I usually read a number of books at a time and during the holiday period I wanted to share some of what I’ve been exploring. Here are three books I’m currently hanging out with.
The Spirit of Hindu Law has helped me gain a deeper understanding of what variety of ancient texts have codified as Dharma. Donald R Davis Jr has done a wonderful service in this short but interesting book. He includes this interesting quote from Hacker who says:
“We must imagine dharma as primarily a substance or a transcendental, immaterial thing. This substance, this immaterial thing is first of all in concrete duties, as they are passed down as fixed norms and prescriptions – indeed, these norms are dharma, that is, dharma before its performance. Because these norms already are dharma, however, dharma before its performance actually does not correspond to our concepts “norm,” “rule,” “law,” or “duty.” All of these are far too abstract. Dharma is rather a concrete model of behavior with positive significance for salvation that somehow exists already before its performance and waits for realization, or rather it is a collection of such models”
This is the idea that Dharma is both substance and ideal action simultaneously.
This is a brilliant collection of sermons by Martin Luther King Jr on Love in Action. His reconciliation of theology and social action inspire the work I do and his ability to use words as a tool for creating the beloved community is unparalleled.
Edwin Bryant is an incredible scholar and this is a book I’m re-reading. His study of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is equally important
This is the most comprehensive study of Bhakti from the perspective of Krishna devotion that I have come across. I love the way in which he has broken down Bhakti in such a detailed manner. Along with the Ramcharitmanas, the Bhagavata Purana which Edwin explores here elucidates the unconditional love of God more than any other books I have read. Edwin studies in great detail the nine characteristics of bhakti that people can offer to Vishnu which are: hearing about Him, singing about Him, remembering Him, serving His feet, worshipping Him, glorifying Him, considering oneself His servant, considering oneself His friend, and surrendering completely to Him. (Bhagavata VII.5.23)
As a devotee of Neem Karoli Baba in the Hanuman tradition, the immersion into Bhakti texts a great delight and Edwin has enriched my own experience and expression of loving engagement with the Bhakti of the Bhagavata.