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India: A Sacred Geography

Author: Diana L. Eck
Language: English
Length: 576 Pages
Publisher: Random House Publishers
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India: A Sacred Geography (Paperback) Price: Rs.500

In India: A Sacred Geography, the reader is taken through the spiritual journey of the country's beautiful geography which includes the mountains, rivers, forest and villages. Every place has its own story, myth and legend that are embedded in its surroundings.

Summary of the Book

India is a fascinating country where every place has its own story. Everything, be it mountains, rivers, the sea, temples and forests, are linked to one another by these stories and legends. This book is an attempt to give us an understanding of the regions, traditions and beliefs that have emerged through the sacred places of pilgrimage. It tells us the tale of how the Indian landscape and way of life has been linked and kept intact for many centuries by mere pilgrims who have shared certain narratives and their meanings.

About Diana L. Eck

Diana L. Eck is a religious scholar and is a Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies at Harvard University. She has authored the books Banaras, City of Light, Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India, Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras, and A New Religious America: How a Christian Country Became the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation.

Specifications of India: A Sacred Geography (Paperback)

Author Diana L. Eck
Book Details
Publisher Random House Publishers
Publication Year 2012
ISBN-13 9780385347082
ISBN-10 0385347081
Language English
Binding Paperback
Number of Pages 576 Pages
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India that is Bharat

Is India One? Has India been one nation historically?

Colonial masters promoted the theory that India as a nation was a product of British administration. The subjects brainfed in their schooling swallowed this. The nationalists tried to counter this during the freedom movement, but after Independence, the theory has been revived by left oriented academics and self -styled intellectuals who seek to dominate public discourse.

A hundred years ago Prof. Radha Kumud Mookerjee tired to show the fundamental unity of India
purely on historical basis, bypassing social and religious factors. But a national school of history based on our own traditions has failed to evolve, and we are still captives of alien theories.

Just what makes a nation? Ethnicity and race, language, religion, ideology- every thing has been suggested as the basis of national identity and they have been duly assigned to the dung heap by actual history, Twentieth century alone has shown how these factors failed as promoters of unity.. . The two world wars were fought mainly by and among Christians. Soviet Union collapsed as the citadel of ideology. Muslims are fighting among themselves, even as they believe in Jehad against others. Nearer home, language has failed to promote unity even within a state as people speaking the same language want to separate. We hardly realise how recent is the idea of nation state in the Western sense and how flexible have been borders and boundaries.

Diana Eck takes up the social and religious factors and shows how well and truly they have promoted the vision of Bharat from Setu to Himalayas, not in the narrow western political sense but as a more fundamental civilization, lasting through millennia, on the basis of geography and mythology. The learned author arrays an amazing amount of facts and details from our rich and diverse traditions and shows how well connected they are at so many levels throughout this land which emerges as sacred geography. This is just amazing- every sacred place is present every where else- we are never far from the Ganga or the Himalaya, no matter how far we are from them physically! And this Bharat has an assured, definite position in the cosmos, which is recalled throughout the land in every important ceremony by every sect or tradition! The tirthas, dhams, hills and caves , the gods and Avataras- everything at once promotes and reveals this unity.

She deals with many historical aspects. She points out how Braj was rediscovered in the 16th century by Vallabha, Chaitanya and Narayana Bhatta. But she fails to mention how Sri Ramakrishna confirmed it in the 19th century, besides attesting to the innate holiness of Kashi, and pointing out the correct birth place of Chaitanya.

She also points out the irony involved in treating the country sacred while every river, hill, forest etc is polluted in practice. The orthodox religious outfits, the rising Hindu nationalists, the ecologists, the government machinery- none is really interested or effective in either stopping the degradation or improving matters. Thus we worship the Ganga and Yamuna while their waters are unfit for drinking, bathing or even agriculture..

However I noticed some disturbing points in the book One is the reliance on the unproved colonial theory of Aryan invasion, so typical of Western academics, which results in assigning ridiculously late dates for our sacred books, quite arbitrarily. Rama -Setu and discovery of submerged Dwaraka are mentioned but the obvious logical conclusion is not reached. But the most glaring is the typical Western hypocrisy in dealing with the Hindu-Muslim issues. For instance, the Muslim occupation of Mathura and Kashi is admitted, yet the original temple at Ayodhya is doubted! Much is made of the destruction of an already disused, dilapidated, and disputed structure, but no mention is made of the lakhs of Hindus driven out of their living ancestral homes in Kashmir by Muslims militants. Rising Hindu nationalism is viewed with disfavour, as if it rose in a vacuum but when she talks of Islam, she talks of Sufis, as if Sufism is the main face or facet of Islam!

Yet on the whole the book is fascinating. The author has been at it for over 25 years which shows her devotion to the subject. It is clearly as much a product of scholarship as of genuine love for the subject. She shows understanding and the book abounds in original views and brilliant insights.I love it, with all its faults.

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    Book: India: A Sacred Geography by Diana L. Eck
    ISBN Number: 0385347081, 9780385347082, 978-0385347082


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