A Buddhist monk takes up arms to resist the Chinese invasion of Tibet-then spends years trying to atone for the violence by hand-printing the best prayer flags in India. A Jain nun tests her powers of detachment as she watches her best friend ritually starve to death. A woman leaves her middle-class family in Calcutta, and her job in a jute factory, to find unexpected love and fulfilment living as a tantric in a remote cremation ground. A prison warden from Kerala becomes, for two months of the year, a temple dancer and is worshipped as an incarnate deity; then, at the end of February each year, he returns to prison. A devadasi initially resists her initiation into sex work, yet pushes her daughters into a trade she now regards as a sacred calling. These are among the nine lives whose mesmerizing and unforgettable stories William Dalrymple tells with an almost biblical simplicity in his first travel book in a decade. A distillation of twenty-five years of travelling around and observing India, Nine Lives takes us deep into worlds we would never have imagined existed, even as it explores how traditional forms of religious life in South Asia have been transformed in the vortex of the regionâÂ€Â™s rapid change.
William Dalrymple—Nine Lives - In Search Of The Sacred In Modern India