I’ve been having a bit of a run-down day today, so instead of dwelling on that, I thought I’d share some of the resources I’ve found useful over the past months. I’m sure this list will grow, and if anybody has any suggestions for additions, please let me know!
A good resource for those who (like me) are used to a very structured, guided introduction and explanation:
How to Become a (Better) Hindu
(Incidentally, this was the publication that helped me figure out why I was so uneasy with the faith I’d been raised in, and that deep down, I’d always believed the core beliefs of Sanatana Dharma. It was a major “well, yeah” moment.)
Eknath Easwaran’s translations of the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita are also great for Westerners just learning about the holy texts, as he breaks down the philosophy in a familiar, approachable manner:
(Funnily enough, WordPress spellcheck recognizes both “Bhagavad Gita” and “Upanishads” as correct spellings, while “WordPress” gets flagged as being incorrect. Who knew?)
This is totally silly, but I knew basically nothing when I started out on this path, except for the entire Ramayana, and the stereotypical list of core beliefs (dharma, karma, reincarnation, ahimsa, basically). While I was noodling around the local metaphysical shop, I stumbled across this book, which while very general, was a good starting place:
Hinduism: A Beginner’s Guide
No, really. Obviously it’s not a comprehensive, be-all-end-all work, but it gets you started on asking some of the right questions.
[EDIT] On a less silly note, Tandava has recommended this book: Am I A Hindu? I will be adding this to my reading list, definitely.
Speaking of the Ramayana, and being silly (but useful), I am very fond of the Amar Chitra Katha comics series. All of the temples I’ve been to so far (being two exactly) have sold them in their shops.
If you do a search for “Amar Chitra Katha” on Amazon, you’ll come up with many to choose from. Don’t knock comics as an easy entry point, either. Often they break stories down into easy, quickly digestible form. I’ve read two text translations of the Ramayana since, and am starting on a third. I’m tempted to pick up more ACK comics (not to be confused with ACK! Comics, something related but wholly different), so that I know which texts to search out later for more in-depth reading.
I have a copy of selected verses from the Vedas as well, which was a gift from my mother. It is not all of the Vedas, but is handily broken out into verses relevant to certain topics, and is a good daily reader (it reminds me of the Day-by-Day booklets that I collected as a child, full of thought-provoking verses, although I am not tempted to color in my copy of the Vedas).
And finally, blogs of other folks at various points along similar journeys, who are reassuring and have much to teach through their own experiences:
The White HinduAamba is an amazing lady. She’s been blogging for over a year now, and it’s been encouraging to see her progress through her blog posts. Totally worth a read.)
Western HinduTandava is one of the wisest people I’ve ever encountered, on or off the internet. Also totally worth a read.
Western Ramanandi Kodanda is a Ramanandi, which means that he’s a devotee of Lord Rama. We’ve had some very thought-provoking discussions (via the internet, obviously), and his blog is a great look into a sect that’s not often covered in books on Hinduism.
My Yatra DiaryArti’s blog is her journal of her travels (yatra, in Hindi) to various temples and holy sites. I’m likely misunderstanding the translation, but a “yatra” is like a pilgrimage, and hers is incredibly fascinating.
Westerners Following HinduismTandava has made a longer list of blogs; I listed the ones I read very frequently here, but they’re all worth reading.
I’m sure there are more resources that I’ve forgotten to list. I will be sure to add some in later as I find them or as people suggest them to me. I will need to add another list of blogs by people who are Hindus who have not adopted Hindu practice later in life, but were born into Hindu families.
Here’s to seeking out knowledge and learning new things;
Aum eim saraswati namaha!