In the beginning, says the ancient Hindu text the Rig Veda, was a man. And from man's sacrifice and dismemberment came the entire world, including the hierarchical ordering of human society. The book presents a wide-ranging study of Hindu texts read through the lens of Rene Girard's mimetic theory of the sacrificial origin of religion and culture. For those interested in Girard and comparative religion, the book also performs a careful reading of Girard's work, drawing connections between his thought and the work of theorists like Georges Dumezll and Girogio mythology and the ancient Indian institutions of the duel, the oath, and the secret warrior society. He also uncovers implicit and explicit critiques in the tradition, confirming Girard's intuition that Hinduism offers an alternative anti-sacrificial worldview to the one contained in the gospels.
- "In this lucid and vividly written book, Collins illuminates his analysis of violence and sacrifice in Hinduism with a highly original concept of the meaning of violence and sacrifice more generally. building on works by (and against) Rene Girard, he shows what a more nuanced Girardian theory would look like bases upon Hindu rather than Christian data." - WENDY DONIGER
- "Collins ably reviews and succinctly assesses that vast heritage of Indian thinking on the sacrifice, attending to both indigenous and Western scholarly sources. This resultant study both honours Girard's many contributions and, with respect to the Indian context, pushes beyond them. It greatly widens, beyond the Christian West, our necessary conversation about religion, violence, and the heritage of sacrifice in today's global web of religious and secular societies." - FRANCIS X. CLOONEY