Sacred Geography of Goddesses in South Asia: Essays in Memory of David Kinsley (Planet Earth & Cultural Understanding)

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9781443818650: Sacred Geography of Goddesses in South Asia: Essays in Memory of David Kinsley (Planet Earth & Cultural Understanding)

This book consists of thirteen essays that deal with links between ecology and shamanism, landscape and nature spirit, emphasising web of meanings imbued in the cultural tradition of portraying landscape as temple and territory as archetypal representation of the cosmos. In view of appreciating the path in this direction paved by David Kinsley, this anthology is a memorial tribute to him by his students, friends, associates and admirers, including an essay that critically and rationally examined his contributions and their relevance today. Of course, there are books on the thematic or disciplinary-packed orientation, however rarely any interdisciplinary book that narrates many perspectives and facets around sacred geography of goddesses is published. This anthology fulfils that gap substantially, through the essays by scholars from religious studies, geography, anthropology and cultural studies. The themes covered include: sacred places, spatiality and symbolism; mental journeys and cosmic topography, illustrated with Sricakra and Sricakrapuja; pilgrimage sites in the Siwalik Region where landscape has played special role to awaken human mind; Pavagadh, where landscape helps to make the power of the Mother Goddess; spatial circulation in ritualscape of the matrikas in Kathmandu Valley; scenario at the Kamakhya Pitha; sacredscape and spatial structure of be-headed goddess at Rajarappa; sacred geography and formation of Vindhyachal goddess territory; Hindu Goddesses in Kashi: Spatial Patterns and Symbolic Orders; the ten Mahavidyas Yatra in making the goddess spirit invoked; role of Durga in the present sacredscape of Varanasi; issue of images and performances related to the river goddess Ganga; and Green Tara in the wall paintings of Alchi.

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About the Author:

Rana P.B. Singh, Professor of Cultural Geography & Heritage Studies at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi (India), and has published extensively on geographical thought, sacred geography, pilgrimage studies and heritage planning in India. His publications include 35 books and anthologies and over 180 research papers. On these themes he gave lectures in almost all parts of the world. His recent publications include Environmental Ethics (1993), The Spirit and Power of Place (1994), Cultural Landscapes and the Lifeworld (2004), Uprooting Geographical Thought in India: Toward Ecology and Culture in 21st Century (2009), Geographical Thoughts in India: Snapshots and Vision for the 21st Century (2009), Banaras: Making of India s Heritage City (2009), Cosmic Order & Cultural Astronomy (2009), and Sacred Geography of Goddesses in South Asia (2010).

Review:

In the 1990s, David Kinsley was a gracious, quiet, behind-the-scenes mentor to a number of young Ph.D.s in Indology and the comparative study of religion, including myself, who aspired to write like him, to think comparatively like him, above all, to put things together in ways that no one had thought of putting together. Kali and Krishna, Tantric goddesses and ecology, shamanism and pilgrimage they all seemed to come together in his prose in beautiful and always provocative ways. In short, he taught us. What a pleasure it is to see a volume coming together, ten years after his passing, that focuses on these same themes with a renewed vigour and a renewed concern'. --Prof. Jeffrey J. Kripal, J. Newton Rayzor Professor and Chair of Religious Studies, Rice University, Houston, TA, U.S.A.

In the frame of sacred geography this anthology presents the multidisciplinary studies of goddesses that deal with links between ecology and shamanism, landscape and nature spirit, emphasising web of meanings imbued in the cultural tradition of ritualscapes, sacred time and territory as archetypal representation of the cosmos. The contents illustrated with 33 tables and 69 figures present a wide variety of topics related to sacred geography of goddesses, and I m sure it will be a very valid and useful contribution to the field. --Prof. Alex Passi, Linguistics and Oriental Studies, Bologna University, Italy

David Kinsley s impact on his students at McMaster University in Canada was extraordinary and his contribution worldwide to scholarly knowledge about and genuine interest in Hindu ways of religious life was impressive indeed. His premature departure from us was a palpable loss that we still feel a decade later. It is heartening none the less to realize that his impact carries on and is by no means confined to his home university and adopted country. The present volume, Sacred Geography of Goddesses: Essays in Memory of David Kinsley, edited by Rana P.B. Singh of Banaras Hindu University in Kashi, the city of light that David Kinsley knew so well, is fitting testimony to not only the respect in which he is held by scholars around the globe, but to the ongoing scholarship in fields where he himself began to sow. --Emeritus Prof. Joseph T. O Connell, Study of Religion, University of Toronto, Canada

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Rana P. B. Singh
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