City Immersed in Prayer
Imprint: George F Thompson Publishing
160 Pages, 12 x 10.7 in, 110 color photographs
- December 2022
- In Stock
Varanasi, also known as Kashi and Banaras, is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh dating to the 11th century B.C.E. Regarded as the spiritual capital of India, the city draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges River’s sacred waters for prayer and ritual. In Varanasi, one is in a time warp where one is living in history as if time has never stopped, for the people, both residents and pilgrims, continue their daily practices and worship in ways relatively unchanged for millennia, a continuum of thousands of years. Being in Varanasi is like being on a thread pulled from a cloth that dates back to the beginning of time. Here, one doesn’t “see” a ruin, as one does in other ancient civilizations, but a living city where history hasn’t stopped.
David Scheinbaum guides us, with his camera, through the city’s winding streets that are filled with thousands of shrines and temples at virtually every turn. He takes us on an incredible visual journey to the Ganges, the sacred river where bathers are in prayer, and to the funerary Ghats, steps that lead down to the river where cremations take place, filling the air with incense and burning pyres. Hindus believe that being cremated along the banks of the holy Ganges allows one to break the cycle of death and rebirth and attain Moksha, (salvation) making it a major center for pilgrimages.
David Scheinbaum’s beautiful, soulful photographs present an ancient, holy city immersed in prayer. Woven through are the words of B. J. Miller and Diana L. Eck, noted scholars and writers who each shed light on the special qualities that make Varanasi the holy city it has always been.
“What a beautiful and moving book this is! In it, David Scheinbaum gives us vivid, intimate, stirring, contemplative photographs and personal reflections of life in Varanasi. He brings us to this incomparable, special place where the expansive range of human experience finds expression. We see why he, when in Varanasi, feels a pervasive inner peace within the complexities of life and death. Diana Eck's informed and illuminating vignettes invite us into a sense of the history and inner meaning of this holiest of places. And BJ Miller thoughtfully reflects on the mystery of death, a mystery that life in the City of Light itself so fully and prayerfully embodies. Varanasi is indeed a remarkable book.” ~William K. Mahoney, Charles A. Dana Professor of Religious Studies, Davidson College, and author of The Artful Universe: An Introduction to the Vedic Religious Imagination
“Varanasi is visually compelling and beautifully written. David Scheinbaum's delivery is elegantly complete with his photographs standing alone in their intimacy with the subject of prayer. His annotated visual notes as well as BJ Miller's essay and Diana Eck's reflections give an even greater appreciation of the material in this superb book. Varanasi is an extraordinary achievement.” ~Martha A. Strawn, Professor of Art Emerita, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and author of Across the Threshold of India: Art, Women, and Religion
“David Scheinbaum's remarkable photographs of Varanasi bring us to a place that is simultaneously eternal and contemporary. They show people that, at times, seem as familiar as those we might encounter on a morning walk or commute, as if humanity is peering back. But this is Varanasi, where the returned gaze is especially raw and wondrous, challenging and tender. Scheinbaum presents us with kaleidoscopic views of extraordinary contrasts: life and death, fire and water, the sublime and the ordinary. The dreamlike pictures seem almost otherworldly. In Varanasi, Scheinbaum has captured the pulse of India's holy city. I am grateful for his gift and find his book profoundly moving.” ~Christopher Jordan, Associate Professor of Photography and Digital Studies, University of Alabama, and author of Nowhere in Place
“A visually magnificent coffee-table style volume… Varanasi is a pure pleasure to browse through one page at a time.” ~Midwest Book Review
“David Scheinbaum’s in-depth photo exploration of one of its holiest cities, Varanasi, provides a visual feast of its unique marvels and traditions.” ~Lenscratch