About the Book:
The volumes of the PROJECT ON THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE, PHILOSOPHY AND CULTURE IN INDIAN CIVILIZATION aim at discovering the main aspects of India’s heritage and present them in an interrelated way. In spite of their unitary look, these volumes recognize the difference between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. The project is not being executed by a single group of thinkers and writers who are methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. The Project is marked by what may be called ‘methodological pluralism’. Inspite of its primarily historical character, this project, both in its conceptualization and execution, has been shaped by scholars drawn from different disciplines. It is for the first time that an endeavour of such a unique and comprehensive character has been undertaken to study critically a major world civilization.
As is well-known, Hinduism is one of the oldest religions of the world with approximately one billion followers and about 85% of them in its homeland, India. The word ‘Hinduism’ is perhaps a misnomer for what appears like a ‘religion’, but as has been described by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, is more of ‘a culture than a creed’. As pointed out in this volume, the word ‘Hindu’ is derived from ‘Sindhu’, the Sanskrit name for the river Indus, and the original inhabitants of the Indus Valley and beyond were so called by foreigners, especially by the Islamic invaders. Because of the lack of any fixed dogma or doctrine, the absence of any one holy book propounding any fixed doctrine and the absence of any organized church or institution that can bring its followers together, Hinduism has emerged as a complex religion based as it is, like the ancient Greek religion, on freedom of thought, belief and expression and also on tolerance and non-violence. At the same time Hinduism presents the students of world religions with a serious difficulty of bringing together the various beliefs, doctrines, customs and institutions under the same roof called Hinduism.
Various accounts of Hinduism published so far therefore, give us only partial pictures of this unique faith. In this Volume 45 scholars representing various disciplines and in different professions, have come together to contribute 63 chapters on various colourful aspects of Hinduism covering historically a very wide area, from vedic religion to modern Hinduism. Topically they cover various basic concepts, textual studies, customs, rituals and legal institutions, studies of Hindu social organizations, various movements and cults, like Saivism, Vaisnavism etc., Hindu art aesthetics and architecture, response to and relation with other Indian religions, and modern Hinduism represented by great reformists like Raja Rammohun Roy, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore etc, and finally the volume concludes with a chapter on the reaction of Hinduism to science and technology.
The methodology of study as a whole is objective, balanced and unbiased, neither partisan nor unfairly critical, and no attempt has been made to defend any of the shortcomings of Hinduism or to glorify any of its merits.
About the Author:
D.P. CHATTOPADHYAYA, M.A., LL.B., Ph.D. (University of Calcutta and London School of Economics), D. Litt. (Honoris Causa), studied and researched law, philosophy and history and taught at various universities in India, Asia, Europe and USA from 1954 to 1994. Founder-Chairman of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (1981-1990) and President-cum-Chairman of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (1984-1991), Chattopadhyaya is currently the Project Director of the multidisciplinary ninety-six volume Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture (PHISPC) and Chairman of the Centre for Studies in Civilizations (CSC). Among his 37 publications, he has authored 19 and edited and co-edited 18. These are Individuals and Societies (1967); Individuals and Worlds (1976); Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx (1988); Anthropology and Historiography of Science (1990); Induction, Probability and Skepticism (1991); Sociology, Ideology and Utopia (1997); Societies, Cultures and Ideologies (2000); Interdisciplinary Studies in Science, Society, Value and Civilizational Dialogue (2002); Philosophy of Science, Phenomenology and Other Essays (2003); Philosophical Consciousness and Scientific Knowledge: Conceptual Linkages and Civilizational Background (2004); Self, Society and Science: Theoretical and Historical Perspectives (2004); Religion, Philosophy and Science (2006); Aesthetic Theories and Forms in Indian Tradition (2008) and Love, Life and Death (2010). He has also held high public offices, namely, Union Cabinet Minister and State Governor. He is a Life Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a Member of the International Institute of Philosophy, Paris. He was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1998 and Padma Vibhushan in 2009 by the Government of India.
N.S.S. Raman was Professor and Head, Department of Philosophy and Religion and Dean, Faculty of Arts, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. He was visiting Professor at the University of Mainz in Germany and at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla and in Thailand. He was also a visiting scholar at the East-West Center, Honolulu in Hawaii. He is fluent in ten languages of India and Europe including Sanskrit, Pali and German. He has published over 80 papers in Indian and international journals. He is author of three books Das Wesen der Chiffren bei Karl Jaspers (in German, 1968), Methodological Studies in the History of Religions (1998) and Problems of Translation and. Interpretation of Philosophical and. Religious Texts (2004) and has also edited a volume, Religious Language (1979), Currently, he is engaged in editing another Volume for the Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture called Puranas, History and Itihasa. He has also contributed ten articles to the present volume.