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Book recommendation: ‘Darśan. Seeing the Divine Image in India’ by Diana L. Eck

One of the most difficult things for many westerners to understand about Hinduism is its relation to and worship of images. Because we grow up under monotheist and Abrahamic hegemony, we are often influenced – whether or not we are actually religious – by its views. And in the Abrahamic traditions, the worship of images is ususally both prohibited and ridiculed as childish.

For this reason, many who look at Hinduism through western eyes easily misunderstand why Hindus worship images and what they see when they look at them. Religious studies professor Diana L. Eck’s book ‘Darśan. Seeing the Divine Image in India’ tries to remedy this by explaining the concept of Darśan, or ”sacred seeing”, so central to much of Hindu worship.

It answers such questions as: Why do they worship images? What do they get out of it? What do they believe the Deities get out of it? How can something human-made be a God? How can not only sculptures but also trees, rivers and small stones be seen as part of the Divine?

To properly understand, one needs a basic knowledge of Hindu philosophy and theology, which Eck does a good job of explaining. Even someone who has never read anything about Hinduism before will finish this rather short book (about 60 pages, not counting the notes) with a proper understanding of how Hindus see the world and the Divine.

The Swedish translation of the book


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