ABSTRACT 0511NF TR GREAVES, ed.
Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization, Heinrich Zimmer, 1990; Delhi, Moti-lal Banarsidass. 248pp, illustrated, indexed. Original copyright 1946, the Bollingen Foundation.
This book of Zimmer’s, edited by Joseph Campbell, is a masterpiece of mythography. In the words of one of his reviewers: “It is rarely in any branch of knowledge that one encounters such an illumination of the whole subject, an investigation that is as brilliant as it is profound.” Among the themes and motifs discussed by Dr Zimmer are eternity and time; the cosmic delight of Shiva; the sacred rivers, the serpent and the bird, the Face of Glory; cosmic renewal, and so on. Zimmer’s text is as lucid as it is poetic and a real boon to the Indophile. Campbell’s job as editor was a daunting one: Zimmer died suddenly (from “full career” to death in seven days, from an illness) and the present work was assembled literally from scraps of paper and scribbled lecture notes. Most of it comes from a series of lectures given at Columbia University in 1942. A running footnote commentary was contributed by the noted Indian scholar Ananda K.
Coomara-swamy at Campbell’s invitation. If two heads are better than one, three must be better still, when they are such heads as these. Dr Zimmer draws interesting comparisons be-tween Hindu and Greek mythology and iconography which will surprise some but not the thoroughly matriculated. Godfrey Higgins, R.P. Knight and Charles King were among the wise in this regard. We too easily forget that Mother India was as much a radiator of culture and ideas as Rome or Egypt ever were; indeed it is said that in Asia all roads lead from India. The quality of the 70 photographically-reproduced illustrations is the only flaw. Highly recommended by this reviewer.
India/ religion/ mythology/ iconography/ Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva/ Parvati, Durga, Kali/ Bhairava/ yugas/ yoga/ dance/ consciousness/ reincarnation