent (two graduate degrees), and with passing familiarity with social philosophy I only find the text an invitation to follow up citations. But my point is, why does it have to be so difficult? Who was the audience it was intended for? Not laypeople! Surely to be effective and influence a wide swath of people we need texts are easier.

Perhaps I allowed myself to be misled about the true intent of this set of essays from reading the posts here. It is more about criticising Indian politics than Hindu texts. I think a book on hindu texts - (whatever they are, no-one ever told me read anything, just to believe) would actually be a useful preface to this volume.

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I didn't find this book difficult at all, and I don't have a specialized knowledge of Indian affairs. I was supposed to review it, but it got lost in the shuffle. And why should the detailed criticism of Hindu texts matter more than the ideas that are used by the Hindu right wing?
Thanks for your response. When I wrote the post I knew that the response would be 'Well, I understand it, what's your problem?" Still that is my view, and I am not here to pretend to be something I am not.
Perhaps you have a lot more experience reading political works than I do. But don't tell me this book was meant for lay people -- I can think of many intelligent laypeople who would balk at the first few pages!

I was born Hindu brahmin and I would like to know what on earth 'we' believe, lay it out and expose it for the nonsense that it is. It is a personal quest, people can reject right wing politics but still be devout hindus.
Much of the problem is in striking a balance. How does one reach out to the masses, while remaining academic and detailed in their approach?

Meera Nanda is concerned with serious study. If she was to be less academic, the criticism would be from a different corner. As it is, her work receives much hate. I do tend to agree with you that it is possible to remain academic while being popular among a non-technical audience. Niel degrasse Tyson is one great example. P. Z. Myers is another. But we can't expect everyone to be all-rounders, can we?
I am not criticizing Meera Nanda or even the book, depending on who the intended audience is. Like I say, perhaps I allowed myself to be misled. If it was never intended for lay people then I can't really argue. But it would be great to have a more accessible book for hindus, and may be there is something else out there.
Something that says, here is what hindus believe and do, and here is why it is nonsense.
That would be a many volumed set, each spanning thousands of pages.. just to list out what Hindus believe in
Hindus believe in anything and everything and also nothing.. Different sects contradict each other and some sects contradict themselves..
The Abrahamic religions have a single scripture to draw their beliefs and divine laws..
Not all Hindus swear by the Manu smriti.. 80% dont even have a clue about it other than quoting one or two lines from it to oppose Homosexuality..
Some sects derive their school of thought from Adi Sankara.. others from Ramanuja etc and they all have contradicting view points.. yet the people who claim to be adherents of their sects have no clue what they are adhering too..

Hinduism is simply weird
Thanks for your comments Sri Harsha. This is precisely what I am referring to. Unlike other religions, Hinduism can't even lay claim any single coherent belief system!
Even worse, I don't even know how what I was taught as a child is different from other Hindus, my mom, grandparents etc. just told me to do it without anything to back it up - no bible and no Sunday School.
Perhaps you can write something more about the different sects or point us to a nice level-headed objective description of them.
Yeah.. I know where you are coming from. It gets very frustrating when you are told to do something without questioning, just out of tradition.

As for the objective description, I am not sure there is one single source.
As for writing myself, I am an autodidact regarding matters of religion and spirituality and the so called "Hindu Scholars" are too elitist for me to assume my words would carry any weight. I am no scholar. Moreover, it is too big a task and very complex.

Sam Harris has this scripture project going on.. it presently has only the Bible and Quran(from the Skeptics annotated bible site).. maybe the guys over at Nirmukta could contribute to the Scripture project in the Hinduism section? I would love to make some small contributions if someone could start the project.
That is a very good suggestion. Except for Professor Narendra Nayak who spends all his waking hours promoting free-thought, all the folks who contribute to Nirmukta have full time jobs. Personally, I am tied up during the week. I will make this suggestion to Meera Nanda and others in the group who are knowledgeable enough about Hinduism to scrutinize the so-called scholars.
If you are going to fight something it is best to know as much as you can about it.
Sri Harsha, why don't write a piece for Nirmukta? I don't think you have to approach it like it is a big project, or think that you are not knowledgeable enough -- just do it the best you can! You know more than I do, for a start. If you get criticised or if you begin a discussion on the issue -- all well and good, it can only advance knowledge. Don't worry about mistakes. Start the ball rolling.
Very good suggestion, I like that a lot! I don't know about the Scripture project. Nevertheless the prominent atheists do focus on Christianity and Islam, probably because they are at a loss when it comes to Hinduism. This leaves Hinduism reasonably unscathed and perhaps allows people to propose the scientific hinduism mumbo-jumbo that Meera Nanda talks about.




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