This book has been prepared by British Hindus with the main objective of presenting an accurate picture of Hinduism both for teachers of Religious Education and for students studying Hinduism as part of their Religious Education course. There are many noteworthy publications already available on the subject, but most of them tend to present just one author’s perception of Hinduism and even that is often a non-Hindu’s point of view. This in itself is not objectionable, but what is more desirable is an authoritative and comprehensive view of Hinduism as a living faith. This is only possible in a book such as this one, in which a group of hindu authors living in Britain explain about their own faith.
Hinduism by its nature defies simple definition. Contemporary researchers are finding texts in ancient Hindu scriptures which refer to astronomical events dating Hinduism earlier than the conventional view of human history. Due to its very ancient history and gradual development over many thousands of years, it has acquired a lot of diversity to an extent that sometimes one can come across views within Hinduism which appear to contradict each other. This has created many misunderstandings which have been further perpetuated by the authors attempting to explain Hinduism in the West. As a result, Hinduism has become the most misunderstood of all religions.
A sincere attempt has been made in this book to correct some of the misconceptions about Hinduism often found in Religious Education books. For example, a statement that Hindus worship many gods is factually wrong: Hindus believe in one and only one God who is worshipped in many different ways and is given a variety of different names. Some books wrongly present Hinduism merely as a collection of myths and old legends full of superstition and offer little explanation of the scientific and spiritual nature of Hinduism. Attempt has been made in this book to present correct factual information and interpretation of Hindu traditions.
The six chapters of the book cover all the topics specified in the syllabuses issued by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA), the Northern Examinations and Assessment Board (NEAB), the Southern Examining Group (SEG), the Independent Schools Joint Council (ISJC) and a number of Local Education Authorities (LEAs). Teaching material has been provided for age groups from 4 to 18 covering Key Stages 1 to 4 and A’Level students. Each topic includes a brief introduction for the teacher and where possible a link with other topics is indicated. Suggestions about how to introduce the topic in the classroom are given along with some useful material in the form of examples, stories, pictures, exercises and typical questions.
The British branch of the World Council of Hindus (Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK) undertook the charitable task of producing this book in which scholarly expertise and personal experiences of Hindu authors from various religious traditions have been combined to produce material suitable for teachers and students. The editors have selected the topics and the format after consultations with professional RE teachers, school inspectors, and the relevant examination boards. Above everything else, the book has been approved by the world famous Hindu scholars and religious authorities:
H Jagadguru Shankaracharya Shri Swami Vasudevanandaji Maharaj of Badrika Peeth
Ex-Shankaracharya Pujya Swami Satyamitranandaji Giri of Bharat Mata temple, Haridwar,India.
The first edition of this book published by RMEP received excellent reviews and has been sold out. The second edition has been produced with some addition and amendments to the text with four additional pages of color illustrations. The editorial board is grateful to the members of the Hindu community and the professional RE teachers who have made suggestions to further enhance the educational value of this book.