This work surveys the state of Hindu studies over the ages by studying the history of Hinduism in four periods: Vedic Hinduism, Classical Hinduism, Medieval Hinduism and Modern Hinduism. Commencing the study with some general observations on the study of Hinduism such as confinement of the study by and large to India and lack of a political history of Hinduism, it examines features of Hinduism that established themselves during the different periods. Critically analyzing the literature that emerged during various periods and the light they shed on Hindu thought, it focuses especially on the Hindu-Muslim encounter at various levels -- especially political, religious and mythic -- in the medieval period with particular bearing on the mystical encounter between them as available through royal records and literature. Considering the views of religious thinkers and scholars like Raja Rammohan Roy, S. Radhakrishnan and Mahatma Gandhi, it examines the source material especially in English and authored by Hindus themselves for study of history of Hinduism in the modern period. Delving into the ideological forces modern Hinduism has had to contend with -- to wit Islam, Christianity and science; it analyses the concept of conversion and secularism in India and deals with the origin of Hindu fundamentalism in Hindu society.
The book will be useful for students and scholars of Hindu political thought, philosophy and religion and especially those concerned with Hindu studies as a discipline, as it throws up new areas for research in Hindu studies which have so far been neglected.