‘The fact that a great Hindu civilisation existed, and continues to exist, is not in doubt. It is marked by great antiquity, substantial—even unprecedented—refinements, audacity of thought, and achievements both in the spiritual and secular realms. This does not mean it is unblemished, and objectivity demands that the blemishes too must be taken into account. Nor does it mean that it evolved in an insular silo or untouched by outside influences. On the contrary. And yet, this intermingling has not diluted or erased its essential identity as a verifiable civilisation. Unlike many other great civilisations of the past, the Hindu civilisation has not become a historical relic, an antiquary of the past, but has survived as an unbroken continuum to the present.
‘It is important to know more about this civilisation, most of all for Hindus themselves. The civilisation faces a rather unfortunate paradox. On the one hand, it is notable for its resilience and continuity, and its spillover into every aspect of a Hindu’s life; and, on the other, Hindus themselves show little real curiosity or interest in knowing more about it. This indifference is a matter of concern, not least because, if Hindus do not know about their own civilisational legacy, their authenticity as Hindus—based on knowledge—is stunted and reduced to ritualistic tokenism.’ —from the Introduction
Diplomat-writer Pavan K. Varma is the author of several best-selling books including The Great Indian Middle Class, Being Indian, Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker and The Greatest Ode to Lord Ram: Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas. He was an MP in the Rajya Sabha between 2014 and 2016. Earlier, he was Advisor to the Chief Minister of Bihar, with the rank of Cabinet minister. He was India’s Ambassador in several countries including Bhutan, also Director of the Nehru Centre in London, Official Spokesperson of the MEA, and Press Secretary to the President of India. He was conferred an Honorary Doctoral Degree for his contribution to the fields of diplomacy, literature, culture and aesthetics by the University of Indianapolis in 2005. He was also conferred the Druk Thuksey, Bhutan’s highest civilian award, by His Majesty the King of Bhutan in 2012. In 2018, on the instructions of His Holiness the Shankaracharya of Sringeri, he was conferred an Honorary Doctorate by Sri Sharada Institute of Indian Management. He is currently a Distinguished Professor at Symbiosis International University. He is also a well-known columnist and TV personality.
Pavan K. Varma lives in Delhi and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @PavanK_Varma.