The sharp contrast between cultures with a monotheistic paternal deity and those with pluralistic maternal deities is a theme of abiding interest in religious studies. Attempts to understand the implications of these two vast organizing principles for religious life lead to an overwhelmingly diverse set of facts and their meanings. In Freud's India, the companion volume to Freud's Mahabharata, Alf Hiltebeitel takes up this enormously
engaging question, focusing on the thinking of two spokespeople for the inner life of their cultures- Sigmund Freud and Girindrasekhar Bose. Hiltebeitel examines the attempts of these two men to communicate with and understand each other and these issues in the heated context of emotionally divisive allegiances. The book is elegant
in its nuanced attention to these two thinkers and its tightly controlled exploration of what their interactions reveal about their contributions and limitations as representatives of the psychology and religion of their respective cultures. Anxieties about mothers, says Hiltebeitel, separate Eastern from Western imaginations. They separate Freud from Bose, and they separate Hindu foundational texts from the foundational texts of Judaism.
Alf Hiltebeitel is Professor of Religion at George Washington University. He works mainly on the two Sanskrit epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and on the south Indian Draupadi cult, which worships the Mahabharata's leading heroine as the Goddess. He is a historian of religions who studies Hinduism with longstanding interests in Sigmund Freud and in the comparative study of Judaism.