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Hinduism Book Recommendations


| abhyAvartin |
What do you guys think of Sri Sankaracharya's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita? My gut tells me that this could be an invaluable resource in trying to understand Advaita Vedanta.

What a wonderful question, punkdbass-ji! I would say that your gut is absolutely correct! In fact, Shankara's commentary is as Advaitic as you can get. If you want the traditional, original Advaita that was initially propounded, you can do no wrong with reading Shankara's commentary. For example, if I wanted to learn about Advaita [and, mind you, I don't know much about it at all], the first thing I would do is get as many works attributed to Shankara as I can. Most of his work is pretty much the creme de la creme of traditional, authentic, original Advaita. In fact, he pretty much "created" Advaita.


The Lost One
Hi punkdbass

When I read religious books, I'm more interested in the stories or narratives than the commentaries, though commentaries maybe very useful to help understand the religion behind the stories. I normally and often leave commentary alone.

So, perhaps straight story/translation, plus useful footnotes.
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The Lost One
मैत्रावरुणिः said:

Have a blast!

Valmiki Ramayana

Thanks, मैत्रावरुणिः .


I will be what I will be

Also, if you are still looking for an English translation of the Bhagavad Gita, I'm currently reading Eknath Easwaran's translation of the Upanishads, but he also has translations of the Bhagavad Gita and Dhammapada (these are his 3 main works). Although I havent actually read his Bhagavad Gita translation, I absolutely love his translation of the Upanishads thus far - it is extremely readible, intelligible, and although I know practically nothing about Sanskrit, this guy seems to get very good critical reception for his translations. So you may want to check him out, but otherwise that's all the help I can give.. I'm sure you could PM several of the Hindu members here to get other recommended translations.


The Lost One
Thank you, punkdbass.

I was actually reading reviews, today, on Easwaran's Bhagavad Gita at Amazon. This seemed promising.


Sanatana Dharma


on the way
Does anyone know any good books that are purely practical and mean't for modern man in a western society?


New Member
I have read Valmiki Ramayana, my grandfather gifted it to me. It's really an awesome book. One must go through this once.


Hello - Im new to learning about Hinduism. Is there a particular text that would be good for an almost complete beginner to start with? I know the basics of Hinduism (the VERY basics), but I would like to start studying and learning the texts. Theres so many that Im overwhelmed and dont know where to start. Can anyone help?


Premium Member
I'd recommend 'What is Hinduism?" by the editors of Hinduism Today magazine. Along with that, I'd recommend actually going to a Hindu temple. Our religion is a practical one.


I will be what I will be
Hello - Im new to learning about Hinduism. Is there a particular text that would be good for an almost complete beginner to start with? I know the basics of Hinduism (the VERY basics), but I would like to start studying and learning the texts. Theres so many that Im overwhelmed and dont know where to start. Can anyone help?

Swami Sivananda's All About Hinduism is a great book for learning more about Hinduism, although it is a pretty "dry" read, for it's very academic in it's style. It helped me a lot though. As for sacred texts, the Bhagavad Gita is said by many to contain the "essence" of most of the other scriptures, for it encapsulates many of the core messages. Because of this, the Bhagavad Gita is an extremely revered text in most Hindu traditions, It's a pretty short read too. There are many translations of the BG, here are a few quick tips for picking a translation:

If you are less comfortable/knowledgable of key Sanskrit words such as Atman, Brahman, Bhagavan, Maya, the 3 gunas, umm prakriti, purusha, etc, then I would recommend reading Eknath Easwaran's translation. His translation is extremely readable and poetic, the short 2-3 page introductions before each chapter are very helpful as well. As an absolute beginner, I would start with this translation, and once you develop a better understanding of the Gita, I would check out more traditional translations - for I think these can be harder to understand for beginners. If you feel a little more comfortable with some of the key Sanskrit terms, then I'd recommend checking out Graham Schweig's translation, which is still good for beginners. His translation puts a greater emphasis on loving devotion to God than Easwaran's does (IMO), and the additional essays are amazing.

But in all honesty, the best way to learn more about Hinduism would probably be to visit a Temple, interact with the members there, ask questions, get advice, etc. I've learned 100 times as much about Buddhism through joining an actual sangha in comparison to the many books I've read...

One word of warning: you may have heard of Paramahansa Yogananda (founder of Self-Realization Fellowship) or Swami Prabhupada (founder of ISKCON), both of whom have helped popularize Hinduism in the west. Although they both have many, very interesting books, if you are interested in learning about Hinduism, in the broadest sense, I would stay away from these 2 authors.. their works and translations are heavily biased to support their organizations.
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Thank you very much punkdbass. I will start with the Bhagavad Gita as it seems to come up everywhere I look online. Im nervous to go to a temple since Im so new to it, but I suppose youre right that it is the best way to learn. I found one that isnt too far from me, so I may go there soon.

Just curious - What happens at temples? Is it a service where a priest talks, or...? Sorry for such amateur questions.