10 Must Read Books That Depict The Essence Of Hinduism

Hinduism is beyond a kind of religion, it is the way of life followed by many, especially people from the Indian subcontinent. Many books have been written on Hinduism, its theology, stories, methodologies, and its significance.

10 Best Books on Hinduism

Here is the list of 10 must-read books that illustrate the essence of Hinduism and motivates one to live a way of life that can help gain happiness, success, peace, and prosperity.

1. “Be Here Now” – By Ram Dass

be here now by ram dass

Title & Author: “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass

Publication Year: 1971

Brief Overview: A guide to spiritual awakening, offering a blend of Eastern spirituality, yoga, and meditation.

Key Hindu Themes: Emphasizes on dharma, karma, bhakti, and the teachings of guru Neem Karoli Baba.

Why Read It: Illuminates the path to mindfulness and spiritual growth.

This book describes the autobiography of a professor at Harvard University. His name is Richard Alpert. He states how he was living a successful life and yet was unsatisfied with his life feeling something was missing. He started using Psilocybin and LSD and distanced himself from his professional activities.

Through his fear and curiosity, he moved to India to gain knowledge of self and spirituality. There his guru renamed him Baba Ram Dass. He learned mindful breathing exercises, hatha yoga, and Eastern philosophy. If he found himself reminiscing or planning, he was reminded to “Be Here Now.” He started upon the path of enlightenment and has been exploring along with it ever since.

Be Here Now is an instrument for sharing the true message and a guide to self-determination.

With over 150 pages of metaphysical illustrations, practical advice on how to implement a yogic regiment, and a chapter dedicated to quotes and book recommendations, Be Here Now is sure to enrich your emotional, physical, and spiritual life.

2. The Bhagavad Gita – By Eknath Easwaran

bhagavad gita

Title & Author: “The Bhagavad Gita” by Eknath Easwaran

Publication Year: 1985 (Easwaran’s translation)

Brief Overview: A translation of the spiritual classic, discussing moral dilemmas, duty, and spirituality.

Key Hindu Themes: Arjuna’s dialogue with Lord Krishna about dharma and the nature of God.

Why Read It: It provides a profound spiritual discourse about life and the divine.

This book is the translation of the Bhagavad Gita in a very readable, precise, and profound way. With 55 pages, the introduction places Gita in a historical context, presents key concepts, and brings out the universality and persistence of its teaching.

The book shows the scenario of Arjun asking his valued guide, Krishna, the fundamentals of life on the battlefield where Krishna gives him the insight of life, success, and to be victorious. The whole Gita is explained reliably in the speech of Krishna.

This book’s author Easwaran grew up in the Hindu tradition in India, learned Sanskrit from a young age, and became a professor of English literature.

3. Autobiography of a Yogi (Self-Realization Fellowship) – By Paramahansa Yogananda

autobiography of a yogi

Title & Author: “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda

Publication Year: 1946

Brief Overview: Yogananda’s life story, filled with mystical experiences and insights.

Key Hindu Themes: Highlights yoga, meditation, and the quest for spiritual enlightenment.

Why Read It: Offers a first-hand account of a Yogi’s spiritual journey.

Paramahansa Yogananda describes his experiences in life from his childhood. He gives his remarks on his endeavor of meeting many saints and sages during his youth. He records his search for an illuminated yoga teacher and ten years of training in the hermitage of a revered yoga master. He also describes his thirty years of time teaching in America.

This book has been selected as “One of the 100 best spiritual books of the Twentieth Century”. It has been translated into 30 languages and is regarded as one of the masterpieces of religious literature.

4. Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System (Llewellyn’s New Age Series) – By Anodea Judith

Eastern Body Western Mind

Title & Author: “Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System” by Anodea Judith

Publication Year: 1996

Brief Overview: A book that bridges Eastern spirituality with Western psychology through the chakra system.

Key Hindu Themes: The integration and significance of the chakra system in personal growth and well-being.

Why Read It: Demonstrates the practical application of Hindu principles in everyday life.

Anodea Judith has brought a new approach to the yoga-based Eastern chakra system, adapting it to the Western framework of Jungian psychology, somatic therapy, childhood development theory, and metaphysics. She has presented transpersonal psychology in perfection. This book helps to overcome different modern social issues and realities such as addiction, codependency, family dynamics, sexuality, and personal empowerment.

5. The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are – By Allan W. Watts

The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

Title & Author: “The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are” by Allan W. Watts

Publication Year: 1966

Brief Overview: Explores the concept of the self and the universe from a philosophical perspective.

Key Hindu Themes: The nature of self, identity, and the concept of Advaita (non-duality).

Why Read It: Provokes deep contemplation on the concept of self as perceived in Hindu philosophy.

This book basically teaches you to find who you are. There are conflicts among humans, and the main problem is the misunderstanding between each other. The problem is the low knowledge of self and we relate to the universe. Allan gives a decipherable concept to look inside yourself and find self-consciousness. The whole theory that he gives is based on the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta.

6. Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power Of The Goddess Of Yoga – By Sally Kempton

Awakening Shakti

Title & Author: “Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power Of The Goddess Of Yoga” by Sally Kempton

Publication Year: 2013

Brief Overview: This book explores the many facets of the divine feminine power (Shakti) in yoga.

Key Hindu Themes: Emphasizes on the goddess energy and the transformative power of Shakti.

Why Read It: Provides a deeper understanding of the feminine aspect of the divine in Hinduism.

This book is the tutor to find the feminine energies within us for both women and men. It reveals the power of the goddesses of yoga and to transform yourself to inner freedom and live life with selflessness, compassionately, and intimately. It describes the different yogic qualities of goddesses like Lakshmi, Kali, Radha, Saraswati, Bhuvaneshwari, Parvati, and others.

7. Ramayana: Devine Loophole – By Sanjay Patel

Ramayana: Divine Loophole

Title & Author: “Ramayana: Divine Loophole” by Sanjay Patel

Publication Year: 2010

Brief Overview: An illustrated retelling of the epic Ramayana, presenting the life of Rama, his wife Sita, and his loyal devotee Hanuman.

Key Hindu Themes: Illustrates dharma, devotion, and the epic narrative of the Ramayana.

Why Read It: A visually engaging way to learn about one of the great Hindu epics.

This book is the pictorial description and narration of one of the most revered Hindu Epic – Ramayana. Artist and veteran Pixar animator Sanjay Patel gives a detailed glimpse of the whole story with a modern touch of art.

8. The Great Work Of Your Life: A Guide For The Journey To Your True Calling – By Stephen Cope

The Great Work Of Your Life

Title & Author: “The Great Work Of Your Life: A Guide For The Journey To Your True Calling” by Stephen Cope

Publication Year: 2012

Brief Overview: Cope takes inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita to help readers discover their true purpose in life.

Key Hindu Themes: The idea of svadharma, or personal duty, as explored in the Bhagavad Gita.

Why Read It: Offers a practical guide to understanding and applying svadharma.

Stephen Cope is a yoga teacher. In this book, he describes the process to unleash the unique possibilities harbored within every human soul. The secrets, he asserts, can be found in Bhagavad Gita. This book takes you step-by-step through all the teachings and how they can be applied to your daily life. You will find all the necessary practices that will embrace your true calling and the true meaning of your life.

9. A Beginner’s Guide To Chakras – By Marion McGeough

The Beginner's Guide to Chakras

Title & Author: “A Beginner’s Guide To Chakras” by Marion McGeough

Publication Year: 2013

Brief Overview: A comprehensive introduction to the seven chakras, or energy centers, in the human body.

Key Hindu Themes: Emphasizes the chakra system and its role in spiritual and physical well-being.

Why Read It: It’s a practical guide to understanding and working with the chakra system.

This is truly readable and easily understandable guidance for beginners to start their journey toward self-realization. This book gives you a detailed understanding of all the seven chakras and their importance. With the process to accomplish the chakras, there are guided meditation methods to support you in your journey. There are also some chapters included to deal with pain and work with chakras with crystal healing and aromatherapy.

10. The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali – By Edwin F. Bryant

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Title & Author: “The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali” by Edwin F. Bryant

Publication Year: 2009 (Bryant’s translation)

Brief Overview: A translation and commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a foundational text of Yoga philosophy.

Key Hindu Themes: Explores the path to enlightenment through yoga, including ethical codes, meditation, and the nature of reality.

Why Read It: Provides a deep dive into the philosophical underpinnings of yoga.

This book is a clear, direct, and exact translation of Patanjali’s work in Sanskrit. This book has an English translation that is followed by Byant’s authoritative commentary. His commentary is very understandable and conveys the meaning of Yoga in depth. He provides all the necessary insights into Yoga visioned by Maharshi Patanjali two millennia ago.