Renowned British historian William Dalrymple’s Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India is a travel book that traces the paths of nine Indians, each following different religious paths.
Summary Of The Book
The book is divided into nine chapters, with each chapter focusing on one Indian life. In Sravanabelagola, a pilgrimage town, a Jain nun experiences the death of a co-Nun and a friend. She decides to undertake Sallekhana, which is a Jain religious ritual, where one voluntarily fasts until death. In another story, Keralite Hari Das, a Dalit, works as a prison warden and manual labourer for 9 months in a year. However, the months from December to February see him turn into a dancer who is possessed by Gods.
Hailing from Karnataka, Devadasi Rani bai’s story focuses on how one of India’s oldest professions has undergone adaptation and change during the course of time. Tashi Passang, originally a tibetan monk, came to Dharamsala in India, once Tibet was captured by China. His story revolves around the difficulties of a monk in assisting the Tibetan resistance against Chinese occupation.
Manisha Ma Bhairavi’s story takes readers to Tarapith, a holy town in West Bengal. She worships goddess Tara and practices the Tantric way of life. The story of Kanai Das and Debdas Baul focuses on the lifestyle and traditions of the wandering Bauls.
These stories, along with the rest, are told by the author through great simplicity, and are the products of the twenty-five years that he spent travelling through the world’s largest democracy.
The book received tremendous critical acclaim, with multiple critics praising the author’s simple yet powerful writing. The book went on to receive awards such as the 2010 Asia House Award. It was also listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2010.
About William Dalrymple
William Dalrymple is a British curator, writer, art historian, historian, as well as a critic who has received several awards for his works.
Some of the author’s most noted literary works are In Xanadu, The Age of Kali, City of Djinns, White Mughals, From the Holy Mountain: A Journey In The Shadow of Byzantium and Return of a King - The Battle For Afghanistan.
William Dalrymple was born in Scotland in 1965. His education period was spent at Ampleforth College and Cambridge’s Trinity College. He went on to become a scholar in history in Trinity College later. He is a co-founder and a co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, which takes place every year.
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