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Being Hindu


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About the Author

Hindol Sengupta is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a Knight-Bagehot Fellow at Columbia University. He has been short-listed for the Hayek Book Prize given by the Manhattan Institute in memory of the Nobel laureate economist F. A. Hayek. He is the winner of the PSF Award in India, which includes among past winners the late Indian scientist and president A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. He is founder of the global information network on change-makers, Grin ( He has been a journalist with Fortune India, the Indian edition of Fortune magazine; Bloomberg TV India; CNN-IBN; and CNBC-TV18.


Journalist Sengupta introduces non-Hindu audiences to the world's third largest religion using a practitioner's perspective in this quick but substantive text. To Westerners, Sengupta writes, Hinduism is normally seen as a series of sensational cliches about cow worship or funeral pyres. But the reality is much more complex, as depicted here in a mix of personal memoir, general history, and speculation about where the faith community is headed. Sengupta's summaries are succinct and knowledgeable, and his expertise is evident. He includes scholarly analyses of Indian nationalism and a literature review of Hindu religious works, with some especially interesting discussions of Hindu takes on recent religious debates, such as the tensions between religion and science.... [F]or readers with little knowledge of Hinduism but a strong interest in it, Sengupta will be a welcome guide. * Publishers Weekly *
Although Hinduism has thrived for more than 3,000 years and is currently practiced by one billion individuals, there is little coverage in English. To redress that lack, journalist Sengupta offers not a primer of Hindu beliefs but, rather, a personal inquiry rich in history and analysis about what it means to be a twenty-first-century Hindu.... [When] he focuses on Hindu philosophy, he is eloquently clarifying. He explicates the religion's perception that `the divine is everywhere'; its `commitment to plurality'; and its recognition of `union in diversity'-teachings, he asserts, that could benefit everyone. Reaching deeper, Sengupta explains that Hinduism is a quest for `illumination, for radiance, and for knowledge'; a profound interpretation of consciousness; and a path to peace. He also candidly acknowledges that the tradition can be both liberating and `bewildering,' even for Hindus. Segupta's enlightening elucidation is invaluable for understanding Hinduism, India, and the growing Hindu community in the U.S. * Booklist *
The writing is warm and appealing as Sengupta deftly presents a tradition that is ancient, wise, and accepting. VERDICT: A satisfying and engaging guide to Hinduism for inquiring minds. * Library Journal *
With this audacious and articulate book, journalist Hindol Sengupta presents an impassioned and most welcome case for Hinduism as an ancient and sophisticated tradition with great relevance for the contemporary world. . . . The book is . . . an invitation to the reader to join the author in his discovery of the tradition of his upbringing. Why is Sengupta's book particularly welcome at this current time? Its importance can be discerned on several levels. We human beings, collectively, are currently living through one of the most culturally, politically, and religiously polarized periods of modern history. . . . Sengupta has some important things to say, not only about Hindu traditions, but about the contemporary human condition. His book is not only as a defense of Hindu thought and practice against stereotypes and distortions, but an argument against extremism of all kinds. . . . Sengupta is also frank in rejecting the political extremes found in contemporary Hinduism, while at the same time presenting these in a balanced and subtle way. . . . A very important work which will hopefully receive a wide readership. * Reading Religion *
A refreshing perspective on why the world's oldest religion remains relevant in the twenty-first century. Hindol is one of the most exciting Indian writers of his generation. -- Sanjeev Sanyal, author of The Ocean of Churn: How the Indian Ocean Shaped Human History
Hindol Sengupta . . . provides a bold and innovative perspective that links ancient and modern, cultural and philosophical Hinduism, into a vast panorama according to a deep personal narrative that is both fascinating and thought-provoking. . . . Being Hindu contains a number of gems of wisdom that can bring peace and harmony into the world. -- David Frawley, author of Yoga and Ayurveda, director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies
An unusual and welcome book by a gifted young author. Hindol Sengupta presents a thoughtful and innovative account of how he discovered the profound depths of an ancient dispensation to make sense of the complexities of the modern world. -- Gautam Sen, emeritus, London School of Economics
Hindol Sengupta's clear prose and deep perception of Hinduism will resonate in the hearts of Hindus globally and help the western world understand and respect this complex and beautiful religion. The first of its kind, this book should be widely read and discussed. -- Dilip K. Chakrabarti, Cambridge University

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