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"The True History and the Religion of India"
 Book Review
 By: Prof. T.M. Srinivasan, Ph.D.
 International Journal of Humanities and Peace - January 1, 2000

At last here is a book about India by an Indian, who is also a renowned religious leader, a social reformer and a Vedic historian. Swami Prakashananda Saraswati had intense training in Indian philosophy, metaphysics, logic and related subjects over a 40-year period. He was offered the prestigious position of the pontiff of the ancient order of Shankara, at the Jotishmath. He refused to accept this and went to Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna and devoted himself to the service of the community and the temple at that place. In 1988, he came to Austin, Texas and established the largest temple complex in north America. He has written over 9 books on various aspects of Hindu ethics, scriptures and practices. He has brought to bear his profound knowledge of the scriptures and has written the book under review which is a monumental dissertation on the history of Indian civilization and religion.
"The True History and the Religion of India"
The True History and the Religion of India: A Concise Encyclopedia of Authentic Hinduism by Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, published by International Society of Divine Love.
This book is written in two parts. The first part deals with the origins of Indian history, development of langu-
ages of the world and detailed analysis of the efforts made by the British to deliberately destroy the religion and culture of India by employing both Indian and European `scholars' to accomplish this purpose. These scholars were employed by the British East India Company from the early 1880's to mid-1900's to systematically destroy credibility of Indian science and technology as Well as Indian scriptures which were wrongly interpreted and made available to the Western world. For example, it is widely held that Vedic worships and ceremonies were centered around animal sacrifices which is far from the truth. The book mentions Vedic injunctions against animal killing in any Vedic ceremony. Many scriptural texts are quoted extensively in the book, to establish many views that the author has expressed.
Further, exact dates have been given in the ancient books and, the precise astronomical positions of stars and planets mentioned in these books make the calculations of dates straight forward. The famous Mahabharata war (at the start of which Sri Krishna's answers to Arjuna is codified in Bhagavad Gita) was in the year 3139 BC. The war had a devastating effect on the Indian subcontinent; many kingdoms fell and large tracts of land lay fallow and uninhabited, possibly became uninhabitable. The central and eastern parts of India became isolated from the western part. The western part had become desolate landscape and slowly, the civilizations of Harrapa and Mohenjodaro (presently, both cities are in Pakistan) emerged over many centuries. The Aryan invasion theory so assiduously put forth by the British is indeed a fabrication; Sanskrit language was in use in India long before Harrappan civilization. Books by other authorities in the field have also provided information to the same effect and these books are based on the interpretation of the clay tablets found in Harrapa in the recent past.
A comparison of Sanskrit with Egyptian, Sumerian and Babylonian scripts is given. A study of Germanic languages is also taken up and the relation of these languages with Sanskrit is clearly indicated. The theory of proto-Sanskrit as the origin of all Indo-European group of languages is also refuted. Sanskrit words are liberally strewn in all languages of the so-called Indo-European group and Sanskrit has preexisted all others in this group; then, why postulate a proto-Sanskrit language? Is it not Sanskrit itself the origin of languages in this group? A synopsis of many classical stories of European literature - such as the Canterbury Tales, Beowulf, Shakespeare's many plays, works of Daniel Defoe, Charles Dickens and others are given to provide a comparison with the tales of India and this provides a flavor of the type of tales that became popular with the people in the two continents. The Indian tales such as Panchatantra provided children and elders with profound social values while the tales in the Upanishads and the Vedas lead people towards higher reaches of human consciousness. Though no comparison of the classical music of Europe and India is made, it could be said again while European music is emotional and transactional, Indian classical music is mostly devotional and transcendental. The third and fourth chapters of the first part of the book deal extensively with the ancient civilization of India with detailed chronologies of the dynasties which are well described in Indian scriptures. This information is important to deduce the time of historic personages in Indian philosophy whereas the current opinion is based on vague generalizations and convenient manipulations.
The second part of the book describes the history of India as revealed in the scriptures as well important summaries of Upanishads, Puranas, the Gita and other texts. Last but not the least, the greatness of the acharyas (teachers), who have interpreted as well as lived by the scriptures is described. A large number of texts are mentioned and introduced whose very names have been forgotten. The recent acharyas in the orthodox traditions of devotion, works and knowledge are briefly mentioned along with the differences in the three approaches to transcendence.
The only possible criticism of the book could be the use of Hindi version of the Sanskrit names and words, for example, Veal instead of Veda, Brahm (is it Brahma, Brahmam or Brahmin) and a host of similar words. But with some knowledge of Sanskrit, this should not be a serious problem. Further, Sanskrit verses are given without transliteration, and this could be a handicap to people who have no knowledge of this ancient language. But then if one is interested in the subject matter of the book, one should indeed be knowing or willing to learn Sanskrit.
The book is a rich source of authentic information about India drawn from many sources and thus forms a scientific (to use a modern term) basis for reconstructing Indian history. The references are numerous, and the quotes from Indian scriptures make this a reference book of immense value. Every Indian and every person interested in Indian history and literature should read this book and benefit from it. Innumerable thanks (on behalf of so many Indians) to Pujyashri Swamiji who has dedicated his time to bring out this monumental work of importance for scholars of history and philosophy and for us all.
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