I’ve just started reading William Dalrymple’s Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India. I loved his last book The Last Mughal (my review), and if the Introduction chapter of Nine Lives is any indication, another great read is on the way! Excerpt below:
Much has now been written about the way that India is moving forward to return the subcontinent to its traditional place at the heart of global trade, but so far little has been said about the way these earthquakes have affected the diverse religious traditions of South Asia, or explored how the people who live out these rich traditions have coped with living in the eye of the storm. For while the West often likes to imagine the religions of the East as deep wells of ancient, unchanging wisdom, in reality much of India’s religious identity is closely tied to specific social groups, caste practices and father-to-son lineages, all of which are changing very rapidly as Indian society transforms itself at speed.
All this raises many interesting questions: What does it actually mean to be a holy man or a Jain nun, a mystic or a tantric seeking salvation on the roads of modern India, as the Tata trucks thunder past?
Also read the following article by Dalrymple that provides a glimpse into the format of this book (which is, oral histories and personal accounts): Serving the Goddess – The dangerous life of a sacred sex worker.
[Picture Courtesy: The New Yorker]