Skip directly to content

Hindu Studies Book Series - Routledge

Sthaneshwar Timalsina
20 October 2008
Consciousness in Indian Philosophy: The Advaita Doctrine of Awareness Only

This book focuses on the analysis of pure consciousness as found in Advaita Vedanta, one of the main schools of Indian philosophy. According to this tradition, reality is identified as Brahman, the world is considered illusory, and the individual self is identified with the absolute reality. Advaitins have various approaches to defend this argument, the central one being the doctrine of 'awareness only' (cinmatra). Following this stream of argument, what consciousness grasps immediately is consciousness itself, and the notions of subject and object arise due to ignorance. This doctrine categorically rejects the plurality of individual selves and the reality of objects of perception.

Timalsina analyzes the nature of consciousness as understood in Advaita. He first explores the nature of reality and pure consciousness, and then moves on to analyze ignorance as propounded in Advaita. He then presents Advaita arguments against the definitions of 'object' of cognition found in various other schools of Indian philosophy. In this process, the positions of two rival philosophical schools of Advaita and Madhva Vedanta are explored in order to examine the exchange between these two schools. The final section of the book contrasts the Yogacara and Advaita understandings of consciousness. Written lucidly and clearly, this book reveals the depth and implications of Indian metaphysics and argument. It will be of interest to scholars of Indian philosophy and Religious Studies.
Christopher G Framarin
27 March 2009
Desire and Motivation in Indian Philosophy

Desireless action is typically cited as a criterion of the liberated person in classical Indian texts. Contemporary authors argue with near unanimity that since all action is motivated by desire, desireless action is a contradiction. They conclude that desireless action is action performed without certain desires; other desires are permissible.

In this book, the author surveys the contemporary literature on desireless action and argues that the arguments for the standard interpretation are unconvincing. He translates, interprets, and evaluates passages from a number of seminal classical Sanskrit texts, and argues that the doctrine of desireless action should indeed be taken literally, as the advice to act without any desire at all. The author argues that the theories of motivation advanced in these texts are not only consistent, but plausible.
This book is the first in-depth analysis of the doctrine of desireless action in Indian philosophy. It serves as a reference to both contemporary and classical literature on the topic, and will be of interest to scholars of Indian philosophy, religion, the Bhagavadgita and Hinduism.
Mandakranta Bose
4 February 2010
Women in the Hindu Tradition: Rules, Roles and Exceptions

This book accounts for the origin and evolution of the nature and roles of women within the Hindu belief system. It explains how the idea of the goddess has been derived from Hindu philosophical ideas and texts of codes of conduct and how particular models of conduct for mortal women have been created. Hindu religious culture correlates philosophical speculation and social imperatives to situate femininity on a continuum from divine to mortal existence. This creates in the Hindu consciousness multiple - often contradictory - images of women, both as wielders and subjects of authority. The conception and evolution of the major Hindu goddesses, placed against the judgments passed by texts of Hindu sacred law on women’s nature and duties, illuminate the Hindu discourse on gender, the complexity of which is compounded by the distinctive spirituality of female ascetic poets. Drawing on a wide range of Sanskrit texts, the author explains how the idea of the goddess has been derived from Hindu philosophical ideas and also from the social roles of women as reflected in, and prescribed by, texts of codes of conduct. She examines the idea of female divinity which gave rise to models of conduct for mortal women. Instead of a one-way order of ideological derivation, the author argues that there is constant traffic between both ways the notional and the actual feminine. This book brings together for the first time a wide range of material and offers fresh stimulating interpretations of women in the Hindu Tradition.

Karen Pechilis
20 December 2011
Interpreting Devotion: The Poetry and Legacy of a Female Bhakti Saint of India

This book explores devotional religion through three interpretive gestures: The devotional subjectivity inscribed in the classical poetry of the female saint Karaikkal Ammaiyar; the domestication of her persona in an authoritative medieval hagiography; and present-day tellings of her story in ritual dramatizations. Poetry, story, and festival provide distinctive yet overlapping interpretations of the saint, revealing the selections and priorities of interpreters in the making of a living tradition.

This book is an accessible introduction to the devotional poet-saint Karaikkal Ammaiyar that will appeal to students and scholars of religion, Indian history and women’s studies.
C. Mackenzie Brown
19 January 2012
Hindu Perspectives on Evolution: Darwin, Dharma, and Design

This book provides new insights into the contemporary creationist-evolution debates by looking at the Hindu cultural-religious traditions of India, the Hindu Dharma traditions. Focusing on the interaction of religion and science in a Hindu context, this book offers a global context for understanding contemporary creationist-evolution conflicts and tensions utilizing a critical analysis of Hindu perspectives on these issues. The critical analysis raises broad questions regarding the frequently alleged harmony of the Hindu Dharma traditions with modern science, and with Darwinian evolution in particular.

Examining diverse elements of the Hindu Dharmic traditions that laid the groundwork for an ambivalent response to Darwinism when it first became known in India, the author highlights the significance of the colonial context. This is particularly illustrated by drawing parallels with Islamic responses to modern science and Darwinism. Analysing critically the question of compatibility between traditional Dharmic theories of knowledge and the epistemological assumptions underlying contemporary scientific methodology, the book demonstrate their implications for the alleged concord of Hinduism, the eternal Dharma, and modern science.
Barbara A Holdrege
30 September 2012

This book explores the connections between bhakti and embodiment and is concerned more specifically with constructions of divine bodies and devotional bodies in Krishna bhakti traditions. Grounding general reflections on bhakti and embodiment in an analysis of two case studies: the Bhagavata Purana, one of the most important scriptures in the Vaisnava bhakti canon, and the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition, an important bhakti movement inspired by the Bengali leader Caitanya in the sixteenth century that invokes the canonical authority of the Bhagavata Purana as the basis for its own distinctive teachings.

Knut A. Jacobsen
30 September 2012

This book will is the first comprehensive study on sacred space and pilgrimage in the Hindu tradition, providing a detailed presentation of this phenomenon. In no other religion is sacred space and pilgrimage of such importance. Focusing on historical, sociological and environmental questions about the phenomenon of sacred space and pilgrimage in Hinduism, the author analyzes how power of place and pilgrimage became a central feature of Hinduism. He examines the meaning of the phenomenon in history and in contemporary India. Arguing that salvific power of place became a major dimension of Hinduism through a development in several stages, the book thus analyzes the historical process of how sacred space and pilgrimage in the Hindu tradition developed. Drawing on main sources such as inscriptions, Mahabharata, the Puranas, the medieval digests on sacred places (tirthas), a number of contemporary Sthalapuranas and Mahatmyas praising the sacred places as well as secondary sources, the book is also enriched by original data from the author’s fieldwork. Case studies of some of the main Hindu pilgrimage places, their characteristics and their place in the pilgrimage system provide additional information.

Martin Ganeri
31 December 2012

This book is a study of the Vedanta of Ramanuja, in particular his concept of Brahman and of Brahman’s relationship with the world. It is also a critique of modern Western and Indian interpretation of Ramanuja’s work. Placing emphasis on Ramanuja’s account of Western theistic thought, it argues for a major rethinking of what kind of account is offered and for a reversal of the tendencies of earlier interpretations.

Modern Western and India studies of Ramanuja have drawn parallels with Western theistic accounts or used Western concepts to describe his thought. The author puts forward that fundamental points of convergence with classical Western theism and fundamental divergences from non-classical forms can be identified, thus reversing the tendency of earlier interpretation. It examines in detail the general comparisons that have been made and the various terms used, addressing the neglect of classical Western theism and of its relationship to Indian thought by Western and Indian scholars and furthers the proper appreciation of Ramanuja as a great Vedantic teacher.