Book of the week, week 39
Sacred India is a close-focus view of spirituality in India, with a very God-is-in-the-details approach. Lonely Planet tackles a bafflingly large subject with admirable grace in this loosely structured, accessibly sized coffee-table book. A florid painting of Ganesh, a hundred capped heads bowed in prayer, weather-beaten flags whipped in the Himalayan wind: all are diverse glimpses of India’s spiritual cultures. India’s four major religions, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Buddhism are gathered in an impressionistic collage of vibrant photos and text. Christianity, Jainism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, as well as tribal religions and gurus are also covered in smaller sections. The book’s photos are lavish in colour and pungently evocative–but decidedly not opulent. They excel at the intensely personal (a lotus flower, a turban-swathed camel trader, a Muslim woman reading the Koran), but their zoomed-in style sometimes falls short of capturing the sense of awe and grandeur we like to associate with religion. Sacred India offers brief glimpses of a wide-ranging and multi-coloured land; but unlike the fable of the blind men and the elephant, the picture formed in the mind’s eye from these richly textured details will be greater than the sum of its parts. India is known from archaeological evidence that a highly sophisticated urbanized culture—the Indus civilization—dominated the northwestern part of the subcontinent from about 2600 to 2000 bce. From that period on, India functioned as a virtually self-contained political and cultural arena, which gave rise to a distinctive tradition that was associated primarily with Hinduism, the roots of which can largely be traced to the Indus civilization. Other religions, notably Buddhism and Jainism, originated in India—though their presence there is now quite small—and throughout the centuries residents of the subcontinent developed a rich intellectual life in such fields as mathematics, astronomy, architecture, literature, music, and the fine arts.
Lonely Planet, ISBN 1974059-366-9
The Times :
An exquisite study with stunning photographs and fascinating personal stories.
Publishers Weekly, us :
Sacred India is a feast for the mind
as well as the eyes.
Conde Nast Traveler :
Book of the week; week 34, 2005 Northern lights
This masterful evocation of the country’s spiritual heritage, combined with the sensuously photographed images, creaters a kind of literary nirvana that can be surpassed only by a journy to India itself.