Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern Indiaby William Dalrymple
Pub. Date: 06/15/2010
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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/i>/i>… See more details below
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.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 9.56(w) x 6.76(h) x 1.17(d)
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Synopsis This book, much like the title suggests, tells the separate stories of nine different religious individuals in modern India. Unlike other travel books, the author emphasizes the life story and experiences of those he encounters and much less speaks of his own expeditions. The many diverse and unique religions practices in India allow for ample curiosity, especially to western readers who are less familiar with them. The author, after introducing a special religious devotee, retells their story from their perspective in a riveting manner. The reader is swept into this new and fascinating world of devotion and worship. Often shocking and astonishing, the stories are also very moving and heartbreaking. Opinion The book contains many difficult terms to comprehend and many hard words to pronounce. This fact may obstruct the natural reading flow one is used to. However, if you are able to overlook these difficulties, the book is enchanting. The anthropological and religious mixtures give an added flavor and texture. The fact that many people are now extremely interested in modern India could add to the book's commercial success. The book itself is well written and the characters in it are likable and relatable. The religious aspect is also intriguing and may shed light on less familiar religions and beliefs thus hopefully invoking compassion and understanding towards others, and most importantly eradicating bigotry, prejudice and hatred. Grade: 9/10
Stories as rich and colorful as India itself. Dalrymple is one of the best non-fiction writers I've ever read. If you're interested in Eastern religion, you're sure to love this book.
I have lived in India. I inhaled the air at higher altitudes in the Himalayas, and wondered if oxygen deprivation causes this deeper awareness and spirituality. But then everything is heavily laden with spirituality up there, every rock, every tree, every drop of water is pregnant with a rich history. I have watched the sadhus walk by on pilgrimages of one sort or another. After a brief glimpse of curiosity at each other, we moved on to our appointed destinies, each regarding the other as irrelevent in the greater scheme of the Universe. But not so for Mr. Dalrymple. He delved deeper. He noted their humbleness as having just as legitimate place as yours or mine in the Universe, and he did it with a wonderful writing style. He flooded me with memories of all the things I missed that he captured so well on the journey. And if you haven't made such journies, you will feel enriched for reading this book and taking the journey through this very competant author's pages.It's almost like being there. Well done, William Dalrymple. You are a truly gifted author.