Deities, Devotees and The Divine

Review of Nine Lives – In Search Of The Sacred In Modern India; William Darlymple; Bloomsbury Publishing 2008; Rs 499; pp

– Susan Thomas

Each story is short and non-fiction in nature. Each one depicts a different way of leading a holy life, especially how to follow a holy life while enduring the radical transformation of India’s economy and culture.

Dalrymple meets with individuals from wide and disparate religions such as devout Jain nuns, sacred Hindu dancers, a Buddhist monk who fights for Tibetan freedom, a mystical Sufi devotee and Tantric practictioners. He also outlines in detail the history of the religion and the observance of the tradition in the modern age.

The author picked extreme forms of devotion and avoided popular,  mainstream religions of India, which is certainly unique. It allows the reader to learn of religious practices that we would have never otherwise heard of. However, one can certainly question the longevity of some of these bizarre practices in a rapidly changing corner of the globe. It also seems that the “Sacred” in the title refers to the unwavering faith and committed beliefs that these devotees exercise daily despite societal pressure to change. Many of the issues discussed are really constant dilemmas that each of us usually face: using actions rather than words to bring change, a life of complacence versus a life of self-consciousness; the quest for material success rather than a life of modesty and spirituality. So in a sense, the lives of these nine individuals are philosophical contemplations for much larger issues of the human condition.

VN:F [1.9.20_1166]
Rating: 7.4/10 (8 votes cast)
Deities, Devotees and The Divine, 7.4 out of 10 based on 8 ratings

enjoyed this post? share with others:

twitter stumble upon digg

This entry was posted on Friday, April 1st, 2011 at 10:29 am and is filed under Non-Fiction, Religion, Reviews, Travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


  1. April 1st, 2011 | Murli Melwani says:

    “So in a sense, the lives of these nine individuals are philosophical contemplations for much larger issues of the human condition.” Absolutely.

    Kudos on a fine written review

  2. April 3rd, 2011 | sudha says:

    Religion has always been a popular subject for discussion and after reading this review what i feel is that the lives of these nine people does not speak of bare religion but it is something rooted deep, something which speaks of the human life in a real sense or in the practical terms of living life

leave a comment