Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India

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Bloomsbury, Jan 1, 2009 - India - 284 pages
4 Reviews
From the Dust Jacket: A Buddhist monk takes up arms to resist the Chinese invasion of Tibet-then spends the rest of his life trying to atone for the violence by hand printing the best prayer flags in India. A Jain nun tests her powers of detachment as she watches her best friend ritually starve to death. A woman leaves her middle-class family in Calcutta, and her job in a jute factory, only to find unexpected love and fulfillment living as a Tantric skull feeder in a remote cremation ground. A prison warden from Kerala becomes, for two months of the year, a temple dancer and is worshipped as an incarnate deity; then, at the end of February each year, he returns to prison. An illiterate goat herd from Rajasthan keeps alive an ancient 4,000-line sacred epic that he, virtually alone, still knows by heart. A devadasi-or temple prostitute-initially resists her own initiation into sex work, yet pushes both her daughters into a trade she now regards as a sacred calling. Nine people, nine lives. Each one taking a different religious path, each one an unforgettable story. Exquisite and mesmerizing, and told with an almost biblical simplicity, William Dalrymple's first travel book in over a decade explores how traditional forms of religious life in South Asia have been transformed in the vortex of the region's rapid change. A distillation of twenty-five years of exploring India and writing about its religious traditions, Nine Lives is a modern Indian Canterbury Tales.

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Awesome book towards life and a micro level experience of life........

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I read a lot of books in a year and this is THE best book I have read in the last ten years. The nine people he found are a great spectrum of people in India and gives you a great feel for how varied India is in real life. It makes me want to travel in India. He is such a great writer that he makes me feel like I am there and can see India as he writes. After reading this book I have read two others by him and I am waiting for two more. If you care about India or want to learn about India, then this book is a must read. 

About the author (2009)

William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanaduwhen he was twenty-two. City of Djinnswon the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. The Age of Kali won the French Prix D'Astrolabe and White Mughalswon the Wolfson Prize for History 2003 and the Scottish Book of the Year Prize. His most recent book, The Last Mughal,was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize. Hi lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Dehli.

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