By Gananath Obeyesekere
The nice pilgrimage middle of southeastern Sri Lanka, Kataragama, has turn into in recent times the non secular domestic of a brand new category of Hindu-Buddhist non secular devotees. those ecstatic monks and priestesses at all times exhibit lengthy locks of disheveled hair, they usually convey their devotion to the gods via hearth strolling, tongue-piercing, striking on hooks, and trance-induced prophesying.The expanding acclaim for those ecstatics poses a problem not just to orthodox Sinhala Buddhism (the respectable faith of Sri Lanka) but additionally, as Gananath Obeyesekere indicates, to the normal anthropological and psychoanalytic theories of symbolism. Focusing at the beginning on one image, raveled hair, Obeyesekere demonstrates that the traditional contrast among own and cultural symbols is insufficient and naive. His precise case experiences of ecstatics express that there's consistently a reciprocity among the personal-psychological measurement of the logo and its public, culturally sanctioned position. Medusa's Hair hence makes a tremendous theoretical contribution either to the anthropology of person event and to the psychoanalytic realizing of tradition. In its analyses of the symbolism of guilt, the adaptational and integrative value of trust in spirits, and a bunch of comparable matters touching on ownership states and religiosity, this e-book marks a provocative enhance in mental anthropology.
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Extra resources for Medusa's Hair: An Essay on Personal Symbols and Religious Experience
The Vedas are now recognized by many scholars as the most ancient literature in the world. The term “Sanatana” is often used to highlight this quality of being ancient and eternal . . Hinduism allows use of various terms, names, symbols and images to allow people to discover God in whichever way they want to. This freedom of thought and form of worship is unique to Hinduism . . In Hindu history no example of imposing Hinduism by coercion or conversion can be found . . In spite of .
16 Traditionally numbered as one hundred thousand, but in the so-called Pune critical edition about seventy-five thousand verses long. 17 Folk enactments have been a form of expressing Mahåbhårata teachings for centuries; for a treatnent of a televisual adaptation, see Lipner (2001). For detailed scholarly information on the Sanskrit epics, see Brockington’s (1998) monumental work. 18 Not only among Hindus in India. On page 277 in Lipner (1998a), I have cited an instance of “inducting” the spiritual power of the Ganges into the waters of a Mauritius lake, with a consequent expansion of the Ganges’s sphere of polycentric influence.
Radhakrishnan’s position remains unsubstantiated, epistemologically, metaphysically, and indeed phenomenologically; we could not recommend an approach to Hinduism based on such a priori assumptions. But after having been actively involved as agents from the earliest stages in the various constructions of the term “Hinduism” (by way of collaboration in such Western projects as the translation of texts, religious encounter and confrontation, and political contestation),12 Hindus have now appropriated the term themselves.