Prof. Eck Discusses New Book on India

Highlighting the inherent connection between the land and the religions of India, Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies Diana L. Eck lectured Sunday on India’s spiritual landscape—the topic of her upcoming book.

Eck described India as a “living landscape,” linking mountains, forests, and rivers with various stories of gods and religious heroes.

Thirty years in the making, Eck’s book, titled “India: A Sacred Geography,” also details the many pilgrimage locations and routes that decorate India’s vast territory, shaping both regional and national identity.

“The entire land of India is a great network of pilgrimage places,” Eck said, noting the importance of Banaras, India’s greatest pilgrimage location and the topic of one of her previous books, “Banaras, City of Light.”

Eck, who first experienced India during a study abroad program as an undergraduate at Smith College, has continued to explore Indian studies through religion, specializing in studies of Hinduism.


Eck said the process of writing “Banaras, City of Light” prompted the idea for her current book, which was started in the 1980s and will be published this spring.

“[This book] taught me most of what I know about Hinduism,” Eck said. “This is a work that I can feel proud of, but mostly humble about.”

Audience members said they agreed with Eck’s characterization of India’s relationship with its religion.

"During my gap year in India, I found the common representation of geopolitical India as a goddess quite fascinating," said Nishin Nathwani ’15, who attended the lecture.

The talk was part of an ongoing series of public outreach lectures hosted by the South Asian Studies Department, which will continue through the month of November.

“We did this to see if we could get the scholarship of Sanskrit studies to the public,” said Outreach Coordinator Bijoy M. Misra said.

The initiative is a “journey in promoting India as a whole,” he added.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction.


The Nov. 7 article "Prof. Eck Discusses New Book on India" misquoted Nishin Nathwani '15 when speaking about his religious beliefs.


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