Temples of Tamilnad: Travels in South India

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Xlibris Corporation, Sep 8, 2010 - Travel - 220 pages
"Temples of Tamilnad" takes us to the Tamil-speaking countryside of South India, to a collection of temples each remarkable for its veneration of the major gods of the Hindu pantheon, Vishnu and Siva. They often appear in one of their many incarnations, some with a quaint but unhelpful Dravidian name. The gods and their consorts (Parvati, Lakshmi, Kali, etc.)filter through our imagination until they become part of our lives, or perhaps even of ourselves. And in the temple sanctum the most powerful deity may be represented simply by air, water, a flame or shadow of a stone. All this to music and splitting of coconuts! Perplexing? Yes: Paradoxes abound. Puzzling? No: Enthralling, I found. This is why we venture to Tirvannamalai, Chidambaran and Tanjore. Do you prefer blue fluting Krishna or twirling Nataraja, the dancer, or disastrous Kali with her string of skulls? Secure on their lotus pedestals they await us as they have since time began. The author of this light-hearted account, a mid-career diplomat in search of wide horizons, admits some of the temples are musty, with a few lonely scorpions in the upper gopurans. Fortunately, there are friends, guides and companions to ward off anxious moments. Then, to leaven the text, you will find the inclusion of some early Tamil poems, alive and startling.

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About the author (2010)

James Hurd, born in New York City, attended Yale (BA) and Johns Hopkins (MA). He was at sea for three years on destroyers in World War II before joining the Foreign Service. After posts in London, Washington and Singapore, he decided it was time for a change. This resulted in a year's sabbatical in South India which became the basis of this book. At about this time, another book, "Preludes and Other Poems," was published in London by Christopher Johnson. On return to the State Department, the author specialized in public and cultural affairs, speech writing and dealing with international expositions. For the latter he received a superior honor award. The author spent several years' part-time work with the homeless in D.C., where he and his wife live.

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