Beginning with the Vedic deities the sun, moon, fire and storm, Benerjee weaves his narration
through a time when the universe was devoid of a beginning and when noble thoughts were born. The
tale moves on to great Indian philosophies and literature, to the visual and performing arts.
This book is a complete guide to the Hindu way of life. Religion and ritual come together to
bring the concepts of Hinduism to the fore. In the words of the author: ‘Hinduism is a religious
and cultural tradition, where the enormous variety of belief and practice can ultimately be
interpreted as a common view of the world.
Utpal K Banerjee’s career is both varied and prolific. He has been an adviser on management and
information technology for over thirty years and has ab abiding interest in India art and
culture. In 1998, he was sent by the Indian Council for Culture in South America. Earlier
lectures included those given in Canada and the USA in 1990 and 1995 when he was invited by ICCR
and Kalabharati foundation of Canada. His comprehensive book, Indian Performing Arts, has gone
into several editions and another, Bengali Theatre: 200 Years, has been published by the
Publication Division, Government of India. His most recent works include Indian Performing Arts:
A Mosaic and Indian Puppets.
His formal introduction to the visual and performing arts of the world came through several
courses that he attended at the Extra-Mural department, University of Manchester, UK in 1969-72.
He was National Project Director for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (ICNCA) for a
UNDP project on ‘Multimedia Database for Art and Culture Documentation and Computerisation’. His
articles appear regularly in India Perspective, Indian Horizons and The Pioneer. He has
contributed to countless cultural programmes on the BBC, All India Radio and Doordarshan.
The Government of India has bestowed the Padma Shree on Utpal K Banerjee in 2009 for his
outstanding contribution to literature and art.
The country was called Hinduism, a word that came from the might Hindu Kush Mountains on the
northeast and had nothing to do with Hinduism. The term Hinduism was derived from ‘Hindu’, a name
given by the visiting races and fighter hordes to the near-uncrossable River Indus. The land was,
in reality, a continent: located within a cups of high hills and raging seas; the people given to
a natural penchant of absorption of all cultures, within their civilisation’s ethos, without ever
taking recourse to outbound physical conquests.
Sages of Hinduism, as it evolved without a revealed gospel, composed the hymns of Vedas – the
world’s first literature of awesome proportions – without vaunting iconic gods or temples.
Hinduism, in myriad forms, manifestations and contents, grew to be a way of life, a celebration
of the living beings: in wonder of nature, seeking the Supreme Being within and building customs,
brick, to regulate worldly behaviour through prayers and rituals. The Unmanifest was seen even in
the soul of the lowly beggar. With the mutations that have gone through the ages, Hinduism
continued to show a rare resilience to adopt and adjust, to argue on and them to assimilate
ardent and beliefs and utter nihilism. Countless viewpoints – and to cap it all – inherent and
outside streams like Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Islam and Sikhism all
faired well alongside the majority community. Barring occasional aberrations, all of them have
lived well in harmony. There was always space for everyone to flourish and remarkable tolerance
that could not be matched in the annals of anti-Semiticism and anti-Islam crusades in this
Social intercourses and integrations have played a key role in binding communities together in a
national mosaic of separate religious identities: favouring always a national identity. What gave
Hinduism this resilience to accommodate, to live and let live, makes for a fascinating study: in
order to look for the vitality that embraced one and all in the social discourses, arts and
music, sports and countless joint festivals, in holding hands within the country and overseas.
Those who went abroad left India did not leave their hearts. This modest attempt is a quest for
discovering that enduring vitality, élan vital, in the Hindu rubric. It is also an endeavour to
demystify this fascinating religion from the dogmatic beliefs that may limit its
In preparing the revised edition, suggestions from Kamalini Dutt, Director of Archives
(Doordarshan), have been most invaluable.
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