“There are few cities in India as traditionally Hindu and as symbolic of the whole of Hindu culture as the city of Banaras.”1 Thus begins Diana L. Eck's pioneering 1982 book on the Indian pilgrimage center of Banaras. Eck, a religious studies scholar, sketched a vivid account that offered dazzling insights into the city's cloistered world of rituals, mythology, and sacrality. Much has been written since then on the city, often considered India's most important pilgrimage center, and over the past twenty years, historians, anthropologists, and literary scholars have analyzed the processes through which Banaras was inhabited, shaped, and invented through political, social, and cultural configurations.2...

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