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By Gananath Obeyesekere

With Imagining Karma, Gananath Obeyesekere embarks at the first actual comparability of rebirth recommendations throughout quite a lot of cultures. Exploring in wealthy element the ideals of small-scale societies of West Africa, Melanesia, conventional Siberia, Canada, and the northwest coast of North the United States, Obeyesekere compares their principles with these of the traditional and sleek Indic civilizations and with the Greek rebirth theories of Pythagoras, Empedocles, Pindar, and Plato. His groundbreaking and authoritative dialogue decenters the preferred inspiration that India used to be the beginning and locus of rules of rebirth. As Obeyesekere compares responses to the main primary questions of human lifestyles, he demanding situations readers to reexamine permitted principles approximately dying, cosmology, morality, and eschatology. Obeyesekere's finished inquiry exhibits that assorted societies have come via self sufficient invention or borrowing to think in reincarnation as an essential component in their better cosmological platforms. the writer brings jointly right into a coherent methodological framework the idea of such different thinkers as Weber, Wittgenstein, and Nietzsche. In a modern highbrow context that celebrates distinction and cultural relativism, this e-book makes a case for disciplined comparability, a humane view of human nature, and a theoretical figuring out of ''family resemblances'' and alterations throughout nice cultural divides. eleven line illustrations

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Extra info for Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian, Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth

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The king asks Tvetaketu certain questions that the latter does not understand. ” “No,” he replied. ” “No,” he replied. ” “No,” he replied. (BKhad. 2) The young Brahmin is also ignorant of two paths of ascent of the soul at death, one that leads to the Fathers and one that leads to the gods (devas). From the way the text frames the Brahmin’s responses, it seems that the king is raising an issue that is not known to the peevish young Brahmin. The king asks Tvetaketu several other related questions that he fails to answer.

Into the blind darkness they enter, people who worship ignorance; And to still blinder darkness, people who delight in learning. “Joyless” are these regions called, in blind darkness they are cloaked; Into them after death they go, men who are not learned or wise. (BKhad. 10–11) I doubt whether the “joyless regions” refer to the otherworldly hells of later Indic eschatology; the context suggests that this is the fate of those who take the second path, those who are trammeled in desire, and this includes those who desire learning (probably a snide reference to the ritualists of the BràhmaJas).

Once born, the Igbo individual traverses through his normal earthly existence. Africa’s dominant entrepreneurs, the Igbo aspire to status and wealth. “It is a fair assessment of the Igbo world to say that the most important commodity it offers and for which the Igbo strive is the title system. The Igbo are status seekers. To use a market metaphor, they believe that the world is a marketplace where status symbols can be bought” (ISN, 16). At death, the Igbo “soul” bargains with the creator regard- West Africa 25 ing the soul’s status in the afterworld.

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