Monday, February 5, 1996

Myths and Legends of India: An Introduction to the Study of Hinduism

by J.M. Macfie

This book told many tales from the Puranas, the Ramayana and mostly the Mahabarata.  I remembered quite a few from my readings of the two latter, but many were new to me.  The trouble is that, although the author takes a lot of pride in his supposed impartiality and fairness in depicting Hinduism's strengths as well as weaknesses, he takes quite a racist or at least a haughty, pedantic view in his descriptions, calling - for example - the presence of Shiva lingams "revolting and obscene"; calling Indian thought "arrested"; claiming that India's caste system constitutes "the most rigorous and cruel" color bar in history (a dubious claim, perhaps); and just generally adopting a mocking tone when describing inconsistencies in the stories and so on.  But they are told well and I enjoyed the book anyway for the information it contains.

three stars

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