Why I am a Hindu

by Shashi Tharoor

Read time: about 5 minutes

Why am I a Hindu?

Shashi Tharoor begins with a very obvious explanation to this question that is that he was born into a family that was practising Hindu. ‘Most people have little choice about the faith they grow up with: it was selected for them at birth, by the accident of geography and their parents’ cultural moorings.’

But Tharoor is not a blind believer. In the book he explains the basic philosophy of Hinduism and its teachings. Tharoor adopts the religions with full awakening and calls himself a proud Hindu. What does the religion mean to him and how is he different from the flag bearing Hindus we see in newspapers and news channels? This 300-pages book is written by a Hindu who refuses to let his glorious religion taken over by fanatics and creating chaos in its name.

Cover: Why I am a Hindu

Cover page

Cover page is very interesting. We see lord Ganesha on the cover in what looks like a specific colored house. Does the cover mean something? Is the author trying to convey something? Everyone is going to have their own interpretation of the cover. But I really love it composition wise too. It looks like a well placed cover for the book titled ‘Why I am a Hindu’.

Content

What could be the premise of the book? There is a devout Hindu who is defending his religion against those who use Hinduism for violence. In the name of Hinduism they kill, burn and rape. Tharoor comes out in the book and explains the true meaning of Hinduism to him and why these flag bearers of the religion are different from him.

As he says in the first few sentences of the book, he is born into a Hindu home and that is how he picks up on the religion. No one is given a choice of home to be born in or religion to adopt. He wasn’t either. But he was taught the meaning of Hinduism and given a free will to practice or not practice the same.

Tharoor tells us where he draws his learning from. Great men like Swami Vivekananda are often quoted while explains the path to truth is not singular. There are multiple ways to find it. Tharoor draws pride from multiple sacred books that never dictate any way of life but only teach the theory of karma. He concludes that Hinduism is a multi faceted religion and there are Multiple ways of finding the true path. But what is not right is to murder people and burn their places of worship in the name of religion. There are multiple incidences of violence quoted which do not comply with the teachings of Hinduism.

It was all too well. I am a Hindu even though I do not often visit temples or even pray at my own home. I am proud to be a Hindu because I am free to practice it as per my own person beliefs, without harming anyone. But the entire book written by Tharoor seems to have another aim altogether. Each sentence to mean to be directed at the wrong doings of the opposition party. I do not condemn the author for raising his voice against wrong doings. It is just something I was not expecting. The Book intended for political advancement is not what I was looking at.

I also completely understand that it is Tharoor talking about why he is a Hindu. It is a persona topic thus it could be treated as a memoir. There are topics that he addresses which cannot be condemned only for their political ambition.

I liked the book for the fact that it introduces a sort of history of Hinduism and its evolution in India. Tharoor wants to bring back the kind of Hinduism that is accommodating. It thrives with multiple other religions.

Your Indianness has nothing to do with which God you choose to worship, or not. We are not going to reduce ourselves to a Hindu Pakistan.

Language

It is a very simple book contrary to the repute of Tharoorian writings. The writing is very simple, this accessible. However, it does at times feel repetitive. There are sentences that spring up throughout the book that mean the same thing, used that different locations in the book. Also sometimes there is a disconnect. The whole book seems like a long essay.

Good points

I absolutely loved the cover! The content is great, save some political ambitions. The length is apt, not too long, neither too short. It is a simple read.

Bad points

At a certain point, it felt like the sentences were repeating themselves. It make one wonder why he is reading such a lengthy book when it could all have been said in half the pages as it takes in the book.

Overall

I am not disappointed by the book. Actually, I am glad I read it. However, literature wise I did not think it was Tharoor’s best work. Someone who already believes in the philosophy Tharoor talks about is going to be underwhelmed, as I was.

Whom do I recommend this to

Those who would like to read the basic understanding of Hinduism should start with this book. Also, for those who enjoy political reads could look into this book. Shashi Tharoor puts the current political scenario in the books with apt precision even though it does come across as certain party bashing book.

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH merakipost.com