Category: Religious Pluralism

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

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?

Spiritual fusion

Armed with snacks and prizes, Audrey Bloom is trying to coax an answer out of her 17 students. ”So who can tell me what duhka means?” she asks, dangling a set of golden bells from India before a semicircle of confused faces. ”Suffering,” a handful of her adult students call out, correctly identifying the Sanskrit term. For the last hour, Bloom has been illuminating the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity at Miami’s Unity on the Bay, a non-denominational Christian worship center. To the casual observer, the 2,500-year-old religion of Gautama Buddha bears scant resemblance to Christianity. But as Buddhism becomes