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Book – Spiritual Handbook India by Stephen Knapp

Spiritual India Handbook – a guide to a guide to festivals and traditions, temples and holy sites – written by Stephen Knapp explores the holy places in India. Stephen Knapp, a writer and philosopher, is noted for his works related to Santana Dharma. Basically, the book is a guide to foreign travelers who intent to visit holy sites in India. It’s not the usual travelers guide but a guide that apart from the basic information, gives details of why the spot is holy and what benefits you get by visiting the place – more of such spiritual notes.

For Example this is how Stephen Knapp introduces Mathura

As we begin our tour of the holy places of East and Central India, the first major holy place to see is only a short three hour ride by train or bus ride south from Delhi. Now that they have built a nice highway through the area, the road is much faster than it used to be.

Vraja, which has a perimeter of 168 miles and is composed of many villages and towns, is considered nondifferent from the holy places of Mayapur (Navadvipa), Jagannatha Puri, and Dwaraka. The same spiritual nature is manifest in all of these places. But Vraja is considered the holiest of all holy dhams. In many places in the shastra are descriptions of the glories of Mathura and Vrindavan.

The glories of Mathura are elaborately explained in the Varaha Purana, chapters 152 through 180. One verse states: “A moment in Mathura is worth a thousand years spent in Kashi (Varanasi).” And simply by bathing in the Yamuna River in Mathura one can be freed from all sins. Residing here for only a few weeks qualifies one for liberation from material existence. And each step taken in

Mathura is equal to visiting a holy place elsewhere. It is explained that those who die here attain Vishnu-loka, the abode of Lord Vishnu in the spiritual sky of Vaikuntha, and do not take birth again.

The book explores all most all the important holy places in India and also contains a highly informative introduction and a chapter on Purpose and Benefits of Pilgrimage. The introduction section also contains chapters like Dealing With Ricksha or Taxi Drivers and Taking The Trains. Appendix contains chapters on getting Visa, routes for short pilgrimages, etc.

The book is divided into five major chapters

  • The Major Holy Places in East and Central India and Nepal
  • The Historical Holy Sites and Temples of South India
  • The Major Holy Places of Western India
  • The Major Historical and Holy Places of Northern India
  • The Major Holy Sites and Temples of Far Northeast India

Spiritual India Handbook
Author: Stephen Knapp
Published by Jaico Publishing House
Price – 395/-