Indian Mythology and Philosophy

The Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Kama Sutra… And How They Fit Together (Ancient Wisdom)

Non-Fiction - Religion/Philosophy
268 Pages
Reviewed on 05/20/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Courtnee Turner Hoyle for Readers' Favorite

Indian Mythology and Philosophy is the fourth book in the Ancient Wisdom Series by Neel Burton. The author, a noted psychiatrist and philosopher, explains Indian writings, discusses discoveries like the Indus seals, and brings well-known stories, references, and more uncommon works together to benefit all readers who are interested in Indian mythology. Burton imparts Indian history and older texts to readers, reveals the preservation methods for documents, touches on the "Golden Ages" of India, includes expressions of art that are dated thousands of years before Christ, and provides a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of the Bhagavad Gita. Burton shows the evolution of Hinduism and sifts through Indian stories and writings to give readers a more balanced view of the culture.

I can't imagine the substantial amount of resources Neel Burton had to sift through to write this book. The parallels between Indian and Greek philosophy amazed me and this text has certainly given me something to share with friends at dinner parties and discuss with my children as I school them on related topics. Burton is so thorough that he includes everything from history and comparisons to a chapter about the Kama Sutra. One of the most interesting pieces of information is the description of an Indo-European symbol for good luck and well-being and the way it became the emblem of hate. It's surprising how many mythological stories are closely related between the Indians, Greeks, and Romans, right down to Cupid and his arrows of love. If you're looking for a comprehensive selection detailing Indian thought and history and its ties to Greek philosophy, Indian Mythology and Philosophy will hold your interest until the last page.

Rich Follett

Indian Mythology and Philosophy: The Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Kama Sutra … and How They Fit Together by Neel Burton offers readers a chance to make essential cognitive connections about its subject matter in plain-spoken, accessible language that both codifies the working parts of and effectively gives context to complex interwoven ideologies; in short, it is like having a personal tour guide through some of the most challenging of Eastern cultures for Western minds to decipher. Neel Burton has written extensively and in a scholarly fashion about a wide range of philosophical topics. Indian Mythology and Philosophy is the fourth title in his Ancient Wisdom series and he shares his wealth of knowledge generously and patiently in this marvelously comprehensive tome.

In Indian Mythology and Philosophy, Neel Burton systematically weeds out his focus area's ponderous and elusive elements to present readers with a succinct, systematic, and contextually accessible rendering that allows them to correlate essential ideologies, deities, and cultural references with relative ease. In so doing, he builds an important and easy-to-use bridge between Western classical sensibilities and the foundations of Indian religion and philosophy. It is a monumental accomplishment of great value to any serious student or intellectual sojourner. Burton views India as a world unto itself, with little to no distinction between theology and philosophy, and, as such, is difficult to process with Western thought patterns. This essential framework permeates his narrative, functioning as a kind of cognitive bookmark whenever new concepts are presented. Because he does the intellectual heavy lifting and connects concepts and components with such logical precision, readers experience an armchair tour that is both enjoyable and scholarly enough to provide solid tools for further study. Burton punctuates his text with photographs and diagrams, enabling the reader to digest revelatory new bits of information. Impeccably crafted and comprehensive yet accessible, Indian Mythology and Philosophy opens up a new world for readers and lays the groundwork for a long-awaited and much-needed new Renaissance in thought and understanding.

Liz Konkel

Indian Mythology and Philosophy by Neel Burton is an incredible resource that expands on Indian thought and how everything ties together. This book opens several channels for the mind that are thought-provoking, engaging, and sometimes eye-opening. The Bhagavad Gita was the inspiration and serves as a basis for the content covered which is thorough, never missing a beat with each chapter building on the previous one. The various areas explored cover the connection to Greek and Roman mythology, the teachings of Buddha, different systems from Hinduism to Jain cosmology, and the truth about the purpose of yoga. Each of these topics and more make this an ideal resource that covers a vast array of information.

This is a fascinating foray into Indian thought told through history, language, mythology, and philosophy. These topics are broken down by system, resource, and more which provide excellent insight into known and lesser-known facts that will change your perspective and open your mind to thinking deeper. History has a significant purpose within the book as it narrows the focus throughout different times and developments. This is an ideal resource for personal study or a classroom. It can be studied as a whole or broken into chapters for a more in-depth focus on different elements. Among these are Greek and Roman mythology examples that provide stories to show the similarities and connections. Different sources provide academic-level content that shifts perspectives through each chapter. Language is another key element that features the work of Plato and William Jones, and you’d be surprised at its role in developing mythology and philosophy. Those who enjoy learning about linguistics will enjoy these tidbits of information. Yoga is surprisingly important, introducing you to its true purpose and its power to show you the tranquility of the mind. Indian Mythology and Philosophy is a highly recommended resource that is well-written, researched, and organized, covering topics that many won’t be familiar with but will inspire readers to learn even more.