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u/Mahdimuh · 3 pointsr/hinduism

I grew up Christian so I know where you're coming from. Basically, and Im oversimplifying here, but hinduism is a mix of christian and buddhist ideas. Hinduism is actually a large collection of religions and their specific beliefs can vary widely. On one end of the spectrum, you have Krishnas who worship Krishna as monotheists and put devotion to krishna above all else. On the other end you have something like kashmir shaivists who worship the God Shiva and who put meditation, yoga and tantra above everything else.

To generalize about this broad spectrum of beliefs and practices, I would say that in general, we are monotheists. We believe in one god but worship that one God in their many forms. There are rituals, chants, breathing exercises, meditation practices and many other ways we choose to use to worship God. Some of us are dualists and believe that God is fundamentally seperate. Worship for dualists is usually devotional and includes rituals, chants and prayers. Some of us are monists and believe God possesses all existance and can be experienced firsthand. Monists are usually the ones who are meditation focused and may supplement their practice with rituals, yoga and breathing excercises.

As a whole, hindus generally believe in reincarnation. When you die, youre reborn into another body. You can be reborn as a human, or might take on a rebirth as an animal or in the hell & heaven realms. We believe some lives are longer than others, but even in heaven and hell, none are permanent. The ultimate goal of a hindu is achieving the state of moksha, or oneness with God, and freedom from rebirth.

My suggestion for someone new to hinduism is to read the baghavad gita. Try to find a copy with a good non-sectarian commentary. I like this one. After that, just try to figure out if you are more of a dualist or monist. Research hindu Gods and see if there are any that jump out at you. Feel free to ask any questions in this sub and Im sure you will get answers. Thanks for your interest!

u/Swadhisthana · 4 pointsr/hinduism

You can look through my comment history, but I would start with the following books, probably in this order:

Shakti, Realm of the Divine Mother, by Vanamali - This is a great overview over the Goddesses many names and forms, along with a great recounting of Her many stories.

In Praise of the Goddess: The Devimahatmya and Its Meaning, by Devadatta Kali

  • The Devi Mahatmyam is one of the most important Shaktaa religious texts, and while other translations exist, this one is by far the best.

    Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar, by Elizabeth Harding - An exploration into Mother Kali, and how She is worshipped at Dakshineswar temple in Kolkata. The author also goes into the life of Sri Ramakrishna, one of the modern day saints of the Divine Mother.

    The Thousand Names Of The Divine Mother: Shri Lalita Sahasranama - The other "most important" book amongst Shaktaa's, this version contains verse by verse commentary.

    As for converting - that's a bit of a thorny topic, but it's not really necessary. Begin to read, learn, and most importantly, practice the Dharma, and after a few years of doing so, perhaps consider a more formal conversion.

    Also, seek out a guru if you can. It can be tough, but it makes a lot of this go a lot easier.

u/reccedog · 6 pointsr/hinduism

I pick and choose from a lot of ancient spiritual practices. Hinduism is one that really resonates with me though. I started with reading the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. Both considered to be amongst the core texts of Hinduism.

For the Bhagavad Gita, a very beautiful and easy to read version is Stephen Mitchell's translation.

For the Upanishads, the version I like best is Juan Mascaro's translation.

Wishing you peace and love on your journey.

🙏 Namaste 🙏

u/nura2011 · 14 pointsr/hinduism

> I basically want to order everything and feel that I have a complete set of all the cherished ancient texts.

That's a bit like boiling the ocean. I think that a better strategy is to survey the list of available texts by reading articles from the internet, and then dipping into what appeals to you.

The major texts IMO are as follows:

  1. The Vedas, of which there are four. Hardcore Hindus may recommend that you own and study the Vedic texts, but personally, I feel that reading translations of the Vedas which are meant to be heard is missing the point, and vedic sanskrit is very difficult to understand anyway, so you're better off skipping these.
  2. The Upanishads, which are the knowledge portion of the Vedas. There are 108 main upanishads, of which around 10 - 13 are considered more important than the others and have been the subject of commentaries by major acharyas.
  3. The Brahma Sutras, which was an early attempt at forming a coherent philosophy from the Upanishads. Several commentaries exist for the Brahma sutras as well.
  4. The Bhagavad Gita, which is supposed to be a condensed version of upanishadic wisdom. The major upanishads, the Brahma sutras and the Bhagavad gita are collectively called the prasthAnatrayi, and they're important from the viewpoint of a collection of Hindu philosophies called the Vedanta.
  5. The epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Bhagavad Gita is in the Mahabharata.
  6. The puranas, of which there are 18 major ones and 18 minor ones. Here I'd recommend you read what appeals to you - if you are into Krishna, read the Srimad Bhagavatam and if you're into Devi, read the Devi Bhagavatam, etc. The puranas and epics are supposed to convey the wisdom of the Vedas to common people in a manner that's relevant to daily life and practical religion.
  7. Central books on the different schools of Hindu philosophy: the Yoga sutras of Patanjali and its commentaries, the samkhya karika by Kapila, the different schools of Vedanta, etc. Again, get an overview and dig deeper into the ones that appeal to you.

    Personally, I'd recommend the prasthAnatrayi, the two epics, and a purana or two (or three: one each from the Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakta traditions) that gives you an overview of mythological Hinduism. In addition, go through a few overview texts to get an idea of schools that resonate with you (perhaps Kashmir Shaivism, for e.g.), and then go into books of those.
u/gamegyro56 · 3 pointsr/hinduism

There's the reading list in the side-bar, but that doesn't really have secondary books on Hinduism.

There's Gavin Flood's An Introduction to Hinduism. I haven't read it yet, but it's the only thing I got off the top of my head. If you want, I can look through the copy I found on the sidewalk and tell you about it.

But Flood seems to have a pretty good pedigree. But I don't know if he's a Hindu. I would also recommend Eknath Easwaran's translation of the Bhagavad Gita. I have it, and his intro goes into Hindu concepts. This book also seem well-received, though I don't have it.

There's a public domain book called The Religion of the Veda: The Ancient Religion of India. There's also The Wonder that was India, which is good. And apparently the same guy wrote The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism.

Most Indian history books talk about Hinduism, so maybe the Cambridge History of India?

u/tLoKMJ · 5 pointsr/hinduism

Honestly, as u/stinkyriddle mentioned, the Bhagavad Gita is a really good place to start. It covers the vast majority of the overall concepts, is very easy to understand, and doesn't require any real prior knowledge.

Easwaran's version is good for newcomers as well with some great commentary.

u/myersmatthew · 3 pointsr/hinduism

I started here about 2 months ago:

A really good read and covers a lot of the basics. From there I did a bunch of research online.. a lot of Wikipedia and YouTube. I also wrote down what I believe in spiritually, how I wanted or think I should live the rest of my life and also philosophical/spiritual questions I was searching for answers to. I kept meditating on it and researching and found Vaishnavism was my fit. Specifically, the beliefs concerning Krishna. So I recently finished the Gita and discovered the Hare Krishna mantra and I am loving every step of this journey so far.

Here is a quick example of how powerful the mantra can be. My job is rather laborious and I am constantly moving. With that said, I recite the Hare Krishna mantra in my head while working and I am trying to get to a point to where I can recite the mantra while doing something at the same time without stopping either one. Any who, while reciting and working today, I experienced a brief vision of Krishna along with pure bliss. I had to stop for a second in amazement. I didn't know something like this could happen but the experience confirmed for me that I am progressing. I am overjoyed.

I am still rather new to it all but I am constantly learning and committed.

Namaste. ✌️

u/Jainarayan · 2 pointsr/hinduism

This is a good start Krishna: the Beautiful Legend of God: (Srimad Bhagavata Purana Book X) (Penguin Classics) (Bk.10) It is the story of his life. Also read a good translation of the Bhagavad Gita. Eknath Easwaran's version is good, as if Swami Mukundananda's.

I'm a white guy for whom Krishna is God. I talk to him, I do a small daily (well, almost daily) puja in my home shrine, I think of him, I sing and chant along with recorded bhajans, or just listen to them as I'm driving or going about my business at home. I very rarely do japa, only because I haven't established the routine, but I want to. There's nothing magical or mysterious about being devoted or dedicated to him or any other deity.

u/Sangpup · 5 pointsr/hinduism

You can do custom prayers to Her in whatever language you prefer :)

That's a book that I first read in learning about Kali :) I thought it was very helpful in learning more about Her and it talks about one of Her most famous devotees, Sri Ramakrishna!

I usually offer fruit, milk, or water when I want to give thanks. Just talk to Kali as if She were your own mother who had just taken you into her arms :)

u/Aeon108 · 2 pointsr/hinduism

The Bhagavad Gita centers mainly around Krishna, one of Vishnu's most popular avatars. It takes place during a war. The family of Arjuna, who is a king, betrays him. Both sides ask Krishna for aid in the war. To remain neutral, Krishna gives his army to Arjuna's family and Krishna becomes the personal Charioteer of Arjuna. As they are about to enter the war, Arjuna becomes conflicted. Krishna reveals to Arjuna that he is an avatar of the god Vishnu. The entire text is the conversation between Arjuna and Krishna. Krishna gives Arjuna advice on how to live a spiritual life on all accounts. Devotees of Krishna place an extremely high value on the Bhagavad Gita.
Here is a link to an English translated version of the text:
And here are links to Krishna sites:

Kalki is said to be the last avatar of Krishna. He has yet to be born. At the end of the Kali-yuga (which is the time period we are in,) Kalki is said to be born ina hidden paradise called Shambhala. He will ride across the Earth on a white steed and cleanse the Earth of evil, returning us to a golden age of peace.
here are some links to pages about Kalki:

Although this next one is more controversial, a lot of people believe Buddha to be an avatar of Vishnu. There isn't really a specific book or site to go to for this one, but there are several books on Buddhism and documentaries on the Buddha.

Another popular Vishnu avatar is Rama. Rama is said to be the perfect man. His story is told in an epic called the Ramayana, in which his wife is kidnapped and he must rescue her.
English version of Ramayana:
Sites for Rama:

There are a lot more avatars of Vishnu, but these ones are the main ones. For a bigger list, they are links to all of the major ones here:

It's also good to keep in mind that beliefs on who the avatars of Vishnu are vary from region to region and from tradition to tradition.

u/[deleted] · 2 pointsr/hinduism

I would not recommend the version of the Bhagavad Gita /u/wtf_shroom linked to. Understanding the Gita is particularly difficult when it is poorly translated and explained. This one in particular was translated by a British man in the 1800s, when India was a colony and the British were particularly interested in painting Hinduism and Indians as backward.

There are free online translations and commentaries, using modern English. One is here; another is here. These are both Vaishnava translations. This version was used in a very good class at the University of Florida in 2009. That translator is fluent in Sanskrit and also has a Ph.D. in comparative religion from Harvard. He has also studied Vaishnavism with notable Vaishnava teachers.

This brings me to the final reason one should carefully select their version of the Bhagavad Gita. It is an essentially Vaishnava text: in it, Krishna (Vishnu) explains spirituality and the self to his friend and devotee, Arjuna. Vaishnavas worship Krishna/Vishnu as the only God. In the end, Krishna tells Arjuna to "abandon all varieties of religion (or righteousness) and surrender to me." BG 18.66 So, the translation should ideally be by someone who is well-educated as a Vaishnava; someone with a guru, who is linked into the tradition of teachings that have been passed down through the ages. The least ideal arrangement is to have a translation that is made by someone who doesn't understand the tradition, and therefore can't make the translation clear and understandable. Sanskrit is a very context-dependent language, and it is extremely complex: learning the language is not sufficient to qualify a person to translate scripture.

u/ReubenFox · 3 pointsr/hinduism

I'd suggest starting by reading the Baghavad Gita with a good general commentary. "The Living Gita" by Sri Swami Satchidananda is a good one that I can personally endorse.

He also has a commentary on Patanjali's yoga sutras that I would recommend after that. Namaste, and much blessings in your studies!

u/darthrevan · 2 pointsr/hinduism

I don't believe he is part of ISKCON, since although he edited a book about ISKCON he apparently said in that book that his only experience with the movement was as an outsider.

However, there is evidence that he probably does follow Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Bryant is also known as Adwaita Das, per these lectures on YouTube, and internet rumors (unfortunately all I can find at the moment) say he was initiated by Shri Haridas Shastri. He also did a translation of the 10th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, which isn't proof of anything in itself...but given how central that text is to Gaudiya Vaishnavas, it may not be an accident that he chose to work on that particular scripture.

So as far as I'm concerned, I'm pretty confident Bryant follows a Krsna Bhakti tradition of some sort. Which suits me just fine as that's my personal tradition as well. :)

u/Fukitol13 · 2 pointsr/hinduism

The as it is iskcon version is fine for gaudiya vaishnavas,but for those who arent initiated into that school,i prefer recommending the eknath easwaran translation.

i'd recommend buying it,or the cheaper essence of gita for one's first read of the gita for a better understanding,after all one gets a first time only once and i want you to have the best possible time reading it

u/piNAka_dhRRita · 2 pointsr/hinduism

The better one(because Easwaran tends to see "Lord of Love" everywhere) would be the commentary Gudartha Dipika by Madhusudana Saraswati. And the commentary of Adi Sankara,the founder of the school that Madhusudana Saraswati belonged to.

Online,the commentary of Sankara is available. And the famous Jnaneshwari commentary on the Gita(if you wish to buy it on Amazon).

Basically,I'm following up with what /u/CaliforniaJade said.

u/dharmis · 2 pointsr/hinduism

I just read Graham Schweig translation and I thought it was amazing. He kept it as literal as possible (especially in terms of word order) but still managed to make it clear and poetic.

Bhagavad Gita

He's coming from the Vaisnava tradition, a disciple of AC Bhaktivedanta Swami and with a Harvard degree in Sanskrit and Indian Studies.

For me, the essential verse, summing it all up as it were is 18.65. Check it out for yourself :)

u/pizzamp3wav · 2 pointsr/hinduism

In terms of active practitioners I'm not sure, but I think you might find this to be a good starting resource:

Tantra Illuminated

It's by an academic but the book is meant for a general readership.
He's also a practitioner himself and used to teach retreats, though I can't find the links except to these downloads.

I think you'll find the book worthwhile.

u/LGAMER3412 · 1 pointr/hinduism

Eknath Eswaran version is my favorite since it gives a synopsis before every chapter and a really long introduction which is good. Check it out The Bhagavad Gita, 2nd Edition

u/BlankNothingNoDoer · 2 pointsr/hinduism

You're welcome. If you need a starting point, just pick one. I personally recommend this as a good starting point:

u/jeebus_focker · 0 pointsr/hinduism

We can agree that RV forms the earliest Sanskrit exposition.

However, you are wrong when you say this:

>The rigveda is dated to around 1500 BCE, with several hundred years of room in either direction.

Please read Michel Danino's "The Lost River" which provides archaeological and anthropological evidence that the RV pre-dates the Mohenjadaro and Harappan civilizations. That places the existence of the RV prior to 2500 BCE atleast. You would have to reconsider what this would mean for your other hypothesis about Hittite, PIE, etc.

As far as Hindu theology, archaeological and anthropological evidence are concerned, Sanskrit is PIE and is dated prior to Hittite.

Regarding your other argument, it sounds like hypothesis created ad hoc without any universal applicability. People do not have to move for languages and good ideas to spread.

For instance, the Caraka Samhita is an ancient Indian treatise on medicine. It is a collection of a proceedings of a medical conference believed to have been held on the foothills of the Himalayas atleast 10000 years ago. The very first sutra of the text mentions this and informs us that people from geography as far away as what we know today to be China and Greece attended this conference. It could easily have been because of such interactions that ideas from Indian culture and philosophy spread to other lands.

I appreciate your taking time to give examples of various words. But this still misses the point. What I am looking for are rules such as:

"Whenever a sound /e/ gets diphthongized and becomes /ie/, it means such and such..."

Absent this, it still remains hypothesis after hypothesis built on weak to nonexistent foundation.

u/brahmarupayai_namah · 2 pointsr/hinduism

I'm pretty conservative and hardcore,but I would not recommend the Vedas or Upanishads first. One can get around completely without touching these. I would recommend first the Bhagavad Gita with a classical commentary(ones by Shankara,Ramanuja,Madhva,Dyaneshwar,Abhinavagupta,etc).

u/so_just_here · 3 pointsr/hinduism

My initiation to both Ramayana & mahabharata was via C Rajagopalachari's version. An excellent starting point imo - you can always read more thorough versions in the next stage

u/Bega_zeke · 1 pointr/hinduism

...or too much aham (ego) to see realities as Maya, may be!

Anyways, I liked this book on this topic. Worth reading.

u/Kali_Durge · 2 pointsr/hinduism

Thank you for your reply, I am becoming very aware of the charlatans going around, Tantra is intriquing but I think I am a long way from exploring that and would probably wait until I can actually visit India, I just want to get the core basics of it all before I figure the path I want to take, Shiva has had a lot of presence in my life too for example. For the Gita the version I am reading is this one which I saw mentioned on here.

u/ckenney108 · 1 pointr/hinduism

I strongly recommend the Bhagavad Gita translated by Winthrop Sargeant. He gives the Sanskrit verse, a word-by-word breakdown, and an accurate translation with no commentary.

u/Il_Nessuno · 2 pointsr/hinduism

Kali Kaula is not a good introduction to tantra. I highly recommend Christopher Hareesh Wallis's Tantra Illuminated.

u/BearJew13 · 2 pointsr/hinduism

> Swami Prabhavananda

Doing some googling, I also found The Living Gita: The Complete Bhagavad Gita - A Commentary for Modern Readers by Sri Swami Satchidananda. In particular, this translation was recommended for its verse-by-verse commentary. Do you have any thoughts on this translation? Thanks

u/yajJasenI · 10 pointsr/hinduism

Just study the Gita with Madhusudana Saraswati's commentary (online PDF version here and Sridhara Swami's gloss (online PDF here),the Bhagavata Purana with Gita Press edition,and the Narada Bhakti Sutras (PDF online and do constant nAma japa.

u/philman53 · 5 pointsr/hinduism

Get a copy of Kim Knott's book:

Nobody is going to take the time to write out even a basic explanation of Hinduism on an internet thread. It's simply too much information, too broad.

u/Nirvana_V · 10 pointsr/hinduism

Oh really ? That is debatable, you should do some more research, here :

This book by Michel Danino provides numerical arguments based on the topographical explorations, geological and climatological studies, satellite imagery and isotope analyses to trace the river bed of Sarasvati since 3500BCE.

u/petrus4 · 4 pointsr/hinduism

I unfortunately just wasted $10 on this. It's nothing more than a collection of New Age buzzwords and apologia for Western feminism.

If anyone wants to actually learn about Mother, I would recommend Devadatta Kali's translation of the Devi Mahatmaya.

u/iaTeALL · 5 pointsr/hinduism

Of self

One acknowledges and other rejects.

One who rejects says others (who acknowledge) are failing to come out of Maya, illusion and others (who acknowledge) says others (who rejects) are suffering from ego.

Anyways I can recommend following book. Bit advance but worth reading.