A Survey of Hinduism

Third Edition

By Klaus K. Klostermaier

Subjects: Religion
Paperback : 9780791470824, 718 pages, July 2007
Hardcover : 9780791470817, 718 pages, July 2007

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Preface to the Third Edition
List of Abbreviations
Note on Transliteration and Pronunciation
Part I Hinduism: Sources and Worldview
1. The Beginnings of Hinduism
2. Hindu Dharma: Orthodoxy and Heresy in Hinduism
3. The Veda: Revelation and Scripture in Hinduism
4. Itihāsa Purāna: The Heart of Hinduism
5. The Bhagavadgītā
6. The World of the Hindu
7. The Many Gods and the One God of Hinduism
Part II Trimārga: The Three Hindu Paths to Liberation
8. The Path of Works: Karmamārga
9. Purity and Merit: The Twin Concerns of Karmamārga
10. Samskāras: The Hindu Sacraments
11. The Path of Knowledge: Jñānamārga
12. Ātman and Brahman: Self and All
13. Karma, Vidyā, Moksa: Liberation from Rebirth
14. The Path of Loving Devotion: Bhaktimārga
15. Lord Visnu and His Devotees
16. Śiva: The Grace and the Terror of God
17. Devī: The Divine Mother
18. Mudalvan, Murukan, Māl: The Great Gods of the Tamils
Part III The Structural Supports of Hinduism
19. The Divine Presence in Space and Time: Mūrti, Tīrtha, Kāla
20. The Hindu Social Order: Caturvarnāśramadharma
21. Samnyāsa: The Highest Hindu Aspiration
22. Strīdharma: The Position of Women in Hinduism
23. Hindu Structures of Thought: The Saddarśanas
24. Hindu Logic and Physics: Nyāya-Vaiśesika
25. Hindu Metaphysics and Psychology: Sāmkhya-Yoga
26. Hindu Theology, Old and New: Mīmāmsā and Vedānta
Part IV Hinduism Encountering the “Other”
27. Hinduism and Buddhism
28. Hinduism and Christianity in India
29. Hindus and Muslims in India
30. Hindu Reforms and Reformers
31. Mahātmā Gandhi: A Twentieth-Century Karmayogi
32. Hindutva— Hinduism—Hindu dharma
Part V Miscellany

33. India and the West
34. Hinduism and Science
35. Hinduism and Ecology
36. Hindu Measures of Time
37. Indian Chronology

The third edition of this well-regarded introduction to Hinduism adds new material on the religion’s origins, on its relations with rival traditions, and on Hindu science.


This third edition of the classic text updates the information contained in the earlier editions, and includes new chapters on the origins of Hinduism; its history of relations with Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam; Hindu science; and Hindu measures of time. The chronology and the bibliography have been updated as well.

A comprehensive survey of the Hindu tradition, the book deals with the history of Hinduism, the sacred writings of the Hindus, the Hindu worldview, and the specifics of the major branches of Hinduism—Vaisnavism, Saivism, and Saktism. It also focuses on the geographical ties of Hinduism with the land of India, the social order created by Hinduism, and the various systems of Hindu thought. Klaus K. Klostermaier describes the development of Hinduism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including present-day political Hinduism and the efforts to turn Hinduism into a modern world religion. A unique feature of the book is its treatment of Hinduism in a topical fashion, rather than by chronological description of the development of Hinduism or by summary of the literature. The complexities of Hindu life and thought are thus made real to the reader, and Hindus will recognize it as their own tradition.

Klaus K. Klostermaier is University Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Religion at the University of Manitoba, Canada. He is the author of many books, including The Nature of Nature: Explorations in Science, Philosophy, and Religion.


"Klostermaier has now made a great book even better." — CHOICE

Praise for the Second Edition

"The first edition of this book appeared in 1989 and rapidly proved its worth as a textbook on Hinduism that was more inclusive and accessible than most—especially for Western readers … Although not meant primarily for specialists, it was so complete in its presentation of Hinduism that specialists found a place for it on their shelves as a ready reference … This book offers the most comprehensive, balanced, accessible and yet deeply scholarly presentation of Hinduism in English." — Harold Coward in Pacific Affairs