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India: A Sacred Geography

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  107 ratings  ·  26 reviews
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 mounta
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Harmony (first published 2012)
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Harsh Verma
What is the idea of India? Unlike other countries that have developed national consciousness over centuries and millenia India has always been confused and divided. Yet her people have shown a similarity of consciousnes and familiarity for an even longer time than nations have stood on this earth. Diana Eck points out how a different framework has to be added when dealing with the east and especially India because the assumptions have to change. Eck points out the whole idea of India has been pr ...more
Truly illuminating!
I noticed two significant errors. One (p. 49) states: "That long fertile strip along the 'eastern' coast of India, stretching from Goa to Kerala," should of course, be 'western.' Two (p. 333) states that Lord Narasimha slew the asura Hiranyakashyapu at 'dawn.' He did so at dusk. I would also like to highlight a third point (p. 401) wherein the birds that inspire the sage Valmiki to begin the Ramayana as said to be "a pair of mating lovebirds." They were 'krauncha' i.e., Sarus
Arvind Balasundaram
In this book, Hinduism scholar Diana Eck makes a compelling case of why the (Hindu) Indian landscape is a vast network of cultural codes where the geography of place is intimately connected to the actual realization of mythological characters and events. Drawing heavily on the Purana and Mahatmya texts as a backdrop, Eck presents a summary of her own travels to various places of pilgrimage, from Badrinath and Kedarnath in the north to Ramesvaram and Kanyakumari in the south. She highlights the p ...more
This great scholarly work took almost thirty years for the author to complete, and the detail, knowledge and coherence derived from such hard work is evident in this book. For a westerner to have such detailed and intricate knowledge of Hindu mythology and religious believes is astounding.

She demonstrates how religious believes and mythology of Hindus is linked to specific geographies and physical locations. Every caste, every community under the broader umbrella of Hinduism has its own pious an
To read this book is to look through the eyes of a pilgrim seeking revelation of the divine in the landscape of India, a landscape where the temporal world and the spiritual world occupy the same space. A temple or a shrine, a mountain or a river, a forest or a rock formation: these places and features evoke mythic and miraculous stories from the Hindu tradition. They are to the pilgrim the fords by which one crosses into the dimension of the sacred, which is why when learning about Hinduism, it ...more
Hinduism can be impenetrable to Westerners, with its multiform gods, its relationship with image, and with its body-cosmology. India: A Sacred Geography interweaves sacred stories and myths with pilgrim's-eye observations of locations and rituals. It is definitely steeped in its material--it's written from the perspective of someone who knows the area and its less tangible surroundings. It shows an India less concerned with nationalism and other modern constructs and more with its spiritual spac ...more
Probably should be entitled India: A Hindu Sacred Geography. There's virtually no discussion of Islam, Jainism, Buddhism, or Christianity, all of which have their sacred geographies in India. This omission is surprising for someone whose interests include religious pluralism in the United States. The theme of the book is Hindu spiritual pilgrimage, and I cannot imagine a better introduction to that topic. Eck writes for an audience that has a more thorough command of Hinduism than I have.
Jonna Higgins-Freese
Having been a student of Eck's in the '90s, I enjoyed spending a few moments again with her voice -- she has an ability to evoke the textural and sensual details of various religions traditions that I've found nowhere else. I appreciated her insight that Banares, about which she wrote an earlier book, is "not unique, but inextricably part of a wider landscape shaped by the repetition and linking of its features. I began to realize that Kashi was not _the_ center, but one of multiple centers in a ...more
Excellent! and superb narrative of a vernacular Indian.
Avinash Pandey
really superb work done by the author.
I have not read a more compelling and informative book regarding Hindu Pilgrimage sites.The icing on the cake is the way diana explains the reason behind the Hindu myth with each pilgrimage site,way back from puranas and vedas.
I must admit though this book is quite exhaustive but comprehensive enough to keep ur eyeballs grabbed till the fag end.

A must read for every Hindu who want to unravel the mystery behind what their ancestors left behind.....
Aug 14, 2013 Les added it
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
Andy Fraenkel
India is known as the Land of Dharma, and when Hindus travel, it's usually to go to one of thousands of holy sites. Eck gives us an understanding as to what constitutes a holy site and the history behind some of these places. I've made three trips to India myself and have gone to some of these sites, both Hindu and Buddhist. On the last trip to India my wife wanted to go north to Rishikesh, near the source of the Ganges River, but due to my heart condition that was impossible. Toward the end of ...more
India: A Sacred Geography is a beautiful, lyrical account of the land that is India. While Diana Eck's research in itself is reason enough to read this book, the big added bonus is her beautiful style. It is like as if a wise person who has an incredible love for the subject matter is sitting next to you and narrating the contents of the book to you - that is the style! Just so warm!

I am an Indian and a Hindu and while I knew many of the stories and the significance of the various places/spots,
Dayanand Prabhu
A wonderful book trying to make sense of the idea of India through its various places of pilgrimage and how it is entangled with stories and incidents from Indian Mythology.
Rajiv Chopra
Dec 06, 2013 Rajiv Chopra rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Hinduism
Shelves: religion
I approached this book with a skeptical mind mind, and some small measure of curiosity. I was soon hooked onto the book, and it was very clear that Diana Eck approached the subject with a lot of respect and, I would even say, love.

The book is very well written, and in my opinion, quite accessible to anyone interested in Hinduism. I really like the way that she constructed the myths around each God, and avataar, and linked the geography of India to the myths.

This is an innovative approach to the
Maak Desai
Holy pilgrimage in words, it shows how impressed a forginer is with the land of the lords
Kumar Goutam Das
A one of its kind attempt to trace the sacredness and divinity of several of India's cities, towns, villages, mountains, rivers, forests, valleys, landscapes and its geography...the book delves into the numerous stories and legends associated with various shrines and spots of pilgrimage ...Diana takes the reader on a pilgrimage of a lifetime. A must read.
The Style Page
India: A Sacred Geography is a lyrical account of the sacred places in India. Although it was not Eck's intent (and she expresses anguish at Hindu nationalism), she inadvertently proves that India is a nation based in Hindu culture by highlighting the interconnectedness of sacred places in India.

Each chapter is illustrated by maps with a level of detail appropriate to the subject matter. I have faulted other books on India for their poor maps, but not this book.
Iami Menotu
in praise of polytheism of hinduism and its bharat. good research of the indian pilgrim sites.
Karan The
The notion of India not existing as a single Nation before the British consolidated their hold is a strong one, and many Indians believe in it, including myself to some extent, before I came across this book.
It is an insight into the unity that religion or the Hindu way of life has brought to India.
A wonderful book, very well researched, and makes one realise and rediscover a lot of secrets of this sacred land.
Anuradha Goyal
Never saw the integration of India through its geography. Detailed Review here:
Aug 17, 2012 Patricia is currently reading it
Reading this for research on my new novella, along with a couple of more esoteric books on sacred geography.She's authorative and gives a pleasant overview.
It probably helps to have some background knowledge of India and Hinduism before reading. I don't, and I can't wait to read this again when I do.
Very dense difficult tour through Hindu mythology. Learned alot.
Mills College Library
294.50954 E1911 2012
Miko marked it as to-read
Jun 20, 2015
chandra marked it as to-read
Jun 18, 2015
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