About the Book
M. Louis Renou, Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Literature at the Sorbonne, is one the most distinguished of modern Indianist. This book is based on a series of lectures he delivered at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London in 1951, and constitutes a concise survey of Indian religion, with the exception of Buddhism. It provides an introduction to the subject and presents a balanced assessment of the progress made towards the solution of the main problems in this branch of Indology, bringing out the essential part played by religion in the development of present-day Indian thought.
These lectures were delivered (in a slightly abridged form) in May 1951, at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, when I had the honour of being invited by the Director and the Academic Board of the School to give the first series of six lectures under the Louis H. Jordan Bequest, on the Religions of India.
The field surveyed in the summary studies that follow is so vast-with the exception of Buddhism, it embraces all the religious manifestations of India, past and present—that inevitably many aspects are only briefly treated, while others receive no more than a cursory mention. The reader desirous of more detailed information will find references in the footnotes to the bibliography of the principal questions dealt with.
My intention in these lectures was to give an account of the present state of the main problems. The detailed scholarly studies which constitute the standard works on the subject, and which provide the basis and justification of all contemporary work, do not always enable the reader to see the facts with which they' deal in their proper perspective and in their relationship to the general back- ground. It is useful to take stock of our position from time to time, so that we can form some estimate of the stage that our researches have reached, whether they have made progress, or whether the position is merely stationary or even perhaps less assured than it seemed before. The world of Indology is constantly evolving; and while fresh views are continually being advocated, the research work that is an essential preliminary to new advances, editions of texts, studies of vocabulary, learned monographs and so on, follows more slowly and usually avoids the conclusions that more impatient theorists wish to sec adopted at all costs. In this study I have tried to advance moderate, and, as I hope; reasonable views.
There remains the pleasant duty of expressing my thanks to Miss Sheila M. Fynn, Assistant Lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies, for her clear and accurate English translation of a text which, I am afraid, was not particularly easy.
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