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Sacred Geography of Goddesses in South Asia: Essays in Memory of David Kinsley

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.

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).

“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.

“The book has rightly selected the theme of Sacred Geography of Goddesses in South Asia, the basic outline of which was paved by David Kinsley. Covering themes like sacred places, mental journey, cultural landscape, mandalic frame, locality to universality, symbolic ordering, pilgrimage and sacred sites, this anthology opens a new vision of understanding the impinging spirit of feminine divine in South Asia. I’m sure this will further inspire scholars from diverse fields to come closely in sharing thoughts for better service to the Mother Nature”.
― Prof. Yuko Yokochi,
Dept. of Sanskrit Language and Literature, Kyoto University, Japan

“This collection of essays is unusually giving insights to understand the inherent messages of feminine divine that should be portrayed metaphorically, metaphysically and mystically taking purviews of images, perception, pilgrimages and ritualscapes. Following the path shown by David Kinsley the essays have their own writ, integrity and vision. For any one interested to know integration between inside realities and outside reflections related to sacred geography of goddesses, this book a ground-breaking path and the way to move upon”.
― Prof. Erik R. Sand, Religious Studies, Copenhagen University, Denmark

“Dr. David Kinsley has left a legacy of research that will lead scholars and students into the next millennium. His love of India is reflected in his many works, not the least of which deal with Indian goddess figures and sacred geography. His work has enabled not only Indologists but academics dealing with Women and Religion to build new theory and rhetoric. It is fitting that a Festschrift on just those topics is composed in his honour, focusing sacred geography of goddesses. These essays will lead us moving in wider horizon of feminine divine and her universal importance.”
― Prof. Phyllis K. Herman, Religious Studies, California State University, Northridge, USA

“I suspect that David Kinsley would be “intrigued” by the prospect of a volume of essays on the theme of goddesses and sacred geography since the goddesses of Hindu traditions and the impact of religion on the environment were favoured areas for his “musings,” as he would so often say. On the tenth anniversary of David’s premature departure from us, it is gratifying to see this concrete expression of his enduring legacy as a scholar and a teacher."

― Prof. Patricia Dold, Religious Studies, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-4438-1865-8

ISBN13: 978-1-4438-1865-0

Release Date: 28th January 2010

Pages: 420

Price: £49.99