I recently purchased a copy of Stephen Knapp’s book “The Heart of Hinduism: The Eastern Path to Freedom, Empowerment, and Illumination.”
The book is an easy read, and covers a vast range of topics. It gives an overview of the Vedic scriptures, their classification into Brahmanas, Aranyakas, Samhitas, and Upanishads (with their sub-divisions). Having set the stage of the Vedic scriptures, Knapp delves into the common issues raised around any discussion of Hinduism (“Are there really 33 million gods?”), and describes briefly the individual personalities of the most famous demi-gods. Rituals, deity-worship, mantra-worship, yoga systems, and the recommended process for this age are all lucidly discussed, with an air of an informative discussion, rather than the author pontificating to the reader based on his personal beliefs.
Lord Krsna present in the 12 cantos of the Srimad Bhagavatham
The core of the book is Krsna… His position as the Supreme Personality of Godhead is undisputed scripturally, and Knapp makes a convincing case for this, especially to those unfamilar with the Vedic conclusion… Lord Krsna’s position both in sashtra and tradition are emphasized in a very logical way… Krsna give Hinduism some semblance of order, hierarchy, and meaning. Without acknowledging this, Hinduism would seem merely like the religion of the 33 million gods, where everyone can get what they want, and no one is wrong (now we all know both of those are never possible!).
I highly recommend Knapp’s book to devotees who would like an overview of the various aspects of Hinduism (many may be unfamiliar with it in the level of detail Knapp imparts in this book). The book is also an excellent read for Hindus, as well as non-devotees who are unfamiliar with the Vedic tradition entirely.
I hope Knapp (Nandanandana das ACBSP) continues to write such valuable books. His website is another informative resource, available 24/7 on the wonder called the internet… It contains lists of his books, with excerpts, as well as a variety of interesting articles, deity pictures, and many sanskrit prayers for daily recitation – an excellent resource!