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Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion Paperback – March 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0300089059 ISBN-10: 0300089058

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Meeting God: Elements of Hindu Devotion + Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India + An Introduction to Hinduism (Introduction to Religion)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (March 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300089058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300089059
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 6.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An anthropologist-turned-believer, Stephen Huyler has dared to cross the line of objectivity and produce an introduction to Hindu religion that combines first-person detail with reverential admiration. Ten years in the making, Meeting God is the culmination of Huyler's travels throughout the Indian subcontinent, documenting in vivid photographs the panoply of Hindu devotional practices. What distinguishes Meeting God is its intimacy--through his glossy color photos and vignettes of individual Hindus practicing their rituals, he takes the reader into a world that pulses with the power of faith. The crux of the book is puja, daily devotional practices that anchor Hindus in the divinity of the universe, whether that person is a farmer, carpenter, engineer, or housewife. The remarkable array of different puja don't seem to interfere with modern life in India, and, as Huyler insists, actually enhance it. Given the vacuity of meaning in our own modern world, each page of Meeting God is an inspiration to deepen life. --Brian Bruya --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

For centuries, India's strict caste system prohibited many Hindus from worshipping their gods in a public way simply because lower caste Hindus could not afford the services of a brahmin (a priest). Yet Huyler, co-curator of the Puja: Expressions of Hindu Devotion exhibition at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, notes that these lower caste families and individuals found many ways to worship and to keep alive devotion to their own religion. In what is sure to become an enduring work, the author provides descriptions of the many devotional rituals that occupy Hindus as they seek darshan, seeing and being seen by God. In an opening chapter, Huyler explains the major concepts of Hindu devotions: puja, "a ceremonial act of showing reverence to a God or Goddess through invocation, prayer, song, and ritual"; dharma, "the supreme law of righteousness"; karma, "the doctrine of absolute responsibility"; varna, the caste system; Brahmanas, priests and their families. Using stories and photographs, Huyler describes the elements of public worship in a Hindu temple, the rituals accompanying worship in the home, the practices surrounding community festivals, processions that honor specific deities and the coming-of-age ceremonies that mark adolescence and old age. Photos grace every page: 200 in all, gorgeous full-color depictions of temples, household shrines, statuary of deities, sacred sites such as the Ganges River and people engaged in particular ritual activities and processions. Huyler's riveting prose and lavish photos bring Hinduism and its practices to life in all their richness and diversity. (Sept.) FYI: The book will accompany an exhibition that opens at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in fall 1999.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Huyler has too much to say and shares too little of what his subjects would say.
calmly
Stephen Huyler filled his book with beautiful pictures, revealing stories and genuine insight into the daily life and worship of Hinduism.
Wyote
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in Indian culture or Hinduism.
Gabriela Rios

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Recipedelights-dot-com-chef on October 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Tons of books have been written that explain and glorify the wisdom and philosophy of Hinduism. Many non-Hindus have been more than happy to embrace some or all of these concepts, one of the most ubiquitous being the concept of "karma". But even they can feel awed, confused, surprised or a combination of these emotions when they first encounter the seemingly anachronistic practices of Hinduism- like worshipping the stones or trees.
This is one of the few books that explain well to the western audience the whats and whys of the oldest religion in the world. It focuses on the approach of common Hindu folks to their religion and how it enhances their day-to-day life. Author starts with some basic concepts and then goes on to draw pen-pictures of daily lives of devout Hindus that, at least in the religious sense, defy modernization in contemporary India. The text aided by vivid pictures fires the imagination and magically transports the reader to India. The deep passion of the author is clearly reflected in the knowledgeable text. Hinduism is a very flexible religion, which is primarily the reason it has survived thousands of years. It is perfectly acceptable to practice faith in ways different from those of ancestors, provided certain basic tenets are kept in mind. The approach to religion may vary by region, by economic status, or caste but the important thing to note that diversity is acceptable.
Author has presented the approach to Hinduism in rural India or that practiced by lower income strata of the society, which comprises of a significant number of Indian Hindus. This approach is different from that practiced by urban Hindus or those in middle or upper income class. This book is highly recommended to all who have interest in religion, those who have an unquenchable thirst for anything Indian and even practicing Hindus.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Todd E. Graczykowski on June 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Huyler's book is a very personal and informative look at the daily lives of many different Hindus. Various aspects of daily rituals are pictured and described. Numerous holy places are visited and captured on film and in spirit by Mr. Huyler. A great many elements of Hinduism are discussed, holy days, sacred sites, shrines, as well as numerous Gods and Goddesses. The photography is simply magnificent and the text informative. Anyone who is interested in Hinduism, India, and wants to make the sacred part of their lives, must have this book. As the author suggests, this book should enrich and inspire our own daily rituals and prayers. It has made all the difference in my life.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Gabriela Rios on March 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Initially I purchased this book for the multitude of color photographs contained within it. Once I began leafing through its pages, I realized it was written in such elegant simplicity that I was drawn in immediately.
Each chapter covers a different aspect of Hindu worship in India: worship in the home, with one's community, at a temple, etc. The book does not so much explain Hinduism as it does the way Hindus approach their faith.
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in Indian culture or Hinduism. It's a fascinating read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Joel Brown on March 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Its books like this which are truly inspirational. Open it up and you will open up to India and the complex spiritual diversity of Hinduism. The process of 'meeting God' pervades all of life here. Everyone has their own unique and individual 'puja' for 'dharsa' This is a look at a whole culture, and not just a religion. The images are spectacular. These ancient rites flourish in the face of any modernization. Probably the best introduction to Hinduism out there.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is brilliant and moving beyond words. Mr. Huyler is one of the few Western scholars to have faithfully, respectfully, objectively captured the essence of Hinduism - no mean feat - and made it accessible to a non-Indian audience. Every time I look at the beautiful photographs in this book I want to cry. The stories about the extraordinary faith of ordinary Hindus from all backgrounds are colourful, moving and the photos are stunning. A book that truly does justice to Hinduism and to Mother India.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Carol Mathis on February 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is not the book for a reader who is looking for an understanding of the soaring intellectual complexity and nuance of Vedic philosophy.

This is not the book for a reader who is looking for a critique of Hindu fundamentalism, the social problems arising from the caste system.

But for the reader who is attracted to the beauty of a simple faith that permeates everyday life, Meeting God is the most beautifully written, moving book imaginable.

Huyler is a social anthropologist who is interested in the small artifacts of Indian life--clay pots, butter lamps, house idols. It is this interest in the small, the homely, the daily ritual, that informs this beautiful account of daily devotion in the lives of over a billion people on the Indian subcontinent.

Stephen Huyler's photography is exquisite, his descriptions moving and true, and his love for the culture he describes, obvious.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wyote VINE VOICE on March 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stephen Huyler filled his book with beautiful pictures, revealing stories and genuine insight into the daily life and worship of Hinduism. Many presentations of Hinduism focus too much on the esoteric elements or the philosophical schools. Huyler's presentation focuses on the common, real-life of Hindu worship, the heart and soul of the religion. He also touches on the other points without obscurity or distortion. This book is appealing and easy to understand. If you want to learn about Hinduism from books, you must read this one.
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