Hindu Mobile Content Lags, But a Few Good Resources Are Emerging
In the year 2000, no one would have believed that in ten years most of us would be getting our daily dose of digital content on small devices that fit in a pocket or purse. Visiting big websites on your PC screen was obviously better than on the tiny window of your Blackberry. But Apple changed the game with a high resolution screen that uses the entire surface of the device--like a mini-TV in your hands. And with today's apps, we can choose and interact with discrete content, without traversing the noise and distraction of big sites with wall-to-wall links and ads. Mobile is a global shift driven by a whole generation raised on video games. Today, if you tell young folks they can get Hinduism Today on the web, they just roll their eyes and ask, "Okay, but do you have it as an app?" (Our answer: We will soon.)
Since the mobile revolution began, millions of apps have been released. Hindu content in this arena is still lean. A search on "Hindu" or "Hinduism" (you need to do separate searches) at Appolicious.com turns up only 60 apps for iOS and 40 for Android. Along with some very lightweight and questionable apps--such as Hindu Oracle, which "uses the Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu religion for divinatory practice and education," and Hindu Faces, a dating service--we see useful apps, such as Hindu Names for babies and Kids Hindu Puzzles, that will put positive images into the mind of your children. Most of the interesting content for adults are just eBooks repackaged as apps. For just $3.99 read J. Agarwal's I Am Proud To Be A Hindu. The Sterling Book Of Hinduism has an authentic view of Hinduism by renowned political leader and writer, Dr. Karan Singh. You want simple and free? iDivine Hindu offers the daily darshan of your favorite Deity. The list is short, but still worth your time. Check it out.
Hindu India Through Colonial Eyes
The British library (bl.uk) in London is among the world's ten largest libraries. Of particular interest to Hindus interested in Indian history are writings from the time of the British Raj. Remote access to the library is a formidable challenge. A Readers Pass requires a researcher's application. But recently BL.UK released a marvelous app, the British Library 19th Century Historical Collection for the iPad. Look for it in iTunes. Get the paid subscription (only $2.99) to access the full content. The app is superbly designed. Books are shown in their original scanned form. It's almost like holding an old manuscript. A search for "Hindu" gets you a short list. If you thirst for a glimpse of India the way it was 200 years ago, many of these books hold marvelous vignettes of those times. Kasi, or Benares, the Holy City of the Hindus, alone is worth the whole app.
Be forewarned. Most authors of these books on Hindus or India were missionaries or British administrators. While sharing intimate views, they do so with the inimitable British Christian arrogance of those times. The fashion of most was to deliver his prose with as much denigration for all things Asian as his pen could muster. As a reader, you will need a strong stomach to tolerate the vitriol while enjoying the background pictures of our holy land. But this experience is educational in itself. If you thought that complaints of British racism in those days are exaggerated or paranoic, you won't after you read from these books.