The book opens with a consideration of the various myths of Ganesa, stories of his birth, his beheading by his father Siva, and his subsequent restoration as the lord who gives, or withholds, success in undertakings. These mythic themes are then analyzed in relation to ritual, psychological, and religious aspects of Hindu culture. Later chapters explore the historical and ethnographic context of the cult of GAnesa in the Marathi-speaking region of India where his worship is most prevalent. The author also examines the role Ganesa has played in recent Indian history as the patron deity of some formulations of neotraditionalistic values and ideology. A concluding chapter portrays Ganesa as a "protean" deity, one having the ability to assume many identities yet remain distinctly and recognizably himself throughout, thereby displaying his power to bring his devotees into a sustaining and intense relationship with him. Throughout the book, Courtright illustrates both the complexity of the deity's many roles and stories and the integrated manner in which they come together.
About the Author:
PAUL B.COURTRIGHT is Professor in the Department of Religion at Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA. REVIEWS:
"Excellent into text." --W. SAX"Reads easily... informative. Gives alternative views, balanced, clear. Recommended as a good source book." --FORREST WOOD"Paul Courtright's ingenuity and skill have produced a comprehensive, interesting study about one of India's most popular gods... Definitely a must for the mythologist and indologist alike. It is a critical, thorough study that has been long overdue." --NEW CANADIAN REVIEW"Balances rich textural, anthropological, and interpretive resources...An opulent exposition of Ganesa and his worship." --CHOICE"Seasoned and insightful, obviously based on many years of thought, research, writing, and rewriting...Crammed full of information, well organized, and still a delight to read...masterful." JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF RELIGION"Courtright has collected much primary material, especially from the Puranas, presented some possible ways of understanding it, and culled the best of the secondary literature. In these respects, the book contributes significantly to the study of Sanskritic Hinduism and its regional realization." JOURNAL OF RELIGION"Intelligent and eminently readable." RELIGIOUS STUDIES REVIEW"Another of [the] year's treasures." COMMONWEAL