Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India

Front Cover
Bloomsbury, Jan 1, 2009 - India - 284 pages
3 Reviews
From the author of The Last Mughal (“A compulsively readable masterpiece” —The New York Review of Books), an exquisite, mesmerizing book that illuminates the remarkable ways in which traditional forms of religious life in India have been transformed in the vortex of the region’s rapid change—a book that distills the author’s twenty-five years of travel in India, taking us deep into ways of life that we might otherwise never have known exist.

A Buddhist monk takes up arms to resist the Chinese invasion of Tibet—and spends the rest of his life atoning for the violence by hand printing the finest prayer flags in India . . . A Jain nun tests her powers of detachment as she watches her closest friend ritually starve herself to death . . . A woman leaves her middle-class life in Calcutta and finds unexpected fulfillment living as a Tantric in an isolated, skull-filled cremation ground . . . A prison warder from Kerala is worshipped as an incarnate deity for three months of every year . . . An idol carver, the twenty-third in a long line of sculptors, must reconcile himself to his son’s desire to study computer engineering . . . An illiterate goatherd from Rajasthan keeps alive in his memory an ancient four-thousand-stanza sacred epic . . . A temple prostitute, who initially resisted her own initiation into sex work, pushes both her daughters into a trade she nonetheless regards as a sacred calling.

William Dalrymple chronicles these lives with expansive insight and a spellbinding evocation of circumstance. And while the stories reveal the vigorous resilience of individuals in the face of the relentless onslaught of modernity, they reveal as well the continuity of ancient traditions that endure to this day. A dazzling travelogue of both place and spirit.

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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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