India’s Diverse Faiths, As Told Through ‘Nine Lives’

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India is the world’s largest democracy and home to a multitude of faiths. British journalist William Dalrymple, who has lived in India on and off for the last 25 years, surveys the subcontinent’s rich religious topography in his latest book, Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India.

The religious journeys Dalrymple describes in Nine Lives are incredibly personal. The book itself, though, is “emphatically not” about Dalrymple’s own religious search — (he comes from a Catholic background.) Instead, he says the real lesson of both Nine Lives and India itself “is pluralism.”

The nation’s incredible diversity “makes it very difficult to believe in only your own faith — that the faith you happen to have been born into is the only possible way of reaching God,” he says. India inspires the idea “that there are many ways up the mountain.” But is that true?

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This post was last updated: Jun. 25, 2010