Years before he became a mythology expert and household name, Joseph Campbell journeyed to India. He was nearly 50, at a career crossroads, and after 10 years studying Indian art and philosophy he was finally going to India seeking the transcendent (Brahman), the mysteries of India. Instead he found the stark realities of baksheesh culture. His journal of those six months is the closest Campbell ever came to an autobiography. It's a diary of his adventures, insights, and ponderings; it's a window into the India of 1954 and the Joseph Campbell of 1954--both are intriguing places to visit.
From Publishers Weekly
Campbell argued that each religion's myths were simply different versions of one archetypal myth residing in the collective unconscious of humankind. This collection of journals shows how he arrived at his conclusions. In the fall of 1954, when he was 50, Campbell traveled to India in hopes of experiencing firsthand all the elements of Indian religious practice that he had been studying for a decade. From the beginning, he struggles with ambivalence: "when you look at India from the outside it is a squalid mess and a haven of fakers; but when you look at it from the inside... it is an epiphany of the spirit." These journals chronicle Campbell's meetings with holy men, his management of his wife Jean's dance tour through the country, and his meeting with Nehru. The climax of his visit is his meeting with Sri Krishna Menon in Trivandrum. The guru confirms Campbell's understanding of the Indian scriptures that the goal of the Self is to become one with the Universal. In these journals, Campbell also lays out an ambitious research plan for a project in comparative mythology that would eventually become his four-volume The Masks of God. Although sometimes arrogant and condescending, Campbell interrogates his own prejudices, dismantles them and builds the foundations of what has become an influential way of thinking about the world's religions.15)
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