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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 Although her untimely death left her work unpublished, the editors have worked diligently to reconstruct her translations from her surviving printed and handwritten manuscripts.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.
This book is based on the teachings of Bhagavad Gita, one of the most widely read books in the world. In today's busy life, we hardly get any time to meditate deeper into the meaning and purpose of life. We tend to take certain things for granted such as our status, wealth, educational achievements, etc. and also presume that they will be given to us in our next birth. But scriptures do not endorse this view. All our possessions, or the lack of them, are the result of our karma in the previous births. We rewrite our destiny everyday for our future births. Hence, we should decide our actions in accordance with the teachings of the scriptures and not allow our materialistic aspirations to distort our understanding and conduct in this world. Also one should not wait till the old age to start reading the scriptures. The right age to read scriptures is as early as one gets the consciousness so as to minimise the loss of deep, illuminating thoughts which an insightful reading of the Bhagavad Gita entails and hence, engage in righteous actions. The divine wisdom of Lord Krishna, encapsulated in the Bhagavad Gita, is addressed to each and every individual to help solve perplexing problems and progress towards a brighter future.
Since the beginning of modern Indology in the 19th century, the relationship between the early Indian religions of Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism has been predicated on a perceived dichotomy between two meta-historical identities: "the Brahmans" (purveyors of the ancient Vedic texts and associated ritual system) and the newer "non-Brahmanical" sramana movements from which the Buddhists and Jains emerged. Textbook and scholarly accounts postulate an opposition between these two groups, citing the 2nd-century BCE Sanskrit grammarian Patanjali, who is often quoted erroneously as likening them to the proverbial enemies snake and mongoose. Scholars continue to privilege Brahmanical Hindu accounts of early Indian history, and further portray Buddhist and Jain deviations from those accounts as evidence of their opposition to a pre-existing Brahmanism. In The Snake and The Mongoose, Nathan McGovern turns this commonly-accepted model of the origins of the early Indian religions on its head. His book seeks to de-center the Hindu Brahman from our understanding of Indian religion by "taming the snake and the mongoose"-that is, by abandoning the anachronistic distinction between "Brahmanical" and "non-Brahmanical." Instead, McGovern allows the earliest articulations of identity in Indian religion to speak for themselves through a comparative reading of texts preserved by the three major groups that emerged from the social, political, cultural, and religious foment of the late first millennium BCE: the Buddhists and Jains as they represented themselves in their earliest sutras, and the Vedic Brahmans as they represented themselves in their Dharma Sutras. The picture that emerges is not of a fundamental dichotomy between Brahmanical and non-Brahmanical, but rather of many different groups who all saw themselves as Brahmanical. Thus, McGovern argues, it was through the contestation between these groups that the distinction between Brahmanical and non-Brahmanical-the snake and the mongoose-emerged.
Practicing Caste attempts a fundamental break from the tradition of caste studies, showing the limits of the historical, sociological, political, and moral categories through which it has usually been discussed. Engaging with the resources phenomenology, structuralism, and poststructuralism offer to our thinking of the body, Jaaware helps to illuminate the ethical relations that caste entails, especially around its injunctions concerning touching. The resulting insights offer new ways of thinking about sociality that are pertinent not only to India but also to thinking the common on a planetary basis.
The relationship between a spiritual master and his disciple (piri-muridi) becomes important when one witnesses day after day the large numbers of Muslims and non-Muslims flocking to spiritual masters (pirs) stationed at the various dargahs of India. "This work discovers that piri-muridi aims at making the disciple see God in all things while very often allowing him to enjoy wordily success. This is achieved through a lenghty socialization process that spans a period of time ranging from twelve years to a lifetime. This socialization process is very painful, and some disciples (murids) run away. Most, however, remain bound to their pir, by their vow of allegiance to him, the pir's friendliness, sympathy, material, magical and psychological assistance, and when that is not enough, fear of his magical power. During this period the murid learns to fall in love with the pir whom he strives to see as the representative of God, by observing, serving, and seeing the pir's hand in everything that befalls him, and frequently recalling and concentrating on a mental image of the pir while believing that his actions are prompted by the pir. Having thus attained union with the pir, he one day suddenly realizes that the pir is just a curtain or veil that hides something else -- that which he has truly loved all the time in the image of the pir is God himself. The book is a mine of empirical information collected in the Nizamuddin dargah, showing how a set of beliefs contained in constantly narrated stories and experiences are used to forge, structure, maintain and further the relationship between the pir and his murid. It will be of interest to scholars of Islam, Indian history and sociology, Sufi thought and the place of religion in the modern world.
Every day millions of Tamil women in southeast India wake up before dawn to create a kolam, an ephemeral ritual design made with rice flour, on the thresholds of homes, businesses and temples. This thousand-year-old ritual welcomes and honors Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and alertness, and Bhudevi, the goddess of the earth. Created by hand with great skill, artistry, and mathematical precision, the kolam disappears in a few hours, borne away by passing footsteps and hungry insects. This is the first comprehensive study of the kolam in the English language. It examines its significance in historical, mathematical, ecological, anthropological, and literary contexts. The culmination of Vijaya Nagarajan's many years of research and writing on this exacting ritual practice, Feeding a Thousand Souls celebrates the experiences, thoughts, and voices of the Tamil women who keep this tradition alive.
The fifth and most popular book of the Ramayana of Valmiki, the Sundarakanda, recounts the adventures of the monkey hero Hanuman in leaping across the ocean to the island citadel of Lanka. Once there, he scours the city for the abducted Princess Siti. The poet vividly describes the opulence of the court of the demon king, Ravana, the beauty of his harem, and the hideous deformity of Sita's wardresses. After witnessing Sita's stern rejection of Ravana's blandishments, Hanuman reveals himself to the princess and restores her hope of rescue. The great monkey then wreaks havoc on the royal park and fights a series of hair-raising battles with Ravana's generals. Permitting himself to be captured by the warrior Indrajit, Hanuman is led into the presence of Ravana, whom he admonishes for his lechery. His tail is set ablaze, but he escapes his bonds and leaping from rooftop to rooftop, sets fire to the city. Taking leave of Sita, Hanuman once more leaps the ocean to rejoin his monkey companions. This is the fifth volume translated from the critical edition of the Valmiki Ramayana. It contains an extensive introduction, exhaustive notes, and a comprehensive bibliography.
This is an exploration of contemporary Hinduism, illustrated by case studies from the lived religion. Understanding Hinduism today requires an understanding of how it is practised in the contemporary world. Stephen Jacob's new introduction tackles these central issues, beginning with case studies of the grassroots practice of Hinduism in India and in diaspora communities. He covers issues of singular importance in the modern study of Hinduism, including the importance and role of mass media to this essentially orally transmitted religion. Other major areas covered include the concept of Hindu dharma, particularly in relation to caste, gender and Hindu nationalism, key and often controversial concepts in Hinduism. These useful guides aim to introduce religions through the lens of contemporary issues, illustrated throughout with examples and case studies taken from lived religion. The perfect companion for the student of religion, each guide interprets the teachings of the religion in question in a modern context and applies them to modern day scenarios.
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."
Awakening: An Introduction to the History of Eastern Thought engages students with lively anecdotes, essential primary and secondary sources, an accessible writing style, and a clear historical approach. The text focuses primarily on India, China, and Japan, while showing the relationships that exist between Eastern and Western traditions. Patrick Bresnan consistently links the past to the present, so students may see that Eastern traditions, however ancient their origins, are living traditions and relevant to modern times. Updates to the Sixth Edition include a new introduction as well as new approaches to problem areas throughout the text, but with special emphasis in Chapter 5 (Ashtanga Yoga), Chapter 10 (Basic Teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha), Chapter 12(Mahayana Buddhism: Madhyamaka section) and Chapter 18 (Chan Buddhism: regarding the relationship of Chan Buddhism to Zen Buddhism). In addition, all references and source material have been brought up to date. The companion website includes two new videos and many new photos, produced by the author. New to this Sixth Edition: * A new introduction that provides a helpful overview of each of the nineteen chapters and important connections between them; * An improved explanation of the nature of Vedanta philosophy, and a more logical organization of the Key Elements of the Upanishads in Chapter 3; * An extensive rewrite of Chapter 5, which deals with the subject of Ashtanga Yoga as expressed in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali; * A greatly improved presentation of Buddha's "Four Noble Truths" in Chapter 10; * A total recasting of the teaching of Nagarjuna in the Madhyamaka section of Chapter 12; * A clearer and easier to understand presentation of the teaching of the Dao De Jing in Chapter 14; * A major revision of Chapter 18 so as to clearly distinguish Chinese Chan from Japanese Zen; * Greater emphasis throughout, where pertinent, on the role of meditation practice in all Eastern traditions; * Revised and updated Questions for Discussion at the end of each chapter; * New photos and two newly produced videos prepared by the author for the book's companion website: http://patrickbresnan.com/.
The story of the Ramayana is well-known in all Indian language and Hindi literature is no exception to it. It has a long and rich tradition based on Ramkatha that through the centuries has challenged many authors.
Ramakrishna was a Bengali mystic who had a huge impact on the development of modern Hinduism. His chief disciple, Swami Vivekananda, not only helped revive Hinduism in India, but also introduced Hinduism to the West. Ramakrishna was a non-dualist worshippper of the Goddess Kali. However, he also experimented with Christianity and Islam, and repeatedly preached the diversity of paths to God. This is the story of Ramakrishna told first-hand as a series of days and nights spent with his disciples and lay followers. --Sacred Texts
Celebrated as an aquatic form of divinity for thousands of years, the Yamuna is one of India's most sacred rivers. A prominent feature of north Indian culture, the Yamuna is conceptualized as a goddess flowing with liquid love - yet today it is severely polluted, the victim of fast-paced industrial development. This fascinating and beautifully written book investigates the stories, theology, and religious practices connected with this river goddess collected from texts written over several millennia, as well as from talks with pilgrims, priests, and worshippers who frequent the pilgrimage sites and temples located on her banks. David L. Haberman offers a detailed analysis of the environmental condition of the river and examines how religious practices are affected by its current pollution. He introduces Indian river environmentalism, a form of activism that is different in many ways from its western counterpart. "River of Love in an Age of Pollution" concludes with a consideration of the broader implications of the Yamuna's plight and its effect on worldwide efforts to preserve our environment.
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.
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
With a New Preface Kali and Krsna are two of Hinduism's most popular deities, representing dramatically different truths about the nature of the sacred. The cruel and terrible Kali is thought to be born of wild, aboriginal roots. She is the goddess of thieves and often associated with human blood sacrifice. Krsna, in contrast, is the divine lover and inimitable prankster who plays a bewitching flute to draw all to him. But Kali and Krsna have much more in common than their contrasting personalities suggest. Kinsley shows that Krsna's flute can be interchangeable with Kali's sword, revealing important perceptions of the divine in the Hindu tradition.
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