René Guénon: Introduction générale à l’étude des doctrines hindoues

Éditions Véga, 2009 (1921)     Amazon.fr

English translation:

Sophia Perennis, 2004     Amazon.com

Book Description:

René Guénon’s first book, Introduction to the Study of Hindu Doctrines, came (in the words of the eminent scholar S. H. Nasr) “like a sudden burst of lightning, an abrupt intrusion into the modern world of a body of knowledge and a perspective utterly alien to the prevalent climate and world view”. In this book Guénon establishes the criteria which formed the basis of his later works and set the tone for the Traditionalist School that came after him: the meaning of Tradition, the relationship between “religion”, “theology”, “metaphysics” etc. – all leading up to an exhaustive definition and comprehensive overview of Hinduism, which Guénon saw as the most ancient and most complete spiritual tradition on earth, embracing the most profound and explicit metaphysics. The West is now overrun with many brands of compromised Hinduism, whose “gurus” are considered charlatans by traditional Hindu authorities. For anyone drawn to the Hindu tradition, searching for a way to separate the wheat from the chaff and dedicated to gaining an understanding of the universe that is Hinduism in its own terms and not those imposed by modernist Western assumptions, this book is indispensable.
About the Author:
René Guénon (1886–1951) was one of the great luminaries of the twentieth century, whose critique of the modern world has stood fast against the shifting sands of intellectual fashion. His extensive writings, now finally available in English, are a providential treasure-trove for the modern seeker: while pointing ceaselessly to the perennial wisdom found in past cultures ranging from the Shamanistic to the Indian and Chinese, the Hellenic and Judaic, the Christian and Islamic, and including also Alchemy, Hermeticism, and other esoteric currents, they direct the reader also to the deepest level of religious praxis, emphasizing the need for affiliation with a revealed tradition even while acknowledging the final identity of all spiritual paths as they approach the summit of spiritual realization. René Guénon, of whom Jacob Needleman wrote in The Sword of Gnosis that “no other modern writer has so effectively communicated the absoluteness of truth”, is gradually being recognized by deeper thinkers as one of the few who have truly penetrated the seductive veil of the modern age. As an expositor of pure metaphysics and its application to the science of symbols, Guénon is without peer; and his extraordinarily prescient critique of the modern world is attracting more and more attention among cultural commentators. Little known in the English-speaking world till the recent appearance of his Collected Works in translation, Guénon has nevertheless long been recognized as a veritable criterion of truth by a vanguard of remarkable writers who evince that rare combination: intellectuality and spirituality. After a lonely childhood, often interrupted by ill health, Guénon navigated the seductive half-truths of occultism toward a deeper, unified vision offering a way out from the confusion and fragmentation of our time. Regarded by leading scholars as the first truly authentic interpreter of many Eastern doctrines in the West, Guénon never tired, in face of the seemingly inexorable process of dissolution in the twentieth century, of pointing to the transcendent unity of all religious faiths and the abiding Truth that contains them all.

JOB’s Comment:

The first and in my view the basic and perhaps even the most important text of the traditionalist “school”. Some corrections were, I think, included in the English translation, and it is possible that they are found also in this late French edition; other traditionalists rightly pointed out a few errors in Guénon’s interpretations.

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Jan Olof Bengtsson D.Phil. (Oxon.)

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