A Harvest of Hindu Books

While translations of the Bhagavad Gita are widely available, fewer titles offer basic commentary on the text for a general audience. In The Bhagavad Gita as a Living Experience, Indologist Wilfried Huchzermeyer and yoga instructor/illustrator Jutta Zimmermann provide a basic primer on the Gita's meaning. An accessible introduction explaining the Gita's role in the Mahabarata is followed by character studies of Arjuna and Krishna, essays on the Gita as poetry and chapters on bhakti, jnana and karma yoga. (Lantern, $15 paper 112p ISBN 1-930051-81-6; Nov.)

In Christian publishing, daily devotionals are a bread-and-butter staple of the market; in the tiny world of North American Hindu publishing, they're virtually nonexistent. It is therefore all the more welcome when a press comes out with something as useful and practical as Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami's Living with Siva: Hinduism's Contemporary Culture, a 1,000-page tome featuring 365 meditations on Hindu spirituality. Subramuniyaswami addresses issues such as worship, marriage, money, sex, child-rearing, nonviolence, caste, forgiveness, karma, nature and hospitality. Readers may not agree with all of his forthright and opinionated reflections (he opposes spanking, supports arranged marriages and has very strong words against the disintegration of the family, for example), but they will appreciate his unswerving emphasis on infusing daily life with Hindu spirituality. (Himalayan Academy, $59.95 1000p ISBN 0-945497-98-9; Dec.)

Mandala [Woods Distributing Co. and Bookpeople] releases another gorgeous Hindu art book with Ramayana: A Tale of Gods and Demons by Ranchor Prime. Artist B.G. Sharma contributes amazing paintings that illustrate the classic epic of Rama's exploits, drawing on the traditional styles of Kangra, Kishangarh and Moghal art to tell the story. Gold, gold, gold is everywhere throughout this beautifully designed book, both within the paintings and as borders and textual ornamentation around them. The result is a rich, elegant banquet of ancient saga and vivid art. ($55 208p ISBN 1-886069-38-7; Nov.)

A Heavenly Book on Hell

Mennonite minister Randolph Klassen does battle with the devil in What Does the Bible Say About Hell? Wrestling with the Traditional View. He addresses every reference to hell in the Bible, offering separate chapters on Acts, the Old Testament, the Gospels and the Epistles. He rejects the traditional notion of hell as a place of eternal torment for the wicked, claiming that such as view "fails the test of justice": in other words, a just and loving God would not sanction eternal suffering with no possibility of parole. Klassen's voice is gentle and pastoral as he analyzes reasons why many individuals need a belief in hell to scare them into heaven. (Pandora and Herald, $13.95 paper 144p ISBN 1-931038-02-3; Nov. 30)

Christian Creeds and Catechisms

Ancient creeds hardly seem like hot topics for contemporary Christian publishers, but perhaps more people are returning to the basics in these turbulent times. Westminster John Knox Press presents The Westminster Handbook to Reformed Theology, an alphabetical reference edited by Donald K. McKim. Among the entries are detailed explanations of the First Helvetic Confession, the Scots Confession and the Westminster Confession of Faith. This is not exactly the stuff of dinner-table conversation, but seminary students will find this no-nonsense resource an invaluable guide. ($24.95 paper 264p ISBN 0-664-22430-X; Nov.)

The Heidelberg Catechism (also, coincidentally, in the Reformed Presbyterian tradition) provides the foundation for From Rebellion to Redemption: A Journey through the Great Themes of the Christian Faith by Randal Working. Working draws on thinkers such as C.S. Lewis, Henri Nouwen, Peter Kreeft and John Calvin to illustrate the Catechism's principles via a 52-week study of the Book of Romans. (NavPress, $15 paper 320p ISBN 1-57683-285-6; Dec.)