Shashi Tharoor offers a profound re-examination of Hinduism, one of the world's oldest and greatest religious traditions.
Opening with a frank and touching reflection on his personal beliefs, he lays out Hinduism's origins and its key philosophical concepts — including Vedanta, the Purusharthas, and Bhakti — before focusing on texts such as the Bhagadvagita. The 'Great Souls', or key individuals of Hinduism, from Adi Shankara to Vivekananda, are discussed, as are everyday Hindu beliefs and practices, from worship to pilgrimage to caste.
Tharoor is unsparing in his criticism of extremism and unequivocal in his belief that what makes India a distinctive nation with a unique culture will be imperilled if Hindu 'fundamentalists', the proponents of 'Hindutva', or politicised Hinduism, seize the high ground. In his view, it is precisely because Hindus form the majority that India has survived as a plural, secular democracy.
A book that will be read and debated now and in the future, Why I Am a Hindu, written in Tharoor's captivating prose, is a revelatory and original contribution to our understanding of religion in the modern era.