Explaining the immense variety of practices, scriptures and philosophies that make up what is known as Hinduism, it describes the history and development of the Hindu tradition, as well as exploring the key themes that make Hinduism a religion of such breadth and depth.
I read Klaus K. Klostermaier's A Short Introduction to Hinduism after reading Kim Knott's Hinduism A Very Short Introduction. Klostermaier's book is far superior to Knott's book.
The book introduces the main topics about Hinduism and is dense in content. It provides the most sympathetic treatment of Hindutva and the aspirations of Hindu nationalists that I've read.
The book introduces many Sanskrit terms that I didn't know. A glossary (complete with Devanagari and transliteration) would have been helpful. I take exception to Klostermaier's definition of samadhi as "trance." This definition is too simplistic for a state that's properly reached through discipline. "Trance" is often something a person stumbles upon.
Despite these quibbles, Klostermaier's A Short Introduction to Hinduism is a great survey of topics related to Hinduism. I want to buy this book for my collection.
Both Knott's and Klostermaier's books are listed as "for further reading" for the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies's online course Introduction to Hinduism: History, Text, Philosophy.
Not bad. A quick read. It gave introductory overviews which definitely need following up for detail and analysis. I quite like to read this kind of thing to steer me towards some key areas for exploring. Having just completed a course, however (in which this little book was recommended as a starter), there are some quite big areas missing from this book. But the same can be said for the course. The field is so vast! Breathe! One step at a time!
p.s. I found all the recommended reading lists in the book were rather dated.
A good read to gain knowledge about the world's oldest religion. I wanted to know about Hinduism rather reading views and the commentary that is found in the media today. This book is very good for this purpose, explaining the complex Hindu terms and concepts in a fairly easy way. Written with a neutral opinion, I nowhere felt it to be biased. Touches on almost all the topics that you want.
I always want to read more about Hinduism, but then I realize that so much of what is in print about it (in English at least) is the bare minimum in terms of what Hinduism actually represents. This book was decent in what it shared and the histories of communities who practise hinduism. Still searching for that perfect book that dives a bit deeper.
A very interesting overview of Hinduism in both its mystical and political aspects. The short biographies help to clarify the various movements within Hinduism. The recommended readings are a valuable contribution.
As a quick read, Klostermaier provides an acceptable introduction to Hinduism, including a brief summary of its role in the current society and politics of India. The book is not scholarly, not was it intended to be, but it would have benefited from a more comprehensive bibliography. Also, it would have been helpful to include charts and diagrams summarizing the hierarchy of dieties, lineage of sacred texts, and belief structures of the major divisions and subdivisions.
The book is a decent introduction to Hinduism, though I'd recommend anyone interested read most anything by Georg Feuerstein, and Advaita Vedanta:a Philosophical Reconstruction by Elliott Deutsch, as well as his "a Sourcebook of Advaita Vedanta" in place of the material on those subjects here.