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There have been few true examples of the use of non-violent political campaigns since Gandhi developed his technique of satyagraha. Given the obvious benefits of non-violence, this begs the question why. Satyagraha answers this question by showing that the technique of satyagraha is religious as well as moral and political, and that this religious element is one of the factors that have made Gandhian non-violence difficult to understand or truly believe in, especially in the West where the sacred and secular are considered to be separate. If non-violent politics are to be practised in the twenty-first century and beyond, then full recognition and consideration must be given to this aspect of non-violence.
This book focuses on the ritualized forms of mobility that constitute phenomena of pilgrimage in South Asia and establishes a new analytical framework for the study of ritual journeys. The book advances the conceptual scope of 'classical' Pilgrimage Studies and provides empirical depth through individual case studies. A key concern is the strategies of ritualization through which actors create, assemble and (re-)articulate certain modes of displacement to differentiate themselves from everyday forms of locomotion. Ritual journeys are understood as being both productive of and produced by South Asia's socio-economically uneven, politically charged and culturally variegated landscapes. From various disciplinary angles, each chapter explores how spaces and movements in space are continually created, contested and transformed through ritual journeys. By focusing on this co-production of space and mobility, the book delivers a conceptually driven and empirically grounded engagement with the diverse and changing traditions of ritual journeying in South Asia. Interdisciplinary in its approach, the book is a must-have reference work for academics interested in South Asian Studies, Religious Studies, Anthropology and Human Geography with a focus on pilgrimage and the socio-spatial ideas and practices of ritualized movements in South Asia.
This book explores the key motif of the religious other in devotional (bhakti) literatures and practices from across the Indian subcontinent unmasks processes of representation that involve adoption, appropriation, and rejection of different social and religious agents. The book reconsiders and challenges inherited notions of the bhakta's or devotee's other. Considering the ways in which bhakti might be conceived as having an inter-regional impact-as a force, discourse, network, mythology, ethic-the book critically engages with extant scholarly narratives about what bhakti is and traces when and how those narratives have been used. The sheer diversity of South Asia's devotional traditions renders them an especially rich resource for examining social and religious fault lines, thereby furthering scholarly understanding of how communalism and sectarianism originate and develop on local or regional levels, with wider geographic implications. Bringing together studies from a subcontinent-wide variety of linguistic, geographical, and historical frames for the first time, this book will be an important contribution to the literature on bhakti and will be of interest to scholars of South Asian Religions and Asian Religions.
This book explores the extraordinary differentiation of the Baghdadi Jewish community over time during their sojourn in India from the end of the eighteenth century until their dispersion to Indian diasporas in Israel and English-speaking countries throughout the world after India gained independence in 1947. Chapters on schools, institutions and culture present how Baghdadis in India managed to maintain their communities by negotiating multiple identities in a stratified and complex society. Several disciplinary perspectives are utilized to explore the super-diversity of the Baghdadis and the ways in which they successfully adapted to new situations during the Raj, while retaining particular traditions and modifying and incorporating others. Providing a comprehensive overview of this community, the contributions to the book show that the legacy of the Baghdadi Jews lives on for Indians today through landmarks and monuments in Mumbai, Pune and Kolkata, and for Jews, through memories woven by members of the community residing in diverse diasporas. Offering refreshing historical perspectives on the colonial period in India, this book will be of interest to those studying South Asian Studies, Diaspora and Ethnic Studies, Sociology, History, Jewish Studies and Asian Religion.
This book analyses the articulations of Tamil identity in the period of colonial modernity and beyond. It examines the development of Tamil religion by focusing on the important 19th century Tamil Hindu reformer and saint, Ramalinga Swamigal. The transformation of Tamil religion is mapped through the examination of specific literary/religious genres - that of hagiographies and sacred biographies.Taking as a starting point Ramalinga's own writing, the book presents him as inhabiting a border zone between early modernity and modernity, tradition and charisma, Hinduism and Christianity, indigenous identity (Dravidian nationalism) and colonialism. Subsequently, these themes are discussed by the author as variously deployed, amplified and contested by the subject's biographers. Highlighting the influence of Ramalinga Swamigal's teachings on politics, particularly within the context of Dravidian cultural and political nationalism, the author contends that a transformation of the notions of sainthood occurred with the life and person Ramalinga Swamigal. The book argues that these transformations are one meaningful way for a religious tradition to cope with and come to terms with the implications of historicization and the demands of colonial modernity. It is a valuable contribution to the field of religion, South Asian history and literature and Subaltern studies.
Religion tends to flourish when technological developments create new possibilities for communication and representation, and simultaneously change as a consequence of these developments. This book explores intersections between religion and technology in India, at the present and in the colonial past, and how various forms of techno-religious intersections transform and open up for new religious practices, discourses, communities, and institutions. With focus on Indian contexts and religions, it discusses various empirical and theoretical aspects of how technological innovations create, alter, and negotiate religious spaces, practices and authorities. The book provides rich and multifaceted empirical examples of different ways in which technological practices relate to meanings, ideas, and practices of religions. The techno-religious intersections generate several questions about authority and power, the politics and poetics of identity, community and place, and how religious agency, information, and experience are mediated, commodified, and adjusted to new demands of societies. The chapters explore the Hindu, Jain, and Sikh traditions in relation to new technological developments and media, such as photography, new means of visualization, TV serials, mobile phones, and online communication. The book will be of interest to academics studying modern and contemporary India and South Asia, and especially the role of religion and technology.
Noted for their haunting melodies and enigmatic lyrics, Bauls have been portrayed as spiritually enlightened troubadours traveling around the countryside in West Bengal in India and in Bangladesh. As emblems of Bengali culture, Bauls have long been a subject of scholarly debates which center on their esoteric practices, and middle class imaginaries of the category Baul. Adding to this literature, the intimate ethnography presented in this book recounts the life stories of members from a single family, shining light on their past and present tribulations bound up with being poor and of a lowly caste. It shows that taking up the Baul path is a means of softening the stigma of their lower caste identity in that religious practice, where women play a key role, renders the body pure. The path is also a source of monetary income in that begging is considered part of their vocation. For women, the Baul path has the added implication of lessening constraints of gender. While the book describes a family of singers, it also portrays the wider society in which they live, showing how their lives connect and interlace with other villagers, a theme not previously explored in literature on Bauls. A novel approach to the study of women, the body and religion, this book will be of interest to undergraduates and graduates in the field of the anthropology. In addition, it will appeal to students of everyday religious lives as experienced by the poor, through case studies in South Asia. The book provides further evidence that renunciation in South Asia is not a uniform path, despite claims to the contrary. There is also a special interest in Bauls among those familiar with the Bengali speaking region. While this book speaks to that interest, its wider appeal lies in the light it sheds on religion, the body, life histories, and poverty.
Space is dynamic, political and a cause of conflict. It bears the weight of human dreams and fears. Conflict is caused not only by spatial exclusivism but also by an inclusivism that seeks harmony through subordinating the particularity of the Other to the world view of the majority. This book uses the lens of space to examine inter-religious and inter-communal conflict in colonial and post-colonial Sri Lanka, demonstrating that the colonial can shed light on the post-colonial, particularly on post-war developments, post-May 2009, when Buddhist symbolism was controversially developed in the former, largely non-Buddhist, war zones. Using the concepts of exclusivism and inclusivist subordination, the book analyses the different imaginaries or world views that were present in colonial and post-1948 Sri Lanka, with particular reference to the ethnic or religious Other, and how these were expressed in space, influenced one another and engendered conflict. The book's use of insights from human geography, peace studies and secular iterations of the theology of religions breaks new ground, as does its narrative technique, which prioritizes voices from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the author's fieldwork and personal observation in the twenty first. Through utilizing past and contemporary reflections on lived experience, informed by diverse religious world views, the book offers new insights into Sri Lanka's past and present. It will be of interest to an interdisciplinary audience in the fields of colonial and postcolonial studies; war and peace studies; security studies; religious studies; the study of religion; Buddhist Studies, mission studies, South Asian and Sri Lankan studies.
The Samkhyayoga institution of Kapil Math is a religious organisation with a small tradition of followers which emerged in the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century in Bengal in India around the renunciant and yogin Hariharananda Aranya. This tradition developed during the same period in which modern yoga was born and forms a chapter in the expansion of yoga traditions in modern Hinduism. The book analyses the yoga teaching of Hariharananda Aranya (1869-1947) and the Kapil Math tradition, its origin, history and contemporary manifestations, and this tradition's connection to the expansion of yoga and the Yogasutra in modern Hinduism. The Samkhyayoga of the Kapil Math tradition is based on the Patanjalayogasastra, on a number of texts in Sanskrit and Bengali written by their gurus, and on the lifestyle of the renunciant yogin living isolated in a cave. The book investigates Hariharananda Aranya's connection to pre-modern yoga traditions and the impact of modern production and transmission of knowledge on his interpretations of yoga. The book connects the Kapil Math tradition to the nineteenth century transformations of Bengali religious culture of the educated upper class that led to the production of a new type of yogin. The book analyses Samkhyayoga as a living tradition, its current teachings and practices, and looks at what Samkhyayogins do and what Samkhyayoga is as a yoga practice. A valuable contribution to recent and ongoing debates, this book will be of interest to academics in the fields of Religious Studies, Anthropology, Asian Studies, Indology, Indian philosophy, Hindu Studies and Yoga Studies.
Bodh Gaya in the North Indian state of Bihar has long been recognized as the place where the Buddha achieved enlightenment. This book brings together the recent work of twelve scholars from a variety of disciplines - anthropology, art history, history, and religion - to highlight their various findings and perspectives on different facets of Bodh Gaya's past and present. Through an engaging and critical overview of the place of Buddha's enlightenment, the book discusses the dynamic and contested nature of this site, and looks at the tensions with the on-going efforts to define the place according to particular histories or identities. It addresses many aspects of Bodh Gaya, from speculation about why the Buddha chose to sit beneath a tree in Bodh Gaya, to the contemporary struggles over tourism development, education and non-government organizations, to bring to the foreground the site's longevity, reinvention and current complexity as a UNESCO World Heritage monument. The book is a useful contribution for students and scholars of Buddhism and South Asian Studies.
Drawing on original fieldwork, this book develops a fresh methodological approach to the study of indigenous understandings of disease as possession, and looks at healing rituals in different South Asian cultural contexts. Contributors discuss the meaning of 'disease', 'possession' and 'healing' in relation to South Asian religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Sikhism, and how South Asians deal with the divine in order to negotiate health and wellbeing. The book goes on to look at goddesses, gods and spirits as a cause and remedy of a variety of diseases, a study that has proved significant to the ethics and politics of responding to health issues. It contributes to a consolidation and promotion of indigenous ways as a method of understanding physical and mental imbalances through diverse conceptions of the divine. Chapters offer a fascinating overview of healing rituals in South Asia and provide a full-length, sustained discussion of the interface between religion, ritual, and folklore. The book presents a fresh insight into studies of Asian Religion and the History of Medicine.
This book explores devotional Hinduism in a modern context of high consumerism and revolutionised communications. It focuses on a fast-growing and high-profile contemporary Hindu guru faith originating in India and attracting a transnational following. The organisation is led by a vastly popular female guru, Mata Amritanandamayi, whom devotees worship as an avatar and a healer of the ills of the contemporary world. By drawing upon multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork among the mata's primarily urban, educated 'middle class' Indian devotees, the author provides crucial insights into new trends in popular Hinduism in a post-colonial and rapidly modernising Indian setting.