A light up book by William Dalrymple that discovers with spacious perception and extraordinary compassion nine variation of religious devotion in our nation today. In portraits of human we might otherwise never identify, Dalrymple (the author) refined his many years of travel in India to explore the challenges faced by practitioners of long-established shape of faith in contemporary nation.
Middle-class woman from Calcutta discover unexpected achievement living as a Tantric in a skull-filled cremation in a remote ground. A prison guard from Kerala is honoured as an incarnate Almighty for few months of every year. A Jain nun trial her potential of disinterest watching her closest bud ritually crave herself to death. The twenty-third in a centuries-old line of idol makers struggles to restore friendly relations with his son’s wish to study computer engineering. An illiterate herder keeps alive in the remembrance of an ancient 200,000-stanza sacred epic. A temple prostitute, who resisted her own initiation into sex work, propel her daughters into the trade she nonetheless regards as a sacred calling
This book is beautiful and fascinating, lyrically written. But lyrical in the sense of descriptive in a way that canvass a picture.
William Dalrymple tells these tales, among others, with a fascinating image to the conscious mind of remarkable circumstance, giving us an extraordinary travelogue of both spirit and place.
In this novel, Writer offers nine tales, of nine various human, all following the traditions and rituals of various religions in modern India. As the reader, we are drawn into the problems of modern India – a nation in dealing with ancient superstitions, advancing in an economic boom, sects & cults. This makes a series of captivating tales, which actively ignore the usual platitude of mystic India.
Throughout the tales, author follows a same recipe – an introduction to the religious following or the person, then a first interaction with the person, then the background of the tradition, then the life story, coming back to the present time- often a festival of religious events.
It shows that there are not plainly four religions in nation (Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism), but a much more composite mixture, with crossovers and links.
Great writing, in which the writer offers no opinion or judgement, just presents the story.
This discovery for the sacred India is told through the talks of modern seekers: ganja smoking minstrel, crematory witch doctor, temple prostitute, sculptor of gods, Muslim mystic, militant monk, bard of epics , Dalit deity and an ascetic nun. Each of the nine has one foot in the ancient tradition, and the other in the present time. The writer is nearly invisible, a field researcher of traditional folk life.
Nine Lives is a novel you need to be certain what you’re signing up for, when you plan to go through it. It is not the regular one, nor is it something that will let you off the attach any time soon. It is the painful pattern shifts in the lifecycle of some people the writer has encountered over a span of 25 years; humans who left such a powerful enough impression that he felt force enough to memorialize them in his words.
Do you want to dive into reading to enhance your knowledge of religion in India?