A Sacred Geography
Harmony, Hardcover, 9780385531900, 576pp.
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
In India: A Sacred Geography, renowned Harvard scholar Diana Eck offers an extraordinary spiritual journey through the pilgrimage places of the world's most religiously vibrant culture and reveals that it is, in fact, through these sacred pilgrimages that India’s very sense of nation has emerged.
No matter where one goes in India, one will find a landscape in which mountains, rivers, forests, and villages are elaborately linked to the stories of the gods and heroes of Indian culture. Every place in this vast landscape has its story, and conversely, every story of Hindu myth and legend has its place. Likewise, these places are inextricably tied to one another—not simply in the past, but in the present—through the local, regional, and transregional practices of pilgrimage.
India: A Sacred Geography tells the story of the pilgrim’s India. In these pages, Diana Eck takes the reader on an extraordinary spiritual journey through the living landscape of this fascinating country –its mountains, rivers, and seacoasts, its ancient and powerful temples and shrines. Seeking to fully understand the sacred places of pilgrimage from the ground up, with their stories, connections and layers of meaning, she acutely examines Hindu religious ideas and narratives and shows how they have been deeply inscribed in the land itself. Ultimately, Eck shows us that from these networks of pilgrimage places, India’s very sense of region and nation has emerged. This is the astonishing and fascinating picture of a land linked for centuries not by the power of kings and governments, but by the footsteps of pilgrims.
India: A Sacred Geography offers a unique perspective on India, both as a complex religious culture and as a nation. Based on her extensive knowledge and her many decades of wide-ranging travel and research, Eck's piercing insights and a sweeping grasp of history ensure that this work will be in demand for many years to come.
DIANA L. ECK is professor of comparative religion and Indian studies at Harvard University and is Master of Lowell House and Director of the Pluralism Project. Her book Banaras, City of Light, remains a classic in the field, and Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras won the prestigious Grawemeyer Book Award. In 1998, President Clinton awarded her the National Humanities Medal for the work of the Pluralism Project in the investigation of America's changing religious landscape.
“No major civilization has made sacred the very ground of its being as India has done, and no one has described this sacred organism with the down-to-earth humanity of Diana Eck. This is magnificent introduction to India by one of the leading lights in the study of religion today.”-- John Stratton Hawley, author of The Memory of Love: Surdas Sings to Krishna.
In this lucid, learned and luminous book, Diana Eck introduces the Western reader to the sacred landscape of India. She leads us into an unfamiliar world, with myths and symbols that seem initially strange, but by the end of this rich journey we find that we have encountered unexpected regions within ourselves.”—Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God and Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
“Reading [Diana Eck’s] new book was like listening to an old, wise friend, whose love and admiration of India and its people shines on every page.” --Phil Semler, San Francisco Book Review (5/5 stars)
Praise for Diana Eck’s Banaras
“In Banaras, Diana Eck... has written a notable book about this greatest of Indian pilgrimage sites.... Her brilliant, comprehensive book seems likely to remain for a long time the definitive work on this great Indian city.”--Washington Post
“The most beautiful book... on India.”--Journal of the American Academy of Religion
“Eck is a master of tone here. She begins as dry scholar, allows her personal voice to emerge and then, through judicious use of lyric quotations, advances to a striking level of exaltation and triumph.... To take us gently off this high, Eck buttresses us-and her arguments-with a truly amazing display of addenda; glossaries, calendars and appendices. One ends filled with admiration and awe, not just for the vision given us, but for the scholarship and dedication that made it possible.” --Los Angeles Times