Oxford University Press, 1998. — 160 p.Hinduism is practiced by about 80 percent of India's population, and by about 30 million people outside India. But how is Hinduism defined, and what basis does the religion have? In this Very Short Introduction, Kim Knott provides clear insight into the beliefs and authority of Hindus and Hinduism, and considers the ways in which it has been affected by colonialism and modernity.Knott offers succinct explanations of Hinduism's central preoccupations, including the role of contemporary gurus and teachers in the quest for spiritual fulfillment; and the function of regular performances of the Mahabharata and Ramayana - scriptures which present the divine in personal form (avatara) and provide models of behavior for everyone, from kings and warriors to servants and children, and which focus on the dharma, the appropriate duties and moral responsibilities of the different varna or classes. The author also considers the challenges posed to Hinduism at the end of the twentieth century as it spreads far beyond India, and as concerns are raised about issues such as dowry, death, caste prejudice, and the place of women in Hindu society.Kim Knott is Professor of Religious and Secular Studies. Previously at the University of Leeds but now at Lancaster University, she teaches the study of religions, including Hinduism, and researches religious/secular controversies and religion in public life, focusing on the media, conflict and security. She has authored and edited a number of books, including Media Portrayals of Religion and the Secular Sacred (Ashgate 2013) with Elizabeth Poole and Teemu Taira, Diasporas: Concepts, Intersections, Identities (2010) with Sean McLoughlin and The Location of Religion: A Spatial Analysis (2005). She has also produced a website for young people and teachers of Global Education, Citizenship, History and Geography called Moving People, Changing Places.
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