Search results for: a-carnival-of-parting

A Carnival of Parting

Author : Ann Grodzins Gold
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Madhu Natisar Nath is a Rajasthani farmer with no formal schooling. He is also a singer, a musician, and a storyteller. At the center of A Carnival of Parting are Madhu Nath's oral performances of two linked tales about the legendary Indian kings, Bharthari of Ujjain and Gopi Chand of Bengal. Both characters, while still in their prime, leave thrones and families to be initiated as yogis—a process rich in adventure and melodrama, one that offers unique insights into popular Hinduism's view of world renunciation. Ann Grodzins Gold presents these living oral epic traditions as flowing narratives, transmitting to Western readers the pleasures, moods, and interactive dimensions of a village bard's performance. Three introductory chapters and an interpretive afterword, together with an appendix on the bard's language by linguist David Magier, supply A Carnival of Parting with a full range of ethnographic, historical, and cultural backgrounds. Gold gives a frank and engaging portrayal of the bard Madhu Nath and her work with him. The tales are most profoundly concerned, Gold argues, with human rather than divine realities. In a compelling afterword, she highlights their thematic emphases on politics, love, and death. Madhu Nath's vital colloquial telling of Gopi Chand and Bharthari's stories depicts renunciation as inevitable and interpersonal attachments as doomed, yet celebrates human existence as a "carnival of parting."

Contemporary Hinduism

Author : P. Pratap Kumar
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Most overviews of Hindu belief and practice follow a history from the ancient Vedas to today. Such approaches privilege Brahmanical traditions and create a sense of Hinduism as a homogenous system and culture, and one which is largely unchanging and based solely on sacred texts. In reality, modern Hindu faith and culture present an extraordinary range of dynamic beliefs and practices. 'Contemporary Hinduism' aims to capture the full breadth of the Hindu worldview as practised today, both in the sub-continent and the diaspora. Global and regional faith, ritualised and everyday practice, Brahmanical and non-Brahmanical belief, and ascetic and devotional traditions are all discussed. Throughout, the discussion is illustrated with detailed case material and images, whilst key terms are highlighted and explained in a glossary. 'Contemporary Hinduism' presents students with a lively and engaging survey of Hinduism, offering an introduction to the oldest and one of the most complex of world religions.

Oral Tradition

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The Goddesses Henchmen

Author : Lindsey Harlan
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The Rajputs ruled the vast majority of the kingdoms that were joined together after Indian independence to form the state of Rajasthan, Land of Kings. An important part of Rajput religion is the worship of heroes who have died in battle. This practice has attained new significance in recent years, as right-wing Hindu activists have deployed narratives about heroism in Rajput wars with Muslim emperors. In this book, Lindsey Harlan explores the idea of the Rajput hero. She is particularly interested in the role played by gender in stories about heroes and in their worship. She looks at the differences between female and male storytellers, the relationships of the hero to the women in his tale, and the relationship of the hero to the goddess for whom he is both sacrifice and henchman. She obtains her materials from interviews with Rajput families and their servants, from songfests, from bystanders at shrines, from ritual specialists. Ultimately she shows how heroic traditions encapsulate and express ideals of perfection and masculinity, defined most visibly against the backdrop of domesticity and femininity. More broadly she argues that heroes reflect ever-changing valuations of history, and serve as sources of inspiration for facing contemporary challenges (domestic, communal, national) and concerns about the future.

Women Religion and the Body in South Asia

Author : Kristin Hanssen
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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.

Appreciating Local Knowledge

Author : Elisabeth Kapferer
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In the light of the globalization, (post-)modernization, social fragmentation, and economization of many of today’s living contexts, local knowledge is receiving increasing attention in various sciences. Commonly, local knowledge indicates a counterpart to both rational forms of an explicit knowledge of facts and knowledge of universal validity. Local knowledge attempts to appreciate a more comprehensive view of people’s skills, capabilities, experience, and sophistication. On the other hand, the reference to ‘local’ implies an idea of bounded applicability of knowledge in a specific environment. Beyond this scope of application, local knowledge can be acknowledged either as instrumental in order to achieve specific goals or as an intrinsic value in order to deal with social relations, solidarity, common values and norms accordingly. Social and spatial settings are influential for everybody’s quality of life, personal identity, and political commitment – and local knowledge is the essential foundation in turning these settings into a vivid arena. This volume is a result of a two-day conference held in November 2013 in Salzburg, Austria, dedicated to bringing together researchers from different scientific disciplines, including sociology, philosophy, social geography, economics, history, interpersonal communication studies, cultural studies, and theology, in order to draw distinct trains of thought about local knowledge in a transdisciplinary fashion: the phenomenon, its epistemic and philosophical reflection, its methodological comprehension, and its practical application.

Inside the Drama House

Author : Stuart Blackburn
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The author describes the skill and physical stamina of the shadow puppeteers in Kerala state in South India as they perform the Tamil version of the Ramayana epic all night for as many as ten weeks during the festival season. The fact that these performances often take place without an audience forms the starting point for Blackburn's discussion which also explores the broader theoretical issues of text, interpretation, and audience.

Ethnomusicology

Author : Jennifer Post
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Ethnomusicology: A Research and Information Guide is an annotated bibliography of books, recordings, videos, and websites in the field of ethnomusicology. The book is divided into two parts; Part One is organised by resource type in catagories of greatest concern to students and scholars. This includes handbooks and guides; encyclopedias and dictionaries; indexes and bibliographies; journals; media sources; and archives. It also offers annotated entries on the basic literature of ethnomusicological history and research. Part Two provides a list of current publications in the field that are widely used by ethnomusicologists. Multiply indexed, this book serves as an excellent tool for librarians, researchers, and scholars in sorting through the massive amount of new material that has appeared in the field over the past decades.

Human and International Security in India

Author : Crispin Bates
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With its common colonial experience, an overarching cultural unity despite apparent diversities, and issues of nation-building cutting across national frontiers, South Asia offers a critical site on which to develop a discourse on regional security that centres on the notion of human security. This book analyses the progress that has been achieved since independence in multiple intersecting areas of human security development in India, the largest nation in South Asia, as well as considering the paradigms that might be brought to bear in future consideration and pursuance of these objectives. Providing original insights, the book analyses the idea of security based on specific human concerns cutting across state frontiers, such as socio-economic development, human rights, gender equity, environmental degradation, terrorism, democracy, and governance. It also discusses the realisation that human security and international security are inextricably inter-linked. The book gives an overview of Indian foreign policy, with particular focus on its relationship with China. It also looks at public health care in India, and issues of microfinance and gender. Democracy and violence in the country is discussed in-depth, as well as Muslim identity and community. Human and International Security in India will be of particular interest to researchers of contemporary South Asian History, South Asian Politics, Sociology and Development Studies.

From the Margins of Hindu Marriage

Author : Lindsey Harlan
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Providing a unique and intimate view of Hindu marriage, the essays in this collection explore points at which the margins of marriage are traversed or transgressed. Rather than focus on normative expectations within marriage, they examine times in which norms are tested or rejected. Using stories, songs, and narrated accounts, the essays treat such topics as widowhood, adultery, levirate, divorce, and suttee, as well as the subversion of marriage by devotion to deities and by alternative constructions of conjugal duty and marital experience.

Sayings of Gorakhnath

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Sayings of Gorakhnath presents a translation of late-medieval texts in Old Hindi, traditionally attributed to one of the founders of the Order of Nath Yogis. The Naths are associated with the creation and development of hatha yoga, with important historical and ideological links to Hindu tantra and alchemy. The texts gathered in this collection on the one hand provide a criticism of religious authority based on external knowledge lacking personal experience, while on the other hand they celebrate the path of yoga and its methods of engagement with the subtle body and its centres of occult energy and miraculous powers. The ultimate goal of the style of yoga described in the Sayings of Gorakhnath concerns the attainment of immortality and divinization of its adepts. This is achieved by redirecting the trajectory of the seminal fluid, which in the process transforms into the elixir, the amrt. In order to accomplish that goal, a regime of yogic practices is suggested, consisting of the assumption of a steady posture, breathing exercises, mantra chanting, and meditation. Djudjevic and Singh's translations are preceded by an introduction and accompanied by notes, which contextualize and elucidate the subject matter.

Contradictory Lives

Author : Lisa I. Knight
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In literature and popular imagination, the Bauls of India and Bangladesh are characterized as musical mystics: orange-clad nomads of both Hindu and Muslim backgrounds. They wander the countryside and entertain with their passionate singing and unusual behavior, and they are especially well-known for their evocative songs, which challenge the caste system and sectarianism prevalent in South Asia. Although Bauls claim to value women over men, little is known about the individual views and experiences of Baul women. Based on ethnographic research in both the predominantly Hindu context of West Bengal (India) and the Muslim country of Bangladesh, this book explores the everyday lives of Baul women. Lisa Knight examines the contradictory expectations regarding Baul women: on the one hand, the ideal of a group unencumbered by societal restraints and concerns and, on the other, the real constraints of feminine respectability that seemingly curtail women's mobility and public performances. Knight demonstrates that Baul women respond to these conflicting expectations in various ways, sometimes adopting and other times subverting local gendered norms to craft meaningful lives. More so than their male counterparts, Baul women feel encumbered by norms. But rather than seeing Baul women's normative behavior as indicative of their conformity to gendered roles (and, therefore, failures as Bauls), Knight argues that these women creatively draw on societal expectations to transcend their social limits and create new paths.

Coming to the Edge of the Circle

Author : Nikki Bado
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Imagine yourself sitting on the cool damp earth, surrounded by deep night sky and fields full of fireflies, anticipating the ritual of initiation that you are about to undergo. Suddenly you hear the sounds of far-off singing and chanting, drums booming, rattles "snaking," voices raised in harmony. The casting of the Circle is complete. You are led to the edge of the Circle, where Death, your challenge, is waiting for you. With the passwords of "perfect love" and "perfect trust" you enter Death's realm. The Guardians of the four quarters purify you, and you are finally reborn into the Circle as a newly made Witch. Coming to the Edge of the Circle offers an ethnographic study of the initiation ritual practiced by one coven of Witches located in Ohio. As a High Priestess within the coven as well as a scholar of religion, Nikki Bado is in a unique position to contribute to our understanding of this ceremony and the tradition to which it belongs. Bado's analysis of this coven's initiation ceremony offers an important challenge to the commonly accepted model of "rites of passage." Rather than a single linear event, initiation is deeply embedded within a total process of becoming a Witch in practice and in community with others. Coming to the Edge of the Circle expands our concept of initiation while giving us insight into one coven's practice of Wicca. An important addition to Ritual Studies, it also introduces readers to the contemporary nature religion variously called Wicca, Witchcraft, the Old Religion, or the Craft.

Poetics of Conduct

Author : Leela Prasad
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Leela Prasad's riveting book presents everyday stories on subjects such as deities, ascetics, cats, and cooking along with stylized, publicly delivered ethical discourse, and shows that the study of oral narrative and performance is essential to ethical inquiry. Prasad builds on more than a decade of her ethnographic research in the famous Hindu pilgrimage town of Sringeri, Karnataka, in southwestern India, where for centuries a vibrant local culture has flourished alongside a tradition of monastic authority. Oral narratives and the seeing-and-doing orientations that are part of everyday life compel the question: How do individuals imagine the normative, and negotiate and express it, when normative sources are many and diverging? Moral persuasiveness, Prasad suggests, is intimately tied to the aesthetics of narration, and imagination plays a vital role in shaping how people create, refute, or relate to "text," "moral authority," and "community." Lived understandings of ethics keep notions of text and practice in flux and raise questions about the constitution of "theory" itself. Prasad's innovative use of ethnography, poetics, philosophy of language, and narrative and performance studies demonstrates how the moral self, with a capacity for artistic expression, is dynamic and gendered, with a historical presence and a political agency.

Real Sadhus Sing to God

Author : Antoinette E. DeNapoli
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Drawing on ethnographic research spanning ten years, Antoinette Elizabeth DeNapoli offers a new perspective on the practice of asceticism in India today. Her work brings to light the little known and often marginalized lives of female Hindu ascetics (sadhus) in the North Indian state of Rajasthan. Examining the everyday religious worlds and practices of the mostly unlettered female sadhus, who come from a number of castes, Real Sadhus Sing to God illustrates that these women experience asceticism in relational and celebratory ways. They construct their lives as paths of singing to God, which, the author suggests, serves as the female way of being an ascetic. Examining the relationship between asceticism (sannyas) and devotion (bhakti) in contemporary contexts, the book brings together two disparate fields of study-yoga/asceticism and bhakti-using the singing of bhajans (devotional songs) as an orienting metaphor. This is the first book-length study to explore the ways in which female sadhus perform and thus create gendered views of asceticism through their singing, storytelling, and sacred text practices, which DeNapoli characterizes as their "rhetoric of renunciation."

Folklore as Discourse

Author : M. D. Muthukumaraswamy
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Contributed articles with reference to India.

The Homeric Simile in Comparative Perspectives

Author : Jonathan L. Ready
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The Homeric Simile in Comparative Perspectives: Oral Traditions from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia investigates both the construction of the Homeric simile and the performance of Homeric poetry from neglected comparative perspectives, offering a revealing exploration of what made the epics such powerful examples of verbal artistry. Divided into two Parts, the volume first considers similes in five modern-day oral poetries - Rajasthani epic, South Sumatran epic, Kyrgyz epic, Bosniac epic, and Najdi lyric poems from Saudi Arabia - and studies successful performances by still other verbal artists, such as Egyptian singers of epic, Turkish minstrels, and Chinese storytellers. By applying these findings to the Homeric epics, the second Part presents a new take on how the Homeric poet put together his similes and alters our understanding of how the poet displayed his competence as a performer of verbal art and interacted with his poetic peers and predecessors. Engaging intensively with a diverse array of scholarship from outside the field of classical studies, from folkloristics to cognitive linguistics, this truly interdisciplinary volume transforms how we view not only a central feature of Homeric poetry but also the very nature of Homeric performance.

The Middle East South Asia Folklore Bulletin

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The Parting of the Ways

Author : Matilda Betham-Edwards
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Multiple Histories

Author : Lawrence A. Babb
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"The book embodies the idea that Rajasthan's past - and hence its present - cannot be adequately comprehended from the limited perspective of any single academic discipline or approach. Instead, it celebrates the notion that the region's past is subject to many constructions, each of which can contribute to a fuller understanding of its present-day cultural and social diversity. The authors of the papers presented here represent a wide variety of disciplines - history, anthropology, art history, religious studies, and political science. Each paper is a substantive and important contribution to the study of Rajasthani culture and society. Together they illustrate the idea that Rajasthan has many pasts and many histories, that this multiplicity is a basic feature of the region's cultural landscape, and that it is an essential component of continuing scholarship."