Clear up your doubts: What books do you recommend about Indian thought?

In this section Javier Ruiz Calderón offers answers to our doubts about yoga, its philosophy and its techniques from an updated and critical view of the yophytic tradition. We are all invited to write to Javier raising our doubts or uncertainties.

Question: What books do you recommend about Indian thinking?

Answer: First, a clarification: "Indian" means relative to India. "Hindu" or "Hindu" means belonging to the Hindu or Hindu tradition, which is one of the religious traditions of India, along with Buddhism, Jainism, etc. So there are Indians who are not Hindus and Hindus who are not Indians (like me). Now, the answer:

The book that seems to me the best introduction to Indian thought in general is The philosophy of India, by H. von Glasenapp, in editorial New Library. It is medium-sized (400 pp. very full) and, although it was written more than half a century ago, it competently deals with all the main currents: Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, materialism, etc. It exposes the great stages of Indian thought, each system, the main issues discussed (I only miss one chapter on aesthetics), counts the lives of some of the leading thinkers and addresses the issue of relationship between Indian philosophy and Western philosophy.

It's also interesting Invitation to Indian philosophy, by T. M. P. Mahadevan (Fund for Economic Culture). Something shorter (336 pp.), he develops very clearly and "from within" (because he is Hindu, a well-known "neovedantista" ) the main Hindu schools. Buddhism, Jainism and materialism, on the other hand, simplify them too much. If what you're interested in Hindu thought and at most to have a general idea of the others from a neohinduist point of view, this is your book.

Philosophy of India, by F. Tola and C. Dragonetti (Kairós, 736 pages). This book is for a little deeper. It raises the question of whether there are philosophy in India and shows that there are quite detailed exposing it to some aspects of Hindu thought: vedism, the úpanishad, the Brahmasutras, the advaita vedanta of Gaudapada and Shánkara, the devotional vedantas of Ramánuja and Madhva and the samkhya. He often compares his ideas to those of Western thinkers. A great work in every way.

Finally, and for those who wish to deepen in Indian Buddhist thought, a very competent and up-to-date work: Buddhist thought. A complete introduction to Indian tradition, By Williams, Tribe and Winne (Herder, 440 pp.). It gives just what the title promises, that is: it exposes all the Indian Buddhism, pero no trata en absoluto la filosofía budista extraindia, que, aunque se apoya muchísimo en aquella, también tiene desarrollos originales como el zen, la escuela de Nichirén o el budismo secular contemporáneo.

Eso es todo de momento. Cuando terminéis estos libros os digo más. Feliz estudio.

Javier Ruiz Calderón (Shankara) es doctor en filosofía especializado en pensamiento de Asia y filosofía de la religión y profesor en la Universidad Pontifica Comillas (Madrid). Lleva cuarenta años estudiando y practicando yoga, vedanta y meditación. Enseña esas disciplinas, así como sánscrito y canto védico, y ha publicado seis libros y docenas de artículos sobre esos temas. Sitio web personal:

Upcoming activities: Every Thursday, in the center of Madrid: classes of Soft Yoga (19-20h) and Philosophy and meditation (20-21h). In Madrid and at a distance, one Saturday a month: courses «Study of the Bhagavadg-t» and «Introduction to advaita ved-nta». Information:

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By • 2 Dec, 2019 • Sección: Signatures, Javier Ruiz Calderón