September 2nd marked the festival of Krishna Janmashtami, a.k.a. Krishna Jayanti, a.k.a. Krishna’s birthday. For those of you not keeping track of the Hindu pantheon (it can be an exhausting pursuit), a brief primer: Krisha is widely worshiped as the eighth avatar, or incarnation, of Vishnu, while Vishnu himself is commonly portrayed as part of the trimurty (or trinity) of great Hindu gods, along with Shiva and Brahma. (I use these hedging adverbs – “widely,” “commonly,” etc. – because of the bewildering complexity and malleability of Hindu tradition.) Continue reading
Ganesh Chaturthi, a celebration of the elephant-headed Hindu god, is in full swing. In honor of the Ganesh festival (which began on September 11 and runs until September 22), a couple items:
– A article I wrote about the 2008 festival has finally found its way to online publication
– Some stunning pictures of the aftereffects of the festival are online here
Ganapati Bappa Moriya!
Mystical India: a land of saints and sages, where religion reigns supreme.
Many scholars, particularly Indian scholars, hate this picture of India. And with good reason. The British used the stereotype of the religious (and therefore quite irrational) Indian in order to justify colonial rule. The superstitious, God-obsessed natives clearly could not run an effective government, said the Brits; we’re doing them a service by running one for them. Of course, the British conveniently ignored or marginalized India’s rich scientific, philosophical and political traditions. Continue reading