"Hinduism is said to be the world's oldest religion. Yet the word 'Hindu' is of foreign 18th-century origin. Hinduism is defined as a polytheistic religion, but Mahatma Gandhi famously declared that one can be a Hindu without believing in any god. Hinduism appears to accommodate endless contradictions. It is a religion at least as much of myth as of history - it has no historical founder, no single authoritative book, and few central doctrines." Introducing Hinduism offers a guide to this extraordinarily diverse faith. It untangles the complexities of Hinduism's gods and goddesses, its caste system and its views on sex, everyday life and asceticism. Why do Hindus revere the cow? Must Hindus be vegetarian? Introducing Hinduism explores the links with and differences from Buddhism, Jainism and other religions, and describes the resurgence of Hindu extremism, the phenomenon of Bollywood and the overseas Hindu diaspora.