Book Reviews

Radhakrishnan: The Hindu View of Life - An Evaluation

Dr. S. Radhakrishnan’s The Hindu View of Life: A Study of Cultural Touchstones by P.V. Laxmiprasad,
ISBN Number: 978-81-950910-5-8, The Impish Lass Publishing House, Mumbai, India 2021 Pp 153 Price 850/

This book under review is entitled S. Radhakrishnan’s The Hindu View of Life A Study of Cultural Touchstones is a critically evaluated by P.V. Laxmiprasad, an author and editor of 42 books in English literature. Sarvapelli Radhakrishnan needs no introduction to the readers. It is really a privilege for P.V. Laxmiprasad to work on his book The Hindu View of Life. At the beginning, I would recommend this book to every single soul in this world as it gives the power of spirituality to lead a happy life. The book presents the philosophy of life through the references of sacred books. Master quotes from master thinkers from Mahatma Gandhi to Sadguru presents the notions of ‘Hinduism.

The book consists of Biography, Introduction, Critical Appreciation of the Text Cultural Touchstones, Conclusion. A brief biography of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan is penned down at the beginning of the book that gives us his contribution to the world. In the introduction, the notions of Hinduism are elaborately discussed. Hinduism is an Indian religion and dharma, or way of life. Hinduism is unique but its difficult to trace its origins and history.

Hindus believe in the principle of samsara (the continuous cycle of life, death, and reincarnation) and karma (the universal law of cause and effect). ‘Atman’ or the belief is soul leads towards ‘moksha’ or salvation. The Hindus believe in the Vedas: 1) The Rig Veda 2) The Sama Veda 3) The Yajur Veda 4) The Atharva Veda. The theory of karma is associated with the outward nature and the world of mind and morals within a spiritual necessity. Divine law cannot be avoided.

In addition to this, the author talks about the references of The Ramayana and Mahabharata, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, 18 Puranas talk about Hinduism. The presents the Chronology of Ages, Hinduism: Beliefs and Practices. Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma (eternal, spiritual path) began about 4000 years ago in India. It is not related with teaching of body and mind but it mainly focuses on the spirit or the spark of God within the soul. To purify the mind and sense, one should go through the different kind of training which is known as yoga (union of the individual self within inner spirit). There are four main types of Yoga-1) Karma Yoga 2) Bhakti Yoga 3) Jana Yoga 4) Raja Yoga. The period when the Vedas are composed that became known as the “Vedic Period” and lasted from about 1500 B.C. to 500 B.C. Rituals such as sacrifices and chanting were common in the Vedic Period.

The Epic, Puranic and Classic Periods took place between 500 B. C. and 500 A.D. Hindus began to emphasize the worship of deities especially Vishnu, Shiva and Devi. Other religions such as Buddhism and Jainism extended rapidly. There are some similarities between Hinduism and Buddhism. In fact, Buddhism born out of Hinduism and both believe in reincarnation, karma and life of devotion leads towards salvation and enlightenment. On the other hand, there are some differences in both the religions. Buddhism rejects the caste system of Hinduism, the priesthood and rituals and the gods that are integral to the Hindu faith. The Medieval Period of Hinduism lasted from about 1500 to 500 A.D. New texts emerged and poet saints recorded their spiritual sentiments during this time. In the 7th century, Muslim Arbs destroyed the temples during the period approximately from 1200 to 1757.

In Critical Appreciation of the Text, Dr. P.V. Laxmiprasad jotted down Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s philosophy about Metaphysics within the Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta tradition (sampradaya). Radhakrishnan wrote commentaries on ‘The Prasthantraya’, main primary texts of Vedanta: The Upanishads (1953), Brahma Sutra (1959) and the Bhagavad Gita (1948). Epistemology: Intuition and varieties of Experience, Cognitive experience has three categories- 1) sense experience 2) discursive reasoning and 3) intuitive apprehension. According to Radhakrishnan the mind of man has three aspects of subconscious, the conscious, and the superconscious and the ‘abnormal’ psychic phenomena. He further talks about aesthetic experience, ethical experience, religious experience.

In 1926, S. Radhakrishnan eloquently elaborated the nature of Hindu belief in a series of lectures in Oxford, later published as The Hindu View of Life. “Hinduism is more a way of life than a form of thought. While it gives absolute liberty in the world of thought, it enjoins a strict code of practice. While fixed intellectual beliefs mark off one religion from another, Hinduism sets itself no such limits. Intellect is subordinated to intuition, dogma to experience, and outer expression to inward realization. Religion is not the acceptance of academic abstractions or the celebration of ceremonies, but a kind of life or experience of reality.”

Bal Gangadhar Tilak, K. Navaratnam, Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Sri Swami Vivekananda, Sri Jayendra Saraswati, S. Radhakrishnan, The Vishva Hindu Parishad, The Indian Supreme Court have their opinions about Hindu’s beliefs.

The word “Hindu” was first used by Greeks to refer to people who live beyond the Indus/Sindhu River. Hindus worship different deities in different forms. Sarvepalli studied Hindu religion and also other religions. Every religion has its own ideologies and practices but ideologies are not adhered to practices. The Vedic culture resembles with the Homeric Greeks or the Celtic Irish at the beginning of the Christian era or the pre-Christian Teutons and Slavs becomes transformed in the Epics into the Hindu Culture through the influence of the Dravidians. Early Sanskrit literature presents an example that Kali is a non-aryan goddess identified with the supreme Godhead. Similarly, Krishna becomes the highest Godhead in the Bhagavat Gita. Hinduism is a unique, vast and complex and does not believe in a mechanical uniformity of belief and worship by a forcible elimination of a particular creed.

Conflict of Religions: The Hindu Attitude

Hinduism advocated an attitude of comprehensive charity and accepted the multiplicity of aboriginal gods. In the topic ‘Hindu Dharma -I’, the author explained the meaning of ‘Dharma’. It stands for duty, virtue, morality, right way of living, and even for ‘religion’. Dharma occupies an important place in Indian religions. In the Mahabharata, Vyasa stated that Purusharthas-dharma (righteousness), arth (wealth), kama (desire) and moksha (liberation). He further pointed out that the dharma is the only way which leads to salvation. The four stages of life are also discussed the book- 1) Brahmacharya 2) Grhastha 3) Vanaprasthya 4) Sanyas. This Asrama system is one of the parts of the Dharam concept in Hinduism.

All Hindus and non-Hindus must read this book because S. Radhakrishnan’s views of Hindu religion are expressed in simple language with due respect to other religions. His philosophical approach is marked by range of thought and depth of perception. He does not think of Hinduism in isolation but in relation to the modern context. He emphasises the relevance of the value of Hinduism in a world which is by conflict of ideas. Working on a philosophic treatise is really a difficult task. The critic, Laxmiprasad did it with ease and readability. The contribution of P.V. Laxmiprasad will go into the annals of Indian English Writings as a scholar.


More by :  Dr. Ayodhya Kalyan Jadhav

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Views: 371      Comments: 3

Comment सर्वपल्ली राधाकृष्णन की दृ‌ष्टि में सनातन धर्म और हिन्दू ‌विचारधारा के बारे में समझना है

05-Sep-2023 01:24 AM

Comment The review is a comprehensive and insightful and it delves into way the life and achievements of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a prominent Indian philosopher, scholar, and statesman. The review also states that the book provides a detailed account of Radhakrishnan's early life, his academic pursuits, his role in shaping modern Indian thought, and his contributions to global philosophy.
Dr.Jadhav has rightly nailed down the essence of the book in the review.

Shivaji Methe
15-Aug-2023 10:25 AM

Comment Excellent philosopher. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan is a living legend. Review should have been more focused. Laxmiprasad did a critical evaluation. All the cultural touchstones are really gems.

13-Aug-2023 01:54 AM

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