In its initial stages of growth, the banyan tree grows up like a regular tree, only to later send down shoots that thicken into trunks. This bi-directional growth of the banyan serves as an allegory for the directions of India's cultural change, in this exploration of Indian society, written by a generalist who has lived in and traveled around India on various occasions since the early 1990s. The bi-directional growth for India's culture, according to this allegory, includes Indians who, like the downward hanging branches of the tree, continue to live according to a belief in a transcendent order for human life shaped by tradition; other Indians who, like the banyan's central trunk see the future as an upward rise brought on by Western technology, education and lifestyles, toward universal material development and a secular, open society and still others who have managed to incorporate both into their lifestyles. --©2009 Book News Inc. Portland, OR
About the Author
Richard Connerney was a fellow for the Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) and a former Phillips Talbot Fellow for the Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA). He lived and worked in Lucknow, India from 2005-2007. Before joining ICWA he was a lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at Rutgers University and a senior editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.
Connerney studied Sanskrit and classical Tibetan on the way to earning an M.A. from the University of Hawaii in Asian Religion. First arriving in India in 1990 at the age of 19 as an exchange student, he returned in 1994 with the help of an overseas study grant from the University of Hawaii Office of International Studies and Programs. He speaks Hindi, Urdu and Nepali, among other languages.