Interview | Priti Mistry Talks ‘Understanding Hinduism’
KNOWLEDGE, MISCONCEPTIONS AND A FASCINATION WITH GODS AND GODDESSES; AUTHOR PRITI MISTRY TALKS UNDERSTANDING HINDUISM.
Priti Mistry is an author and teacher from Warrington. Her latest book Understanding Hinduism is a book written for the classroom, for both teachers and pupils alike to learn about the Hindu faith. Released in September, Understanding Hinduism explains the Hindu faith in a way that is clear and easy to understand. Using bright colours and beautiful, hand-painted artwork, Priti’s book brings all aspects of the Hindu faith to life and will allow children of all backgrounds to learn more about the world’s oldest living religion.
Hi Priti, can you tell us a little about yourself and about Understanding Hinduism?
I came to this country when I was only six years old, speaking no English. I grew up in a town called Rugby, with my parents, brother, sisters, and grandparents. After marriage, I moved to Warrington where I still live with my husband and children. I qualified as a teacher over twenty years ago but chose to do supply teaching to allow me greater flexibility while raising our children. This was fortunate as it also allowed me to offer workshops on Hinduism in primary schools.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
The idea for the book came from the workshops I had been doing already when I visited schools to talk about Hinduism. I remember thinking it would be good if there was a book that explained the significance and the symbolism behind our Hindu gods and goddesses. I decided to start writing about some of the things I was talking about to the children when I visited their school.
What do you think Understanding Hinduism brings to the table that other books on the topic have not?
I think Understanding Hinduism brings a more modern perspective to the teaching of a very ancient religion. It covers key Hindu beliefs in a simple way without compromising on its importance. The pictures of the gods and goddesses are colourful and vibrant making it more appealing to children, and of course, the larger size makes it great for sharing.
How has your work in schools informed your writing?
Children in schools are fascinated by Hindu gods and goddesses and want to understand and learn more about them. The discussion boxes, in particular, are designed to allow children to discuss, reflect and explore new ideas within a paradigm they can access.
Am I right in thinking that Understanding Hinduism was written with both teachers and pupils in mind?
Yes. Primary school teachers do a great job teaching the major world religions in our schools. I hope this book will be one a teacher finds to be very helpful in teaching the children about Hinduism.
Are there any common misconceptions about the Hindu faith that you hope to correct with this book?
Yes, many people think that Hindus believe in many gods. Understanding Hinduism explains in a simple way how despite worshipping many gods and goddesses Hinduism is monotheistic. Also, when the word karma is mentioned people think this is a fatalistic viewpoint, I hope that after reading this book people realise that it can be empowering!
Has writing the book made you think about your own faith in different ways? If so, how?
I am amazed and in awe of the wise sages of India. The knowledge and wisdom they attained is truly timeless. When I was writing about the Yamas and Niyamas, which I feel are beautiful guidelines on living life, it really made me reflect on how simple life is in reality. Somehow we have this capacity to complicate it and make it more difficult then it needs to be!
What do you hope to achieve with the book? Other than for people to understand Hinduism, of course.
I hope this book helps teachers to feel more confident in teaching Hinduism and for children to enjoy learning about Hinduism as much as they do when I visit and talk to them. I also hope that Hindu parents who are bringing their children up will find this book useful to share with their children.
Understanding Hinduism is released on November 15th via Rejoice Publications. You can pre-order the book directly from us here. It is also available from Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith and all good booksellers.