The authology of twenty essays represent the framework of Hindu’ holiest city, Banaras (Varanasi) with respect to survey of Sanskrit sources, early mythology, nomenclature of various names, the geomantic outline of pilgrimage mandala and sacred journeys, the Ganga ghats and the associated deities, depth and cosmogony, symbol of death and related functionaries, death and digestion and related rituals, Siva’s universe and the cosmic order, Bhairava as the controlling lord, death rituals: ghosts, greed and sins, secret parlance of the ghatias (pandas), Hindu calendrical system and festivities, the five popular melas, cultural history and tourist attraction in Sarnath, the celebration of Ramanagar Ramlila, use and practices of milk bovines, demographic profile in 1820s, awakening Hindu nationalism and role of educational institutions, Banaras as the World Heritage City and historical accounts. At the end a selected bibliography of 494 sources from Sanskrit, Hindi, English, German, French and Japanese is also given.
Out of twenty essays thirteen are reprinted and the rest written fresh to cover the notable issues. This is the first and the only anthology of the nature where the outline of cosmic order and the popular traditions are synthesized together. This way the anthology reflects the deeply rooted faith and traditional of Hindu culture.
Dr. Rana P.B. Singh is Reader in Geography, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, UP 221005, India; and Director, Varanasi-Studies Foundation, and Editor, Culture Traditions of India Series, Aside from his many publications, also include six books and twenty-four papers on Varanasi. As Visiting Professor/Scholar he has given lectures in various universities in the USSR, USA, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Nepal, As a Pilgrim and Wanderer he performs sacred journeys and visitation to sacred places.
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