on 5 August 2013
I'm interested in contemporary India rather than Indian religion or philosophy. But even for someone of a rationalistic bent, this is a valuable book. It explains what "India" means outside the strict geographical borders or political system, and what makes it tick; it interprets the Indian landscape; it offers an intelligent and deeply-informed discussion of a wealth of issues, from contemporary identity politics to environmentalism. To my mind this is one of the dozen or so books one must read to better understand India.
on 22 January 2015
Eck follows the masses of India's pilgrims through sacred sites across the sub-continent, viewing hundreds of beloved places and mentioning the stories behind them. Her writing combines the tone of a scholarly tour guide with that of an enraptured pilgrim. The scope of documentation and the flood of names is daunting. But eventually she caught me up in the great journey. Her tour is the ultimate literary pilgrimage, to almost every holy place that she could visit in the course of three decades. Her admiration shines through for the land and those who love it. Her tribute to the diversity and universality of Hindu tradition offers a stark contrast to the voices of Hindu fundamentalism, which would reduce that tradition's mythic power to a literalistic, dogmatic, ethnically exclusive version of India's spiritual heritage.
--author of A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization
on 25 October 2013
The word sacred should not put you off. Done the travel bit? Wish to make some sense of what you saw? This compelling, scholarly yet accessible work is the answer. This must have been what religion was like all over, before monotheism brought us its dubious blessings