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Banaras

4.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231114479
ISBN-10: 0231114478
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Editorial Reviews

Review

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)

A major event among studies of India.

(John Stratton Hawley Asia)

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)

About the Author

Diana L. Eck is professor of comparative religion and Indian studies and director of The Pluralism Project at Harvard University. She is the author of many books, including Dar´san: Seeing the Divine Image in India and the editor of On Common Ground: World Religions in America, a multimedia CD-ROM, both published by Columbia.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (September 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231114478
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231114479
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #858,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book takes one on a breathtaking Odyssey through the sacred landscape of the world's oldest and most sacred city: Lord Siva's eternal abode. Eck's approach is sensitive and captivating, her scholarship is impressive, and the result of her labour has been a preciously insightful and informative book. Anyone seeking God owes it to himself to learn about the Holy City of Kashi, where death is transformed into divine liberation, and reading this book is an excellent way to get started. As both a Saiva and a scholar, I highly recommend it!
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Format: Paperback
Diane Eck has written the most readable and spiritual book on the city where Hindus make pilgrimage to bathe in the Ganges and to take their last breath in this lifetime. The book includes good maps of the bathing ghats and detailed information of this ancient city of temples devoted to Shiva and other Gods and Goddesses. I have been to Banaras and walked those crooked streets and Eck's book places me right back in that sacred place.
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Format: Paperback
I first visited The City of Light in the fall of '89. When I returned for six month stays in both 1999 and 2006 I had Diana Eck's book with me; it made a rich experience even richer. As Eck writes, Kashi is not of this world, and her book - now well-dogearred - made my explorations more focused and deeply understood.
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Format: Paperback
And finally, to Varanasi--or Benares, as it's been called, or Avimukta, or Muhammabad, or, most anciently, Kashi--"The Luminous City". It is the most sacred of all Hindu cities, set on the most sacred stretch of the Ganges, where to bathe wipes away all sin and to be cremated results in union with Brahma. It is consecrated to and occupied by the multifarious Shiva, who himself bears many names--one Hindu work, the Siva Sahasranama Stotram, consists entirely of 1008 of his titles and eipithets. The teem and crush of Varanasi is hard to describe: in the narrow lanes of the old neighborhood markets or during the ecstatic clamor of evening prayer on the ghats, you may swear you have just seen as many people as ever existed in history. But beneath this--visible to the imagination's eye from the fishers' skiffs on the river at dawn, when the sun lights up the western banks--is the ancient city of Kashi, whose temples and prayers are its real life, and history mere commotion and rumor. Diana L. Eck, in her BANARAS: CITY OF LIGHT (Princeton, 1982) has brought forth that city, in a book very unlike the others I've described above--imagine a history of New York written by Walt Whitman, or of London by William Blake. Its particulars are the particulars of myth; she has scoured the Puranas and the great digests, talked with pandits and beggars, and produced, in the guise of a city history, one of the most moving and accessible accounts of the depths of the Hindu mind available in English: a great commingling of gods and hymns, tides and temples, and men and women, like Varanasi itself.

Glenn Shea, from Glenn's Book Notes at www.bookbarnniantic.com
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Diana Eck provides a richly-textured, nuanced, sensitive account of a city that the Hindus consider most holy. The book is based on observations, interviews and analysis of textual documents to argue that the essence of Banaras remains unchanged despite numerous attempts to redefine it by various invaders. For those Indians unfortunate enough not to be able to spend considerable time in Kashi, this book is a welcome alternative. I found the detailed historical accounts of Hindu temples in Banaras fascinating. Having spent nearly two hours at the Kashi Viswanath Temple attending the Shringar and Shayana arthi, I can say without hesitation that Diana Eck has captured the culture, spirit, ambiance and simmering spirituality of the city and its temples amazingly well. This book is a must-read for all those interested in spirituality and culture of Hindu India.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Diana Eck is not only a brilliant scholar who writes with clarity and conciseness, but also an inspiring teacher who conveys her passion for Banaras in this wonderful book. I spent a month in the city, visiting sites and absorbing the culture presented in this indispensable volume and plan to spend another month soon following up on the never-ending richness of the Holy City. This is the one book I can recommend without reservation to anyone seeking an in-depth understanding of Hindu Gods and Siva's City of Light.
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