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  • By dan wilkins
    Apr 3, 2011
    WHAT THIS BOOK IS NOT: I enjoyed this book very much. But I must warn potential buyers of this book: please do not be misled by some sentences in the Product Description: “ It reveals the precise mystical mechanisms necessary to know the Divine; the psychological conditions necessary for such a spiritual endeavor . . . If you have ever asked the question "How do I know God?" this is the book for you.” The clear implication here is that this book is a practical self-help manual for realizing God. It is no such thing. If you buy this book thinking it will reveal some juicy do-it yourself secrets of enlightenment, you will be badly disappointed. It does not offer any spiritual quick-fixes, recipes, or “magic pills.” If that is what you are looking for, you can pick up a book by Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Don Miguel Ruiz, or many others. WHAT THIS BOOK IS: This is a thoughtful and beautifully crafted discussion of Vedic epistemology, the study of how we acquire knowledge.... More > (Webster’s 9th New Collegiate Dictionary -- “epistemology: the study or a theory of the nature of the grounds of knowledge esp. with reference to its limits and validity.”) It focuses on the writings of one Hindu pandit-theologian of the 16th century, Jiva Goswami. Jiva was a disciple of the great bhakti Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and belonged to the Gaudiya Vaishnava lineage associated with that master. The author, Dr. Morales (a.k.a. Sri Dharma Pravartsaka Acharya), lays out Goswami’s deep thinking on the means we use to acquire knowledge (in Sanskrit, the so-called “pramanas”). He also impartially criticizes a weak point in Jiva’s thesis, namely his promoting of a certain Vedic scripture (the Bhagavata Purana) as the best doorway — in this degenerate age of Kali Yuga — to the scriptural revelations of India. In the culminating chapters of this study, Jiva’s theory is juxtaposed with two major streams of world philosophy: the Buddhist, and the Euro-American (from Plato on.) It is in these latter chapters where the book casts its widest net, and where it is liable to catch the attention of scholars and theologians not normally attracted to Indian metaphysics. IS IT ONLY FOR SCHOLARS AND SPECIALISTS? Dr. Morales is a deeply learned acharya-guru and this book is based on his Ph.D. thesis. Hearing that, one might expect a dry and dusty tome, dense with footnotes, printed in 9-point type, and focused on appallingly tiny minutiae that only a “microscopist” could love! Fortunately, that is not the case. The book strikes a pleasant balance between the rigor demanded by a scholar, and the approachability required by a lay reader. Without appreciably dumbing down the discussion—and sincere discussions of theology require the sharpest language and logic we are capable of—the author has made this a friendly, ingratiating book in every way possible: a) the layout is inviting and comfortable, with large , dark type, and plenty of white space, b) all the Sanskrit terms are transliterated into the English alphabet, and there is a helpful Sanskrit glossary at the back, c) with his crystal-clear style of teaching, the author summarizes broad elements of Vedic thinking as they are needed, d) in chapter 7, he compares and contrasts Vedic and Buddhistic approaches, and e) in chapter 8, he sketches the similarities and differences between Vedic and Euro-American thinkers. No minutiae here, just fundamental concerns that have engrossed great thinkers, East and West, for millennia. WHO COULD ENJOY THIS BOOK? I am only a spiritual dilettante myself, bookish and with an interest in the spiritual heritage of India, especially of the orthodox vedantic variety. I think any thoughtful reader who has felt the charm and fascination of Indian thought might give this book a try. But I should add three cautions: a) The first chapter, which lays out the scholarly background, did not draw me in—maybe it was too detailed. But once I hit the broader conceptual issues of the second chapter, I was hooked and had a hard time putting the book down; b) The author sprinkles his discussion with “ten-dollar words.” He does this not do so to show off his erudition but because the abstruse subject matter demands the right linguistic tools. If occasional words like “epistemology,” “ “ontic,” “normative,” or “noumenal” cause you to pause, then there is a simple solution: keep a dictionary at hand as you read. c) This book is not for the intellectually weak or lazy. At a recent “satsangha” (spiritual gathering), Dr. Morales said that the book would most likely appeal to intelligent readers with an interest in Vedic culture, and who have already read the Bhagavad Gita. And he added, jokingly, “those who have just discovered their first book by Deepak Chopra a week ago are not ready for it.” (paraphrase) But, that being said, if you qualify—and are not put off by occasional abstractness or big words—you are in for a treat. You will find, as I did, that this book is not only a gem, but that it constitutes a tutorial introduction to the beautiful language and thought of the Indian sages. Dr. Morales’ book goes a long way in making accessible to westerners a philosophy previously shrouded in an impenetrable fog of antiquity, a mysterious language, and a strange, exotic culture. WHO AM I? I am a physicist, who has taught undergrads for the past 3 decades at a university in the Midwest. I am not a scholar of Southeast Asian religions let alone of Sanskrit. But neither am I a complete ignoramus. From twenty-plus years of following the Christianity-cum-Raja Yoga teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, I picked up some elements of the philosophy and some common Sanskrit terms. Having read this book, I have grown to esteem more than ever before the power and subtlety of the Vedic system of thought.< Less
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Product Details

Dharma Sun Media
December 28, 2010
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
1.49 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
Product ID
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