An Accidental Theodicy

Genuflexions on a Fractured Knee

By Arvind Sharma

Subjects: Memoir, Spirituality
Hardcover : 9781438470078, 148 pages, November 2019
Paperback : 9781438470085, 148 pages, November 2019

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Table of contents


Part I. The Accident
Part II. The Aftermath: The Search for Meaning


A highly personal meditation on the nature and meaning of suffering.


An adequate explanation of suffering is perhaps the most intractable issue in the study of religion and philosophy, and the answer to the question "Why me?" has eluded not only those who are the victims of suffering, but those who sympathize with them and try to understand and explain their suffering. In this highly personal account, Arvind Sharma shares his story of becoming the victim of a severe road accident and his gradual recovery from a fractured knee, which included a hospital stay, surgeries, unexpected setbacks, and a lengthy process of rehabilitation. In the second and most substantial part of the book, Sharma attempts to intellectually come to terms with his experience and to reflect on how the experience of suffering in one form or another is a universal condition of human existence.

Arvind Sharma is Birks Professor of Comparative Religion at McGill University. He is the author of many books, including One Religion Too Many: The Religiously Comparative Reflections of a Comparatively Religious Hindu and Hinduism as a Missionary Religion, and the coeditor (with Ellen Bradshaw Aitken) of The Legacy of Wilfred Cantwell Smith, all published by SUNY Press.


"This book reads like a spiritual handbook on the problems of suffering and evil, which can be overwhelming. It is filled with wisdom of various traditions on the viscous question of theodicy, but is balanced by sprightly humor. The difficult subject is made accessible through personal reflections and philosophical and religious insights. Once I started reading, I had to finish it—it was captivating and inspiring. " — Veena R. Howard, author of Gandhi's Ascetic Activism: Renunciation and Social Action

"This fascinating and highly personal book offers a rare window into how events in the lives of scholars can shape their work and worldview. It is a valuable contribution to the wider discourse on the embodied and embedded nature of scholarly work: that it does not occur in a vacuum or from some imagined 'objective' Archimedean standpoint. " — Jeffery D. Long, author of A Vision for Hinduism: Beyond Hindu Nationalism