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Baksheesh and Brahman

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Joseph Campbell was one of the foremost interpreters of myth in our time. Yet when he traveled to Asia for the first time he was nearly fifty and at a crossroads in his life and career. This journal of those transformative six months in India is as close as Campbell ever came to writing an autobiography. After ten years’ intense study of Indian art and philosophy, Campbell embarked on this long-postponed journey. Searching for the transcendent (Brahman)—the exotic mysteries of the India in his books—he found instead stark realities: growing nationalism, cultural and religious rivalry, poverty, the impact of foreign aid, and a culture of what he called “baksheesh;” or alms.

This carefully kept journal chronicles the disillusionment and revelation that would change the course of his life and studies. It is at once a diary of his adventures—including his personal photos—a forum in which he develops, his revolutionary ideas and clarifies his future pursuits, and a record of his insightful discussions of art, philosophy, and transcendent realities with Indians from every level of society. Baksheesh and Brahman superbly illustrates Campbell’s working method and grants a look at the thoughts and experience of an incredible mind.
Companion to Sake and Satori: Asian Journals—Japan.

Reviews: These journals chronicle Campbell’s meetings with holy men, his management of his wife Jean’s dance tour through the country, and his meeting with Nehru. The climax of his visit is his meeting with Sri Krishna Menon in Trivandrum. The guru confirms Campbell’s understanding of the Indian scriptures that the goal of the Self is to become one with the Universal…. Campbell interrogates his own prejudices, dismantles them and builds the foundations of what has become an influential way of thinking about the world’s religions. —Publishers Weekly

Before I read Baksheesh and Brahman, all I knew of Campbell was that he was an author of formidable intellect and also engaging wit (if the print version of Moyers’ series is to be believed)with a deep understanding of Oriental faiths. Campbell’s account of his encounter with the land of these faiths – India – is at once insightful of the man and India in the 1950s. Confronted by the actual India – ancient, prudish, thieving, an emerging nation seeking a semblance of pride, low on self esteem, spiritual – Campbell is all at once the fastidious Westerner at odds with a culture he has admired from afar, charmed by its exoticism and occasionally getting bang on and incisively the actual reality of India. This book is an easy read and essential for anyone who has ever admired Campbell’s work. Also a must read for anyone who wants to hold up a mirror to the new Indian nation and how far and how less that nation has traveled in the 50 odd years since. Campbell’s acerbities on fellow American travelers make for marvelous diversions.

One small observation and this must stem from being an Indian – that India is a hospitable nation is clear from this book. I am sure a lot of Indians would attribute it to Campbell being white, but there is something in here of hearts and houses being thrown open to a stranger. —Amazon.com

Journaling is a different kind of writing because it skips consciously between the who of the writer and the what of the subject matter. Having read some seven hundred and fifty pages of Joseph Campbell’s reflections on a myriad of Asian countries through which he traveled for one year, beginning in September 1954, I have a much deeper appreciation for the man and the impulses that guided him to become a comparative mythologist…. Always observant, Campbell reveals through his journals the complex interior terrain of a soul who helped put the study of comparative mythology back on the world map. -Dennis Patrick Slattery, Parabola Magazine

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2002-08-25

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Asian Journals - India

Joseph Campbell was one of the foremost interpreters of myth in our time. Yet when he traveled to Asia for the first time he was nearly fifty and at a crossroads in his life...

Unavailable English Edition(s)

Campbell, Joseph / Larsen, Stephen; Larsen, Robin; Van Couvering, Antony

1995-10-01

(English)

Hardcover Book

Joseph Campbell was one of the foremost interpreters of myth in our time. Yet when he traveled to Asia for the first time he was nearly fifty and at a crossroads in his life...

Campbell, Joseph / Larsen, Stephen; Larsen, Robin; Van Couvering, Antony

1997-01-01

(English)

Paperback Book

Joseph Campbell was one of the foremost interpreters of myth in our time. Yet when he traveled to Asia for the first time he was nearly fifty and at a crossroads in his life...

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