Summary: Excellent Introduction to Hindu "Idolatry"
Comment: Not only does this book explain the way Hindus view the iconic (formed) and aniconic (abstract) images of the gods, but also the corollary view and conception of temples and holy personages. The title and key idea in all this is "darsan," which means not only viewing the sacred, but simultaneously being viewed by the gods. The way in which the statues (murtis) are treated with continuous attendance in the form one would typically associate with a human guest--bathing, feeding, clothing, putting to rest, etc.--is made comprehensible via this small book's explanation. The statue, image, or the temple itself is the body of the divine, in which the sacred consents to be present to humans...thus, treating the sacred body with reverence and devotion is deemed appropriate and important.
This book is useful not only to Hindus and those interested in better understanding the Hindu religion, but also any thoughtful person who wishes to consider the relationship of sacred to symbol, and the way in which the divine might be present to us.
Summary: Excellent and essential
Comment: This is a required text for just about every introductory course on Hinduism. Essential reading for anyone wishing to understand how Hindus worship and see the divine.
Summary: Solid introduction to the concept of Hindu iconography and related ritual experience
Comment: Diana Eck is a wonderful scholar who has written several great books on Hinduism. Darsan (or "darshan," if you're transliterating it simply for an English-speaking audience) is a wonderfully simple introduction to Hindu iconography and the related ritual experience, a subject that is overwhelmingly broad and often unwieldy.
If you are an undergraduate studying Eastern religions, a graduate student new to Hinduism, a Western devotee wanting better cross-cultural knowledge of how to respectfully relate to your chosen god or goddess as Hindus do, or a curious layperson wanting to know more about the Hindu religious experience and what all the images and rituals are about, this is a great book for you to begin with. This slim volume doesn't go into elaborate depth, but covers a lot of ground and introduces many key terms in a very readable way, and is a useful introductory work.
Summary: Eck sees it clearly
Comment: Diana Eck has done an excellent job of sifting through the vast amount of material on Hindu imagery in India and presenting an intelligently distilled interpretation. An excellent read on a very difficult subject.
Summary: A Profound Book
Comment: This book was my introduction to Hinduism, given to me by a friend following my first personal experience with darsan and Hindu devotion. It is a stunningly clear and subtle book, offering a careful, complex discussion of the unique nature of the Hindu conception of the divine. I read it then in 3 days and am rereading it now as a student of Hinduism, looking forward to seeing this great book from a new perspective.