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Publisher's Summary

In this 12-lecture series, you'll encounter a religion that is perhaps the most diverse of all; one that worships more gods and goddesses than any other, and one that rejects the notion that there is only one path to the divine. These lectures provide a window into the roots of, perhaps, all religions. You'll explore over the course of Hinduism's 5,000-year journey: the Indus Valley civilization; the sizable variety of Hindu gods and goddess; the sacred writings in the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, and Upanishads; Hindu ritual purity rites; the Aryan language of Sanskrit, whose roots can be seen in English words such as "divine," "video," and "ignite"; and much more.

The story of Hinduism, you'll come to see, is the story of very non-Western traditions (such as arranged marriages and the caste system) that have survived and thrived for thousands of years. It's also home to a wealth of gods, terms, and practices (such as karma, Krishna, yoga, and guru) that have found a home in Western lives and language. Along the way, Dr. Muesse discusses salient aspects of Hindu life and places them in historical and theological context. He also explains that Hinduism honors all seekers of truth, that it contains multiple paths to divine reality (the way of action, the way of wisdom, and the way of devotion), and that it can be both a monotheistic and a polytheistic faith.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2003 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2003 The Great Courses

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  • Jacobus
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • 05-09-14

An important introduction into Hinduism

I have started to read a summary of the Mahabharata, one of the Hindu faith’s sacred scriptures and the longest human epic ever written. When I came across the concept of ‘purushartha’ (the goal of human existence) that consists out of ‘dharma’ (conduct within society), artha (economic actions), kama (pursuit of pleasure) and moksha (spiritual activities), I knew I was in trouble. My previous formal study in the phenomenology of Religions just weren’t enough to give me an understanding of the great epic.

I discovered the Great Courses twelve lecture course by Prof. Mark W Muesse on Audible and decided to try it out. I am glad that I did!

In a mere twelve lectures Prof. Muesse takes the listener through the family of Indian faiths commonly called Hinduism. He starts of placing Hinduism within an historical context from which he introduces concepts and ideas that entered these religions piece by piece, almost like building a puzzle.

I founded his lectures on the Vedas, the oldest holy writ of the religion very insightful. The fact that there was an unknown civilisation discovered in the Indus valley with a yet undeciphered written language is intriguing. It was also interesting to hear resonances of Ancient Biblical family practises in his lecture ‘Men, Women, and the stages of life.’ I found the way a woman was always connected to a man through the various stages of life very interesting. Even the idea that most arranged marriages seems to be happier and less prone to producing divorcees than so-called love marriages. I wish there were a PDF of depictions of the Hindu gods that could be used with the lecture ‘Seeing God.”

However, Prof. Muesse opened the world of Hinduism to me with a clear and interesting presentation. It was easy to follow in very informative. I can heartily propose this course to anyone interested in Hinduism.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Made sense of a complex religion

I love India and Bollywood movies and have been fascinated by the temples and rituals I witnessed in my trips there. But I knew almost nothing about Hinduism. What I could see confused me. The religion seemed whimsical and imaginative, but I was sure I was misinterpreting what it was about. This series of lectures set me straight.

Dr. Muesse's lectures are informative, and he makes Hinduism's concepts and beliefs comprehensible to my Western, linear mind. Starting with the origin of Hinduism, he traces its evolution through the millennia until modern times. This might sound funny, but now I understand much better the plots and characters' motivations in Bollywood musicals.

The professor's delivery is pleasant to listen to. He has a slight Southern (US) accent and an earnestness that I enjoyed. Without reservation I recommend this college course.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Good, but I want more.

Good basic overview, if another more in-depth course on the subject was available I would be interested in adding it to my religious studies collection.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Clear and accurate. Dr. Muesse ..A Big Thank you.

i am a Hindu who lives in the US. I wanted to touch base with Hinduism and absolutely loved listening to these lectures. Profound.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Extremely Interesting

It has always been very interesting knowing about the religions of the world, and in this course they take us not only into the religion, but into the society and the background. This helps you see how the beliefs of a country as complex, as India, has shaped it through time.

Great lectures.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Max
  • United States
  • 11-17-17

too trivial

hinduism is great but the book is too trivial, not engaging, not interesting, boring, not much info, too plain and lame.
the author knows too little and tries to tell wven less.

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Very good but I want more.

While I really enjoyed this, it mostly made me want to learn more, though I'm not sure where to find it. I'd love to learn more of the stories and about the individual gods and their worshippers, etc.

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Excellent course. I greatly recommend it

Excellent course. I greatly recommend it. Great material and the professor does a great job.

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Great introduction for the non Hindu.

This is a great introduction but does not reflect the belief of the born hindu

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Hinduism Done Justice

The instructor unpacks Hinduism as best as can be done while fully acknowledging it's never ending complexity.

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  • Wally Harrison
  • 04-30-16

A very basic introduction to Hinduism

Content and performance is delivered like a drawn out high school report, almost comical. read the Wiki pages instead.
Very disappointing

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  • Norman
  • 04-14-16

Excellent Introduction

Excellent introduction to a very difficult and complex subject. Highly recommended.
However I need to go back to the beginning and relisten probably twice more to really grasp this.

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  • Md Lachlan
  • 02-29-16

Good but short

A good introduction to the origins and development of Hinduism. A valuable counterpoint to the presentation of Hinduism by many western thinkers, who stress its transcendent or higher spiritual qualities without looking at more problematic areas such as caste or sex relations. A little short compared to some of the other great courses.

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  • Mark
  • 04-03-15

A summary of Hinduism that works

I wanted an introduction to Hinduism prior to going to India. Nothing too heavy, but informative all the same.

This series of half hour lectures did the job superbly.

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  • imakubex
  • 02-20-15

Decent introduction to a complex tradition

The course is good at elucidating the main points of the Hindu tradition. The constant reminders of the fact that the tradition is more incoherent than is presented is also useful for the listener.

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  • Duncan Macfarlane
  • 10-18-17

Better than nothing

When I started this series I knew virtually nothing about Hinduism. After 12 lectures, I still don't feel like I know very much. Maybe this is due to the nature of the religion, which is incredibly diverse, or maybe the lecturer waffles too much. I'm not sure. He says during the lectures that to understand Hinduism you really need to see, smell and even taste it, and I think that may be true. A religion like Hinduism, with it's heavy emphasis on shrines and visually-represented gods, may be too hard to understand without some images. I also found the delivery a bit off putting because the professor has a broad, regional American accent, although at least he is very clear.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicole C.
  • 02-22-15

Learned a lot

Yes
Thanks
Reader excellent
History good
Painted with word
Your review request is too authoritarian
Just buzz off
Good riddance

0 of 1 people found this review helpful