The Eternal Food

Gastronomic Ideas and Experiences of Hindus and Buddhists

Edited by R. S. Khare

Subjects: Buddhism
Series: SUNY series in Hindu Studies
Paperback : 9780791410585, 290 pages, August 1992
Hardcover : 9780791410578, 290 pages, September 1992

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Table of contents

Note on Transliteration





1. Food with Saints: An Aspect of Hindu Gastrosemantics
R. S. Khare

2. You Are What You Eat: The Anomalous Status of Dog-Cookers in Hindu Mythology
David Gordon White

3. Sharing the Divine Feast: Evolution of Food Metaphor in Marathi Sant Poetry
Vidyut Aklujkar

4. Mountain of Food, Mountain of Love: Ritual Inversion in the Annakuta Feast at Mount Govardhan
Paul M. Toomey

5. Pancamirtam : God's Washings as Food
Manuel Moreno

6. Food Essence and the Essence of Experience
H. L. Seneviratne

7. Annambrahman: Cultural Models, Meanings, and Aesthetics of Hindu Food
R. S. Khare

8. Food for Thought: Toward an Anthology of Food Images
A. K. Ramanujan





The interdisciplinary approaches presented here investigate food in India and Sri Lanka for its wide ranging cultural meaning and uses. The authors examine food in religious and literary contexts, where saints, ritualists, poets, and the divine often provide grounds for a practically inexhaustible hermeneutics.

The Eternal Food focuses on reflexive cultural expressions and personal experiences that food elicits in the region. Concerned with food as an "essence" and as an essential experience, the authors give special attention to Hindu saints for whom food, firmly grounded in moral ideals and practice, represents a cosmic divine principle at one level, and a most immediate and intimate material reality at another.

In the cultural diversity of India, the authors work with several conceptual models and meanings of food. They demonstrate how it reflects common social understandings about social caste, the cure and prevention of ailments, its ability to alter moods and motivations, or affect innate personal dispositions, personal spiritual pursuits and attainments. In its sweep and depth, food presents a powerful cultural lens for seeing how practical, ritual, and spiritual spheres of life conjoin.

R. S. Khare is Professor of Anthropology and Chairman of the International Commission on Anthropology of Food at the University of Virginia.


"This book brings together an interesting and 'palatable' variety of Indological approaches and areas. The opportunities to deepen and broaden one's knowledge, as an Indologist, are, therefore, considerable. The topic of food is undoubtedly important now and connects with a range of significant cultural semantic indicators relevant to the body and all that it represents in terms of lived experience and traditions. " — Gail Hinich Sutherland, Louisiana State University