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An exploration and translation of the work of Hindu poet-saint, Karaikkal Ammaiyar. The Hindu poet-saint Karaikkal Ammaiyar describes herself as a demon, accompanying the god Siva as he dances in the cremation grounds. She is believed to be the first to write devotional poetry to Siva in the Tamil language and is considered the first of the 63 Tamil poet-saints. Written in the 6th or 7th century, her beautiful poetry presents the path of love and service that brings liberation. In Siva’s Demon Devotee, Elaine Craddock provides a historical, literary, and ethnographic exploration of Karaikkal Ammaiyar and her work. An annotated translation of the poet-saint’s 143 verses is included along with an introduction to the Tamil literary tradition. Craddock’s analysis of this poetry in its ancient context and of the narrative tradition that developed around the life of the Karaikkal Ammaiyar centuries later reveals cultural tensions concerning women’s roles and the devotional path. A consideration of the two temples that celebrate this poet-saint in contemporary India illuminate both ancient traditions and contemporary transformations.
Indian philosophy bases itself on three states of consciousness: waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. Deep sleep, or sus|upti, plays an important role in Advaita Vedaµnta, the major philosophical school that advocates a doctrine of pure consciousness. Explaining and savoring this paradox, this book shows how the concept of deep sleep can be used in Advaita Vedaµnta to reveal a philosophical insight, validate an argument, illustrate a moral, or adorn a tale. Arvind Sharma explores why sleep is a phenomenon that philosophers should be interested in and examines it in classical Hindu religious texts, including the Upanis|ads, and in foundational, early, and modern Advaita Vedaµnta.
Narrating Patienthood and Illness in Indian Medical Literature
Looks at narrative in the history of ayurvedic medical literature and the perspectives on illness and patienthood that emerge. In ayurvedic medical practice, the ways in which and the reasons why people become ill are often explained with stories. This book explores the narrative aspect of A÷yurveda, the dominant medical ideology and practice mode in India for over 2000 years. Looking at narratives concerning fever, miscarriage, and the so-called “king’s disease,” Anthony Cerulli shows how these shift from clinical to narrative discourse and how stories from religious and philosophical texts are adapted to the medical framework. Cerulli discusses the ethics of illness that emerge and offers a genealogy of patienthood in Indian cultural history. Using Sanskrit medical sources, the book excavates the role, and ultimately the centrality, of Hindu religious thought and practice to the development of Indian medicine in the classical era up to the eve of British colonialism. In addition to its cultural and historical contributions, the book’s Indian models contribute fresh perspectives to the very notions of health and illness.
The Devi Gita: Spiritual Counsel of the Great Goddess
The Devi Gita, literally the “Song of the Goddess,” is an Eastern spiritual classic that appeared around the fifteenth century C.E. C. Mackenzie Brown provides a reader-friendly English translation of this sacred text taken from his well-regarded previous book The Devi Gita: The Song of the Goddess, A Translation, Annotation, and Commentary. Here the translation is presented uninterrupted, without the scholarly annotations of the original version, and in its entirety for the pleasure of all readers who wish to encounter this treasure from the world’s sacred literature. Often neglected, the Devi Gita deserves to be better known for its presentations of one of the great Hindu visions of the divine conceived in feminine terms. The work depicts the universe as created, pervaded, and protected by a supremely powerful, all-knowing, and wholly compassionate divine female. It also describes the various spiritual paths leading to realization of unity with the Goddess. The author of the Devi Gita intended for the work to supplant the famous teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (the “Song of the Lord”) from a goddess-inspired perspective.
Ritual and Music in Hindu Tradition
Sonic Liturgy: Ritual and Music in Hindu Tradition builds on the foundation of Guy L. Beck's earlier work, Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound, which described the theoretical role of sound in Hindu thought. Sonic Liturgy continues the discussion of sound into the realm of Hindu ritual and musical traditions of worship. Beginning with the chanting of the Sama-Veda alongside the fire sacrifices of the ancient Indo-Aryans and with the classical Gandharva music as outlined in the musicological texts of Bharata and Dattila, Beck establishes a historical foundation for an in-depth understanding of the role of music in the early Puja rituals and Indian theater, in the vernacular poetry of the Bhakti movements, in medieval temple worship of Siva and Vishnu in southern India, and later in the worship of Krishna in the northern Braj region. By surveying a multitude of worship traditions, and drawing upon diverse sources in both Sanskrit and vernacular languages, Beck reveals a continuous template of interwoven ritual and music in Hindu tradition that he terms "sonic liturgy," a structure of religious worship and experience that incorporates sound and music on many levels. In developing the concept and methods for understanding the phenomenon of sonic liturgy, Beck draws from liturgical studies and ritual studies, broadening the dimensions of each, as well as from recent work in the fields of Indian religion and music. As he maps the evolution of sonic liturgy in Hindu culture, Beck shows how, parallel to the development of religious ritual from ancient times to the present, there is a less understood progression of musical form, beginning with Vedic chants of two to three notes to complicated genres of devotional temple music employing ragas with up to a dozen notes. Sonic liturgy in its maturity is manifest as a complex interactive worship experience of the Vaishnava sects, presented here in Beck's final chapters.
This third edition of the classic text updates the information contained in the earlier editions, and includes new chapters on the origins of Hinduism; its history of relations with Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam; Hindu science; and Hindu measures of time. The chronology and the bibliography have been updated as well. A comprehensive survey of the Hindu tradition, the book deals with the history of Hinduism, the sacred writings of the Hindus, the Hindu worldview, and the specifics of the major branches of Hinduism—Vaisnavism, Saivism, and Saktism. It also focuses on the geographical ties of Hinduism with the land of India, the social order created by Hinduism, and the various systems of Hindu thought. Klaus K. Klostermaier describes the development of Hinduism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including present-day political Hinduism and the efforts to turn Hinduism into a modern world religion. A unique feature of the book is its treatment of Hinduism in a topical fashion, rather than by chronological description of the development of Hinduism or by summary of the literature. The complexities of Hindu life and thought are thus made real to the reader, and Hindus will recognize it as their own tradition.
The Death Narrative of the Bhagavata-Purana
Tales for the Dying explores the centrality of death and dying in the narrative of the Bhaµgavata-Puraµn|a, India’s great text of devotional theism, canonized as an integral part of the Vais|n|ava bhakti tradition. The text grapples with death through an imaginative meditation, one that works through the presence and power of narrative. The story of the Bhaµgavata-Puraµn|a is spoken to a king who is about to die, and it enables him to come to terms with his own passing. The work does not isolate dying as an issue; it treats it on many levels. This book discusses how images of dying in the Bhaµgavata-Puraµn|a relate to issues of language and love in the religious imagination of India. Drawing on insights from studies in myth, literary semiotics, and depth psychology, as well as from Indian commentarial and aesthetic traditions, the author examines the power of myth and narrative (storytelling or hari kathaµ) and shows how a detailed awareness of the Puraµn|ic imagination may lead to a revisioning of some long-held presuppositions around Indian religious attitudes toward dying. By casting Vais|n|ava bhakti traditions and Puraµn|ic narrative in a fresh light, the mythic imagination of the Puraµn|as takes its place on the stage of contemporary discourse on comparative mythology and literature.
Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion
“Bringing together history and ethnographic interviews,
Blood Donation and Religious Experience in North India
Veins of Devotion details recent collaborations between guru-led devotional movements and public health campaigns to encourage voluntary blood donation in northern India. The book analyzes the operations of several high-profile religious orders that organize large-scale public blood-giving events and argues that blood donation has become a site not only of frenetic competition between different devotional movements, but also of intense spiritual creativity.
Guises of a South Indian Goddess
During the goddess Gangamma’s festival in the town of Tirupati, lower-caste men take guises of the goddess, and the streets are filled with men wearing saris, braids, and female jewelry. By contrast, women participate by intensifying the rituals they perform for Gangamma throughout the year, such as cooking and offering food. Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger argues that within the festival ultimate reality is imagined as female and women identify with the goddess, whose power they share. Vivid accounts by male and female participants offer new insights into Gangamma’s traditions and the nature of Hindu village goddesses.