Sunday, March 25, 2018

[Book Review] Musings on Hinduism by Shri Nithin Sridhar 

Nithin Sridhar, a young Hindu, like all other youths was living a normal life. He had average knowledge of the tradition of Sanātana Dharma. While reading booksm surfing internet and discussing Hinduism with friends and on online forums and discussion groups, Nithin ji had to face many questions. He also witnessed that there were many misconceptions about Hindus. He also realised that there are systematically planned attempts to denigrate Hinduism. In a response to clear misconcepts and to give correctly represent Hindu concepts about life, culture and spirituality, he started exploring Hindu scriptures and then writing articles and publishing them on his blogs titled ‘Erudition’ titled ‘Understanding Hinduism’

His writings are a result of engaging in debates, discussions, and his engagement with people interested in spirituality. Nithin ji has a great ability to understand the essence of topic. From his writings, it is evident that Nithin ji has a good understanding and grasp in traditonal teachings. His inclination is towards Sri Adi Sankaracharya ji’s Advaita Siddhanta (philosophy).

As time passed by, Nithin ji dived deep in study of various scriptures and kept publishing articles on his blogs. Later on he got oppurtuinity to publish his views popular news magazines like newsgram, Indiafacts and advaita academy to name a few.

Nithin ji’s writing style is simple, non-persuasive, clear and free of fear. He is not afraid to talk on topics considered as ‘taboo’ like sex in Hinduism or the tantras, which are often wrongly criticised as ‘Manuals of sensual worship’. He does not put tons of references in an article, which makes it easy to read. Necessary references are given at the end of article. Over a period of time, his articles were scattered on the net on his blog and other news portals of which he was/is an editor. It was time to collect few important articles and publish at one place. Compiling scattered articles over a period of many years must have been a difficult job. He carefully handpicked some of the articles and published them as a book under the title ‘Musings on Hinduism’.

Nithin ji considers himself as a proud Hindu and is inclined to the philosophy of advaita. His reverence to Sanātana Dharma and advaita is evident from his tribute to Jagadguru Śrī Bhārathī tirtha Mahasvāmī, Śankarāchārya of Sringeri Matha by putting the great saint’s photo on the first page of his book. So it is natural that his thoughts are of dhārika nature with reverence to the ancient tradition. This is reflected in his writings.

‘Musings on Hinduism’ by Nithin Sridhar is a collection of articles on vide variety of topics over a period of time. They not only give us clarity about Hindu culture, but are very educative.

Book is divided into five sections -

  1. Hindu Religion and Philosophy
  2. Vedanta
  3. Hindu Society
  4. Translation of Sanskrit Hymns
  5. Miscellaneous

Hindu Religion and Philosophy

This part deals with answering general questions on Hindu philosophy like the two paths of action (karma or pravritti mārga) and renunciation (nivritti mārga). Next chapter clears confusion about the advaita concept of mithyā by describing two realities, vyavahārika and pārmārthika which is explained in simple way. Then comes two type of karma - sakāma and niśkāma. Sakāma karma is done with expectation of fruits of karma while niśkāma is the one which is done without expecting fruits of karma. Finally one has to rise above karma to get moksha. Similarly, other topics like bhakti, māyā, līlā, explaining different western concepts like monism, theism, etc and where does Hinduism fit is explained. Sādhanā, vedika rituals, etc is also explained. Importance of vedika rituals and their relavence today is also explained in simple and lucid way. Then comes dharmika perspective of understanding our itihāsa and limitations of Historical analysis of our śāstra-s. Next comes topics of tantra and sex. These articles removes any negative feeling that one may have for tantra and sex. Sex does not need to be a taboo. It is a part of our life, it is natural and is present in each living being. Similarly, tantra means ‘method of worship’. It is not sex manual. The author has cleared this concept. He has also explained lesser known Yamalas and their supplimentaries in the chapter ‘Evolution of Tantras’.


Articles in this section deals with explaining the essence of vedānta and it’s systematic way of studying. It talks about purification of mind and other related topics. Māyā, mithyā, satya, nitya karma. Nature of Brahman is described. Advaita philosophy and vivarta-vāda (which advaita adapts) it explained. Mahāvākya ‘tat-tvam-asi’ is explained. Then there is an article on paroksha and aparoksha Jñāna is explained followed by moksha. Vedānta is a hugh topic. So naturally we cant expect everything to be covered in just one section. However articles written cover important concepts of vedānta.

Hindu Society

This short section deals with current status of Hindus and ignorance towards their own dharma and scriptures. It also refutes a claim that Hinduism was created by Britishers. This articles is written in points which may be point-by-point refutation of objections that he may have faced at the time of writing articles. This section reflects pain to see the ignorance of our culture by Hindus themselves. It also shows a little anger while seeing negative stereotypes about Hinduism and hence the points are impulsive. It is good that Nithin ji has included this section.

Translation of Sanskrit hymns

This sections not only translates sanskrit hymns, but also gives explanation in simple way.


This section is a collection of articles on topics like Does God exits? The three goddesses, Mahākālī, Mahālakshmī, Mahasarasvatī. Next is article explaining Mahākāla, Mahakālī. Another important article explains the importance and meaning of Śiva linga and gives three meanings of Śiva Linga’. Other articles include an article dedicated to Śrī Rāma, Bhagavān Ganeśa, Ardhanāriśvara and Gāyatri Mantra which readers may find it useful.

Titles may look ordinary, but they are explained from dhārmika perspective. Nithin ji does not try to sound neutral and as one does not need to sound like non-Hindu to be neutral.


In general, this book covers wide variety of topics and gives clarity and understanding of Sanātana Dharma from Dhārmika perspective. It is a good read for all sections of society.

Collection of articles in the book, ‘Musings on Hinduism’ is the journey taken by a common Hindu, who just like most of us was, at one time, lacking answers to misconcepts and accusations on sanātana dharma. What is important, which is reflected through this book, is the diligent study of śāstra-s and books related to Hinduism for many years. This state of mind is reflected in the section, Hindu Society’. The very first chapter ‘Indians have forsaken Dharma’ talks about disinterest in dharma (which is due to false equivalence of dharma with religion) and indriya nigraha (control over senses). Young Hindus must come out of this spiritual crisis. If Nihin Sridhar can, you too can. All it requires is a bit of dedication. You may not be a gifted writer or orator, but you dont need to. All you need is to get clarity of the real Sanātana Dharma ‘as it is’ from a dhārmika perspective, according to the tradition followed since 1000s of years, and not what is projected by the west or by historians or fact finders or linguists.

While the book aims at giving dhārika perspective of Sanātana Dharma, it is written in a way acceptable to the common men especially the educated youth. The real aim is to rekindle interest in dharma. We have grown up in a tradition which has it’s own concepts and culture. Our thoughts shape us. We get thoughts from itihāsa and purāṇa-s and other śāstra-s and also from family tradition as heredetiary knowledge. These thoughts and culture shape our personality, our identity. They shape us. If they do not exist, even we do not exist. Hence we must all contribute to protect our own śāstra-s which are neglected by many.

Always remember, do not get overwhelmed by the knowledge. If someone can do it even you can do it. There is a saying - All experts once were Newbies.

This encouragement is not complete without giving ‘Recommended Reading’, as leaving one direction-less does not help much.

Recommended Reading

In general, any book published by Gita Press, Gorakhpur is the best choice. If available, always try to have sanskrit-hindi or any other translation which has sanskrit text. We may not know sanskrit, but if we know Hindi and devanagri script, we can make out some words. It is always helpful.

One may not read entire purāṇa, but read a few chapters or sections. For example in Srimad Bhāgavat Purāṇa, one can read about Kapila Gītā, Uddhava Gītā, Sukhdeva-s upadeshas in canto 12 chapter 5, Dhruva Stuti, Pralhāda Charitra, Gajendra Moksha and info about 24 avatār-s of Viṣṇu.

There are short booklets published by Sri Ramakrishna Mission and Chinmaya Mission. They are not expensive and are written with youth in mind. Other known āchārya-s of advaita are Svāmī Śivānanda of Divine Life Society, his disciple Svāmī Chidānanda, Svāmī Tadrupananda Sarasvatī of Manana Āśrama, Svāmī Dayānanda Sarasvatī of Arśa Vidyā Gurukula. Svāmīnārāyaṇa Sampradāya , a vaiṣṇava sampradāya has also published books keeping in mind the youth.

In general, Audio-video is the best. Chinmaya Mission has published Gita Commentary in many volumes. Then comes Audio and then comes reading books. It is better to read translations, commentaries and articles of saints who has dedicated their life for Sanātana Dharma and have undergone intense sādhanā and of course have a dee pstudy of our śāstra-s. So when they give a discourse or write a commentary, they incorporate winsdom of upaniṣads and other śāstra-s.

I hope that this book written by Sri Nithin Sridhar ji will serve dual purpose i.e. help clear misconceptions, give clarity and also rekindle interest in Hinduism.

Note: I generally do not publish book reviews, but since all articles of this book are available on Internet and book is moderately priced as Rs. 200.00, I have decided to publish a book review. Another reason to publish review is to encourage young Hindus to start taking interest in our dharma. 

Dharma is different than religion which is generally visualized as rites and rituals. Dharma has a broader definition. There is Rāja Dharma, pitā dharma, pati and patni dharma, Then there are dharmas related to our varṇa (which is not caste. caste is jātī). Then there are dharmas related situation like āpata dharma (duties and responsibility during emergency) to Dharma also refers to type of action or qualities (guṇa). For example, dharma of mind is to think, etc.

1 comment:

Spiritual Items said...

I read this article completely, It's really impressed me for "Musings on Hinduism". i am one of them doing spiritual activity very much. Thanks for this post.

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