Stone Masters: Power Encounters in Mainland Southeast Asia, Holly High (ed.) (NUS Press, May 2022)
Stone Masters: Power Encounters in Mainland Southeast Asia, Holly High (ed.) (NUS Press, May 2022)

Stones and those who speak for and to them are an important focus of animist religious practice in Southeast Asia, sometimes integrated into world religions, and sometimes not. This book features city pillars, statues, megaliths, termite mounds, mountains, rocks found in forests, and stones that have been moved to shrines, as well as the territorial cults which can form around them.

Science and Religion in India: Beyond Disenchantment, Renny Thomas (Routledge, December 2021)
Science and Religion in India: Beyond Disenchantment, Renny Thomas (Routledge, December 2021)

This book provides an in-depth ethnographic study of science and religion in the context of South Asia, giving voice to Indian scientists and shedding valuable light on their engagement with religion. Drawing on biographical, autobiographical, historical, and ethnographic material, the volume focuses on scientists’ religious life and practices, and the variety of ways in which they express them.

In the history of Chinese migration to Southeast Asia in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Chinese temples play a pivotal role in serving the spiritual and social needs of the immigrant community. Wak Hai Cheng Bio, the oldest Teochew temple in Singapore, is a rare surviving example of traditional Teochew architecture in Southeast Asia. Yeo Kang Shua’s Divine Custody: A History of Singapore’s Oldest Teochew Temple addresses the history of Wak Hai Cheng Bio, being one of Singapore’s earliest Chinese temples, as a centre with rich religious and cultural meaning as well as site of influence on the immigrant community.

Scattered throughout India one can find ancient synagogues, sometimes just remnants, that date back almost 3000 years. In Growing Up Jewish in India: Synagogues, Customs, and Communities from the Bene Israel to the Art of Siona Benjamin the diverse stories of Indian Jews is showcased through essays, photos, and a memoir of artist Siona Benjamin, perhaps the best known Jewish Indian in the United States.

Sikhs, at least Sikh men, are conspicuous among Indians by their ever-present turbans and their less noticeable but similarly ever-present daggers. Mistaken for, and sometimes attached as Aghani Muslims after 9/11, they can also be misunderstood in their native India, mocked as dim-wits in the Sardarji jokes and, followingt the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguard, targeted by state-sponsored propaganda and violence. Sikhism itself is, to non-adherents, obscure relative to Hinduism or Buddhism.

Here are two indispensable and beautifully-written guidebooks designed to lead readers through essential Buddhist thought. One is an ancient guide in verse by the western Indian sage Shantideva (c 685-763) to becoming a bodhisattva, someone who seeks enlightenment in order to pass it on to everyone else. The other is a modern bilingual guide by Alex Kerr using the Japanese version of the Heart Sutra, a Mahayana Buddhist text whose mere 56 lines of poetry are regarded by many as the key to all Buddhist wisdom.