India and its faiths - by James Bissett Pratt - PDF ebook

India and its faiths

India and its faiths

If there is room for a new book on India and its faiths, that certainly is not due to any lack of learned and excellent treatments of the subject already obtainable. And the only excuse I shall offer for adding to a long list is that I have sought to deal with the subject from a point of view different from that of most writers and that I have found my interest centering on aspects of India's religious life not often emphasized in our books upon that land. I am neither a Sanskritist nor a mission,' nor a convert to some Oriental cult; and that perhaps constitutes my chief qualification for writing on India.

 For I have had no ax to grind, and my interest has been centered on existing conditions, on present-day ideas and their significance, and on the methods used by the different communities of India for religious education and religious reform. 

In spite, therefore, of the many excellent works that have been written on India, I conceive that there is still a place for a book whose author's preparation for his task has been, not in Sanskrit or missionary' literature, but in the study of the general problems of the psychology and philosophy of religion, and who seeks to present Indian religious life as it is today, without partisanship or antecedent bias. 

When I started for India it was with no thought of writing a book on the land and its faiths, but to gain fresh light on the psychology- of religion — a subject that had interested me for a dozen years. Before I had been long in the country, however, I found I had collected, from observation and from a conversation with all sorts of people, a considerable amount of information concerning the religions of India which seemed to me most interesting and which I, at least, had not found in books; and my wife suggested that what had brought new insight to me might be of interest to others also. 

Hence the writing of this book. Of the photographs used as illustrations all but one were taken by myself. The pictures of Krishna and of Kali are from common prints sold for a few annas all over India. These and pictures like them of the other gods are to be found in almost every Hindu home and shop and in many a native law or business office. 

The picture of Zarathustra is from a company Parsee print which has an honored place in nearly every Par see home. It is only right that I should here express my indebtedness to a number of friends and acquaintances without whose assistance this book would not have been worth writing. Most of all am I indebted to my wife, whose quick eyes caught many an Indian scene which but for her I should have missed, whose criticism and suggestion have been my most trusted guides, and who through many hours of patient work typewrote my manuscript and made a large part of my index. 


I. On- Avoiding Misunderstandings . . . i
II. HinduWorship 15
III. The Hindu Pilgrim 34
IV. The Many Gods 46
V. The One God 72
VI. Duty and Destiny 91
VII. The Hindu Dharma 116
VIII. Teachers, Priests, and Holy Men . . 140
IX. Reform Moments within Hinduism . . 166
X. The Brahmo S.\iiAj ant) the Arya Samaj . 190
XL The Radhasoamis and Theosophists . . 213
XII. The Kabir Panthis and the Sikhs . . 235
XIII. The Jainas 254
XIV. The Mohammedans 291
XV. The Parsees 318
XVI. The Buddhists of Burma. 340
XVII. Education and Reform 360
XVIII. The Doctrines of Modern Bluddhism . 371
XIX. The Value of Buddhism and its Springs oF Power 396
XX. Christian Missions in India . . . 425
XXI. What the West might Learn . . . 463
Index 477 
Author:  James Bissett Pratt 
Publication date: 1915
Publisher Boston: Houghton Mifflin
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