Spirituality, unlike religion with its collective proscriptions, connotes an essentially free, solitary state, immaculate in being beyond belief, expression and morality. Neither of the two books under review entirely avoid the trap of endorsing the popular belief that the Himalaya and Ganga are suitable symbols of the spiritual state because of their majestic and aloof grandeur. However, since mystics assert that evidence of the spirit can be found equally in the desert, the marketplace and in the most ordinary of human hearts, there can be no intrinsic merit in seeking out a Himalayan cave. At Lucknow railway station an old Sufi once defined spirituality as: “When two become one”. India`s startling range of doctrines and methods to find that oneness appeals to foreign freethinkers often because of the erotic possibilities inherent in certain Vaishnava and Tantric schools whose teachings hint at exciting options in the quest for the spiritual which in the Semitic scriptural perception of reality remain strictly out of bounds.
March 2006, volume 30, No 3