From the author of The Last Mughal (“A compulsively readable masterpiece” —The New York Review of Books), an exquisite, mesmerizing book that...more
From the author of The Last Mughal (“A compulsively readable masterpiece” —The New York Review of Books), an exquisite, mesmerizing book that illuminates the remarkable ways in which traditional forms of religious life in India have been transformed in the vortex of the region’s rapid change—a book that distills the author’s twenty-five years of travel in India, taking us deep into ways of life that we might otherwise never have known exist.A Buddhist monk takes up arms to resist the Chinese invasion of Tibet—and spends the rest of his life atoning for the violence by hand printing the finest prayer flags in India . . . A Jain nun tests her powers of detachment as she watches her closest friend ritually starve herself to death . . . A woman leaves her middle-class life in Calcutta and finds unexpected fulfillment living as a Tantric in an isolated, skull-filled cremation ground . . . A prison warder from Kerala is worshipped as an incarnate deity for three months of every year . . . An idol carver, the twenty-third in a long line of sculptors, must reconcile himself to his son’s desire to study computer engineering . . . An illiterate goatherd from Rajasthan keeps alive in his memory an ancient four-thousand-stanza sacred epic . . . A temple prostitute, who initially resisted her own initiation into sex work, pushes both her daughters into a trade she nonetheless regards as a sacred calling.William Dalrymple chronicles these lives with expansive insight and a spellbinding evocation of circumstance. And while the stories reveal the vigorous resilience of individuals in the face of the relentless onslaught of modernity, they reveal as well the continuity of ancient traditions that endure to this day. A dazzling travelogue of both place and spirit. less
If you like India, you will like this book. It's probably easier to relate to the characters if you have visited India, particularly off the beaten track. Just confirms what a fascinating country India is.
Nine stories about nine different people and their beliefs in India from a Jain nun, to a Sufi mystic to someone who lives in a crematorium. Throughout the book, Darlymple is non-judgemental about their beliefs and recounts them as if they are talking to you.
Oustanding non fiction on the lives of 9 ordinary, but deeply spiritual people , in India today. I highly recomend this, it will broaden your horizons, esp. if you are interested in Eastern philosophy of Buddhism or Vedanta. very personal stories!
An amazing travelogue exploring the unconventional religious practices of India! The common thread of faith and spirituality; simplicity and resilience of nine human lives strung together by Dalrymple as only he could do it.
Beautifully written, the authorial voice almost disappears and lets the stories shine through. The story about the Sindhi shrine is emblematic of the conflicts in the region. Most touching was the story of the monk preparing to die far from his native Tibet.
Dalrymple takes you through the religious landscape of India picking up rare but significant components of India's religious and cultural history... a different and yet experiential way of telling history.