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Friday, January 20, 2012

Source 4

For my fourth source I think I will just use The Little Book of Hindu Deities. I know it is kind of silly, but it was actually a surprisingly informative book. I learned a lot about the Hindu deities. However I still face the never-ending problem that even though I now know one version of the story, when I talk to Hindus I know or people who know about Hinduism, no one ever agrees on the same version of the story. C'est la vie, I suppose. I should learn how to say that or the equivalent phrase in Hindi. The goal of this weekend and next week is to now actually find more helpful sources. I mean, these are helpful, but I mean something more like a scholarly source, maybe a study or something. This background stuff is great, but I think I definitely need to find a significant body of critical literature and probably anthropological studies since they will have bearing on my project.

The Little Book of Hindu Deities
Sanjay Patel

Patel, Sanjay. The Little Book of Hindu Deities. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print

1. What is the stated purpose (the argument or thesis)?
Sanjay Patel is basically providing information about the major Hindu deities, some demigods, the sacred animals, as well as a short breakdown of time and creation in Hinduism.

2. What evidence does the author provide to support his or her main argument? How is the author attempting to logically prove his or her thesis and how does this affect the organization of the document?
He basically just goes ahead and tells it as he sees it. He just tells the stories. I do not know what sources he uses; however everything he says generally corroborates with everything I have heard about these stories, not that necessarily is a good thing.

3. Who is the audience? What does the author assume the audience already knows about the topic?
The audience for this book is younger, as the pictures are all fairly cute, but it is not strictly speaking a children’s book. I think it might have been intended for the children of the Indian Diaspora, however I think Patel also had the uniformed masses in mind.

4. Describe the author’s methods (i.e. how does the author know what he or she knows). In your opinion, were they appropriate? Why or why not?
For an introduction they were perfect. He illustrated each of the gods with their main aspects and identifiers as well presented their story in a simple, short format. In this way it was fairly easy to grasp the main concepts without getting into all the complicated details that emerge when you actually start looking closer at Hindu theology.

5. To what other sources (theorist, researchers, artists) does the author refer? Explain the specific ideas the author draws upon from these other sources to support his or her own argument (the theoretical framework).
I think this is an important point. As far as I can tell, Patel does not list any specific sources. He mentions in the acknowledgements a Mrs. Charu who apparently helped him learn about Hinduism. In the introduction he briefly describes his childhood participation in Hinduism at home. Hindu theology is notoriously complex and contradictory. There is not really a solid source to turn to to get the definitive story on any particular part of Hinduism. In many ways this is reflected in Indian culture.

6. What are the connections between this source and your project? How useful or applicable is this source’s approach to your own project? How is yours new and different?
I am not studying religion, but knowing the basics of Hinduism will be very important to navigating relationships in India. I need a basic foundation so that I can be aware of what is going on and to make sure that I don’t offend anyone. Once I get into actual Indian literature and its themes, having a working knowledge of the stories and sources that Indian, especially Hindu, authors are drawing on will be absolutely essential.

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