Acknowledgements The author would like to thank Ziauddin Sardar and Richard Appignanesi for entrusting him with this book, his friends in the Coalition for an Egalitarian and Pluralistic India - and in particular Shuklaji, Syeda, Robin, Monidipa, Tarun, Samee, Safoora, Mahdi [aka Mr Sufi], Asha, Shahed - for making Southern California less intolerable than he is otherwise inclined to find it, and Anju, Avni and lshaan for enduring his at times manic working habits. This book is particularly for Professor I .K. Shukla, whose relentless commitment to Marxism and secularism have not interfered with his voluminous knowledge of Indian literary and religious traditions, and who has unstintingly given the benefit of his erudition to the author.

About the Author Vinay Lal teaches history and South Asian studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. His most recent books include The History of History: Politics and Scholarship in Modern India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003); Of Cricket, Guinness and Gandhi: Essays on Indian History and Culture (Calcutta: Seagull Books, 2003); and Empire of Knowledge: Culture and Plurality in the Global Economy (London: Pluto, 2002).

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About the Illustrator

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Sorin Van Loon has created a total of fourteen "lntroducing"-style books including Icon Books' Introducing Darwin, Introducing Cultural Studies, Introducing Psychotherapy, Introducing Mathematics, Introducing Eastern Philosophy and the best-selling Introducing Buddha. He is a surrealist painter and collagist who also produces the comic strip "A Severed Head" for The Chap magazine and has been a freelance illustrator since 1979. View his website on