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The Sanskrit narrative text Devi Mahatmya, "The Greatness of The Goddess," extols the triumphs of an all-powerful Goddess, Durga, over universe-imperiling demons. These exploits are embedded in an intriguing frame narrative: a deposed king solicits the counsel of a forest-dwelling ascetic, who narrates the tripartite acts of Durga which comprise the main body of the text. It is a centrally important early text about the Great Goddess, which has significance to the broader field of Puranic Studies. This book analyzes the Devi Mahatmya and argues that its frame narrative cleverly engages a dichotomy at the heart of Hinduism: the opposing ideals of asceticism and kingship. These ideals comprise two strands of what is referred to herein as the dharmic double helix. It decodes the symbolism of encounters between forest hermits and exiled kings through the lens of the dharmic double helix, demonstrating the extent to which this common narrative trope masterfully encodes the ambivalence of brahmanic ideology. Engaging the tension between the moral necessity for nonviolence and the sociopolitical necessity for violence, the book deconstructs the ideological ambivalence throughout the Devi Mahatmya to demonstrate that its frame narrative invariably sheds light on its core content. Its very structure serves to emphasize a theme that prevails throughout the text, one inalienable to the rubric of the episodes themselves: sovereignty on both cosmic and mundane scales. The book sheds new light on the content of the Devi Mahatmya and contextualizes it within the framework of important debates within early Hinduism. It will be of interest to academics in the fields of Asian Religion, Hindu Studies, Goddess Studies, South Asian Studies, Narrative Studies and comparative literature.
In the Hindu world-view, threshold is a profoundly important concept: it represents a passage between one space and place and another, with emphasis placed on creating a visual bridge between the secular and the sacred. Accordingly, the literal threshold a person crosses when entering and exiting a home or business symbolizes the threshold one crosses between the physical and spiritual realms of existence. Hindus have long believed it is possible to affect a person's well-being by using diagrams to sanctify the "threshold space." The diagrams do so by "trapping" ill will, evil, bad luck, or negative energy within their colorful and elaborate configurations, thereby cleansing those who traverse the space and sending them on their way with renewed spirit, positive energy, and good luck and fortune.The creation of the threshold drawings, or diagrams, is steeped in Indian history and culture, going back thousands of years. Practiced by women, it was long considered a vernacular art. But, as this innovative book reveals, it turns out that the diagrams represent highly sophisticated mathematical and cosmological underpinnings that have been unknowingly handed down from one generation of women to the next. As India has modernized and rapidly become more urban however, more Indian women have acquired more complicated lives, allowing less time to continue the practice of threshold drawings. And so a long-standing and critically important expression of Indian life, religion, and culture is becoming less common to the point that the tradition is threatened."Across the Threshold of India" is a pioneering new book that presents the story of the threshold drawings for the first time. In Volume I, the reader is presented with an insightful history of how the threshold drawings evolved, what they have meant and represented in Indian and Hindu culture, and how the practice became a high form of vernacular art for religious and everyday life. In Volume II, we are able to enjoy and admire Martha Strawn's original duotone and color photographs of the threshold drawings that she made throughout India during decades of work and travel, most of which are in the permanent collection of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, the nation's foremost research center for Indian culture and art. By presenting the most recent scholarship on the history and art of the threshold drawings and combining that engaging tale with her wonderful fine-art and documentary photographs, Martha Strawn has given the world a unique and enduring gift: a work of visual ecology that perceptively portrays one of India's and the world's longest and least-known religious practices: the art of sanctifying space through threshold drawings." Martha Strawn s photographs reveal an ancient tradition unfamiliar to most outside of India. The intricate patterns of the rangoli diagrams, rendered in lyric detail, connect these Hindu women with others throughout millennia who have sought to find the divine within sacred geometries. Strawn effectively demonstrates how this inherited custom has evolved from a religious necessity into a fascinating and enduring form of cultural expression. This two-volume work is a welcome addition to the growing literature about Indian art and culture, with Strawn's timeless photographs at its center. " -- From the Introduction by Mark H. Sloan, Director and Senior Curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of CharlestonPublished in association with the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston."
In a book now marked by both critical acclaim and cross-cultural
controversy, Jeffrey J. Kripal explores the life and teachings of
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a nineteenth-century Bengali saint who
played a major role in the creation of modern Hinduism. Through
extended textual and symbolic analyses of Ramakrishna's censored
"secret talk," Kripal demonstrates that the saint's famous ecstatic
and visionary experiences were driven by mystico-erotic energies
that he neither fully accepted nor understood. The result is a
striking new vision of Ramakrishna as a conflicted, homoerotic
Tantric mystic that is as complex as it is clear and as sympathetic
to the historical Ramakrishna as it is critical of his traditional
These never before published teaching stories of the yoga master Swami Kripalu are at once down-to-earth and transcendent. The Swami was fond of telling stories as a way of making his often subtle and surprising points. For example, in a parable about mind control, "The Demanding Daughter," we learn of a young spoiled woman who will only marry on the condition that she can find a husband who will allow her to strike him on the head seven times a day with her shoe. Each story is set off by a particular yoga principle that the Swami illustrates through the story.
The Bhagavad Gita opens with a crisis - Prince Arjuna despairs on the battlefield, unsure if he should fight his kinsmen in a dreadful war. For Easwaran, the Gita's epic battle represents the war in our own hearts and Arjuna's anguish reflects the human condition: torn between opposing forces, confused about how to live. Sri Krishna's timeless guidance, Easwaran argues, can shed light on our dilemmas today. Placing the Gita's teachings in a modern context, Easwaran explores the nature of reality, the illusion of separateness, the search for identity, the meaning of yoga, and how to heal the unconscious. The key message of the Gita is how to resolve our conflicts and live in harmony with the deep unity of life, through the practice of meditation and spiritual disciplines. Sri Krishna doesn't tell Arjuna what to do. He points out the prince's choices, and then leaves it to Arjuna to decide. Easwaran shows us clearly how these teachings still apply - and how, like Arjuna, we must take courage and act wisely if we want our world to thrive.
Ratified by the Parliament of the World's Religions in 1993 and expanded in 2018, "Towards a Global Ethic: An Initial Declaration," or the Global Ethic, expresses the minimal set of principles shared by people-religious or not. Though it is a secular document, the Global Ethic emerged after months of collaborative, interreligious dialogue dedicated to identifying a common ethical framework. This volume tests and contests the claim that the Global Ethic's ethical directives can be found in the world's religious, spiritual, and cultural traditions. The book features essays by scholars of religion who grapple with the practical implications of the Global Ethic's directives when applied to issues like women's rights, displaced peoples, income and wealth inequality, India's caste system, and more. The scholars explore their respective religious traditions' ethical response to one or more of these issues and compares them to the ethical response elaborated by the Global Ethic. The traditions included are Hinduism, Engaged Buddhism, Shi'i Islam, Sunni Islam, Confucianism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, Indigenous African Religions, and Human Rights. To highlight the complexities within traditions, each essay is followed by a brief response by an expert in the same tradition. Multi-Religious Perspectives on a Global Ethic is of special interest to advanced students and scholars whose work focuses on the traditions listed above, on comparative religion, religious ethics, comparative ethics, and common morality.
The Hindu World is the most complete, authoritative and
up-to-date one-volume guide to Hindu faith and culture available
today. Written by the world's leading scholars on Hinduism, its
twenty-four chapters explore the history, philosophy and practice
of one of the world's great religious traditions.
The Hindu World offers new insights into all aspects of Hindu life, ranging from the devotional texts of the Vedas and Ramayana to current perspectives on dharma and kama, temple architecture, sacred food, ritual, caste, cosmic philosophy, history and modernization. This is an ideal reference for students and scholars of Hinduism.
Two radically different ideologies are currently competing for the
loyalties of the Hindu community. One of these ideologies, Hindu
nationalism, conceives of Hinduness as co-extensive with
Indianness. The other ideology, which has been articulated by such
figures as Sri Ramakrishna and Mahatma Gandhi, repesents Hinduism
as the 'eternal' or 'universal' religion. This is an idea of
Hinduism that is pluralistic and all-inclusive. Arguing that Hindu
nationalism is not only destructive of communal relations, but that
it also prevents Hinduism from emerging as a world religion in the
true sense of the term, the author here explores a reconfigured
version of the second of these two ideologies. He presents a vision
of Hinduism as a tradition capable of pointing the way towards a
future in which all the world's religions manifest complementary
visions of a larger reality - and in which they all, in various
ways, participate. This radical religious agenda puts a new and
exciting perspective on Hindu and South Asian studies alike.
This second half of Bhishma describes the events from the beginning of the fifth day till the end of the tenth of the great battle between the Káuravas and the Pándavas. Despite grandfather Bhishma's appeal to conclude peace with the Pándavas, Duryódhana continues the bloody battle. The key strategist is general Bhishma, commander of the Káurava forces. Even though he is compelled to fight on the side of the Káuravas, Bhishma's sympathies are with the Pándavas. After the ninth day of war, when Bhishma has wreaked havoc with their troops, the Pándavas realise that they will be unable to win as long as invincible Bhishma is alive. Bhishma willingly reveals to them how he can be destroyed. Strictly observing the warrior code, he will never fight with Shikhándin, because he was originally born a woman. Bhishma advises the Pándava brothers that Árjuna should strike him from behind Shikhándin's back, and they follow the grandfather's advice.
In The Cow in the Elevator Tulasi Srinivas explores a wonderful world where deities jump fences and priests ride in helicopters to present a joyful, imaginative, yet critical reading of modern religious life. Drawing on nearly two decades of fieldwork with priests, residents, and devotees, and her own experience of living in the high-tech city of Bangalore, Srinivas finds moments where ritual enmeshes with global modernity to create wonder-a feeling of amazement at being overcome by the unexpected and sublime. Offering a nuanced account of how the ruptures of modernity can be made normal, enrapturing, and even comical in a city swept up in globalization's tumult, Srinivas brings the visceral richness of wonder-apparent in creative ritual in and around Hindu temples-into the anthropological gaze. Broaching provocative philosophical themes like desire, complicity, loss, time, money, technology, and the imagination, Srinivas pursues an interrogation of wonder and the adventure of writing true to its experience. The Cow in the Elevator rethinks the study of ritual while reshaping our appreciation of wonder's transformative potential for scholarship and for life.
Hinduism has become a vital 'other' for Judaism over the past decades. The book surveys the history of the relationship from historical to contemporary times, from travellers to religious leadership. It explores the potential enrichment for Jewish theology and spirituality, as well as the challenges for Jewish identity.
India celebrates itself as a nation of unity in diversity, but where does that sense of unity come from? One important source is a widely-accepted narrative called the "bhakti movement." Bhakti is the religion of the heart, of song, of common participation, of inner peace, of anguished protest. The idea known as the bhakti movement asserts that between 600 and 1600 CE, poet-saints sang bhakti from India's southernmost tip to its northern Himalayan heights, laying the religious bedrock upon which the modern state of India would be built. Challenging this canonical narrative, John Stratton Hawley clarifies the historical and political contingencies that gave birth to the concept of the bhakti movement. Starting with the Mughals and their Kachvaha allies, North Indian groups looked to the Hindu South as a resource that would give religious and linguistic depth to their own collective history. Only in the early twentieth century did the idea of a bhakti "movement" crystallize-in the intellectual circle surrounding Rabindranath Tagore in Bengal. Interactions between Hindus and Muslims, between the sexes, between proud regional cultures, and between upper castes and Dalits are crucially embedded in the narrative, making it a powerful political resource. A Storm of Songs ponders the destiny of the idea of the bhakti movement in a globalizing India. If bhakti is the beating heart of India, this is the story of how it was implanted there-and whether it can survive.
In the context of Dutch colonialism, world war, the incorporation of Bali into the Indonesian state and the tourist boom, this book examines the complex relationships between the changing nature and continuing relevance of Balinese hierarchy, the neo-Hindu reforms of Balinese religion, and the impact these have had on new forms of identity. Since at least the 1920s commoners and other intellectuals and reformers have sought ways to challenge Balinese caste hierarchy, both through egalitarian re-interpretations of Balinese institutions and through changing religious ideas and practices. State initiatives to transform 'traditional' Balinese religion into monotheistic and more 'authentic' form of Hinduism have precipitated the appearance of many indigenous new religious movements and the importation from India of devotional forms of Hinduism (Sai Baba and Hare Krishna), which has created a vastly more intricate religious landscape. These various forms of Hinduism, and the conflict and competition between, both undermine and sustain relations of hierarchy. Through historically informed, ethnographic analyses of status competition, caste conflict, ritual inflation, religious innovation, and the cultural politics of identity this book, written in an accessible style, makes a major contribution to our understanding of modern Balinese society and its future development.BR> Series editors: Wendy James & N.J. Allen
Carol Salomon dedicated over thirty years of her life to researching, translating, and annotating this compilation of songs by the Bengali poet and mystical philosopher Lalan Sai (popularly transliterated as Lalon) who lived in the village of Cheuriya in Bengal in the latter half of the nineteenth century. One major objective of his lyrical riddles was to challenge the restrictions of cultural, political, and sexual identity, and his songs accordingly express a longing to understand humanity, its duties, and its ultimate destiny. His songs also contain thinly veiled references to esoteric yogic practices (sadhana), including body-centered Hathayogic techniques that are related to those found in Buddhist, Kaula, Natha, and Sufi medieval tantric literature. Dr. Salomon's translation of the work is the first dedicated English translation of Lalan's songs to closely follow the Bangla text, with all of its dialectical variations, and is here produced alongside the original text. Although her untimely death left her work unpublished, the editors have worked diligently to reconstruct her translations from her surviving printed and handwritten manuscripts. The result is a finished product that can finally share her groundbreaking scholarship on Baul traditions with the world.
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