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Table of contents :
Cover
Half Title
Series
Title
Copyright
Dedication
Contents
Figures
Contributors
Acknowledgments
Notes to Diacritics and Pronunciation
1 Introduction
Part One Traditional Hinduism: Classical Texts, Traditions, and Practices
2 Multiregional and Multi-linguistic Virasaivism: Change and Continuity in an Early Devotional Tradition
1. Multilingual Virasaivism, past and present
2. Coconut in the honey: the Viramahesvaras of Andhra Pradesh
3. Sanskritic Virasaivism after Vijayanagar: the codification of Sivadvaita philosophy
4. Transregional Virasaivism: new perspectives from the archive
3 Entering the South Asian City: Pravesa in Literature and Practice
1. Introduction
2. The domestic Pravesa
3. The Indra festival
4. The South Asian city
5. Yudhi..hira enters Hastinapura
6. Conclusion
4 Demonic Devotees and Symbolism of Violence in Hindu Literature
1. Introduction
2. Demons and asceticism
3. The nature of the demonic
4. Ending the cycle of violence
5. Conclusion
5 Sacred Groves: The Playground of the Gods
1. Introduction
2. Pañcava.i in thought, culture, and practice
3. Sacred groves in modern India and Nepal
4. Conclusion
6 Religious Symbolism in Contemporary Political Art: Hussaini and Tamil Popular Culture
1. Introduction
2. The Tamil political image
3. Hussaini’s blood images of Jayalalitha
4. Blood sacrifice in Tamil films
5. In the aftermath of Jayalalitha
Part Two Hinduism in the Modern World: Colonial, Diasporic, and Women’s Religion
7 “Rite of Passage” in India’s National Struggle: Understanding Rabindranath Tagore’s Gora in the Context of Religion
1. Introduction: nation in the rite of passage
2. Nation in the rite of passage: symbols of separation and displacement in Gora
Caged bird and other passages of separation in Gora
Liminal entities
Images of new India (Bharatavarsha)
Brittanica versus Indica: empire and emergence of a new nation
3. Liminoid nation: journey of the protagonists
India in transition: nation and nationhood in Gora
4. The final passage: aggregation and Culmination of the new nation
5. Emergence of the new nation (Bharatavarsha): marriage as the final passage
6. Conclusion
8 America, the Superlative, and India, the Jewel in the Crown: Religious Ideologies, Transnationalism, and the End of the Raj
1. Introduction
2. Early visitors and cross-cultural interactions
3. Religious and political leaders: deepening relations
4. Orient and Occident
9 The Integral Yoga of the Sri Aurobindo Asram: Gender, Spirituality, and the Arts
1. Introduction
2. Incarnating Mahasakti (the Divine Mother): spiritual consorts and avataras
3. Mahesvari (Wisdom) and the destiny of the mind
Transformation of the mind
The annihilation of the mind
The divine body and a new center of consciousness
Implications of manonasa for art
4. Mahasarasvati (Perfection) and Mahakali (Strength): descendant spirituality and opposition used in growth
5. Mahalak.mi (Harmony) and the role of beauty
6. Conclusion
10 In Relationship with the Goddess: Women Interpreting Leadership Roles and Shaping Diasporic Identities
1. Introduction
2. Ethics and participation
3. Innovation and tradition
4. Devi in Tamil culture
5. Interpretations of the goddess
6. Women’s roles in leadership
7. Gender, identity, and performativity
11 Spirituality and Ritual in Odissi Dance: Health, Healing, and Ritual in a Diaspora Performance Tradition
1. Introduction
2. Theoretical framework
3. Horidraa: golden healing
Act I—“Inside the Industry of Health”
Act II—Descent into memory
Act III—“Magykal Imaginings: Rituals of Memory, Reckonings, Loss, Love, Pleasure, and Imagining Healing”
4. Conjuring healing
5. Conclusion
12 A Mandal of Their Own: Gender and the Reimagining of Community by Hindu Renouncers in Northern India
1. “Enough is enough!”: imagining a women’s mandal in Rajasthan, India
2. Radical disorientations: renunciation in text and practice
3. “Where have all the women gone?”: the absence in the presence of a women’s mandal
4. Disruptive symbols: changing meanings of gender androgyny in sannyas
5. “Whose mandal is it anyway?”: disruptures in the vision and goals of an organization
6. “God and bhagva are the same”: symbolically transforming sannyas through the sari
7. Conclusion: the creativity of disruptive gestures for female sadhus in India
13 Conclusion
Appendix: Poetry by Ananya Chatterjea
Glossary
Notes
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
References
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Primary sources
Secondary sources
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
The Indian Ladies’ Magazine (ILM)
Chapter 9
Primary sources
Secondary sources
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Index
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Modern Hinduism in Text and Context

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Also available from Bloomsbury The Bloomsbury Companion to Hindu Studies, edited by Jessica Frazier Hindu Worldviews, Jessica Frazier Sacred Objects in Secular Spaces, edited by Bruce M. Sullivan

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Modern Hinduism in Text and Context Edited by Lavanya Vemsani

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BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK 1385 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, USA BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY ACADEMIC and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published in Great Britain 2018 Copyright © Lavanya Vemsani and Contributors, 2018 Lavanya Vemsani has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Editor of this work. For legal purposes the Acknowledgments on p. xiii constitute an extension of this copyright page. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-​party websites referred to or in this book. All internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Vemsani, Lavanya, editor. Title: Modern Hinduism in text and context / edited by Lavanya Vemsani. Description: London, UK : Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2018001796 | ISBN 9781350045088 (hardback) | ISBN 9781350045095 (epdf) Subjects: LCSH: Hinduism–History–21st century. | Hinduism–Essence, genius, nature. | Hindu renewal. Classification: LCC BL1153.5 .M62 2018 | DDC 294.509/04–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018001796 ISBN: HB: 978-​1-​350-0​4508-​8 ePDF: 978-​1-​350-0​4509-​5 ePub: 978-​1-​350-0​4510-​1 Typeset by Newgen KnowledgeWorks Pvt. Ltd., Chennai, India To find out more about our authors and books visit www.bloomsbury.com and sign up for our newsletters.

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To the memory of my parents Mandalapu Vijaya Bhaskara Rao and Ramaseetha Devi

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Contents List of Figures List of Contributors Acknowledgments Notes to Diacritics and Pronunciation 1

Introduction  Lavanya Vemsani

ix x xiii xiv 1

Part One  Traditional Hinduism: Classical Texts, Traditions, and Practices 2 3 4 5 6

Multiregional and Multi-​linguistic Vīraśaivism: Change and Continuity in an Early Devotional Tradition  Elaine Fisher

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Entering the South Asian City: Praveśa in Literature and Practice  Michael Baltutis

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Demonic Devotees and Symbolism of Violence in Hindu Literature  Carl Olson

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Sacred Groves: The Playground of the Gods  Deepak Shimkhada and Jason Mitchell

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Religious Symbolism in Contemporary Political Art: Hussaini and Tamil Popular Culture  Amy-​Ruth Holt

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Part Two Hinduism in the Modern World: Colonial, Diasporic, and Women’s Religion 7 8 9

“Rite of Passage” in India’s National Struggle: Understanding Rabindranath Tagore’s Gora in the Context of Religion  Lavanya Vemsani

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America, the Superlative, and India, the Jewel in the Crown: Religious Ideologies, Transnationalism, and the End of the Raj  Deborah A. Logan

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The Integral Yoga of the Sri Aurobindo Āśram: Gender, Spirituality, and the Arts  Patrick Beldio

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Contents

10 In Relationship with the Goddess: Women Interpreting Leadership Roles and Shaping Diasporic Identities  Nanette R. Spina

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11 Spirituality and Ritual in Odissi Dance: Health, Healing, and Ritual in a Diaspora Performance Tradition  Kaustavi Sarkar

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12 A Mandal of Their Own: Gender and the Reimagining of Community by Hindu Renouncers in Northern India  Antoinette E. DeNapoli

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13 Conclusion  Lavanya Vemsani

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Appendix: Poetry by Ananya Chatterjea Glossary Notes References Index

197 199 203 229 253

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Figures 6.1 Two kneeling devotees performing blood sacrifices to the goddess Koṛṛavai-​Draupadī (their raised hands and swords are damaged). Interior view of the Draupadī Ratha, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, ca. mid-​to-​late seventh century

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6.2 Propaganda street image of Jayalalitha with roaring lion. Paint on cement, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 2015

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6.3 Shihan Hussaini, Jayalalitha. Overview of some of the remaining images from the fifty-​sixth birthday series. Blood on paper, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, made in 2004, photographed in 2015

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6.4 Shihan Hussaini presenting his blood paintings of Jayalalitha to author, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, paintings made in 2004, photographed in 2015

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6.5 Shihan Hussaini, Jayalalitha. Detail of one painting from the fifty-​sixth birthday series. Blood on paper, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, made in 2004, photographed in 2015

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6.6 The metal nails from Shihan Hussaini’s The Prayer that he used to crucify himself with, now kept in a small shrine in his home office, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 2015

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6.7 Propaganda image of Jayalalitha on a map of India. Printed “flex board” poster, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 2015

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9.1 The Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s symbols, respectively 9.2 The union of both symbols used as the logo for the Sri Aurobindo

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Center of Education and the Āśram Archives and Research

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1 1.1 Act I, The technology industry 1 1.2 Act III, Ritual conjuring

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Contributors Lavanya Vemsani (PhD Religious Studies, McMaster University and PhD History, University of Hyderabad) is BoT Distinguished University Professor of History and Religious Studies at Shawnee State University, Portsmouth, Ohio. She teaches, researches, and publishes on subjects of ancient Indian history and religions as well as current history of India. She is the author of Krishna in History, Thought, and Culture:  An Encyclopedia of the Lord of Many Names (2016) and Hindu and Jain Mythology of Balarama (2006) as well as numerous articles on early History and Religions of India. She has served as the editor-​in-​chief of International Journal of Hindu and Dharma Studies (2015–​17). Presently she is the editor-​in-​chief of American Journal of Indic Studies and associate editor of South Asian Religious History. She is currently completing her work on two book projects: India: A New History and Ancient Settlement Patterns of Southern India. Michael Baltutis (PhD Religious Studies, University of Iowa) is associate professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, where he teaches courses on the classical and contemporary Hindu and Buddhist traditions of India and Nepal. He has published a number of articles on the use of royal-​political rhetoric displayed by the erstwhile king of Nepal during the second Janāndolan (people’s movement 2006)  and several essays on the transgressive god Bhairav, central to religion in Nepal. He is the book review editor of the International Journal of Hindu Studies. Patrick Beldio (PhD Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America) is an independent scholar, who previously served as teaching fellow at Catholic University of America, Washington DC, as well as a professional artist. His most recent sculpture is an epic work that was unveiled in 2017, entitled The New Being, a 39-​foot bronze sculpture in Walnut Creek, California. It represents the growth and union of consciousness with God and in service to creation. As a teacher, he has taught courses in studio art practice, religious studies, and the history of sacred art and architecture. Antoinette E. DeNapoli (PhD Religion, Emory University) is an associate professor of religion/​South Asian religions at Texas Christian University. Her teaching research interests include Asian religions, especially the ascetic traditions and monasticism in India. Antoinette is the author of the book Real Sadhus Sing to God: Gender, Asceticism, and Vernacular Religion in Rajasthan (2014) as well as numerous articles on Hinduism. Currently, she is working on her next book titled Religion at the Crossroads: Experimental Hinduism and the Theologizing of the Modern in Contemporary India.

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Contributors

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Elaine Fisher (PhD Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, Columbia University) currently serves as assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. She is the author of Hindu Pluralism:  Religion and the Public Sphere in Early Modern South India (2017), and a number of articles on Hinduism. Her current book project undertakes study of Sanskritic Vīraśaivism. Amy-​Ruth Holt (PhD Art History, Ohio State University) is an independent scholar. She has taught as a visiting-assistant professor of Asian art history at the University of Alabama, Birmingham and at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia; and as an adjunct lecturer at the Ohio State University, Newark. She has written a number of articles on southern Indian art and visual culture. Deborah A. Logan (PhD English, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) is professor of English at Western Kentucky University, where she teaches Victorian Literature and Culture, and World Literatures. She has published extensively on Victorian author Harriet Martineau. Her most recent publication is From Raj to Swaraj:  The Indian Ladies’ Magazine 1901–​1938 (2017). Her previous books include:  Harriet Martineau, Victorian Imperialism, and the Civilizing Mission (2010); The Hour and the Woman:  Harriet Martineau’s “Somewhat Remarkable Life” (2002); and Fallenness in Victorian Women’s Writing:  Marry, Stitch, Die, or Do Worse (1998). She is editor of the biannual Victorians Journal of Culture and Literature. Jason Mitchell (PhD candidate in Comparative Theology and Philosophy) is a teaching associate of Professor Shimkhada at Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California. His research focuses on postmodern pluralism and comparisons of Hindu and Islamic folk literature. Carl Olson (PhD Religious Studies, Drew University) is professor of Religious Studies at Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania. Besides many reviews and essays in journals, books, and encyclopedias, his more recent published books include the following: The Different Paths of Buddhism: A Narrative-​Historical Introduction (2005); The Many Colors of Hinduism:  A Thematic-​Historical Introduction (2007); Celibacy and Religious Traditions (2007); Religious Studies: The Key Concepts (2011); The Allure of Decadent Thinking:  Religious Studies and the Challenge of Postmodernism (2013); Indian Asceticism Power, Violence, and Play (2015); and Religious Ways of Experiencing Life: A Global and Narrative Approach (2016). Kaustavi Sarkar (PhD Dance Studies, Ohio State University) is a visiting assistant professor at University of North Carolina in Charlotte (UNCC), and artistic director of India-​based Indian classical dance organization called Kaustavi Movement Center. She has performed in numerous dance festivals and conferences in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Her choreography has been featured in American College Dance Association Conference, Faculty Concert at UNCC, and Charlotte Dance Festival. Her interdisciplinary work is based on critical theoretical analyses within

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digital humanities and has published in religious studies, dance and technology, queer studies, performance studies, and arts entrepreneurship. Deepak Shimkhada  (PhD Claremont Graduate University) continues to teach at Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California, as an adjunct professor of Hindu Studies following his retirement from Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, California, in 2011. He is the author of many journal articles and several book chapters. His edited volumes include: Nepal: Nostalgia and Modernity (2012); The Constant and Changing Faces of the Goddess: Goddess Traditions of Asia (2008); and The Himalayas at the Crossroad: Portrait of a Changing World (1987). Nanette R. Spina (PhD Religious Studies, McMaster University) is associate professor of religion at the University of Georgia. Dr. Spina has conducted field studies among religious communities in South Asia and North America. She is the author of Women’s Authority and Leadership in a Hindu Goddess Tradition (2017), and a number of articles on women and Hinduism.

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Acknowledgments I must begin by thanking the staff of Bloomsbury, especially my editor Lalle Pursglove and assistant editor Lucy Carroll, for their support during the publication of this book. I would like to thank Dr. Ved Nanda, associate provost of International Programs and Evans University Professor and Thompson G. Marsh Professor of Law at Strum School of Law at the University of Denver, Mrs. Katharine Nanda, attorney and secretary of Uberoi Foundation for Religious Studies, and Dr. Yashwanth Pathak, dean and professor, School of Pharmacy, University of South Florida, for the Uberoi grant and for their guidance and help with hosting the Uberoi Seminar at Shawnee State University. I would also like to express my gratitude to Dr. Jeffrey Bauer, provost; Dr. Christopher Kacir, dean of University College; Dr. James Miller, chair of Social Sciences Department; Dr. Roberta Milliken, dean of College of Arts and Sciences; and Dr. Mark Mirabello, my fellow historian, for their support and help during the writing of this book. I thank Dr.  Purnima Bhatt, Hood College; Dr.  Peter Heehs, Aurobindo Ashram; Dr. Gil Ben-Herut, University of South Florida; Dr. Veena Howard, California State University, Fresno; Dr.  Ramdas Lamb, University of Hawai’i; Dr.  Karen Pechilis, Drew University; Dr. Sthaneswar Thimalsina, Sandiego State University; and Dr. Paul Younger, McMaster University, for their help during the preparation of this book. My friend R. L. Mohl, an interpretive specialist recently with the Ohio Valley’s Great Serpent Archaeological and “Cryptoexplosion” Park, assisted me during the writing of the book, and our discussion on rites of passage and religion benefitted me greatly. Finally, I  thank my husband Venkata Ramana Vemsani and my son Aashish Shivasaichandra Vemsani for their love and unwavering support during the process of writing and editing this book.

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Notes to Diacritics and Pronunciation As the book contains chapters on regional traditions and classical sources of Hinduism, no standard diacritical notation system has been used. While chapters with classical sources utilize the standard Sanskrit diacritical notation system, chapters examining regional and transnational traditions do not use any such system, but rather common modern spelling characteristic of each region of study.

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Introduction Lavanya Vemsani

Hinduism endures not merely in texts, but in the context of festivals, polity, and devotion. Contemporary practice, devotional literature, creative traditions, and ethics inform the intricacies of a religion in context. Hence, Modern Hinduism in Text and Context brings together a set of chapters examining the hitherto unexamined texts, festivals, media, and political imagery in new contexts. All the chapters of the book are interdisciplinary in nature, although each individual chapter is dedicated to examining the suitable application of social scientific theories in the Indian context. Chapters also address environmental consciousness, creative processes, gendered narratives, and religious practices utilizing interdisciplinary methods and social science theoretical framework. History, art, ethnography, and textual analysis become part of understanding the larger framework of religion in the context of emerging nationhood as well as transnational and transcultural interactions. The two themes presented in this book are not mutually exclusive but coalesce in the process of shedding light on modern Hinduism and its practice. Each chapter attempts to connect elements spanning more than one geographical and chronological context. Each of the two parts also includes varieties of regional practices and analysis of gender, historical, political, philosophical, spiritual, and ethical thought. Overall, Modern Hinduism in Text and Context examines new sources (regional Śaiva texts, Odissi dance, biographies of nationalists, modern Indian literature, visual and performing arts, ethnographic work), introduces unique perspectives (historical methods, anthropological, political, ethical, and philosophical thought), and investigates varieties of practice (festivals, dance, yoga, visual art, and rituals) to provide a holistic understanding of modern Hinduism. Modern Hinduism in Text and Context is divided into two parts thematically. Early modern religious practice, traditions, and texts frequently serve as inspiration for modern Hinduism. Hence, the present volume begins with six chapters, contained in Part One of the book, examining texts within the context of regional practices, festivals, and mythology. Contrary to the common trend noticed in books dedicated to Hinduism, which rarely examine southern Indian and Nepalese Hinduism, this book begins with two chapters dedicated to the study of Hinduism in southern India (Chapters  2 and 6) and Nepal (Chapters 3 and 5), along with other chapters dedicated to classical

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Hindu mythology (Chapters 2–​6). Overall, Part One of the book provides readers with an opportunity to learn about religious practice, art, ethics, and political thought from the vantage point of texts, rituals, and creative endeavors illuminating the context of religion in India and its intricate workings within Indian society. Part Two of the book continues with examination of modern and contemporary Hinduism in national, transnational, and regional contexts (Chapters 7–12). Another unique feature of this book is that several chapters attempt a common theme from multiple perspectives and sources. For example, political thought and theory forms part of the analytical framework in four chapters: Chapter 3 examines the Hindu ritual praveśa to understand sociopolitical dimensions; Chapter 6 examines blood art and its political meaning in current political art by analyzing the cult of Draupadi and Aravan; Chapter  4 examines classical Hindu mythology, studying the symbolism of violence in the light of the modern political thought of Derrida, Girard, Jantzen, and so on; Chapter 7 examines the novel Gora applying ritual theory to understand the formation of political identity and nationhood in colonial India. Transnational nationalist relations and religious interactions are examined in Chapter 8. Similarly, themes such as diaspora religion, gender, health, and healing span a number of chapters, as gender forms the overarching theme in three chapters:  Chapter  10 investigates women’s ritual authority in diaspora religious practice in Canada, while Chapter 11 examines women’s performance traditions in the United States of America incorporating health, healing, and spirituality; Chapter  12 examines formation of women’s mandals in Rajasthan, India, asserting women’s status, roles, and authority in an Hindu ascetic tradition. Chapters included in Part One under the theme “Traditional Hinduism: Classical Texts, Traditions, and Practices” provide the necessary springboard for connecting tradition and modernity. In addition to examining textual sources, mythology, and religious practices, the chapters included in this part also analyze modern ritual (Chapter 3), ethics (Chapters 4 and 5), political thought (Chapters 4 and 6), mythology and modern practice (Chapters  5 and 6), and language and literature (Chapter 2). Chapters included in Part Two under the theme “Hinduism in the Modern World: Colonial, Diasporic, and Women’s Religion” examine the historical evolution of modern Hinduism in the colonial context (Chapters 7, 8, and 9), spanning across different continents (Chapter 8), while simultaneously analyzing Hindu spirituality and ritual aesthetics (Chapter 9). Literary work of Tagore (Chapter 7), philosophical expositions of Aurobindo and Mother (Chapter 9), and socioreligious and political interactions of Christianity and Hinduism (Chapter  8) depict modern Hinduism reflecting on the interactions of British subjects in transnational contexts (India, the United States of America, and Canada). Tamil culture and religion in transnational and diaspora contexts depict gender (Chapter  10) and culture in international Hindu religious practice. Diaspora Indian artistic traditions (Chapter 11) grounded in traditional performance and rituals inspire modern spiritual interpretations connected to health, healing, and performance based on rasa theory. Chapter  12 examines women’s authority in a monastic tradition in India. Overall, Part Two of the book gives an opportunity to examine Hinduism in colonial, transnational,

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and diaspora identity formation and current religious practice. This section also includes analytical perspectives derived from new sources and new contexts. As an undercurrent of analyses these chapters include exploration of gender, ethics, political, religious, and philosophical thought. Symbolism of religion is not confined merely to the religious texts and ceremony, but is found across performance, polity, transnational and regional political interactions, and social life. Hence chapters in this book utilize a variety of sources to understand religious experience in modern Hinduism. They are dedicated to examining religion in a variety of geographical and chronological contexts. Chapter 2, “Multiregional and Multi-​linguistic Vīraśaivism: Change and Continuity in an Early Devotional Tradition,” by Elaine Fisher, reconstructs the pivotal role of a network of Vīraśaiva theologians virtually unstudied in Western academia. This chapter documents the dissemination of Pañcārādhya Vīraśaivism from its inceptions as a distinct religious tradition in twelfth-​century Śrīśailam in Andhra Pradesh to exert a substantive influence on philosophy, liturgy, and religious identity in Vijayanagar-​era Karnataka noting continuing legacies in present practice. Indeed, from the Vijayanagar period onward, Pañcārādhya Vīraśaivism flourished as a transregional and multi-​ linguistic religious movement, boasting substantial literature not only in Kannada but also in Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, and Sanskrit across regions. This chapter examines the sociocultural milieu and linguistic evolution in southern India through textual studies leading into the study of multiple aspects of Hindu practice undertaken in the later chapters connecting modernity and tradition. Chapter 3, “Entering the South Asian City: Praveśa in Literature and Practice,” by Michael Baltutis, examines the Nepali Hindu festival of Indra Jatra, specifically the ritual of praveśa. A praveśa event is premised on the presence of three things: first, a powerful (though not necessarily physical) object that moves through space; second, a matrix whose outer edge this object penetrates; and finally, a vehicle by which the object enters this matrix. This chapter considers several examples of praveśa—​the three components and the relationships among them—​and the contexts in which they occur. Utilizing ethnographic fieldwork and theories of ritual studies, this analysis shows the religious, ritual, and sociopolitical dimensions of praveśa in a Nepali festival, the Indra Jatra. Chapter 4, “Demonic Devotees and Symbolism of Violence in Hindu Literature,” by Carl Olson, examines narratives in Indian literature that depict demonic beings practicing asceticism and acquiring powers that they subsequently use to threaten or inflict pain on others. In addition, the chapter offers a definition of the demonic and suggests that it shares aspects with violence. It presupposes an engagement with theoretical works on violence, and examines moral and ethical dimensions of violence and asceticism. Chapter 5, “Sacred Groves: The Playground of the Gods,” by Deepak Shimkhada and Jason Mitchell, examines culture-​specific understandings of nature, which merge with spiritual potentialities in the protection of the sacred groves across India. This chapter examines the concept of pañcavaṭi to understand the environmental conscious embedded within Hindu religious practice. Utilizing mythology, religious practice, pilgrimage, and ideals of sacred geography; this chapter also utilizes the contemporary ecological perspectives.

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Chapter  6, “Religious Symbolism in Contemporary Political Art: Hussaini and Tamil Popular Culture,” by Amy-​Ruth Holt, examines the effect of modern media on contemporary culture in India while utilizing traditional Hindu myths and symbolism. Drawing from the well-​known sources, contemporary artists in India frequently blur the line between fine art and popular culture. This chapter analyzes the blood art of Hussaini for its historic connections to Hindu mythology (Draupadi) and explores the transformation of Tamil heritage through modern politics and global media. As seen through the artist’s news journal interviews, Internet posts, and television appearances covering the release of his artwork, his imagery has ultimately refocused the visualizing of sacrificial blood commonly seen in the traditional Tamil cults associated with Draupadi and Aravan toward the popular veneration of recently deceased Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, Jayalalitha, popularly referred to as Amma, as a modern goddess. This chapter contributes to contemporary debates on the influence of religion in shaping popular perceptions through depiction in the modern media. Chapter  7, “‘Rite of Passage’ in India’s National Struggle:  Understanding Rabindranath Tagore’s Gora in the Context of Religion,” by Lavanya Vemsani, examines India’s national struggle in modern Indian literature. Rabindranath Tagore’s literature is well known for intricate religious and spiritual symbolism. For instance, Tagore’s novel Gora is laden with extensive layers of religious and ritual symbolism depicting the nation, India, in a state of transition or in a “liminal state,” to use Victor Turner’s phrase. Contemporaneous Hindu thought and Western political thought are at the core of symbolism in the narrative of Gora. Chapter 8, “America, the Superlative, and India, the Jewel in the Crown: Religious Ideologies, Transnationalism, and the End of the Raj,” by Deborah Logan, includes biographies of Indians who traveled to the United States during the mid-​to-​late colonial period and recorded commentary that were idiosyncratic, critically acerbic, culturally revealing, and politically provocative vis-​ à-​ vis Indian independence. Colonial religious interaction and political intricacies of British legacy are also discussed through the analysis of biographical works of the nationalist leaders. Travelers include the first woman doctor, Anandabai Joshi, Christian converts Pandita Ramabai and Lilavati Singh, Swami Vivekananda and Hindu convert Sister Nivedita, Hindu widow Parvati Athavale, Gandhi’s “lieutenant” Sarojini Naidu, healthcare reformer Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy, Muslim socialite Atiya Fyzee-​Rahmin, and socialist-​nationalist Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya. These travel accounts were valued for their first-​person reports of a colonial society that had overturned the mighty British Empire: America’s example was provocative, alternately “superlative” and disappointing, a model of what and what not to be and do once independence was achieved. Chapter  9, “The Integral Yoga of the Sri Aurobindo Āśram:  Gender, Spirituality, and the Arts,” by Patrick Beldio, examines the spiritual practice of Sri Aurobindo (né Aurobindo Ghose, 1872–​1950) and the Mother (née Mirra Alfassa, 1878–​1973), which is called the “Integral Yoga.” It is a new religious movement founded in the twentieth century that draws upon many Hindu practices and philosophies like Śaktism, Vedānta, Tantra, and the yogas of the Bhagavad Gītā, yet innovates on these to “divinize” or transform the Earth and body instead of transcending them. Sri Aurobindo’s work has

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Introduction

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since inspired many prominent thinkers and is considered a significant contribution to Hindu studies and religious studies, as well as twentieth-​century colonial Indian history. Using a visual culture approach, this chapter would importantly treat the Mother in an equal manner to Sri Aurobindo and focus on her life as an artist as well, since she used painting and music in her own spiritual practice and in her guidance with some of her students. In fact, one could characterize the two together as “spiritual consorts.” This chapter discusses gendered religion in art and practice along with analyzing contemporary spiritual traditions. Chapter  10, “In Relationship with the Goddess:  Women Interpreting Leadership Roles and Shaping Diasporic Identities,” by Nanette R. Spina, is based on ethnographic fieldwork which investigates women’s ritual authority and the common boundaries that associate religion and notions of gender, ethnicity, and identity. Focusing on the contemporary Melmaruvathur Adhiparasakthi movement, also known as Om Sakthi, one of the most prominent elements of this Goddess tradition is that women are privileged with positions of leadership and ritual authority. Taking a close look at the Adhiparasakthi society in Toronto, Canada, a Sri Lankan Hindu community in both its transnational and diasporic dimensions, this chapter brings together models of female authority in Goddess myths, tradition, and practice, and illustrates how Goddess theology, women’s ritual authority, and “inclusivity” ethics frame community discourse. Together these elements both promote and bolster the ethical preferences of this diasporic community abroad. Chapter 11, “Spirituality and Ritual in Odissi Dance: Health, Healing, and Ritual in a Diaspora Performance Tradition,” by Kaustavi Sarkar, sets out to answer questions through the perspective of Rasa (meaning essence, flavor, taste), the affectively experienced encounter between dancer and audience generated via the interface of the dancing body. Mentioned in Bharata’s Natyasastra, the ancient Indian treatise on performing arts, Rasa refers to the aesthetic sensation that is impersonalized and ineffable from which every trace of its component material has been obliterated. The chapter demonstrates that the fusion of physical movement and Natyasastric emotions is the primary reason behind the potency of ADT’s (Ananya Dance Theater, Chicago) healing processes. Contemporary theories on performance, health, healing, and spirituality are also examined in this chapter. Chapter 12, “A Mandal of Their Own: Gender and the Reimagining of Community by Hindu Renouncers in Northern India,” by Antoinette DeNapoli, examines the ways in which the disruptures instigated by the idea of forming a separate women’s organization (mandal) for renouncers (sadhus) conceived by female sadhus in Rajasthan, India, convey a broader social commentary on women’s status, roles, and leadership opportunities within the institution of Hindu renunciation in contemporary northern India. It shows that the sadhus’ imagining of a separate mandal ritually sanctions women’s concerns in a monastic tradition in which female renouncers are minorities and, as significantly, an ethos of respect for women that evokes a call for social justice. Utilizing fieldwork, mythology, and religious practice, this chapter analyzes negotiation of ritual authority within Hindu monastic traditions. Chapter 13, “Conclusion,” the last chapter of the book, offers analytical conclusions drawn from the multiple perspectives discussed briefly in the present chapter. Each

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generation of scholars brings new resources and analyses, enriching the field of study for every major subject area of study. Similarly, as an emerging and new field of study, religious studies attracts scholars with diverse research interests. This book brings together ritual studies, ethnography, religious studies, linguistic analysis, historical studies, as well as political and ethical thought. The concluding chapter also provides a prospectus for future directions of academic inquiry for the ever-​changing and evolving field of religious studies based on current studies included in this book.

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Part One

Traditional Hinduism: Classical Texts, Traditions, and Practices

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Multiregional and Multi-​linguistic Vīraśaivism: Change and Continuity in an Early Devotional Tradition Elaine Fisher

1.  Multilingual Vīraśaivism, past and present In the globalizing world of the twenty-​first century, boundaries are defined by their permeability. Identities, religious identities included, are manufactured on the free market as pastiches of influence from various cultures, regions, and languages. At first glance, the Kāśī Jaṃgamvāḍī Maṭha,1 northern India’s principal Vīraśaiva monastery and network center, is the very picture of such postmodern hybridity. The public space of the monastery resounds with dialogue in a multitude of languages—​not only the local Hindi but also Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, Sanskrit, and English, among others, are heard with considerable frequency. Many of the corridors of the inner complexes are lined with votive shrines containing hundreds of miniature śivaliṅgas, each celebrating the life of a deceased devotee in their own language and script. The monastery bookstore displays in a place of pride their Russian translation of the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi,2 the core scripture of Sanskritic Vīraśaivism today, celebrating their following of over 300 Russian devotees. During his brief sojourn at his own monastery in between nationwide tours, the pontiff of the lineage himself, Jagadguru Chandrasekhara Shivacarya Mahaswamiji, warmly welcomes devotees from around the world, requesting a “selfie” at the samādhis of his predecessors to commemorate each visit. Upon encountering such an astounding dialectical diversity, one might expect that the polyglossy of the Jaṃgamvāḍī Maṭha is a distinctively modern phenomenon, strategically adapted to the pressures of globalization to attract a multiregional—​and indeed multinational—​following of lay devotees. Nevertheless, while print culture and smartphones are of modern provenance, our historical archive shows that multilingualism has suffused the textual culture of Vīraśaivism from its very inception. Though often touted as a religious movement restricted to the environs of present-​day Karnataka, its ethos only captured in the Kannada language, Vīraśaiva communities thrive to this day throughout the southern half of the subcontinent from Maharashtra

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to Tamil Nadu, and, more intermittently, as far north as Bhaktapur in Nepal.3 In the earliest period of Vīraśaiva textual and institutional culture from the eleventh and twelfth centuries onward,4 not only was vernacular poetry not restricted to the Kannada language,5 but Sanskrit, the language of Āgamic Śaivism as well as courtly cosmopolitanism, proved a central vehicle for the spread of Vīraśaiva religiosity across regions. By examining two key moments in Vīraśaiva textual history, I  aim to highlight, first, that Sanskrit was far from foreign or inimical to the interests of early Vīraśaiva communities, and second, that Sanskrit cosmopolitanism, allied with multilingual enterprises of translation and commentary, allowed for the transregional dissemination of a religious culture that its practitioners today across regions describe as Vīraśaivism.6 In the academic study of Hinduism, for both practical and programmatic reasons, scholarship is habitually segmented by region and language. Particularly in reference to the rise of vernacularization in the second millennium, social, cultural, and religious identities are often viewed as similarly segmented, confined by the impermeable boundaries of language-​based communities. This regionalization of religion, in our inherited narrative of Indian history, was driven by the inexorable tides of the Bhakti Movement: across regions and languages, the hegemony of elite Sanskritic religiosity was bound, we are told, to give way to an upsurge of populist devotionalism rooted in the localities of land and language. The Bhakti Movement, however, as recent scholarship (Hawley 2015) has begun to show, is itself a distinctively modern concept. In fact, well into the early modern (ca. 1400–​1800) period—​which previous scholarship has described as the Vernacular Age (Pollock 1998)—​religious communities across the subcontinent show far more evidence of a deep-​rooted transregionality than previous scholarship has recognized. In the southern Indian case, religious communities we typically consider monadic entities in fact participated in networks of cross-​linguistic circulation spanning present-​ day Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Understanding religious identity in the early modern period, in short, requires a methodological approach that moves beyond regionality to capture the dynamics of religious exchange across linguistic and geographical boundaries. Vīraśaivism, as an eminently transregional devotional community, provides an ideal example of the permeability of regional and linguistic boundaries in the centuries before nationalism came to depict the geographical region as an inevitable, preexisting given. While the beliefs and practices of Vīraśaivas can vary significantly, Vīraśaivas are best known for bearing around their necks personal iṣṭaliṅgas, or aniconic forms of Śiva representative of the unity between the individual soul and Śiva (liṅgāṅgasāmarasya), for which they traditionally perform daily worship (iṣṭaliṅgapūjā). As a key player in the so-​called Bhakti or devotional Movement of Hinduism, Vīraśaivism is typically represented in scholarship as a distinctly regional phenomenon, or a “religion of the people”—​grounded in the very soil of Karnataka and the language of its people, Kannada. In this scholarly model, Vīraśaivism is exclusively indebted to the siren song of the earlier Tamil bhakti poet-​saints, whose passionate fervor for union with the divine first heralded the “Storm of Songs”—​in Hawley’s words—​that was soon to sweep across the Deccan Plateau to the northwest.7 Hence, the only valid testimonia, in this model, to the twelfth-​century originary sentiments of Vīraśaivism must be

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fundamentally Dravidian in form and language, expressed in aphoristic prose or popular narrative that captured the imagination of devotees of all social backgrounds. Religious truth, for Vīraśaivas, in this understanding, was thus captured not in revealed Sanskrit scripture but the heartfelt, natural language of vernacular Kannada poetry, in what are called the vacanas, or “utterances,” of poet-​saints such as Basava himself.8 In fact, among all the sects of the so-​called Bhakti Movement, Vīraśaivism is most explicitly viewed as originating from radical social protest—​seemingly born of a deliberate mobilization against caste, ritualism, and Brahmanical privilege. Such a present-​day sentiment was perfectly encapsulated, for instance, in the words of a devotee who greeted me in the temple dedicated to Basava in Basavakalyāṇa in Karnataka, the “ground zero” of Basava’s social revolution, with the unsolicited, yet impassioned declaration:  “This Viraśaiva Movement was the world’s very first democracy in the twelfth century!”9 Owing to this narrative, any Vīraśaiva literature written in Sanskrit has been viewed by many scholars within the community, and by Western scholarship, as a late forgery—​inauthentic, derivative, and foreign to the community’s values. Take, for instance, the best-​ known representation of Vīraśaivism in Western scholarship, A. K. Ramanujan’s Speaking of Śiva. Published in 1973, Speaking of Śiva presents the English-​speaking academy with a translation of the vacanas of Basava or Basavaṇṇa, the twelfth-​century minister of the Kalachuri king Bijjala I of Kalyāṇa in northern Karnataka, as well as those of three of his near contemporaries. As Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi (2005) has meticulously documented, the corpus of these poetic utterances, vacanasāhitya, owes its canonical status as a cornerstone of Vīraśaivism to the efforts of early modern anthologizers, belonging particularly to the Virakta lineage. Much like the songs of the northern Indian poet-​saints,10 while certain vacanas may be traced by inscriptional evidence to the twelfth century,11 the current shape of the vacana oeuvre undoubtedly crystalized through numerous accretions, rendering the dating of most individual vacanas rather problematic. Nevertheless, a significant body of scholarship, whether written in English or Kannada, follows Ramanujan in accepting that Basava himself singlehandedly spearheaded a socioreligious revolution,12 evocative of the anticlerical stance of the European Protestant Reformation. Indeed, in the first sentence to his introduction to Speaking of Śiva, an essay that has now been read by generations of scholars as a primer on the Vīraśaiva religion, Ramanujan declares unequivocally:  “Basavaṇṇa was the leader of the medieval religious movement, Vīraśaivism, of which the Kannada vacanas are the most important texts.” He further elaborates: The Vīraśaiva movement was a social upheaval by and for the poor, the low-​caste and the outcaste against the rich and the privileged; it was a rising of the unlettered against the literate pundit, flesh and blood against stone . . . Bhakti religions like Vīraśaivism are Indian analogues to European protestant movements [emphasis added]. Here we suggest a few parallels:  protest against mediators like priests, ritual, temple, social hierarchy . . . producing often the first authentic regional expressions and translations of inaccessible Sanskritic texts (like the translations of the Bible in Europe).13

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Despite the influence of his programmatic essay, Ramanujan was by no means the only academic to advocate the historicity of Vīraśaivism as a self-​conscious movement of social reform—​also known as “the Liṅgāyat Movement.” Numerous scholarly voices in both English and Kannada have affirmed the self-​same historical narrative. In particular, in the decades immediately prior to the publication of Speaking of Śiva, the Basava Samithi of Bangalore had emerged as one of the most vocal advocates for the purity of the Liṅgāyat religion, a social protest movement backed solely by the scriptural authority of the Kannada-​language vacanas of the poet-​saints.14 For instance, one of the core publications of the Basava Samithi today, The Lingayat Movement: A Social Revolution in Karnataka, prefigures Ramanujan’s message by drawing a direct analogy between the Liṅgāyat Movement and early Buddhism and Jainism, all serving primarily as social critique of the stultified, “Catholic” Brahmanical orthodoxy. In essence, by superimposing the narrative of the European Protestant Reformation on late medieval India,15 Basava assumes the role of an Indian Martin Luther, propounding a religion of the people against the clerical excesses of orthodox religion: Basava, like Buddha and Mahavir, saw the appalling ignorance and superstition of the lower caste people and traced the root cause of it to Varnashramadharma. The credit of having brought about a social revolution through religion backed up with a progressive philosophy goes to Basava, the leader of the Lingayat Movement. Basava found the cause of social and economic slavery of the masses in the Brahmanic caste system. Hence he revolted against the Hindu philosophy and its caste system.16

Other scholars, in contrast, have urged caution against this narrative, duly noting that not all texts that espouse a doctrine known as Vīraśaivism were written in the Kannada language, nor do all trace their genealogy to the charismatic influence of Basavaṇṇa as social reformer. Blake Michael (1983), for instance, draws attention to what he describes as a “denominational” split within Vīraśaivism—​an unfortunate term that replicates, rather than repudiates, the metanarrative of Vīraśaivism as Protestant Reformation. Nevertheless, Michael’s essay brings into wider circulation a key voice within Vīraśaivism past and present, namely, the tradition of the five Ācāryas, the Pañcācārya or Pañcapīṭha Paramparā, which Michael terms the “Gurusthala Denomination”17 of Vīraśaivism. Drawing on the ritual and philosophical heritage of Āgamic Śaivism, the Pañcācārya Paramparā accepts today as its primary scriptural authority the Sanskrit Siddhāntaśikhamaṇi of Śivayogi Śivācārya,18 resonances of which, devotees argue, can be traced to the Vedas themselves and beyond. Indeed, according to the tradition’s foundational narratives,19 the five teachers or Ācāryas have manifested of their own volition from five śivaliṅgas across the subcontinent not only in recent historical time in the Kali Yuga but in each successive eon of creation. It is on the grounds of historicity, then, that some scholars have consented to writing the corpus of Sanskritic Vīraśaivism out of historical memory, thus neglecting the substantive corpus of Vīraśaiva thought composed not in Kannada but in Sanskrit. A thorough historicization of the thought and practice of Vīraśaivism is beyond the scope of the present chapter.20 Nor would it be desirable to fabricate a new metanarrative

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of its history, given the vast wealth of Vīraśaiva textuality yet to be adequately studied, either in Indian or Western academic circles. My aim is by no means to question the legitimacy of the present-​day Liṅgāyat religion as represented by its practitioners. By stepping outside of our accepted metanarrative of Vīraśaivism, I do not intend to erase the importance of the vacanas, or vernacular devotional literature, such as the narratives of the lives of saints (in the form of Kannada ragaḷĕgaḷu, etc.).21 From the time when the vacanas were first collected, or compiled, by certain Vīraśaiva redactors around the Vijayanagar period, they have proven to be an ongoing source of religious inspiration. I do not intend to adjudicate between these two mytho-​historical origin stories of Vīraśaivism. To return to the multilingual source material of Vīraśaiva thought need not reflect political partisanship; in the post-​nationalist age language choice has often become a fundamentally political decision, superimposed back onto the pre-​nationalist centuries of the past in which community and region were never bounded by the hard and fast lines of language-​based state borders. To the contrary, I hope to allow our historical archive to speak for itself, bracketing both of these metanarratives through a fresh return to the unstudied textual sources of Vīraśaivism and its predecessors. Having surveyed the holdings of manuscript libraries and early print materials on Sanskritic Vīraśaivism over the course of a year of fieldwork (2016–​17),22 I  frame my discussion in the present chapter around two case studies that illuminate the centrality of interlinguistic dialogue—​particularly, the Sanskrit/​vernacular alliance—​to those historical moments that proved formative for the emergence of the multiple forms of Vīraśaiva/​Liṅgāyat identity. What, then, is meant by Sanskritic Vīraśaivism, and does the very use of the term, even if advertently, not exert some bias to the adjudication between the tradition’s origin stories? To be clear, Sanskritic is not the same as Sanskrit. By Sanskritic, I refer to modes of textuality and ritual practice that draw on the legacy of the pan-​regional Śaiva traditions of the Atimārga and Mantramārga, the latter typically coextensive with what we call Tantric or Āgamic Śaivism. There is nothing about these forms of religiosity that prohibits their practice in the vernacular, and indeed, certain works of this sort were composed in Telugu and Kannada during the formative period of Vīraśaiva thought.23 It so happens that Sanskrit remained a vital medium of intellectual production throughout this period, without any interruptions, but this fact is of interest not because of language politics, but because of what it can tell us about the dissemination of knowledge—​how and when Sanskrit continued to function as a transregionalizing discourse even in the sphere of religion, in the supposedly Bhakti-centric period of Hinduism. First, I  complicate the idea of a unitary origin of the Vīraśaiva “movement” by excavating the formative influence of the Sanskritic Āgamic scripture of the Vīramāheśvaras in Andhra Pradesh, a body of literature that provides our earliest textual encapsulation of many of the definitive features of later Vīraśaiva praxis, and yet proves richly intertextual with Vīraśaiva theology and narrative in Telugu from the same period and region.24 Second, I examine the multivalent relationship of Sanskrit and Kannada in Vīraśaiva textuality of the Vijayanagar period through the example of an influential monastic lineage in northern Karnataka. While the early modern centuries are best known in Vīraśaiva studies for the efflorescence of new Kannada language theology and narrative traditions, the Hooli Bṛhanmaṭha provides an ideal

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example of the continued vitality of Sanskrit in the articulation of new forms Vīraśaiva identity emerging during the early modern period. We must recall, as Hayden White (1975) has argued, that all history is narrative, inflected by key choices of emplotment and historical archive must necessarily be mediated by such narratological choices. The story that has remained untold, however, is supported by a staggering amount of literature, textual sources of numerous genre—​ not only narrative literature, but revealed Śaiva scripture, or Āgamas, manuals for ritual and codes of conduct, formal systematic philosophy, commentary—​written not only in Sanskrit, but in several other southern Indian vernaculars as well, adopting the idiom and genre constraints of Sanskrit śāstra—​formal systematic prose. The story that has not been told, succinctly, is not a subaltern narrative, or a footnote to history, but in fact a substantial core of Vīraśaiva theology and ritual practice, and the mechanism by which it spread so prolifically across regions and languages in the late medieval and early modern centuries.

2.  Coconut in the honey: the Vīramāheśvaras of Andhra Pradesh In late medieval Andhra Pradesh, the rise of the literary vernacular, according to scholarly wisdom, was fueled by “Śaiva protest,”25 in which poets turned to Telugu to circumvent the arcane scholasticism of Sanskrit, the language of Brahmanical power. In transregional context, no small amount of ink has been spilled in questioning whether literary vernacularism was the product of the Bhakti Movement or the royal court. In the case of the Andhra country, however, scholars of medieval literature have long noted the archaic colloquialism of the earliest Telugu prabandhas, relatively free from the burden of Sanskrit loan words and literary culture. In contrast to the golden age of Telugu literature, as exemplified by Śrīnātha in the fifteenth century, thirteenth-​ century Telugu has been understood as not only unpretentiously local but vocally anti-​Sanskritic in its efforts to convey devotional sentiment to the people. Indeed, the best-​known of early Telugu poets were in fact Vīraśaivas, and thus rhetorically implicated in the revolutionary project of Basavaṇṇa, their compatriot across the Karnataka border. Take, for instance, the words of Pālkurike Somanātha, best known as the author of the Telugu-​language Basavapurāṇamu, to whom Velcheru Narayana Rao attributes an experience of alienation from the hard coconut shell of Sanskrit.26 As Pālkurike Somanātha writes: Telugu is simple, beautiful to hear. It reaches all, unlike these big words of verse and prose. I will therefore sing in dvipada couplets. A good poet makes great meaning with small words.27

It is on the basis of his own words, then, that Somanātha has been upheld as an advocate for the pure simplicity of Telugu, free from the artificial constraints of Sanskrit, a synthetic medium of elite knowledge production. Is it the case, however, that to find

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Telugu beautiful—​mellifluous as honey in Narayana Rao’s poignant metaphor—​is necessarily part and parcel of “leading a militant anti-​Brahminic Śaiva movement”?28 After all, as Narayana Rao and Roghair observe, perhaps somewhat apologetically, in his introduction to their masterful translation of Somanātha’s Basavapurāṇamu, Somanātha himself was not only a Śrauta Brahmin but betook himself regularly in his Telugu writings to the authority of the four Vedas, maintaining that the theology of the Vīraśaivas conforms completely to the strictures of the Vedas and Purāṇas.29 Was Vīraśaivism then, for Pālkurike Somanātha’s generation, a movement of social protest? In fact, the rhetorical force of Somanātha’s own writings becomes clearer when weighed against the evidence of the discursive sphere in which he participated, a substantial volume of early Vīraśaiva literature in Andhra Pradesh, written not primarily in Telugu but in Sanskrit. Contrary to popular wisdom, the word Vīraśaiva does appear quite early in the Sanskrit literature of Andhra Pradesh, in works that may even predate the floruit of Basava himself.30 For instance, one of the earliest works of this body of literature may be Jyotirnātha’s Śaivaratnākara (perhaps early twelfth century), which shares the discursive conventions of later works while never mentioning names such as Basava or Mallikārjuna Paṇḍitārādhya. This early generations of Sanskritic Vīraśaivas—​for they were quite often Śrauta Brahmin ritualists, their descendants today known as Ārādhya Brahmins31 or Śrauta Śaivas—​identified primarily as Vīramāheśvaras, a term that appears frequently in the inscriptional record from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, and beyond, from at least the tenth century.32 Drawing on the authority of a corpus of redacted Vīraśaiva Āgamas,33 the Vīramāheśvaras canonized a regimen of ritual practice that is nearly identical to the “eight veils” (aṣṭāvaraṇa) of later Vīraśaivism as it is best known in Karnataka, including the requirement of bearing a personal liṅga on the initiate’s body, later referred to as the iṣṭaliṅga. In their narrative literature, they fused the Sanskritic Purāṇic legends, dating back to the Nepalese Skanda Purāṇa and early Southeast Asian inscriptions,34 with the lives of present-​day Śivayogīs, describing Basavaṇṇa and his contemporaries as incarnations of the Asaṃkhyāta Pramathagaṇas,35 the innumerable hordes of Śiva’s gaṇa attendants. It was this very Vīramāheśvara religious culture in which Pālkurike Somanātha was an active participant. Indeed, while these works remain largely unstudied,36 literary tradition attributes to Pālkurike Somanātha (early thirteenth century) as many works in Sanskrit as in Telugu.37 Most important among these is a lengthy śāstric exposition of Vīraśaiva doctrine and ritual comportment composed in Sanskrit, entitled the Vīramāheśvarācārasāroddhārabhāṣya,38 “the commentary that extracts the essence of the Vīramāheśvara doctrine.” Ostensibly a commentary on an earlier Vīramāheśvara treatise, the Vīramāheśvarācārasāroddhāra of Lakṣmīdeva (ca. twelfth century),39 Somanātha’s commentary is known more popularly as the Somanāthabhāṣya or the Basavarājīya. Such designations, for instance, are attributed to the work in the colophon of the manuscript preserved at the Government Oriental Manuscripts Library in Chennai, India.40 In fact, tradition itself, within 100 years of the author’s lifetime, views Somanātha as responsible for composing a text entitled the Basavarājīya. As Nīlakaṇṭha Nāganātha (ca. late-​thirteenth/​fourteenth century) states, in his Vīramāheśvarācārasaṅgraha:

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Modern Hinduism in Text and Context I bow to the omniscient Guru Śrī Paṇḍitārādhya, His mind thoroughly moistened by the lotus feet of the Great Lord.

I bow to Guru Lakṣmīdeva, by whom, having excavated the Śaiva essence In the Vedas, Śāstras, and Purāṇas, was written this Extraction of the Essence (Sāroddhāra). Homage to Pālkurke [sic] Somanātha, noble of conduct, Who composed the text known as the illustrious Basavarājīya, Suitable to the Vīramāheśvaras, having defeated all disputations. I bow to him, Jyotirnātha, who out of compassion, for the sake of the world, Once composed the text known as the Śaiva Treasury (Śaivaratnākara).41 And indeed, the text proceeds precisely as Nīlakaṇṭha Nāganātha advertises, articulating the consonance of Vīramāheśvara practice with the Vaidika and Śaiva scriptural canons. Through his own testimony in this text, Somanātha is by no means allergic to the high Sanskritic tradition; in fact, he demonstrates his thorough acquaintance with transregional scholastic learning by prefacing his work with an exacting etymology of the name Basava according to the strictures of Prakrit grammar.42 The text is Vedicizing in the extreme, suffused with quotations from the Ṛg and Yajurvedas—​from demonstrating his thoroughgoing familiarity with Śrauta ritual from the Darśapūrṇamāsa yajña to the Aśvamedha, to documenting through Vedic proof-​texts the manifestation of Śiva as Vīrabhadra43 during the destruction of Dakṣa’s sacrifice. He further appends his citations periodically with refrains affirming the authority of the Vedas: “Authority exists in the Vedas alone,”44 an assertion presumed contradictory to the essential ethos of Vīraśaivism in popular scholarly narrative. He summarizes his doctrine—​a synthesis of bhakti and Āgamic Śaivism that is reminiscent of the fierce devotion of the early Telugu literature—​as follows: Those illustrious ones, the best of those intent on the conduct of the Vīraśaivas, always connected with the liṅga [i.e., the guru], who partake of the prasāda and foot water of that teacher, must abandon the remembrance, praise, darśana, touch, or recitation of any deity other than Śiva—​because, such was practiced by the multitude (Gaṇa) of ancient devotees, and the Gaṇa attendants of Śiva (Pramathagaṇa), in the manner propounded by all of the Śrutis, Smṛtis, Itihāsa, Āgama, and Purāṇa.45

The same is true, undoubtedly, of Pālkurike Somanātha’s own teacher. Despite his undoubtedly genuine reverence for Basavaṇṇa, both as twelfth-​century minister of Kalyāṇa and incarnation of Śiva’s bull Nandī, Pālkurike Somanātha, according to tradition, hails from the initiatory lineage of Mallikārjuna Paṇḍitārādhya of Srisailam, whose own oeuvre crosses the boundaries of literary culture, whom Somanātha eulogizes in his Telugu Paṇḍitārādhyacaritramu. A  historical personage in his own right, as ample inscriptional data confirms his floruit in the twelfth century (perhaps as an older

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contemporary of Basava), Paṇḍitārādhya is reputed to have authored works in Sanskrit, Kannada, and Telugu, although the sole remnant of his oeuvre is his Telugu-​language Śivatattvasāramu (ca. twelfth century), a unique hybrid of devotional and scholastic literary cultures. The Śivatattvasāramu interweaves devotional “lives of saints” narratives—​ asserting the unparalleled excellence of bhakti—​with didactic philosophical extracts on Vedānta philosophy—​such as the section titled by the editor as Advaitamatakhaṇḍanamu, “Refutation of the doctrine of Advaita.”46 Later Ārādhya Śaivism in Andhra Pradesh eulogizes Paṇḍitārādhya as one of the paṇḍitatraya, along with Śrīpati Paṇḍita and Śivalĕṅka Mañcĕnapaṇḍita (both historicizable figures within the tradition as well).47 Transregional Pañcācārya Vīraśaivism, in contrast, considers Paṇḍitārādhya as one of the five self-​manifested Ācāryas of the Kali Age, who emerged self-​born from the Jyotirliṅga at Śrīśailam and established one of the five principal monasteries at the same location. In brief, the coconut and the honey—​the hard shell of Sanskrit and soft sweetness of Telugu, in the words of Velcheru Narayana Rao—​in the works of Pālkurike Somanātha and Mallikārjuna Paṇḍitārādhya, are perhaps not so far apart as they might have seemed. The Sanskrit canon of the Vīramāheśvaras and the Telugu poetry of the Śivayogīs were not two mutually disconnected literary spheres, but were in some cases performed simultaneously by their principal advocates. Perhaps the best encapsulation of their mutual imbrication is the benedictory homage of the tradition’s fourteenth-​century representative, Nīlakaṇṭha Nāganātha, prefaced to his Vīramāheśvarācārasaṅgraha. In context, alongside his invocation of Lakṣmīdeva and Jyotirnātha, Pālkurike Somanātha draws together the wider worlds of Śiva bhakti and the Sanskrit Āgamas, affirming that the “aggregate”—​as his work’s title suggests—​“of the practice of the Vīramāheśvaras” is a multilingual affair, performed simultaneously in Sanskrit, Kannada, and Telugu: Homage to Basavarāja, another incarnation of the Lord of Bulls Solely devoted to the worship of the moving [liṅga], promulgator of the conduct of Śiva.

I bow to that yogin, Srīcannabasaveśa, knower of Brahman and the Six Stages (ṣaṭsthala) Whose mind [fixed] on the tasting of the nectar that is the principle (tattva) of Śiva. Homage to Siddharāma, delighting in the wealth that is devotion, The activity of whose mind is immersed in the ocean that is the nectar of yoga. I bow to Padmarāja, incinerator of deviant doctrine, who, With effort, composed the text entitled the Sānandacaritra.48

3.  Sanskritic Vīraśaivism after Vijayanagar: the codification of Śivādvaita philosophy Among the present-​ day followers of the Pañcācārya Paramparā, no text holds equal authority to the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi,49 a Sanskrit scripture recording the

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legendary conversation between the sage Agastya and Reṇukācārya, one of the five Ācārya incarnations of the Kali Yuga. As Pañcācārya theologians advocate, the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi is indeed a groundbreaking text in its own fashion: it is the first source in any language to systematize the foundational Vīraśaiva concept of “stages” (sthala) of spiritual development, the well-​known Ṣaṭsthala system, by subdividing the 6 core states into 101 levels of attainment.50 In addition to propagating, seemingly of its own accord, a full-​fledged system of praxis, the text is intimately familiar with the discursive conventions of the Vīramāheśvaras of Śrīśailam in the early centuries. Suggestively, the text describes its principal figure, Reṇukācārya, as manifesting in human form directly from a śivaliṅga in Kollipaka, in present-​day Telangana. Reṇuka, however, is described not only as human religious figurehead but as the incarnation of one of Śiva’s Pramathagaṇas, condemned to take human birth after dishonoring one of his fellows, Dāruka, in the heavenly sabhā—​expediently, in the process, serving as the vessel for disseminating Śiva’s highest teaching in the Kali Yuga. In addition to being the key proof-​ text for the Ṣaṭsthala system, the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi has earned a reputation as the crest-​jewel of scriptures in a philosophical tradition known since the early modern period as Śivādvaita, or Śaiva nondualism. The term was later co-​opted in the Tamil country by the sixteenth-​ century polymath Appayya Dīkṣita, who attributed the doctrine exclusively to the authority of Śrīkaṇṭha’s Brahmasūtrabhāṣya—​despite centuries’ worth of intermediary Vīraśaiva sources, his knowledge of which he apparently wished to occlude.51 Indeed, the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi is aware of Śivādvaita as a concept and may prove, pending further research, the first verifiable attestation of the term in Vīraśaiva literature.52 The politics of language notwithstanding, then, it may be hardly an exaggeration to suggest that a Sanskrit scripture, the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi, as the earliest verifiable source for the concepts of 101 sthalas and Śivādvaita, has proven one of the most influential texts on Kannadiga Vīraśaivism as it has been received in the present day.53 By the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire (1565), at the height of the Vernacular Millennium, recent scholarship has suggested that Vīraśaivism became a strictly Kannadiga affair, completely abandoning the shackles of Sanskrit cosmopolitanism in favor of the language of the people. Undeniably, an expansive body of Kannada Vīraśaiva literature was composed during this period, and weighing the relative volume of Vīraśaiva textuality in Kannada, Sanskrit, Telugu, Marathi, or Tamil would prove a burdensome undertaking. Nevertheless, the Sanskrit language remained an active participant in Vīraśaiva discourse even after the codification of the Virakta Vīraśaiva lineages, the historical forebears of the language-​based nationalism that inflects the present-​day Liṅgāyat movement.54 An ideal example of the influence of Sanskrit, in fact, lies in the textual history of the term “Śivādvaita” itself. Whereas the term itself appears in the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi, the most influential advocates of Śivādvaita as a philosophical school can be contextualized in space and time with remarkable precision. Well before Appayya Dīkṣita co-​opted the term in service of his own ends, a profusion of philosophical literature on Śivādvaita Vīraśaivism emerged during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, its epicenter situated in a single monastic lineage in north-​central Karnataka.

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Today, the Pūvalli Bṛhanmaṭha—​Pūvalli having been modernized to the present-​ day Hooli—​is situated in a picturesque village some fifty kilometers northeast of Hubbli-​Dharwad, the village home to a plethora of temples dating back to the Kalyāṇi Cāḷukya Empire.55 Its unique archaeological richness suggests that it served as a principal node of religious and intellectual circulation up through the early modern period. The monastery itself, today a branch (śākhā) maṭha of the Kāśī Pīṭha of the Pañcācāryas, boasted a lineage prolific in Sanskrit scholarship on Vīraśaivism, much of which fluidly traversed the sectarian boundaries of Vedānta, Kashmir Śaivism, and the religious heritage of the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi. Fortunately for the intellectual historians of the twenty-​first century, many of these Sanskrit works cross-​reference each other while articulating an internally consistent lineage chronicle of preceptors, each of whom, it appears, participated actively in the philosophical articulation of Śivādvaita Vīraśaivism. On the basis of this understudied body of literature, we can convincingly document that, in its most rigorously argued incarnation, the Śivādvaita plagiarized by Appayya Dīkṣita was born at the Hooli Bṛhanmaṭha around the fifteenth century. Take, for example, Śivānubhava Śivācārya’s56 Śivādvaitadarpaṇa, or “The Mirror on Śivādvaita.” Through an exact homologization of non-​dualist Vedānta and the Āgamic Vīraśaivism of the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi, Śivānubhava Śivācārya forges a synthetic canon for philosophical Vīraśaivism that bows to the pressures of the Age of Vedānta, in which the Brahmasūtras were the philosophical arbiter of sectarian orthodoxy. Indeed, in the Śivādvaitadarpaṇa, the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi and Vātulāgama emerge as equal authorities with the Upaniṣads, and the Vīraśaiva doctrine of liṅgāṅgasāmarasya—​ the unity of the individual soul and Śiva—​is equated with the Upaniṣadic mahāvākya “tat tvam asi.” This synthetic unity, indeed, is precisely what Śivānubhava Śivācārya understands by the term Śivādvaita, Śaiva nondualism, at once entirely Vedic and Vīraśaiva.57 And yet, the union of Vīraśaivism and Vedānta in the Śivādvaitadarpaṇa is not the product of the author’s peculiar idiosyncracies, but rather a project sponsored by generations of a single monastic lineage. In the benedictory invocation offered by Śivānubhava Śivācārya,58 readers are presented with the following precise and exhaustive (by the standards common in the discourse) account of the lineage’s leadership over multiple centuries. In fact, the several generations of succession to the pontificate are independently verified by two additional textual documents: the Pūvallipaṭṭāvalicaritra,59 a Sanskrit lineage chronicle in the possession of the Hooli Bṛhanmaṭha, and a theological treatise by the head of another local monastery and devotee of the Hooli lineage, Siddhanañjēśa (ca. 1650), entitled the Pañcavarṇāmahāsūtrabhāṣya.60 Succinctly, the generations leading up to Siddhanañjēśa’s ascension to the pontificate are delineated in the memory of its own leadership as follows: Siddhacaitanya Śivācārya Śivāditya Śivācārya Viśveśvara Śivācārya61 Nīlakaṇṭha Śivācārya Cidghana Śivācārya

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Modern Hinduism in Text and Context Śivānubhava Śivācārya Svaprabhānanda Śivācārya Cidambara Śivācārya62

Not only can we identify a number of these pontiffs as historically contextualizable individuals, but ample inscriptional evidence situates Hooli as a primary center of Sanskrit learning well before the advent of Vīraśaivism in the region when local networks were controlled by Pāśupata and Kāḷāmukha lineages. Indeed, Śivāditya some centuries later is eulogized by the tradition as a master of the Mīmāṃsā, Nyāya, and Vaiśeṣika philosophical systems. Many of the early modern pontiffs of the Hooli Bṛhanmaṭha were accomplished theologians in their own right, contributing to an extensive corpus of writings internal to the lineage that articulated, over successive generations, a core theology of nondualist Vīraśaivism, or Śivādvaita. Some are preserved in direct quotation by Śivānubhava in his Śivādvaitadarpaṇa:  Śivāditya Śivācārya is remembered as authoring a text entitled the Śaktisandoha and Cidghana Śivācārya composed a certain Śivādvaitasudhākara.63 Mention, certainly, must be made of the Śivādvaitamañjarī of Svaprabhānanda Śivācārya, a systematic treatise endeavoring to reconcile the scriptural and philosophical heritages of the Śivasūtras and Brahmasūtras, both of which, in Svaprabhānanda’s view, culminate in the Śivādvaita of Vīraśaiva orthodoxy. Nevertheless, if the Hooli lineage abounds in historical evidence for its sophisticated Sanskrit discourse, much of which has been preserved intact today, the early modern centuries also stand at an interstitial moment of mythmaking not only for the local lineage but also for the transregional Pañcācārya tradition. Siddhanañjēśa’s Pañcavarṇamahāsūtrabhāṣya, for instance, ostensibly a commentary on the primordial teaching or “sūtra” of the Kāśī Pīṭha, “śiva evātmā” (“The self is nothing but Śiva”), is our earliest known attestation of the current concept of “five sūtras”—​each corresponding to one of the five central pīṭhas—​prevalent within the Pañcācārya community today. We find an oblique homage offered by Śivānubhava Śivācārya, in his Śivādvaitadarpaṇa, to Śiva as Dakṣiṇāmūrti,64 a rhetorical move that may prefigure current hagiography that the Hooli maṭha lineage was established by Dakṣiṇāmūrti incarnated on earth, prior even to the institutionalization of the five pīṭhas themselves. Such traces of hagiography in the making suggest a potential avenue for dating the institutionalization—​at least in its contemporary incarnation—​of Pañcācārya Vīraśaivism as a sectarian tradition—​ roughly contemporaneous with similar processes of sectarianization within the Virakta orders as well as southern Indian Hinduism more broadly.65 But undoubtedly the most intriguing figure in the Hooli pontifical lineage—​ standing at the interstices of history and hagiography—​is Nīlakaṇṭha Śivācārya.66 Among currently extant scholarship on Vīraśaivism, the name Nīlakaṇṭha Śivācārya is perplexingly omnipresent, in that the usage appears, at first glance, to refer ambiguously to three individuals: (1) Śrīkaṇṭha, late medieval author of the Brahmasūtra commentary alternately titled the Śrīkaṇṭhabhāṣya and the Nīlakaṇṭhabhāṣya; (2)  author of the Kriyāsāra (ca. 1400–​50), who refers to himself by the name Nīlakaṇṭha Śivācārya; and (3)  the author of a certain Vīraśaiva commentary on the Brahmasūtras, which, certain scholars have asserted, is distinct from the Śrīkaṇṭhabhāṣya. Textual and

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historical evidence can confirm beyond a doubt only the existence of the first two of these figures; no direct quotation has surfaced to suggest that a Nīlakaṇṭhabhāṣya ever existed that cannot be identified with either the Śrīkaṇṭhabhāṣya or the Kriyāsāra. Quite remarkably, however, the very existence of a Nīlakaṇṭhabhāṣya emerges as a crucial assertion of the early modern pontificate of the Hooli lineage. Take, for example, the effusive invocation of this commentary by Śivānubhava himself, which occupies several verses of the benedictory homage of the Śivādvaitadarpaṇa: Indeed, Nīlakaṇṭha, that ocean of compassion, desiring to extract from the ocean of existence those sunk in their waters, Incarnated on earth to fashion the boat that is the [Brahmasūtra] commentary marked with his own name.67

And yet, just what precisely constitutes the text of the so-​called Nīlakaṇṭhabhāṣya remains stubbornly elusive. In spite of Śivānubhava’s magnanimous praise, he fails to provide a single passage from the text he claims as foundational to his tradition—​ unlike his painstaking citations of the Śaktisandoha and Śivādvaitasudhākara. It is perhaps because of commentators’ perplexing refusal to cite the work that underwrote the sectarian legitimacy of Śivādvaita Vedānta that scholars of the twentieth century have been starkly divided on the issue of the Nīlakaṇṭhabhāṣya; while some mirror the claims of the tradition verbatim, asserting that the commentary was merely lost, others marshal abundant evidence that the Nīlakaṇṭhabhāṣya has been traditionally supplied as a synonym for the Śrīkaṇṭhabhāṣya, suggesting that no other such commentary ever existed. While the latter position seems eminently plausible in most instances, it cannot explain the insistence of Śivānubhava in the Śivādvaitadarpaṇa that his own paramaguru, Nīlakaṇṭha Śivācārya, deserves credit for the authorship of a Nīlakaṇṭhabhāṣya.68 In response to this dilemma, evidence requires us to consider identifying the Nīlakaṇṭhabhāṣya as attested by Śivānubhava as nothing other than the kārikā preface to the Kriyāsāra, which the author himself—​Nīlakaṇṭha Śivācārya—​designates as a commentary (vyākhyāna) on the Brahmasūtras.69 Should we accept the Kriyāsāra as a genuine composition of an early fifteenth-​century pontiff of the Hooli maṭha, such a finding would bear significant implications for our understanding the Bṛhanmaṭha’s centrality to Vīraśaiva networks in the early modern centuries.70 The Hooli lineage provides a remarkable example of the enduring importance of Sanskritic thought to the self-​fashioning of Vīraśaiva identity. Its networks cross the boundaries of language and sectarian subcommunity: in fact, the very same Siddhanañjēśa, author of the Pañcavarṇamahāsūtrabhāṣya, and his disciple, Cikkanañjēśa, are virtually exclusively known to scholarship on Vīraśaivism through the latter’s strictly Kannada-​ language works, the Rāghavāṅkacaritrĕ and Gururājacaritrĕ.71 As such, it is the Virakta Vīraśaivas who have claimed his legacy within their traditions of hagiography.72 Rather than reading the politics of language into the precolonial past, in other words, we would be well served, in essence, by observing the degree to which Vīraśaiva textuality insistently and even deliberately traversed the boundaries of language and region, allowing its public culture and philosophy—​including concepts such as Śivādvaita—​to develop a truly multiregional presence.

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4.  Transregional Vīraśaivism: new perspectives from the archive Who was a Vīraśaiva in the twelfth century, and who is a Vīraśaiva in the twenty-​first century? The answers to these questions are as political as they are historical. The answer to the first question, moreover, is every ounce as politicized in contemporary India as the former. A work of historical scholarship should never—​in principle, if objectively executed—​make truth claims on behalf of devotees—​not only about doctrine, but about their tradition’s understanding of the telos of history, or why history unfolded as it did. In this light, the present chapter is not an attempt to refute or confirm the origin narratives of either the Virakta/​Liṅgāyat or Pañcācārya Vīraśaiva traditions; to do so falls outside the scope of historical scholarship. Likewise, I decline to presuppose that our textbook story of Indian religions is free from narrative fabrication, unlike the perspectives of traditional theologians. It is for this reason that I begin by bracketing out, in the hermeneutic sense of the term, the metanarrative of the bhakti movement and the vernacular as the autochthonous voice of the people. Rather, I begin by turning back to the archive rather than taking as my point of departure either traditional hagiography or the previous metanarratives of Western scholarship. Much more may be said about the multivalent origins of Vīraśaiva theology and practice, about its earliest moment of crystallization in the early second millennium, or about the diverse regional Vīraśaivisms—​in the plural—​that inhabit various regions of southern India to this day. The local Vīraśaivisms of Tamil Nadu73 may look nothing like those of Maharashtra; while both are to some degree threatened by the standardization wrought by religious nationalism, as our archives stand today, much of their histories are eminently recoverable. But in the present context, if one thing can be taken away from the two case studies discussed above, we may conclude that Vīraśaivism, perhaps like many other devotional communities across the subcontinent, did not originate as a form of regional nationalism, grounded in a single language and soil. Its textual culture was born not only multilingual but fundamentally polyglossic in its textual registers. For instance, in twelfth century the Telugu narrative prabandha flourished in alliance with a novel canon of philosophy, scripture, and popular mythology that inherited the legacy of transregional Āgamic Śaivism. A similar alliance between Sanskritic and vernacular cultural production, moreover, was alive and well in Vijayanagar-​period Karnataka. The polyvocality of its regional commitments, succinctly, belie the post-​ nationalist alliance between language, region, and religion—​what Arvind Pal Mandair (2009) has called “mono-​theo-​linguism”—​a staple of postcolonial identity formation that has found all too fertile ground in the scholarship of the precolonial South Asian past. The fluid commingling of identities and voices, indeed, may be suggestive of broader dynamics in the transmission of religious identities in premodern southern India: insistently multilingual and fundamentally transregional.

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Entering the South Asian City: Praveśa in Literature and Practice Michael Baltutis

1.  Introduction In her essay “Fieldwork in Common Places” (1986), Mary Louise Pratt looks back upon the “opening narrative self-​portraits” (42) of early (and later) anthropologists as they wrote about their entrances into the imperialized spaces where they were to begin their anthropological studies.1 Pratt reproduces in her essay a number of these arrival stories—​of Louis de Bougainville in Tahiti in 1767, Mungo Park in the “Interior Districts of Africa” in the late eighteenth century, and Malinowski in the Trobriand Islands in the first half of the twentieth century—​all with the purpose of showing the underlying narrativity of the ethnographic enterprise (34–​8). What all of these stories have in common is a reference to imperial power and the making of empire, communicated through the literary trope of “arrival” that hearkens back to colonial exploration. Raymond Firth, for example, in We, the Tikopia (1936) introduces himself via the classic Polynesian arrival scene . . . Firth reproduces in a remarkably straightforward way a utopian scene of first contact that acquired mythic status in the eighteenth century, and continues with us today in the popular mythology of the South Sea paradise . . . [in which] the European visitor is welcomed like a messiah by a trusting populace ready to do his or her bidding. (Pratt 1986: 35, 36)

Whether donning the guise of a scientist, explorer, king, or even castaway, the ethnographer communicates to his reader the unique and complex narrative in which he places himself, “a multifaceted entity who participates, observes, and writes from multiple, constantly shifting positions” (39). Significantly more complex than the culture in which he arrives, the literary character of the ethnographer is such a “larger-​ than-​life subject that it can absorb and transmit the richness of a whole culture” (39).2 Pratt’s analysis of these powerful ethnographic entrances provides us with a convenient cross-​cultural and interdisciplinary metaphor for addressing the topic of this chapter: the myriad ways that ancient, classical, and contemporary South Asian

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(here, primarily Hindu) narratives and performances foreground the arrival of a single person into a space in which they did not previously reside and over which they will assert a powerful type of possession. Although this process can be named by a number of different Sanskrit terms, the most frequent—​praveśa—​is used so widely and consistently throughout various genres of South Asian literature and ritual that it would be wise for us to see praveśa as a key term in the study of South Asian religion. Describing this word as “key,” I  have in mind Sherry Ortner’s (1973:  1343) “key symbol,” an object or term that formulates meanings which “are logically or affectively prior to other meanings of the system . . . [and that] extensively and systematically formulates relationships—​parallels, isomorphisms, complementarities, and so forth—​ between a wide range of diverse cultural elements.” Although the lack of attention this term has received in the secondary literature disqualifies it as being a “critical term” in the way that Mark C. Taylor describes such terms for the field of religious studies—​for example, “liberation,” “belief,” “transgression,” and “sacrifice”—​it often serves similar functions. Whether conceived spatially or temporally, terms function as enabling constraints that simultaneously create possibilities and circumscribe the limits of exploration . . . Constituted by the intricate interplay of sameness and difference, the distinctive contours of any term are a function of both its multiple components and its relation to other terms. Boundaries that join and separate terms are necessarily permeable, and thus terms are never simple. This complexity renders terms polysemous and multivocal. (Taylor 1998:16)

Although unlike the terms in Taylor’s volume whose essays “provide something like a map for exploring the territory of religion,” the complex and multivocal uses of the term praveśa in the primary literature render it important for understanding interlocking facets of the Hindu tradition, even if it is a term that is more easily studied synchronically than diachronically. Thus, praveśa is a term that adheres to the conception of, and thus might have been included in, such a volume as Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby’s The Hindu World (2006). Organized around twenty-​five Sanskrit terms in twenty-​three chapters, this volume follows the others in its series by, as the editors write in their Bhūmikā, “organizing the work of our contributors by general themes that function as plausible entry points for inquiry into the Hindu world but do not pretend to reveal a deep structure or irreducible essence of the ‘world’ that is retrieved, reconstructed, and represented from a number of perspectives” (1).3 The significance of each of the terms included in this volume lies, in part, in their unique identity as Sanskrit terms that “do not find ready equivalents in other linguistic and cultural systems” (1). Impossible to completely translate out of the Hindu and South Asian cultural worlds in which they developed, such terms as “bhakti,” “saṃskāra,” “tīrtha,” and “darśana” allow a reader a point of entry into the larger “polycentrism” of the tradition commonly referred to as “Hinduism” (Lipner 2008: 32). Far from critiquing Mittal and Thursby’s volume and rather than drawing up an additional list of secondary terms that could be included in some hypothetical sequel to The Hindu World, I  argue here that the variable application of the term

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praveśa significantly transcends its simple linguistic translation—​“entrance”—​and that, relatedly, its use in texts of many genres of Sanskrit literature provides readers with a “plausible entry point for inquiry into the Hindu world.”4 One of the limitations of the term praveśa that must be addressed at the outset is the flexibility of its use in what I will refer to as “entrance events,” a multiplicity that complicates a simple focus on this single Sanskrit term.5 In his study of South Asian deity possession, one of the more sustained discussions of this term, Frederick Smith (2006) acknowledges this flexibility, dealing at some length with the idiomatic distinction [between ā √viś and pra √viś] that has prevailed throughout most of the history of Sanskrit and Indic literature [and] has, thus, already been established by the time of the Upaniṣads: pra √viś is used for entry in which the intentionality of entering, pervading, permeating, or possessing originates from without, from an external agent. In contrast, ā √viś is established in cases in which the intentionality is from within; an individual invites entry, pervasion, possession by soma. In these usages, praveśa serves (in general) practical, creative ends, while āveśa more often than not describes ecstatic (and, later, oracular) possession. (2006: 211)6

Although elsewhere Smith also differentiates these forms of √viś from prapadya, which he translates as “to occupy,” it might be more helpful to see all of these terms as performing similar work, with at least some variations due to the requirements of meter. When we get to the Sanskrit epics, where this chapter will spend much of its time, we will see that praveśa becomes the predominant term that conveys all of these subtly different meanings simultaneously, forcing out these other terms (238, note 72). What is generally important throughout the literature, however, is the significance that authors place on the language of entering, an act that frequently begins or concludes a ritual or narrative event. The concept of entrance has proven to be a flexible and effective tool for authors of many different genres of Hindu literature who describe the penetration of one physical body by a separate one, thus arguing for the intimate relationship between otherwise discrete (quasi-​)physical objects: creation stories tell of the creator entering his creation; domestic texts describe how a new homeowner enters his new house; ritual texts prescribe the entrance of a significant ritual item into the space where it will be celebrated; architectural texts set the precise rules for ensuring that, in the ritual of prāṇa pratiṣṭhā, the essence of the deity enters the newly constructed icon; Vedic texts allow for the internalization of one’s Vedic fires7; devotional texts describe the descent of an avatar into the realm of humans; the Upaniṣads elaborate on the Vedāntic concept of the ātman and its intimate relationship to the person and to brahman; and the Sanskrit epics stipulate the requirement of a king to enter his newly conquered city. Through the repetition of this and similar terms across ritual texts and performances, one can induce the identity of “the entrance” as an archetypal rite whose consistent language places them within the framework of religious rituals that, due to being “perceived as discrete, named entities, with their own characters and histories” are “apprehensible” by their audience, and thus possess their own “facticity

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and independent existence” (Humphrey and Laidlaw 1994:  89, 100). Not finding “ready equivalents in other linguistic and cultural systems” the innovative power that coalesces around this otherwise diverse set of signs and symbols results in a symbolic unity that inaugurates a ritual event performed within a powerful geographical setting dominated by a single central human figure. Thus, although reflecting Smith’s conception of the “transfer of essence” in the context of deity possession, these entrances mark a more general theme, namely, a dramatic literary device that consistently marks individual boundary crossings in which a ritual actor or literary character transitions from one place and/​or state of being to another, with different degrees of permanence. Despite the wide use of this concept throughout Sanskrit literature, each entrance event is premised on the presence of four components:  a powerful being who moves through physical space, a matrix whose outer edge this being penetrates, a vehicle by which the object enters and pervades this matrix, and outward symptoms of this matrix having been penetrated. The “symptoms” that I refer to here represent the conclusion and purpose of entering: physical actions denoting deity possession, the public gathering of masses of people welcoming a victorious king into his city, and in an example cited below, the creation of the world itself. Thus, rather than a single term prescribing a single practice, the entrance operates as part of a habitus that “makes possible the achievement of infinitely diversified tasks, thanks to analogical transfers of schemes permitting the solution of similarly shaped problems” (Bourdieu 1990: 83). Art historian Ananda Coomaraswamy (1946) elucidates one of the types of solution that the praveśa offers, and thus one of the questions that it poses, as he addresses the concept of entrance in the twofold act of creation in the Puruṣa Sūkta hymn of Rig Veda 10.90. The first act of creation is, accordingly, from this point of view, one of divine contraction, the second as it were one of re-​entry into the domain of the finite that had been, so to speak, separated off from the Infinite. Some such conception is everywhere presupposed by the formula of “entering into” (viś, praviś, viviś) a pre-​existing creation, to animate it, as in MU 2.6; a “descent” comparable to the entrance (praveśa, avataraṇa) of an actor from the greenroom to appear in some guise upon an already existing stage. (147, note 5)

He refers in this passage to another creation hymn, this one in Maitrāyaṇīya Upaniṣad, one that also uses the verbal root √viś: In the beginning Prajāpati stood alone. While alone, he possessed no happiness. Meditating on himself, he created many creatures. He looked on them and saw they were like a stone, without understanding, and were standing like a lifeless post [tā aśmeva prabuddhā aprāṇāḥ sthāṇur iva tiṣṭhamānā]. He had no happiness. He thought, I shall enter within [viviśāmi], so that they may awake [pratibodhanāya]. Making himself like air he entered within [sa vāyur iva kṛtvāntaraṁ prāviśat] (2.6). (Cowell 1935: 26–​8)8

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Despite the various terms that the author of the MU uses to denote the process of Prajāpati’s entrance into the world—​the present-​tense viviśāmi when Prajāpati narrates his action and the imperfect prāviśat when the narrator recalls it—​this passage provides an example that includes all four of the components of an entrance and draws upon characteristics common to many other examples:  Prajāpati moves through physical space, assumes a form (“like air”) that allows him to penetrate the otherwise fixed outer edge of his human creations, and thus enlivens and awakens his people who were as dormant and lifeless as a stone or post. Although the majority of the more performative examples referred to in this chapter will be much more terrestrial, as householders, women, and kings enter forests, houses, and kingdoms, the underlying theme applies to them all, as the schema of entering provides a distinctly South Asian religious idiom by which a geographical shift results in a significant transformation in status. One final note: the praveśa events that I will detail throughout this chapter come from a variety of genres of text and performance, and reflect, as most scholarship does, the interests, skills, proclivities, and experiences of the author. A chapter of this length cannot, of course, be comprehensive, and I  invite the reader to consider the other literary and performative settings from across South Asia, from the diaspora, and from outside the constructed boundaries of “Hinduism” where such praveśa events also, undoubtedly, occur.

2.  The domestic Praveśa As ritually distinct, dramatic, and powerful as the royal entrances in Sanskrit epic literature appear, it is the Gṛhya Sūtras (domestic texts) that provide us with the model upon which these later events were fashioned. Following the elaborate description of the marriage rites, the Gṛhya Sūtras prescribe two types of entrances within the larger context of house-​building:  that of the recently married couple into their newly built house and of the return of the married male householder from abroad. Although not all of these early authors use praveśa to describe these entrance events, they all pay significant attention to the crossing of the threshold that represents a significant transition from one state of being to another. And though this event appears to publicize and signify a one-​time transition as one sees in traditional rites of passage, both types of entrances replicate and reinforce identical themes. Thus, the Śānkhāyana Gṛhyasūtra notes the householder’s return: “Taking with himself his eldest son and his wife, carrying grain, let him enter [prapadyeta] (the house with the words), ‘Indra’s house is blessed, wealthy, protecting; that I enter [prapadye] with my wife, with offspring, with cattle, with increase of wealth, with everything that is mine’ ” (3.4.9).9 The Pāraskara Gṛhyasūtra uses both pra √pad and pra √viś in its prescription of the householder’s return, with Oldenberg translating each different Sanskrit term identically:  “When the Brahman has given his consent, he enters [praviśati] with (the formula), ‘I enter [prapadye] into propriety, I enter [prapadya] into auspiciousness’ ” (3.4.6).10 Finally, the Hiraṇyakeśin Gṛhyasūtra includes both of

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the terms from Pāraskara and adds yet a third variant (sam √viś), as the householder addresses his house directly. “To thee I turn for the sake of safety, of peace. The blissful one! The helpful one!, Welfare! Welfare!”—​with (this formula) he enters [prapadye]. On that day, on which he has arrived [praviśati], he should avoid all quarrelling. “I enter [prapadye] the joyful house which does not bring death to men; most manly (I enter) this auspicious house. Bringing refreshment, with peaceful minds (we enter the house); joyfully I lie down in it” [samviśāmi]—​with (this verse) he lies down [samviśati]. “May we find our way with thee through all hostile powers, as through streams of water”—​with (this verse) he looks at his wife; he looks at his wife. (1.8.29.2)

Though the language used to describe the entrance of the householder couple into their house is somewhat variable in these early texts, their authors make clear that the event of entrance/​return is not an individual affair: the husband is present with his wife, children, and animals, and the presence of grain, corn, and other foodstuffs makes this (re-​)entrance a domestic event for the entire family, reinforcing larger themes of domesticity, peace, and fecundity. Moreover, these events are framed by the enclosed physical space of the family house, whose construction these same texts have described—​in most cases just a few chapters earlier—​in great detail. Although this chapter does not discuss all the minutiae of the construction of these domestic spaces, several details will be relevant for the larger discussion. In Pāraskara, the householder enters [prapadyate] his completed house and addresses its physical components, likening them to the qualities he desires to see maintained within that house: dharma is its central post (dharmasthūṇa), śrī (feminine glory) is its pinnacle, day and night are its two door-​boards, and he himself is Indra. He then enters with his wife, children, cattle, and property, asserting that his family will be wealthy and that the house will be full of “inviolable heroes” (3.4.18).11 In Hiraṇyakeśin, the householder addresses each of the two door posts: with the southern one he focuses on heroism (suvirāḥ); and with the northern one fecundity (sap, milk, and happiness [ūrjasvatī payasā . . . saubhagāya]). Finally, Śānkhāyana addresses the central post specifically, identifying it as the stability (sthūṇa) of the house, though it too is rich in horses and cows and “drips ghee” (ghṛtam ukṣamāṇa) (3.3.1). These modes of address to the single house post similarly convey the complex meaning of the house as an ideological whole, a complexity ritualized in these moments of entrance; as sthūṇarājā (3.3.1), it is the chief or royal post that, like the Vedic yūpa made to the height of the yajamāna patron, is identified with the householder as the proverbial “king of the castle.” But as dhruvā sthūṇā (3.4.8) the post is likened to the pole star (dhruvā) that the wife looks at as one of the final acts of the marriage (vivāha) ceremony (dhruvaṁ arundhatīṁ ca darśayati [Āpastamba 1.7.22]). While worshipping dhruvā as Arundhatī, the chaste wife of the rishi Vasistha, the married couple reinforces the stability and fecundity that it, too, provides; the couple even refers to this star as the “pillar of the stars” (tvaṃ nakṣatrāṇām methyasi), using a rather obscure term for “post” to allude to the sthūṇa of the house and finally likening the pole star to the immovable Brahman (acyuta brahma). Applying a form of the well-​known Vedic identificatory phrase “whoever

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knows thus,” they assert that whoever knows the pole star as Brahman (brahma veda dhruvā) will be blessed with generations of children and grandchildren as well as with all of the qualities that have been invested into the structure of the couple’s house (Hiraṇyakeśin 1.22.6.14). In her contributing chapter to The Hindu World—​“Saṁskāra”—​Mary McGee identifies gazing at the pole star as one of several overlapping rites between the upanayana and vivāha rites of passage, in which the participating parties “publicly affirm their respective duties; they take on the ritual and social responsibilities of an initiated and mature Hindu, as expected of them by society and as recognized within the community” (2006: 351). The connection that McGee makes between these two rites brings us back to the rite of entrance, a rite that these ritual texts handle together and whose functions clearly overlap: in addition to functioning as a dharmic mechanism to enculturate young men and women who have just undergone momentous changes in their social status and inculcating in them the sociocultural values of their community, the repeated connections between sthūṇa and dhruvā reinforce the centralized power that is literally built into the framework of the home they enter. And the addition of Brahman to this set of structural identities only serves to universalize the stability of dhruva/​sthūṇa, extended from home and marriage to body and universe.12 Although the Gṛhya Sūtras do not systematically use the term praveśa to name these rites of entrance, this term will become the primary term in subsequent literature, especially in those texts focused on the dramatic and public entrances of kings into their capital cities. This literature, especially those relevant passages in both the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata, will eliminate the term prapadya as a literary means of entrance and, thus, will reduce the focus on fecundity and femininity, thereby retaining the sthūṇa post more than the dhruvā star—​and certainly more than the aśma stone that the wife steps on13—​as a symbol of royal power. This shift in focus, from domesticity metaphorically focused on the stone or star to royal power focused on the supportive wooden post, brings into perspective the performance of the otherwise obscure Indra festival whose single central pole will come to represent the king and whose dramatic entrance into a decorated city will serve as the festival’s key moment.

3.  The Indra festival The praveśa often includes what one might call an urban beautification project:  an extensive amount of ornamentation accompanies the royal entrance of the king himself, the royal road on which he walks, the ritual objects symbolizing him, and the city he will enter. Such ornamentation establishes the king as a semidivine person and the city he enters to be like a temple housing such a deity. One such condensed and prescriptive narrative depicting a king’s entrance into an adorned ritual hall (śāntigṛha) is contained in the twenty-​first Atharva Veda Pariśiṣṭa, and can serve as a general introduction to the genre. “Honoured with different kinds of incense, with offerings and gifts, with shouts of victory from poets, with the sounds of horns, trumpets, and with the laughing sounds of harps and kettle-​drums, the king should make his entrance (praviśet) together with his domestic priest” (AVPar 21.6.6.c-​7d).

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The South Asian festival of Indra contains a different type of entrance—​a festive and royal event that comes to encompass the entire city, rather than the quiet domestic space described above.14 Though the Indra festival has as its most public event the installation of the extraordinarily visible object of a forty-​feet tall wooden pole—​an event whose Sanskrit texts have come to be applied in the contemporary performance in Kathmandu, Nepal—​the praveśa event that opens this festival is not this installation but rather its prior entrance into the city from its forest of origin. Making clear this difference between praveśa (entrance) and pratiṣṭhā (establishment) or ucchraya (raising) is necessary for understanding the sequencing and flow of events in this festival and in the other narratives described below.15 The Indra festival commences with a preliminary journey that, though not denoted with the word praveśa in the chapter-​length descriptions in the Bṛhat Saṁhitā (BS) and Kālikā Purāṇa (KP), foreshadows the multiple movements that are part and parcel of this eight-​day festival. The festival begins as an astrologer (daivajña) and a carpenter (sutradhāra) travel to the forest (vanam iyāt [BS 43.12]) in order to select the tree that they will later consecrate as the aniconic festival pole. The daivajña touches the tree at night, performs puja to it, and informs the tree’s demonic residents (bhūtāni) in no uncertain terms that they are to exit at once, thus allowing the tree to be used as the king’s royal pole (dhvajārtham devarājasya) (BS 43.18).16 The following morning, the tree is to be cleanly cut so that it lands on the ground with its tip pointing either to the east or to the north (purvodak) (43.19); the axe used is to make a sweet sound (snigdha ghana) and not a dull noise (jarjara shabda), an apparent pun on one of the names used for the pole in the Nāṭyaśāstra—​the jarjara, “that which destroys [the asuras]” (1.70).17 The tree is then carried to the city gate,18 where it will lie until the eighth day of the bright half of Bhādrapada, when, along with his citizens, the king will approach the pole for the first time, decorate it, and have it brought (praveśayet [BS 43.24]) into town in the festival’s formal entrance event. The praveśa of the pole marks the public arrival of this symbol of royalty, an event whose festivities dominate its urban setting. “On the eighth day of the bright half of Bhādrapada, the king, along with his well-​dressed citizens, astrologers, ministers, chamberlains, and prominent Brahmans, should have the Indra-​pole brought (praveśayet) into the city by his citizens (yaṣṭim paurandarīm puraḥ pauraiḥ)” (BS 43.23–​24).19 Rather than an exclusive or caste-​based celebration of a local deity, this festival—​and especially its praveśa—​is made to be an extraordinarily inclusive affair. This journey to the forest to acquire a tree fit for the king reflects Jan Heesterman’s (1985: 117–​18; 123) proposed solution to the king’s “conundrum”: although the king is a member of the city (nagara/​pura) he is only able to derive his authority from outside of this community, from the forest (araṇya)—​“In other words, he must . . . go out into the wilds to recuperate the strength that has left him.” The required evacuation of bhūta from the royal tree reinforces this idea and provides a model for the epic narratives that will focus even more attention on the presence of demonic obstacles; in all of these accounts, the festival or coronation is allowed to continue only once these obstacles are eliminated. And the contemporary festival in Kathmandu, Nepal, is no different: the elimination of bhūta is there effected with the sacrifice of a goat, its blood sprayed against the base of the tree; after being pulled by hand to the eastern edge of the city, its

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triumphant nagara-​praveśa (entrance into the city) occurs three days later amid large celebratory crowds.20 As early as the sixth-​century Bṛhat Saṃhitā, the city is noted as the focal point of the festival, as its adornment and ornamentation mirrors the ritual attention given to the pole itself. [The pole] is dressed in a new cloth and ornamented with flower garlands, perfumes and incense, and is accompanied by the citizens of the city playing conches and musical instruments. [The city is] decorated with beautiful flags, triumphal arches and garlands of forest flowers. Its people are happy; its roads are clean and orderly; its courtesans are well-​dressed; its shops are well-​kept; and its crossroads are filled with actors, dancers and singers. Here, the Puṇyāha and Vedic chants are loudly chanted. (BS 43.23–​26)

In one of his several articles on Aśokan pillars, John Irwin (1975: 641) asserts that the Indra-​tree or Indra-​dhvaja annually raised as a royal fertility rite and as a re-​ enactment of Indra’s original heroic deed of creating the world . . . could very well represent the world tree . . . fulfilling the dual function of separating and uniting heaven and earth . . . and is metaphysically synonymous with the great prop or stay of the Vedic universe called skambha . . . [and] with the sacrificial stake or yūpa of the Vedic altar.

Although this festival, especially as it is described in these later texts, might not pick up on all of these symbolic associations, the authors are clearly portraying Indra’s pole as more than just a simple aniconic object: as the pole enters the city from the forest, it acquires, through the particular descriptions its authors provide, a number of more immediately perceptible symbolic connections, both of which are worthy of the enthusiasm and adoration of the attending crowds. First, through the use of variants of the verbal root pra √viś, the pole is likened to a conquering king returning from battle in a far-​off land; and second, through the descriptions of the pole’s elaborate decorations, it is likened to the very city in which it is established.21 Throughout its textual history, the Indra festival continually reinforces its urban nature, signaled, for example, by the Tamil epic Silappadikaram (SK), whose Indiravilavureduttakadai chapter focuses primarily on a description of the city of Madurai during the Indra festival:  its layout, the organization of its inhabitants by caste and occupation, the suburban dwellings of its defending warriors, and the healing lake where the “lepers, hunchbacks and cripples” gather in order to partake of its waters.22 It is within this urban setting that the Indra festival begins: Then the auspicious drum was removed from the temple called Vaccirakkottam, placed on the nape of the elephant adorned with the girdle, and conveyed to the temple where the young white elephant stood [the temple of Airavata]. This was indicative of the beginning and the end of Indra’s festival. After this the auspicious tall flag (bearing the ensign of the white elephant) which stood in the temple of the Kalpaka (tarunilaikkottam) tree was hoisted aloft in the sky. (Dikshitar 1939: 116)

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But the text provides an even longer description to the ornamentation of the city itself: On the verandas of the big mansions were to be seen artistic planks set with emeralds and diamonds whereon stood coral pillars. At the entrance of these mansions were suspended ornamental hangings having the shape of the makara fish from whose teeth (horns), carved with symbols representing auspicious things and adorned with kimpuri, hung strings of pearls in series. The streets were further beautified by golden pitchers filled with water, maidens, golden flags, pure white feather fans, fragrant pastes and many other ornamentations. (116–​17)

The attention that the festival texts draw to the space of the city is not uncommon in literature such as this. Shonaleeka Kaul (2010: 16) notes the extensive attention given to urban life throughout kāvya literature, asserting that the literary city reflects their intimate knowledge by the authors and is thus more than just a convention: “for the authors of the bulk of the classical kāvyas, the city had a working significance, rather than only a formal one.” The significance of the capital city is important for the role that the entrance plays in them and will be the theme of the next section.

4.  The South Asian city It is the South Asian city, rather than the rural and tribal hinterland, that will become the main setting in which epic praveśas occur; an accounting for their urban settings will help us to understand better the ways that the South Asian city has been imagined in narrative and ritual and the ways that these acts of praveśa conveyed meanings of power, dominion, and imperialism that are expressed and physically reinforced in such performances. Although this royal power is derived from the domestic space of the home, as discussed in the first part of this chapter, the urban expansion of domestic power that is central to the Sanskrit epics will come to bypass its domestic source and encompass the entire world. Whereas the forest had traditionally served as the location for the performance of austerities, and the village or city was a place to be avoided as enlightenment could not be achieved there, the socioeconomic changes of the Second Urbanization in the first millennium BCE ushered in a series of cultural changes that directly affected the settings for ritual performances.23 Thus, in addition to pilgrimage centers serving as loci of the coincidence of cultic interests and as the meeting places for masses of people, the royal Indian city became the prime location for these types of popular religious performances, often keyed by an entrance event (Vassilkov 2002:  139). The forest hardly disappears as a place of ritual performance and myth-​making, however, as the entire Mahābhārata is framed by the story-​telling of sages in the Naimiṣa forest, and both epics famously make much of the conundrum in which their respective warrior-​kings are exiled into the forest and return in triumph several books later in a grand royal procession. Inhabited not by demons and sages, the city is populated by kings, priests, concubines, musicians, and legions of contributing citizens, all of whom will feature consistently and prominently in the celebration of kings who will approach, enter into, and be celebrated in this collective urban

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residence (Feller 2004:  39). These ritual accounts follow the mythic descriptions of the ornamented cities that conquering heroes enter, entrances whose function Ronald Inden (2006:  268, 270)  describes as “to bring about an ordered, prosperous world . . . [and] to reiterate the embodiment of his god and kingdom” and whose journeys Jacobsen (2008: 4) describes as “arenas for competition and conspicuous consumption [that] provide opportunities for the display of hierarchy.”24 This shift in text, metaphor, and practice from forest to city allows for a rethinking of the role of the city in classical and contemporary South Asia, eschewing Wendy Doniger’s (1984: 273) analysis of the mythic city as a metaphor for “the illusory body housing the (real) soul” that expresses “the unreality of the universe.” Rather, the city becomes the most “real” facet of the new epic geography, though borrowing from an older ideology that continues to give religious credence to the place of the forest as the source of enlightenment; rituals in and of the city have no such lofty goals, focusing much more on the imminence of royal power. Although this chapter is not about the Mahābhārata per se, the significance of the Great Epic in the contemporary world—​especially of the Bhagavad Gītā—​and the relevance of its specific themes and language make it an important and relevant subject.25 The core of the Mahābhārata is a story about a civil war between two rival groups of cousins, the Pāṇḍavas and Kauravas, with each of its eighteen books either leading up to, detailing, or picking up the pieces from this central apocalyptic battle. Without desiring to reduce the entire epic to a single scene, I find it important to the task at hand to consider as the driving theme behind this battle the Pāṇḍavas’ loss of their kingdom in Book Two following Yudhiṣṭhira’s failed dicing match and their reacquisition of the capital city of Hāstinapura in Book Twelve. Reading the epic as a carefully edited work whose constituent passages, plotlines, and eighteen books form a single narrative whole that leads up to Yudhiṣṭhira’s victorious entrance into Hāstinapura, one can understand many of the epic’s entrance events as part of the “key symbol” of the praveśa, whose range of meanings “extensively and systematically formulates relationships—​parallels, isomorphisms, complementarities, and so forth—​ between a wide range of diverse cultural elements.”26 Thus, I will argue here that the repeated use of the term praveśa across a number of passages and in a variety of contexts and settings allows us to consider these entrance events as isomorphisms and repetitions within the epic authors’ overall literary approach, as they connect scenes, characters, and plotlines throughout the entire epic.27 In this section, I will outline five ways that the first book of the epic, Ādi Parvan, uses praveśa, thus giving the reader a sense of the term’s semantic range that communicates, in nearly all of its uses, a sense of (ultimate) transformation.28 First, in several of the epic’s early chapters, as the authors begin to establish the themes and metaphors they will use throughout the entire epic, serpentine characters move between worlds, seeking shelter by entering breaches, holes, and chasms in the earth.29 Second, praveśa is consistently used in a larger constellation of themes that involve women, picking up on the domestic applications of this term in passages about house-​building and marriage in the early genre of dharma sūtra literature: nearly all of the epic passages that involve the royal women’s quarters in any way use a form of praveśa, detailing a male character’s entrance into these inner and private apartments from outside30;

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and in several other passages, a woman performs an act of satī by entering a fire.31 (Similarly, several passages—​especially those during the apocalyptic sarpa sattra [snake sacrifice]—​describe serpents entering a fire.32) The focus of the epic is primarily on human males, and its first book details the entrance of warriors, kings, and sages into a number of different locations. Thus, in a third application of praveśa, this term denotes men entering a sacrificial or military arena.33 But the two most frequent applications of the term relate to those that is noted in the descriptions of the Indra festival (see Section three above) earlier in this chapter. In the fourth theme, the praveśa effects the transition of a king from the urban world of his kingdom into the dark recesses of the forest: this journey might be a temporary one as he begins a hunt (in passages that are often placed at the beginning of a chapter), or a permanent one as he embarks upon a linear path of renunciation and is never seen again (in passages that are often placed at the end of a chapter). Within the story of Śakuntalā in 1.64, for example, Duḥṣanta enters a forest to hunt (vanaṁ . . . viveśa, in 1.64.1), enters deeper into that forest (praviveśa mahadvanaṁ, in 1.64.24), and then enters Kāśyapa’s “solitary, most enchanting, holy” hermitage at the close of the chapter (kāṣyapasyāyatanaṁ . . . viveśa . . . viviktaṁ atyartha manorahaṁ śivaṁ, in 1.64.42). Although the king eventually returns to the throne, his cycle of movement reflects larger themes of dharma and royal mobility seen throughout the epic and throughout Hinduism more generally, and provides a contrasting example to the stories of those kings who enter the forest and do not return, a finality that serves as the royal equivalent of women entering a fire.34 Most important to this argument is my fifth theme, those examples of kings who are shown ritually entering their puraṁ—​van Buitenen alternately translates this as “castle” or “city”—​and greeted by crowds of resident well-​wishers. This theme, also depicted more frequently than any of the others in Ādi Parvan, reflects the performance of the Indra festival in 1.57 and anticipates the Pāṇḍavas’ final victorious entrance into Hāstinapura years later. Among the many examples of royal entrances are those of Janamejaya, Devayānī, Kalmāṣapāda, and Saṃvaraṇa.35 More important, however, are the extended descriptions of primary characters who make similar and similarly grand entrances, as these early chapters prepare us for the Pāṇḍavas’ ultimate victory march. Bhīṣma brings ­chapter 105 to a close, for example, as he leads the victorious Pāṇḍu to Hāstinapura and “thrilled the townspeople everywhere as he marched into the City of the Elephant” (1.105.27).36 Several chapters later, the Pāṇḍavas enter Vāraṇāvata, “which was decorated for the festival and swarming with people. After entering the town, the heroes immediately went to the houses of the brahmins” (1.134-​ 5-​6).37 In ­chapter 199, the Pāṇḍava heroes make a slow radiant entrance into the city of Hāstinapura, an initial ritual event that will be dramatically reversed after the dicing match (1.199.14).38 It is their entrance into the transitional space of the Khāṇḍava Tract at the end of Ādi Parvan, however, that provides the most extensive description of a royal entrance that most fully foreshadows the entrance that they will receive in Hāstinapura in Book Twelve as they become transformed into the kings of the world.39 King Yudhiṣṭhira, when he heard that Kṛṣṇa Mādhava had arrived, sent the twins to receive him. They received the opulent circle of the Vṛṣṇis, and the

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party entered (viveśa) the Khāṇḍava Tract, which was decorated with flags and pennants. The roads were swept and sprinkled, flowers were scattered about in profusion, and the cool essence of sandal and other propitious perfumes made the city redolent. Everywhere very fragrant aloe was being burned, and the town was thronged with freshly bathed people and flamboyant with merchants. Strong-​ armed Keśava arrived with Rāma; the great man was surrounded by Vṛṣṇis, Andhakas, and great Bhojas. Honored by thousands of brahmins and townfolk, he entered the king’s palace (viveśa bhavanaṁ rājṅaḥ), which was like the house of Indra. (1.213.30–​35)40

Although I want to maintain my focus on the Mahābhārata as the primary example of this fifth theme of praveśa and keep in mind the initial entrances of the Pāṇḍavas into Hāstinapura and the Khāṇḍava Tract as the models for their final victorious entrance in Book Twelve, Rāma’s entrance into Ayodhyā in the second book of the Sanskrit Rāmāyaṇa provides a productive contrast to these praveśa events yet highlights the literary drama inherent within them. The accounts of these highly ritualized entrances are marked almost completely by variations of the Sanskrit verb pra √viś—​the nouns praveśa and praveśana are used most frequently—​with sam √viś and pra √pad having almost completely dropped out of existence.41 The Rām. describes the extensive festivities and adornments that accompany Rāma’s entrance into the city of Ayodhyā in anticipation of his coronation, an all-​ encompassing affair that is dominated by language that refers to the event of his coronation (rājyābhiṣeka) and to the office of crown prince (yuvarāja) to which he is to ascend. Although the language of praveśa is certainly present in Ayodhyākāṇḍa (2.13.28 and 2.15.12 [praviveśa] and 2.14.1 [praviviktāṃ]), Rāma’s entrance into Ayodhyā here seems to be simply the preamble to the culminating royal-​Brahmanical affairs that were to result in his coronation, with the language of entrance largely overshadowed. Important for my focus on praveśa events, however, is the intense focus that the authors of this passage place on Rāma’s entrance into Ayodhyā, a vivid description that draws attention to the presence of the city itself. On sanctuaries that looked like mountain peaks wreathed in white clouds, at crossroads and thoroughfares, on shrines and watchtowers, on the shops of merchants rich in their many kinds of wares, on the majestic, rich dwellings of householders, on all the assembly halls, and on prominent trees colorful banners and pennants were run up high (dhvajāḥ samucchritāścitrāḥ patākāścābhavaṃs tadā). There were troupes of actors and dancers (naṭa-​nartaka-​saṃghānām), there were minstrels (gāyakānām) singing and their voices could be heard everywhere, so pleasing to the ear and heart . . . . The townsmen beautified the royal highway (rājamārgaḥ), too, for Rama’s consecration, placing offerings of flowers there and perfuming it with fragrant incense . . . Thus, the residents decorated their city . . . The city, resembling Indra’s residence, grew so noisy and congested everywhere with spectators arriving from the provinces (jānapadair) that it looked like the ocean waters teeming with all the creatures of the deep. (2.6.11–​14, 17, 19a, 28)

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Rāma’s entrance into Ayodhyā closely mirrors the Pāṇḍavas’ entrance into Hāstinapura (MBh 1.213)—​and the numerous descriptions of the Indra festival—​in several ways. First, and most importantly, people of all classes participated. Although the Brahmins become the ritual leaders on the very day of the coronation (2.1.13), the entire praveśa event is far from a strictly Brahmanical affair, with the city-​wide involvement in the festival suggested by the number of categories of people listed in this passage: merchants, householders, townsmen, residents, and spectators from the provinces.42 Included later in this passage, following the devious dialogue between Mantharā and Kaikeyī, is a continued list of the additional ritual participants in Ayodhyā: musicians (vāditrāṇi) and panygerists (bandinaḥ), as well as a group of “eight girls auspiciously adorned with many ornaments” (aṣṭau kanyāśca maṅgalyāḥ sarvābharaṇa-​bhūṣitāḥ [2.13.11]). Second, the festival encompasses a large geographical area; in this case it is the entire space of the city, including the sanctuaries, crossroads, shrines, houses, assembly halls, trees, and the royal highway, all of which are festively decorated. Thus, the entire city, rather than any particular or specially consecrated “sacred space,” becomes the topos in which citizens and people from outlying areas celebrate the ascension of the prince to his new office. Finally, this decoration takes many sensory forms; more than just the physical adornment of these urban spaces, actors, dancers, and minstrels provide live entertainment to citizens and provincials alike. This vital activity supports Gonda’s (1947:  148) emphasis on the etymology of utsava, one of the standard words for “festival,” as “to set in motion, to impel, to rouse etc.” Though Rāma’s consecration in Ayodhyā appears similar to that of Yudhiṣṭhira in the MBh, the focus of their respective authors communicates themes that are specific to each. The authors of the Rāmāyaṇa place their focus directly on the rājyābhiṣeka of the yuvarāja; though Rāma’s royal entrance is the rite that would key this transition in his royal status, his praveśa is simply a means to this end. Although his praveśa is performed in a manner similar to other epic entrances, the authors largely avoid the language of praveśa—​and thus the archetypal identity of the entrance—​thus drawing the reader’s attention away from these preliminary rites and toward the dramatic events of Rāma’s ultimately interrupted and thus uncompleted final consecration.43 The authors of the Mahābhārata, however, clearly and repeatedly use forms of this term to name the royal procession that is about to occur, a public celebration of the victory that Yudhiṣṭhira has already won and that only needs to be formalized. Transformative power is clearly in play during each of these urban festivals, and it is the praveśa—​ the penultimate event, immediately preceding the coronation proper—​that provides the key narrative moment when that power can most dramatically be challenged, and subsequently dispatched.

5.  Yudhiṣṭhira enters Hāstinapura Following the mass slaughter that defines the Mahābhārata war, the text arrives at Śānti Parvan, the twelfth book, in which peace (śānti) finally prevails. The gruesome war that has consumed the previous six books has, however, taken its toll—​not just on the text’s devoted reader but also on the war’s author and protagonists. Echoing

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his hesitation at performing the rājasūya in Sabhā Parvan, Yudhiṣṭhira, doubting that the war waged in his name has resulted in anything that could even nominally be considered “good,” hesitates at celebrating his victory, and reconsiders his ability to receive royal instruction from Bhīṣma. “Having carried out this tremendous, hair-​raising slaughter of my kinsmen, I  am the most sinful of all men. I  have been the agent of the earth’s destruction. On what grounds could I be deemed worthy of questioning that straight-​ahead warrior, after I  had him deviously assaulted in the war?” (12.38.18–​19).44 As he does in Sabhā Parvan, a book that offers a number of scenes that foreshadow Yudhiṣṭhira’s ascension to the throne, Krishna goes to great lengths to convince the Dharma King that his proper role as victorious king of the world is to enter his city and display himself in front of his people, thus signaling to them the great victory he has won. Yudhiṣṭhira finally assents in one declarative sentence: “With the king surrounded by [his brothers] as the moon is by the nakṣatras, [Krishna] placed (puraskṛtya) Yudhiṣṭhira in his chariot, and he entered (praviveśa) his city” (12.38.30).45 No festival or proper Vedic ritual follows this event. Rather, the king’s entrance into his city is the main event, a time for celebrating and displaying his victory to the world. Residents from the city and from the country (paura jānapadās tathā [12.38.9a]) heap praise upon him for the destruction of his (and by extension, their) enemies, and they enjoin their king—​who has just regained his kingdom—​to protect them through his fulfillment of dharma in the same way that Indra protects the three worlds. And, as is repeated nearly verbatim in other praveśa events, the residents of the city have decorated nearly everything in sight: the city and the royal road are festooned with victory flags, flower garlands, and incense (pāṇḍureṇa ca mālyena patākābhiḥ . . . dhūpanaiśca sudhūpitaḥ [12.38.46]), the royal palace (rājaveśma) is decorated with various flowers, priyaṅgu vines, and flower garlands (nānāpuṣpaiḥ priyaṅgubhiḥ mālyadāmabhir āsaktaiḥ [12.38.47b–​48a]), and the city gate, through which the king will enter (svalaṃkṛta-​dvāraṃ nagaraṃ), is adorned with water-​pots (kumbhāḥ), decorated girls and goats, as well as sweet words (śubhair vakyair praviveśa suhṛdvṛtaḥ [12.38.49]).46 Yudhiṣṭhira’s urban praveśa—​its account and duration—​is framed by his time within his chariot: it begins with his installation by Krishna, his public celebratory march down the ornamented royal road (rājamārga), and his entering (praveśane) the city (12.39.1), and concludes as he descends from this same chariot (rathāt paścād avātarat [12.39.13]). The second phase of his praveśa begins as he, now on foot, enters his palace (praviśya bhavanaṃ rājā [12.39.13a]) where he meets and worships the gods, his purohita Dhaumya, and his father, and where the joyous sounds of kettledrums and conch shells proclaim his victory (dundubhi-​nirghoṣaḥ śaṅkhānāṃ [12.39.21a]). The epic authors dramatically contextualize Yudhiṣṭhira’s impending coronation by continually reminding their readers of the violence that allowed such a procession to occur in the first place. And they do this in a manner similar to the authors of the Rāmāyaṇa: as Rāma’s entrance was interrupted by his wicked stepmother, Yudhiṣṭhira’s celebration is checked by a rākṣasa-​demon by the name of Cārvāka, who challenges the proceedings, questions Yudhiṣṭhira’s authority, and directly curses the newly entered king. Most acutely, by introducing the rākṣasa Cārvāka who challenges Yudhiṣṭhira over his accession to the kingdom following the lawless war that he accuses the king of waging, the authors refer back to the Cedi king Śiśupāla in Book Two. The Śiśupāla

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passage in Sabhā Parvan has him challenge Krishna’s reception of the cherished guest gift at Yudhiṣṭhira’s rājasūya (2.33–​42), in a passage that both begins and ends with an entrance: Yudhiṣṭhira’s entrance into the palace opens the passage (praveśam cakre . . . rājā yudhiṣṭhiraḥ [2.4.1]), and the entrance of the slain Śiśupāla’s energy into the body of Krishna concludes it (2.42.23–​24). In this latter passage, and virtually echoing the self-​doubt that Yudhiṣṭhira expressed in just the previous chapter (12.38), the rākṣasa Cārvāka—​taking on the guise of a Shaiva sannyāsī, wearing his hair in a top-​knot and carrying a triple-​staff—​claims to speak for the other sādhus at the royal court by accusing the Pāṇḍava king of being unfit to rule due to his participation in this recently completed civil war: All these brahmins have entrusted (samāropya) me to speak for them, and they say, “Curses upon you, sir, a wicked king who slaughtered his own kin! What good can there be in your ruling the kingdom, son of Kuntī, since you have completely erased your own kinsmen? And once you had caused the killing of your elders, death would have been better for you than surviving.” (12.39.26–​7)

Cārvāka’s argument repeats nearly verbatim the argument that Yudhiṣṭhira had just leveled against himself but whose guilt Krishna readily assuaged and whose praveśa Krishna encouraged. Thus, Cārvāka’s accusations are not without merit, but the king’s recent praveśa into the capital city (mirroring his praveśa in the Śiśupāla passage) and the imperial power that such a performance carries renders these otherwise valid critiques null and void. The fact that they recur here, however, reinforces the doubt that readers must have had in the wake of the story of this bloody civil war. Moreover, that this demon bears the name of an ancient school of South Asian atheistic thought, Cārvāka, reinforces the religiously internecine warfare between Brahmins and Buddhists that, in James Fitzgerald’s reading, shoots through the very editing and production of the epic. This account ends as abruptly as it began and shows the ultimate powerlessness of Cārvāka’s accusations: though he claims to speak for the multitude of Brahmins attending the king’s praveśa, these Brahmins quickly distance themselves from him. This passage again recalls Śiśupāla, the demonic obstacle slain by Krishna, though Cārvāka’s two verses of protest stand in stark (and absurd) contrast to Śiśupāla’s multi-​chapter disruption. Finally, Cārvāka’s death, though conveyed by means of the chanting of the mantra “huṃ” by the attendant sādhus rather than by Krishna’s discus, precisely matches that of Śiśupāla:  in each case, the enemy falls (sa papāta) like a tree struck by a bolt of Indra’s lightning (Śiśupāla in 2.42.21, Cārvāka in 12.39.36), leaving the king at the center of an apparently stable kingdom. The dispatching of these demonic obstacles—​forcing their exit just like the bhūta from Indra’s tree in the forest—​signals the end of each episode: Krishna asserts his successful performance of the rājasūya (2.42.46), and Yudhiṣṭhira sits on his supreme throne (nyaṣīdat paramāsane [12.40.1]). Cārvāka’s demise not only adds to the drama of Yudhiṣṭhira’s questionable ascension to the throne, but also reinforces the sequence of events seen throughout the other praveśa events discussed here, namely, that of praveśa, obstacle, and pratiṣṭhā.

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The language of this obstacle allows us to make one more connection that points up the importance of the urban matrix in which these entrances occur. The Book of the Women, the book that immediately precedes The Book of Peace, provides one additional obstacle that must be removed as a precondition of royal stability, namely, the women themselves. These widows, mourning the loss of their husbands, sons, and fathers, are made by Vidura to ascend an unnamed vehicle with the same word—​ samāropya (11.9.7)—​that Cārvāka used to persuade his audience of the Brahmanical authority that he argues has been “granted” him. This word is also the causative of the āroḍha that names a king’s ascension of his chariot, the Pāṇḍavas’ ascension to heaven in the epic’s final book, as well as a new bride’s ascension to married status as she stands upon the stone.47 The women’s chariot drive, however, rather than ending at a particular terminus—​for example, Yudhiṣṭhira’s avatāra as he arrives in his palace—​shuttles the women out of the city completely (niryayau purāt [11.9.7]), never to be seen again. Thus, just like the demonic obstacles whose purificatory exit immediately preceded, symbolically reversed, and allowed for the royal praveśas, so also the women—​inauspicious beings whose wailing stands in aural opposition to the “sweet words” that accompanied Yudhiṣṭhira’s praveśa—​must exit the urban space that will become the future site of the establishment of a stable royal power. And in the very next book, and amid much hand-​wringing and second-​guessing, Yudhiṣṭhira is placed by Krishna at the front of his own chariot, enters “his own city,” and receives his ultimate consecration. The importance of the concept of the entrance stems not only from the frequency of its use across literary genre but also from the use of consistent and strategic, though still flexible and multivocal, language that allows authors and ritualists the opportunity to forge connections—​multivalent meanings, isomorphisms, and repetitions—​across a complex classical tradition, resulting in a twofold effectiveness. First, the entrance is a powerful rhetorical device that possesses the ability to expound upon a theological-​ philosophical concept fundamental to the Hindu tradition, namely, that people and objects possess semipermeable boundaries subject to pervasion from the outside; the inverse is equally true, of course, that individuals possess the ability to transform and transcend their current place in the world by entering into another facet of that world, from which they may or may not return. Second, and like Pratt’s (1986:  37) ethnographic arrival stories that are “part of a language of conquest,” the praveśa event results in the accumulation of power through the sudden, dramatic, and sometimes violent penetration by a dominant Other of a boundary impossibly policed; the use of the term praveśa indicates a change in agency, and the narrative or performative entrance of a key human figure or material object signals both the innovative means by which power successfully changes hands as well as the political power inherent in the being/​object that comes to take control of a new geographic area. A concluding analysis of power is particularly apt here, as Michel Foucault (1990: 93) asserts that “power’s condition of possibility . . . must not be sought in the primary existence of a central point, in a unique source of sovereignty from which secondary and descendent forms would emanate; it is the moving substrate of force relations which, by virtue of their inequality, constantly engender states of power, but the latter are always local and unstable” (emphasis mine).

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6. Conclusion The praveśa events analyzed in this chapter, and the single objects that define these mobile processes—​the Vedic house, the royal chariot, and the South Asian city—​assert that social power has, in fact, a single central point and that this power derives from a unique source of sovereignty: a patriarchal domesticity, a semidivine object obtained from the forest, or a royal government backed by military power. The culturally representative symbolism shared by all of these ritual activities points to a form of singularity, centrality, and stability that is impossible to maintain in the face of real states of power that are multiple, local, and unstable. But it is possible that our authors were aware of this reality and saw the grand praveśa as little more than a tongue-​in-​ cheek assertion of an ideal circumstance:  in addition to the obstacles continuously raised in the way of a successful praveśa, the central idea behind the praveśa is more often that of a transition of states, a semipermeability that leaves one open to being “possessed” just as easily as one might be the possessor. And anyways, such universal arguments can only be maintained for so long, as the classical Indra festival shows us; its single central point of power—​the tall majestic pole of Indra raised in the center of the royal capital city amid much public celebration—​stands for a mere four days before it is dropped to the ground and its visarjana performed, the grand symbol of royal power submerged like a corpse in the nearest body of water, the ritual assertion that the center cannot, in fact, hold.48

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Demonic Devotees and Symbolism of Violence in Hindu Literature Carl Olson

1.  Introduction Hindu texts contain information to understand cosmology, divine and human roles within creation, worldly and otherworldly phenomena. However, examining the roles of demons received only partial attention in connection with their relation to humans or the divine. Narratives of demons contribute to our understanding of ethics and goals of life. Therefore, this chapter attempts to analyze Hindu narratives of demons to understand demonic nature and its connection to violence. It also considers parallels between expressions of demonic violence and contemporary theories of understanding violence. The chapter is divided into three sections in addition to introduction and conclusion. Section two examines the asceticism of demons described in Hindu texts, and Section three analyzes the nature of the demonic gleaned from the texts, whereas Section four compares and examines the parallels between the demonic nature of violence and contemporary theories of violence. According to Hinduism, gods and demons are tangled in an eternal cosmological conflict. Since the period of the Ṛig Veda, demons have played a prominent role in Indian literature. The encounter between Indra and the demonic Vṛtra in the shape of a huge serpent results in life rather than death (RV VI.20.2; VIII.12.26–​27). The Chandogya Upaniṣad (8.7–​ 12) depicts the god Prajāpati as a sagacious teacher instructing the deity Indra and the demon Vairocana about the nature of the genuine self (ātman). Prajāpati begins by telling his students that the self is identical with the embodied self (jīva) during the condition of wakefulness. The demon is satisfied with this lesson and returns to other demons with the answer, whereas the student Indra persists until he reaches the truth, an achievement unreached by the demon because he was not intellectually curious or rigorous enough to reach the truth. These two episodes from ancient Indian literature associate demons with chaos, death, and ignorance from the beginnings of Indian culture. The violent aspect of demons is, for example, emphasized in devotional literature associated with Kṛṣṇa when he is a child. Encouraged by Kṛṣṇa’s evil uncle Kamsa, various demons attempt to kill the child god (Bhagavatapurana 10). The demoness

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Pūtanā poisons her breasts before she nurses the child who sucks the breath out of her. Tṛnāvarta transforms himself into a tumultuous whirlwind, but the child god becomes heavy, forces the demon to drop him, and tears the demons to pieces. Banāsura, a huge crane, swallows the divine infant, but Kṛṣṇa becomes hot and forces the demon to spit him out before the child god disposes of the demon. These types of narratives are also present in the narratives of Viṣṇu and Śiva, who are also demon fighters. In the epic Rāmāyaṇa, the ten-​headed demon, Rāvaṇa, appears as a holy mendicant at the hermitage being used by the hero, and abducts Sītā, Rāma’s beloved wife. These types of narratives allow readers to see that demons can appear under deceiving guises, and notice that they can also change forms. These are considerable abilities, which makes it a challenge to defeat them. In addition to examining the many exploits of demons, Indian literature also depicts demons practicing asceticism to obtain supernatural powers, which threaten the harmony of the cosmos and/​or divine realm. The powers acquired by demons by their ascetic discipline are used to harm others in an often dramatic fashion that frequently assumes a theatrical form, though it is not necessarily part of a preconceived strategic plan but can be such a plan, especially in the case of demonic beings. In narrative evidence, violence performed by an ascetic is usually more spontaneous and situational, whereas violence inflicted by demons is more of a strategy of action, implying a degree of calculation and a lucid vision of some objective result. Indian epic literature provides evidence of this distinction between human ascetics and demons practicing asceticism. However, this chapter limits itself to the examination of the relationship between demons and asceticism, and an examination of the nature of the demonic. This approach is grounded in historical works on the nature of asceticism in Indian culture (Olson 2007, 2015; Freiberger 2009; Sprockhoff 1976; Olivelle 1986, 1987; Bhagat 1976; Chakraborti 1973). Since there is an intimate association between powers acquired by ascetics and violence made evident by numerous examples, this close relationship between power and violence emphasized by Indian literature needs to be explored further and comprehended more systematically. Finally, there are numerous stories about demonic beings practicing tapas (austerities), gaining boons from a deity, becoming thereby more powerful and a destructive threat to the universe and divine beings, and finally being countered to preserve cosmic order from disruption. An examination of demons gaining powers by means of the practice of asceticism invites us to briefly study the demonic aspect of power, review what the demonic shares with asceticism and violence, consider countermeasures against ascetic power and violence in the narratives, and briefly consider some Western theories of violence and their shortcomings.

2.  Demons and asceticism Classical Hindu narratives depict demons not only practicing asceticism, but also assuming the dress and appearance of an ascetic as evident with the rākṣasa Mārīca, who is described as wearing black animal hides, matted hair, and bark cloth (Rāmāyaṇa 3.33.37), which are typical gear and appearance of human figures. Ascetic rākṣasas

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are also described in another part of the Rāmāyaṇa (5.5.28) as having matted locks and shaven heads, clad in cow skins, naked, carrying sacred darbha grass, or holding sacrificial equipment, whereas they are normally described as beings with huge fangs, yellow eyes, bristling hair, and the ability to change into any form (6.65.14–​15). In another part of the epic (Mahābhārata 3.195.1–​35), Dhundhu, the demonic son of Madhu and Kaitabha, practices extreme forms of austerities. In response to these excessive ascetic practices, the god Brahmā grants him a boon, and the demon asks Brahmā to make him invincible except for humans. After receiving his boon, Dhundhu assaults Viṣṇu in revenge for his parent’s death. Living underground in the desert, the  demon threatens a hermitage with destruction. King Kuvalāśva sets out to destroy the demon, which is discovered by the king’s son after he digs up the desert. During the confrontation, the demon burns them, but the king oozes water—​a counterweight to fire—​that not only douses the demonic fire but also burns the ascetic demon, a confrontation between opposing cosmic elements. Rāvaṇa, the demonic enemy of the hero Rāma in epic literature, is depicted as having an intimate association with asceticism and power. Living on wind as his bodily sustenance and standing on one foot for a thousand years, Rāvaṇa also practiced the five fires type of asceticism with full concentration. His ascetic practice included cutting off one of his ten heads and offering it to the sacrificial fire, whereupon, the god Brahmā, pleased by his extreme forms of austerities, grants him a boon (Mahābhārata 3.259.15–​24). The powers gained in the Mahābhārata by Rāvaṇa are made more specific in the Rāmāyaṇa (6.68.14–​15) where the ten-​headed demon creates an illusion of the heroine Sītā in his chariot by means of his māyā (illusory power) and becomes invisible while engaged in battle (6.74.5), a power also used by the demon Indrajit when fighting (6.67.17). As just illustrated, an intimate relationship between power and the demonic in Indian narratives is suggested by the depiction of demons utilizing asceticism to gain powers or boons from deities to become more powerful. Two asuras (demonic beings), Pulomā and Kālakeya, are depicted, for instance, practicing extreme asceticism for a millennium, following which they are granted a boon; they ask that none of their progeny suffer and that they be inviolable by gods, rākṣasas, and snakes. In addition to these boons, the god Brahmā creates a heavenly realm for them (Mahābhārata 3.170.6–​9). This type of narrative and the others cited are indicative of the negative aspect of power in the sense that it can be used by evil beings for destructive ends. The malevolent or evil aspect of power can influence a person’s life or a substitute figure, such as a demon, which can shape a person’s actions, speech, and mode of thinking. This means that power is ambiguous enough to be used for either benevolent or malevolent means. The numerous demons identified by name are personifications of the evil use of power, which points to power’s ability to overwhelm the holder of it and others. The demonic use of power makes it obvious that such use and any encounter with power demand care, especially if we are not to become overwhelmed or overawed by it. Purāṇic literature contains a plethora of narratives depicting demons practicing asceticism (tapas) where their arduous practice is rewarded by some type of boon that makes them very powerful, although there is always a weak spot that eventually leads

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to their destruction. Under the leadership of Hrāda (literally the roar, a serpentine demon), the demons conquered, for example, the gods in a battle that lasted a hundred celestial years. By means of arduous ascetic practice, the demons became extremely powerful, and faithfully followed duties germane to their class and the path of the Vedas. The defeated gods went to the northern shore of the ocean of milk to practice asceticism to counter that practiced by the demons and to praise Viṣṇu, who rewarded them by appearing on his vehicle Garuḍa, holding his mace, conch, and discus. After hearing the desperate request for assistance by the gods, Viṣṇu emitted from his body a powerful delusional magic intended to confuse the demons by means of his personal māyā (illusory) power. Viṣṇu’s delusional power was directed at bewitching the demons and getting them to neglect the Vedic path. By morally and ethically corrupting the demons, they would cease to be protected by the power and sanctity of the Vedic path and be susceptible to destruction. Appearing naked, bald, and carrying peacock feathers to clean the footpath of insects like Jain ascetics, the magic deluder—​ Viṣṇu—​encountered the demons practicing asceticism on the banks of the Narmadā River, and proceeded to question them and lead them astray from the Vedic path. After the demons were morally corrupted and turned into heretics, the gods resumed their battle with them and were victorious (Viṣṇu Purāṇa 3.17.9–​45; 3.18.1–​33). To morally corrupt someone who is very powerful is an excellent example of subverting someone from the interior of their being. This weakens the powerful being and makes it possible to undermine and defeat them. In another episode, the death of the demon Tāraka was perpetrated by the gods. Seeking revenge against the gods, the demon’s three sons practiced asceticism and won a boon for their arduous practice that left the world bereft of energy. They initially asked for immunity from being slain by any creatures. Śiva replied that complete immortality was not possible. Thereupon, the three demons asked for another boon to establish three cities on earth to last a thousand years, made of iron, silver, and gold. The demons requested that the cities be united and finally destroyed by a single arrow, which was eventually fired by Śiva (Mahābhārata 8.24.3–​44; ŚivaP 2.2.2–​20; Liṅga Purāṅa 1.101–​103). In another myth, it is the demon Tāraka who propitiates Brahmā by means of his asceticism to grant him a boon. Because the god is fearful of the demon’s asceticism burning the universe, Brahmā grants a boon that enables the demon to defeat the gods and abduct their wives (Saura Purāṇa 53.21–​65). In another narrative, the demon Hiraṇyakaśipu sought revenge by practicing the highest degree of asceticism because he was upset about the death of his brother caused by the gods. While performing his asceticism, a fire arose from his head and spread in all directions and scorched the gods who had to abandon heaven. The gods alerted Brahmā, who offered a boon to placate the demon. The demon asked for a boon that would protect him from being killed by weapons, man, beasts, during the daytime, at night, inside or outside of his palace, from neither above nor below. To trick and defeat the demon, Viṣṇu appears as a man-​lion, at twilight, in a threshold pillar, and tears the demon to shreds with his claws and fangs (ŚivaP 2.5.4–​43).

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In a narrative embodying eroticism, the demon Āḍi practiced asceticism with the intent to defeat the ascetic deity Śiva. Brahmā grants him a boon, and the demon chooses immortality, but Brahmā replies that no creature can obtain immortality, tracing it to embodiment. Then, the demon requests a counter-​wish: He would become immortal except when he changed his form. To enter the securely guarded dwelling of Śiva, Āḍi assumes the form of a serpent, a violation of his agreement making him vulnerable to defeat. The demon abandons his serpent form once within the dwelling to adopt the form of Umā, spouse of Śiva, and places sharp teeth inside his vagina to diabolically kill the ascetic and householder god. But Śiva recognizes the disguise and attaches a thunderbolt to his penis to destroy the would-​be killer (Skanda Purāṇa 1.2.27.58–​73). This narrative suggests a contest between two forms of power in the Indian religious tradition: māyā and ascetic. The narrative associated with Viṣṇu’s dwarf incarnation and his tricking of the demon Bali, who achieved power over the three worlds through the practice of tapas, is a good example of the competitive conflict between the powers of māyā and asceticism. According to the account in the Vāyu Purāṇa (2.36.74–​86), the dwarf asks the demon for as much territory as he can gain with three steps. The story concludes with the dwarf crushing the demon and sending him into the lower depths of the earth with his third step, a victory for Viṣṇu’s māyā power over the ascetic powers of the demon. The former type of power, which is mysterious, unpredictable, and bewitching, is illusory because it creates a false impression by deceptively disguising the truth (Kinsley 1979: 79). The narrative of Viṣṇu and Bali suggests a creative tension between two forms of power, and shows that ascetic power is not predominant because it is ultimately impermanent and easily lost. Ironically, ascetic power represents something that is arduous and painful to achieve. In addition to the purāṇic narratives about demons practicing asceticism for devious purposes, the Yogā-​Vāsiṣṭha (3.69–​75) describes the demoness Viṣūcikā’s appearance as having long, erect hairs on her head, red eyes, a dark color, hooked nails, and a huge body with an enormous stomach that no amount of food could satisfy. She is adorned with bones hanging from her body and earrings made of human skulls. After practicing asceticism for a thousand years, Brahmā grants her a boon. She chooses to turn into an iron needle with the aim of becoming the cause of acute pain in humans. Growing leaner each day, she finally achieves the thinness of a needle that enables her to inflict her victims with cholera. She later repents for her choice because her body is so puny and longs for its former state. Returning to her former practice of asceticism by continuously standing on her tiptoes, she gains enlightenment and her previous shape. Again, this narrative weaves together asceticism, violence, and the demonic as personified by Viṣūcikā. Although it is possible to add further narratives about demons terrifying people or acquiring powers, it is also possible to ask at this point the following question: What do such narratives inform us about the relationship between the demonic and asceticism? There is no simple equivalency between the ascetic and demons, but the narrative evidence suggests that there is a close association between them. And what does the narrative evidence suggest about the nature of the demonic? Moreover, what is the role of violence?

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3.  The nature of the demonic The fundamental problem encountered when considering the nature of the demonic is that it cannot be represented by any objective or subjective method of thinking. There is no mode of thinking that can represent its absolute alterity, or wholly otherness. It is also not an object that can be identified with any certainty. In short, the demonic is unthinkable. Thus, it is probably best to grasp it as a neologism with its roots in the original meaning of “daimon,” a Greek term for something divine. If this is the case, any possible nature or meaning of the demonic can only be suggested and not unequivocally asserted with certainty. What makes it difficult to define the demonic is that when one begins to attempt to think about its nature, it withdraws from our purview. This withdrawal of the demonic from our ability to think it commences from the very beginning of our attempt to think it and draws us along with it. To attempt to think about the demonic as it continually withdraws from us suggests that to think it is a never-​ending process. Moreover, to think the demonic is to think about difference. In addition, what complicates any attempt to think the demonic is that it is continually coming into presence and passing away; its presence thus being but momentary. Even though the demonic manifests a withdrawal feature, it does not sneak up on us or allow us to see it coming because it leaps at us and stuns us with its power. Thus, these various features of the demonic make it thought-​provoking and compel us to try to think it, even if we cannot get very far with it. Even though it is not possible to think the demonic, it is possible to assert that the demonic is in the deep recesses of the human unconsciousness. And the nothingness associated with the demonic within human unconsciousness is ultimately grounded in the world. From within its location in the human unconscious, the demonic is a potentially destructive force. The certainty of the demonic being in the recesses of the human unconsciousness cannot be empirically proven or falsified. But one can make a common-​sense appeal to the vast cross-​cultural presence of the demonic in narratives, symbols, and religious discourse from around the globe. It is possible that someday neuroscience will help us to better understand the unconscious mechanics of this phenomenon. The notion of the demonic presupposes a transformation of something benign into something terrible and potentially destructive. This could playfully be called the demonization of the demonic in the sense that the demonic is always there, always present, or potentially present. Moreover, the demonic is a sign pointing to itself and the advent of violence. From the deep reservoir of the demonic and its grounding deep in the human unconscious, the demonic becomes personified as a particular demon or often unidentifiable groups of them, who often are depicted in narratives with a hideous physical appearance and perpetrators of mindless violence. From the perspective of numerous religious traditions, to be demonic is to be nonhuman despite the demonic hiding in the deep recesses of the unconscious. The demonic is always in existence because it comes into being at the beginning of creation with human existence. Since the demonic represents a manifestation of nonbeing within the realm of being, humans thus never really experience a time without

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the presence of the demonic, even though it exceeds any mode of thinking about it. The demonic is paradoxical in the sense that it is both creative and destructive, although its primary impetus is destruction of form. The thrust of its destructive capacity is the creation of chaos or the transformation of creation into chaos. Once chaos is achieved, there ceases to be structure because there are no longer any forms to destroy, having vanished in the chaos. The demonic destroys form from within form and not externally to it. In other words, the destructive nature of the demonic originates within the form itself. In this sense, the demonic subverts form from the inside. As suggested by the Indian narratives, when the demonic becomes personified in narratives with specific names and sometimes descriptions of their appearances, it represents danger to gods and humans. What is most dangerous about demons, who are personifications of dangers, is the danger that conceals itself; thereby, it conceals itself as that danger that it is (Obeyeskere 1981: 115). Thus, the full extent of the nature of the danger is hidden from the purview of mere mortals and even divine beings. As alluded to briefly above, the Ṛig Veda, relating the narrative of the struggle between the serpent-​shaped demon, Vṛtra, and Indra, is instructive about the nature of the demonic personified by the serpent. Enveloping the cosmos and everything necessary for life within its gigantic form, Vṛtra causes thirst, hunger, cold, and death. Being incapacitated and incarcerated by the demon, the gods are helpless and forced to find a champion to save them and the world. The desperate gods broker a deal with Indra, a warrior deity, to defeat the huge serpent before it is too late. Being an astute bargainer, Indra extracts an agreement from the helpless deities that he would become the king of the gods after he is victorious. In their desperation, the gods agree to the terms. Before he confronts the demon, Indra drinks three vats of the intoxicating and hallucinogenic soma used in the priestly sacrificial cult. After a long drawn out battle, Indra vanquished the demon with the help of Viṣṇu, an act that releases the cosmic waters, warmth, and light, and separates being from nonbeing (RV 10.104.10), which are all features necessary for life. The Vedic myth of Vṛtra describes that the demonic remains a threatening, dark, violent power with the potential to disrupt or revolt against order at any moment. In addition, the demonic is exorbitant—​both internally and externally—​because its impetus is toward disruption and/​or subversion of identity, order, system, or structure. Thus, the demonic does not respect borders, positions, rules, or connections. It is excessive in its disruptive potential or actuality. The demonic is a powerful force that strives toward destruction and is contrary to what is human. By standing outside normal human life, norms, and possibilities, the demonic is marginal to social life and an anti-​human power that violates the order of being. Even though its fundamental aim is destructive, the demonic remains in eternal conflict. By destroying form and creating chaos, the demonic establishes a condition of its existence. Nonetheless, the demonic is not an independent power within the world because it is always in relation to something that is previously in existence. It is only a counter force. A primary characteristic of the demonic is its uncanny aspect in its conflict, a feature that it shares with power and violence. F. W. Schelling (1775–​1854), an idealistic German philosopher, discusses “Unheimlich,” a notion that he says represents

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something that should have remained secret and hidden, but has come into the open. Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis, borrows this notion from Schelling, and develops it by claiming that the uncanny gives rise to anxiety because what is familiar and unfamiliar appear in inextricable conjunction. The uncanny aspect of the demonic is connected to its untimely feature. Even if there is a reliable routine of violence or a regular and dependable pattern of it, violence is still untimely. Arising from nowhere in particular, the untimely aspect of violence also often assumes a completely new form. As evident with various examples cited, the demonic destruction and violence is intertwined with the nature of the demon, a personification of demonic power that is conceived to be evil. In addition to their hideous appearance, demonic beings often function as counter forces to creator deities by attempting to undo, disrupt, or subvert what has been created. Oftentimes, demons also corrupt victims prior to harming them, especially those who are righteous, or punish those that offend them with or without justification. Hindu deities are often called upon by those afflicted to defeat the demons. By calling attention to the tendency of demons to achieve greater powers by practicing asceticism, one can suggest that there is at least a close relationship between power and the demonic. Overall, the Indian narratives of demons suggest a triadic alliance between demonic practices of asceticism, demonic desire for power, and the nature of demonic nature that is very dangerous and calls for extreme caution.

4.  Ending the cycle of violence Some theories about the nature of violence offered by Western scholars are not helpful when attempting to understand the violence perpetuated or endured by the Indian demons through powers acquired by asceticism. The shortcomings of four theories need to be examined because of their influence on the topic of violence. The theoretical contributions about the nature of violence and its relationship to power, for instance, offered by Girard, Derrida, Foucault, and Lincoln, do not advance our understanding of the relationship between power, violence, and the demonic practice of asceticism. And the often subsequent acquisition of various kinds of powers is indicative of a close relationship between violence, desire for power, and the nature of the demonic beings. Without going into all the aspects of the role of violence and power in their theories, it is possible to summarize the essential features and shortcomings of these theories. From his neo-​Freudian position, René Girard (1977) argues that humankind is naturally violent and vengeance characterizes human relationships that lead to a cycle of violence only controlled by ritual. Girard supports his theory with biblical evidence to support his references that are devoid of a comparative component linked to different religious traditions. Jacques Derrida’s (1976; 1978) reflections on violence are rooted in his thinking about language and the process of writing, and his notion of deconstruction that makes it possible to return to an original violence with its ability to prey on a text. Derrida’s reflections are not rooted in historical events, which is also true for Foucault. For Michel Foucault (1983), violence is not part of the basic nature of power, which permeates everywhere. He neglects the often-​hierarchical

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nature of power relationships. According to Bruce Lincoln (2012), violence is a force that converts subjects or collections of subjects into depersonalized objects, and by threatening violence it is possible to dominate others and make them docile and compliant. Lincoln’s conception of violence does not do justice to the demonic beings studied in this chapter, because it misses the personal nature of the violence in a quest for power. The relationship between power and violence in Girard’s and Foucault’s theories cannot do justice to the demonic, who represents the perfect victim because it exists on the outside of the world of gods or humans, in its own world, the underworld (patala). Because of the theoretically marginal status of the demonic in Hindu texts examined in this chapter and lack of desire and intention to share normal social bonds, the demon exposes or inflicts violence upon himself, not to protect the community, as René Girard might have one believe, but to gain powers. From the perspective of Heesterman (1988: 259–​60), the ascetic breaks the cycle of violence that is so important in Girard’s theory by excluding the other, which results in cutting off the sacrificer from society. Serving as his own sacrificial victim and priest, the ascetic is the initiator of violence, the object of violence, and the termination of violence, which eliminates any cycle of violence and any risk of vengeance. By perpetuating violence upon himself, the ascetic controls it and terminates it when he achieves his goal of liberation or in some cases power. With respect to Lincoln’s theory, the Indian demon does not turn him/​herself into a depersonalized object. Aspects of the ascetic lifestyle are not merely violent, but violence is even embraced by the demon. Thus, a demon does not objectify him/​ herself. As Juergensmeyer (2013: 280) claims, the demonic beings perform violence upon him/​herself to gain the greater goal of obtaining power, and some performative action is executed before witnesses. The demon also performs before an audience with the purpose of intimidating the audience with a demonstration of terrifying power as noted in the examples of demons in this chapter. Juergensmeyer’s use of a sociological approach to the subject is shared by Randall Collins (2008), who advocates a micro-​ sociological theory of violent situations. Instead of focusing on violent people, Collins stresses violent situations because even violent people are only dangerous in particular situations: “Most of the time, the most dangerous, most violent persons are not doing anything violent” (5). The violence that we can witness is intertwined with fear, anger, and excitement, even though its context remains important. In addition to viewing violence as a situational process, Collins also identifies it as something dynamic because it begins with confrontational tension and fear (10). Instead of giving the impression that violence is easy as implied by Girard, Collins argues that it is difficult: “Symbolic violence is easy: real violence is hard. The former goes with the flow of situational interaction, making use of the normal propensities for interaction rituals. The latter goes against the interactional grain; it is because the threat of real violence runs counter to the basic mechanisms of emotional entertainment and interactional solidarity that violent situations are so difficult” (25). From Collins’s perspective social conditions overwhelm the genetic component of violence, a position that motivates him to criticize evolutionary theory for its

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insensitivity to cultural and interactional patterns because evolutionary theory neglects to consider intersubjective interaction between humans and emotional attunement to others. Because they are neurologically hard-​wired this way, humans find violence difficult rather than easy, although Collins’ position would not accurately fit the literary descriptions of exploits of demons. Disagreeing with the overall thrust of Girard’s theory about violence and his assertion about the innate nature of violence in humans and the role of civilization to control it, Collins (2008: 29) counters that “violence is not primordial, and civilization does not tame it; the opposite is much nearer the truth.” The self-​inflicted violence exercised by demons can be viewed as a successful ritualization of pain and injury, an example of acting against oneself with the hope and even expectation of more lasting rewards.

5. Conclusion This chapter examined immense powers acquired by demons through their practice of asceticism, which were used to harm others in an often dramatic fashion. This performance of violence assumes a theatrical form, but it is not necessarily part of a preconceived strategic plan, although it can be such a plan, especially in the case of demons. According to the narrative evidence, violence performed by demons is a strategic action, implying a degree of calculation and a lucid vision of some objective result. Moving from calculation to expectation, the demon performs violence as an objective manifestation of his innate desire to gain power. When performing violence, the demon feels justified inflicting pain on themselves or others. What is interestingly suggested by our narratives is that violence enhances the power of the demon, but it also offers demonic beings the illusion of power because they are invariably defeated by a greater power or some form of deception. An important aspect for both parties is that violence empowers demons, and lucidly expresses their power. By exercising violence, ascetics empower themselves in sharp contrast to others without power, a clear majority of people, but demons empower themselves for a brief time because their power is destined to be overcome by the superior power of divine beings or ascetic figures. While demons are personifications of the demonic nature, which is characterized by its unthinkable nature, their nature is paradoxically creative and destructive, it represents excessive desire for power with its ability to disrupt and subvert order, it has an uncanny character, and it has an untimely aspect. Narrative evidence from Indian culture demonstrates an interconnection with the demonic nature, violence, and power. When narratives depict demons practicing asceticism with the purpose of gaining power or boons from the gods, it suggests that violence is thus not without a goal, senseless, or irrational. Besides its intimate connection to violence, power shares certain features with the demonic. Power and the demonic are almost mirror images of each other. Power and the demonic are potentially creative, while also sharing the ability to destroy. They are also both uncanny, although they are so for different reasons. As manifested by the behavior of an ascetic, power

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demonstrates heterology, manifests an unthinkable aspect, is paradoxically creative or destructive, and represents an excessive nature by which it can disrupt and/​or subvert others or things. Finally, this chapter also suggests that demons are actors and actresses in a narrative drama showcasing demonic nature. Like characters on a stage, demons perform violent acts on themselves or others in the narratives in which they act as tools of demonic nature. When the narratives are told and shared the audience expands, even though ascetic practice may have been done in solitude. Such narratives demonstrate the innate nature of violence.

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Sacred Groves: The Playground of the Gods Deepak Shimkhada and Jason Mitchell

1.  Introduction After an extended period of unmitigated global climate change, many living beings on the ground—​those exposed to the elements—​are beginning to perish. Human beings and animals that once thrived have dwindled for lack of green trees and plants, which provided the food and oxygen necessary for their survival. Without them, there would be no life on earth and very little in the way of ecosystems. Despite the devastation of ecosystems, a small number of humans have nevertheless managed to survive, but life has become extremely difficult. How will the world ever recover? What would be of our world without plants and trees? What will become of humanity? How could humans work to mitigate such a disastrous outcome? As the reality of global climate change becomes more fully known, environmental scientists are continually pondering these questions. Many people will dismiss the above narrative as mere science fiction with little basis in fact. A scientific study on climate change published in the Los Angeles Times (2016) says, “The activities of an average American melt fifty square meters of sea ice each year.” At this rate, it will not take long to cause a flood destined to destroy many of the coastal cities around the world. Yet instead of taking actions to stop global warming, many people are in denial of the existence of climate change and continue to advocate the use of fossil fuels and coal instead of clean energy. Such a misstep by the leaders of a progressive nation could have disastrous consequences globally. This apocalyptic vision is not a scene from a science fiction movie; it could very well become our reality if we do not take appropriate measures to thwart rapid climate change. The above vision paints a rather grim portrait of that which many environmental scientists fear will be our reality in the foreseeable future. As recent as the Rio Olympics, Berkeley researchers were warning that “the future of the summer Olympics is in jeopardy” (Smith et al. 2016). They further caution that in a mere seventy years, “only eight Northern Hemisphere cities outside of Europe will be cool enough to host the summer games” (ibid.). The earth may simply become too hot to support outdoor work. This will undoubtedly shift the global landscape, and, along with it, affect the organic materials that grow in various locations around the world. With these

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realities in mind, environmentalists are searching the globe for models of ecological sustainability. Rightly, their search for useful models has led them to the Indian subcontinent, specifically to Nepal. There has long been a slogan in Nepali culture that states, “Hariyo ban, Nepal ko dhan.” Loosely translated, this means “Green forest, Nepal’s wealth.” Implicit in this message is the plea to protect Nepal’s forests from all forms of devastation. Any honest examination of this slogan, however, would highlight that Nepal’s second largest source of income, after tourism, is the forest-​related industry, at the core of which is the tree. As such, protection and governed use of these natural resources become vital if the economy of Nepal is to continue to thrive in the right way. In large part, this slogan and the accompanying political campaign have worked. Economists and environmentalists alike are flocking to Nepal to marvel at the work being done to protect the forests. However, too many of these individuals focus on the economic or even scientific impetus of these forests’ protection while failing to see the religious motive that is truly at its core. Even in India where the religious motivation is clearest, groups like the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization have viewed ecological preservation as a science whose modus operandi is to understand the ecological process, thus helping them anticipate and ameliorate the environmental effects of human activities.1 While scientific motives are not without value, rightly understood, the protection, governed destruction, and ultimate reshaping of forests on the Indian subcontinent are largely born not from a scientifically ecological ethos but instead out of the mythology of the people. The word “myth” finds its root in the Greek word mythos, meaning word or story. Mythologist Robert Segal (2015) has rightly argued that theories surrounding mythology should not be concerned with the true or false nature of the myth itself. Instead, to qualify as a myth, “a story, which can, of course, express a conviction, must have a powerful hold on its adherents. However, the story can be either true or false” (5). Joseph Campbell and David Kudler (2004: 10) highlight that myths serve to “validate and maintain a sociological system: a shared set of rights and wrongs, proprieties or improprieties, on which your particular social unit depends for its existence.” The Hindu myths presented in this chapter cultivate such a powerful hold on adherents that South Asian culture continues to experience a sociological revolution born out of these myths and exemplified in the continued practice of Sacred Groves. A “Sacred Grove” is defined as a “group of trees or patch of vegetation protected by the local people through religious and cultural practices evolved to minimize destruction and promote preservation. Sacred Groves are believed to be a treasure house of medicinal, rare, and endemic plants” and can be found in abundance throughout India (Yadav, Arya, and Panghal 2010). By some estimates, there are as many as “13,720 sacred groves spread over 19 states” (Jain 2011). Sacred Groves are “not only important sites for regional biodiversity but also provide vital ecosystem services to local people.”2 In recent years, several works on Sacred Groves (Vipat and Bharucha 2014: 1–​8; Yadav, Arya, and Panghal 2010: 693–​700) in India, notably those of Brandis, Gadgil, and Vartak, have come to prominence. Still, very little or no work has been written on the subject of the Pañcavaṭi as a Sacred Grove, instilling an ecological ethos in the context of India’s cultural and religious milieu.

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2.  Pañcavaṭi in thought, culture, and practice In this chapter, we will single out five trees, collectively called Pañcavaṭi, and examine their significance in Hinduism. Specifically, this chapter underscores the role the Pañcavaṭi plays in promoting a general social ethos of ecological preservation. No longer isolated to pockets of dedicated devotees, the mythology of the Pañcavaṭi, as a Sacred Grove promoting ecological sustainability, has cemented itself into the ethos of the Indian subcontinent. Even amid today’s increasing pressure via threats of devastation from the advancement of agriculture, grazing, and developmental activities linked to industrialization, the mythology inherent in the practice of the Sacred Grove continues to motivate and guide the actions of Indian society. For clarity, the Pañcavaṭi discussed in this chapter is a group of five sacred trees that have come to stand for a cultural identity of extreme ecological significance largely because of their medicinal properties. Pañcavaṭi, as a place, is mentioned in book three of the Rāmāyaṇa where Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana take refuge in a kuti built for them by Lakshmana. The Rāmāyaṇa recounts, They found a natural clearing, fringed with pine, with an auspicious feeling about it, and decided to build their ashram there. A small stream, a tributary of the river, flowed through this clearing and a fine breeze carried the scent of the lotuses that floated upon its water. Away on the shoulder of the mountain, they saw hearts of deer; nearer them, peacocks strutted with their tails unfurled in nitid emerald and turquoise. (Menon 2004:174)

In the Rāmāyaṇa, the Pañcavaṭi is pivotal in that it serves as the catalyst for the climax of the story. It is from this place that Sita was abducted, and it is also the place from where Rama and Lakshmana set out to find her. So the adventure begins. Hence, from that point of view, it is a sacred place, the home of the gods. Consequently, in modern-​day India, this place has been immortalized by marking it with a cave named after Sita in which statues of Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana are installed along with a Śiva-​linga which Rama is believed to have worshiped. Today, there are a number of other temples dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu, yet the Pañcavaṭi has come to serve as a place of pilgrimage visited by thousands of devout Hindus every year. As a place of pilgrimage, the Pañcavaṭi has a cultural connotation. The Pañcavaṭi discussed in this chapter is a group of five trees that have come to represent India’s cultural identity of extreme ecological significance. The origins of the Pañcavaṭi are most fully explained in the Kamba Rāmāyaṇa. In this narrative, Rama chose Pañcavaṭi for several reasons after his journey into the forest. First, it was recommended by Sage Agastya. Second, it was located on the bank of the river Godavari. Third, surrounded by trees and various wild plants, its locale was ramaṇiya (pleasing). After having reached this location and selected a spot, Rama asked Lakshmana to build a cottage next to the stream among the five flowering trees, namely, the chempaka, pārijāta, aśoka, kaḍaṁba, and chañdana (sandal) (Vanamali 2001: 83) and so he did.

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The Kamba Rāmāyaṇa further explains that Sage Agastya once lived in this exact spot performing his meditations. One day while the sage was meditating, five Gandharva youth happened to arrive by chance. Placing the sage in a human circle they immobilized him as part of their youthful prank. Although the reason for such a prankish yet cruel act is not provided, one can only guess that they did it simply because they could. Unable to free himself from their uninvited prank, the enraged sage cursed them to stand there in a circle in the form of banyan trees (baṭa brikśas). So, they, as the story goes, remained there until Rama freed them when he along with his wife and brother came to live there. On the Indian subcontinent, all trees are sacred, though some are more sacred than others. Planting and nurturing trees was once a highly evolved practice in ancient India as evidenced by the Vṛkśāyurveda attributed to Surapala in the tenth century. Referring to the Pañcavaṭi, David Haberman (2013:  54), in his book People Trees:  Worship of Trees in Northern India, says, A neem tree stands before a Shitala shrine to the northeast side of the central Shiva temple, a banyan tree to the southeast, an amla tree to the south, a pipal tree to the southwest, and a bel tree—​often considered to be embodied form of Shiva, grows on the northwest side of the temple. One of the priests of the temple explained to me that all five are pujaniya—​“worthy of worship.”

The many benefits that trees in general, and specifically the Pañcavaṭi, provide can be gleaned from the passages in Surpala’s Vṛkśāyurveda. Verses nine through twenty-​ three enumerate how mystical beliefs and conservation of ecology has a symbiotic relationship between humanity and nature. Trees are not only imbued with prāṇa (life sustaining force) but, as has been mentioned before, they also are abodes of the deities. In many Indian villages managed by Pañchāyat (community governed by five elders), a parcel of land is set aside as a Sacred Grove consisting of five species of trees called Pañcavaṭi. Although the name Pañcavaṭi in the original sense of the term refers to five banyan trees, the term is more loosely applied by village people to denote a Sacred Grove where five trees, namely, bel, pipal, neem, ashoka, and amalaka, are planted along with other trees, including fruit trees, for the use of the community. However, the management of the Pañcavaṭi is not done by the Pañchāyat alone. It is important to note that Ādivāsis (the tribal people) have always been associated with the forest because they live in it. Hindu scriptures such as the Mahābhārata mentions it, and the South Asian landscape, Indian in particular, is home to notable Ādivāsis, such as the Santhal in northeastern India, and the Munda in Central India.3 The care for the Pañcavaṭi is truly a communal activity. Across the Indian subcontinent, “Nature is understood as friend, revered as mother, obeyed as father and nurtured as a beloved child. Nature is sacred because humanity depends entirely on it” (Vannucci 1994: 75). Even still, the regulations regarding the use of these groves for the community are very strict. Eliza Kent (2013: 22) points out that, “to some extent, the setting aside of sacred groves resembles the critical distinguishing characteristic of the sacred according to early 20th century sociologist of religion Émile Durkheim—​that the sacred does not

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touch that which is profane, that is, that which is connected to commerce, productivity, and the ordinary exigencies of life.” Each of the five trees in the Pañcavaṭi has their distinctive characteristics, usefulness to the community, and deity through whom it bestows its blessing to those who worship at its roots. The myths that surround each of these trees are unique, but the linking element is the reverence and devotion that adherents maintain toward each of these sacred trees. Among the five trees, banyan, referred to as Aśvattha (pipal), is supreme. The Vṛkśāyurveda states, “He who plants even a single Aśvattha, wherever it may be, according to the prescribed mode, goes to the abode of Hari.”4 Most closely associated with the deities Śiva and Viṣṇu, in most Hindu rituals, leaves of an Aśvattha tree, also known as the sacred fig, are offered to both Shiva and Vishnu in hopes of receiving a boon. Adi Shankarāchārya explained that the word Aśvattha consists of two words—​shva (tomorrow) and stha (that which remains, i.e., remainder) (Dalal 2011: 44). In the famous story of Yama and Naciketa, Yama described the eternal Aśvattha tree with its roots upwards and branches downwards, which is the pure immortal Brahman, in which all these worlds are situated, and beyond which there is nothing else (Katha Upanishad Verse II.vi.1). While in Yama’s view, the tree is the world and Brahman, for Kṛshṇa, however, mokṣa is gained through Aśvattha. In the Bhāgavad Gitā, Lord Kṛshṇa says, Asvattha, having neither end nor beginning, whatsoever has its roots upwards and branches downwards whose branches are nourished by the Gunas and whose infinite roots spread in the form of action in the human world which though strong are to be cut off by the forceful weapon of detachment to seek the celestial abode from which there is no return. (Bhagavad Gita Chapter XV, Verses 1–​4)

The Purāṇas such as the Padma and the Skanda enumerate the many advantages to be obtained from reverentially approaching and worshipping the Aśvattha tree (Haberman 2013: 73–​4). Aśvattha’s ubiquity can best be understood through its self-​ generating nature. Because of its many branches and sub-​branches that penetrate the ground, the Aśvattha has been widely associated with fertility and longevity. Further, it is said that Śiva and Pārvati reside in it. Its large trunk and many branches in the form of tentacles with ample foliage provide shade for travelers and are home to many birds. However, Aśvattha is also a biologically and ecologically beneficent tree. It is the only tree that emits oxygen more than twenty hours each day. It is on this tree that Hindu ancestors are believed to reside. Highlighting the balance found in the male/​female dynamic within the Hindu Tantric tradition, the Aśvattha has a partner tree within the Pañcavaṭi known as the neem. The neem is a remarkable tree. Often called “the tree of the forty,”5 it said to help cure or prevent more than forty diseases. Originating on the Indian subcontinent, today, the neem grows well across the globe receiving widespread praise in each of its environments. National researchers in the United States have said, Neem is a fascinating tree . . . it seems to be one of the most promising of all plants and may eventually benefit every person on the planet . . . Indeed, as foreseen by

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With such power, it is understandable that the neem is becoming known in contexts around the globe for its medicinal, economic, and ecological value. Even so, the relationship Hindus have with the neem goes well beyond knowledge of, and respect for, such a powerful tree. For thousands of years, Hindus have worshiped the neem as the embodiment of Goddess Durga or Maa Kali. In a recent article published by the National Geographic a neem tree in Varanasi, India, has grown from the floor and out of the roof of the Nanghan Bir Baba Temple (Newman 2017). Neem trees, including the one studied by National Geographic, are often planted close to homes and shrouded in cloth ornamentation and facemasks as a representation of their manifestation of the Goddess. John Conrick recounts the neem’s origins which are said to account for its remarkable powers. Speaking about a Puranic narrative, he says, “Indra, the King of the Celestials, was returning to heaven with a golden pot filled with Ambrosia he had taken from the Demons. Some of the precious Ambrosia spilled from the pot and landed on a neem tree thereby making neem trees blessed with miraculous healing properties for all eternity (Haberman 2013: 134). Many rural Indian village leaders refer to the sacred neem as “the village pharmacy.”6 Every aspect of the neem is used in maintaining the health of the community. “The bark is powered into a tincture, and a poultice of fresh leaves is used to heal wounds.”7 Everything the tree produces is worshiped as sacred, and when used brings healing to the community.8 Another tree with immense healing powers is the bilva, and this too is highly venerated throughout the Hindu culture. Used in the worship of Lord Śiva, the bilva tree (bel tree) grows throughout the Indian subcontinent. Its origins can be traced to the Skanda Purāṇa and are recounted by Rama Shankar when he writes, One day while Parvati was resting, some drops of sweat fell from her forehead on the mountain Mandara, from which grew the bel tree. Girija lives on the root of the tree, Maheswari on its shoulder, Dukshayani on its branches, Parvati among its leaves, Katyayani in its fruit, Gaori in its flowers while in thorns the numerous Saktis find a home. (Chatterjee 2003: 98)

Unique among the trees of the Pañcavaṭi, the bilva bears fruit which hardens over time thus developing immunity from plant diseases such as fungi. Sometimes called Śriphala, this fruit is said to be made from the milk of Goddess Sri (ibid.). Therefore, the fruits of the bilva are believed to have curative properties. The Bilvashtakam, “a short but powerful chant,”9 narrates the power of the bilva tree and its connection to Lord Śiva. “Born from the breasts of Goddess Lakshmi, the Bilva tree is ever dear to Mahadeva. So I ask this tree to offer a Bilva leaf to Lord Shiva. To have darshan of the Bilva tree, and to touch it, frees one from sin. The most terrible karma is destroyed when a Bilva leaf is offered to Lord Shiva” (Bilvashtakam Verses 6–​7). In Nepal, young

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prepubescent Newari girls are married to a bilva fruit to avoid widowhood in case the mortal husband dies prematurely. Because the mature fruit of the bilva tree is believed never to decay, it stands for immortality (Shimkhada 2013: 32–​4). As a tree of both medicinal use and spiritual significance, the bilva stands among the Pañcavaṭi as a powerful representation of the Gods. Known for its beautiful red flowers, the fourth tree of the Pañcavaṭi group brings healing to its worshipers beyond its use as a medicinal herb. The asoka tree is a flower bearing tree which is prominently featured in the Rāmāyaṇa as that which brings Sitā comfort and shade after her kidnapper Rāvaṇa deposited her under it. The myth narrates, Ravana waited impatiently in a nearby thicket for Lakshmana to leave . . . As soon as Lakshmana had gone, with just a thought Ravana transformed himself into a parivrajaka. He was a wandering mendicant, clad in ochre robes, a kamandalu and a battered umbrella in his hands . . . Ravana came to Sita, alone in that asrama . . . He knew his time was short; he coughed softly at her back . . . The trees around Panchavati, and the spirits in their branches, all held their breath. The river stumbled over her bed at what Sita was about to do. She would invite the terrible mendicant inside and break the spell of Lakshmana’s rekha. (Menon 2004: 201–​3)

As the narrative continues, Rāma comes back toward the Pañcavaṭi with great fear in his heart knowing that some evil has happened. It is in this section of the story that the reader encounters the foreshadowing of asoka under which Sitā had spent most of her days. The narrative reads, As he ran back toward the asrama at Panchavati, Rama knew evil was about . . . He ran towards the asrama in panic . . . “She is gone, Lakshmana!” he wailed. “They must have been Rakshasas come to avenge themselves on me. Why did you leave her when I told you not to?” . . . They called her name, many times; but there was no response . . . He cried out for her as a wild creature to its lost mate. But only the silence of the Dandaka vana answered him . . . But Rama still had a faraway look in his eye. Jumping up, he cried, “There she is! I saw her behind that Asoka tree. Quick, Lakshmana, before she gets away.” (209–​12)

Fitting that the tree that would bring Sitā comfort during her exile would be named Aśoka, a Sanskrit word which means “without sorrow”10 or that which “gives no grief.”11 In large part because of this sacred myth, the Asoka has been associated with removing pain and used as a painkiller by folk healers throughout the Indian subcontinent. Āyurvedic medicine credits the Asoka with the ability to cure inflammation, fever, skin disease, diabetes, hypertension, and worm infestation.12 The final tree in the pentamerous set of the Pañcavaṭi is the Āmalā. Often called the Indian Gooseberry (emblic myrobalan) (Haberman 2013: 54), the Āmalā has long been worshiped “for its nourishing fruit and promise of spiritual blessings” (ibid.). According to the Skanda Purāṇa,

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Modern Hinduism in Text and Context When the whole earth was submerged in water, and Lord Brahma was immersed in meditating upon Vishnu, he became so emotional that tears started rolling out of his eyes and down upon the earth, and from those tears germinated the āmla tree. It was the first tree to manifest itself on the earth, therefore it is known as adiroha or pre-​eminent tree. (Krishna and Amirthalingam 2014: 36)

David Haberman (2013: 54) points out that, “The name Āmala literally means pure, but due to the medicinal quality of its fruit, it is also taken to mean sustainer.” In Āyurveda, Āmalā is widely considered to be an important ingredient, known for boosting immunity to such diseases as diabetes and high blood pressure. One can find people through the subcontinent drinking tonic made from its fruit throughout the winter season.13 Additionally, Chyawanprash (Dharmananda 2000), an Āyurvedic dietary supplement with Āmalā as one of its primary ingredients, has been considered a panacea for all, and as a health tonic it has been doing brisk business since 1884 in India. The values of Āyurvedic medicine is woven into the religious fabric of Hinduism. The foundation of all Āyurvedic medicine is plants, trees, and herbs—​all products of nature. The medical properties of the trees classed as Pañcavaṭi cannot thus be ignored. Although their scientific evidence has not been proven, people’s belief in the power of these herbs is stronger than any empirical evidence. Various myths concerning the medicinal acumen of the Sacred Groves motivate such strong belief in the benefits of the plants and the protection of the groves. Laxman Singh Kandari et al. (2014), in their article “Conservation and Management of Sacred Groves, Myths, and Beliefs of Tribal Communities,” highlight the narrative of the resuscitation of Lakshmana, the brother of Lord Rama, using Sanjeevani.14 They too highlight that in the “Doonagiri villiage of Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve . . . [the adherents] nurture a belief that Lord Hanuman came to their village and uprooted all their medicinal plants which were the cause of untreatable diseases” (ibid.). Guided by their belief in these narratives, conservation of medicinal plants has become integral to their way of life. The Purāṇic literature identifies the Pañcavaṭi as the best of trees having earned the title of five sacred trees worthy of worship. As we have seen, much of the significance of the five varieties in a Pañcavaṭi Grove can be gleaned from the many folkloric and Purāṇic narratives. In large part, Hindus who work diligently to maintain these Sacred Groves do not present ecology as a motivating factor. Instead, these practitioners turn their attention to the Purāṇas where Pañcavaṭi is believed to represent five elements, namely, earth, water, fire, air, and space (Prime 2002). A balance of these elements is vital for optimal health as prescribed in the Āyurveda. From the Āyurvedic perspective, the number five is the fifth element that refers to earth. It is a foundational element on which the entirety of living and nonliving things is dependent. Our earth supports plants, trees, and living organisms—​large and small. They too are dependent on the gross elements—​that is food, water, air, and fire—​of the earth. Our physical body, because it cannot survive without these gross elements, is called annamaya kośa, the food-​dependent body. As the body is dependent on food, it

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is a slave to the senses that too are five in number. The number five can, therefore, be seen as a symbolic representation of the earth or the body as earth.

3.  Sacred groves in modern India and Nepal In June 2001, members of the Indian National Science Academy published a paper detailing the practice of Sacred Groves in which they observe that “there seems to be a hierarchy of sacred groves in terms of their geographical influence. At least five such hierarchical levels are discernible” (Malhotra et al. 2001). It is presumed that the number five rose to prominence throughout Hinduism as a way of highlighting the need to seek harmony and symmetry through imbalance. Today, the seeking after harmony through imbalance is still challenging the Sacred Grove. In an article entitled “The Changing Landscape of Sacred Groves,” Catrien Notermans et al. (2016) describe the many socioeconomic changes that have led to the fragmentation and degradation of Sacred Groves throughout India—​changes largely influenced by the West. Beginning with the Kerala Communist government of 1957 (Notermans, Nugteren, and Sunny 2016), land reforms were put into place that led to “large-​scale fragmentation of the land” (ibid.). Many upper caste families who owned the Sacred Groves have been required to redistribute that land back to the poorer in the community who used it for commercial farming ventures (4). Occasionally, families would decide that the land was of a great enough value to be sold for a profit. With the joint family system abolition act of 1975 (4), the fragmentation of family groves became worse as it became illegal for plots not to be subdivided among various heirs. The abolition act reads, “No right to claim any interest in any property of an ancestor . . . which is founded on the mere fact that the claimant was born into the family of the ancestors shall be recognized in any court.”15 With the passage of this act, a family could no longer pass down joint ownership of any property, including Sacred Groves. As India was becoming increasingly urban, the population density was beginning to grow. In proportion to this growth, the number of people building houses began to multiply. Sacred groves were neutralized (Notermans, Nugteren, and Sunny 2016: 4) and demolished to make space for homes to be built. Add to this the “indiscriminate grazing of cattle, felling of trees for firewood, encroachment by people and uprooting of old trees in natural calamities”16 and what results is the mass destruction of Sacred Groves throughout the Indian subcontinent. Often associated with temples, monasteries, shrines, and burial grounds, such as the Slesmantaka Forest near Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, Nepal, where the bodies of Hindu ascetics were buried, Sacred groves are now being denuded (Putali Bazar 2009) by Christians claiming equal burial rights. The destruction of such groves may eventually lead to space for apartment buildings and Starbucks as elsewhere. One example of such destruction is found in the Kodagu district where a 1905 British survey declared 6,277 hectares of forest area designated for Sacred Groves. Yet, by 1991 when the survey was conducted again, the area of forests designated for Sacred Groves had been reduced to only 1,214 hectares. However, even amid such

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mass destruction, the sacred ethos that is imbued in these groves has not been lost. The mythology that motivates the cultivation of these groves has a deep sociological impact on Indian society. Indologist Wilhelm Halbfass observed in his 1988 text that “for Indians, preservation [of their traditions] is also an act of responding to the West. In modern times, responding to the Western presence and the global phenomenon of Westernization is no longer a matter of personal choice or predilection. Even withdrawal and silence and affirmation and continuation of traditional forms are ways of responding” (Jain 2011:  95). No longer was complete ecological preservation possible. The ecological preservation that once was at the heart of the protection of the Sacred Grove quickly began to shift. As such, many aspects of Hindu daily life, throughout the subcontinent, shifted toward the maintenance of the sacred amid all of the profane destruction. One such example is found in the ritualistic behavior surrounding the destruction of the Sacred Groves themselves. Often governed by local Hindu priests, great reverence is given to the religious ritual surrounding the dismantling of a Sacred Grove. “The ritual repertoire offered by Hindu priests involves three ceremonies that respectively relocate, reduce, or destroy the deity’s home” (Notermans, Nugteren, and Sunny 2016: 5). Notermans et al. point out that while religion was not the direct cause of the destruction of the Sacred Grove, “families started employing ritual strategies, supplied by the same religion, to mitigate possible consequences” (ibid.). What Halbfass observed was a rootedness in the sacred tradition simultaneously with a shift in the practice of ecological conservation—​ ecological conservation deeply rooted in the tree. Let us imagine a scene if we will. Demarcated by four freshly cut banana trees posted at four corners of the space creating a sacred ground, a Hindu purohit (priest) sits facing the easterly direction of the manḍapa (ritual ground). Before taking the seat with his legs crossed on this re-​created sacred ground, he ritually draws a diagram of the cosmos with rice powder, in the middle of which he places a copper pot filled with water. Interestingly, the priest decorates the pot with green leaves of mango, bel, and pipal trees, all belonging to the Pañcavaṭi group. This pot now is vivified with sacred mantras invoking the gods to descend to the pot. Water and trees are symbols of life and hence they are potential transmitters of prāṇa (breath) between heaven and earth. The ritual of Prāṇapratisṭha is a powerful tradition in Hindu practice that symbolically reenacts the process of reimagining a world filled with green trees. This ancient tradition is perhaps a harking back for a time when human beings lived among trees. The presence of green leaves at a ritual is a way of symbolically bringing the trees to the ritual ground without going to the forest to perform the ritual. Another interpretation that we can offer to a ritual like this is the preservation and conservation of the Pañcavaṭi grove in a community. If the leaves of the Pañcavaṭi trees are required for a ritual, the chances are the people will protect the Sacred Grove. One personal example of this protection is found in the practice of the Shimkhada family. Ban Kāli and Ban Devi, in the form of goddesses, are often found deep in the forest. The Kula Devatā (clan deity, e.g., the protective deity of the Shimkhada family) too is a goddess and she is located in the forest of Saldung Dāñdā, where a parcel of land has been designated as a Sacred Grove in her honor. These Kula Devatās (or forest

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deities) in female forms are normally worshipped in the raw form of nature, usually a stone or tree. This demonstrates the chthonic character of the goddess. She is found in nature away from civilization. The trees and vegetation from the forest that are the abodes of Kula Devatās are forbidden to be used for any other purpose. During the Kula Devatā Pujā that takes place every two years, the gathered members of the Shimkhada clan go out further into the deep reaches of the forest to forage for fallen branches of the tree to be used in cooking food offered to the goddess. Given that cutting trees is not allowed, the goddess demands strict protocol and purity during rituals lest the regressive behaviors are likely to befall on the offending members in the forms of possessions and other afflictions such as fever or vomiting. These strict rules highlight the life found in the forest. It is said that the forest can sense and feel the visitors who come to enjoy its natural beauty. This imbedded belief that the forest is alive combined with the strict ritualistic behaviors have resulted in a pristine forest, free from any human-​made pollution. Economist and ecologist alike are seeing this rootedness and calling it by another name—​ecological activism. Across the globe, forests are being ravaged in the name of development and modernization. The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (the former WWF) estimates that “some 46–​58 thousand square miles of forest are lost each year—​ equivalent to 48 football fields every minute.”17 Across Indian mythology, the forest is the place where young people (specifically boys) go to get an education. When they return, they are transformed. If old folk go to the forest to get freedom from the fetters of samsāra (physical world), some young go to the forest to get enlightened. It is the tree that makes all that possible, a fact that is evidenced when one examines the Āranyaka Parva of the Mahābhārata, Āranyaka Kānḍa of the Rāmāyaṇa, and the life of the Buddha. The call to action, if we are going to go beyond mere mitigation of climate change, must be for everyone to return to the forest. Guided by the example of Hindu adherents across the Indian subcontinent, we must each return to our local forests and emerge once again renewed. In returning to our forests, we discover that the Pañcavaṭi is more than a set of trees, a playground for the gods; it is a home for us as well. For the past two decades, the majority narrative of the scientific community has widely been that the industrialization of nations is leading to the degradation of the environment and has irreversible effects not only on nature but on humanity as well. However, in more recent years, scientists have begun to explore the effects of green spaces and exposure to nature on human wellness.18 What has been concluded is that exposure to nature substantively contributes to “increases in concentration, increases in self-​concept, improvements in student test scores, decreases in the time it takes to recover from surgery, decreases in symptoms of attention-​deficit/​hyperactivity disorder in children, decreases in aggressive behaviors, and decreases in stress” (Reese et al. 2014: 64).

4. Conclusion The practice of keeping a parcel of land for a Pañcavaṭi in the middle of a densely populated city like Kolkata, Mumbai, or Manhattan lies at the heart of a balanced

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existence. It isn’t hard to view Central Park in New York City as Pañcavaṭi despite its not having those exact species of trees. We must begin to mirror the pilgrimage to the Pañcavaṭi. People from every nation must return to their forests to ground themselves in the truth that life is found in the trees. More than 80 percent of the planet’s land biodiversity currently resides in the forests. If we are to continue to thrive, we must strike a balance within ourselves and within our communities. We must recognize the value of trees as embedded in the Hindu religious tradition of Pañcavaṭi, the valorization of which will lead the way to a solution to the world’s growing problem of climate change.

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Religious Symbolism in Contemporary Political Art: Hussaini and Tamil Popular Culture Amy-​Ruth Holt

1.  Introduction The political culture of Tamil Nadu constantly appears on display in the streets of its cities and byways through its abundance of visual propaganda and governmental projects. The visual and experiential nature of these public images draws out many connections with elements of religious practice and symbolism in Tamil Hindu culture. Most significantly, they suggest the importance of ritual seeing (darśan), ritual offerings (prasāda), and personal devotion (bhakti).1 In an unusual combination of fine art and popular culture, the Tamil contemporary artist Shihan Hussaini has built upon these religiopolitical frameworks for political art and made them even more personal by crafting imagery primarily out of his own blood. By using blood as a medium for his images of the former AIADMK chief minister J. Jayalalitha, Hussaini adds a bodily, sacrificial quality to his art that is not found in ordinary visual propaganda, but instead, aligns with the Tamil history of sacrifice and its modern impact on some popular Tamil films.2 His imagery, in this way, illustrates the continual power of historic Hindu practices and symbols to influence the often assumed, secular sphere of political life in modern Tamil Nadu. In July 2015, I  met with and interviewed Shihan Hussaini at his home in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, where I  photographed his current work, and he granted me access to his past work through his online media sites, photographs, press articles, and videos. In my resulting study, I have uncovered that the similarities of Hussaini’s blood art to Hindu sacrifice can be viewed as part of a much larger tradition of reusing Tamil heritage for political purpose (Hancock 2008; Bate 2009). Commonly known as “symbolic politics” in the Tamil press (Karthikeyan 2013), modern examples include public monuments, memorials, sculptures, and government buildings (Holt 2016) as well as divine-​like campaign posters, “cut-​ outs,” and painted street art (Jacob 1997; Gerritsen 2013). Due to the fact that an estimated 85  percent of all Tamils are Hindu, Tamil political imagery, from the onset, has been primarily based upon Hindu symbols and practices. Hussaini’s blood art of Jayalalitha also reflects this national practice; even though he was born

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a Tamil Muslim.3 In order to further develop a hermeneutic for this permeation of religious symbolism in Tamil public life, this chapter investigates Hussaini’s blood art as a prime example of this tradition and relates its appearance to the contemporary politics and films of the region.

2.  The Tamil political image The visual image and the political persona are so interlocked in Tamil Nadu that it has led scholars and Indian politicians alike to claim that “image is politics” in order to explain this phenomenon of political image devotion (Gerritsen 2013: 1; Pandian 1992; Jacob 1997: 152). In large part, this image politics derives from the Tamil film industry’s strong hold over the governance of Tamil Nadu, where from 1967 to 2016 all the elected chief ministers were film industry celebrities (Dickey 2008:  78; Holt 2017: 47).4 In Tamil politics, the combining of political practice and image worship began with the fan adoration of the popular film-​star-​turned-​chief minister M.  G. Ramachandran, commonly called “MGR,” whose fans began worshipping his film image on media screens and in physical forms like sculptures and printed images placed in home shrines by throwing prasāda offerings of flowers or vibhūti (ritual ash) at them and chanting his AIADMK political slogans as if they were Sanskrit mantras (Dickey 2008:  75; Pandian 1989; 1992). While MGR did on occasion play mythical roles like the god Śiva in Sri Murugan (1946) that sometimes were cited in his political campaigns, his undaunted popularity was mostly due to his charismatic interpretations of ordinary heroes such as in his 1971 award-​winning film Rickshawkaran (Bicycle rickshaw driver).5 Nonetheless, the ritualistic outpourings of his fans and political followers continued throughout his political career until they eventually reached an all-​ time high upon his death in 1987, where 31 people reportedly committed suicide and countless others cut off their hair, fingers, or tongues in their emotional outpourings of grief. In Tamil Nadu, the suicidal fans of politicians are often called bhaktas, a characterization based upon the local tradition of Śaiva bhakti saints. When the Hindu devotee experiences a chosen divine form on a personal participatory level, this action is traditionally called bhakti, while the extremely devout follower is called a bhakta or a “practitioner of bhakti” (Prentiss 1999). The twelfth-​century Tamil Periya Purāṇa (or “Big Book”) describes the lives of these sixty-​three Śaiva bhaktas, known as the Nāyanmārs, as extremely violent and self-​sacrificing (Hudson 1989, 2002). Each story tells how the bhakta sees a wrong done to the god Śiva and acts passionately to correct it even if it often involves the cutting of limbs, the removal of eyes, or the loss of his life or his family’s. The bhakti saint’s final reward and ultimate goal, in all cases, is to join Śiva in heaven at the time of his death. The stories of these heroic bhaktas are so revered in Tamil Nadu that in the Anti-​Hindi Agitation of the 1960s the lives of these saints became the model for Dravidian nationalists, such as the budding DMK politicians C. N. Annadurai and M. Karunanidhi, who saw the southern Tamil-speaking states as distinctly different from the northern Hindi-​speaking states. During these agitations, Tamils would sometimes commit suicide by publically incinerating themselves in the

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name of Tamil in order to oppose the compulsory study of Hindi in Tamil schools (Ramaswamy 1997). To further this cause, they also created a goddess known as Tamil Tai, or the “goddess of Tamil,” who was often depicted battling the evil demoness of Hindi in popular Tamil literature (Ramaswamy 2002). Today, political bhaktas represent the modern evolution of this continuing theme of Tamil martyrdom, where the deified Tamil country and language have, in many ways, replaced the Hindu gods. After MGR, Jayalalitha—​an actress who once costarred in approximately twenty-​ seven films with MGR and had worked as his propaganda secretary—​took over his AIADMK party in 1991 and became the next fan-​adored Tamil chief minister (Hancock 2008:  59). Much of her initial fandom resulted from her comparison in politics to the Tamil goddess Draupadī, from the Tamil Mahābhārata and terukkūttu folk cults. Upon her first appearance at the legislative assembly in 1989, Outlook India reported that Jayalalitha had claimed that a DMK politician had attempted to disrobe her just as the evil Kauravas did Draupadī. While this initial comparison jump started her first AIADMK party win, it did not stop there. Jayalalitha’s fans often show their devotion to her much like the Mahābhārata Prince Aravan, who gave his life to the goddess Koṛṛavai to secure the Pāṇdavas’ victory. In ancient times, his ritual death, sometimes called navakhaṇḍa, or the offering of flesh from nine parts of the body (Vogel 1931; Huntington 1985; Srinivasan 1964), was commonly practiced to images of Koṛṛavai, the Tamil goddess of death and war, who in modern folk practice is essentially Draupadī (Hiltebeitel 1989; Harle 1963). Examples of this suicidal act, showing self-​decapitation and the cutting of flesh from the thigh, occur in Pallava and early Chola reliefs at Mahabalipuram, Kanchipuram, and Pullamangai from the late seventh to tenth century (Storm 2015; see Figure 6.1). Today, AIADMK followers often idealize Jayalalitha’s historic election victories in 1991, 2001, and 2011 as her personal Draupadī-​like revenge on the DMK party (The Hindu 2003), while her surprising release from corruption charges in 2003 and 2015 could be described as validating the public sacrifices of her Aravan-​like bhaktas. By the mid-​1990s, Jayalalitha was popularly depicted in fan imagery as various Hindu goddesses such as Laksmī, Mīnāṭci, Māriyamman, Parāśakti, Saraśvatī, Pārvatī, Annapūrṉa, Draupadī, and Kālī as well as a feminine version of the flute-​playing god Kṛṣṇa.6 Since Jayalalitha’s political nickname was “Amma,” which means both “goddess” and “mother” in Tamil, these images become pivotal to her AIADMK campaigns. In one popular example, much like her revengeful image as Draupadī, Jayalalitha was depicted in a large sculpted float on the twenty-​fifth anniversary of the AIADMK party in 1998 as the blue-​goddess Kālī wearing a garland of heads with the face of her political DMK opponent, the past chief minister Karunanidhi, as she stood on his Śiva-​like corpse.7 To this day, such divine political imagery has continued to be used in Tamil Nadu, even though Jayalalitha and others have periodically spoken out against it (Bate 2009: 136–​ 41; Srivastava 2004). Additionally, Jayalalitha has not been alone in her near-​divine depictions by fans; Karunanidhi and other political favorites, such as M.K. Stalin and Kushboo, have also appeared as various Hindu gods and goddesses over the years with mixed results (Iyengar 2009; Kumar 2015; Vaasanthi 2006; Holt 2017). Possibly because of their extreme reliance on god-​like imagery, The Hindu reported on June 2, 2002, that both the AIADMK and the DMK parties have encouraged

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Figure  6.1  Two kneeling devotees performing blood sacrifices to the goddess Koṛṛavai-​ Draupadī (their raised hands and swords are damaged). Interior view of the Draupadī Ratha, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, ca. mid-​to-​late seventh century. Photo: Amy-​Ruth Holt.

political supporters to become suicidal bhaktas for their leaders. It is widely understood in Tamil Nadu that by becoming a political bhakta the deceased’s family is given monetary rewards including land, employment, and housing as well as possibly political favor from the supported political party. In the Tamil press, there appears an endless counting and publicizing of these individuals on important political events such as the loss of an election or the jailing, sentencing, or death of politicians. On Karunanidhi’s televised arrest in 2001, The Hindu reported that 21 people committed suicide, while in 2015 a record-​ breaking 244 AIADMK supporters sacrificed themselves over Jayalalitha’s prison sentencing for disproportionate assets, and their

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families, according to the Times of India on May 16, 2015, were paid altogether more than US$1 million (Rs. 7 crore) in compensation. When I asked about bhakta suicides in 2017, following Jayalalitha’s death in December 2016, AIADMK officials stated that the previous record number had more than doubled over the past year to nearly 600 deaths. Although generally anonymous, these growing bhakta numbers continually act as evidence of a political party’s support and emotional sway over the Tamil populace, especially in times of political distress and party opposition. Yet, as of now, their ritual-​ like significance as sacrifices to the political process in Tamil Nadu has gone largely unnoticed. When a bhakta commits suicide for a modern political party, their body becomes identical to a blood sacrifice from the Hindu tradition. Blood sacrifice, or bali, is one of the oldest themes in Hinduism. At its core, bali is a type of prasāda, or “ritual offering” (Fuller 2004; Storm 2015:  24–​6). Ritual offerings are transactional items that once given to the Hindu gods or goddesses by priests during worship (pūjā) are meant to be returned to the devotee for personal worship, adornment, or consumption (Pinkney 2013: 736). The earliest known example of sacrifice in the Hindu tradition is the story of the Vedic cosmic man Puruṣa, told in the Ṛig Veda (ca. 1500–​1200 BCE), who sacrificed himself in order to create the human race. From head to toe, each of his cleaved body parts became the individual castes of Hindu society. Much like the cults to Draupadī or the stories of the Śaiva Nāyanmār saints, blood sacrifice has always represented a divine tool in the Hindu tradition that establishes a beneficial reciprocal relationship for the bridging of human and divine interaction. In this manner, the Nāyanmār saints die to reach the heaven of Śiva; the warrior in the Draupadī cult dies to win a battle; and the god Puruṣa dies in order to create humanity. In the case of modern political propaganda, fan members typically produce such imagery without the knowledge or consent of the party leader in order to gain their attention and bargain for political favors (Gerritsen 2013:  6). Working like a “political prasāda,” popular signboards of this style associate the devoted fan with the favored politician through the depiction of a small image or bold name of the fan as the patron of the work. In this image, the fans’ bold names, V. N. Ravi and K. T. Teventiran, appear in lower right corner, while the large image of Jayalalitha and a lion (Draupadī’s vehicle) with a laudatory slogan takes center stage (Figure 6.2). As Diana Eck (1998) notes, darśan is not only about seeing the divine image but the active exchange of glances that takes place between the image and its viewers. Jayalalitha’s gaze in this image also turns toward the names of her fans and outward toward passing bystanders, suggesting that her sight engages with theirs. From this looking of the painted image, Hindu political images can be described as having an “inter-​ occular” purpose (Gerritsen 2013: 3; Bate 2009: 133–​5), which may cause a sensory, participatory reaction (or bhakti) in the individual viewer. Inspiring this process, the bright colors and daunting size of these propaganda street images also draw out viewership, and the frequent routes that politicians travel predicate their roadside placement to ensure their notice. As the following analysis of Shihan Hussaini’s work will demonstrate, his blood imagery also draws upon this same Hindu and political framework for image viewing.

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Figure  6.2  Propaganda street image of Jayalalitha with roaring lion. Paint on cement, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 2015. Photo: Amy-​Ruth Holt.

3.  Hussaini’s blood images of Jayalalitha Shihan Hussaini’s first time depicting the past chief minister Jayalalitha came as part of his live audience stunt shows done from 1989 to 1996. These shows developed from his karate fight scenes in popular Tamil films, where he played the villain opposite superstars such as Kamal Hasan and Rajinikanth.8 Each show focused around a death-​ defying stunt such as smashing blocks of ice with his forehead, having large blocks of stone broken over his chest, sitting in an explosive inferno, or being bitten by cobras. Since all of these stunts were World Records, according to Hussaini, he ended Rock Shock II in 1992 with a national theme, where he climbed a pile of broken stones waving the Indian flag in a mist of saffron, white, and green smoke—​the colors of the Indian flag. He topped this nationalistic act in Smash II (1994) when he ended the show by drawing Jayalalitha with his bleeding hand after it had been run over by 101 cars, broken 5,000 ceramic tiles, and had 1,000 bricks broken over it. The painting

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itself was also a personal call to Jayalalitha for a government land grant with Hussaini’s penned slogan, “Give me a hand, give me some land.” The very next day Jayalalitha rewarded Hussaini with a personal darśan, where he was instructed to prostrate at her feet in the characteristic manner of an AIADMK follower, and she presented him with a check for approximately US$5,000 (Rs. 3 lakhs) and the promise of approximately an acre (eighteen grounds) of land in Chennai to build a karate school. Unfortunately, the political climate of the late 1990s was unkind to Jayalalitha with multiple court cases of land-​grab schemes and excessive government spending brought against her and her best friend Sasikala Natarajan. As a result, Jayalalitha lost the 1996 election to the opposing DMK party leader Karunanidhi. The newly elected DMK government quickly rescinded Jayalalitha’s promise of land to Hussaini. When Hussaini complained, the DMK government declared him a criminal, and eventually arrested him on suspicion of carrying an illegal passport when returning to India from a karate competition in the United States. Hussaini was eventually found innocent of all charges but spent sixteen days in a Tihar jail (Thomas 1998) after being mistakenly identified as a Sri Lankan terrorist from a character that he had played in a recent Tamil film! The DMK’s harsh treatment toward Hussaini continued into 2000, when the DMK-​government police raided his home and took many of his new blood paintings done of Jayalalitha for an upcoming Lalit Kala Akademi gallery show in Delhi (Varma 2001). During this raid, the police lost, or possibly destroyed, Hussaini’s original blood painting of Jayalalitha from his 1994 stunt (Copeman and Street 2014: 11). With Jayalalitha’s triumphant (and unexpected) return as the chief minister in 2003, Hussaini saw another opportunity to benefit from his now notorious past depictions of her. Newly inspired, he began painting new images of her out of his own blood in the hope of gaining back his lost land (Figure 6.3). As Hussaini publically acknowledges, these paintings reflect the popular birthday celebrations of Tamil political fandom. Such events often become highly publicized, extravagantly large affairs carried out to attract the attention of Jayalalitha or other party leaders in order to gain their favor (Iyengar 2008). Hussaini specifically made fifty-​six of these paintings in celebration of Jayalalitha’s fifty-​sixth birthday in 2004, and he publicized them through local newspapers (Srivastava 2004). Upon hearing of these images, Jayalalitha once again granted Hussaini a darśan with her, but she was unable to return his land. Nonetheless, Hussaini made a show of presenting these individual images to her, surrounding her standing form with them on the floor around her feet as if they were all gifts (or prasāda) given at the feet of a reigning political-​goddess, a gesture he repeats when visitors ask to view these paintings today (Figure 6.4). The paintings of this fifty-​sixth birthday series show Jayalalitha in various stages of her life from a baby, child Bharatanatyam dancer, seductive film actress, and young MGR-​inspired politician to the serious-​minded, dark sari and cape clad “Amma” commonly seen in her later years. Throughout the series, Hussaini makes an attempt to sensitively capture the inner, elusive personality of Jayalalitha through tilting her form and line of sight similar to the propaganda image seen in Figure  6.2. In the example given in Figure 6.5, Hussaini’s image of Jayalalitha even appears to turn and look upward toward the approaching viewer with her “inter-​occular” sight from the painting’s placement on the ground. His rare usage of large washes of blood in these

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Figure  6.3  Shihan Hussaini, Jayalalitha. Overview of some of the remaining images from the fifty-​sixth birthday series. Blood on paper, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, made in 2004, photographed in 2015. Photo: Amy-​Ruth Holt.

images also make the paintings’ surfaces appear speckled and swirled with drops of spilt blood. Through this dribbling and dotting technique, Hussaini indexically references the act of his bleeding for these creations and simultaneously suggests that Jayalalitha’s own image also bleeds, since her very image emerges from blood. In a similar manner, the scholars Jacob Copeman and Alice Street (2014:  18) see these blood images of Jayalalitha as “non-​representational self-​portraits” of Hussaini, which ultimately allow both Hussaini and Jayalalitha to appear like “bleeding” sacrificial figures in the Tamil Hindu tradition. Jayalalitha reached another high point in her political career in 2013 after having won the 2011 election for chief minister against Karunanidhi and having reopened and remodeled the MGR Memorial after it had been shut down due to severe damage from the 2004 tsunami. Hoping to petition Jayalalitha again for his land, Hussaini made a frozen-​blood head portrait of Jayalalitha for her sixty-​fifth birthday that year.9 Of all Hussaini’s artworks, this image drew the largest media frenzy during its unveiling ceremony at Hussaini’s studio home. He had no less than six local television stations present at this event as well as numerous newspaper and magazine journalists. Dozens of online news sites and Indian blogs also picked up this story, giving Hussaini seemingly overnight international and local notoriety for this image (Warrier 2013; Crasta 2015). During the unveiling of this sculpture, Hussaini removed the frozen image from a two-​piece silicon mold and then used his hands to carefully smooth out the ridges left by the mold. His hands became completely covered in blood from this process. When he held up this image for the cameras, the blood from the sculpture continued to melt,

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Figure 6.4  Shihan Hussaini presenting his blood paintings of Jayalalitha to author, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, paintings made in 2004, photographed in 2015. Photo: Amy-​Ruth Holt.

dripping through his fingers in the hot Chennai sun. As a consequence, the English Indian press did not miss the overall goriness of this “bleeding” image and frequently described Hussaini as a crazy, religious fan of Jayalalitha (Rajan 2013). As part of the birthday celebrations for Jayalalitha that year, Hussaini also used this image as a platform to ask for blood donations in her honor to be given to local hospitals. AIADMK fans often have organized blood drives for Jayalalitha as part of her birthday celebrations, and the Deccan Herald claimed on February 17, 2014, that the AIADMK currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most blood ever donated. Hussaini made this blood sculpture of Jayalalitha over a period of four months from approximately eleven liters of blood, donated primarily by him, but also with a

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Figure 6.5  Shihan Hussaini, Jayalalitha. Detail of one painting from the fifty-​sixth birthday series. Blood on paper, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, made in 2004, photographed in 2015. Photo: Amy-​Ruth Holt.

small portion donated from his students. To acknowledge their donations, he posted images of his students giving blood for this sculpture on his website called TamilTaai. com. By naming this website and the frozen-​blood sculpture after the national Tamil goddess of the Anti-​Hindi Agitation riots, Hussaini drew additional support to his blood imagery of Jayalalitha, since The Hindu on May 15, 2013, had also recently announced the AIADMK’s intention to make a national monument for Jayalalitha as the goddess Tamil Tai (Holt 2016: 241–​4). Due to Jayalalitha’s recent death, Hussaini’s infamous blood-​head portrait now stands as the only completed image of Jayalalitha as this goddess.10

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The DMK brought charges against Jayalalitha in 2014 for disproportionate assets, and she was imprisoned for three months before the court eventually threw out the case due to an accounting mistake. While Jayalalitha sat in a Bangalore jail, her political bhaktas across the state cried out for her release, committing suicide, cutting their hair, praying for her at local temples, putting up billboards with anti-​Bangalore slogans and petitions for her release, as well as rallying in front of courthouses and political buildings (Romig 2015; Tilak 2014). Shihan Hussaini also was caught up in this national hysteria, which resulted in his last blood image for Jayalalitha—​a performance piece that was video recorded and posted online called The Prayer. A  month in advance, Hussaini setup an online countdown with Twitter images of his sketches and plans for this act, so that, when the day finally arrived, his home was packed with eager local news reporters and television crews (Venkataramakrishnan 2016; Emmanuel 2015). The Prayer began with his kneeling and praying first with a self-​named “Hu” (a.k.a. Hussaini) mantra accompanied with a Buddhist meditation bowl and then with the help of religious leaders from the Hindu, Christian, and Muslim faiths. A large wooden cross stood with the words “The Prayer” painted on a temporary wall behind it during these ceremonies. Standing, Hussaini then led his assembled karate students in an impromptu political chant for Jayalalitha’s long life and release from jail. While dressed in a white t-​shirt with red block letters spelling “Amma” on the front and “Hu Archery and Karate” in black on the back, he next proceeded to nail his hands and then his feet to the cross in a self-​inflicted crucifixion with the help of a student. As he hung, he shouted: “God, if you are there, you better return my Amma as chief minister!” He remained on the cross altogether for six minutes and seven seconds in recognition of Jayalalitha’s sixty-​seventh birthday that year. Once taken down, his students quickly removed the nails from his hands and feet and immediately rushed him by ambulance to a local hospital. Today, the metal nails from this act are kept in a small shrine in Hussaini’s home office (Figure 6.6). While previously the idea of pain and sacrifice were alluded to through Hussaini’s use of blood as a medium for his imagery, in this work, he forces the viewer to see his pain and suffering as a live performance. Hussaini’s life has often been filled with religious strife. His Muslim family ostracized him for many years because of his marriage to a Hindu woman whom he later divorced. During his first marriage, he once stated to a reporter that he wanted to crucify himself on a “cross shaped-​like India” because he “wanted to tell people of his anguish” (Warrier 1998). The map image of India, as Hussaini’s cross, also becomes personified as “Mother India” (Bharat Mata) and Jayalalitha, since many of Jayalalitha’s propaganda images also portray her within a map of India (Figure 6.7).11 In my interview with Hussaini in 2015, he also admitted that at the time he had been very depressed over the death of his mother and had considered killing himself in various ways. From these accounts, Hussaini’s use of the crucifixion represented his bhakta sacrifice for all Mother Indias (of all faiths), which includes Jayalalitha as well as his own Muslim mother. By wearing the name “Amma,” Hussaini identities as Jayalalitha’s bhakta and as the suffering Jayalalitha herself in a manner similar to his past images of her in blood. But, on a more personal level, Hussaini’s self-​crucifixion was a psychological release of his built-​up anguish over

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Figure  6.6  The metal nails from Shihan Hussaini’s The Prayer that he used to crucify himself with, now kept in a small shrine in his home office, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 2015. Photo: Amy-​Ruth Holt.

his mother’s recent passing done as a public display of mourning for his country, the Mother of all Indians and the goddess Bharat Mata. Additionally, Hussaini’s use of Christian imagery in The Prayer came directly from Jayalalitha’s image history in Tamil politics. One of the most controversial images ever made of Jayalalitha showed her as the Virgin Mary, which was posted on the back wall of a Tamil church without their permission and had to be removed with Jayalalitha’s apology (Bate 2009:  136–​41; Jacob 1997). While Hindu imagery often involves the belief of various incarnations of Hindu divinities living among us, the Christian faith appears much stricter in its rules for divine representation. By bringing Christian symbolism back into the depiction of Jayalalitha, Hussaini’s Prayer reflected this recent image controversy, and at the same time, downplayed its significance with the inclusion of Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist elements. In doing so, The Prayer comes closer to sacrilege than Hussaini’s earlier blood imagery, especially with Hussaini as Amma-​ Jayalalitha assuming the role of Christ. Strangely, the Tamil Christian community has remained silent about the imagery of The Prayer, while this action has received criticism

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Figure 6.7  Propaganda image of Jayalalitha on a map of India. Printed “flex board” poster, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, 2015. Photo: Amy-​Ruth Holt.

from members of the DMK, who see Hussaini’s crucifixion as foolish “sycophancy” and have demanded his arrest (Lakshmana 2015). In light of such attacks, it seems that the sympathies of the Christian community were not so much the cause of the AIADMK’s past problems with Christian imagery but rather the DMK’s continual image war with Jayalalitha over the symbols of Dravidian politics (Holt 2016: 237–​41).

4.  Blood sacrifice in Tamil films Political bhaktas have become so commonplace in popular Tamil culture that three different Tamil films, taking three different forms—​a political tragedy, a romance

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comedy, and a documentary drama—​have addressed this subject. The earliest of these films, Bharatiraja’s En Uyir Thozhan (My Dear Comrade) made in 1989, can be generally characterized as a political tragedy within the genre of parallel cinema, or an artistic “nativity film” (Chakravarthy 2009: 209), due to its primary focus around the everyday life of the poor married couple, Dharma and Chittu. An importance is given in this film to images of class segregation, where the local Dravidian politician Ponnambalam, or “Golden Palace,” is shown having a glamorous life filled with fine food, clothes, and alcohol; in contrast to poor Dharma, who is shown working for Ponnambalam as his local promoter and frequently squatting along a garbage-​filled ravine near his home slum. Dharma’s wife Chittu also enters into his life from tragedy after she is robbed and left on a Chennai-​bound train by her fiancé Ponnavan, or “Golden Boy.” Dharma’s political life and married life then collide when his political party makes Ponnavan their local legislature candidate (MLA) and enforce Dharma with getting the slum’s 15,000 votes. In this film, the vile Ponnavan, as an actor-​turned-​politician, strongly alludes to MGR’s own ascendance to power under the DMK, while the film’s chief minister Ponnambalam suggests the past chief minister Karunanidhi, who was the DMK chief minister at the time of this film. Additionally, the local pimp’s girlfriend, Laila, looks much like a young Jayalalitha from MGR’s reign with her large-​rimmed sunglasses, green silk sari, and unusual influence over Ponnavan’s campaign. In order to resolve Dharma’s conflict with supporting Ponnavan’s candidacy, Ponnambalam asks Dharma for his “responsible action” by way of referencing Kṛṣṇa’s chariot dialogue with Arjuna from the Bhagavad Gītā, the story of the Nāyanmār saints, and the meaning of his own name. While Dharma sits awed by Ponnambalam’s very presence in this scene, the background music plays Kṛṣṇa bhajans, or “prayer songs” (Chakravarthy 2009: 212), and Ponnambalam appears surrounded with a body halo of early-​morning light that references Karunanidhi’s DMK party symbol, the rising sun. The obvious importance of this party symbol cannot be overlooked, since the director Bharatiraja also uses it to bookend the entire film. In the opening of the film, he narrates with the rising sun in the background from his lawn chair—​in the fashion of Karunanidhi’s earlier DMK propaganda films—​on how this is the real story of the party men of India, who are ironically known to each other as thozhans, or “comrades,” giving the film its title. The closing scene then shows the entrance of all the party men to Dharma’s beachside memorial with the rising of the morning sun, who are then slaughtered by an angry mob emerging from the sea.12 Through such blatant comparisons, the film sets up a rather unflattering critique of contemporary Dravidian politicians and their ongoing image practices. Much like a political bhakta in the making, En Uyir Thozhan’s Dharma repeatedly refers to himself as a “bloody country citizen” throughout this film (Chakravarthy 2009:  214). His story on screen begins with his attempt at self-​immolation at the Mahatma Gandhi statue at Marina Beach (a monument set up by the past DMK chief minister Annadurai in 1969 of the best-​known Indian nationalist martyr) and ends with his own memorial service held near the MGR Memorial, which cites a popular monument from Karunanidhi’s reign that was contemporaneous to the making of this film.13 Dharma’s eventual death, however, is actually not a suicide but a murder

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perpetuated by a local drunkard paid for by Ponnambalam. Like many political images of this period, the film’s party leaders create a poster for Dharma’s death, which they expect will win the election for them. In the final version, the poster depicts a mourning Chittu over the bloody body of Dharma surrounded by earlier campaign posters of Ponnavan. By being an image about image politics, the film presents this imagery as predetermining Dharma’s death. Even though the film’s tragic ending portrays Dharma’s bhakta suicide as a modern farce, the creation of this image and the worship of bhakta figures through political memorials take the most responsibility for the story’s violent outcome. In 1998, Sasi’s Sollamale (Without Saying) additionally addresses the image pitfalls of political bhaktas. Told in the form of a traditional Indian romance comedy, its tale turns terribly wrong. The main character Nataraj, a village bumpkin (like En Uyir Thozhan’s Dharma) with below average looks, moves to Chennai and finds a job through his modern city friends as a work-​a-​day billboard painter. While on the job, he falls madly in love with an Indian American girl named Swetha. Unlike the fumbling Nataraj, Swetha appears socially well-​adjusted, upper middle class, and beautiful. While visiting her relatives in India, she meets Nataraj at a bus stop and mistakes his nervousness for muteness. They develop a relationship because she rides her bike past his billboard on the way to her daily Bharatanatyam class, and she stops to speak to him with hand and facial gestures learned from abhinaya, or “dance sign language.” Although not as directly political as En Uyir Thozhan, this movie mixes the imagery of spilling paint and spilling blood with similar intentions. When Swetha hears of an accident where a sign painter had fallen to his death, she assumes it’s Nataraj and hurries to his billboard to discover red paint spattered like blood on the ground and a passing automobile. Finding Nataraj at the hospital covered with red paint, she realizes that it was not Nataraj who died but another painter, and they begin a courtship. Since her initial attention is won through the assumption of his death, it draws connections between their relationship and the relationship of the sacrificing follower to the Tamil goddess Koṛṛavai-​Draupadī, whose warrior-​devotees were granted her attention only after spilling blood. In this modern romance metaphor, the hapless subordination of Nataraj toward Swetha is set up to mirror religious devotion, while Swetha’s stubborn integrity makes her appear almost goddess like. Nataraj’s inability to speak to Swetha becomes further complicated when Swetha sees a crawling beggar on Marina Beach near the MGR Memorial and gives him money, only to later learn that he was faking his disability. Terrified now that Swetha will find out about his own lie, Nataraj goes to a doctor to have his tongue cut out. When the doctor refuses to do the surgery, Nataraj grabs a nearby scalpel and cuts out his own tongue. With the camera zooming in to show the most recognized scene of this movie, the blood from Nataraj’s cut tongue is dramatically sprayed onto the faces of a nearby crying baby and the astonished doctor. As symbols of future happiness (via the baby) and modern rationality (via the doctor),14 they reflect Nataraj’s own loss of these traits as a result of this bhakta-​like act. In the film’s conclusion, Nataraj even falls at the feet of Swetha, looking much like a bloodied Indian martyr fallen at the feet of Mother India or Tamil Tai, who is left forever unable to tell Swetha how he really feels due to his extreme actions.

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The unfortunate romance of Nataraj and Swetha seems to echo the relationship of the Dravidian AIADMK fan and the female goddess-​leader Jayalalitha, who was chief minister in the early 1990s before this film’s release. The image of the MGR Memorial juxtaposed with that of the introduction of the lying beggar in this film also points to a comparison with Jayalalitha’s AIADMK party (who frequently campaigned from this memorial) and Swetha’s inability to see the truth in others. Moreover, Nataraj’s tragic inability to speak his truth in the end implies the inability of Tamil itself, since Tamil is not only a spoken language but its people, nation, and goddess (Jayalalitha/​Tamil Tai) that was ultimately inactive against the government corruption of the mid-​1990s. By using a traditional romance-​comedy format, this film proposes that such political bhakta relationships reflect real-​life love affairs; much like the comparison of blood to paint, where one is real love and the other is a lie. A more recent Tamil film on bhaktas is P.  Ranjith’s documentary drama Madras made in 2014. Unlike both previous films, this film directly confronts the central issue of image politics by focusing around the story of a legendary, political wall painting that is said to be the cause of numerous deaths over multiple generations in a lower middle class, northern Chennai (aka Madras) neighborhood. Although this film’s locale and the wall painting are fictitious, frequent violent outbreaks over sign painting rights in similar Chennai neighborhoods have happened in recent times, giving this film an extremely realistic feel (Gerritsen 2013: 12). This association with real-​life events, along with its more modern song choices that are fewer in number and more fitting with the plot, categorize it within the realm of an Indian-​styled documentary drama. The film even opens with the debated wall painting appearing to bleed—​spreading from the center outwards—​as over the years more and more deaths result from disputes between the two local parties as to who will have the rights to paint on the wall. According to the narration at the beginning of the film, people commit suicide by jumping off it; car accidents are blamed on it; a beggar is beaten near it, and the police blame it on the wall. The neighborhood even calls a priest before the wall to do pūjās and make offerings to it in the hope of appeasing its need for blood, as if it was the goddess Koṛṛavai-​Draupadī. In Madras, the two local political factions are led by the leaders Mari and Kannan, who both want the rights to paint their images on the wall. Mari’s two followers are Anbu, a Christian Dalit promoter, and Kālī (aka Kālīswaran), a man named after the goddess Kālī because his mother prayed to her for his birth. On the opposing side, Kannan’s two sons, Perumal and Viji, work as his local promoters. Similar to Sollamale, the film’s storyline also highlights the romance between the educated party worker Kālī and his local girlfriend Kalairasi, whose name means “Queen of the Arts.” As a counterpoint to the often violent Kālī, she most often portrays the feminine creative force associated with love and family, which moves the film’s love story forward. At its climax, Madras, however, takes a tragic shift similar to En Uyir Thozhan, where Anbu dies in a courthouse attack in what initially appears as Kannan’s revenge for his son’s death by Kālī. Although Anbu’s death wasn’t an actual suicide; as in some earlier instances in this film, the wall still takes the blame according to Anbu’s emotionally distraught widow, Mary, who drags Kālī forward to view Anbu’s dead body during his Indian wake.

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Like the extensive viewing of Anbu’s body, the importance of the seen image and one’s ability to look upon it is called out on multiple occasions in this film. Kālī’s friends tell him to stalk Kalairasi, always being in her sight, in order to win her affection. But it is not until Kālī nearly hits Kalairasi’s auto rickshaw with his motorcycle in front of the wall that Kalairasi finally recognizes his intentions; much like Nataraj’s presumed death in Sollamale. Kālī eventually learns that Anbu’s death occurred under Mari’s order to win sympathy for the party just as Dharma’s murder was carried out in En Uyir Thozhan. Finding Mari at a rally to repaint the wall, Kālī tells everyone how Mari ordered Anbu’s death and throws paint onto the wall’s political image; while Mary follows Kālī’s actions by throwing black paint directly onto Mari. Continuing this act of image desecration, a local beggar Johnny blackens the image of Mari’s face on a nearby wall. With such scenes, the film points out the corruption and violence behind image politics, which is only solved when the image itself is taken away. Thus, the film ends with the wall being repainted with a children’s educational message for social awareness and Kālī and Kalairasi becoming school teachers. From the perspective of these three different films, the subject of bhakta sacrifice is treated with a common concern for the influence of political imagery on public life. Each of these films on the surface denounces bhakta suicides as an example of political corruption that more directly affects the lives of the lower class, Tamil subaltern communities than the educated, elites of society. All three male bhaktas (Dharma, Nataraj, and Anbu) come from lower class backgrounds, where their sacrifices come out of situations beyond their control. But, more importantly, the fact that all of these films give little to no suggestion as to how to stop bhakta sacrifices and instead, focus on the multiple drawn-​out scenes of extremely bloody violence, extensive viewing of spilt blood, and the heightened emotional outpourings surrounding bhakta acts suggest that like Shihan Hussaini’s bhakta imagery these films share a need to dramatize bhakta accounts for viewer appeal rather than look for alternatives to the practice of self-​sacrifice in Tamil politics. Similarly, female characters (or sometimes other male figures like Madras’s Kālī) in films produced after Jayalalitha’s rise to power in 1991 often hint at embodiments of Hindu goddesses like Koṛṛavai-​Draupadī or Kālī, who are historically known for their blood lust, which must be paid for by the stereotyped, male subaltern bhakta in the film. As the history of bhakta sacrifice in Tamil Nadu makes clear, the reciprocal relationship between the deity and devotee (or the politician and follower) becomes cemented through the ritual of blood-​giving and the active viewing (darśan) of these offerings in art. These films and Hussaini’s imagery point to the importance of “seeing” these blood offerings through an extensive viewing of bhakta bodies, blood, and personal sacrifices, which empower Tamil politicians and their political imagery. Likewise, Shihan Hussaini stated that he made his blood images of Jayalalitha “because it is a tool,” aimed to get back his lost land (Copeman and Street 2014: 13) and as a “political prasāda” these visual images also had the return benefit of spreading his and Jayalalitha’s image cult. As Hussaini further told UCAN reporters in 2015, he openly admits to “adoring” and even “worshiping Jayalalitha” like a political fan, because he believes that she is “the only hope for Tamil Nadu.” With such comments, Hussaini purposefully portrays himself as a subaltern political fan of Jayalalitha, even though

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this goes against his actual status as an upper middle class, college-​educated, and English-​speaking individual. Perhaps it is best to consider Hussaini’s usage of the bhakta stereotype as an image-​making scheme similar to that employed by the actor-​ politician MGR, who used his popular film imagery of the Tamil “everyman” to win historic election campaigns for the early AIADMK party (Pandian 1989).15

5.  In the aftermath of Jayalalitha Shihan Hussaini’s use of sacrificial imagery reflects his past knowledge of film as an actor, where celebrity created through continual image publicity, either good or bad, is its own reward. By carefully producing images as “political prasāda” that have shocked and inspired national awe at times when Jayalalitha’s own image was on the rise, Hussaini has established a public symbolic persona for himself that is completely self-​aggrandizing. Although his land was never returned, each of Hussaini’s works received Jayalalitha’s attention and allowed him four personal darśans with her. With the completion of his last blood image The Prayer, Hussaini has also gone onto become the archery coach for the Indian team at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio (Kumar 2016), and he has made television appearances on a celebrity cookery show and a late-​ night talk show.16 While he has not acted in years, he has recently received offers for leading roles in upcoming films, and during a trip to Delhi in 2016, Hussaini gave drawing lessons to the daughter of the BJP central cabinet minister Venkaiah Naidu (Ramanathan 2016). Since Jayalalitha’s death and with the political backing of Venkaiah Naidu, Hussaini has started his own political party, aptly called AMMA after Jayalalitha’s nickname, in opposition to the AIADMK’s promotion of Jayalalitha’s longtime friend Sasikala as the new party leader and next chief minister.17 In the past, Jayalalitha was able to succeed MGR due to her close relationship with him (more so than her political experience); and in a similar manner, Hussaini and others close to Jayalalitha (like Sasikala) now have a platform toward a political career if they decide to continue in this direction.18 As Hussaini told local reporters, when he met Jayalalitha, she would often ask him if he was interested in a career in politics, and he would always decline (Ramanathan 2016). Now his interest in politics results from his desire to keep Sasikala out of AIADMK leadership because he believes that she and her husband, Natarajan, had something to do with Jayalalitha’s recent death—​although no evidence has been found to support this accusation. As Hussaini confided in me, his distrust for Natarajan (as well as Sasikala) comes as a result of being scammed and tormented in 2014 by Natarajan and his supporters over a commission for a series of Tamil memorial park sculptures in Thanjavur. Hussaini’s current concern for Jayalalitha’s legacy and possible murder has inadvertently led him to change his level of participation in Tamil government from simply being an artist and promoter of Jayalalitha to being an active organizer of his own political party. From depicting Jayalalitha in his art, Hussaini’s political image has become anchored to hers in much the same way as the AIADMK party members who make street propaganda. By uniquely using his own blood as an artistic medium, Hussaini

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has developed a symbolic association with the suicidal bhakta in Tamil religious history, contemporary politics, and film. Much like the Tamil filmmaker who gains fame and income from popular films on bhaktas, this symbolism of blood sacrifice acts mainly as Hussaini’s bid for self-​promotion in the Tamil media, where bhakta sacrifices are frequently viewed and dramatized. With Hussaini’s blood images, he also has become a symbolic representation of Jayalalitha herself, since her depiction derives from his blood as well as wearing of her name in The Prayer. Given this image conflation of bhakta-​as-​politician, Hussaini now finds himself in an ideal position from which to launch his own political party. With this career change in mind, Hussaini recently told me that he now sees himself as the protagonist of the popular 1999 Tamil film Mudhalvan (Chief Minister), where a local television journalist is allowed to run the state for a day and ends up solving all of its problems, much to the current chief minister’s chagrin. Similarly, Hussaini’s use of bhakta symbolism may not recognize the tragic hardships that lead individuals to perform self-​sacrifice dramatized in bhakta films or even his own social and economic background. Instead, Hussaini’s blood images of Jayalalitha create their own reality through “symbolic politics” and the filmic image of the self-​sacrificing “everyman” that ultimately influence Tamil public life.

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Hinduism in the Modern World: Colonial, Diasporic, and Women’s Religion

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“Rite of Passage” in India’s National Struggle: Understanding Rabindranath Tagore’s Gora in the Context of Religion Lavanya Vemsani

1.  Introduction: nation in the rite of passage Gora1 brings forward the most futuristic vision of India in the twentieth century. Rabindranath Tagore is a master of symbolism:  creating a narrative with teenagers and their parents to represent an emerging India, he has crafted a masterful tale, which reveals a moment in the evolving nation of India. Gora, the central character, is an unbridled image of pre-​ independent India, setting out on its journey for independence, envisioned in the mind of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, often referred to lovingly as Gurudev and Viśvakavi, the most visionary twentieth-​century writer of India. The main protagonists Gora and Binoy along with their female counterparts, Sucharita and Lalita, represent the new India in transition (liminal phase).2 They push against the bonds and limitations brought abruptly to India by colonial rule and struggle to create a different reality. The central story of the novel Gora revolves mainly around two families, those of Gora and Sucharita. Gora’s family consists of his mother Anandamoyi, father Krishnadayal, brother Mohim, who along with his wife and daughter Shashipriya lived together in the joint family. In the tradition of orphaned protagonists of the book Gora, Anandamoyi (Gora’s mother) also lost her parents in childhood and was raised by her scholar-​grandfather in Varanasi (Banaras), and subsequently married to a recently widowed man, Krishnadayal, whose wife had died at childbirth, leaving Mohim (elder brother of Gora) motherless. Although Anandamoyi had no children of her own, she became a mother to Mohim upon her marriage to Krishnadayal, and continued to embrace every child who came her way, including Gora, Binoy, and Sucharita. Sucharita’s family consists of her brother Satish, their foster parents, Poresh Babu, the father, and Baradasundari, the mother, and their three daughters, Labanya, Lalita, and Leela—​Lalita is close to Sucharita as a friend more than as a sister. Other ancillary characters in the story revolve around Gora and Sucharita. Harimohini is an aunt with

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whom Sucharita and her brother lived after a move from Poresh Babu’s household into their own home. Although Harimohini’s brother-​in-​law, Kailash, a potential groom for Sucharita, makes only a brief appearance, Gora portrays him as an orthodox Hindu and thus a symbol of old India, which Gora feels needs complete overturning. Gora is closest to his friend Binoy, and in addition also has a number of enthusiastic followers headed by Abinash. Gora and Binoy represent the young and impatient India that is attempting to bring change. As modernity dawned on India during the late eighteenth century, older social, political, religious, and economic structures were shattered. The viceroys of India during the last decade of the nineteenth century were famously referred to as “imperial handymen” for their role in expanding British control over India (Spear 1961). Curzon, viceroy from 1899 to 1905, culminated this trend through his decision to partition Bengal based on religion into a Muslim majority region known as East Bengal and a Hindu majority region known as West Bengal. This perpetrated religious and political fragmentation among the population of India, which finally resulted in the creation of Pakistan and subsequently that of Bangladesh. This imperial political background forms part of the narrative of Gora. Although persistent efforts were made to rebuild the nation of India, no clear structural restoration or organization was felt in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the period depicted in Gora. Tagore portrays this uncertainty and lack of structure and focus appropriately in Gora through the major characters of the novel. The overall framework of the novel depicts the departures modern India had made, while representing the future India as a mysterious destination. Tagore’s Gora depicts a displaced population venturing to make a future by examining a variety of pathways. This chapter contains four sections in addition to the introduction and conclusion. I will examine in the following paragraphs of this introduction the novel of Gora, previous scholarly studies on Gora, and the scope and methodology employed in this chapter connecting ritual theories to the struggling nationhood of India. Section two considers the first stage of the rite of passage, which marks the stage of loss of structure, and hence separation and displacement experienced by the subjects undergoing rite of passage. It also examines parts of the text of Gora that describe the conditions of protagonists as well as the Indian nation existing in the state of separation, the first stage of the rite of passage, and containing an ambiguous future, according to ritual theory. The third section examines the transitory stage or the liminoid state of the nation expressed through the central characters of the book of Gora. The fourth section considers the final stage of the rite of passage that culminates in the ritual of marriage (vivāha). The final passage is marked through the ritual of rite of passage, marriage in this case. Section five discusses the emergence of protagonists, Gora and Binoy along with their counterparts epitomizing the emergence of new India through their new identities. The protagonist Gora loses his identity to discover his true self to enter into the final relationship with Sucharita free of all his previous bonds. Binoy had already consummated his marriage with Lalita through mixed marriage rites that departed from both Hindu and Brahmo marriage customs. All in all the protagonists’ passage into the next stage of life through self-​discovery and fostering new identity depicts the nation’s struggles to enter a new phase of independence. The conclusion draws together analytical conclusions from these three sections purporting together the symbolism of religion in the emergence of the new nation in Gora.

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Utilizing the ritual theories of Arnold van Gennep (1909) and Victor Turner (1969), an important part of religious studies, this chapter will demonstrate that Gora embodies appropriate and symbolic description of the spirit of pre-​independent India lacking clear identity and waiting for its rite of passage, into setting up a new house, freed from British rule. Ritual theory, sociopolitical thought, and spiritual symbolism are examined to understand the colonial constructions of identity and polity. Taking the ritual of marriage, vivāha, as a rite of passage into a next significant stage3 (āśrama) of life, Tagore makes this next stage of life, grihastha, a metaphor for the rise of India into the next stage as an independent nation. The story of Gora utilizes the self-​discovery and independence of the protagonists to mimic that of the state of India. Symbolizing Brahmo Samaj as modern colonial India, Orthodox Hinduism as traditional India, Gora depicts the colonized mind, travails of young Indians on the path of self-​discovery, and their yearning for independence. Their physical and intellectual struggles represent India’s struggle for independence from both a modern imperial regime and traditional orthodoxy. Colonization of the mind4 is considered as dangerous as colonizing the land if not more perilous. It is colonization of the mind that the author emphasizes in the book rather than the political struggle. Previously Gora has been examined variously as a purely romantic tale (Pandit 2003: 141) and as a clash of Irish and Indian identities juxtaposed with Kipling’s Kim (Nandy 1994: 43–​6), perhaps based on the secret of Gora’s Irish identity. Gora is also compared to Jane Austen’s novels (Mansfield Park; Pride and Prejudice) in addition to Rudyard Kipling’s Kim (Hogan 2003: 175–​98) alleging that Tagore had borrowed (184–​5) without offering sufficient evidence.5 Perhaps, this misunderstanding might have been the result of using an abridged translation6 of Gora that was widely available, which failed to convey the essence of Tagore’s conceptualization of Gora. Gora is also seen as a counter to Kim (Spivak 1993:  143), and it is commonly assumed that the character of Gora is modeled after the central character Kim (Mehta 2003: 210–​11). The true meaning of the text of Gora is not confronted in such comparative literary studies that focus excessively on comparative studies with the Western novels. Although some scholars have assumed that the character of Gora had been drawn from particular Indian revolutionaries, nothing could be farther from the truth (Nandy 1994: 51–​68; Pandit 1995: 213). Certainly, Tagore’s real-​life experiences would find expression through aspects of his characters, but to assume that a character is based entirely on some living person does not fit the personality of Gora we see in the novel Gora. The unique personality and humanistic free spirit of Gora is shaped by the imagination of Tagore. Gora and the characters that surround him depict the aspirations of new India and are expressed in the ideals of Bharatavarsha (new India) throughout the text. Gora is a symbolic expression of the agony of India and benefits from being read in the manner of the earlier epics of India as an expression of life in transition. Hence it has much to offer as a way of religion for understanding India. Tagore’s ideals and views represented in the book are highly futuristic and at times appear prophetic. It was impressive that independent India embraced the ideals represented in the book Gora, which incorporated national outlook that negates race, religion, and language in favor of pluralism; as a child of independent India, who grew up enjoying fruits of such outlook, it is easy for me to appreciate Tagore’s argument

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in this book. It is an amazing portrayal of India to come, almost half a century later, which would encourage it’s energetic youth to move forward without the constraints of narrow identities. As Tagore has portrayed in Gora, an independent India in which all persons—​immigrant identities such as Irish, Portuguese, and French as well as closer neighbors such as Iran, Sri Lanka, Tibet, and Nepal, along with the multiple layers of India’s historical, social, religious, linguistic, and regional identities—​may merge to form a new ideal, the vision of a future India which Tagore expressed in Gora, is prophetic.

2.  Nation in the rite of passage: symbols of separation and displacement in Gora It is theorized that any rite of passage (rite of transition) is marked by three stages:  separation, limen or margin, and aggregation (Gennep 1909). The first stage comprises symbolic behavior signifying the separation or detachment of the individual or group, either from an earlier fixed point in the social structure or from a relatively stable set of cultural conditions (a cultural “state”); during the intervening liminal phase, the state of the ritual subject (the “passenger” or “liminar”) becomes ambiguous, as the subject passes through a realm or dimension that has few or none of the attributes of the past or future state, the subject is “betwixt and between” all familiar lines of classification; in the third phase the passage is consummated, and the subject returns to classified secular or mundane social life (Turner 1969; Gill 1996: 385). Liminality cannot be confined to the procedural form of the traditional rites of passage, but applies to all phases of decisive cultural change, in which previous orderings of thought and behavior are subject to revision and criticism, when hitherto unprecedented modes of ordering relations between ideas and people become possible and desirable (Gill 1996: 385). The three stages of rites of passage are clearly depicted in Gora. In Gora ample space is dedicated to the depiction of separation of subjects not only from their traditions, but also from their families and roots of origins. The male and female protagonists are symbols of the nation of India, which is separated from its original traditions. Not only the anxiety of the protagonists mimics that of the nation, and its lack of direction, but descriptions sprinkled across the text also mark that this is in fact symptomatic of the state of the nation at that time.

Caged bird and other passages of separation in Gora The book Gora opens with Binoy listening to a baul’s song7 epitomizing imprisoned mind through the image of a caged, restless bird, which finally found its way out. Tagore praises the bird for finding its freedom and expresses that the “chains of his mind” could be offered at its feet as an obeisance. The “mind in shackles” is the central idea of Tagore’s ([1907–​1909] 1941: 1; Mukherjee [1997] 2001:1)8 song here, with the hope that one day the chains could be removed.

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The unknown bird flies in & out of the cage; if I could catch it, I would place the chains of my mind on its feet.

This song aptly represents the “mind in shackles” as a metaphor for the state of mind of the protagonists of the novel. The caged bird, separated from its kin, “flies into the cage,” unknowingly, but it also successfully escapes. In embedding this image right at the beginning of the novel, Tagore indicates the deep message of his book. This enshrines the central ideals of what follows in the text. Decolonization (self-​ discovery) of the mind as a precondition to independence (freedom) and home-​rule (new India) is depicted through the lives of Gora and Binoy. Self-​discovery of Gora, subsequently leading to freedom and setting up house, are symptomatic of the three stages of passage of India. The colonized state, India, is imagined as a ship in the dock (21), with no progression and no self-​determination, suspended in a state of limbo. This appropriately represents the liminoid state, the essential second stage of ritual process. As the story revolves around the central characters, Gora and his friend Binoy along with their female counterparts, Sucharita and Lalita, their self-​discovery, sentiments of new nation, yearning for self-​determination, and the vision of a new India are revealed gradually. It is apt that the book of Gora begins with a baul’s song that depicts the inner struggles of Gora, and represents the struggles of this young India, ready to escape into the challenge of new configuration. “Caged bird” metaphorically represents the mind of India’s young population separated from its roots and traditions.9 The most important task at hand according to Gora is expressed in unambiguous terms as freeing the mind, the caged bird. Gora said, “Our only work at present is to express unreserved and unhesitating respect for everything that belongs to our country, and thereby infuse such respect within those countrymen who do not value what is their own. By continuously feeling ashamed of our country we have allowed the ‘prison of servility to weaken our minds’ ” (22). Gora theorizes that embracing everything native to India prior to British rule will open the door of the colonizing cage and allow a permanent escape. According to Gora, “In our present state, whatever we want to do becomes an imitation of what our school books tell us others have done.” Colonizing the mind is complete through the education system,10 which Tagore points out as the root cause of the degeneration of India. Tagore would have a nation defined not by narrow identities of race, religion, or land, but by purity of ideas and spirit.11 Tagore’s (1985: 2–​3) views on nation and patriotism are shaped by his understanding of history, which unlike standard textbook history is “the history of continual social adjustment and not that of organized power for defense and aggression.”12 Textbook depictions of India tend to represent separation and displacement. Hence, everything related to colonial India as well as ancient India must be destroyed in order for new India (Bharatavarsha) to emerge. Colonial structure only indicates liminal phase, a precondition of rite of passage, which is established through erasing all marks of current structure (Turner 1969: 94–​106).

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Liminal entities Tagore (7–​8) provides ample descriptions of Gora’s physical appearance, which leave no ambiguity about the displaced colonial subjects that the book of Gora depicts: The president’s name is Gourmohan; his friends and relations called him Gora. He had an unreasonable way, outstripped all others around him. The Sanskrit teacher of his college used to call him Rajatgiri (Silver Mountain) because his complexion was aggressively fair, without any tinge of yellow to soften it. He was nearly six feet tall, broad-​boned, and his hands were large like the paws of a tiger. His voice was deep and rough enough to startle if heard suddenly. The structure of his face was unduly large and firm, the bones of jaw and chin looking like the strong bolts of a fortress door. There was hardly any eyebrow above his eyes and his forehead widened towards the ears. His lips are thin and tightly set with his nose overhanging them like a khadga (small sharp curved-​tipped dagger). His eyes were small but keen, their gaze aimed like the point of an arrow at something distant and unseen but just as capable of returning in a flash to strike some near object. Gour was by no means good looking, but it was impossible not to notice him. He would be conspicuous in any company.

Gora represents dual displacement, displacement from his own parents and homeland, as well as displacement of living under assumed identity; his identity therefore represents all colonial and displaced subjects of the empire, regardless of their location. Goura (Gouda) is another name for Bengal and as representative of the new and evolving Bengal, his name (Goura Mohan) aptly represents what was to come in India in the form of nationhood. His common name Gora, a short form for Goura, epitomizes Goura/​Gouda, which is an apt epithet for representing the young and disenfranchised people of India—​a deliberate choice of Tagore. Gora is the representation of those millions of people of India, who were colonized and robbed of their original identity. Gora was a child of unknown parentage, the only information known about his parents is that they were Irish, though this was not revealed to him immediately. He was raised as a Hindu by his Indian parents. His father Krishnadayal performed upanayana (thread ceremony)13 for Gora (30), which provided him entry into Hinduism, but Krishnadayal refused to grant him full-​fledged entry into the Hindu fold, frequently urging him to choose as a religious path anything other than Hinduism. His personhood is akin to the evolving India, which was ready to be consecrated as an independent nation, but was being refused the rite of passage, for attaining the full-​status, by the parent, represented in this case by the British Empire. Binoy is Gora’s dearest friend. His full name is Binoybhushan Chattopadhyay (3). “Binoy, . . . was soft spoken but bright like most educated, ordinary Bengalis who belonged to the bhadralok (high middle class). The qualities of a refined nature and alert intelligence mingled with his soft-​natured personality to give his pleasant face a distinctive appearance. He had always obtained high marks in college and won scholarships.” Even though Binoy appears to have been mild mannered, almost all the events of the book of Gora are initiated through Binoy’s intervention.

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Binoy first meets Gora’s female counterpart, Sucharita, who was accompanying her father to a philosophical discussion of Brahmo Samaj, quite by accident (2–​3). The father and daughter pair impressed him so much on that first meeting that he began visiting their home regularly. Binoy is even critical of his own state of mind after that first meeting, being unable to take his thoughts off of her (20). Sucharita is a complementary female character juxtaposed with Gora. She is contemplative yet independent. Sucharita is the personification of the young mother India, at once subjected to the onslaught of change and unforeseen upheavals, but stoical at the same time and not prone to hasty decisions. Sucharita was only seven years old when her mother died soon after giving birth to her brother Satish. Her father Ramsaran Haldar lived in Dhaka and worked at a post-​office. It is here that Sucharita’s father met Poresh Babu and became good friends with him. Ramsaran died suddenly creating a will of equal right to his property to his daughter and son, and nominating Poresh Babu as trustee. It is as a consequence of this that they came to live in Poresh Babu’s household. However, her transition to Poresh Babu’s household was not smooth. Baradasundari is Poresh Babu’s wife. She is the representative of modernity in the book. She was no longer young but one could see she had dressed with special care. Till well after she grew up she had lived simply like a country girl, but now she was trying hard to catch up with modern times. That must be the reason why her silk sari rustled excessively and her high-​heeled shoes made such a clatter. She was very particular in distinguishing things that were Brahmo and things that were not. (43–4)

Baradasundari was not very happy about Sucharita receiving fond regard or other attention from members of her household or visitors (90–​1). However, for some unknown reason she received affection and respect from others, especially Baradasundari’s three daughters:  Labanya, Lalita, and Leela. Her middle daughter Lalita clung to Sucharita day and night. However, Baradasundari resented the fact that Sucharita was educated along with her daughters and surpassed everyone in education, and hence impediments came in the way of her obtaining education. Poresh Babu discontinued Sucharita’s schoolgoing and took it upon himself to educate her (91). Sucharita’s final journey of self-​discovery begins when her aunt appeared one day (230–​64). Events follow in quick succession that lead Sucharita to move out of Poresh Babu’s household into her own house with her brother Satish and aunt (mashi) Harimohini. Sucharita is pitted against three potential grooms during her journey of self-​discovery, Haran Babu (a Brahmo and school teacher), Kailash (brother-​in-​law of Harimohini and a widower), and finally Gora, whom she ends up marrying. Haran Babu, Harachandra Nag, is a staunch Brahmo, also known commonly as Panu Babu. He considered himself a close friend of the family of the female protagonists, Sucharita and Lalita. He also considered himself a mentor to Sucharita and Lalita, which the girls found quite amusing and ridiculous, while he also hoped to marry Sucharita one day.

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Haran Babu had a hand in every activity of the Samaj—​as night-​school teacher, newsletter editor, secretary of the girl’s school—​he was quite tireless (91). Haran Babu showed special interest in Sucharita so that everyone thought he would marry her one day (90). However, just as no one thought it necessary to consult Sucharita about the wedding, she herself had not thought about it either, assuming it silently (95). With this view in his mind, and with a view to consider her as his companion for Brahmo Samaj, he began testing her and his visits to Poresh Babu’s household became frequent. Haran Babu was always ready to pass judgment on others because he believed that his own adherence to dharma had given such clarity to his vision that he would easily discern what was good and not good, true and not true, in others. Ordinary materialistic people were also given to criticizing and condemning others. But the criticism of those who did such fault-​finding on religious grounds mingled with spiritual pride caused much consternation in society. Sucharita could not stand this. (93–​4)

Haran was the exact opposite of what Gora represented. Gora did not condemn or judge the fault of poor uneducated people, but embraced them with his whole heart, hoping to bring change one day. Haran Babu did not approve of Poresh Babu reading the Bhāgavad Gitā and also the Mahābhārata of Kali Singha with Sucharita. It was unbearable for Sucharita that somehow Haran Babu found Poresh Babu as deficient because of this. Sucharita could not tolerate the arrogance with which somebody could find fault, openly or covertly, with Poresh Babu’s conduct. And because such arrogance became apparent to Sucharita, Haran Babu fell considerably in her view. Although Sucharita did think of marrying Haran initially (90), she gradually changed her mind. Despite posing himself a liberal Brahmo, Haran Babu was quite conservative in his views. He was present at Poresh Babu’s household when Gora called on them the first time; Binoy was already present at their household at this time. After Binoy and Gora left, Haran Babu was quick to express his displeasure to Poresh Babu at the girls being introduced to other men (56). Panu Babu also put forth a marriage proposal to Sucharita at the insistence of Baradasundari (97–​8) although she was only 14 years of age at that time. This surprised Poresh Babu, since Panu Babu had previously advocated 18 as the marriageable age for girls (98), and Poresh Babu insisted on waiting until Sucharita turned 18 to which Haran agreed. Panu Babu is the personification of a liminal entity, who is utterly unaware of the self, and completely surrendered to the imperial symbols of power, the symbol of the present-​day colonial India, unlike Gora, who is a symbol of future India. Two rites of passage in Gora accomplish the theme of structure-​and-​antistructure as a precondition for an emerging new stage of life (new India). The first is the marriage of Binoy and Lalita, the second is the purification rites held for Gora upon his return from prison. While Binoy’s wedding was held successfully, the purification rite was riddled with problems right from its conception and was foiled in the end, only to lead to the revelation of Gora’s true identity resulting in his marriage to Sucharita, which allowed him to find new freedom and new life in the end. Ultimately it was Binoy who

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showed the path of self-​discovery and self-​rule (independence) to Gora again, that of breaking old tradition and forging ahead on a new path. While Gora had thought the path to self-​ discovery would be returning to traditional roots, he soon discovered issues with traditional orthodoxy. It was Binoy who ultimately broke the path that was neither traditional India nor modern India through his marriage to Lalita, and setting up a home with her. Ideally, for a country to have self-​rule, it appears that its subjects must be freed from previous bonds, including their own past traditions and lives. Another important characteristic of the rite of passage is the liminoid’s lack of clarity about the future, represented in the imaginary conception of Bharatavarsha as the future India.

Images of new India (Bharatavarsha) Even without knowing exactly what this new India looked like, Gora knew in his heart that it was not the modern India that British administrators had built in some pockets of India. He also knew that it was not the ancient India that was described in the textbooks or the present represented by Hindu orthodoxy or Brahmo Samaj or Christian missionaries. This is exactly where the symbols of the “rite of passage” come in to play. Tagore expresses the loss and recovery of self mainly through the characterization of Gora. As expressed in the words of Binoy, “Gora is India’s self-​ knowledge incarnate” (75). Although the progressive nature of rite of passage is clear, its final outcome depends on the individuals and cannot be understood until one has entered the subsequent stage following the rituals of passage. A subsequent stage of India, Bharatavarsha, the new India, is described in rare dialogical form in Tagore’s Gora (21–​2). The Bharat of Gora’s imagination has not yet been established and could not be visualized by anyone, but images of Bharatavarsha are revealed in the discussions of the protagonists Gora and Binoy (21). Gora explains that Bharatavarsha is always present in his thinking as the invisible port that a ship’s captain keeps in mind while navigating on the high seas, “When the captain of a ship is out on the high seas, weather he is working or resting, eating or relaxing, he always keeps in mind the port across the sea. Bharat is always present in my mind in the same way” (ibid.). When Binoy prodded him on where exactly this Bharatavarsha of his imagination was, Gora placed a hand on his heart and said, “Where the compass I  have here points day and night, there I  have it—​not in your Marshman’s History of India” (ibid.).14 Binoy continued with the question, “Does something really exist at the place to which your compass points?” to which Gora replied excitedly, “of course there is. I can lose my way, I may drown, but that port of abundance is always there. That is my fully formed Bharat-​full in wealth, full in knowledge, and full in dharma. Do you think that Bharat is nowhere? That only falsehood is around us everywhere? This Kolkata of yours, these offices, these law courts, and these few bubbles of brick and wood!”

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The discussion between Gora and Binoy makes it clear that although the view of future India is not clear, the protagonists are ready to venture forward to build a new India that is different from what they have seen or experienced up to that point in life—​exactly the condition of liminal beings noted in ritual process (Turner 1969; Gennep 1909). Turner (1969: 96) uses the term “communitas” to distinguish the modality of social relationship of liminal beings. In the liminal state all distinctions vanish. This is also noted in Gora as Binoy explains of Gora’s views of Bharatavarsha to Sucharita, “Gora is able to accept everything of the Hindu community without reservation because he is viewing Bharatavarsha from some grand elevation. To him the small and the large have merged as in some great song and appear to him as parts of a whole. Not all of us are capable of such a comprehensive vision  (41). Another quality of communitas is comradery and solidarity (Turner 1969: 96). These qualities are indicated in Gora’s jealous protectionism toward the common man as he said to Haran, “I am on the side of those whom you call illiterate—​my customs are those which you regard as superstition. So long as you cannot love your country, so long as you cannot stand beside your own people, I am not prepared to tolerate a single word of criticism of the country uttered by you” (61). The liminoid stage entails ritual tensions between the ones undergoing the rite and the one performing (bestowing) the rite. This aspect of the liminal stage is also clearly depicted in the relations between Gora and his father Krishnadayal, metaphorically representing the relations between India and Britain.

Brittanica versus Indica: empire and emergence of a new nation Gora gives expression to the thought of colonial subjects that all assumed identities were false. Gora portrays the new start as an escape from all the existing traditions so that one might not be crushed under the heavy weight of any cultural baggage. And what if that beginning is based on heartfelt instincts rather than on any rules and regulations borrowed from an earlier order?Any order of Hinduism, even the new order of Hinduism such as Brahmo Samaj, established in the early nineteenth century, did not escape Tagore’s criticism. The patronizing attitude of the empire and the rebellious child of the nation are represented by Krishnadayal Babu, the father, and Gora, the child. Krishnadayal Babu is representative of the absentee lord, the British Empire, which imprisoned the minds

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of young India through education and immersion in British culture rather than Indian culture, yet denying them full status as British citizens. British rule had trapped its colonial subjects in a limbo indefinitely with no end in sight. Colonizing the mind had been perpetrated by the British through English education, a molding of people who did not know their own roots or culture and considered themselves English in every way other than appearance, even though they were not awarded independence. Similarly, while growing up in Krishnadayal’s household Gora was steeped in Hindu culture and refused the opportunity to be in charge of his own destiny. Krishnadayal neither allows Gora to become a full-​fledged member of the family nor disowns him so that Gora can go his own way. So we see Gora in a situational limbo similar to the nation of India, denied becoming a full-​fledged British state (electing representatives to the British Parliament) and not allowed to go its own way by becoming an independent nation. Images of India and Britain are tied together in an unequal relationship. Gora says that “Bharatavarsha cannot always be dragged by the British on a chain tied to their ship of commerce” (102). The patronizing attitude of the British Empire and its rule imposed through force are criticized in the words of Gora. These are in fact the views of colonized India. Although agreeing that reform is necessary, Gora says, “There are good reasons for it. One can tolerate being corrected by one’s parents, but to be corrected by policemen causes insult rather than improvement.” This repeats the metaphor of the imprisoned bird, and stresses the role of imperial rule being akin to police state even though it is projected as democratic. “Tolerating such correction means violating those qualities which make one human. Before wanting to reform us, be our kinsman first—​ otherwise even good counsel from you will harm us.” Gora stresses here how alien rule could be harmful, even though it may seem beneficial at first (62). It is also expressed in Binoy’s words that Britain treated India like a child who has not passed through the rite of passage to attain adulthood: “There was a time when I was convinced that there was no hope left for our country or our society that we would always be regarded as minors and the British would always remain our guardians” (132–​3). Separation, an essential aspect of rite of passage, is clear in the caged bird, the protagonists Gora and Binoy, and the image of India depicted as a ship docked in the yard. I will examine below the next stage, the transitions marking the journey of the heroes epitomizing the journey of the nation.

3.  Liminoid nation: journey of the protagonists India in transition: nation and nationhood in Gora Depicting Gora as Irish, not British, is deliberate—​the Irish people were treated as another subject of the British Empire and are symbolic of all the other peoples similarly crushed under the weight of colonialism. The Irish were also struggling against the British Empire for nationhood as India was during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The personality of Gora is shaped in India and is representative of

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India; he doesn’t subscribe to the fierceness of Irish nationalism.15 Gora is passionately protective of his understanding of the ideals of India represented by the social, religious, and linguistic ethos of the budding nation of India during the late nineteenth century. Tagore’s choice to depict Gora as Irish might derive from the fact that the Irish nationalist movement was underway at the same time as India’s, and the solidarity between Irish and Indian nationalists was a well-​known feature of the British Empire between the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries.16 Through his representation of Gora as Irish born, Tagore was seeking to avoid the confusion of lumping his identity with the British Empire, while simultaneously representing subject peoples similarly displaced as Indians. Gora is a person of a faraway land, but nonetheless a sufferer of the same fate as Indians. Therefore, his antagonistic attitude toward the British Empire remains valid as he moves away from home and forges his own way forward setting up a new house as a new Indian. It would not have been possible if Gora’s nationality had been depicted as British, in which case he would have to leave for Britain as a dejected man. Gora’s nature remains intact regardless of whatever identity he finally chose to assume. This provides a unitary identity to Gora as the subject of the British Empire, but not entirely British and also helps with the central plot of the book. Gora is about the path to self-​discovery leading to independence, but not about self-​subsumed identities. At last there emerges a progressive nation in continuity with the traditional India prior to occupation. Binoy represents this adjustment through minor changes and alterations for emerging new identities, and thus new India. Even though Tagore belonged to Brahmo Samaj, even becoming the secretary of Adi Brahmo Samaj at one time (1884), he was equally critical of Brahmos in Gora as he was critical of all faith traditions including Hindus, Christians, and others. The ideas of any religion guiding the spirit of new India seemed unsuitable and are expressed as such in the book Gora. As depicted in Gora the only way to progress was to shatter all the old thought and enter a new world guided by nothing, but by the youth’s own free mind freed from the shackles of colonialism. Gora’s passage is the passage of all the people of India. Gora identified himself with all the people of India, even the poorest and destitute, not merely his own community which has implications for the rite of passage expressed through his characterizations. The identity of Gora as the masses of India is clearly noted in his visit to Triveni. It is said that Gora wanted to visit Triveni Sangam and take a bath after the eclipse, which depicts the unity of Gora with the population of India. Gora wanted to become one with this crowd of common people, thereby submitting himself to one of the great movements in the land and longing to feel within his own heart the upsurge that moved the heart of the country. Wherever he found an opportunity, he wanted to forcibly push aside all hesitation, all prejudice, and in order to stand on the same level as the common man of the country, say with all his heart, “I belong to you. You belong to me.” (34)

As noted in these remarks, the identity of Gora as symbolic of the soul of the people of India is clear. Hence his actions are representative of the spirit of the people of India trapped in colonialism, and as described in the book they show Gora’s identity

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as though he were part of the common fabric of the nation. “Every morning Gora performed one social duty. He visited the low caste neighborhood, not for giving them advice or doing them a good turn but simply for keeping it touch with them” (99). In fact Gora is ready to pick a fight with anyone that may insult a common man of his country. As Gora was traveling on a steamer to Triveni Sangam17 for his ritual bath after solar eclipse, he noticed an educated local gentleman siding with an Englishman in ridiculing the poor country folk precariously falling into the river due to the increased crowd flow. Gora stomped up to the upper deck and let those gentlemen know they should have been ashamed of their behavior ridiculing helpless people. This perturbed the Englishman who apologized to Gora (47–​8). Gora’s identity with the nation is so deep that he is not ready to accept reform from anyone who cannot accept or be part of whole of the nation or sympathize with it (74). He also indicates that reform has to wait until national unity and freedom are achieved. Gora’s sympathies for ordinary people leads him to create a cricket team with his followers and low caste youth. Nanda, a carpenter, became the captain of the cricket team due to his skill. However, Gora was aghast to see that when Nanda developed a fever, his mother consulted an exorcist rather than taking him to a doctor. She made sure that Gora did not know about it. Nanda died due to the ministrations of the exorcist rather than from his sickness. Moved, Gora understood that this is not a malady of the few, but an affliction that, if left unchecked, can bring down the whole society, another image of the mind in shackles, a metaphor for a nation in a rite of passage. “This whole caste has sold itself to false beliefs. There is no end to their dreads—​gods, evil spirits, sneezing, Thursdays, unholy conjunction of three lunar days—​how will they learn to face the world’s truth in a manly way! And because we have read a few pages about science, you and I think we are not in the same state as them” (101). Remarking to Binoy, Gora says that the backwardness of the general society affects all, regardless of their amount of education, but it is incumbent on enlightened members of the society to sympathize and work in coordination with the common population rather than separate themselves from it. Tagore clearly indicates through Gora that freeing the mind of the people of India, whether it is from colonial learning or from superstitions of bygone era, is a precondition to achieving self-​rule. This indicates the understanding expressed by Gora that a mind in shakles is not capable of making independent decisions. Let me tell you that a handful of persons faced on all sides by the ambience of lowliness cannot protect themselves by mere book-​learning. So long as these common people do not accept the supremacy of rules by which the world is regulated, so long as they remain bound by their false beliefs, they will continue to influence even our educated persons. (101)

This cleared the pathway for future work and conceptualization of India for Gora. Gora resolved that any change must come from within India, its own society rather than outside. “Whatever hurts my country and no matter how strong that is, there is a remedy for it. And the conviction that the remedy is entirely in our hands enables me to bear all the misery and distress and humiliation that surrounds us” (101).

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Though the British administration had not been without some positive effects for India, Gora’s reactionary patriotism during this liminal stage is so completely loyal to India that it vows to return India to its traditional past, ridding it of all the symbols of imperialism. Even his mother, Anandamoyi, a symbol of the new India, open-​minded and accepting of all, is not spared from his scathing criticism for not adhering to the orthodox Hindu customs of twentieth-​century India. Without regard for his mother or his friend Binoy, Gora, as a traditional Hindu, does not accept food cooked by her while also forbidding his friend from partaking of food from her (14). Gora lived in Calcutta with his family as Krishnadayal returned there when he was 5 years old. It appears that Gora had always displayed a type of rebellious nature since his childhood (26) even to the extent of tormenting his teachers and organizing the singing of patriotic songs, such as “The dwelling place of 20 crore people” or “He who wants to live in humiliation and dependence.” Gora gradually grew up to be a young rebellious leader, increasing his sphere of influence with age, as he finished his studies. Even though his fame grew through the publications and the political group he organized, he was not taken seriously at home. Gora had flirted with the idea of converting to Brahmo Samaj influenced by Keshabchandra Sen’s eloquence. It was the time Krishnadayal turned totally inward and completely orthodox, so much so that even the appearance of Gora in his room seemed to agitate him. Krishnadayal separated his dwelling within the house hanging the sign sadhanasram (meditation room) and forbidding entry to others. This naturally caused a rift and agitated Gora so much that he considered leaving him, but stayed back upon the request of Anandamoyi. Gora took it upon himself to argue with most of the pandits (religious scholars and mentors) that came to visit Krishnadayal regularly. None of these gurus were learned or able to confront the arguments of Gora, except for one by the name of Harachandra Vidyabagisa, who was a Vedānta pandit. Vidyabagisa influenced Gora so much that his meeting proved life-​changing:  Gora immersed himself fully in the study of Vedānta (27). It so happened that a certain British missionary published an incendiary attack on Hindu Śāstras and tradition to which Gora wrote rebuttals, although he had been critical of the same things in the past. After publishing several exchanges between Gora and the missionary, the newspaper editor announced that he would cease to publish any additional letters on that subject. Hence, Gora decided to research and publish his own study of Hinduism18 with the stated goal of “We shall not allow our country to stand on the dock like an accused person and be judged in a foreign law-​court and according to alien laws” (27). With this strange turn of events Gora emerged orthodox Hindu from his rebellious self of earlier days. He began performing Gangāsnān (bathing in the Ganga river) every morning, and ceremonial worship in the evening. He even let his physical appearance change accordingly, began revering his elders by offering proṇām (salutation) including his brother Mohim whom he used to ridicule previously with such words as “cad” and “snob.” This change agitated Krishnadayal who urged Gora to return to his old ways by turning to anything other than Hinduism, such as Brahmo, Christianity, and so on. Krishnadayal’s conduct is similar to the way the British Empire reacted to India’s urge to emerge as a free and democratic nation. India was dissuaded from its overtures and

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told to discover its own path—​maybe like that of the other colonial states, ​such as Australia, but definitely not akin to British democracy, which was said to be beyond India’s comprehension and reach. Britain asserted repeatedly that India was not ready for self-​rule.19 This is noted in Krishnadayal’s refusal to allow Gora to be a full-​fledged Hindu, by marrying a Hindu bride and assuming the family identity. The British attitude toward India was that Indians could be British subjects, but it was unimaginable that they could fully become British citizens with full democratic rights. Similarly Gora could be a member of the family, but not fully integrated as a member. Krishnadayal said sternly to Gora, “But the path you have taken now—​ it doesn’t seem right to me. It’s not your path at all” (29). To which Gora replied, “I am a Hindu. If I can’t understand the deeper meaning of Hindu-​dharma today, I may do so tomorrow. And even if I never understand it, I have to follow this path” (29). Krishnadayal still tried to dissuade Gora saying, “No, my son, you can’t become a Hindu just by claiming to be one. You can easily become a Muslim; anybody can become a Christian. But becoming a Hindu? No. That’s very difficult” (29). Gora was still under the delusion that he was born Hindu, and Krishnadayal did not reveal the secret of his birth leaving it to karma (ibid.). Similarly, citizens of colonial India grew up considering themselves British, molded through the British education and administrative system, but the British Empire considered them to be only half-​ citizens, placing them in a limbo. The symbolism of colonizing mind and patronizing attitude of the colonizer is clear in this exchange between the father and son. Although conversion and reconversion into Hinduism was under full swing in India (Śuddhi movement of Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj, conversion through various Vedāntic schools like the one led by Vivekananda) at the time of writing this book, Tagore ignores it in favor of presenting the basic theme of the book: a young and restless India stuck in the present with no clear path. Gora is clear in his conviction that the mind has to be free before reform or change can be implemented, which is expressed in his words. Binoy explained Gora’s views on reform to Sucharita: Gora believes that deep regard is the best medicine for our country in its present condition. We are unable to know the country because of our lack of regard—​and because we do not know the country, whatever we plan for it causes harm rather than good. Unless we love the country we cannot have the patience to get to know it well; unless we know the country well, we cannot do good for it despite our best intentions. (74) Reform! That is a later issue. Much greater than the need for reform is the need for love, for respect. Reform will come from within us when we have united as a people. You and others like you would rather separate yourselves and break up the country. You say that the country is full of evil customs, so those who follow good customs must remain separate. Whereas I say that I shall not pose to be superior to anybody and remain separate from others—​that is my highest aspiration. Then, once we have untied as a people, the country can decide or the divine guide of the country can decide which custom will be retained and which discarded. (61)

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Binoy is unemphatic almost to the appearance of submission to the powerful personality of Gora. But indeed he may lead the charge, which Gora follows.

4.  The final passage: aggregation and Culmination of the new nation As noted in ritual theory liminal subjects often lack clarity on the future, and Gora mistakenly assumed that the future India would be a re-​creation of ancient India. In the end, it appeared that a new India (Bharatavarsha) would be separated from ancient India as well as from modern India. The male and female protagonists are the representatives of this Bharatavarsha, and are forward-​looking, lack family, and hence the baggage of familial identities. With regard to the roles played by women in the book, the three mothers represent the three stages of mother(land) India. Harimohini, aunt of Sucharita, is a symbol of the past, represented the traditional India; Baradasundari, mother of Lalita, is represented as the symbolic present—​the enchanted modern India; while Anandamoyi, mother of Gora, symbolizes the future, the new India. The fact that Anandamoyi represents Bharatavarsha is made clear emphatically in the words of Binoy, “Binoy concentrated on what he could recall of her face fully absorbed in her work, and said to himself: ‘May the radiance of affection of her face protect me always from all the failures of my mind. Let this face be the image of my motherland, let it direct me towards my duty, let it make me steadfast in performing it’ ” (19–​20). However, Gora could not discover this truth until he discovered his own self. Gurudev established the symbolism of Anandamoyi as Mother India, revealing the personification of new India in the epilogue of the book, in which it is expressed unequivocally in the words Gora uttered, “Ma, you are my only mother. The mother for whom I have looked everywhere—​all this time she was sitting in my house. You have no caste, you do not discriminate against people, you do not hate—​you are the image of benediction. You are my Bharatavarsha.” In a nutshell, Gora expressed in Anandamoyi what the new India could be—​a mother (land) for all with no barriers, certainly a nation where no social distinctions matter.

5.  Emergence of the new nation (Bharatavarsha): marriage as the final passage The road trip Gora takes is a metaphor for the evolving nation of India. Gora travels the Grand Trunk road of India with his friends with no money, and just a change of clothes (141–​4). His experiences with village India,20 which he visited on the way opened his eyes to the reality of India and the degenerate Hinduism that was propped up with nothing more than a few prohibitions and rituals that bound the common people into groups (171–​81). Due to his involvement in one of the villages (Char Goshpur), Gora was sentenced to one month’s rigorous imprisonment for having hindered the police

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in the discharge of their duties (188). As soon as Binoy heard of Gora’s imprisonment, he decided to walk out of the play that they were performing at the Magistrate’s house, and Lalita also followed (190–​3). Binoy and Lalita traveled on the steamer together to return (195–​7), and Binoy also realized the strength of their relationship. Lalita is the female counterpart of Binoy. She is the second daughter of Poresh Babu and Baradasundari. Lalita is very close to Sucharita, and did not show much interest in Binoy when they first met as she thought Sucharita might be interested in him; but as soon as she reckoned Sucharita was not so inclined she paid more attention to Binoy. Lalita was the first to notice that Binoy was overshadowed by Gora, which upset her greatly (117). Binoy accompanied Lalita and her sisters to the circus (119) upon her insistence and their relationship grows quickly following that. Lalita is keen to see Binoy come out of Gora’s shadow and show his individuality. “She herself did not know why she found it intolerable that Binoy was subservient to Gora. She had almost taken a vow to sever this bond, by whatever means possible, and set Binoy free” (145). Lalita starts a girls’ school in a room of Sucharita’s house with the help of Labanya and Sucharita (279). Though it had only five or six students, starting the school shows the independent nature of the young female characters, especially that of Lalita, motivator of the school. Binoy’s marriage arranged first with Sashimukhi and then with Lalita displays his journey from anonymity to individuality. Mohim decided that his daughter Sashimukhi should be married to Binoy. He convinced Gora (105, 126), his mother Anandamoyi, and also consulted Binoy (108, 124–​5). Ultimately that marriage did not take place (166–​9) and Mohim had to find another groom and make alternate arrangements for his daughter’s marriage. Binoy’s changing mind regarding his marriage to Sashimukhi and then Lalita illustrates a path from confusion to clarity and then individuality (194–​7): Binoy was so overshadowed by Gora that he agreed to marry Sashimukhi so as not to break his friendship with Gora. It was only after his relationship with Lalita became obvious that Binoy realized his strength, and became a harbinger of change, which he always was, leading Gora (146–​52). As he discovered himself in relationship to Lalita, Binoy no longer remained in Gora’s shadow. While Gora was on the road trip, Binoy agreed to participate in the play being staged by Lalita and her sisters. Their bond became stronger (153–​65) and he became a part of the family—​except for Sucharita, who stayed aloof. A number of events culminated in Binoy and Lalita’s decision to marry according to mixed marriage rites, but without the presence of iconic symbols of Hinduism such as the śāligrām. This brings about a temporary rift in Lalitha’s family and between the friends Gora and Binoy. The differences are patched quickly. Sucharita first met Gora when he visited them following his purificatory bath at Triveni Sangam on the occasion of the eclipse. He had the tilak mark intact on his forehead, which was noted by Sucharita as strange. She spent about four hours with Gora on that first meeting, and what struck her was his indifference to her (58–​9). That night she went to sleep late, but awoke at 2 a.m., after which she could not sleep, because her mind was filled with thoughts of Gora (61). She contemplated on Gora’s views on reform and uniting the people of India.

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Although Gora was attracted to Sucharita on their first meeting, it was their second meeting that contributed to the union of their souls (126–​35). Sucharita went through similar feelings taken over by the overpowering nature of Gora. This mutual feeling of attraction changed Gora considerably and he became contemplative and tried to dismiss thoughts of Sucharita (139–​42). It is then that Gora takes a walking tour on the Grand Trunk road. Binoy discovers himself during Gora’s absence and expresses to Gora’s mother, Anandamoyi, his annoyance at the prospect of marrying Sashimukhi (168–​9). When Gora got out of prison, his followers led by Abinash planned a large purification ceremony (326), which changed midway due to objections from Krishnadayal (457). However, while the ritual of purification was in progress Gora had to leave the ceremonies midway to rush home, since his father Krishnadayal got very sick. When Gora reached home, the secret of his birth was revealed to him, which to the surprise of Krishnadayal did not shock Gora, but relieved him. Gora then left his parents to go and meet Sucharita, which concludes the novel of Gora, and completes the rite of passage of the nation depicted in the character of Gora. Relieved of the pressures of the past (Hinduism) and the present (Brahmo-​imperialism), they both enter the new India (Bharatavarsha) stepping into the future. The new India attacks social orthodoxy in direct collision with reservation policy (the most generous affirmative policy ever put in place in the world) which is a direct result of an ambitious social agenda to see the end of inequality based on caste. This puts in place a privileged system of access with 50 percent reserved seats in education, jobs, and political representation.21 Nationhood of India as represented in Gora is not based on homogeneity and a renouncing of the past, but is based on embracing pluralism and the nation’s past and present.

6. Conclusion This chapter examines Gora as symbolic depiction of the nation of India in the midst of a rite of passage. Section one introduces the subject including previous scholarship of Gora. Section two examines symbols in the book Gora that depict the liminal stage of subject peoples as caged birds and the nation as a ship at the dock, both lacking direction. Section three depicts the journey of the heroes modeling the liminoid nation. It discusses the confusion, mistaken views, and the tension between the limen and authority as depicted in the book Gora. Section four depicts the final stage of the Rite of Passage: the aggregation, while section five denotes final emergence of the heroes setting up their own homes discovering self, beyond narrow identities, symbolically charting a broad, inclusive, and secular future for India. The path and journey of the protagonists metaphorically suggests the broad, liberal, democratic India that emerges following independence. Analyzing the novel Gora through religious and spiritual symbolism of Rite of Passage affords an opportunity to understand the nature of patriotism, nationality, and the new India presented in Tagore’s literature.

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America, the Superlative, and India, the Jewel in the Crown: Religious Ideologies, Transnationalism, and the End of the Raj Deborah A. Logan

America will soon be a Greater Britain.

—​English Character (ILM 1905)

1.  Introduction The long-​brewing Indian nationalist movement took a dramatic turn in 1885 with the inception of the Indian National Congress. Despite its ostensible purpose to serve as intermediary between British imperial bureaucracy and Indian citizens, the Congress soon shifted its orientation toward nationalist organizing. This shift was a logical response to widespread dissatisfaction among the intelligentsia—​most immediately, with British mishandling of a series of famines and plagues in India, and with intensified press censorship that criminalized criticism of government culpability for these tragedies.1 It had been only eight years since India’s notoriously unofficial position in the British Empire—​initially cast as a commercial interest managed by the East India Company—​was solidified into official colonial status, with Empress Victoria at the helm. As the following discussion of Indian visitors to and commentary about America demonstrates, Raj-​era iterations of Indian nationalism were marked by a gravitation toward New World idealism—​specifically, the United States—​and away from Old World sociopolitical models. If religious ideology was not always explicit in such commentary, it inevitably colored and shaped the perceptions of both observers and observed, East (Hindu, Muslim) and West (Judeo-​ Christian).2 Thus, the theme of religion overlaps strikingly with transnational sociocultural politics in the period ranging from late nineteenth century through mid-​twentieth century. I  say strikingly, because America is a country predicated on the separation of church and state: and yet—​ from its inception to the present day—​Judeo-​Christian values inform even the

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most apparently secular issues. The same is true of modern India, which sought to establish a unified nation, independent of Britain, beyond caste constraints, and secular in its political orientation; and yet even today, sociopolitical clashes between Hindus and Muslims continue unabated. To date, neither country has achieved a secular political system; the political environments of both America and India unapologetically lend themselves to religious rhetoric and the culture-​ specific social agendas it promotes. While the degree to which secularism prevails, in democracies East and West, depends on citizens who either promote or impede that agenda through the voting process, the secular political state remains an unrealized ideal. This discussion is shaped less by actual religious confrontations between East and West than by the subtle influence of religion on individual autonomy, on such concepts as patriotism and nationalism, and on transnational sociocultural relations. A  number of Indians traveled to the United States between the 1880s and 1940s, producing commentary that was critically acerbic, culturally revealing, and politically provocative vis-​à-​vis Indian nationalism and American exceptionalism. What did these travelers seek in America? How did visitors from one of the world’s oldest civilizations relate to the youngest? How did the world’s fledgling democracy inspire what would soon become its largest? What was the attraction in America for Indian travelers who were alternately impressed by its urban sophistication, appalled by its racism, amazed by its unexplored geographical expanses, and both charmed and repelled by its inhabitants? This discussion explores such questions through the lenses of American “ingenuity,” Indian “awakening,” and the political promise inspired by the independence and democracy of the former and the nationalist ambitions of the latter. These accounts—​taken primarily from The Indian Ladies’ Magazine3—​were especially valued as first-​person reports of the colonial society that had overturned the mighty British Empire: America’s example was compelling, alternately “superlative” and disappointing, a model of what and what not to be and do once independence is achieved.4 Links between the two countries are irresistible:  whereas America’s independence ended Britain’s first empire, India’s ended its second and last. The idea of America was investigated as a model for articulating Indian national identity—​ emphatically not in terms of Great Britain but of the “greater” Britain promised by New World democracy. Indian travelers “provided an ethnographic portrait of America for Indian audiences as well as . . . a more nuanced picture of Indian manners and morals to American audiences, thus negotiating the demeaning descriptions of India often paraded in Western travel accounts” (Arora 2009: 89). The result is a rich collection of hyperbole (not all Americans are godless capitalists, nor does everyone indulge in chewing gum or the fox-​trot), cultural misapprehensions, and attempts to establish meaningful cross-​cultural relations. This chapter is divided into three sections in addition to the introduction. The first two sections examine the views of Indian visitors to America, while the third draws together views on cultural and transnational experience of Indian travelers to America and analyses the transnational relations.

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2.  Early visitors and cross-​cultural interactions Anandabai Joshi (1865–​87) inaugurated a series of Indian assessments of America’s democratic “experiment” in the context of India’s incipient independence movement. Joshi’s radicalism as India’s first Western-​trained woman doctor was qualified by her signature womanliness as one who devoted her short life to “the liberation of Indian women from their state of backward bondage” (ILM “Dr. Anandabai” 1934: 315). At a time when “any forward action . . . [by] a woman was both ridiculed and spoken against,” she combined such masculine qualities as “grit” and “perseverance” with womanly “sweetness and patience”; although her lifespan was tragically brief, her remarkable example continues to inspire. The intellectually precocious Anandabai was a child-​bride who gave birth at 13 to an infant whose death “was due to want of proper medical help” (ILM “Dr. Anandabai” 1934:  316). This personal tragedy prompted her determination to study medicine, the inadequacy of women’s health care in India being exacerbated by the dearth of professionally trained Indian women practitioners. In 1883, at age 18, Anandabai sold her wedding jewelry and sailed to America, the first high-​caste woman to do so—​one neither baptized into the Christian religion nor chaperoned by a male relative, thus challenging gender stereotypes, East and West. Her mother predicted that she would “fall” into an “unchaste life”; but Joshi was determined to show “what we Indian ladies are like” (Dall 1888: 72). She rejected the threat of religious ostracization for traveling overseas, for undertaking medical study,5 and for the difficulty of maintaining Hindu dietary standards: “I have determined to live there exactly as I do here . . . I will go as a Hindu and come back . . . a Hindu . . . I will see America, the dream of my life, and I will stand or fall as I deserve” (76). Joshi’s eloquent nationalism was central to her American experiences; while grateful for English-​language instruction, she was ambivalent toward Christianity, prompted in part by her Indian Mission school teachers, who were “headstrong, and contemptuous” of other faiths (Dall 1888: 51). Her ambition to study at Philadelphia Women’s Medical College came to the attention of Mrs. B.  F. Carpenter, whose sponsorship was not predicated on conversion to Christianity. While Joshi’s “perfect dignity” withstood the “curious questions, or rude stares” (95) of Westerners, there were two issues that strained goodwill on both sides. When, in a public lecture in 1884, she defended the “advantages” of child-​marriage-​and-​motherhood, the audience was stunned by her endorsement of the very system by which she herself had been compromised and which her presence in America was designed to remedy. Her private admission that “her own indifferent health, and that of upper class women in general could be attributed to the practice of child marriage” (ILM “Mrs. B.F. Carpenter” 1905:  236–​7) was contrary to her public stand, an inconsistency Meera Kosambi (2003:  23) explains as “defensive nationalism.” But this avoids confronting a more significant point:  Joshi allows the weight of entrenched social custom to supersede scientific proof of the biological degeneration and largely preventable maternal and infant mortality resulting from premature marriage and motherhood. If it was indeed her aim to promote Indian nationalism to the Americans who were underwriting her

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medical education, no issue was more ill-​suited to the purpose than this, rendering the episode oddly provocative. The incident segues into a related point: strained relations involving Anandabai’s husband Gopal, whose subsequent visit was “a source of embarrassment . . . [that] added to his wife’s difficulties” (Dall 1888: 63). Gopal publicly denounced Christians, claiming they “manufactured all the vices, and exported them to countries where simplicity and innocence reigned” (159); he accused the sponsors of hiding meat in Anandabai’s food to compromise her religious beliefs. Insofar as Joshi endured Christian arrogance and zealotry, she was right to adapt a “defensive nationalist” stance; but her defense of child-marriage and -motherhood served to validate “demeaning” stereotypes, as did Gopal himself, whose behavior demonstrated “that it will take years of education and experience to counteract the effects, on the minds of Indian men, of the belief in their absolute superiority to women, in which they have been trained for so many generations” (Arora 2009: 63). In 1887, just beginning her work as India’s first woman doctor, Anandabai died of tuberculosis; interestingly, given her idiosyncratic nationalism, her ashes were conveyed to America and buried in New York State. A poignant example of a woman bound by cultural limitations and liberated by education, driven by determination and an enormous vision, Joshi saw that she would achieve the means (education) but not live long enough to realize the ends (medical practice). In her praise of Anandabai’s “nobility of character and high purposes of life,” Mrs. Carpenter observed:  “only a high-​caste Hindu woman herself can conceive what heroism was involved in Mrs. Joshi being the first woman of her caste to venture forth at all, and then to come alone” (ILM Carpenter 1905: 210). Anandabai Joshi’s kinswoman, Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati, was that very woman. Ramabai (1858–​1922) attended Joshi’s 1886 medical school graduation, resulting in a sojourn that facilitated her own distinctive contributions to Indian women’s history. Caroline Dall’s Life of Dr. Anandabai Joshee (1888), written on the occasion of Joshi’s death and subtitled “A Kinswoman of the Pundita Ramabai,” was intended “to aid the projects of her friend and cousin, the Pundita Ramabai Sarasvati” (iv); in turn, Ramabai’s High-​Caste Hindu Woman (1887) was dedicated in memoriam to Anandabai Joshee, MD. Joshi did not write a travel memoir about her American experiences, but Ramabai did—​ although it was not available to English-​ speaking audiences till over a century later. It was not (as claimed by scholars Robert Fryckenberg and Meera Kosambi) Tocqueville’s Democracy in America that prepared Ramabai for her American journey, but it was Harriet Martineau’s Society in America, which articulated the standard by which she measured American women’s progress in the half-​century between Martineau’s visit (1832–​4) and her own. Martineau claimed that spiritual growth can “arise only from within” and cannot be attained through servitude or submission to others; thus are women anywhere in the world “weak, ignorant and subservient, in as far as they exchange self-​reliance for reliance on anything out of themselves” (Martineau 1837:  295). These views resonated with Ramabai, a young mother for whom the cultural expectations of widowhood dictated that she choose between metaphorical sati, the living-​death of a punitive existence atoning for the “sin” of outliving her spouse, and a life of service driven by self-​directed spiritual agency.

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The Christian conversion of this revered Sanskrit scholar polarized both her admirers and detractors; but, whereas Joshi resisted Christianity’s perceived threat to Hindu cultural mores, Ramabai embraced its capacity to recuperate social outcasts like herself whose singular “crime” was, simply, widowhood. Ramabai’s purpose in America was to study kindergarten programs and women’s social reform and philanthropic institutions, with a view toward their applicability to Indian women and children. She predicted that India would find in its “superfluous” women (widows, orphans, outcasts) a significant resource for cultural transformation, rather than the chronic burden they were considered to be. Distinct from Joshi’s “defensive nationalism” and its complex relation to her Christian sponsorship, Ramabai’s Hindu-​Christian synthesis likely fueled her American reception. From the moment “the earnest little lady” appealed to “the Great Father of all the nations of the earth” during her Philadelphia speech, she endeared herself to the Americans (Kosambi 2000: 20). This point marks each of the examples in this discussion: religious affiliation (whether inherent or resulting from conversion) alternately facilitated and precluded opportunities for sociocultural exchanges between travelers and citizens. Ramabai stayed in America nearly three years, touring, studying, lecturing to missionary and philanthropic organizations, and fund-​ raising in support of her proposed home for Indian widows. Her book, The High-​Caste Hindu Woman (1887), written and published in America, resulted in the formation of the American Ramabai Association, established to fund widows’ homes. Aware of the drawbacks of Orientalism, Ramabai (1887) warned: “Let not my Western sisters be charmed by the books and poems they read. There are many hard and bitter facts which we [Indian women] have to accept and feel. All is not poetry with us. The prose we have to read in our own lives is very hard” (43). This was especially true of Hindu widows, a “hated and despised class of women” which, once educated, she anticipated are “by God’s grace to redeem India” (qtd in Adhav 1979: 26). High-​Caste offers “incisive feminist analysis of the upper-​caste woman’s seamless oppression through all stages of her life, a deconstruction of sacred Hindu books and their misogynist bias, and a constructive agenda for women’s education” (Kosambi 2003:  Introduction 22). The book posed a threat both to the British Raj and to conservative Hindu nationalists, its critique perceived by the latter as a betrayal of Indian sociocultural mores and to the former as a manifesto for Indian self-​empowerment, given the resulting Indian-​American alliance from which Britain was excluded. Distinct from her highly critical Anglican sponsors at Cheltenham, Ramabai’s American reception “elicited generous support,” fueling a “perception of America stepping in to compensate for Britain’s failure” (23).6 Whereas Britain views the Hindu woman as “one of a conquered race,” America “regards her as an equal and a comrade.” Ramabai (1977:  90) returned to Bombay (1889), where she established Sarada Sadan, a “sisterhood for helping the widows and helpless women”; there, she presented lectures about America to address “the prejudice some of our best educated men had toward my work” (185). These lectures comprised her third book, Peoples of the United States, begun in America, completed and published in India (1889), and written in Marathi for an Indian audience; it was not translated into English until 2003. Philip Engblom (2003: xix) writes that it aimed “to educate her compatriots at home about

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what was then still largely a blank space in their cognitive map of the world,” just as High-​Caste Hindu Woman aimed to educate Americans about India, which was in turn “largely a blank space in their cognitive map of the world” (emphasis added). Ramabai (2003:  196) contests assumptions that oppression is “natural” to subalterns of any category, an attitude “so deeply entrenched” that women “believe that their condition is as it should be . . . One cannot even begin to imagine how evil is slavery which destroys self-​respect and desire for freedom—​the two God-​given boons to humanity!”7 While she associates American women’s progress with Christian-​ based Enlightenment humanism, she also critiques Christianity as fragmented, contentious, and factionalized, its “prevailing form . . . [shifting] in conformity with popular opinion” (169–​70). Such shifts are best seen in the split between the doctrine of Christ—​“there is no difference between men and women . . . all are the children of God”—​and the prevailing form of Christianity, in which women are categorically regarded as inferior and subservient to men—​a dynamic true of all major world religions. America’s signature work-​ethic was a popular theme addressed by Indian travelers who perceived the advantages of egalitarianism over caste hierarchies. Ramabai (2003:  175) credits America’s attitude toward the “dignity of labor” for women’s sociopolitical progress, “achieved [not] through lounging on soft beds with feather cushions . . . [but] by facing unpleasant allegations, enduring endless hardships and making persistent efforts.” Women “perform any task . . . There is no work which is considered to be beneath one’s dignity, as long as it does not tarnish one’s honor” (99). She outlines women’s achievements in education, medicine, law, religion, and business, and praises their charity and social reform organizations, seen as a “collective effort . . . to promote their own welfare and that of their society” (190). These organizations include missionary, philanthropic, and educational societies; industrial, professional, and working-​women’s guilds; Young Women’s Christian Association; and Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).8 Ramabai’s American experiences resonate with the New England social reformism that defined Harriet Martineau’s transatlantic abolitionism. There are other compelling reasons to foreground the links between these two extraordinary women: one British and one Indian; one a Unitarian-​turned-​agnostic and one a Hindu-​turned-​Christian; one a passionate abolitionist and one whose passion was to redeem India’s female outcasts. Both women were intellectuals, public figures (writers, lecturers), despite being deaf; both were outspoken about British mismanagement of India; and both endured controversy for daring to express their views. Martineau saw in the New World a model for modernizing the Old; fifty years later, Ramabai viewed Western women’s social-​reform activism as a viable prototype for empowering Indian womanhood. Whereas Martineau assessed England’s loss of its first empire through the lens of American independence, Ramabai considered similarities between its first and second empires—​defined respectively by America and India—​vis-​à-​vis British imperialism and Indian nationalism. She viewed America as “more progressive” than Britain and therefore a “more suitable model for a colonized India to follow in its pursuit of freedom and advancement” (Kosambi 2003:  ix). Insofar as Peoples is her “most nationalistic text” (Kosambi 2003:  33)—​written during a time of intensifying press

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censorship in British India—​it is not surprising that it remained untranslated for over a century. In 1911, another traveler, the Maharani of Baroda, emphasized striking differences between East and West, earlier noted by Ramabai: first, “the position of woman . . . as represented by her share in the organizations for human welfare”; and second, “the cooperation which exists between men and women in public affairs [that] is practically unknown in India” (ILM, Position 1911:  135). She asks, how can one convey “such impressions” to untraveled and uneducated Indians who are unable to imagine or to contextualize them? Aside from women’s participation in “organizations for human welfare,” gender cooperation highlights what some perceived as crucial to nationalist solidarity and what others viewed as an explicit threat to that solidarity. Speaking to an audience of Indian women, American doctor Idafaye Levering asserted, “The American girl enjoys complete liberty . . . She moves freely with her brothers and their friends, commanding respect from all of them . . . and preserving intact her honour and self-​respect” (ILM 1907: 267). To the West, Eastern gender separatism indicated an unhealthy obsession with sex; to the East, Western gender egalitarianism offered proof of a similar obsession, a view expressed by Swami Vivekananda.

3.  Religious and political leaders: deepening relations Swami Vivekananda (1863–​1902) made history by attending Chicago’s 1893 World Conference of Religions, challenging the threat of excommunication (as had Joshi a decade earlier) by crossing the “dark water” to engage with Western culture. His comprehension of the significance of representing Hinduism on the world stage was insightful and timely, the long exclusivity of both the culture and religion giving rise to speculative inaccuracies. Vivekananda’s commentary is revealing, in terms of his views on Americans, Pandita Ramabai, and his devotee Sister Nivedita—​who was herself an influential voice in India. Master and disciple represent a cultural ideology that aimed not to emancipate Indian women or to reform their social status (as with Joshi and Ramabai) but to strengthen and reassert the traditionally conservative “web of Indian life.”9 Vivekananda’s pronouncements on American females are surprisingly definitive, prompting several questions: how much access had he to these women, for how long, and under what circumstances? He begins with a compliment—​“I should very much like our women to have your intellectuality”—​which he immediately qualifies: but not if it must be at the cost of purity . . . our women are not so learned but they are more pure . . . When I look about me and see what you call gallantry, my soul is filled with disgust. Not until you learn to ignore the question of sex and to meet on a ground of common humanity, will your women really develop; until then they are playthings . . . all this is the cause of divorce. (ILM 1933: 267)

If he had actually addressed Americans in this way, how did they respond? As Hinduism’s ambassador to the West, such verbal aggression does not encourage

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American economic support for Indian modernization. Indeed, such commentary would strike the Western mind as projecting concerns about Indian culture onto America, aggressively rejecting the latter’s egalitarian ideology while accepting its financial support for Indian social projects (by definition underpinned with religious ideology). Whereas the dichotomy posing education against sexual purity is false, the implication that child-​marriage and child-​motherhood and female illiteracy prevent “gallantry” and divorce once again fuels Western perceptions of the East’s fabled preoccupation with premature sexuality. As with Anandabai Joshi, this perspective was unlikely to find support in first-​wave feminist America. The association between Vivekananda and Nivedita dramatizes this perceptual divide along gender and cultural lines. Of her priorities, Nivedita (1972:  1:299) wrote: “I used to think that I wanted to work for the women of India . . . [but now] I want to do things only because they are my Father’s [Vivekananda] will.” Regarding Indian womanhood, Vivekananda’s will was ultraconservative:  next to celibacy, motherhood is the highest state, while marriage is “a great austerity” (1:216). Nivedita sentimentalizes these ideas: “In India the sanctity and sweetness of Indian family life have been raised to the rank of a great culture. Wifehood is a religion; motherhood, a dream of perfection; and the pride and protectiveness of men are developed to a very high degree” (qtd Everett 1979: 65–​6). Nivedita serves an ideologue committed to reifying Hindu tradition rather than facilitating the “awakening” of Indian women, with its implied threat of Western contamination. The dynamic in which Western women speak and act for Eastern women is here exacerbated by Indian men telling them what to say and do, ominously framed within the rhetoric of religious mysticism. From this perspective, Ramabai’s work on behalf of Indian women—​specifically aimed at emancipation from unexamined customs cloaked in religious rhetoric—​ constitutes a cultural betrayal; by airing publicly the degraded status of Indian widows in her American lectures, she “maligns India in America” (Nivedita 1972:  1:36). Vivekananda implies that Ramabai is dishonest in her dealings with Christian missionaries, warning Nivedita against cheating the Americans:  “don’t pretend it’s education and ABC that you want money for” when it is in fact “Indian spirituality” (1:219). Interestingly, Nivedita resolved that, by implementing her own plan to establish an industrial school in India, “Ramabai’s [projects] must not be destroyed” (1:350). What accounts for the perceptual disparities between Ramabai and Vivekananda? Indian women are the greatest victims, wrote Dr. Rukhmabai (1885: 10): “Yet when foreigners (i.e. non-​Hindus) are touched with pity at our hard lot, and try their utmost to relieve us from the tyranny under which we groan, why will our own people shut their eyes . . . indifferent and unconcerned? (emphasis in the original).” In Chicago, Vivekananda publicly contradicted Ramabai’s claims by denying the existence of “oppressive practices imposed on widows in India,” effectually casting her as a deceitful, manipulative liar; and yet, significantly, his “travels in the U.S.  to collect funds for his work were a counter to the appeals Ramabai had earlier made” (Chakravarti 1998: 333). He claimed that Indian widows do have property rights,10 they are not ill-​ treated, and their very widowhood—​far from punitive—​represents an enviable state of spiritual elevation characterized by “endurance, fortitude, selflessness and serenity” (335). As a Hindu-​Brahmin-​Christian widow, Ramabai fosters a “poor opinion” of

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India by articulating institutionalized social oppression and accepting money from “an alien faith which respectable high-​caste Hindus would be repelled by”; so phrased, her agenda certainly does seem duplicitous, mercenary, and predicated on deceit. But Vivekananda himself was not so repelled by Americans (or their religion) as to refuse their money, which he characterized as the “voluntary, free will offering from people of calm judgment, intellectually convinced of the importance of . . . [his] work” (Chakravarti 1998: 334). That Ramabai’s reputation survived such slander leaves unresolved the motivation of a man who promoted his own agenda by discrediting hers:  why was this influential spiritual leader threatened by an ostensibly powerless Brahmin widow whose aim was to reclaim India’s redundant women? While many found the devotee Sister Nivedita, in her Indian widow-​sari, alienating and eccentric, to Vivekananda she represented the ultimate conquest over the most corrupt example of womanhood: the Western. The antithesis was Ramabai, “unrespectable,” of “alien” faith, autonomous, adamant in her refusal to subscribe to any “tribe of priests,” East or West.11 It was not Ramabai who betrayed India’s heritage but who was herself betrayed “by the ‘narrow’ bias of a nationalism which itself was merely a construct of upper-​ caste men” (342). Insofar as Ramabai’s fund-​raising in America for projects in India was a matter of serendipity—​her timely campaign dovetailing with the post–​Civil War philanthropy movement and missionary groups’ eagerness to fund—​both she and Joshi effectually prepared the way for Vivekananda’s 1893 visit. The sheer novelty of Joshi’s pioneering aims facilitated their realization, while her tragic death fueled strong sympathy that was then channeled into Ramabai. In turn, Ramabai’s Christian conversion enabled her “to make feminist connections across the racial-​cultural divide” (Kosambi 2003: 5). In contrast, Parvati Athavale’s (b. 1870)  American experience in 1918 lacked such connections; a Hindu widow, sister-​in-​law of educator and social reformist Professor D.  K. Karve, and an affiliate of his Institute for Widows, Parvati hoped to replicate Ramabai’s success thirty years previous. But there was one significant difference: her fund-​raising among American Christians aimed to support Hindu—​not Christian or secular—​homes for Indian widows (Athavale 1930: 68). While the challenges Parvati faced may be attributed to the religious distinction, as well as to the timing (the end of World War I) of her journey, her example also marks a striking departure in its appeal on behalf of Hinduism. Lacking Christian or other sponsorship, Parvati funded her travels by working as a maid, thus experiencing a more authentic perspective on American culture than travelers who moved in rarified socioeconomic circles. Resonating with Vivekananda’s commentary on Ramabai, a Bengali man told Parvati that her low-​class behavior (as a service worker) made Indians “extremely ashamed” of her betrayal of “Brahmanahood” (Chakravarti 1998:  296n119). Being herself acquainted with the stark realities of Hindu widowhood, she responded by outlining the significance of Indian women’s self-​sufficiency, only to be told that “such emancipation can come about only through cooperation with men. Women should not attempt the ‘slavery of employment’ in order to free themselves from slavery to men”—​a most striking Freudian slip (364). While traveling through a country known for its advances in female education “filled me with joy,” Parvati found her progress vexed in certain ways; like Joshi, she was

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not interested in religious conversion as a condition for realizing her goals (Athavale 1930:  80). Assured by one employer that “unless you accept Christ neither you nor your country can be saved,” she was surprised when another nursed her during an illness, “as if I were one of her own people, [which] created in my mind a great respect for American women” (100). Distinct from the hopeless despair of Indian widows, American women do not “give in to despondency and become helpless . . . they face the situation, and take up duties as citizens of their country” (123). To her, this is the essence—​not the betrayal—​of womanhood in America, an inspirational model that resonated with Parvati’s own motivations. While in America, Parvati’s activism included speaking to women’s clubs and addressing a conference on working women in Washington DC. She separates the superficial (“outer fashions”) from the substantive Western influences—​“cleanliness, neatness, home-​teaching, dignity,” insisting it “is not that working in filth for its removal is degrading, but the being willing to live in it [that] is degrading” (136, 139). Rejecting pressure to convert to Christianity, she nonetheless appreciated its ideology and associated practical applications (social work and philanthropy); she both preserves traditional Hindu values and urges certain changes in customs and attitudes out of humanitarian concern for women’s well-​being. A less dramatic but more poignant example than her predecessors, the American experience of Parvati Athavale began with menial work and ended with speaking engagements on national platforms; in this she exhibits the potential of the American dream, predicated as it is on the “dignity of labor,” passion for a cause, and an unfettered imagination fueled by signature bravery. Some commentators about America were so negative as to find no redeeming qualities about the country at all. Muslim socialite Atiya Fyzee-​Rahamin (1877–​1967) presented herself as a frivolous, madcap character; economically privileged and well-​ educated, she stressed the significance of travel (an option available to few Indians) “to the development of a nationalist consciousness,” while expressing unrelenting ambivalence against Western culture (“America”). Her 1919 commentary on America conveys a defiant brand of elitist nationalism with great passion but little substance and no critical thought. Fyzee-​ Rahamin’s (1919:  10) strident views hardened into a collection of pronouncements unsupported either by data or experiential evidence; for instance, American women (in what part of the country? what economic class? what ethnicity? what race? of what education level and professional status?) are “more bounded [sic] by convention than any other people in the world.” From Niagara Falls to the Grand Canyon, there is no avoiding the incessant “chewing gum . . . jazz music . . . latest fox-​trot . . . There is no originality, no individuality. And then the Americans boast of freedom!” America (again, by definition the most heterogeneous nation in the world:  which part?) is “hidebound in conventions . . . Indian woman laughs at American freedom. Women there are far less free than their Indian sisters.” Echoing Gopal Joshi, she claims that “western civilization is destroying all that is beautiful in life . . . there is no real culture”; her own elite social position precludes comprehending that, for those preoccupied with securing life’s necessities, the arts are a luxury beyond their reach (true of ancient civilizations no less than those in their infancy). Her insistence that Indian women “are free to think for ourselves . . . [but] American women are slaves to

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convention” remains unsupported on either side of the equation. Where Ramabai and the Maharani of Baroda found inspiration in American women’s organizations and gender egalitarianism, Fyzee-​Rahamin sees domestic degradation: if American women stayed home where they belong, their society would not be in need of “fixing.” The gulf—​more accurately, the grand canyon—​separating the thoughtful assessments of some Indian visitors from Fyzee-​Rahamin’s ill-​spirited pronouncements and frivolous pique reveals her position to be as far removed from most Indian women as it is from most American women. Since she offers no comparative cultural analysis, the viability of her commentary must be gauged accordingly. Kirubai Appasamy wrote two articles published in The Indian Ladies’ Magazine based on his 1919 American experiences. “Women’s Clubs in America” contests Fyzee-​Rahamin’s view by contrasting American women’s commitment to social work with that of Indian women, the latter “always in a sleeping state . . . dormant . . . in a state of coma” (ILM, Appasamy 1929b: 409).12 Of the variety of American women’s organizations, Appasamy foregrounds the religious, observing that “the welfare and well-​being of any church depends upon how active its women are” in facilitating Sunday schools, community social events, missionary work, fund-​raising, and church suppers (410). In India, he notes dryly, there is “no danger of overtasking our women for church catering as long as we have the caste system,” attitudes toward inter-​dining being what they are. While some clubs aim at self-​improvement, civic clubs facilitate external improvements (roads, tenements, parks, utilities); the Red Cross addresses community health, and the SPCA and SPCC advocate for those unable to do so for themselves (animals, children). From the Daughters of the American Revolution to the YWCA, the “management is entirely in the hands of the women, a sort of Cranford” (413–​14).13 American women’s organizing “improves their mind and keeps them alert and alive . . . [and provides] a place where new things are all the time discussed.” Unacknowledged by Appasamy, the trend is indeed replicated in India: far from “dormant,” female activism had been evolving for decades, shifting from At-​ Homes and Purdah Parties, female philanthropy and women’s-​mission-​to-​women to the political activism of All India Women’s Conference and Women’s Division of the Indian National Congress. But the tone of Appasamy’s second article, “The Social Ape in America” (1929a) shifts from cultural analysis to a clichéd condemnation of Western materialism. From Eve onward, women have been dissatisfied with the life “God had assigned to them” (ILM, Appasamy  1929a:  523), and so they climb—​the Tree of Knowledge for the forbidden fruit to which all women aspire, and the Tree of Social Ambition to which all American women aspire. The “Social Ape” wants to be accepted into New York City’s social aristocracy, “a caste” wherein intermarriage and inter-​dining are forbidden and members uniformly vacation at Newport. America’s Gilded Age—​the “robber barons” of the fin de siècle, the Edwardian era, and the “Jazz Age,” whose monopolies made them fabulous fortunes and whose wives orchestrated New World society—​ was predicated on the idea of America’s privileged 1 percent edging out the “huddled masses” and “wretched refuse” continually washing up on its shores.14 The American South was a penal colony populated by “impecunious aristocrats” and “undesirables”; the “backward white classes” of Kentucky constitute the missing evolutionary link;

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and “Jews, opera singers, movie stars” are eager to “get rich quick in the ‘land of opportunity’ ” (524). In Appasamy’s view, the world’s most utopian society is populated by its most dystopian undesirables. What accounts for such striking animosity? This shift is perplexing: the article’s history is selective; its racism and sexism are strident; its contempt for “high society” and “new money” is as virulent as its dismissal of the “huddled masses” comprising the “melting pot” of America’s short-​lived history—​all of which jars awkwardly with the objectivity of the previous article. To a degree, Appasamy’s commentary is preferable to Fyzee-​Rahamin’s shallow rancor; but what motivates such criticism? One plausible provocation is the “Indophobic” Katherine Mayo, an American writer who channeled her “white-​Anglo-​ Saxon-​Protestant” bias into the notorious Mother India (1927) (Sinha 1994: 9). Mayo’s condemnation of Indian socio-​sexual mores generated deep ambivalence from India’s intelligentsia: and yet hers was a singular voice that continues nearly a century later to be fueled by undeserved attention. At best, she was one of many catalysts for nationalist mobilizing; at worst, her significance has been vastly overdetermined.15 The counterpoint offered to Mayo and the uproar generated by her book was poet-​nationalist Sarojini Naidu (1879–​1959), whose American tour aimed, unofficially, to contest international perceptions of and assumptions about India, and officially, to present the West with an alternative model of Indian womanhood based on her signature wit, rhetorical gifts, and cosmopolitanism. Naidu did not write a travel memoir, but she did write letters to Gandhi that were published in Young India, along with speeches and newspaper notices tracing her journey. Naidu (1996: 81) vowed to be a “good ambassador . . . to interpret the Soul of India to a young nation striving to create its own traditions . . . India has an imperishable gift to make to the new world.” In this, she navigated a precarious balance between ancient and modern, East and West—​a delicate balance, given that America was uniquely positioned between Britain’s first and second empires and the dissolution of both. Britain and America were allies; therefore, while it was unclear what role America might play in India’s independence, its sympathy and support were keenly sought by nationalists. Naidu arrived in America in 1928, the “Little Mother of Young India” poised to disprove Mayo’s claims by exemplifying Indian modernity and sophistication (85–​7). Naidu’s (1996) style in her letters is gushing and dramatic:  a name-​dropper, she pronounces London “dowdy” and Paris “tawdry” compared with New  York’s “rich elegance”; she praises America’s “new vitality,” its “beautifully groomed” women with their “questing air,” and pronounces Broadway “mad, crude, glittering, blinding in its tumult of colored lights, a veritable jazz of crazy illuminations” (209–​10). From a “glamorous fete” on the Ile de France with the cinema crowd to Bohemian receptions, and from poetry readings to the Pierpont Morgan Library, where she “fell down and worshipped” its manuscript holdings of British authors, Naidu surely impressed New World literati with her appreciation of its culture (224). But she also had work to do and, at the World Alliance for Peace, her militancy flared on behalf of “Enslaved India,” which “would continue to be a danger to world peace and make all talk of disarmament a mockery . . . [Until] India’s banner . . . [hangs] among other world symbols of liberty, there . . . would be no more peace in the world” (“Peace” 1929: 93). These were bold

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pronouncements indeed during the inter-​world war, pre-​independence era, made by a woman as capable of writing charming poetry as fueling international controversy. In the Midwest, Naidu (1996: 211) pronounced Chicago “splendid and spacious and full of culture,” despite the prevalence of the “disenfranchised children of America,” the emancipated blacks of the South’s “Great Migration” who lived in slums, uneducated, and impoverished. According to her accounts, from California to Detroit, from Canada to Washington DC, and from the Midwest to the South, audiences responded positively to the spectacle of self-​determination unfolding in India, to its spiritual leader Gandhi, and to its ambassador Naidu, who preferred to associate with the “influential . . . moulders of public opinion” rather than with ordinary Americans (211). Naidu provided an essential link between Western modernism and Gandhian ideology; well-​ educated, she was a renowned poet, passionate nationalist, and compelling speaker. But her critics had other concerns:  her madcap, drama-​queen persona (not unlike Fyzee-​Rahamin’s) detracted from her more serious political purpose. Some struggled to reconcile the cosmopolitanism of a wealthy socialite with either the gravitas required of international diplomacy or the signature ascetic self-​ discipline of swadeshism. Her commentary reveals inconsistencies and instability, a tendency to speak to an audience’s prevailing mood rather than to the idea of transcendent truth associated with swadeshi. For instance, she declares that India “must not remain aloof and apart from . . . political, scientific and cultural developments of the West” (32) but participate in them; then she provokes anti-​Western sentiment by ridiculing “those child countries of Europe and those kindergarten countries of America” (ILM 1930:  395). The woman who is star-​struck by the “veritable jazz” that is America also presents herself as one whose purpose is “to teach ‘those child countries’ rather than be tutored by them” (Arora 2009: 88). As with Gopal Joshi and Vivekananda, Naidu’s boasts about putting Americans in their place is assuredly not the way to forge diplomatic relations, much less to solicit and secure a viable political alliance against Britain. Naidu traveled widely, stylishly, associated with the highest tier of American society and institutions, thus aligning her perspectives on the country with that of Atiya Fyzee-​ Rahamin (privileged, inauthentic, and disconnected). As for the Americans, most were too preoccupied with the business of earning a living to be impressed by so rarified a spectacle of sophistication; considering the crucial significance of bringing pre-​ independence India to the forefront of Americans’ “cognitive map,” gushing transports over British manuscripts in a library to which almost no Americans had access was unlikely to impress. Such superficiality impedes the forging of international bonds by perpetuating, rather than investigating, hierarchical stereotypes; to dismantle such hierarchies requires as candid an examination of Eastern Occidentalism as of Western Orientalism. As the Indian nationalists’ ambassador to the United States, Naidu might have exercised more dignified diplomacy and less social affectation; as a prominent presence in the independence movement, her signature rhetoric could have offered less flourish and more substance. A compelling alternative is women’s medical-​and social-​ reformer, Dr.  Muthulakshmi Reddy (1886–​1968), who attended the 1929 Chicago National Council of Women. Americans are “always on the move,” she noted:  “Life is one of

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rush, full of business and social activities” (Reddy 1964:  88). American journalists sought her views about Gandhi, the caste system, child marriage, and untouchability, as well as India’s current political climate. Reddy’s purpose was not to tour or socialize, to fund-​raise or politicize, but simply to participate in the Congress:  while she did meet some notable people—​“Lady” Rockefeller and Jane Addams—​and attended the World’s Fair, her American experiences were limited by congress obligations. As a “freedom-​loving people,” most Americans “have real sympathy for India. They revere and respect our leaders,” particularly Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, and Naidu. In her view, the “political situation and the events in India were better reported” in America than in Britain (91); and, contrary to clichéd travel writing, the country is not lacking in artistic sensibility and culture. The controversy generated by Mayo’s Mother India raged on, and Reddy of course contended with questions about “whether it was a true picture” of Indian life (92). As a physician committed to science over sentimentality, she understood the relevance of critiques about sanitation and disease prevention to nationalist progress and to India’s “fitness” for self-​rule; both at home and in international contexts, Reddy’s professional activism facilitated modernization through sanitary reform programs. She notes that American women “have been watching with keen interest the Women’s movement in India” and is pleased to be dubbed the “Jane Adam [sic] of India.” Reddy was impressed by the conference’s international manifestation of Women’s Mission to Women, a “genuine, spontaneous and loving appreciation . . . that woman paid to woman . . . American women seem to possess it immensely and could not help giving expression to the same” (93). Reddy was treated with respect and admiration, “given a place of honour and distinction at every party and every place.” Because of the rarity of Indian visitors, Americans view India as “a land of romance, mystery and fabulous wealth”—​from the perspectives of travelers from the East, assumptions similarly applied to America. There was much to critique about America; but Dr. Reddy preferred to contemplate promise and potential rather than fault or lack. With her sights focused on women’s capacity to mobilize and to affect more than local or national reform, this international peace activist was among those who envisioned no less than global reform—​an optimistic perspective indeed in those years preceding the Second World War. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay’s (1903–​88) commentary on America offers an insightful conclusion to these pre-​independence interactions between colonial-​era India and the New World. Kamaladevi represents another kind of Indian New Woman: this militant nationalist-​socialist and founding-​member of the All India Women’s Conference (1926) was famed for her role in the Dandi Salt March and subjected to repeated arrests and incarcerations for her activism; a more lasting legacy is her work recuperating Indian cottage industries (textiles, arts, and crafts) and elevating them into a respected national institution. A “woman of aggressive speech” (Nanda 2002: 83), Kamaladevi saw in America much that might be useful to the formation of modern India. She subscribed neither to “defensive nationalism” (Joshi) or Christian alliances (Ramabai), nor to Athavale’s humility, Fyzee-​Rahamin’s disdain, or Naidu’s socializing. What she lacked in sophistication, she more than made up for in political savvy; that she acted fearlessly with the courage of her convictions endeared her to the downtrodden in India and America alike.

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Kamaladevi’s awareness of international misperceptions of India shaped her life’s work by dramatizing the need for Indian women to speak for themselves; her book The Awakening of Indian Women (1939) did just that. Promotional copy anticipates her suitability as India’s unofficial ambassador to America (1940–​41):  her “intelligence” and “eloquence . . . will do good to our cause and will bring India and America” closer. Given her passport difficulties, Kamaladevi was clearly perceived as a political threat by British authorities. Once in America, her visa was extended, due to diplomatic pressure; but on her return to India, she was arrested and sentenced to solitary confinement (Bakshi 2000: 218). Kamaladevi traveled among prominent Washington political circles, associating with diplomats and congressional representatives; she took tea at the White House and was invited to FDR’s third inauguration. Her participation in activist groups (Conference on Cause and Cure of War, International Disarmament Committee, and National Federation of University Women) drew “such crowds . . . that the people had to be turned away for lack of space” (Bombay Chronicle, qtd. in Bakshi 2000:  221). She studied federal programs related to children, women, and domestic issues, in turn lecturing on the status of those issues in India (Bakshi 2000:  221). She visited prisons and mental institutions, participated in radio broadcasts, gave Indian poetry readings, and met with population control advocate Margaret Sanger. Her assessment of American women—​they pursue “larger social causes . . . not narrow sex interests”—​ challenged critics of Western feminism, who equated women’s activism and endeavors toward equality with Western decadence (Chattopadhyaya 1946:  297). Neither rich or debased nor self-​indulgent or shrieking, the American woman “commands our admiration because of her self-​reliance and resourcefulness. Her freedom is of a real and vital character” (323). America: The Land of Superlatives (1946) offers insightful critiques of an ideology Kamaladevi found admirable in principle but sometimes lacking in practice. Despite its “diversities and contrasts . . . thrills . . . shocks . . . hopes and despairs,” America “is not all glamour and glory . . . its basic problems remain as unsolved as our own . . . [W]‌e have as much to absorb from it as to discard” (iii–​v). Her word-​choice is significant: America is as accountable for its actions as any other country, and it should neither be idolized nor condemned. What is worth emulating might profitably be adapted to Indian paradigms: America is a “land of destiny to which come the Great Pilgrims of the world” (14–​15) because it is founded on a set of principles, including the urge toward secularism then shaping independence debates in India. Unique among nations, it cannot be forced into a uniform category or standard comparative analysis but must be assessed according to its distinctive features. This Kamaladevi does and with impressive political acumen. All people in this nation of immigrants navigate both ethnic preservation and cultural assimilation, both Old World and New World values; they are young and restless, energetic and enthusiastic, and value the importance of time:  “They think, live and build in superlatives” (28). Success is determined by effort and measured in accomplishments: the “conquest of this new continent moulded the people’s sentiments and ideologies,” making individualism and self-​reliance the signature qualities of “Americanism” (36). Less savory are the capitalist monopolies and conglomerates

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poised to create a new form of imperialism: “Little grains of sugar like little drops of oil move mighty kingdoms and shift mighty flags” (Chattopadhyaya 1944: 41; 51–​2). To become a “democratizing force in the world,” Americans must “liberate themselves from the shackles” of oil, rubber, tin, monopolies and robber-​barons, “for it is to the people of America” that the world looks, “it is in them that they signify faith, not in the Almighty Dollar” (Chattopadhyaya 1946: 362; emphasis in the original). America has a responsibility to “every fallen and ravaged country [that] has looked to it for succor; every nation in distress” (345–​6). By the 1930s, America represented the new world order, and yet it continued to “defer to Britain’s prior claims . . . unwilling to offend England and ‘interfere’ in her sphere.” But “what about India, the Crux of the problem?” (361). Again, as Kamaladevi well understood, to the West, India was still a socio-​geographic vagary removed from the “logic” of political economy: it was up to Indians to speak and act for themselves and assert India’s emergence as a major player on the world stage. Assessing the progress of Indian women, author and editor Kamala Satthianadhan wrote:  “during the last fifteen years, the progress of fifty years has been made . . . Women must be animated by a desire to help themselves, instead of being passive supplicants for help” (ILM, “Women’s” 1935:  73). This “awakening to the dignity of labour” had repercussions internationally, making the advance of Indian women “an item of interest to foreigners . . . [and] dispelling that ‘unfortunate ignorance outside in general’ ” (72). Early in her career, Kamaladevi understood the need for cultural assertion through individual articulation, verbal and nonverbal:  if some found that “aggressive,” so much the better.

4.  Orient and Occident For some, Western influence posed distinct threats to Indian society. In “Conflict in Womanhood’s Ideals,” Professor Murthi summarizes the gendered conundrum defining the nationalist project:  Western influence inspired “necessary intellectual unrest and created the need for . . . a new synthesis, which will reconcile and build into an organic system the progressive elements in indigenous and exotic cultures” (ILM, Murthi 1936:  50). While some condemn Western influences as “unmitigated evil” and others reject traditionalism as “retrogressive,” the truth “lies midway between the two extremes.” But while admitting that Indian womanhood, defined exclusively by marital status and “built upon the foundations of a philosophy of defeatism,” is itself a primary obstacle to cultural progress, Murthi rejects divorce, the West’s solution to gender incompatibility: “if divorce becomes an accepted and established institution, marriage will lose its stability . . . That is what it seems to be in America!” (52). Educated women lack submissiveness and rebel against bad marriages; divorce leads to birth-​ control, sexual freedom, and promiscuity. For some, American womanhood offered an inspirational model worth emulating; for others, that example was worse than democracy, class and caste equality, and economic parity together. Indeed, the very idea of Kamaladevi meeting with Margaret Sanger—​two women “of aggressive speech” discussing population control—​threatened to annihilate civilization, East and West.

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Those who find “the charm of the East” resides in its mysticism, “romance,” and “mystery” must understand that “this is only the background for the living picture—​ the living mass of bewildering humanity . . . nationalities . . . creeds and customs” comprising India (ILM, Krishnamma 1905:  165). As these early cultural exchanges indicate, young America had much to learn from this ancient culture; the reverse is also true, as India moved toward political unification for the first time in its long history. Haridas Mazumdar (1962: viii), an Indian settler in America, wrote: “One of my fondest hopes has been that Free India may become a bastion of democracy in the Orient as America has been in the Occident, and that the two Republics may cooperate with each other.” This reflects a timely synthesis linking the renaissance of ancient Indian “lore”—​not with a consummately British, obsolete Ruskinian gender ideology but—​with American transcendentalism:  Emerson and Thoreau with Gandhi and Martin Luther King, the Boston Tea Party and the American Civil Rights movement with the Dandi Salt March, the rejection of imperialism by reinventing the wheel of civilization through the lens of democracy. Today, India’s path to democracy continues to be as tangled as America’s, based on a utopianism built not on the backs of slaves or harijans or women or children but on principles of social equity. That, by definition, is a work in progress: the American and Indian “experiments” certainly have a long way to go—​but how far, indeed, both have come.

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The Integral Yoga of the Sri Aurobindo Āśram: Gender, Spirituality, and the Arts Patrick Beldio

1.  Introduction William Cenkner (1981:  123) writes that “another stage of Aurobindo studies will emerge when scholars begin to approach Aurobindo as an aesthetic personality, who articulates a vision of reality from an aesthetic imagination and even an ethic within an aesthetic framework. If Aurobindo is primarily a poet, as the role of Savitri indicates, his moral thought takes on different meanings and functions.” Diane Apostolos-​ Cappadona (1980) and Cenkner (1984) began this stage of research, but it has mostly remained undeveloped and even ignored. Scholars tend to analyze Sri Aurobindo (né Aurobindo Ghose, 1872–​1950) from philosophical, social, political, or historical perspectives, which is justifiable given his political career and written output on these topics.1 However, by treating him as a spiritual teacher (guru) who is primarily an artist, significant characteristics emerge to better understand his spiritual practice and teaching. Further, these characteristics become even more salient when one includes his spiritual partner from France, the Mother (née Mirra Alfassa, 1878–​1973). She too can be analyzed as an artist-​guru whose life and work is typically excluded or minimized in scholarship on the Integral Yoga. Sri Aurobindo called her his “śakti,” a traditional Hindu title of the Goddess and placed her in the role of active guru in his Āśram. In so doing, he introduced a French and Jewish influence to oppose traditional Indian cultural and religious values. He also introduced the influence of a woman in a traditionally male role (Pechilis 2004: 32). Sri Aurobindo spent his youth studying Western Classics and literature in England at St. Paul’s school in London and at Cambridge University (1879–​93). In the tradition of the English and Irish Romantics, he claimed in these formative years that art was his religion. Over his life, he wrote hundreds of poems in English, Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Bengali, and other languages; however, Savitri, his epic poem in English, is the most significant. Like Walt Whitman’s process in writing Leaves of Grass, he continually

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edited and revised it from 1916 to 1950, using the creative process as a means for his own growth in consciousness and to advance the potentials of the art form of poetry. The Mother started painting as a girl during the Belle Époque, continuing her practice at the Académie Julian in Paris where she excelled in styles like Romanticism and Impressionism. She knew Auguste Rodin, and her first husband, Henri Morisset was a well-​known painter at the time, though she did not achieve the same notoriety. Like Sri Aurobindo, she used art as a means for her spiritual growth and when she finally settled in India to take up her role as guru, she collaborated with different students to create what she called “the future painting” over a fifty-​two-​year period. At its peak from 1961 to 1972 this involved the creation of 472 paintings inspired by Sri Aurobindo’s poem Savitri. The spiritual practice of these two gurus is called the “integral yoga” (pūrṇa yoga). Though they distanced themselves from Hinduism and all religions, from a religious studies perspective, it might be categorized a new religious movement. It draws upon many traditional Hindu practices and philosophies like Śaktism, Vedānta, Tantra, and the yogas of the Bhāgavad Gitā yet innovates on these to “divinize” or transform the Earth and body instead of transcending them. Its goal is the “supramental manifestation” which creates a “new creation,” the crown of which is a new human species, what the Mother sometimes called “the New Being,” in which “[t]‌he mind must fall silent and be replaced by the Truth-​Consciousness—​the consciousness of details integrated with the consciousness of the whole.”2 This consciousness is “supra-​ mental” in that it is centered in the heart (hṛd) not in the mind (mānasa buddhi), which “falls silent” (nivṛtti) and ultimately gets “replaced” by other faculties of consciousness that understand “the whole.” The Mother once said that “the Truth is not linear but global; it is not successive but simultaneous. Therefore it cannot be expressed in words: it has to be lived” (The Mother 2004e: 279). Paradoxically, between the Mother and Sri Aurobindo there are sixty-​six published volumes in Collected Works of the Mother, The Mother’s Agenda, and The Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo that have been organized from journal articles, diaries, talks, taped conversations, or personal letters. But if we take seriously their view of the “lived” nature of truth, their teaching can be studied in the interactions between the gurus, between the gurus and their students, as well as in the modalities of the arts and visual culture that they valued because they were more living than words in their estimation, capable of expressing “the consciousness of details integrated with the consciousness of the whole.” In this chapter I will briefly highlight five interconnected characteristics of this yoga that emerge when one views their spiritual roles as integrated with being an artist, and when one views the life and work of the Mother as essential to the teaching of Sri Aurobindo: (1) the Mother’s “consortship” with Sri Aurobindo and their roles as avatāras; (2) the place of the intellect (mānasa buddhi) in their art and yoga; (3) their “descendant” spiritual approach; (4) the role of opposition in their understanding of spiritual growth; and (5)  the use of beauty as both an aesthetic quality and a lived spiritual value in the Āśram. These characteristics may seem unrelated, but as I will demonstrate, they find their integration in Sri Aurobindo’s view of the Divine Mother (Mahāśakti). For him, the Hindu Divine Mother incarnated as a Jewish woman from

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Paris, who labored in her body and art to deliver a new human species, who live, not with mental consciousness, but “Truth-​Consciousness.”

2.  Incarnating Mahāśakti (the Divine Mother): spiritual consorts and avatāras A fuller account of the Mother’s life and work in the Integral Yoga aids a proper beginning to an examination of the Integral Yoga. She and Sri Aurobindo worked very closely starting in 1920 until his death in 1950, and the Mother continued to value his partnership and writings until her death in 1973. I use the phrase “spiritual consorts” to theorize this collaboration in religious terms since they echo a pattern of relationship between Hindu Gods and Goddesses (devas and devīs) and their incarnations (avatāras), who are often depicted as “consorts” (svakīya (one’s own), svapati (one’s own lord), or kalatra (wife or consort)) in Hindu sacred texts, art, and visual culture. However, the term spiritual consort has wider application than its use in Hindu or Hindu-​influenced contexts. It denotes a relationship in which one shares a spiritual lot, destiny, or fate (sortem) together with (con) another; this “lot” being the spiritual work that the collaborators seek to accomplish.3 In this case, the “lot” is the “supramental manifestation.” “Consort” often has a sexual connotation in many stories of deities and their incarnations. However, the gurus valued brahmacarya or celibacy to birth the “New Being,” who they claim will enjoy a life of bliss freed from the “vital” or desire nature and its physical expression in the sex impulse. Paraphrasing Sri Aurobindo, Peter Heehs (2008: 328–​9) writes, “It was necessary, in the work he was doing, for the masculine and feminine principles to come together, but the union had nothing to do with sex; in fact it was possible in his and Mirra’s case precisely because they had mastered the forces of desire.” Sri Aurobindo used the term Śakti to describe the Mother as his divine feminine Power, with the implication that he is associated with Īśvara or the divine masculine Lord. At the inception of his Āśram, he told his companions, “Mirra is my Shakti. She has taken charge of the new creation. You will get everything from her. Give consent to whatever she wants to do.”4 The Mother says, in a similar vein, “Without him, I exist not; without me, he is unmanifest” (qtd in Chakravarti 1988: 65). In the role of Īśvara, Sri Aurobindo chiefly worked from a place of seclusion. In the role of his Śakti, the Mother strove to manifest the achievements of his internal work in the shared and disciplined life of the Āśram. Though the gurus functioned in some respects as opposites, they complemented each other to represent for their devotees an androgynous wholeness; a divine unity of all poles of duality. During Sri Aurobindo’s political period (1906–​ 10), the Great Divine Mother or Mahāśakti embodied as India influenced his thought, activism, and educational aspirations for his country. Mahāśakti was his way to ground an active national agenda of Independence from Great Britain to a spiritual vision, as well as to externalize a spiritual reality into material results, which included not only political goals but cultural ones, in which India was free to express its own personality.5 On the run from

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British authorities, he retired from his political activities and took up residence in the French colonial city of Pondicherry in 1910. He worked alone on his Integral Yoga for ten years until Mirra Alfassa came permanently to India in 1920. At first, Sri Aurobindo’s Indian students had trouble accepting the increasingly privileged place of this cultured French woman in their shared life together. Two years after the Āśram was officially formed, in 1928 Sri Aurobindo wrote and published his first text in about eight years, The Mother. In it, he explains to his nascent community Mirra’s indispensable role in their spiritual practice and indeed in the entire universe to bring about “the new creation.” This role is the Universal Mother or Mahāśakti, who now in the evolution of consciousness embodies four divine “powers” or “personalities” as Maheśvarī Mahāsarasvatī, Mahākālī, and Mahālakṣmī; or wisdom, perfection, strength, and harmony, respectively. Mirra, in his estimation, fully incarnated these powers, a view his followers increasingly adopted. Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri symbolizes their yogic collaboration as spiritual consorts. It is inspired by the tale of Sāvitrī and its theme of conjugal duty in the Mahābhārata. However, he turns it into a story of spiritual love between the main characters Satyavān and Sāvitrī, whose union brings down the sun-​power of what the gurus call “the supermind” into the Earth to transform its mortal, ignorant, false, and suffering nature. Satyavān dies in both stories and it is Sāvitrī’s charge to bring him back to Earth, which she does after a conflict with “Death.” In Sri Aurobindo’s version, Sāvitrī proclaims to her adversary, Death: Our lives are God’s messengers beneath the stars; To dwell under death’s shadow they have come Tempting God’s light to earth for the ignorant race, His love to fill the hollow in men’s hearts, His bliss to heal the unhappiness of the world. For I, the woman, am the force of God, He the Eternal’s delegate soul in man. My will is greater than thy law, O Death; My love is stronger than the bonds of Fate: Our love is the heavenly seal of the Supreme. (Sri Aurobindo 1997e: 633)

Even as these characters demonstrate an example of spiritual consorts that are related to the gurus, it would be incorrect to limit Sāvitrī to the Mother and Satyavān to Sri Aurobindo. The goal of the Integral Yoga is to unite what these characters represent within the devotee:  the pure truth of one’s inmost being (Satyavān or “bearer of Truth”), who is held captive and hidden by the darkness of one’s lower nature, with the descending light of the supramental consciousness (embodied as Sāvitrī, who is the daughter of Savitṛ, the god/​dess of the Sun, whose name means “stimulator” or “vivifier”). The spiritual union of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo was on display during the four yearly Darśan Days when they would sit together in a small outer room of their apartments. “Here they remained for the next few hours as ashramites and visitors—​ more than three thousand by the end of the of the 1940s—​passed before them one

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by one” (Heehs 1979: 399). Except for rare occasions, these were the only times that anyone besides the Mother and a few privileged disciples saw Sri Aurobindo from 1926 until his death. Sri Aurobindo died of kidney failure on December 5, 1950. In 1969 when discussing his death, the Mother remembered a conversation she had with him when he said to her, “ ‘We can’t both remain upon earth, one must go.’ Then I said to him, ‘I am ready, I’ll go.’ Then he told me, ‘No, you can’t go, your body is better than mine, you can undergo the [supramental] transformation better than I can do.’ ”6 She later describes her experience of his dying in 1972, which, in her view, united them even more intensely together, He had gathered in his body a great amount of supramental force and as soon as he left . . . all this supramental force which was in him passed from his body into mine. And I felt the friction of the passage . . . It was an extraordinary experience. For a long time, a long time like that (Mother indicates the passing of the Force into her body). I was standing beside his bed, and that continued. Almost a sensation—​it was a material sensation. (The Mother 2002a: 328)

With this transfer of force, the Mother said, “I am only realizing what He has conceived. I am only the protagonist and the continuator of His work.”7 As we will see, this work led to very surprising experiences that she claimed affected her mental consciousness and her body. A related term that can help describe this couple is Avatāra.8 As one devotee writes, “This time the Avatar came not in a single, male body as on previous occasions: he came as a complete incarnation of the male and female poles of existence in Sri Aurobindo and Mirra” (Van Vrekhem 2012: 45). In the gurus’ understanding, for the supramental goal of creation to become a living potential in matter, the Supreme Lord Īśvara and his Śakti need first to incarnate this goal in and as creation in the form of the God-​Man/​God-​Woman or Avatāra. Each Avatāra in history “is the manifestation from above of that which we have to develop from below”; Sri Aurobindo writes, “It is the descent of God into that divine birth of the human being into which we mortal creatures must climb; it is the attracting divine example given by God to man in the very type and form and perfected model of our human existence” (Sri Aurobindo 2003b: 157). This time, the “divine example” is the “New Being,” which they claimed to have accomplished as a pair. The Mother’s teaching about their divine status is found powerfully in her use of visual culture, especially her use of flowers.9 The red lotus she calls “Avatar—​the Supreme manifest on earth in a body” and the white lotus she names “Aditi—​the Divine Consciousness” (The Mother 2000: Part I, 5, 3). Commenting on these flowers, she says, “The red lotus represents Sri Aurobindo, the white one me. In a general way the lotus is the flower of the Divine Wisdom, whatever its colour. But red signifies the Avatar, the Divine incarnated in matter, and white signifies the Divine Consciousness manifested upon earth” (1). Both the Mother and Sri Aurobindo also had a symbol for their avatāric roles that the Mother crafted, shaping the sacred gaze of their devotees (see Figure 9.1).10 These

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Figure 9.1  The Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s symbols, respectively. Used with permission from the Aurobindo āśram.

Figure  9.2  The union of both symbols used as the logo for the Sri Aurobindo Center of Education and the Āśram Archives and Research. Depicted here with the Mother’s handwriting and signature.

emblems are stylized versions of the lotus flowers that she named, and they enshrine the central values of their yoga and their role in it, which are displayed all over the Āśram and printed on their published materials. The Mother describes her own symbol: “The central circle represents the Divine Consciousness. The four petals represent the four powers of the Mother [that Sri Aurobindo described in The Mother]. The twelve petals represent the twelve powers of the Mother manifested for her work.”11 About Sri Aurobindo’s symbol the Mother writes: “The descending triangle represents Sat-​Chit-​ Ananda. The Ascending triangle represents the aspiring answer from matter under the form of life, light and love. The junction of both—​the central square—​is the perfect manifestation having at its center the Avatar of the Supreme—​the lotus. The water—​ inside the square—​represents the multiplicity, the creation.”12 In other places within the Āśram, the union of both symbols are also displayed, making explicit reference to Īśvara and Īśvarī, another name of the Divine Mother (see Figure 9.2).

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3.  Maheśvarī (Wisdom) and the destiny of the mind Despite this union, there is evidence in their writings that the gurus temporarily had differing views about the destiny of the mind in the new creation. The mind’s annihilation or manonāśa is a concept that is found in late medieval Advaita Vedānta texts and much later in the twentieth century in the thought and practice of Ramana Maharishi and Meher Baba, who are in conversation with Advaita Vedānta.13 In her later writings, and independent of this tradition, the Mother describes her own experience of manonāśa and its destiny for all human beings. Sri Aurobindo, however, describes the perfectibility of the mind.

Transformation of the mind For both gurus however, the authoritative activity of the intellect in the creative process and in spiritual growth is diminished and even entirely silenced. For them, the mind is related to Īśvara’s consort, the Great Īśvarī or Maheśvarī, the power of the Divine Mother that Sri Aurobindo calls the personality of “wisdom.” He writes that Maheśvarī is “seated in the wideness above the thinking mind and will and sublimates and greatens them into wisdom and largeness or floods with a splendour beyond them” (Sri Aurobindo 2012: 18). In the essays grouped under the title “The National Value of Art,” Sri Aurobindo describes the need to mature the mind in a process of cittaśuddhi, or purification (śuddhi) of the basic consciousness (citta) through proper use of the arts. In this catharsis, the sense mind (manas) is matured into the reasoning mind (buddhi), and reason into intuition (vijñānabuddhi).14 Further, Sri Aurobindo’s articles on Indian art, architecture, and literature argue that the intuition and not the intellect is the creative and spiritual authority in the creative process and in any correct interpretation of traditional Indian sacred art, architecture, and literature.15 The manas and buddhi (or mānasa buddhi in their composite form) must be surrendered in this experience. He recommends a meditative practice (dhyāna) to access the intuition. In The Future Poetry, Sri Aurobindo continues to highlight the intuition and demote the intellect for the purposes of creating what he calls mantric poetry. He writes, “In the heat of creation the intellectual sense of it becomes a subordinate action or even a mere undertone in his mind, and in his best moments he is permitted, in a way, to forget it altogether” (Sri Aurobindo 1997b: 13). And later, he writes, The Mantra too is not in its substance or its form a poetic enunciation of philosophic verities, but a rhythmic revelation or intuition arising out of the soul’s sight of God and Nature and itself and of the world and of the inner truth—​occult to the outward eye—​of all that peoples it, the secrets of their life and being. (36)

Of his own creative practice, he says, “I don’t think about the technique because thinking is no longer in my line . . . If the inspiration is the right one, then I have not to bother about the technique then or afterwards.”16 Sri Aurobindo does not describe the

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annihilation of the mind or manonāśa in these texts, but the fact that the intellect loses its authority, becoming an increasingly better servant of higher faculties of wisdom.

The annihilation of the mind The Mother did not seem as sanguine about the mind’s ability to become a better servant to wisdom. In 1920, right before she joined her consort permanently, she writes, This faculty [the intuition] which is exceptional, almost abnormal now, will certainly be quite common and natural for the new race, the man of tomorrow. But probably the constant exercise of it will be detrimental to the reasoning faculties. As man possesses no more the extreme physical ability of the monkey, so also will the superman lose the extreme mental ability of man, this ability to deceive himself and others. (The Mother 2004c: 164)

The editors of this text note that the Mother wrote an earlier draft: “so also will the superman lose perhaps all of the power of reasoning; and, even, the organ itself may become useless, disappear little by little as the monkey’s tail, which was of no use for man, disappeared from his physical body” (ibid.; my emphasis). It would seem that in encountering Sri Aurobindo’s experience of the mind’s purification (śuddhi), she tempered her view. However, later in The Mother’s Agenda (1956–​72), she describes the disappearance, not the purification of her mind. Because of her continual contact with the supramental forces after her consort’s death, the Mother claims that her mental and vital centers are annihilated as her body discovers a new authority, initiating radical changes in her physical nature. This new ruler is comprised of the cakra in her heart (the home of the intuition) and “above her head,” that is, above the crown of her head such that she senses, “thinks,” feels, and acts from this new composite place of consciousness.17 She explains that the mind and vital have been instruments to . . . knead Matter—​knead and knead and knead in every possible way: the vital through sensations, the mind through thoughts. . .. But they strike me as transitory instruments which will be replaced by other states of consciousness. You understand, they are a phase in the universal development, and . . . they will fall off as instruments that have outlived their usefulness.18

The divine body and a new center of consciousness In fact, months before he died in 1950, Sri Aurobindo moves toward a view of manonāśa in his last published essays. With the dissolution of his own body on the horizon, he addresses the transformations that might need to happen to achieve what he calls “the divine body,” which he felt the Mother was able to achieve in a way he could not.19 He admits that he can only speculate how this might occur; however, he

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writes that no “such limits and no such impossibility of any necessary change can be imposed on the evolutionary urge” (Sri Aurobindo 1998: 555). In his view, whatever parts of the current human body that are perfectible will be developed, yet “whatever has no longer a use or is degraded . . . can be discarded and dropped on the way” (556). The mind seems to be included in this disposal. Echoing the Mother, Sri Aurobindo writes, “For it may well be that the evolutionary urge would proceed to a change of the organs themselves in their material working and use and diminish greatly the need of their instrumentation and even of their existence” (555).20 Throughout his writings, Sri Aurobindo theorizes how the supramental body might evolve from Homo sapiens, which seems to at least imply manonāśa. Like the hominids that bridged the gap between primates and Homo sapiens, he describes the need for an intermediate mind and body that would bridge our current animal-​natured mental form and the divine body to come. In his last essays, he calls this intermediary “the new humanity,” and in her discussions, the Mother calls it “the superman.” For them, this species would be “new” and “super,” in that it would exceed “man” and the influence of the manas; eventually capable of procreating the divine body.21 The gurus labor to find an English word that describes it: a truly new “being” and not a “man” since it would not be a creature of the manas nor sexually differentiated, but androgynous.22 According to Sri Aurobindo’s late essays, the superman will possess a new, yet temporary faculty that gives direct, complete, and perfectly reliable knowledge: a “mind of Light.” The current mānasa buddhi seeks “for knowledge but even in its knowledge [is] bound to the Ignorance” (Sri Aurobindo 1998: 585). The mind of Light is not thusly bound and “proceeds from knowledge to knowledge” (589). Though Sri Aurobindo died before he could finish his essays on the mind of Light and possibly develop its coherence, the Mother claimed all the supramental force he had gathered over his life came to her and “what he has called the Mind of Light got realized in me” (The Mother 2004d: 63). She writes that it gave her full vision of Truth, but it was not perfect in its physical expression, and so she expected a more perfect medium. She notes that to say everything at the same time, all at once, is [now] impossible, and we are compelled to veil one part of what we see or know in order to bring it out one thing after another; and this is what [Sri Aurobindo] calls the “veil” [when describing the mind of Light], which is transparent, for one sees everything, knows everything at the same time; one has the total knowledge of a thing, but one cannot express it fully all at once. (The Mother 2004b: 194)

For her, perfect expression would not be a series of utterances, but a unity, given in a total, global, and simultaneous manner. The Mother argues that to achieve this kind of communication, an appropriate instrument is required: a body that expresses and receives this simultaneity and coincidence of opposites in its physical form; a body that is this wholeness, which is why androgyny is inevitable in their view of the new supramental being. The difficulty to overcome is the verbal inheritance from the lower mind or mānasa buddhi, which deals in “the consciousness of details” but not “the consciousness of the whole.”23 As the Mother understands it, mentally produced words cannot communicate

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supramental vision in the supramental way, which is one of pure Truth, truthfully and transparently. Our current body was adapted to give and receive knowledge in the manner of the mānasa buddhi, which is of veiled ignorance, partially and sequentially. Discovering fragmentary truths is its best hope, and so it is destined to express a partial deception as well. For the Mother, the kind of expression of Truth that is left after manonāśa is simply the privilege to live it.24 The arts provided a means to do this for the Mother.

Implications of manonāśa for art During the same time frame as The Mother’s Agenda (1957–​73) when she describes her experience of manonāśa, the Mother worked with her student Savita “Huta” Hindocha (1931–​2011) on a visual art project from 1956 to 1972. The Mother trained Huta in oils and then they experimented with an expression of what she called the “future painting,” inspired by passages from Savitri, Sri Aurobindo’s “future poetry.”25 The Mother told Huta in 1969 that in reading this poem and painting pictures of it with Huta, she experiences no mental activity, and it is a relief. She says, “You see, Savitri is very good for me also, because while I read and recite, I do not think at all. I am only inspired. I need this experience” (The Mother 2015: n.p.). Huta wonders how the Mother could need anything since she is divine. The Mother responds, “Yes, that I am but this is physical (pointing out her body). And there is the physical world and it must be perfected” (ibid.). Sri Aurobindo and his poetry are the key to this perfection and its potential “global” vision and expression. She says to Huta, When I concentrate and go back to the Origin of the Creation, I see things as a whole in their reality and I speak. You see, each time when I speak, Sri Aurobindo comes here. And I speak exactly what he wants me to speak. It is the inner hidden truth of Savitri that he wants me to reveal. Each time he comes, a wonderful atmosphere is created. I have read Savitri before but it was nothing compared to this reading. (ibid.)

According to the Mother, Sri Aurobindo also needed his poetry for reasons that seem like her own. The Mother writes, What struck me is that he never wanted to write anything else [other than Savitri]. To write those articles for the Bulletin [about the divine body] was really a heavy sacrifice for him. He had said he would complete certain parts of The Synthesis of Yoga, but when he was asked to do so, he replied, “No, I don’t want to go down to that mental level”! Savitri comes from somewhere else altogether. And I think that Savitri is the most important thing to speak about.26

Sri Aurobindo does not claim to have undergone manonāśa himself, though according to the Mother and according to his own description of his creative process, he did not live in the mental level. Consequently, the arts seem to take on a more central role since he preferred communicating in the language of Savitri over his prose texts.

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Likewise, the Mother often described the use of the mental consciousness as “extremely unpleasant.”27 However, her experience of meditating on Savitri and painting images inspired by it allowed her “not to think at all,” which gave her relief, and somehow aided the physical body’s perfection.

4.  Mahāsarasvatī (Perfection) and Mahākālī (Strength): descendant spirituality and opposition used in growth As “Truth-​ Consciousness” replaces mental consciousness, the gurus note the achievement of “a perfect perfection,” which is also the ideal of their creative process. Sri Aurobindo writes, “The mark of this inevitability or perfect perfection is the saying of a thing that has to be said with such a felicity of phrase and rhythm that it seems as if it could not be better or otherwise said in the highest poetic way, it sounds final and irrevocable” (Sri Aurobindo 2004:  194). The personality of “perfection” is what Sri Aurobindo names Mahāsarasvatī, Brahmā’s consort. Of her he writes, “When her work is finished, nothing has been forgotten, no part has been misplaced or omitted or left in a faulty condition; all is solid, accurate, complete, and admirable. Nothing short of a perfect perfection satisfies her and she is ready to face an eternity of toil if that is needed for the fullness of her creation” (Sri Aurobindo 2012: 23). The radical implication here is the “perfect perfection” of matter itself, not just of consciousness. In the view of both the gurus, the Integral Yoga is not “a flight from life,” but seeks “this material existence to participate in the divine life” to build a “world of perfection” on Earth and in history (The Mother 2004b: 161–​2; her emphasis). This descendant approach implies nearly impossible work. As the Mother says, “But this [sādhana] is not for lazy folk. It’s for people who like progress. . . . This [Āśram] is not a place for rest . . . this is a place for working even harder than before” (The Mother 2004a: 21). As the gurus see it, before the twentieth century, spirituality was transcendent, where the difficult work of joining the inner spiritual planes of consciousness (“a flight from life”) was appropriate and inevitable since matter was not perfectible, owing to the binding grip of death, suffering, ignorance, and falsehood. They claim that in their yoga, they aided God to weaken the hold of these contraries, and for the first time in creation, make it possible for an even more difficult labor than transcendence: transformation. This approach means descending into matter to welcome these contraries and transform them into their opposites on Earth: eternal life, abiding bliss, fully reliable knowledge, and unitary truth. For them, these oppositions are in fact woven by God into the fabric of creation, to eventually awaken this descendant spirituality. As the Mother says, “Opposition and contraries are a stimulus to progress,” since opposition in fact “is the quickest and most effective means to bring creation out of its inertia and lead it towards its fulfilment” (The Mother 2001: 165–​6). In the understanding of both gurus, oppositions in matter and life are agents of God’s Cit or “pure consciousness,” which the gurus also call Cit-​Śakti (Conscious-​Force). She is the divine Cit of Saccidānanda, which applies a forceful pressure on the citta, or “basic consciousness,” over many lifetimes to become Itself, to become increasingly

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“pure.” This pressure is not always the same, but progressive and fluctuating with the needs of creation and the individual. For the gurus, these oppositions are the province of Śiva’s consort, Mahākālī. Sri Aurobindo describes her as the Divine Mother’s personality of “strength” who, “[i]‌ntolerant of imperfection, . . . deals roughly with all in man that is unwilling and . . . is severe to all that is obstinately ignorant and obscure; her wrath is immediate and dire against treachery and falsehood and malignity, ill-​will is smitten at once by her scourge” (Sri Aurobindo 2012: 19). For the gurus, if one can surrender to the pressure of Cit, one increasingly awakens to experience the pure and illimitable Being of Brahman’s Sat, the Conscious-​Force of Brahman’s Cit-​Śakti, and the Self-​Delight of Brahman’s Ānanda, in a new perfected body (Sri Aurobindo 2005: 80–​121). The gurus used art and the creative process to prepare for this exalted goal. Art is a purifier of consciousness (cittaśuddhi), a means for its liberation, and then a tool for its perfection in the Integral Yoga. We see this pattern in Sri Aurobindo’s own creative experience. As he describes it, he continually revised Savitri as his consciousness grew. Savitri provided him with a constant way to face his own limitations in supramental expression, first exposing these limitations and then allowing him to revise the expression in the light of the higher attainment of consciousness. Though he used Savitri “as a means of ascension,” his goal is not to remain in the higher impersonal realms of Truth and Beauty that inspired his expression, but to bring their presence “down” in the creative process and in the poem, to perfect language.28 The poem also thematically expresses the principle of growth through opposition. Sri Aurobindo’s tale might be thought of as a descent into matter, leading to a confrontation and transformation of Death itself into deathless Life by the highest forms of love between his two main characters, Sāvitrī and Satyavān. Death is not depicted as something to be transcended, but as “someone” to be welcomed and transformed when united with Spirit. In the end, Spirit is also transformed in the poem, since combined with mortal matter, a “New Being” is created that is neither mortal nor transcendent, but is an entirely new, terrestrial, yet divine species.

5.  Mahālakṣmī (Harmony) and the role of beauty For followers of the Integral Yoga, Mahākālī and her fierce love can obviously come in the form of perceived negative experiences of growth, but also in what might be considered desirable ones, like beauty, the next characteristic that becomes more salient when the Mother is regarded as important to her consort and when their roles as artists are brought more forward in scholarship. According to the gurus, beauty is the responsibility of Viṣṇu’s consort, Mahālakṣmī, the Divine Mother’s power and personality of “harmony.” Sri Aurobindo writes that it is “through love and beauty that she lays on men the yoke of the Divine” (Sri Aurobindo 2012: 21). As mentioned, for the gurus, the difficult pressure for growth of the Cit-​Śakti is integrated with Sat (being) and Ānanda (delight). Sri Aurobindo writes that along with love, “beauty is Ananda taking form” (Sri Aurobindo 2004: 700), which “applies to all beauty, beauty in Nature, beauty in life as well as beauty in art” (Sri Aurobindo 1997c: 143). For the gurus and their followers, this is Mahālakṣmī’s achievement.

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On a theoretical level, the debates about beauty in art in the late twentieth and early twenty-​first centuries make a distinction between qualities of beauty and the value of beauty. A quality of beauty is a physical, external, and rhetorical aspect of an artwork that stimulates the senses and desires. The value of beauty is something more intellectual, a principle of meaning in life or dignity of self that an artwork seeks to communicate.29 Qualities of beauty in art are related to what Sri Aurobindo calls the “style” and “rhythm” of an artwork in The Future Poetry, and what the Mother calls the “outward charm” when advising her student Huta.30 For them, the value of beauty in art is supramental, “remembered, seen, and heard” (smṛti, dṛṣṭi, and śruti) by spiritual faculties of consciousness, not by the intellect. The purpose of a quality of beauty is to reveal the divine value of beauty “that Nature hides” from mental consciousness in a given context (Sri Aurobindo 1997a: 440). Therefore, a quality may have a useful connection to growth in consciousness in one circumstance and may not in another. When the quality outlives its usefulness in manifesting the divine value, the value retreats so that growth cannot happen through that specific quality. For example, the qualities of beauty in Renaissance Italy that helped develop the consciousness of Medieval Italians outlive their usefulness when translated into British culture in colonial India, to the extent that they inhibit Indian growth. To the extent that they pressure progressive growth, the gurus honor them. Given this theory, their aesthetic goals might be characterized as expanding the citta in order to critique past uses of beauty that have become an abuse of others, as Sri Aurobindo attempted in his critique of colonial England and its abuse of Indian culture in Early Cultural Writings; to reinterpret past achievements in beauty with an eye to include all, as Sri Aurobindo tried to do in his articles on traditional Indian sacred art in The Renaissance in India and Other Essays on Indian Culture; and still further, to create new and more inspired, more inclusive expressions of beauty in one’s time and place, as Sri Aurobindo strove to do in Savitri and the Mother in painting, music, and visual culture.

6. Conclusion Sri Aurobindo viewed the Mother’s body as stronger than his to complete his work of the supramental transformation, and after his death, she recorded this process in The Mother’s Agenda. Analyzing the Integral Yoga across both lives and including their creative work in relationship to this supramental transformation reveal important characteristics of the Integral Yoga, including the five highlighted in this chapter: (1) the notions of spiritual consorts and avatar to describe the partnership and roles of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo; (2) the silencing of the mind, its eventual replacement by other spiritual faculties in a process known as manonāśa, and the use of the arts to help express the resulting new consciousness; (3) a descendant spiritual approach that overlaps with the use of matter and the attempt to perfect it in art; (4) the role of opposition to stimulate growth and the use of the creative process to negotiate difficult oppositions; and (5) the principle of beauty as a manifestation of the Divine Ānanda that art seeks to express when done in service to their descendant spirituality. The Mother’s

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teaching extends that of Sri Aurobindo and is comprised of the varied work of the Āśram Departments and her work with their disciples, her art, and most importantly her claims to the transformation of her own body. For those who practice the Integral Yoga, preparing for the future “New Being” requires great sacrifice in trying to embody the personalities of the Divine Mother: wisdom, perfection, strength, and harmony in the ordinary world. For them, a Jewish woman from France incarnates these principles, inspiring and strengthening their own potential progress. As the consort of Lord Īśvara, the Mother’s wisdom as Maheśvarī brings a new center of consciousness in the heart and above the head to replace the mind; as the consort of Lord Brahmā, her perfection as Mahāsarasvatī descends into the darkness of inconscient matter to awaken its own “perfect perfection”; as the consort of Lord Śiva, her strength as Mahākālī fuels growth of consciousness with her opposition; and as the consort of Lord Viṣṇu, her harmony as Mahālakṣmī reveals the divine beauty that nature hides, unveiling “the New Being.”

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In Relationship with the Goddess: Women Interpreting Leadership Roles and Shaping Diasporic Identities Nanette R. Spina

1.  Introduction The transnational Adhiparasakthi movement represents a contemporary current within global Hinduism that demonstrates an increasing number of women in positions of religious leadership transnationally. This chapter investigates women’s ritual authority and the common boundaries that associate religion and notions of gender, ethnicity, and identity. In this Goddess tradition, women are privileged with positions of leadership and ritual authority. This represents an extraordinary shift from orthodox tradition in which religious authority has been the exclusive domain of male Brahmin priests. Taking a close look at the Adhiparasakthi society in Toronto, Canada, a Hindu community in both its transnational and diasporic dimensions, this chapter brings together models of female authority in Goddess myths, tradition, and practice, and illustrates how Goddess theology, women’s ritual authority, and “inclusivity” ethics frame community discourse. Together these elements both promote and bolster the ethical preferences of this diasporic community abroad. This chapter is based on ethnographic fieldwork from 2007 to 2009 and in 2014. The project combined both qualitative and quantitative methodologies drawing from participant observation, personal interviews, informal group discussions, and survey data. I have used pseudonyms for all informants with the exception of Vasanthi, the president of the Adhiparasakthi Temple Society and a public figure in the community. David Fitzgerald (2006), a scholar of comparative immigration, observes that migration has always been a central concern of ethnographers in the social sciences:  “For ethnographers [today], a research agenda has developed around an analysis of how the global intersects with the local in the experiences of individual agents” (Appadurai, Korom, and Mills 1991; Marcus 1995; Gupta and Ferguson 1997; Burawoy 2000; Gille and Riain 2002). This chapter is further situated in Hindu studies on women and goddesses. The Toronto Adhiparasakthi community is part of the transnational Adhiparasakthi (Ātiparācakti) organization, also known as Om Sakthi,

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founded and based in Tamil Nadu, India, under the leadership of Indian guru Bangaru Adigalar.1 At the time of my fieldwork, the community consisted of approximately 250–​300 people, although attendance averages range on a spectrum from those who attended daily or weekly or particularly on special holidays. The Toronto mandram (or temple) maintains transnational connections to the organization’s headquarters and primary temple to the goddess Adhiparasakthi in Melmaruvathur, India.2 This Goddess tradition founded in the 1970s has grown to include affiliated medical, educational, and vocational-​training institutions, and charitable foundations. The Om Sakthi organization has continued to expand transnationally and now includes a network of religious centers in several countries around the globe. This organization has further established service programs including free medical camps, ecology awareness organizations, blood donation camps, and AIDS-​awareness outreach. The main Siddhar Pītham and temple to the goddess Adhiparasakthi are located southwest of Chennai (formerly Madras). On festival occasions in Tamil Nadu, especially Taipūcam and Āṭipūram, Melmaruvathur hosts religious pilgrims numbering in the tens of thousands from many places in India and the diaspora. This contemporary guru-​led movement has sought to reconfigure paradigms of gendered religious leadership and democratize ritual participation. One of the ways this objective has been pursued is through an ethical discourse which emphasizes “inclusivity” regarding caste and gender. This emphasis is set within the theological framework of this Śākta Goddess tradition, and a system of daily temple rituals performed by devotees in the community that demonstrate these objectives. This chapter illustrates the ways in which women’s leadership and a collective style of puja has offered a revised definition in worship patterns from priest-​mediated ritual performance to a collective style of ritual participation. The innovations in worship afford members of the community more opportunity to become active in formal puja (devotional rites) and a number of other attendant daily rites. This movement in worship style has, in turn, been instrumental in fostering a community identity in the local setting by emphasizing “inclusivity” ethics regarding caste and gender in communal worship. As Fred Clothey (2006: 15) has aptly noted, “In a certain sense, the performance of public ritual, like that of dance or music, to use Milton Singer’s term, is a ‘cultural performance’ that encapsulates within a confined space and time a sense of what a community wants to demonstrate of itself to its children as well as to outsiders.” This standard of inclusivity is now a clear ethical preference within the community.

2.  Ethics and participation During the course of my fieldwork, community members spoke about their own tradition by the describing characteristics of the mandram they felt were most prominent. These characteristics included:  (a) “inclusivity” or nondiscriminatory practices regarding ritual participation, (b)  the opportunities for women to hold leadership roles as ritual specialists, and (c)  the use of Tamil (rather than Sanskrit) as a ritual language. With regard to the first point, in the Adhiparasakthi tradition all

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people (regardless of caste or noncaste, class, status, age, sect, or gender) may perform rituals in the Melmaruvathur Adhiparasakthi temple and mandrams around the world. By extending such performance opportunities in this way, relatively new modalities in ritual practice have been implemented and this appeals not only to the women of this community, but to the men as well. Prioritizing these ritual initiatives shows us much about the preferences within this community. By extending this form of public ritual authority and ritual participation across caste and gender-​based social boundaries, another inroad to change has been established and a historical form of social discrimination has been removed. During my conversations with both the men and the women of this community, this particular element of the tradition was mentioned frequently, in part because it is seen or interpreted as a step in the direction of greater social equality or at least a move toward “equal opportunity” (Spina 2017). At the same time it creates a place of belonging in the diaspora setting moving toward what Peggy Levitt (2001: 27) calls an “attempt to understand how identity and belonging are being redefined in this increasingly global world.” In several conversations with members of the community, this aspect of the tradition was often stressed recognizing that these principles have both ethical and practical value within the community. They understood these values as the foundation upon which the community wants to build in Toronto.

3.  Innovation and tradition In this Indian Goddess tradition, Adhiparasakthi guru Bangaru Adigalar has implemented an innovative structure of ritual authority that encourages and supports women’s leadership roles in ritual instruction and performance. An important aspect of this tradition privileges women as ritual leaders without imposing orthodox purity restrictions that would prohibit them from temple ritual performance. Such gendered purity restrictions have become established social conventions throughout South Asia and the diaspora, and prohibit women from entering and worshipping in temples during their menstrual cycles. These ritual restrictions have generally prohibited women from roles in ritual leadership as well. Moving away from such restrictions which is in itself a remarkable shift from traditional Hindu Brahmanical ritual authority has opened new avenues for women in religious leadership. Within the Adhiparasakthi mandram, this mode of inclusivity has been welcomed and is generally considered “supportive to women.” At the same time, it has helped expand the realm of religious expression and agency among the first and second generation women in Toronto who attend the mandram. In this respect, we see some of the ways in which the global intersects with the local in the experience of individuals (Appadurai, Korom, and Mills 1991; Marcus 1995; Gupta and Ferguson 1997; Burawoy 2000; Gille and Riain 2002). The mission objectives of the Om Sakthi organization are divided into four parts and focus on cultivating spiritual and psychological wellness, a practical dedication to improving conditions within human society, and a commitment to the educational and spiritual benefit of women. In alignment with these objectives, widows (historically

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marginalized—​ and even discriminated against) are given access to educational/​ vocational training institutions in India and encouraged to participate in ritual as well.3 In Hindu traditions, liberation from the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra) has been described as one of the goals of human life. This may be achieved across a spectrum of praxis including yoga, tantra, and/​or in general, three traditional marga or paths which some choose to combine: such as karma yoga, the path of selfless action or service; jñāna yoga, the path of knowledge, more specifically the realization of one’s true nature with the divine; and bhakti yoga, the path of awakening through loving devotion. Within the Adhiparasakthi tradition, cultivating a relationship with the divine by adhering to this path, which combines these three aspects in one, one comes to understand the goal of yoga: awakening, liberation, mokśa, or in other terms, union with the divine.

4.  Devī in Tamil culture Among the people of southern India, local traditions of female deity worship have a long history. The goddess Adhiparasakthi is both Tamil and pan-​Indian and in this respect she is different from most local and regional Tamil deities (Narayanan 2013: 531–​4). Goddess worship is a familiar aspect of Tamil culture, both rural and urban. Devotees of the goddess make offerings to her in homes, temples, and local shrines, in places both public and domestic. Goddess worship is a popular aspect of the Tamil ethos, and constitutes part of a cultural and psychological awareness that has permeated various aspects of material culture as well. Amalgamated with pan-​Indian Devī worship in India and Sri Lanka, villagers and non-​villagers alike take their daily offering and prayers to the Divine Mother who is known by many names and forms.4 For Adhiparasakthi devotees she is the supreme universal goddess, also known as Devī. When I spoke to members of the temple society about the goddess Adhiparasakthi the attributes that seemed most admired correlated to some degree, with meritorious female figures in history and literature, and also those of ordinary women. A number of people at the mandram, both women and men, expressed a deep respect for the sense of ultimate authority, wisdom, and compassion found in the metaphor of the Divine Śakti principle as both Mother and matrix. In this regard, envisioning the goddess as a mother is not meant to construe her image as that of a fertility goddess, or to particularly reflect the reproductive capacity of women. Rather, the attributes that most significantly drew devotees to the goddess were those focused on the goddess’s divine authority, sovereignty, and power. More specifically, attention was drawn to the efficacy of the goddess’s power to make things happen, influence circumstances, and to act on behalf of her devotees.5 The image of the Divine Mother in this setting focuses on her power in action, protection, and the fortification her devotees. While attention to these particular attributes of the goddess is not unique to this community or to Śāktas in general, they convey aspects that are emphasized by a particular community and also shaped by local custom (Pintchman 2001: 6–​8; Coburn 1996: 43–​4). Devotees often expressed their confidence in the goddess with the assuring words that Adhiparasakthi can “command even the gods.” In other words, the power of the goddess is considered supreme—​that is, not derived from a male deity.

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The great independent goddess with many names and forms has received much popular attention. Whether highlighting her beauty and protectiveness of devotees or alternately identified in certain forms as fierce or bitter about injustice, the supreme goddess has garnered devotional and narrative significance in India and Sri Lanka (Pandian 1982; Kinsley 1986; Hawley and Wulff 1996; Pintchman 2001; Foulston and Abbot 2009).6 This is but one illustration of the way in which cultural and religious paradigms survive and persist within a cultural ethos.

5.  Interpretations of the goddess As it is possible to find varying interpretations of gender and a diversity of female role models within one community, perhaps it is not so surprising that the attributes that inspire and empower women to assume roles in ritual and leadership are emphasized. Creating new paths in leadership, some women at the mandram do encourage and cultivate such attributes on their own terms and to some degree through their interactions feminist values and social mores begin to take shape locally. As I spent time talking with the women during seva (voluntary service), attending temple events, and collecting individual histories, the sense of religiosity conveyed to me was consistently phrased in terms of relationship, a relationship characterized by intense devotion and service, and also reciprocity. The goddess is understood as the source of sacred power, Śakti, and in that capacity She is both immanent and transcendent. At the same time the mandram women continue to look to local women for leadership and friendship to create new avenues for practical expression and action. From this perspective, we can see how the women at the Toronto mandram have taken a proactive stance on ritual authority and leadership. Religious authority and leadership roles impact women’s notions of gender and identity in different ways, and there is no easy formula to follow through to conclusion. We know that not everyone reacts in exactly the same way in the same context. With this in mind, there are two salient and complementary vantage points I would like to consider. In one regard the women are interpreting and envisioning models of female authority and strength that affirm a belief in the power of the divine as Adhiparasakthi and her ability to act in the world for the benefit of her devotees. In the same instance, they are also affirming the ability of “local women” with Śakti (inner sacred power) to act as well, both in the temple and beyond for the benefit of self and others (i.e., family, friends, community) (Spina 2017).

6.  Women’s roles in leadership When speaking with the women of the mandram regarding influential examples of empowerment and leadership, I  received a variety of responses. Their examples can be found in a number of sources ranging from the traditional Hindu lore from their childhoods to popular Tamil stories of more assertive female goddesses. Other examples made reference to the Sri Lankan civil war (1983–​2009) and included

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examples of Tamil women who acted heroically. There were also additional comments from their daughters inferred from their education and experience living in North America. While a number of women at the mandram have an approximate or general understanding of Western feminism (some more than others), somewhat construed along the lines of “political activism,” they prefer not to emulate perceived values, but rather to seek their own means of empowerment from within a Tamil social and religious framework.7 Though North American feminist role models may be an inspiration for some of their daughters, their own gender ideals can perhaps be better actualized in the context of community wherein one defines one’s interactions with like-​minded others (Spina 2017). For a number of women in this community, the mandram has become a supportive context where their gender ideals are shared and encouraged. Some of the women at the mandram readily acknowledged gender influences in their immediate environment, (i.e., patriarchal influences, as well as the influence of women), and described their own interest and contemplations as an ongoing process. Women holding leadership roles at the mandram had more influence on their constructions of gender because their example fit effectively in the present context. The models of leadership that women such as Vasanthi (the president of the temple society) presented were derived from the circumstances of their own life histories, which were familiar or at least similar to those of other women in the community. These women had attained respect, authority, and leadership in the community partly because they showed the ability to overcome the challenges of circumstance in the local diasporic setting that others shared. It has been nearly sixteen years since the founding of this mandram in Toronto. Vasanthi’s continued leadership as president of the temple society and the respect she has earned within the community attest to her capability and dedication. Her understanding of service to humanity as devotional service to Amma-​Adhiparasakthi is ever visible in her work, whether planning large-​ scale festival events or attending to fine details. It remains worth noting that while her ability to lead is rooted in dedication and hard work, she also leads from within a context of experiences and challenges that she has learned to overcome, a number of which other members of the community have encountered as well. These challenges range from those due to migration from Sri Lanka (forced or otherwise), to adapting to a new homeland, issues of health, family and reunification efforts, finance and remittances, planning for children’s future education, and more. From one perspective, the models of leadership that the women looked to most were those who exemplified strength, perseverance, and determination. These qualities are valuable both in their practicality and virtue, and have been considered an asset in facing such challenges. For some women, the transitions that are occurring point to the possibility of reenvisioning notions of identity and gender expectations in accordance with their current experiences and new leadership roles in the mandram context. While some of the mandram women articulate their sense of empowerment somewhat differently than the way they perceive Western feminist ideals (in terms of political activism), the strength or benefit they acquire is nonetheless efficacious. Women’s interpretations of the divine feminine and the relationship they cultivate with

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the goddess is one of devotion and reciprocity. From one angle, it is this relationship that provides a form of “empowerment” within a familiar framework. From another angle, women’s authority and leadership and their means of ritual expression has been enhanced and expanded through participation at the mandram. It is this expansive combination of ritual means and leadership that has helped provide a sense of foundational support in the diasporic context even as some of the women continue to address concerns associated with migration and the immediate concerns in their own lives. In this community, the central means by which one’s relationship with the goddess is cultivated and maintained is through devotion and ritual. Women’s direct participation and leadership at the temple affirms female authority and agency. This is one way in which the women feel supported as Sri Lankan Tamil Hindu women in North America on their own terms without feeling that this makes them more North American or less Tamil, but because it is more in line with their own contemporary values (Spina 2017). These opportunities afford greater possibilities in personal expression in a context that positively reflects their values and allows a place for the implementation of their creativity and ideas as well. The fact that the women are actively assuming leadership responsibilities at the mandram attests to their sense of vision, and also enables them to support one another moving forward with a sense of belonging as they continue to balance life’s challenges and build community in Toronto.

7.  Gender, identity, and performativity The last part of my chapter considers how Goddess theology, women’s ritual authority, and collective participation not only frame community discourse, but through ritual performativity serve to promote and bolster the ethical preferences of this diasporic community abroad. More specifically, this section engages the central ideas addressed by Hirst and Thomas (2004: 1) that “there are patterning images and models which explicitly and implicitly shape people’s understanding of their own roles, identities, and relationships . . . in other words, they contribute to the language which shapes the world people live in. This language in turn, affects and is affected by ways in which behavior is regulated and also the processes of production and consumption.” Hirst and Thomas aptly observe that “these interact with the range of identities that are available as a consequence of such a ‘circuit of culture’ and so have real effects” (see also Hall 1997: 1–​3). After considering the cultural foundation for goddess worship, upon which the Adhiparasakthi tradition (and other Tamil Goddess traditions rest), we gain a better understanding of the cultural signifiers that may support women’s notions of authority and leadership in the Tamil ethos. In significant ways, the fundamental innovation of reconfiguring traditional standards and restrictions on participation for women in a temple context has provided new opportunities for women not only to lead, but also to formulate and express their ideas and ritual concerns perhaps for the first time in a temple context. The president of the temple society, Vasanthi, along with the community of women at the mandram have created a local space that is both welcoming and nondiscriminatory

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and in other ways somewhat unique to the Toronto temple landscape. The women who regularly attend pujas at the mandram have found a place where they can expand the parameters of ritual participation and, in some ways, their religious identity. For many of the women, the mandram is a place where they can engage in volunteer positions and communicate with other like-​minded women, cultivate friendships, and share important concerns in their everyday lives. Most important of all, it is a place where they have been entrusted with ritual authority in their own right outside the home. By participating in a community where women are empowered to empower others, there is also an opportunity to promote positive change. The mandram functions on two symbiotic levels: first, as a religious center for a community of devotees, and second, as the heart of a particular immigrant community where people can join together in a sociocultural context, and participate together in shared practices, such as seva (volunteer service), and the women are actively engaged in both. On both levels, the mandram provides women with an engaging and supportive environment outside the home in which they as individuals can interact in meaningful ways. Postmodernism has helped us to reevaluate neatly packaged definitions of gender, recognizing that the experience of womanhood differs among women. We have been reminded that the development of identity is affected by the varied intersections of a multiplicity of forces and positions (e.g., age, religion, economics, culture, race, geopolitical ideologies, etc.) which therefore challenge homogenizing definitions of women (Mohanty 1991; Arnstein 2001).8 Within the Hindu social structure, conceptual notions of selfhood have often been understood in relational terms rather than in terms of the individual. At times, traditional constructions of gender for women have been closely related to socially determined roles associated with marriage (i.e., wife, mother, and daughter-​in-​law). These roles are still highly valued by the women at the mandram and yet at the same time interpreted somewhat differently. In some ways women’s leadership roles and authority are affirmed through modes of performance that like gender identity are constituted through a stylized repetition of acts (Butler 1990:  171–​80). Additionally, these acts carry important responsibilities across “boundaries” that seem fluid, that is to say these boundaries move and blend both administratively and ritually, domestically and publicly. As Tracy Pintchman (2007: 5) aptly notes, “Religious practice, which certainly entails a stylized repetition of acts executed in a ritual arena, is, in this regard, clearly an engendering process.” She further adds that “ritual engenders though the performance of actions that help to produce identity, including gender identity, in relation to predominant social norms in ways that may be compliant, resistant, or both complexly and simultaneously” (5). In significant ways, women’s leadership in the temple casts women as individuals, working together in mutual support and in turn, as they feel supported, they are able to further support one another, family, and community. Rather than a system of fixed hierarchy where the roles of ritual specialists (priests) and ritual participants does not change, the system operative at the mandram inherently allows opportunity for shifting roles both in ritual and administration, as specialists, practitioners, and ritual performers varyingly. In considering some of the salient examples that continue to influence the women’s notions of authority and gender, I see the important ways in which the divine feminine is envisioned within the community of women, the

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“inclusivity” discourse, the collective patterns of worship, women’s responsibilities for daily pujas, management of the mandram, and of course, the support of their guru, Bangaru Adigalar and the transnational Om Sakthi community. Taken together, these elements constitute the means and support for this particular interpretation of Hindu sociocultural and religious values in the Toronto context. The prominent discourse on inclusivity and nondiscriminatory ethics and the ritual practices that support those ethics are considered collective ideals that help sustain this transnational community across borders. If to a certain degree identities are constructed not only through interaction with others but also through the skills and knowledge we attain, the accomplishments we achieve, and the contributions we make to a larger collective, then women’s participation and the time they spend engaged at the mandram provide a means to renegotiate or reenvision potential aspects of personality and identity. The influence of women’s ritual authority, leadership, and participation at the mandram, and the support they give one another has provided women with a common venue where they can express their own sense of identity in an affirming environment. The responsibilities and ritual practices with which they are entrusted have engaged women as individuals, both personally and publicly. In some cases, these opportunities may inspire fresh perspectives or influence current notions of identity in new ways.

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Spirituality and Ritual in Odissi Dance: Health, Healing, and Ritual in a Diaspora Performance Tradition Kaustavi Sarkar

1.  Introduction Horidraa:  Golden Healing is a dance-​theatre production by Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT) under the direction of Dr. Ananya Chatterjea, a US-​based Indian (South Asian) choreographer working in the field of contemporary Indian dance (Chatterjea 1998, 2004, 2011). Horidraa refers to turmeric, a magical herb integral to South Asian cuisine mainly associated with healing. It is linked to purity in the Vedas, the sacred Hindu texts, and is used to anoint brides and bridegrooms before they take their wedding vows. In her research on the precolonial trade routes through the Indian Ocean in the eighth century, Chatterjea discovers the travels of Holud, turmeric in Bengali language,1 between Asia and Africa. The spice remains an integral aspect of her upbringing in a middle-​class Bengali household and she remembers her mother applying turmeric paste on her body to soothe her skin from infection and inflammation.2 According to Joe and Teresa Graedon from National Geographic, turmeric has been used in Indian and Chinese medicine for the past 2,500 years (Graedon and Graedon 2014). The same Holud inspires ADT’s Horidraa, which is a brilliant concoction of sound, music, scenography, direction, and choreography. Horidraa symbolizes connectivity and healing through the richness held in natural ecosystems. The piece reminisces the violence of the twenty-​first century that is being increasingly normalized. Yet, as the dance progresses, it restores faith in traditional cultures that always already celebrates healing in indigenous wisdom and love of community. The production weaves in alternate universes and indigenous cosmologies generating temporalities outside of linear clock-​time. Chatterjea (2016: 2) draws inspiration from the dancers in her company as they together create a physical, emotional, and spiritual journey to “remember and reckon with anguish and still believe in the possibility of weaving magic in collaboration with the abundance of the abundance.” In this chapter, I  argue that Horidraa is the performative manifestation of a metanatural healing process that is realized through a thoughtful deconstruction of

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movement and spirituality. Philosopher Jacques Derrida’s theoretical contribution of deconstruction complicates the stable correlation between the signifier and the signified in literary language (Derrida 1978). By questioning the presence of the actuality that is being signified, Derrida subverts the hierarchies of assumptions in place to make signification possible. Horidraa takes on Derridean deconstruction as a theoretical grounding as it choreographically deconstructs traditional Indian movement practices. The piece grounds in Yoga, Chhau, and Odissi that represent somatic, martial, and artistic practices respectively to expose issues of women’s injustices via racial, social, gendered, and class-​based inequity. “Chatterjea’s approach to voicing women’s desires and cries for social justice roots in her meditative engagement with South Asian somatic, martial, and artistic practices that are primarily engaged with spirituality and healing through a feminist lens” (Sangweni 2005: 87). Following ADT’s own take on choreography, I use a deconstructive lens to question the given assumptions and hierarchies embedded in these movement practices to find their efficacy in healing. In this chapter, I am inspired by dance scholars Melanie Bales and Karen Eliot’s anthology, Dance on Its Own Terms (2013) that vouches for the centrality of movement in choreographic analysis. I  use movement description to evidence what Caroline Palmer in her review of Horidraa coins as “casting healing energy outward from the stage, sensing a need for uplift and hope during these uncertain times.” In this inquiry, I ask: What role does movement have in Horidraa? How does Horidraa heal through movement? How does it define spirituality? What is the connection of Horidraa with religion? How does it deconstruct the religious precepts embedded within its constituent elements? ADT’s movement technique called Yorchha, drawing from the names as well as the practices of Vinyasa Yoga, Odissi, and Chhau, situates Horidraa in the sentient body where movement and spirituality coexist. Odissi,3 Yoga,4 and Chhau5 are artistic, somatic, martial arts practices respectively from India. The primary foundation of Yorchha is Odissi, which is an Indian classical dance form originating in the eastern Indian state of Odisha. The dance is archaeologically proven to be more than 2,000 old with its first verbal mention in the ancient Indian treatise on performing arts called the Natyasastra. It was established in 1955 by an all-​male group called Jayantika consisting of dance teachers, cultural revivalists, and ethnomusicologists by homogenizing various heterogeneous movement influences in the name of classical technique. The presiding god in Odissi is the male Hindu deity Jagannath. Odissi is premised on the ritual practices conducted by the Maharis or temple-​dancers in the Jagannath temple in Puri, Odisha. Given this devotional foundation, Odissi represents the ancient Hindu religious heritage that also problematically saffronizes the Indian nationalist project of postcolonial India. In any case, dealing with the world of Hindu gods, goddesses, myths, spirituality, and aesthetics, Odissi transports the performers and the viewers to the spiritual and ritual aura of the Maharis. Dance studies scholar Royona Mitra (2001:  17) makes a distinction between the “the ‘purification’ agenda of the Indian nationalist project, and folk traditions or other somatic forms such as yoga and martial arts that were not subjected to the same level of scrutiny by the morality police, and are therefore licenced to use the body in ways that are more earthy, thereby operating beyond the parameters of the devotional.” Chhau is a martial art form developed in eastern India. Art historian, Sunil Kothari shows that Chhau means multiple things—​to

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disguise, to attack, to shadow—​in which the practitioners danced with or without masks. While Chhau is set up as a martial art, it is also considered a spiritual practice by its practitioners (Mainak 2005). In an interview with art critic Praveen Shivshankar, Chhau teacher-​performer Guru Shashadhar Acharya postulates that Chhau is not only a martial art form but also a spiritual experience. During the performance, the Chhau dancer continually adopts a different persona while subduing his or her own character. Acharya argues that the performer’s total submission to the performance is spiritually generative. Borrowing from the Mayurbhanj (a city in Odisha) style of Chhau, Yorchha is inspired from its characteristic “openness of the pelvic floor, quick hip shifts, and spiraling jumps.” Finally, the integral connection of movement and breath, spinal elongation, body binds, spirals, and long-​held balances in Vinyasa Yoga influence Yorchha. Yoga has been globally popularized as a somatic practice. However, religious studies scholar R. C. Dwivedi (1996: 407) disagrees with this stance by positing the ideal traits of Yoga as emphasizing “oneness of the cosmic creation, universality of man, kindness and compassion and are against any kind of violence, apartheid and distinctions on the basis of caste, creed, nationality, or religious sectarianism.” In a different maneuver, ADT borrows from the Vinyasa flow of the Chaturanga in order to use the somatic practice as an aesthetic choice to “energize the nervous and skeletal systems, which are prioritized over muscularity in our technique” (“Ananya Dance Theatre” 2017). ADT defines spirituality as a practice that is always already embodied. Yorchha allows ADT to explore relationships between alignment, breath, movement flow, spiraling binds, sculptural balances, and subtle torso movements as the primary locus of spirituality. In Horidraa, movement is drenched with philosophies of resistance to conjure a spiritually powerful ethic. ADT practitioners pair Yorchha with Shawngram, which is a word in Bengali that means resistance. As a philosophical principle, Shawngram undergirds Horidraa’s philosophy of foregrounding the active resistance and daily struggle faced by communities of marginalized women of color. Shawngram shapes the content of Horidraa calling to attention the institutional injustices around us solidifying the indispensable connection between ADT’s art-​making and sociopolitical change. Aanch, another Bengali word meaning heat, refers to the heat when Yorchha meets Shawngram. It is the heat derived from the burning desire of the ensemble to choreographically access justice through collaborative practice. ADT believes in touching lives by initiating change. The final piece in this puzzle is provided by yet another Bengali word, Daak, meaning call to action that invites the audience and the community to embody, witness, know, and feel the energy produced by ADT. “The call in our dances creates a circular, vibrant engagement that circulates among the dancers, the audience, and the community,” reflects Chatterjea regarding the energetic engagements of her work. For ADT, spirituality is material created by the body in motion. The material body in movement is always already spiritual by energetically accessing and creating alternate paradigms of reality. Grounded in the possibility of sweating bodies generating friction and resistance, ADT performs to alter the composition of air particles creating the possibility of the emergence of the metanatural. The heat arising touches the viewers “making palpable the possibility of hope and change” (“Ananya Dance Theatre” 2017).

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In the following section, I shall outline the theoretical framework for my analysis via a conversation between Indian aesthetic theory and poststructuralist theory. I will then present a description of Horidraa followed by its choreographic analysis. I conclude by delineating how Horidraa’s connected knowing and healing via indigenous wisdom and love of community gestures toward a futurity where healing happens through accessing individual and collaborative spiritual energy. Its unsettling hope refusing co-​optation by systemic hierarchies causes a synapse igniting large-​scale shifts and social action.

2.  Theoretical framework Derrida coined the term “deconstruction” to criticize the intended structural unity of texts postulating that meaning can never be fully known disallowing the process of literal language to fix meaning. Critiquing the metaphysical principles of Platonism that separates essence from appearance while valuing the former over the latter, Derrida topples the hierarchy by reinscribing the marginalized at the center where the center itself is a measure of its differences. Deconstruction is a process of thinking that is endless and exposes the radical difference between the signifier and the signified. Literary theorist Kurt Heidinger (1996: 132) critiques Derrida’s maneuver as nihilistic proposing that a tenth-​century Indian aesthetician named Abhinavagupta anticipates Derrida’s maneuver while positing a solution that human beings are the transcendental signified:  the logocentric presence that Derrida deems as absent. In these following paragraphs, I take on Heidinger’s discussion on Derrida and Abhinavagupta, and by bringing ADT’s practice on the table, I propose that the transcendental signified not only lies within the self but it only manifests when it is vulnerable, disturbed, and connected. Heidinger finds a solution of the Derridean transcendental absent in Abhinavagupta’s philosophical and spiritual analysis. He suggests that Derridean deconstruction reenacts the Judeo-​Christian apocalyptic fall from the immaterial logos to the phenomenal reality reinforced by the monotheistic construct of a distant god who uttered the word that animated the universe into existence. Borrowing from Abhinavagupta’s treatises on Kashmir Śaivism, the theological school of worshipping the Hindu deity Siva, Heidinger (1996: 134) shows that “consciousness is not merely logocentric as Derrida would have it but arises from and is dependent upon an interpenetrating network of somatic activity.” Unlike the absence of the transcendental-​signified in Derrida’s accounts, Abhinavagupta, inspired by Tantric Śaivism, locates the transcendence in the self since Tantra is a body of religious knowledge and ritual praxis that finds the divine within the material body of the human. Instead of denying the human existence, Tantra believes that the entire cosmos is imbued with the eternal feminine principle of power flowing through the material as well as the spiritual world called Sakti who is also a female Hindu goddess. In Tantric6 terms, the sexual union of the male god, Siva, and the female goddess, Sakti, bridges the distance “of question and answer, of word-​thought and interpreter thought, of sensible and intelligible” (140). This notion of the transcendental signified

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has been investigated in Indian sculpture by art historian Vidya Dehejia in which she attributes the enlightenment within Sakti. Heidegger’s discussion of Derrida and Abhinavagupta is useful in my deconstructions of spirituality, religion, and dance in Horidraa. I  disagree with Heidinger’s resolution of Derridean nihilism within the neat heterosexual union of Hindu gods and goddesses. By flipping Heidinger’s analysis, I suggest that Derridean deconstruction complicates Abhinavaguptian transcendence. While I  adhere to Abhinavagupta’s somatic transcendence in the human self, deconstruction opens up questions regarding the nature of the transcendence. Hence, the continuous navigation between Abhinavaguptian transcendental presence and Derridean absence is valuable in the construction of healing within Horidraa. Horidraa is a psychological journey and eventual healing of the female protagonist named Ashwarnahm Barhaili Kofucheenané. It draws inspiration and support from global movements against injustice, such as #BlackLivesMatter, #RefugeeLivesMatter, and #NoDAPL, that make space for connections across vulnerable and disturbed populations. Kofucheenané starts her cure in Act I inside the conventional health industry that objectifies her and tries to cure her using state-​of-​the-​art technological means of caregiving. Here, she is vulnerable and in excruciating pain while her human caregivers address her issues through mechanical measures as delineated by the technology industry. Without being able to communicate the cause of her pain to anyone, she decides to forego her medical attention. In Act II, she delves deep down the memory lane to access the healing practices of indigenous people in various parts of the globe. Here, she goes through the painful process of re-​membering and reliving the pain inflicted via the instruments of oppression. In this nonlinear temporal journey, she remains unsettled and disturbed. Eventually, she conjures her healing through ritual processes in Act III that is also called “Rituals of Memory, Reckonings, Loss, Love, Pleasure, and Imagining Healing.” The rituals she creates emanate from the communal suffering as her fellow sufferers, in Chatterjea’s words, “make apparent the magical beauty of life every day, churning love from the depths of despair” (Chatterjea 2016). Here healing takes place through a spiritual coming together of vulnerable and disturbed cultural groups. Transcendence does not manifest in the bodies participating in this exercise. In fact, it results within the movement bringing together multiple stories, emotions, sensations, and experiences. In this coming together in movement, there manifests the spiritual transcendence that is material for ADT and it takes the form of the curvilinear spirals, elongated ankles, and percussive footwork. The constant ebb and flow of movement continually creates, solidifies, and disintegrates the dialectic between Abhinavaguptian transcendence and Derridean deconstruction. By inspiring spiritual action, Horidraa hopes to initiate social change defined as the culmination of a collective struggle against injustice. The ensemble’s deconstruction of traditional movement principles of Yoga, Odissi, and Chhau in Yorchha occurs simultaneously with its workshopping of the philosophical principle of Shawngram, meaning “resistance.” Shawngram or resistive action effects critical difference in Yorchha. It is a consciousness that is deeply rooted in the curvilinearity of hip motion in Odissi and the energetic flow of yoga. Grounded in the corporeal self, Shawngram establishes connection through story-​ sharing and movement circles where the

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ensemble works with and learns from the marginalized communities. ADT’s work revolves around environmental injustices or women’s histories because its cultivated listening propels it to remain vigilant to these issues requiring urgent attention. Most importantly, ADT believes in the coexistence of multiple realities and the juxtaposition of historical, ritual, and mythical stories. For example, in ADT’s 2013 production Mohona: Estuaries of Desire, I witnessed the coming together of four goddesses: Ganga from Hindu philosophy, Mazu from Chinese mythology, Chalchiuhtlicue from Aztec theology, and Oshun from the Yoruba religion, alongside the working class women standing in long lines to collect water in the slums of Mumbai and Native American women walking 1,430 miles to pour clean water from Lake Itasca into the Gulf of Mexico as a spiritual journey. Likewise, in Horidraa, ADT creates its own ritual as it gives the dancers a pathway to realize their process of transformation, in turn effecting change in the viewers. By bringing stories of queer pleasure, mythic realities, ritual creations, and communal harmony through women’s voices and stories, Horidraa works with difference as the central principle, where difference is construed as cultural, historical, racial, social, economic, political, ritual, and/​or financial. Horidraa foregrounds movement, connection, heat, and a call to action established through difference in religious beliefs, sexual orientations, racial origins, and social standing. It is one version of Yorchha’s deconstructive spirituality creating change in social justice issues relating to women of color as represented by the dancers of ADT. ADT’s choreographic works like Derridean deconstruction is a mode of thinking/​ embodying/​being/​acting that never finds an end. According to Derrida, “Justice—​ this is undeniable—​is impossible (perhaps justice is the ‘impossible’) and therefore it is necessary to make justice possible in countless ways” (Leonard 2016). This is the primary foundation for ADT’s rally for movement geared toward social change. Horidraa:  Golden Healing is a fictitious conjuring of change through the psychological journey into the self in order to find the critical difference with the others in the process. Although there is a narrative arc of the piece that sees the curvilinear temporal travels of the protagonist through the sci-​fi hypermodernism of the present, a violent past, and a connected futurity where healing happens through the empathic connectivity between the sufferings of each individual surfaced through a deliberate attempt to remember and resurface from memory. In the following section, I foreground a performative description of Horidraa, which will then allow us to forge connections between the dance-​theatre production and the dialectic of infinite play on interpretation and its culmination in the metanatural.

3.  Horidraa: golden healing Horidraa takes the audience through the journey of the protagonist Ashwarnahm Barhaili Kofucheenané who is a female person of color played by Alessandra Lebea Williams. The name bears certain cultural traits from every dance member in ADT. She symbolizes human connection that is the primary motto in this production. The journey starts in the present in Act I with Kofucheenané suffering for her health while the healthcare industry diagnoses and prescribes multiple therapies (Figure 11.1). The

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Figure 11.1  Act I, The technology industry. With permission from Ananya Chatterjea.

fact that her hard drive with her health-​related information has been erased makes her unreadable to the clinicians. None of the therapies—​straight up medical intervention, love therapy, and beauty therapy—​seem to work. Although she is helpless given her medical condition, she retains agency to stop the invasive procedures on her body. In Act II she delves deep into her memory to find the cause of her excruciating pain. Her descent into her mind leads to the remembrance of painful episodes of racial and sexual discrimination. She recollects the refugee crisis and the tragic loss of lives during migration and time travels in nonlinear pathways as the last act projects out to an unforeseen futurity where healing is possible through the connections established between individuals (Figure 11.2). The formal dissolution of Chhau and Odissi in the last group number conjures a sense of joy in community healing and connection. The principle of Shawngram requires the juxtaposition of stories of women of color that results in the possibility of a future that branches off in entirely different ways not limited by either the nation or the market.

Act I—​“Inside the Industry of Health” Wide open eyes, wrinkled eyebrows, quivering lips occasionally breaking out into loud cries, and fingers organized in configurations of Mudras or gestures from the Indian classical dance vocabulary greet the audience as Horidraa begins with the first act called the “Inside the Industry of Health.” Apparent on the face and the body of the protagonist, Ashwarnahm Barhaili Kofucheenané, is a sense of apprehension, fear, anxiety, and agony that fails to be acknowledged by the surrounding group of mechanical clinicians. Dressed in unisex clothing and masked faces, the caregivers

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Figure 11.2  Act III, Ritual conjuring. With permission from Ananya Chatterjea.

move, gesture, pose, sense, talk, observe, and dance like assembly-​line workers adept at executing only those tasks assigned by the computerized program. With frequent system failures due to nonfunctional invasive and noninvasive therapies, the dancing robots leave Kofucheenané in excruciating pain. The complete mechanization of the caregivers obliterates any empathic or sympathetic connection between them and their patient. This is clear when one of the industrial workers opens her mask moved by Kofucheenané’s yearning for a human connection as she cries in torment. However, the overarching dictates of impersonal engagement prevents the worker’s momentary lapse of protocol from deterring due process as prescribed by the industry. Chatterjea presents a scathing criticism of the modern industrial sector that mechanizes human interactions by erasing difference while pretending to be culturally inclusive. This is portrayed by keeping the primacy of vision over and above any other mode of sensory or emotional connection between individuals. Called to task by the voice on screen recognized as belonging to a colored person heralding the neoliberal industry, the grey bodies move in baby steps conducting a series of therapies, such as love and beauty, which can be easily recognized by the mimetic gestures deployed. Sculptural static poses in Tri Bhanga, the tri-​bent posture with distinct bends at the knee, hips, and neck, meet robotic manipulations of the limbs of the clinical workers as the former. Accentuated hips belonging to the quintessential characterizing feature in the Odissi canon, that is the Tri Bhanga, find use in stasis as well as in motion. The workers interrupt their mechanical gait by featuring the Alasa-​Kanyas, female sculptural figures in Tri Bhanga engraved on the temples of Odisha. Here, the formal curvilinear element drawn from the Indian movement vocabulary (mainly Sanskrit) acts as a mere

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extremity to the dominant linear aesthetic heralding the march of scientific progress and technological prowess. Given the lack of any data corresponding to the anatomical specifications of Kofucheenané renders her invisible to the health industry. Statistical evidence-​based approach reliant on scientific methodologies prioritizes the optical modality of collecting patient-​related information, which renders the human legible in the field of medicine. ADT’s dancers repeat the mimetic actions of observation, analysis, and conclusion showing the internalization of the scientific approach by the human psyche. The farce of cultural inclusivity reaches its apotheosis as Chatterjea can hear yet cannot see Kofucheenané’s cry for help in her physical ailment. Stopped by the audible expression, Chatterjea lifts her mask with uplifted elbows still claiming allegiance to the position of hands in her training in Odissi. The sight of Kofucheenané fails to connect the auditory and optical nodes as the psyche of the industrial worker is overdetermined by the scientific analytical process. Although disoriented for a second, Chatterjea continues to follow the herd of technologically created human bodies who embody cultural difference only while erasing it and recognize difference only in translation by the codes of Western modernity. The contrast between Kofucheenané and the masked individuals in expressional and gestural movements foregrounds the central trope of rupture in Horidraa, one that can be attained only through a transformative emotional experience. Drenched in Shawngram, the active struggle and resistance as mentioned before, Act I starts with a visibly anxious face of our patient. Both Kofucheenané and her caregivers deploy Mudras or hand gestures from the classical Indian dance vocabulary. While she uses them in an abstract fashion not necessarily adhering to their traditional usage as set in the Natyasastra, the industrial workers use them in mimetic actions. ADT dancer Renée Copeland uses the Bana, meaning bow, to perform an invasive procedure on Kofucheenané at the very outset. Both love and beauty qualify traditional classical Indian performance in which the audience experiences these feelings through the Indian aesthetic principles. The Alasa-​Kanyas embody the S-​curve of the Tri Bhanga in ways that complement the physical and the conceptual dimensions of love and beauty. Being trained in Odissi, I cannot help but feel the lack of human touch as the robotic bodies acquire the sculptural postures and shapes while lacking the real flavor. Spun to action by technological incentives of the clinicians, the sculptural figures no longer act as the upholders of Shringara Rasa or the flavor of beauty and love but have industrialized, standardized, abstracted, and dehumanized the emotions as commodifiable and alienable in the marketplace of affect. Continuity:  The flurry of mimesis in the actions of telescopic vision, outsourced customer service, working with tools, surgical procedures, blowing kisses, posing as models, and the beating heart, of the clinicians drives home the absolute frivolity of human emotion. Yet, Kofucheenané’s loud cry to stop breaks the cycle of flowchart-​ activity and they stop their aggressive and mechanical operations. This rupture remains a central metaphor for Horidraa although it is most visible physically in the first act as there are multiple system breakdowns during the treatments. It calls attention to the world around us marred with religious fundamentalism, technological warfare, and discrimination based on race, sex, caste, color, creed, and orientation. The visceral

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solo during the end of Act I drives home this issue of rupture as it centers the stories of injustice in a world readable only through market economics and technological translation. Kofucheenané yearns for a human connection and resists the onslaught of abstraction and alienation. Act I  is devoid of all connection and connectivity from a human standpoint as human beings are rendered readable or not through their data stored in hard drives. Origin: Since Kofucheenané’s hard drive has been wiped clean, the health industry is unable to understand her needs given that healing is only possible now through a scientific process requiring earlier records of the individual. Without that, the medical sector through its conventional or unconventional therapy cannot establish any connection with the patient. Healing is not about connection and connectivity. It has rather become an industry so much so that even where there is a complete breakdown of the technologically invasive procedure with pain manifesting in her body, not a single caregiver could simply hear her side of the story. Kofucheenané is the symbol of human connectivity as each dancer drops in something from their cultural background to formulate her name. However, she appears unreadable because alienation from humans has become the norm. Coming to think of #BlackLivesMatter protesting the death of young black teenagers under police brutality, Chatterjea believes that cultural difference becomes legible only when made familiar through translation. She metaphorically animates the oft-​ repeated anomalous shooting owing to an overdetermination of teenage rebellion into criminality. “Why there is so much pain is because they have forgotten connection?” retorts Chatterjea when asked about why she sets up a dichotomy between technology and culture. Act I magnifies the lack of connection in our lives through a commentary on our technological dependency where we outsource our medical needs to technological supervision or technologically construed individuals where any personal touch becomes frivolous. However, the hope of finding connection with other humans remains alive even though it is quite bleak. The protagonist always has the agency to stop the straight-​up medical, love, or beauty therapy while enduring agonizing pain and trauma. Act I ends with a faint ray of hope of finding the increasingly precious human connection.

Act II—​Descent into memory The most physical of all three acts, Act II portrays Kofucheenané’s journey into the past to find the source of her suffering. Glimpses of racial and social injustice, be it in the hate mongering of US President Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign or the police brutality to curb the protests sparked by the Ferguson trial, the acquittal of a white policeman even after he fatally shot an unarmed black teenager. The refugee crisis of 2015 with young people losing their lives in the Mediterranean Sea as migrants try to make their way by water to mainland Europe finds representation in Chatterjea’s choreography as she relates to the tragic loss of lives as a mother. However, hope stays alive in the midst of utter despair as Chatterjea recreates the image of a black man holding up a rose even while being beaten down by the law enforcement during the Ferguson trial protests.

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Act II is the embodiment of pain and resistance in an active encounter with events causing the experiences in the first place. At the center is the formal aesthetic that grounds ADT’s dancers in a common language, one that is worked with to achieve a foundation of equanimity through a difference that recognizes the individual journey of each dancer and brings it to the fore in the concert scenario. For example, to present the visceral experience of voices choked with the tragic loss of lives in the refugee crisis of 2015, the dancers constrict the vocal cord as practiced in the Ujjayi breath in Pranayama, the breath exercises in yoga. Keeping this physical constraint to generate an audible expression is very different from wailing or crying out loud. From choking their voices with the flow of Vinyasa yoga, the dancers struggle, resist, and assert themselves in their fight toward injustice despite being beaten down by the forces of the unjust institution. “What does it mean for a Black man to hold out a rose amidst violent protests?” questions Chatterjea. She mentions how each member of ADT had to work hard on not crying but consistently embody pain with choked voices. She related to this section as a mother questioning the loss of children’s lives either to refugee crisis or racial injustice. She believes that people have forgotten the connection that leads to a white police officer criminalizing the rebellion in a black teenager. Horidraa is not nihilistic because it presents the pain in order to conjure a future that hopes to find the human connection and heal human beings internally as well as externally. Drawing from the principles of Yorchha, the dancers set to transform themselves and their viewers in a ritual exoneration of loss while being drenched with the same during the processual change. This Act is the epitome of Yorchha and its promise to generate heat through a resistant attitude and execution of movement creating energy in the process. Starting with Magnolia Yang Sao Yia’s solo moment of foregrounding Kofucheenané’s mind and its journey into the recesses of the past, it ends with the return of Alessandra as Kofucheenané as the promise of a healed future. But the means to attaining that end lies within the painful journey through stories of loss, hunger, death, and disharmony. This act is highly footwork intensive and draws from the Nritta or pure dance vocabulary from the Odissi movement lexicon. Articulations of the feet as heel, toe, and flat at a consistent speed for an elongated period brings attention to the nature of temporality in question. The monotonic nature of the Drut Gati or high speed with which the dancers execute the first part of Act II distorts the linearity of clock time and allows for the atemporal travels to multiple historical junctures at the same time. The metronomic quality of the unison movements with precise lines and shapes as delineated by Angashuddhi or movement-​purity in Indian classical aesthetics binds the past events in a single thread. This thread draws out the force in Yorchha as the dancers no longer perform for an audience, but they move to change the composition of the air particles around them generating the warmth of community building as a consequence. The sudden embrace between Leila Pierce and Leela Awadallah presents the first respite from this footfall perhaps taking a moment of respite and connection from the journey of relentless pain. Recognizing the strength of the community in movement, Pierce and Awadallah’s intertwined bodies present the first ray of hope even in the midst of the loud hate mongering of the Republican campaign in the 2016 US presidential elections. Although intermittent and sporadic, hope resurfaces again

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in the images created by the black man holding out a rose in the hope of solidarity during the protests emerging out of the Ferguson trials. Dressed in yellow, the color of turmeric, Kofucheenané returns as a gust of wind trailed by a long piece of yellow fabric engulfing the rest of the cast with it in circular formations. Call it the principles of thermodynamics or an innate transformative force through the spiritual strength of Yorchha, this Act embodies the promise of the transformative experience of Horidraa.

Act III—​“Magykal Imaginings: Rituals of Memory, Reckonings, Loss, Love, Pleasure, and Imagining Healing” Act III, called “Magykal Imaginings:  Rituals of Memory, Reckonings, Loss, Love, Pleasure, and Imagining Healing” conjures the beauty after the searing heat of the previous act. At the center is an imagery of rain and the rain dance by the animals and the humans celebrate the traces of life in the burned grounds. They show the dancing peacock who spreads his wings to attract the attention of its female suitor. Theatre studies scholar John Arden (1971: 69) reminds us that it is a common feature in Chhau dance as he narrates such an imagery in his description of the same. With broad plies, elongated ankles, flexed feet, spiraling torsos, and curvilinear and wavy spinal undulations, the dancers create rituals with each other that provide them a pathway to attain a sense of healing and community. Sporadic duets, trios, group work, unison, and non-​unison movement continue deliberating upon the curvilinear thematic progression either of temporality or ritual healing. Act III begins with the duet between Kofucheenané and Jay Galtney that remains a prologue to the actual healing process. It establishes the human connection as the central principle in this ritual when Kofucheenané’s touch on Jay’s hand processes a transfer of energy leading the duo to join the rest of the dancers. The dancers lift Kofucheenané carrying her around the stage in a circular path after which they form a circle on stage, bodies flat on the ground with outstretched arms, one person’s hands grabbing the heels of the other. The spiraling torso of Odissi meets the swinging torso of Chhau. Chatterjea constructs a complete dissolution of the formal elements of yoga, Odissi, and Chhau together to weave the beautiful art form in order to celebrate healing through the sense of human connection that arises only out of the heat and pain of extreme suffering. As the heat of Act II touches the audience, so does the joyous celebration that reaches its apotheosis in Chatterjea’s solo piece. Also Chatterjea draws from individual trainings as she molds Kealoha Alex Ferreira’s and Alessandra Lebea William’s training in Hula and West African dance forms respectively into a more Odissi-​esque aesthetic compatible with the larger theme of ADT’s Yorchha. The controlled movement of hips in Odissi that respond to the torso movement beautifully qualify the twirling hips of Ferreira’s Hula and the swirling hips of Williams’s West African training. Horidraa ends with a joyous celebration by the women in their imagined future where a connected knowing between individuals heals as Chatterjea exclaims, “Healing is real, love is yours, the magic we weave will carry us through!” With gestures of Bana, bow in the left hand, and Katakamukha, arrow in the right hand, Chatterjea lunges into a deep horizontal plie to declare war against the advent

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of invasive medical practices overdetermined by technological innovations. Repeating the action of releasing her arrow multiple times during the length of her solo, her face remains hopeful and aspirational of the healing brought forth by the turmeric. Her hands no longer restrict to the square dimensions of Chauka, the square pose in Odissi where the elbows make right angles with the upper arms, rather they open to the sides of her body as in Chhau. Her soft and graceful transitions flow from one yoga pose to the next like water. Footwork with heel, toe, and flat stomping co-​occur with the hands rubbing against one another emulating the action of grinding corresponding to the accompanying text. Her hands join above the head in Matsya, fish, as she heel-​toes her way from upstage left to downstage right in Mandala, a wide grounded position of the body with knees bent. Pushing the hips and torso to opposite sides, the hands cross the body reaching the quintessential Tri Bhangi, the tri-​bent posture most characteristic of Odissi. Tri Bhangi forms a strong motif throughout the solo as she plays with the feet in one-​leg balances, accentuated bending at the hips, and in footwork articulating the T-​pose of the feet. The motif reaches its apotheosis with Judabandhani, tying of the hair into a bun, maintaining the lines of symmetry in Odissi. Contrastingly, the series of Akasiki Brahmari, aerial jumps, purposefully fail to maintain the rigid dictates of Chauka adding a springy quality apropos to her initial declaration of war against femininity. Firmly grounded in the belief in the healing practices available to communities of women of color, Chatterjea dedicates her solo to celebrating women’s ways of being and healing. Occasional borrowing from Yoga and Chhau punctuates her choreography, which she creates mainly with movements from the canonical vocabulary and stylistic dimensions of Odissi. I  see glimpses of late Odissi danseuse Sanjukta Panigrahi, Chatterjea’s guru, in her training in Odissi, in her solo as she plays with the lines and shapes of the Odissi Bhangas or postures by accentuating, deepening, twisting, curling, twirling, and twisting them to cater to Yorchha. Chatterjea mediates Panigrahi’s soft fluid gestural movements as she punctuates her Odissi training with yoga poses and belligerent moves from Chhau. Yet, as an Odissi dancer trained in the same lineage as Panigrahi and Chatterjea, that is under Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra style of Odissi, I  see the dominant voice of Odissi in this solo excerpt of Horidraa. She borrows while twisting choreography of set repertoire in Odissi that only a trained insider can decipher. For example, the traveling of the fish points to Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra’s choreography of Dus Avatar, the ten avatars of the Hindu god Visnu. At once Panigrahi’s Mandala or the grand plie flashes before my eyes although Chatterjea no longer keeps the frontal look of the original choreography. Instead, she orients her body to the stage right, lifts her hands above the head that was originally in front of the chest, and presents a calm disposition unlike the facial configurations of Panigrahi adhering to the aesthetic principles of Bhava and Rasa. The sculptural Alasa-​Kanyas return in Chatterjea’s solo when she holds a veil symmetrically to the right and to the left, an imagery that returns at the very end of Horidraa as the healed protagonist establishes her agency in the healing process. She compresses and elongates temporality in her ritual conjurings allowing her access to the past and a hopeful future through a sense of love, pleasure, connection, and utter joy.

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4.  Conjuring healing Derridean deconstruction meets Horidraa’s transcendence as the dancers of ADT work hard to conjure joy. Kofucheenané travels across and through time fighting against the neural pathways of her memory. She delves into a psychological journey into her past for a quest of healing when she comes across other bodies of color, all drenched in Shawngram. In this sojourning self, Horidraa brings in multiple histories of oppression starting with a recollection of the death of Sandra Bland behind bars. In the first act, the robotic health workers of the hypermodern dystopian reality surround Kofucheenané bringing home the memories of the towering bars of the jail cell in Waller County, Texas, in which Sandra Bland died. Kofucheenané’s travels also bring forth images of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean Sea and the divisive US presidential elections in 2016 with Donald J. Trump rallying for racial profiling. The memories of Kofucheenané encounters the injustices of the past as it finds common grounds of suffering among the marginalized communities of color. However, Chatterjea fought with her collaborating director of Horidraa, Marcus Young, to establish Kofucheenané with agency retaining at least one element of refusal. Young wanted to make Horidraa a bit more realistic where we see the likes of Sandra Bland losing their lives to structural racism. However, Chatterjea asserts Kofucheenané’s agency as she somatically explores Kofucheenané’s suffering and embodies possibilities of healing. Chatterjea believes in a connected futurity drawn from love, pleasure, joy, and hope where Kofucheenané can heal via a spiritual journey conjured by the kinesthetic rituals of sweating bodies. The connected futurity is grounded on mutual understanding and energetically embodying of difference brought forth by the personal stories as well as larger sociopolitical stories of injustice. Justice although bleak continually slips through the cracks but as Chatterjea cries, “Love is ours, the magic we weave will carry us through.” When all is burned, beauty plays a very potent role in rebuilding and healing. Chatterjea firmly believes in the dangers of the erosion of indigenous wisdom as that obliterates certain technologies that were always already in place. In Horidraa, we see an interesting surfacing of the Sudarshan Chakra, a disc used by the Hindu deity Krishna as a weapon for beheading wrongdoers. During the beginning of Act III, Hui Wilcox and Magnolia Yang Sang Yia perform the circling motion of the Chakra through wrist rotations declaring the aggressive nature of their activism against corporate technologization at the cost of the economically and racially marginalized populations. The curvilinear spiral of their twisting bodies in unison establish the role of individual journeys into imagination, memory, culture, and tradition to portray the strength in connection. Chatterjea reiterates, “I want them to think about memory and imagination as resources we have, so we can create a space for ourselves where beauty and grace are possible” (Combs 2016). ADT deploys power and strength through its rounded lines and curvilinear aesthetics borrowing from the graceful sculptural Alasa-​ Kanyas and the kingly torso sways of Mayurbhanj Chhau. Beauty becomes absolutely crucial for healing to take place. Horidraa centralizes the concept of the circle as the first step in the healing process. In a kinesthetic conceptualization of meaning and consciousness, the dancers present

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the circle as a means to imagine and connect. In Act III, Kofucheenané is carried by the shoulders of the ADT cast around the stage in a circle. This is the traditional mode of carrying a dead body to the burning grounds for Hindus. However, Horidraa finds a different set of meaning for this image. Positioned at the beginning of the last act, this move inspires new beginning in close proximity to death. This beginning critiques the dysfunction of the overdetermination of culture by technological prowess brought forth by the irony of neoliberalization. Chatterjea leads the cluster of bodies carrying Kofucheenané while tracing a circle on stage. She imbibes Shawngram as she performs ADT’s signature okra-​walk with curving hip movements and long lines of energy presenting the rounded edges to feminist power. “Are we saying strength should always look angular?” asks Chatterjea when I asked her about the role of curvilinearity in her feminist aesthetics. Centering the spiral, the twist, the circle, and the curve, Chatterjea believes that there is no deconstruction outside of technique. A strong sense of discipline arises when ADT practices for hours at length to embody the technique and then ground in Shawngram. This aesthetic then challenges the dancers to imagine beauty and grace. Chatterjea takes issue with the concept of beauty in Odissi as it is too easy and presents a utopian world without dealing with the world of inequitable justice. Instead, Horidraa imagines the fringes of alternate universe such as imagined by the Native American Ghost Dance. The piece circles around clock-​time; elongates it and compresses it as the dance delves into the past in order to establish connection to then branch off in entirely different ways. Healing then takes the role of connection and connectivity through circles of life and death and not an industry following economic principles of demand and supply.

5. Conclusion Horidraa is a story of hope and healing. Time works in a dipping and spiraling manner. The past is all memory with activist organizing around #BlackLivesMatter or refugee struggle. The remembrance of the suffering enables a determined journey toward a connected future. The technical difficulty of the formal movement principles choreographically connects with Shawngram, resistance, and Anch, heat. This heat is the emotional source of Horidraa to present power, strength, connection, and healing. The space starts to quiver with the incessant footwork of ADT in Act II as the dancers build energy through a cognition and consciousness of struggle and resistance over the course of the historical journey. Thermodynamic principles enable an understanding of how air particles expand to generate heat. Anch touches the viewers preparing them for Daak, a vehement call to action to embody the choked voice through the constricted vocal cord and the footwork occupied with flexed heels, elongated ankles, curved toes, and flat stomps. The experience is emotional only when routed through the kinesthetic to generate a material spiritual experience and transformation. Kofucheenané’s fever reveals to her the existence of other worlds when she remembers where she was and remembers all of her pain. The final cry is that of sheer joy that comes from the sheer magic of life. Chatterjea’s solo remains the highlight of the evening, as her soft look, spiraling torso, extended legs, broad pelvic-​floor, and kinesthetic conjuring of ritual

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allows us a structure to touch something that is bigger than the immediate physicality of material objects. Horidraa is our hope to dance in multiple realms where partly you conjure things and partly things reveal themselves without necessarily having been explained by the principles of science following logocentric rationalism. Celebrating female sensitivity and power, Horidraa remains etched in my memory as I carry its fragrance in the hope of a connected futurity.

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A Mandal of Their Own: Gender and the Reimagining of Community by Hindu Renouncers in Northern India Antoinette E. DeNapoli

1.  “Enough is enough!”: imagining a women’s mandal in Rajasthan, India On December 11, 2013, as the northern Indian state of Rajasthan prepared for the Lok Sabha1 elections, which influenced the upcoming national presidential election of 2014, another election was underway in the southern part of the state. In the region of Mewar, a renouncer (sadhu) organization known as The Mewar Mandal2 held an assembly at a well-​known ashram complex in the city of Udaipur and requested its hundreds of members to cast their votes for the new leadership. This mandal, like others in northern India, accepts sadhus across sectarian divisions and includes those belonging to the Vaishnava and Shaiva sects.3 It also represents sadhus from the five districts of Mewar.4 The sadhus from these districts converged in Udaipur and elected new leaders for the offices of president (adhyaksh), vice president (upadhyaksh), secretary (saciva), treasurer (koshadhyaksh), and guardian (kotwal). The elected leaders would, in theory, not only represent the consensus of the group, but also uphold a vision and implement goals that would benefit the universal constituency of the Mewar Mandal of sadhus. Throughout the event, spirits were high and much heated debate ensued among the sadhus over the “best” candidates for these positions. Individual sadhus stood up in the assembly, nominated their candidates, who, in turn, described their qualifications. During this process, other sadhus had the chance either to challenge a nomination or support it, giving their reasons for being in favor of a candidate or not. After three hours of riveting discussion five new leaders of the mandal emerged. All of them were well-​respected men in the locality and gurus of sizeable devotional communities. But something else, something as momentous, but perhaps not unexpected, also came out of the mandal elections. Five of the eleven female sadhus present at the assembly decided to separate from the Mewar Mandal and create a mandal of their own, the Women’s Mandal of Mewar.5 Several weeks later, I spoke with a sadhu who attended

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the mandal elections and she told me what she said most of women at that event had felt: “Enough is enough. We need our own mandal.” What precipitated the decision to create a women’s mandal? Would a women’s mandal operate as a women’s organization parallel to the only (and predominantly) men’s organization of the Mewar Mandal? Would the line of separation be demarcated on the basis of gendered concerns, needs, visions, and goals? And, would a women’s mandal provoke a permanent schism from the Mewar Mandal and offer an alternative to that organization by appealing to a broader Hindu constituency? This chapter is based on fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork that I conducted with Hindu renouncers between 2013 and 2015 in the region of Mewar in southern Rajasthan. These renouncers have taken ritual initiation into the two pan-​Indian traditions of Shaiva (Nath and Dashanami lineages) and Vaishnava (Tyagi and Ramanandi lineages) renunciation. My work in northern India stretches over a sixteen-​ year period, and I  have known many of the renouncers whose lives I  describe, and whose narratives I present, since the time I began my research in the year 2001. The data is drawn from a combination of field methods, such as semi-​structured interviews, the collection and documentation on audio tape of the sadhus’ oral life histories, everyday talk, ritual performances, and rhetorical religious (dharm) performances of stories (katha; kahani), sacred texts (path), and songs (bhajan), and daily participant observation at their temples, ashrams, and shrines. From a semantic perspective, and to clarify my usage of the term, “sadhu” denotes the linguistically gendered masculine word for holy people in India’s dharma traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. While “sadhu” is typically used in everyday social discourse to designate ascetics, the term carries broad enough signification particularly in Hindu cultural contexts to include in its nomenclature a variety of practitioners ranging from married devotees to the most radical, world-​effacing celibate renouncers. “Sadhvi,” the linguistically gendered feminine form of “sadhu,” characterizes a holy woman or a female ascetic in India. According to the scholarship on women’s renunciation in South Asia, female ascetics employ the term “sadhvi” in their self-​representations to distinguish themselves as a class of women practitioners in the male-​dominated world of renunciation. Be that as it may, the female renouncers with whom I  worked in the northern Indian states of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh used the term “sadhu,” and not “sadhvi,” to describe themselves and their eclectic renunciant religiosities. For many of the Rajasthani sadhus, their understanding of “sadhvi” refers to married women who become possessed by the goddess and ritually heal supplicants of ailments in shrines dedicated to the goddess. If the sadhus want to talk about a particular female renouncer whom they know, or female renouncers in general, they often employ the language of “lady sadhu” or “Mai Ram” (holy mother) to specify the feminine gender of the sadhu. Their devotees respectfully address the sadhus through the use of maternal signifiers of spiritual kinship. They call the sadhus “Mataji,” “Mai Ram,” or “Mata Ram,” all of which translate as “holy mother” or “mother of God.” Following the sadhus’ self-​representations, I, too, use the term “sadhu,” and not “sadhvi,” to speak about the female renouncers with whom I collaborated. Although the scholarship on women, religion, and ethnography has explored various social contexts for the gendering of renunciation in South Asia,6 this chapter

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extends the analysis of female renunciation by drawing attention to women’s leadership practices in renunciant organizations. Through the case study of the Women’s Mandal of Mewar, it contends that female sadhus lead differently than male sadhus. The female sadhus are less authoritarian, they emphasize sharing of decision-​making and greater cooperation, and the mandals they create are less hierarchical than those run by men. What is more, their concept of a mandal expands the conventional boundaries of religious organizations as a means to advocate gender equity in the distribution of power, authority, and resources for female adherents who often feel unseen and unheard in renunciant mandals. It is important to make clear that no real brick-​and-​ mortar or other physical women’s mandal has been established in Mewar since the time of this writing in 2017. Rather, its existence lies in the minds and intentions of the principal actors. The modalities of leadership as conceived by these sadhus call into question essentialized views of gender difference that impact the running of mandals in northern India. Most significantly, the chapter also brings to light what I  call the “disruptive gestures” of female Hindu renouncers in northern India, whose lives and identities are at issue. It shows that the disruptures instigated by the idea of a separate women’s mandal convey a broader social commentary on women’s status, roles, and leadership opportunities within the institution of Hindu renunciation. Like other female Hindu leaders and members of women’s renunciant organizations in India, the Rajasthani sadhus with whom I  spoke envision a women’s mandal as a powerful matrix for unity in solidarity, group identity, and social action.7 But what distinguishes their mandal from other comparable women’s organizations in the country has precisely to do with its unconventional structural boundaries and institutional status. When I returned to Mewar in the year 2015 and spoke with the five sadhus whose idea to form a separate mandal only two years before was a creative response to the gendered power inequities of the dominant mandal in which they participated, I learned that these they are reimagining what a mandal is in a unique way. The novelty of the idea is confirmed by there being no other mandal like it, either with or without “walls,” in the entire state.8 As these sadhus suggest, a formally sanctioned social structure consisting of four walls, an elected constituency of officers, and a charter does not make a mandal. Rather, a mandal becomes actualized by means of the imaginative spaces that are opened up by the love (prem), devotion (bhakti), confidence (atmavishvash), and faith (vishvas) of its members and their commitment to change the conditions of women’s lives. These virtues, along with the participants who embody them, create a context for the mandal’s presence and serve as its sacred container. Since the founders were not keeping membership records, the numbers they gave were anecdotal, ranging from five to fifty people. But my aim is not to verify the existence or otherwise of a women’s mandal in Mewar. Instead, I intend to show that the common intention to form their own mandal has ignited disruptive gestures among the female sadhus who held positions of authority and participated in the Mewar Mandal. Their creativity in imagining what “counts” as a mandal disrupts not only the institutional practices of a mandal that tacitly enforces the inequity of women’s religious authority, but also dominant gender expectations in contexts of renunciant leadership. The female sadhus’

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imaginative work of mandal-​building illustrates a living experiment whose results have yet to be determined. The notion that a women’s renunciant mandal is present within the experimental spaces of change recalls scholar of religion Martha Ellen Stortz’s nuanced understanding of ritual. She says, “Blatant is the assumption that ritual begins and ends in the landscape of structure, with a brief foray into chaos. But what if chaos, plurality, and polyphony could be entertained as values as well? What if ritual were to begin and end, not only in structure, but in indeterminacy as well?” Stortz 1996: 122; as cited in Northup 1997: 93). In this light, it is my contention that the indeterminate presence of the mandal moves “betwixt and between” the standard parameters within which institutions are recognized and sanctioned in India. By the same token, communication technologies, such as mobile phones, which the sadhus use to interact with each other and plan religious events, provide a digital infrastructure and illustrate the fluidity and flexibility of the Women’s Mandal of Mewar.9 As with the virtues of love, devotion, faith, and commitment, technology also makes possible an alternative space for the sadhus to imagine creatively the structures of a women’s organization without having to conform to, or rely on, conventional social models and still be able to generate a vital network of alliances. As the idea of a women’s mandal gains momentum in such indeterminate spaces, those openings signal disruptures from the Mewar Mandal and speak against its “the failed and flawed” nature, while still providing a refuge from it (Northup 1997: 87). The female sadhus’ gathering separately from the Mewar Mandal in order to discuss a mandal of their own, to my mind, “performs” what historian of religion Bruce Lincoln has termed a “disruptive statement,” because their collective action “disrupt[s]‌ previously persuasive discourses of legitimation . . . by evoking . . . sentiments of affinity or estrangement” (cited in Northup 1997: 91). Ritual studies scholar Leslie A. Northup concurs. Speaking about the practices and themes central to women’s rituals, she says, Women worshiping together enact a social drama whose purpose . . . is to disrupt, demystify, delegitimate, and deconstruct both some institutional religious forces and the social structures they create and fortify. Although these . . . political goals might not be consciously deployed, the mere fact that women gather separately to engage in ritualized behavior is a disruptive statement . . . Depending on the cultural forces at work, women’s religious groups could similarly confront such entities as male-​dominated social structures, governmental agencies, entrenched gender roles, and family patterns, even though the group’s formal activities remain self-​contained, with no intentional political motivation. (Ibid.)

In what follows, I argue that the Women’s Mandal of Mewar illustrates what I call an “indeterminate presence” in that it operates beyond the bounds of the conventional morphology of social institutions and exists within experimental spaces of disrupture. Those disruptures, which reveal this mandal’s fluid presence as much as they engender it, can be seen in connection with the female sadhus’ refusal to participate in the dominant mandal’s leadership and their dwindling participation in its events; their

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gathering together at each other’s ashrams to craft a vision and set of goals for a women’s mandal that accentuate gender inclusivity and the welfare of all; and their symbolic adaptations of the parameters of the uncommon way of life known as renunciation (sannyas), which is accomplished through some sadhus’ wearing of the sari in order to resignify renunciation’s meanings from within the gendered landscapes of everyday female devotion (bhakti). Moreover, I suggest that the sadhus’ envisioning of a separate mandal ritualizes, in particular, women’s ideas, values, and concerns in a religious institution in which female renouncers are minorities. These tend to be overlooked by renunciant organizations at the local and regional levels as irrelevant to what renunciation is “really” about (for an example of this in Buddhist traditions of South Asia, see Gutschow 2004; Gross 1996). Thus, conceiving of the Women’s Mandal of Mewar ritually sanctions the worlds of women and, as significantly, an ethos of respect for the women religious everywhere that evokes a call for social justice. Through their collective work, the sadhus feel that they matter and actualize a sense of justice through networks of social support. Finally, I advance the claim that the sadhus’ reimagining of a mandal to privilege fluidity and flexibility in their leadership rather than fixed hierarchies makes available to them a kind of power, which “may not represent a uniquely female type of power but [rather] the type of power to which [these] women currently have access” (Northup 1997:  102). By coming together to actualize gender inclusive interests, these sadhus claim the respect and resources they value as virtuous people who have devoted their lives to serving the divine and the world. As importantly, they show that disruptive ideas can frustrate the structural and social imbalances in the delicate relations among gender, power, and authority that describe the leadership practices of a renunciant Mandal of Mewar. By pushing for more egalitarian leadership in mandals typically run by men, the sadhus create change.

2.  Radical disorientations: renunciation in text and practice Before I  move into a discussion of the contexts surrounding the conceiving of the Women’s Mandal of Mewar, it would help to provide readers an interpretive foundation and cultural context for the uncommon way of life in India known as renunciation.10 In this section, I describe the dominant ideals associated with the life and practice of renunciation as featured in Brahmanical texts and contrast them with female sadhus’ everyday social realities. In a religious institution in which gender is said to be “irrelevant” (Khandelwal 2004), the invisibility that the female sadhus with whom I worked say they feel in their local mandal and the double standards that operate in connection with who gets elected to “the best” positions of leadership point to the discrepancy between ideals and everyday lives. Such inconsistencies also show the ways that the female sadhus’ questioning of entrenched patriarchal narratives about gender irrelevance in sannyas heightens their awareness of inequity. Such narratives keep female sadhus from realizing structural status in renunciant mandals.

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Renunciation describes a radical and antinomian way of life in which the practitioner leaves everything behind; that is, the practitioner renounces what typically is viewed as normative in a society and culture (Freiberger 2006; Olivelle 1975, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996; Heesterman 1964, 1988; Dumont 1960). It involves a life of absolute simplicity and poverty—​and voluntary poverty is meant here. In Indian contexts, renunciation requires the abandoning of norms like marriage and family, householding, work and economic goals, ritual and societal obligations (such as performance of the Vedic sacrifice or Vedic-​inspired ritual worship ceremonies), and caste and class status (Olivelle 1992, 1995, 1996). Such worldly concerns are said in renouncer texts to entrap people in the rounds of rebirth that signify the impermanent world of existence (sansar). In this framework, disengaging from the worldly values, practices, and institutions associated with life-​in-​the world by cultivating detachment from—​and, in the more extreme examples, disgust for—​the world, becomes the radical means by which renouncers realize liberation from its mesmerizing grip (Gold 1988, 1992). The renouncer is celibate; he or she does not engage in sexual practice and, by doing so, avoids the continuity of one’s lineage in the world of existence. The renouncer abandons these norms, because he or she understands that participating in these institutions and practices ties him or her to the very world (sansar) from which they are trying to escape (Olivelle 1995). The renouncer desires to sever all manner of social ties to family, friends, and colleagues, and acquaintances in order to focus permanently and purposefully on the worship of the divine. For the renouncer, sansar signifies a transitory, and ultimately impermanent, realm of suffering and pain (duhkh). Breaking away from sansar, the renouncer believes that she or he will unite with the divine, or perhaps, depending on the theology of the renouncer, live in eternal communion with the divine. The most important point, though, is that liberation means freedom from the eternal process of birth, death, and rebirth; freedom from suffering and pain; and everlasting peace in the Absolute. Renunciation represents an alternative worldview and way of life to the dominant institution of householding, ritual practice, and a mode of existence that emphasizes the importance of life-​in-​the-​world. Thus, the dominant model of sannyas as featured in Brahmanical texts like the Samnyasa Upanishads11 highlights the ideals of dying to the world in order to awaken to everlasting freedom (Olivelle 1992). Attitudes of the Brahmanical texts on the eligibility of women, in particular, to renounce the world and lead a life of celibacy are mixed (Olivelle 1993). Since Brahmanical theology in general placed primacy on the social station of householding (grihastha)—​and, through the performance of Vedic sacrifice, the building of worlds (Olivelle 1992, 1995)—​the practice of celibacy for men and women is a hotly debated issue in the texts, often with negative assessments of the idea illustrating the dominant, if the not the exclusive, position on the subject. Indologist Patrick Olivelle (1993: 189)  has said that “early Sanskrit grammatical literature records several names for female ascetics, although it is unclear whether such references imply a recognition of the legitimacy of female asceticism on the part of the Brahmanical elite.” The names of female ascetics appear intermittently in Brahmanical literature like the Epics. Examples from the Mahābhārata include those of Sulabha, an expert in philosophy who debated with king Janaka over the superiority of renunciation over home life (188), and Amba,

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who opts to lead a life of severe penance (tapasya) after being rejected by the scion of the Kuru clan, Bhishma (Olivelle 1993:  188). The different narrative expressions of the Rāmāyaṇa contain the example of Shabari (ibid.), the Bhilni (tribal) female ascetic who spent her time serving the (male) renouncers in the forest and who offered the deity Rama the sweetest fruit of the forest by tasting them herself and discarding the bitter ones (Lutgendorf 2000). Touched by Shabari’s selfless desire to please him, Rama recognizes the authority of Shabari’s ascetic devotion and rewards her for it.12 According to Olivelle (1993: 190), these literary instances “demonstrate . . . that at least within some segments of the Brahmanical tradition female asceticism was recognized as both legitimate and praiseworthy and that such women could choose to become ascetics on their own and not at the behest of their husbands” (see also Pechilis 2004; Khandelwal 2004; Young 1994).13 There are a variety of Indian terms used in the classical texts, academic scholarship, and everyday discourse to describe renouncers in South Asia, and the ones most often employed concern the term sannyasi for male renouncers, and that of sannyasini for female renouncers. The more general (and flexible) term, though, is sadhu, which, in modern standard Hindi, means: “a virtuous person,” a “holy person,” or “an ascetic.”14 It is the preferred term used not only by female sadhus, but also by the male sadhus with whom I have worked. The female sadhus with whom I collaborated have received formal ritual initiation (diksha) into one of the two male-​dominated Shaiva (associated with the deity Shiva) traditions of renunciation in northern India, namely, the orthodox Dashanami order or the nonorthodox Kanphata Yogi order.15 In the case of the Dashanami Order, among its ten branches only five of them accept women (and, as I have been told, they must be initiated by a female guru of the Dashanami Tradition).16 Following their initiation, all initiated sadhus receive, among many things, a new diksha name given by the preceptor. The second part of that new ritual name indicates to which order/​sect/​tradition the sadhu belongs. To take an example, the name Maya Nath tells us that the (female) practitioner has taken renunciation into the Kanphata Yogi tradition, whereas the name Ganga Giri denotes that the (female) adherent has become a member of the Giri Order of the Dashanami tradition. As I said earlier, the female sadhus are addressed by devotees and disciples with the respectful title of “Guru Ma” (literally, “Mother Guru”), “Mata Ram” (literally, “mother of God”), or “Mai Ram” (literally, “Mother of God”). Such devotional forms of address used by devotees and others apply across the age and caste spectrum for sadhus and linguistically mark the kind of relationship that these women are perceived to have with their constituents as that of one between a spiritual “mother” and her children,17 and the socioreligious hierarchy that comes into play by virtue of being a sadhu and religious teacher. As a class of religious people, sadhus in India, generally speaking, are accorded a high spiritual status by devotees and non-​devotees alike. This elevated status relates to the courage they are thought to have in leaving norms behind, as well as to the salvific knowledge (brahma-​jnan) they are said to possess and transmit to their disciples. Drawing on a phrase that is well-​known among sadhus in India and featured in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad (1.3.28, translation in Olivelle 1996: 12–​13), a mystical text in the ancient Vedic corpus, the sadhu who can lead the aspirant “from the unreal to the

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real, from darkness to light, and from death to immortality” is considered to be worthy of worship and seen to embody God, or in the case of female sadhus, the Goddess. Both their high-​spiritual statures and salvific knowledge combine to create a sense of the moral perfection and authority that devotees have accorded female sadhus in Hindu traditions (Hallstrom 1999; Erndl 1993; Babb 1984). The academic and hagiographic literature on renunciation has often privileged the world-​denying model of the Brahmanical texts for representative imaginings of this way of life (Freiberger 2006; but cf. Dobe 2016; Howard 2014; Hausner 2006; Khandelwal 2004). The sadhu who “dies” to the world symbolizes the ideal. The anthropologist Meena Khandelwal (2016: 203) concurs in her statement that “what the Hindu renouncer seeks is detachment from his or her own social identity, expectations, and ego. These sadhus seek an understanding that worldly life, even ‘the good life,’ is fleeting and illusory.” The Maitreya Upanishad, a text from the Samnyasa Upanishads, makes clear its view on the primacy of the life-​negative perspective: “He to whom all desires seem like vomit, and who is rid of love for his body, is qualified to renounce” (MU 116, n. 9, cited in Olivelle 1992: 163). Although no single model, textual or vernacular,18 represents what “counts” as renunciation in South Asia (DeNapoli 2014),19 the Brahmanical renouncer texts often authorize two competing standpoints that have become normalized in literary and popular representations of who “counts” as a sadhu in Indian renunciation. One standpoint, the (biologically) essentialist view, has to do with the conventional understanding that men, and precisely high-​caste men, constitute the rightful heirs to an ascetic life. Antinomian practices described in the Samnyasa Upanishads, such as wandering naked (or wearing a piece of tree bark to cover one’s waist), living in isolation in unfamiliar places, and acting like “mad animals,” were most likely thought to be anathema to dominant patriarchal cultural constructions of Indian womanhood and, thus, beyond the pale of acceptable behavior for female religious adherents (Olivelle 1993: 186–​8; Doniger and Smith 1991). Similarly, women’s material bodies posed an issue for some of the more orthodox male authors of these renouncer texts (Wilson 1996). The texts drawn from the Samnyasa Upanishads tend to portray “woman as a symbol,” not women as real people with complex humanities (Sered 2000).20 Against this backdrop, the dominant model featured in such texts restricts entry into orthodox forms of sannyas to men, excluding women’s participation and realization of the paramount goal of moksh. But there is another standpoint that emerges in the corpus of Brahmanical texts. Unlike the essentialst view, the deconstructionist position supports both men’s and women’s right to renounce and pursue a righteous path of divine contemplation, study, worship, and liberation on the philosophical foundation of the impermanence of all material existence. From this perspective, having a male body does not qualify a person to renounce any more than a female body disqualifies one. The chief qualification of renunciation pivots on a person’s particular spiritual proclivities and competencies (see also Pechilis 2015). But even as these texts interrogate the essentialist biological claims of Brahmanical texts that delegitimate the value, role, and status of women in sannyas, they also warn their interlocutors of the potential dangers of attachment to the quest of liberation from sansar. That is, these texts caution that having any kind of

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attachment to the body, and by implication to gender, mires adherents in the web of sansar. The rationale typically presented involves the notion that gender is ultimately impermanent (it keeps changing as the body changes with every incarnation of the soul in the rounds of sansar), and it is immediately irrelevant for a radical way of life that seeks to transcend all dualities, social identities, and above all, the illusory ego. Despite these dual positions, the presence of female sadhus in texts, images, and everyday social life pushes back at these dominant models and discourses even as their daily lives illuminate the ongoing relevance of gender in a number of socioreligious contexts.21 Female sadhus account for 10–​15 percent of the entire renouncer population in India (Narayan 1989). While this number reflects a constituency of practitioners in the minority, it is not insignificant. Their views of renunciation have elevated the feminine gender to a superior status and value in that, as Khandelwal (2004) has shown in her work, it is thought that women embody not only the power of shakti,22 but also the divine maternal spirit of motherhood, both of which are said to make women “better” sadhus than men. The ethnographic scenarios discussed shortly focus attention on three overlapping social contexts in which the feminine gender is relevant to women’s access to and exercise of leadership in renunciant mandals. While many of the officials of the Mewar Mandal with whom I  spoke invoke the rhetoric of the “irrelevancy of gender” to describe the distribution of authority and power in their mandal, the female sadhus have a keen awareness that women’s lack of access to high-​status leadership roles in that mandal stems from essentialized views of gender difference. Many of the sadhus with whom I spoke echoed the statement that “we are treated differently because we are women.” Implied here is the idea that institutional power is imagined, delegated, and sanctioned in renunciant mandals on the basis of normative gender expectations of men and women. These are often biologically assumed, and in effect, authorize “who” has the authority to be a sadhu, delineate acceptable from unacceptable forms of hierarchy and authority in renunciant organizations, and ensure patriarchal models of leadership in mandals that operate at the local and regional levels. On the periphery of the world, the penumbra figure of the sadhu that the Brahmanical textual discourse emphasizes seems to refute the importance and necessity of community for renouncers. Of course, this is not the case. The social reality of mandals, and other institutions within sannyas, radically disorients the conventional ideal. Since their inception in the Indian subcontinent in the eighth century BCE, community has been an important feature of renouncer movements across South Asian religions (the sangha in Buddhism provides a premiere example).23 In the Hindu tradition, the two predominant forms of renunciation, Shaiva and Vaishnava, have their own monasteries (maths), learning centers (vidyapith), and akharas (literally, “gymnasiums”; organizations that administer sadhu membership) spread across the country (Hausner 2007; Gross 2001; Tripathi 1978; Miller and Wertz 1976). Initiates of these traditions can, but are not expected to, reside in the maths, or in conjoining ashrams, and participate in the center’s activities, teach in the vidyapiths, engage in local service work, and take on leadership roles (Khandelwal 2004; Miller and Wertz 1976). Neither a math nor an akhara, the two administrative structures of institutionalized expressions of sannyas in and outside of South Asia, however,

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constitutes a centralized bureaucratic institution regulating the lives of its members. As Khandelwal (2004) has discussed, sannyas runs on the model of “free enterprise.” In sannyas-​as-​practiced-​in-​India, there is no single authoritative institution to which all sadhus are beholden, and whose governance they must uphold, and hence, sadhus exercise a lot personal freedom in decisions about where to live and travel, how to practice sannyas, and how to organize their daily routines. Renunciant mandals characterize a separate institutional body from the more well-​ known maths and akharas. Described in the rubric of a nonprofit organization, as mandals typically are, the Mewar Mandal represents one such renunciant organization in the region of Rajasthan in which I worked. It operates in the capacity of a central “board” or “council” for sadhus in southern Rajasthan. As the number of sadhus in any village, town, or city increases to 100 or more people, the sadhus decide to form an organization (mandal), which serves the interests of the local sadhu sangh (community), providing everything from legal assistance to medical supplies. Every region usually has its own mandal for the local renouncers, and each mandal represents sadhus from several districts (the Mewar Mandal represents five adjoining districts of southern Rajasthan). Most of these organizations direct their energies toward raising funds to help its members sponsor religious feasting ceremonies (bhandaras) that honor a god or a guru, or to celebrate the high holy days (e.g., Guru Purnima, the holy day of worshipping the guru). But mandals can also raise funds to provide sadhus with legal assistance and medical aid.24 To get these and other activities off the ground, the mandals charge annual dues of Rs. 1,100 annually (approximately US$22), and the mandal’s secretary monitors payments. The mandals are not associated with any math or akhara, because membership in the mandals is open to sadhus across multiple lines of affiliation. Thus, the members of the Mewar Mandal consists of sadhus from various akharas and from the Vaishnava (Ramanandis, Tyagis, and Vairagis), Shaiva (Dashanami and Nath), Udasin (Sikh), Jain (Svetambara), and Tantric (Aughor) traditions. What is more, leadership in the mandals runs on a democratic model, where members elect their leaders from a group of candidates who, before the assembly, present their reasons for leadership, and how they intend to lead the mandal. By contrast, leadership in the maths operates on an apostolic model, according to which senior gurus and mahants (administrators) delegate a successor from among their qualified disciplines (Cenkner 1995). The principal impetus behind the creation of renunciant mandals springs from the intention to serve the entire sadhu community. But many of the female sadhus of the Mewar Mandal feel otherwise. The combination of dissatisfaction and disorientation that many of the female sadhus say they experience on account of their realization of the widening gap between the ideals of sannyas and their experiences in the mandal has caused them to step up and speak critically about the practices of the Mewar Mandal, to the dismay of its officials. They often prefer to deal with such social disruption by reminding the female sadhus that “there is no gender in sannyas” and that to be bothered by its mostly male leadership indicates the “a lack of detachment and readiness to live the difficult life that sannyas requires.” In response, many of the female sadhus no longer participate in the leadership of that mandal, or the events it sponsors. Let us now examine the

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three experimental spaces of disrupture by which means the female sadhus create the indeterminate presence of the Women’s Mandal of Mewar.

3.  “Where have all the women gone?”: the absence in the presence of a women’s mandal The refusal to participate in positional, generalized, structured power within the Mewar Mandal has contributed to the collective imagining of the Women’s Mandal of Mewar by the sadhus. Their intentional absence in the Mewar Mandal’s leadership posts and activities “performs” the fluidity of the women’s mandal outside of the dominant structural boundaries. But their refusal to participate in the dominant mandal also suggests that, at some point in that mandal’s history, female sadhus held positions of power and authority. This, as Tulsi Giri told me, was the case. An elderly sadhu in her seventies who runs an ashram and serves a predominantly high-​caste village community of farmers (Dongis) in Mewar, Tulsi Giri developed the idea to create a separate women’s mandal in Mewar. She also used to serve on the executive committee of the Mewar Mandal. She said that her post on the committee, as with its other posts, required three years of active service. Apart from the five leadership posts mentioned earlier (i.e., president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and guardian), the Mewar Mandal also consists of a sixteen member executive committee. It operates as a decision-​making body for the entire organization, and the sadhus who sit on and manage this committee have been elected as “at large” representatives of the larger sadhu community of Mewar. “I used to sit on that committee. But I resigned,” Tulsi Giri said. In response to my question “why,” Tulsi Giri elaborated further that I left my post because I had to have stomach surgery. It was hard for me to attend the meetings. We have twelve meetings in a year. The meetings are held among the sixteen sadhus. They are the members of the executive board. It is mandatory to attend those meetings. If we do not attend those meetings, we are fined 1100 rupees [INR] by the mandal. I deposited 1100 rupees and resigned from my post.25

As our conversation continued, however, I learned that Tulsi Giri’s resignation had less to do with her illness and more to do with what she and the other female sadhus with whom I  spoke largely confirmed as a lack of respect and equal treatment of female sadhus in the Mewar Mandal. This lack of respect and equal treatment, the sadhus said, is evident in the types of leadership positions the mandal offers its female constituents.26 According to Tulsi Giri, although she held a position on the executive board, she did not have what she suggested amounts to “real” decision-​making authority in the mandal. Her administrative role had to do with ensuring that invitations for planned events were distributed to all the mandal’s members. Recall that these sadhus reside in ashrams located in the five districts of Mewar. Not only that, many of these ashrams lie off the beaten path; they are located in desolate places, like forests and jungles,

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sometimes at the top of a mountain (Mewar is surrounded by the Aravalli Mountain range), and remain inaccessible to (or off the grid for) many of the local postal systems in the region. For Tulsi Giri, getting invitations to the sadhus and, as she clarified, going to the executive meetings, requires having access to specific kinds of financial and material resources. She explained, Suppose if you do not have a car, you have to arrange a car, you have to pay the fee, etc. You need money to hire a car. It is not so easy to give this money. My earnings come from what donations come to the temple. These [executive] meetings that take place once a month, they can happen anywhere. In Chittorgarh, Bhilwara, Kankroli, Udaipur. I do not have a car. Why should I have a car? I am a sadhu. I do not need a car. But these sadhus on the mandal [committee], they have their own cars, their own drivers. They have money.

Notice that the particular post Tulsi Giri received in the Mewar Mandal requires her to have and expend material resources she does not have. She emphasizes in her narrative that, as a sadhu, she does not have a car and is not a wage earner. She has to rely on the donations that her devotees give to the temple that she manages. Tulsi Giri’s prescriptive comments perform a stinging critique of the mandal’s officials, and by implication, the state of sannyas in this mandal, as much as they register awareness of the double standards that operate in which sadhus receive resources. Having little resources makes it difficult for her to fulfill the duties she has been charged with by the mandal. Besides not being entrusted by the mandal leaders with substantive decision-​ making power, Tulsi Giri also took issue with the patterns of the distribution of female leadership in that organization. She said that of the sixteen executive positions available, only two have ever been held by female sadhus. Moreover, both of those positions entail the same administrative responsibilities with respect to distributing event-​invitations to the mandal’s members. Tulsi Giri and Jamuna Nath, the only other female sadhu on the executive committee, approached the Mewar Mandal leaders with their growing concerns about the distribution of female leadership in the mandal. Tulsi Giri said, We told the leaders, “Look, you are sadhus, and we are also sadhus. There are sixteen posts on this committee. Why is your number larger than ours? Why are there only two women and fourteen men on this committee? There should be more women on the committee. There are only two women and there should be more of them.” This was the issue. We also wanted women to serve in the best positions. The person should have a post according to her qualifications. We said, “You people are qualified to do your posts. It isn’t that men only do this work and women only do that work. We can also do the work that you are doing.”

The leaders of the Mewar Mandal with whom I  spoke, including the incumbent president in the year 2014, Abhay Giri, and a former president, Prakash Bharati, who had served three consecutive terms and was acting as the treasurer for the year

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2014, pressed on the point that the mandal welcomes female sadhus to serve on its executive board as well as in more structured positions of power. The reason that these sadhus and a few other (male) mandal representatives gave for the women’s minority leadership status has to do with what they emphasized as the “necessity of skill.” As Prakash Bharati said, We want ladies [mahilaen] to run the mandal. They can have all the posts if they want. But they have to do everything in the correct way. Running a mandal requires skill [upay]. You have to manage the accounts. You have to maintain the registers of all the participants. You have to manage each and every thing correctly. You have to do a lot of things. It’s not easy.

When I pressed Prakash Bharati to clarify further his idea of the skill required to run the mandal, he replied that “the lady sadhus [matarams] in this area are uneducated. They cannot read or write. That’s it.” But the female sadhus who are envisioning their own renunciant Women’s Mandal of Mewar disagreed with the Mewar Mandal’s assessment of the situation. First, these sadhus did not at all see their “uneducated” (anpardh) status as an obstacle to their capacity to run their own mandal. For them, skill is neither a matter of literacy, nor, as is often assumed, biologically determined. An acquired trait, literacy signifies a privilege and an educational status to which many of the female sadhus did not have access (but which many of the male sadhus did have access to), because of the orthodox and high-​caste milieux in which they lived.27 Rather, skill involves the extent to which sadhus have purified themselves of any “feelings” (bhav) of greed (lobh), lust (kam), and hatred (nafrat). It depends on a sadhu’s inherent capacity to “meet God” (bhagvan) in the everyday realities of life and to see God in the all the people whom one serves. It is shaped by practice, and not biological sex. Second, most of the female sadhus agreed that running a mandal requires courage (himmat), and, more precisely, the courage to do things differently. Ram Giri, another Women’s Mandal of Mewar supporter, while sitting in front of the dhuni (fire pit) at Tulsi Giri’s ashram, talked candidly about the courage it takes to change the dominant patriarchal attitudes about gender and, by implication, female sadhus that have become entrenched in the dominant mandal’s practices. She said, All this is the mistake of the sadhus. They should understand that Nar and Nari [literally, “man and woman”] are always standing together in everyone. If they are always together, the sadhus should respect women . . . He should have this feeling in his heart. Only then he is a sadhu. If anything is going in his mind, if he thinks that this lady sadhu [mataram] doesn’t understand anything, she is illiterate, she doesn’t know things, well, she may be illiterate but she can throw you behind. She is so strong [mazbut]. If there is any competition, I’m telling you, if a mataram decides to come first, she can throw that sadhu behind with a single word.

Ram Giri’s narrative brings into view a religious concept articulated by many of the sadhus, which may be characterized as gender androgyny (Gross 1996).28 She suggests

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that gender differences between men and women have more to do with the meanings that cultures attach to gendered bodies than with biological nature.29 Although Ram Giri’s use of the androgynous Nar and Nari concept indexes that she distinguishes between men and women (i.e., she recognizes gender differences), she also tacitly questions the idea that there exists a causal connection between biological sex and gender expectations. “Everyone,” Ram Giri says, has masculine (Nar) and feminine (Nari) attributes and characteristics which combine indeterminately to form the substance of the human personality. Just as female sadhus have the capacity to show love (prem), they also have the capacity to manifest strength (mazbuti). That strength can be used to put male sadhus who perceive female sadhus negatively and treat them differently in their place “with a single word.” Even as the sadhus acknowledge the fluidity of social meanings attached to the idea of gender, they also understand that as women living in a patriarchal society, whether they stay in their ashrams or travel elsewhere, they have to take precautions to safeguard themselves—​their bodies and their reputations—​from potential danger. The issue of the physical safety of female bodies arose repeatedly and figured as a preeminent concern in my conversations with the sadhus about the everyday gendered difficulties of sannyas. On the same day, and as a pot of tea boiled on the fire, Ram Giri, encouraged by Tulsi Giri, shared this story of the sadhus’ concerns with their safety: There was a bhandara [feasting ceremony] outside of Udaipur. We matarams [points to Tulsi Giri] went there. There were a few matarams there. That bhandara lasted a long time. We don’t like to go to these bhandaras at night, because how will we return to our ashrams so late in the night? [Tulsi Giri confirms Ram Giri’s sentiments; she adds a story of how Jamuna Nath was robbed by thieves at her ashram in the night]. There are no rickshaws after midnight. Nothing. We always tell [the mandal organizers], “Don’t have these bhandaras so late. We have lots of responsibilities. We have to do all the work in our ashrams. We don’t have people to do the work for us. Don’t have these bhandaras so late.” So, it was very late when the bhandara finished. We received our gifts [bhent-​vidhai; usually in the amount of 251 rupees, and occasionally, 501 rupees, which amount to approximately US$5 and US$10] and then left. There was this [male] sadhu leaving, too, and he had a car and a driver. We said, “Is there room for two more?” He was going in our direction. We said we would pay. [Tulsi Giri says, “We had money to pay for our seats.”] He said, “You are sadhus. You have your bhent-​vidhai (i.e., you received money to travel back to your ashrams). Why do you want to go with me?” We said, “We are matarams and it is not safe for us to be on the road this late. There are no rides. How will we get home?” We told him like this. We said the truth. But that sadhu said, “What sadhu is afraid of anything? What kind of sadhus are you that you fear traveling in the dark? Who’s going to touch you? This is all rubbish. If you want to be sadhus you have to be fearless.” He took off in his car. We were so hurt. We said, “How will we get home? Our ashrams are in another direction far away. We are here and we have no place to stay.” But there was a man who heard everything. [Tulsi Giri adds, “He was standing there and he witnessed the whole show”]. He said, “Mataji, please come in my car. I will take you to your ashram.”

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We offered him our bhent-​vidhai, but he refused. He was so kind. He took us to [Tulsi Giri’s] ashram. He didn’t ask for anything in return. We were ready to pay. But this is the situation of the matarams. Now, we only go to bhandaras in the day, not in the night.

The scenario depicted by this narrative suggests that the verbal exchange between Ram Giri, Tulsi Giri, and the male sadhu pivots on the assumption of the irrelevance of gender in sannyas. It is implied in the sadhus’ response, “What sadhu is afraid of anything . . . If you want to be sadhus you have to be fearless.” He insinuates that Tulsi Giri and Ram Giri must relinquish their attachment to their femaleness (i.e., they have to stop thinking of themselves as women) if they want to be fearless like “real” sadhus, as if femininity (and femaleness) interferes with what he claims sannyas is all about—​ fearless living. One wonders if this sadhu would be as concerned for his safety if he had to walk seven kilometers back to his ashram in the middle of the night. The bhandara sponsored by the Mewar Mandal was located at an ashram nestled in the mountains, where there are no lamps to light the path, dirt roads strewn with fallen rock and deep holes, and panthers and other wild animals which are known to roam the area and attack humans in the night. Besides, Ram Giri and Tulsi Giri never say that they are “afraid” or frightened of returning to their ashrams in the night. Rather, they reply that “we are matarams. It is not safe for us to be on the road this late.” They are not about to risk their personal safety and, as significantly, their reputation (izzat) as virtuous holy women in their communities by plunging into the dead of night without a care in the world. They have more sense than that. But the sadhu, in the view of this story, deliberately confuses their caution with fear. What is more, based on his extreme reaction to their benign request (the sadhus make explicit that they were ready to pay the money for the extra petrol and mileage), he reduces their perceived fear to the manifest product of their female nature, intimating that it makes them weak and fearful when sadhus need to be strong and courageous. Recall his statement, “What kind of sadhus are you that you fear travelling in the dark?” This view dismisses the gendered social realities of the female sadhus’ lives articulated in their concerns with their safety by conflating masculine experience with the universal human experience.30 In this light, Tulsi Giri and Ram Giri are obliquely chastised by a male sadhu for thinking and acting like women, and not like purportedly genderless (male) sadhus. But their story questions this notion of gender irrelevance by showing that the sadhu can invoke claims for his genderless sadhu identity because the social meanings attached to masculinity make possible for him the freedom of movement (and, perhaps, the disregard for safety) which the meanings attached to femininity constrict for Ram Giri and Tulsi Giri. Similarly, their requesting the mandal leaders not to hold “these bhandaras so late in the night” cues the social privileges that are tied to being a man in Indian culture. Their comment that “we are matarams” is not a plea for the sadhu’s pity on their feminine gender. Instead, because of the dominant cultural constructions of femininity (and respectable womanhood) in Indian society, it articulates their awareness that the sight of two women walking unaccompanied by male kin in the middle of night is likely to be perceived pejoratively, which could

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also endanger them in ways other than physical.31 Along these lines, the sight of female sadhus wandering in the dead of night is likely to raise eyebrows and provoke gossip, since female sadhus in general tend to be viewed with suspicion on account of perceptions that their sannyas is transgressive to society (Khandelwal 2004; see also Khandelwal, Hausner, and Gold 2006).32 To avoid such risks, the sadhus wisely take precautions by requesting to ride with a sadhu with whom they are acquainted and who has his own vehicle. Showing his lack of empathy, the sadhu, however, downplays their concerns and rides off into the night. His response is not unlike that of the Mewar Mandal. Just as its leaders told Tulsi Giri and Jamuna Nath that gender hardly matters in connection with who receives the “best” positions in the mandal, the male sadhu likewise reminds the sadhus that gender is irrelevant in sannyas. And yet, claims to ignore their feminine gender belie its influence on women’s leadership roles in the mandal and associations of femininity with fearfulness. Directing attention to the social and material conditions of their gendered lives, both of the stories evoke awareness of the gender-​based difficulties that the female sadhus face in the mandal. As importantly, the stories index the sadhus’ views that the lack of respect and equal treatment they claim to experience in the mandal can be traced to dominant understandings of gender difference as essentially constituted. Those ideas receive religious meanings and become attached to gendered bodies in the mandal and affect the administrative posts and leadership opportunities that are made available to the sadhus. Where essentialized views of gender take shape in the roles that sadhus hold can be seen in the ways that the men are elected to widely perceived high status positions that require making administrative decisions, raising funds, bookkeeping, and community guardianship. By contrast, the women are elected to purportedly low status posts in which they relay invitations and engage in “chit chat.” These activities do not develop the skills they have and want to bring to the running of a mandal. Consequently, the female sadhus end up feeling reduced to handmaidens and they often say that the mandal is not for “all,” but rather a men’s society that allows women to join.

4.  Disruptive symbols: changing meanings of gender androgyny in sannyas To that extent, the sadhus’ use of the Nar and Nari concept to describe religious understandings of gender difference, and gender expectations, is significant for two reasons. First, it suggests that the sadhus hold non-​essentialized views of gender. Second, it shows the disruptive potential of concepts of androgyny for sadhus who seek to delegitimize the patriarchal patterns of leadership characteristic of mandals in Rajasthan. This concept, usually conceived in the form of the pan-​Indian image of Ardhanarishwara (literally, the “half man” and “half woman” deity), depicted by one-​half of the god Shiva and one-​half of the goddess Shakti, is found all over India in temple and shrine complexes. The Nar and Nari concept is not exclusive to the female sadhus. The male sadhus are as familiar with the dual-​sexed idea of gender androgyny as are the female sadhus.

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What distinguishes the female sadhus’ use of this concept has to do with their foregrounding gender equity to advocate women’s equal access to and exercise of leadership positions in the mandal. Their stance on gender equity counters the views of gender complementarity, which are entrenched in the running of the Mewar Mandal, and which sustain the inequity of female authority in that mandal. Notice, then, that the Ardhanarishwara/​Nar and Nari symbol represents an Indian cultural imaginary of gender difference; that imaginary is glossed to promote gender equity or gender complementarity. The ways that leadership positions are distributed in the Mewar Mandal indicate that its leaders think about gender difference through the frame of complementarity, which implies that men and women are essentially different, and thus, enact different social roles as determined by the norms and expectations of their society, but that neither of these roles are supposed to be, in theory, superior or inferior to the other.33 According to this logic, sadhus enact leadership roles in the mandal that align with the gender expectations of men and women in spite of the common claims of the irrelevance of gender in sannyas. By sharp contrast, the gender equity view indexed by the sadhus’ use of the Nar and Nari concept indicates that leadership roles in a mandal, or any institution, should be based on a person’s inclinations, commitment, and motivation level, and not gendered bodies. From this perspective, men and women in the mandal engage in the same leadership roles and, by implication, are accorded equal status in those roles. No wonder Tulsi Giri questions the Mewar Mandal leaders about the lack of female leadership in its ranks by appealing to the notion that a “person should have a post according to her qualifications . . . It’s not that the men only do this and the women only do that.” As with Ram Giri, Tulsi Giri also recognizes the malleability of the social meanings attached to gendered bodies and that those meanings can, and do, change over time and with shifting cultural understandings. The sadhus’ views of the flexibility of gender expectations is supported by their fluid conceptions of gender. For them, the psychosocial traits thought to be intrinsic to gendered bodies can change over the course of the life cycle and on account of age, illness, geography, and/​or personal development. In effect, these factors can not only transform the nature of a person’s personality and behaviors, but also reorient her or his inclinations, aspirations, and perceptions of the world, making some social roles more (or less) attractive than others.34 Their outlook provides a counterpoint to the dominant view articulated by the Mewar Mandal leaders, who, as the sadhus imply, conceive of gender as static, and gender expectations as biologically based. Participating in renunciant mandals seems to have catalyzed changing understandings of the Ardhanarishwara concept of gender androgyny among the female sadhus. Although many of these sadhus have been members of the dominant Mewar Mandal since it began in the late 1980s,35 noticeable shifts in their views of the mandal, and their idea of the meaning of Nar and Nari, have been concurrent in the sixteen years in which I have conducted fieldwork. Before 2011, the year that I returned to northern India to investigate the topic of sannyas and social change, the sadhus made use of the androgynous symbol of Ardhanarishwara to tell stories about the complementary, yet separate, roles that Shiva and Shakti enact in the cosmos. That is, while Shakti “gives birth” to the world, Shiva “destroys” it, and neither god does the other’s work, or wants to become the other (they also said that Shiva and Shakti

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live together as husband and wife, have two sons, and enjoy a relatively good life of domestic bliss with only occasional disagreements). If one, or both, of these gods crossed gender boundaries, the entire cosmos would fall into disorder. One sadhu told me this tale: How did this world come about? Take the example of Shiva and Shakti. They are the first couple in this world. The first husband and wife of this world. They can be called the first couple of this world, too. So, Shakti and Shiva have different natures. Just look at them. Whenever we look at their personalities, they are divided into two parts. If you look at them, you’ll find that they’re very different from each other and they live together despite all their differences. It is not that Shakti wants to behave like Shiva. She will not like these things. And Shiva doesn’t want to become Shakti. They behave as they are. It won’t happen that Shiva will become Shakti, and Shakti will become Shiva. It won’t happen. Shiva likes Shakti because Shakti is Shakti, and Shakti likes Shiva, because Shiva is Shiva. They have their own ways in everything. They tell us that this is Shakti’s way, and this is Shiva’s way. They’re different.

Drawing on the symbol of Shiva and Shakti, this story locates gender difference in biological sex and suggests that maintaining gendered boundaries keeps a universe with a propensity for disorder in sync. The statement, “They are divided into two parts,” cues the “half man” and “half woman” mythic model of divine androgyny. Hammering on the point concerning the “differences” between Shiva and Shakti, the story encourages the notion of gender complementarity through the implied perception that the biological difference illustrated by “the first” male and female “couple” (jori), who “have their own ways in everything,” constitutes the essential source for their distinct attributes, mentalities, and behaviors. Notice that the sadhu emphasizes that Shiva and Shakti “behave as they are.” That is, their social behaviors represent the purported “natural” products of their essentialized “male” and “female” natures. Thus, in the view of this story, men and women enact different social roles because they “have different natures”; they are essentially different “in everything.” By the same token, the story tacitly counters the idea that Shiva and Shakti can, and should, perform the same roles, for, as it suggests, that would go against their nature, that is, who they essentially are. Since the essential differences of the gods and the running of the cosmos are linked in the story, and in the mind of the storyteller, their gender-​crossing would destroy the universe. How gender differences and essential nature are connected for the sadhu who tells this tale has to do with the context of the narrative performance, and that specificity illuminates another level of meaning implied by the storytelling event. Performing what I have called “the rhetoric of renunciation,” which includes stories (kahaniyan), songs (bhajans), and sacred texts (path), the sadhus with whom I  worked create gendered experiences and understandings of sannyas and, by doing so, bring to center of their heightened speech acts concerns, concepts, and values that are meaningful to their social realities. Against this backdrop, performance casts light on the gendered dimensions of renunciation-​as-​practiced by female sadhus in Rajasthan, and those inflections become rhetorically apparent by means of the concepts, symbols, and themes accentuated and interpreted by the sadhus. Hence, telling the story of Shiva

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and Shakti is like presenting an argument for “how” sannyas is different at the level of experience and practice for women than it is (imagined to be) for men. The story not only obliquely interrogates the Brahmanical ideology of the irrelevance of gender (it intimates that if the gods are biologically different, then gender has to matter in both immediate and ultimate ways), but also authorizes those differences on the basis of gendered embodiment. Many of the female sadhus invoked their femaleness to make the claim the “women are better sadhus than men” (DeNapoli 2017a). They draw on gendered cultural ideologies of the suffering of women that present social meanings of women as active and powerful, rather than as passive and weak, meanings which correspond to the dominant patriarchal constructions of womanhood in the Brahmanical texts (Doniger and Smith 1991).36 Besides using gendered tropes of the suffering woman, which they explained through the use of narratives, the sadhus also viewed their femaleness through the image of the divine female (DeNapoli 2014). Like Shakti, whose power is said to reside in women more than in men (Wadley 1977; Erndl 1993; Narayanan 1999), the sadhus associated their strength, courage, intelligence, power, and more precisely, the power of their radical devotion to a deity with the absolute and universal female power that creates the cosmos. The power of Shakti that the sadhus said they embody, and which becomes manifest in their gendering of renunciation, is thought to make it possible for them to live such a “difficult” life. At the same time, becoming involved in the “daily routine” of renunciant mandals has reshaped the meanings associated with their idea of the Shiva and Shakti symbol. The sadhus’ privileging an interpretation of gender equity with respect to leadership opportunities in the Mewar Mandal brings into focus the structural inequities which they have encountered in that mandal, and which, through an emphasis on gender complementarity, it has perpetuated. It appears that the sadhus saw a causal connection between the types of leadership they exercised and the narratives of gender complementarity embedded in practices that sustained the inequity of their authority in the mandal. Presenting their concerns to the leaders, the sadhus questioned those practices and, by implication, the visions of gender complementarity (and essentialism) they implied. By pointing out the power imbalance, the sadhus disrupted those practices, and their foundational narratives, by making the leaders aware of the discrepancy between what they say (“there is no gender in sannyas”) and what actually happens in the mandal (women not only hold the least number of positions, but also the low-​status, low prestige posts). This disruption forced the mandal to tackle the issue and ameliorate the situation. Lack of access to material resources and high status leadership roles in a religious “society” dedicated to serving the universal common good became critical to raising the sadhus’ awareness of the forms of gender inequity and pushing for more equity in the mandal. The pushback that the female sadhus have given the Mewar Mandal has as much to do with wanting to shift conventional gender ideologies, as it does with seeking to alter gender-​ based power hierarchies in this renunciant mandal. To change the latter, the sadhus must first transform the former. Hence, the disagreements voiced between the sadhus and the mandal leaders pivot on incompatible views of gender difference and gender expectations. For the female sadhus, reforming the entrenched practices of the mandal seemed an

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impossible task. The steep uphill climb they faced in addressing and fixing the dominant attitudes and behaviors that involved the leadership of women in the Mewar Mandal helps to place their decision to bring forth a women’s mandal into perspective. The energy and time that the female sadhus poured into making equal opportunities possible for women in the Mewar Mandal was not, however, an attempt to become like men by usurping their high-​status, high-​prestige leadership roles. Their claim for gender equity is not synonymous with an ideology of gender sameness. They neither say that women and men are “the same”—​and indicate that they are not blind to obvious biological differences between males and females—​nor think that gender difference should determine and fix human’s social roles. While they acknowledge biological difference, they also distinguish between biological processes and cultural prescriptions for gender and gender expectations. Their push for equity helps bring to the attention of the mandal those practices that exclude a class of sadhus from having access to resources because of their feminine gender. The female sadhus want to have the same access to the same resources and opportunities that the men have (and expect) and still do things “their way.” Confronting the leadership of a mandal that refused to change inspired the sadhus to take their efforts to the next level. Initiating that process, Tulsi Giri resigned from her post in the Mewar Mandal (depositing her Rs. 1,100 with the executive committee as her remuneration) and Jamuna Nath, taking a more radical decision, had her death rites (mrytu-​bhoj) performed, and then resigned from the mandal.37 In response, the mandal leaders reacted strongly to Tulsi Giri’s and Jamuna Nath’s disruptive gestures. Tulsi Giri said, “They told us, you want a post, take all sixteen of them and run the mandal. But don’t make another mandal. After that, everyone was silent.” The mandal leaders seemed to comprehend the serious implications presented by the possible formation of a separate women’s mandal to create a long-​lasting schism in the central organization. Although they have not “made” a mandal, the idea of a women’s mandal circulating (and gaining momentum) among the sadhus was taken seriously enough to disrupt the established practices of the dominant mandal that have excluded women from its elite leadership. Apart from resigning from her post, Tulsi Giri has limited her participation in the events sponsored by Mewar Mandal. For Jamuna Nath, the performance of her death rites prevents her from participating in any social function related to mandals or otherwise. The effect of their actions has been that other sadhus are following suit, curbing their participation in the mandal’s public functions, and some members have left the organization altogether. In the year 2014, the Mewar Mandal registered twenty-​ five female sadhus in their membership. As of the summer of 2015, their numbers have decreased to less than six members and no women currently hold any formal posts.38

5.  “Whose mandal is it anyway?”: disruptures in the vision and goals of an organization Profound disagreements over what a mandal is and how to run it have played an equal part in the female sadhus’ decision to conceive of the Women’s Mandal of Mewar. While the Mewar Mandal officials supposedly agreed to hand over the management

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of the mandal to the female sadhus, these sadhus refused their offer. They declined on the condition of a caveat. Tulsi Giri said, “The leaders agreed that ‘if all of you want to be on the executive committee, we have no objection. But you have to maintain each and every thing in the right way.’ We would have had to do what they do, like keep the registers, write down who comes and doesn’t come, what happened, what didn’t happen.” The sadhus have, thus, refused to run the dominant mandal because they do not want to imitate its models of leadership, hierarchy, and social structure. Rather, they seek to develop their own models and implement a vision and goals that parallel their gendered concerns, needs, and experiences. The disagreement that the sadhus have expressed with the mandal’s institutional objectives and vision illustrates another site of disrupture and, through that gesture, the fluid presence of the women’s mandal. These sadhus have said that the Mewar Mandal represents the distinct concerns of an elite group of sadhus, particularly those on the executive committee. That exclusivity is evident in its vision of a mandal. According to the mandal leaders with whom I spoke, the vision of this organization underscores the view that a mandal serves as the “sword” to protect the practice of sannyas at the local and regional levels. While the leaders denied that a mandal should operate as a regulatory body within sannyas,39 they agreed that it ought to safeguard the rights of its members. By contrast, the vision articulated by the sadhus in support of a separate mandal for women presents an alternative understanding of a mandal as a “container” to preserve the presence and power of dharm (“truth”; “righteousness”; “duty”; “law”; “order”; “life power”) in the world. Many of these sadhus described a mandal as an enriching source for the cultivation of dharm. For this reason, they associated their idea of a mandal with a container that holds, nourishes, and protects what they characterize as the “seed” (bij) of dharm. What is more, sannyas, according to the sadhus, symbolizes the nourishing and protective force, the nutritive fertilizer, that makes it possible for that dharma-​ seed to grow and flourish into the sustaining and ordering life power that the sadhus imagine and experience dharm to be. By historical accounts, the sadhus’ rationale for conceiving of a separate women’s mandal compares to the justifications attributed to the founding of renunciant institutions, and knowledge traditions, like the Dashanami Tradition, organized by Acharya Shankara in the ninth century. Compelled by the desire to restore the disintegrating power and influence of the Vedic traditions in Indian society and reestablish the primacy of Hindu dharm, Acharya Shankara created the four monastic centers, and their corollary institutions of learning, along with the ten renunciant branches, to ensure the continuity of the Hindu traditions (Rukmini 1994; Cenkner 1995). We may postulate that the reasons provided by the sadhus for imagining a separate mandal mirrors the indefatigable efforts of Acharya Shankara to “save” Hindu dharm, and its vanguard sannyas, from ruin. While references to Acharya Shankara remain submerged in the narratives shared by the sadhus, the link implicitly established between a women’s mandal and Acharya Shankara’s tradition of sannyas legitimizes their decision to create a mandal. Their rationale to “save Hindu dharm” has gained currency among the villagers in their communities, who seem to favor the notion of a separate women’s mandal. But what allows the “seed” of dharm to flourish, according to the sadhus, is the love its members

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pour into the mandal. Paras Giri, one of the sadhus on the side of having a separate mandal, said that her love for dharm ensures that it “grows unobstructed and touches the four corners of the world.” As she suggests, the life power and love thought to be harnessed within and by a mandal not only fills that container but also spills beyond its boundaries and permeates the universe. On the one hand, for the Mewar Mandal, a mandal serves as the warrior’s sword of sannyas; on the other hand, in the views of the female sadhus, it acts as a nourishing container for something much larger than sannyas—​namely, dharm. Such distinctive, and gendered, interpretations inevitably impact what the sadhus emphasize as the goals of a renunciant mandal. To be clear, not only the leaders of the Mewar Mandal, but also the sadhus behind the collective envisioning of the Women’s Mandal of Mewar identify common objectives, such as camaraderie, friendship, communication, and community. These goals underscore the transformative value of social support networks, and the complex relationships created by means of those social networks, in sannyas-​as-​practiced (see also Hausner 2007; Gross 2001). The difference, however, appears to lie with the issue of who actually benefits from these goals. Whereas, as the female sadhus said, the Mewar Mandal constricts these goals to the sadhus in its organization—​a view that some of the Mewar Mandal leaders seemed to confirm—​a women’s mandal would apply these goals beyond the confines of the cadre of sadhus whom it serves by including the wider householder community. Paras Giri described the contrast in this way: “I have come into this mandal to give seva [selfless service to humanity], not to take seva.” Like most of the other female sadhus, Paras Giri located the nature of the disagreement over the goals of a mandal by distinguishing between the self-​directed (“sva”; literally, “self ”) approach of the Mewar Mandal and the other-​directed (“sa”; literally, “with”) approach of a women’s mandal. A common grievance voiced by the sadhus involves their perceptions that the events organized by the Mewar Mandal feel more like a social club, in which the elite members meet, discuss business, and feast, than like religious activities intended to foster the personal growth of sadhus and social service for the larger householder community. Importantly, this view is not unique to the female sadhus. Some of the male sadhus I worked with said that the Mewar Mandal seemed more concerned with its own welfare than with the welfare of the world. Prem Nath, a sadhu who serves a farming village in Udaipur district, said in a frank tone, “What is the mandal doing for these people? The villagers need our help. That’s where I give my seva. But where is the mandal in all this?” Sadhus like Prem Nath, whom I met at village bhandaras that they or their householder devotees sponsored, often described the Mewar Mandal as a “svadhu” organization, meaning a “selfish” as opposed to a “selfless” mandal. Many of these male sadhus also did not participate in the organized activities and events of the Mewar Mandal, and, to that extent, did not consider themselves to be members of that organization. Unlike the conventional mandal, the vision and goals of a women’s mandal as conceived by the sadhus advance an inclusive agenda. Accentuating its inclusivity, their idea of a mandal promotes an egalitarian model of leadership in its refusal to reproduce fixed hierarchies. Imagining a mandal without the formality of charters and leadership

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positions appears to equalize the authority and status of its members, while relying on their ongoing commitment to the organization to make it run. I can say, though, that the way this fluid entity runs is that, for now, every member becomes involved in providing for the needs of the sadhus and those of the householder communities served by the individual sadhus, and the members coordinate their activities on the basis of location, time, and resources. To give a specific example, Paras Giri travels to the ashrams of the local female sadhus, particularly elderly sadhus who live alone and have few resources, and inquires about their health and food supply. She also offers daily seva, cleaning their ashrams, running errands, and preparing their food. More generally, a group of sadhus makes plans to hold a function, another group contacts people for donations to support the function (and distribute small gifts, “bhent-​vidhai,” to guests), and a third group invites the local sadhus and householders to the event. Although a less formal structural order, the women’s mandal does not at all seek to compete with the men’s mandal. The sadhus in favor of a separate women’s mandal want to engage in the work that they feel is important to them and their devotees, and accomplish it in a way that values their everyday lives.

6.  “God and bhagva are the same”: symbolically transforming sannyas through the sari Bringing to light their sense of not having a voice in the decision-​making processes of the Mewar Mandal, and their general feelings of the increasing selfishness and exclusivity of some of the members have led several of the female sadhus to transform the signal symbol of sannyas, namely, the bhagva. The method that these sadhus have adopted concerns their wearing of the sari, beneath which they wear a white petticoat that has a stitched border (tiban) in bhagva color.40 Wearing the tiban-​sari gives expression to a disruptive female renunciant aesthetic in sannyas-​as-​practiced in Mewar and “performs” an acerbic critique of the institution of renunciation, which is implied by the pan-​Indian aesthetic of dressing in full (and non-​stitched) bhagva clothing.41 By wearing the tiban-​sari, the sadhus symbolically experiment with the dominant definitional boundaries of sannyas in a novel way and draw attention to the third site of disrupture. The fluid presence of the Women’s Mandal of Mewar is indicated and created in and by means of such symbolic adaptations. Symbolically transforming sannyas through means of the sadhus’ wearing of the tiban-​sari provides a provocative social commentary on what many of them characterize as the degenerative state of sannyas in contemporary northern India. Their use of a symbol like the sari, which is as ordinary as it is basic to women’s everyday social-​ aesthetic worlds, to push back against the dominant conceptions and social practices of the Mewar Mandal cannot be underestimated. As Leslie Northup says, “Symbolic discourse make[s]‌an impact on the participants and observers . . . When the issue is the need for change, the symbols must also change.” Concurring on this point, the anthropologist David Kertzer says, “The trick is to introduce dramatic variations on these powerful symbols, to change their meaning by changing their context” (Kertzer 1988: 92, cited in Northup 1997: 97–​8).

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The symbol being altered here concerns the bhagva. Often depicted in the colors of orange, yellow, red, salmon, saffron, or ochre,42 bhagva, in popular Hinduism, symbolizes notions of eternal truth (sat), power (shakti), wisdom (jnan), dharm (life-​force), and the absolute divine (bhagvan; paramatma; ishwar; brahman).43 This color is depicted, along with those of green, blue, and white, on the Indian national flag to symbolize the virtues of strength and courage, peace and truth, expansion and auspiciousness.44 Likewise, bhagva-​colored flags (dhvaja), which demarcate the location of working45 Hindu temples and shrines throughout the entire Indian subcontinent, symbolically cue the everlasting presence and power of dharm, as well as the divine, in the world. Since sadhus are often represented in renunciant popular discourse as the “protectors” (kotwal) of dharm, they wear bhagva to distinguish themselves (and their religio-​ritual roles) as extraordinary. Not surprisingly, bhagva has come to represent a powerful and pervasive symbol of/​for sannyas in modern South Asia. Therefore, when the female sadhus hide bhagva, the sine qua non of sannyas, beneath ordinary householding dress, they dramatically change the meaning of that symbol by changing its location. As with the indeterminate presence of Women’s Mandal of Mewar, the absence of bhagva on the bodies of the female sadhus connotes its presence elsewhere beyond the more standard sadhu dress. According to the sadhus who wear the tiban-​sari, the bhagva dress has become synonymous in the local renouncer community with sadhus’ authenticity. Sadhus who do not conform to the standard bhagva aesthetic have been excluded from the Mewar Mandal. Tulsi Giri related a story about the public humiliation a sadhu wearing the tiban-​sari suffered at the hands of the mandal leaders. She said, One mataram came into the mandal. She was wearing a sari. The mahatmas46 of the mandal stopped her. They said, “You should wear bhagva, not a sari . . . We are sadhus. We can’t wear stitched cloth. It should be open. We can’t tie the string [nara] of stitched cloth. We are sadhus; you should not wear a sari. If you dress like this, you’re not a sadhu.” All the mahatmas of the mandal interrupted her. They said, “Why are you wearing a sari?” Why aren’t you wearing full bhagva? You are not a sadhu. Take off your sari and wear the bhagva. That mataram left the assembly. She almost died there. She felt so insulted. She felt very bad by all this talk.

Countering the dominant view of the Mewar Mandal, female sadhus like Tulsi Giri and Ram Giri elaborated that “real” sannyas, and, by implication, “real” sadhus cannot be seen in the current degenerate age of the Kal Yug.47 Ram Giri emphasized this notion in her statement that “a sadhu is a sadhu regardless of what she wears. That mataram [whom] the mandal humiliated does so much bhakti [devotion]. Her bhakti is in her heart, not on her dress.” In another context, using the example of what many of the sadhus have termed the svadhu approach of the Mewar Mandal, Paras Giri said that “today’s sannyas” has become corrupted (bhrast) by the selfishness of sadhus. Explaining her point further, she identified greed (lobh), lust (kam), and competition (pratiyogita) as the three “sins” (pap) characteristic of the current behavior of many sadhus and the state of sannyas in contemporary India.

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Since, for the female sadhus, the corrupted nature of the sadhus wearing bhagva has, in effect, corrupted the meaning of bhagva, the “true” bhagva can be found, in the words of Paras Giri, “only in a pure feeling within the heart.” On a heated summer afternoon, while sitting under the cool shade of a mango tree at her ashram, Paras Giri spoke about the purity that she associates with bhagva and distinguished between “inside” and “outside” bhagva. As she soaked lentils in water, Paras Giri said, God [bhagvan] and bhagva are the same for me. This bhagva is so pure [shuddh] for me, but these sadhus today have made bhagva impure [ashuddh]. The seva of God cannot happen as long as bhagva remains a show [dikava] . . . I never want my bhagva to become impure. That’s why I do not wear it on the outside. There, it is a show. So, I wear bhagva on the inside, under my sari. Here, it is real. I do the seva of bhagvan in my everyday cloth. This is sannyas for me. See, my feeling is that God comes to the place of devotees in everyday people’s clothing. God never comes in the form of God. God never comes in sadhus’ [bhagva] clothing.

The distinction that Paras Giri crafts between “inner” and “outer” bhagva suggests that the sadhus’ adaptation of this symbol occurs by shifting its predominant location from the extraordinary to the ordinary; from the seen to the unseen, a disruptive gesture accomplished by wearing the sari, in order to provoke a return to its purportedly original meaning of “purity of truth” in the heart. In the same conversation, Paras Giri stressed the point that sadhus with “pure hearts” have no need to announce “to the world” their inner power and wisdom. In her words, “Gold never says what it is.” But that shift from the extraordinary to the ordinary constitutes these sadhus’ transforming a symbol from what they associate with the elite status quo of renunciation to the nonelite, devotional (bhakti) every day. Relocating the presence of bhagva in the practice of sannyas to the context of householding reworks the meaning of sannyas from within the flexible parameters of bhakti to include the female mundane as devotional asceticism. That symbolic shift evokes alternative, and often underrepresented, creative associations for what and how bhagva means in “today’s sannyas” even as it establishes a new collective sadhu identity through its critique of the Mewar Mandal. In this way, the sadhus’ wearing of the sari performatively distinguish the Women’s Mandal of Mewar as a “pure” and flexible container for the cultivation and continuity of bhagva, dharm, and sannyas in current times from the dominant men’s organization, the Mewar Mandal.

7.  Conclusion: the creativity of disruptive gestures for female sadhus in India This chapter has shown that female sadhus in Rajasthan lead differently than male sadhus by foregrounding fluidity and flexibility in their organization and leadership of renunciant mandals. It has also demonstrated that envisioning a mandal of their own represents a creative response by female sadhus to the fixed hierarchies and inequity of female authority within the dominant mandal. I  have argued that their

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idea of forming a separate women’s mandal in Mewar has set off a series of “disruptive gestures” in connection with the sadhus’ refusal to participate in the leadership of the dominant mandal; their advocacy of a women’s mandal that, through its mission and goals, represents gender inclusive interests with respect to sadhus and householders; and their wearing of the tiban-​sari to articulate the degenerate state of sannyas and resignify the meaning of its bhagva (ochre-​colored) symbol from within the female everyday as devotional asceticism. These disruptive gestures have the potential to provoke social change in the institutional practices of Hindu renunciation. They can also transform understandings of what “real” sannyas is by changing the ways that sadhus, and people in general, think about the boundaries and the role of renunciant organizations such as a mandal. The authority exercised by the sadhus to imagine their own women’s mandal is believed to derive from the power of their purity and devotion as renunciants. Unlike the male renunciant leaders of the Mewar Mandal who often cite skill, literacy, and even biological sex as the raison d’être for their ascension to positions of power and authority in renunciant organizations, the female sadhus attribute the power to run a mandal to a sadhu’s motivation and capacity to lead, the quality of her renunciation, and the integrity with which she practices the path every day. For many of the female sadhus, sannyas has turned into a “big show.” Accordingly, the majority of “today’s sadhus” lack the honesty, wisdom, truthfulness, and compassion that these sadhus say is required to run a mandal in “the right way.” Along with that, their courage, which is said to be the product of their superior devotion to the divine, coupled with their embodying the power of shakti, is thought to enhance the authority of female sadhus and make them better leaders than their male counterparts. To echo Ram Giri’s words:  “If a mataram decides to come first, she can throw [a]‌sadhu behind with a single word.” Furthermore, shifting understandings of the religious concept of Nar and Nari, or Shiva and Shakti, articulated by the sadhus help provoke change in the running of mandals. While they do not overtly challenge essentialized views of gender difference, the sadhus seem to recognize that the standard arguments for complementarity, which are derived from essentialized views of gender, maintain gender-​based hierarchies and power struggles in the mandal. The sadhus want to create a legitimate space in the mandal for women’s equal access to material resources and leadership roles regardless of the gender of renouncers. Rather than see gender difference as a reason to exclude women’s participation from posts with the “best” status and privilege, they draw on religious models of androgyny, which make available a cultural framework for thinking about gender differences, to make claims for gender equity in the exercise of leadership and authority within renunciant mandals. Thus, using the androgynous Nar and Nari concept, the sadhus articulate the understanding that all humans possess both masculine and feminine attributes, whose combinations vary and shift on the basis of many factors and affect the human personality. A person’s social roles, then, should in principle correspond to his or her intrinsic inclinations, aspirations, feelings, and motivations, rather than to gender expectations of men and women. In this view, biological sex and the social meanings associated with gender neither qualify nor disqualify a person to run a mandal.

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Instead, the predominance of qualities that the sadhus accentuate, such as love, courage, compassion, strength, self-​control, honesty, humility, integrity, patience, and perseverance, gives the best indication for who can, and should, lead an organization. From the standpoint of their narratives, these various attributes crosscut notions of masculinity and femininity, and hence, none of these traits is thought to be the exclusive domain of any single gender (or sex). The stories of the sadhus suggest that they recognize the malleable meanings attached to gendered bodies, and they question representations of gender that deny women their agency, authority, and humanity, and limit their personal growth. While the future and viability of the Women’s Mandal of Mewar has yet to be determined—​it is an experiment in process—​the commitment of its members, its appeal to some of the male sadhus with whom the female sadhus interact on a daily basis, and its attraction to householders bespeak the importance of this fluid entity to the local community. This confluence of elements also underscores the provocative power of the imagination to disrupt by means of symbolic gestures “the status quo and . . . fashion new ways of being” (Grey 1994: 101, cited in Northup 1997: 101). By exploring the contexts behind, and the effects of, the sadhus’ conceiving of the Women’s Mandal of Mewar, I have presented a radically unconventional model of a religious organization in contrast to the more standard models of mandals in India. Their refusal to cast a mandal in the typical institutional mold “performs” a disruptive gesture. What is more, their decision to form a women’s mandal offers a compelling example of the ways that female sadhus counter the practices of patriarchal religious institutions that tend to ignore, overlook, or downplay the concerns of women. Their mandal validates gendered forms of power and authority that support women’s social realities and those of the people whom they lead. Their innovative vision and methods may help religious women everywhere who feel dissatisfied with, and disoriented by, hierarchical leadership practices that not only promote the singular welfare of the male status quo, but also normalize gender inequity to conceive of organizations whose fluidity allows for unlimited creativity and freedom of exploration. The impetus to bring forth the Women’s Mandal of Mewar appears to be making an impact on the sadhu community. Its influence thus far indicates that people are questioning the validity of institutional practices that distinguish between members on the basis of gender/​sex. Drawing the sword of love for dharm to pierce through the “maya” (veil) of mainstream views of gender difference that limit women’s access to and exercise of high-​status leadership roles in mandals, the female sadhus have envisioned a separate mandal to nurture and protect the worlds of women. Perhaps the chaos of its indeterminacy may be an effective means to shake things up within Indian society, and renunciant mandals, in particular, and create the kind of change needed to rethink the value of women’s lives. The seeds of gender equity that the sadhus have planted in connection with their push for egalitarian leadership in renunciant mandals have the potential to spill over into other social spheres. Although I have not heard the sadhus talk about gender equity beyond the context of the mandal, their own struggles with feeling unseen, unheard, and disrespected within and by a patriarchal religious organization may affect their thinking in more general terms about the importance of advocating equity, instead of complementarity, for women

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in a patriarchal culture, whether it concerns the home or the workplace. One question we might ask is:  How, and to what extent, does the equity envisioned by women’s renouncer organizations translate into changing conceptions of gender expectations in Indian society and impact the everyday conditions of women’s lives? This is an aspect of female renunciation that further research may help to clarify. On the whole, though, the indeterminacy of the Women’s Mandal of Mewar ritualizes its members’ lives and concerns by constituting out of that chaos an alternate social reality where they are seen and heard; where women from diverse backgrounds come together with the intention to manifest change that has enormous social potential. Through their collective work, and the synergies generated by their actions, the sadhus are able to understand that the double standards and inequity they have experienced in the dominant mandal constitute the result of unquestioned assumptions. They will work to construct a new identity for sadhus, as well as a new collective memory of female leadership, through their disruptive gestures. But even as the sadhus performatively engender a mandal of their own from within the devotional landscape of the female everyday, their commitment to create a more equitable future for women sadhus in India’s renunciant mandals offers an alternative model of structural power that preserves the integrity of sannyas in a rapidly changing world. Update:  Shortly before I  submitted this chapter to the editor of the volume for publication, my research associate, Vanita Ojha, had a conversation with Tulsi Giri, in the holy month of Shravan (July–​August 2017), after the Hindu holy day of Guru Purnima, in which Tulsi Giri said that many of the sadhus have rejoined the Mewar Mandal in a new capacity. The efforts of Tulsi Giri and the other sadhus to transform the leadership of the dominant mandal have made it possible for the Women’s Mandal of Mewar to be recognized as legitimate by the Mewar Mandal. To minimize the likelihood of competition between the two mandals, the women’s mandal has been integrated into the running of the Mewar Mandal in the form of a women’s administrative council. It represents the women’s branch of the organization (Tulsi Giri did not say that the Mewar Mandal also instituted a separate men’s council). This is not to suggest that there is no disagreement between the women’s council and the broader organization, but rather that it will not create a permanent schism. Tulsi Giri emphasized that the women’s council is not parallel to, or separate from, the Mewar Mandal. It is part of the Mewar Mandal and vital to the leadership of the organization. She also stressed that “all sadhus are treated the same. The matarams are equal [barabar] to the sadhus.” The women’s council has two female presidents, Tulsi Giri and Jamuna Bharti, and its role is to bring the female sadhus’ concerns to the attention of the executive council. It also has thirty active female members. The sadhus’ disruptive gestures have interrupted dominant cultural attitudes and practices that have normalized the inequity of female leadership within the mandal. The leaders of the Mewar Mandal appear to understand that simply adding female sadhus to its executive council will not lead to equity in leadership unless embedded cultural assumptions which constrict women’s power and authority are addressed and questioned. Establishing a women’s council within the dominant mandal will help shift institutionalized patriarchal ideologies and behaviors and, in effect, produce tangible results for female practitioners of renunciant mandals. While this change means that the female sadhus continue to operate within the

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institutional parameters of the dominant mandal, it also suggests that that mandal is taking the sadhus’ concerns about the gender inequity of leadership seriously and working to alter the conditions that promote gender discrimination in its organization. Its acceptance of the women’s council in the capacity of an administrative branch within the organization’s global structure constitutes the mandal’s admission that it does not adequately, or at all, represent the voices, needs, and intentions of its female constituency. By turning to the leaders of the women’s council, and seeking their influence, it also accepts the fallacy of claims of gender blindness and that gender inclusivity helps bring sadhus together, rather than tear them apart both ideologically and physically, so that they can strive for common goals without dismissing gendered concerns and lives. This shift toward leadership equity means that the female sadhus are primarily responsible for casting light on discriminatory practices within the mandal. For many of these sadhus, the change is a shift in the right direction; it will increase the range of possibilities for women’s leadership in mandals.

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Conclusion Lavanya Vemsani

As noted in Chapter 1, “Introduction,” each chapter in this book brings forward a new subject, source, or practice of Hinduism, not only across distinct regions of India, but also encompassing geographical regions outside of India, including the United States of America, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Canada. The most important contribution of this book is not merely in utilizing new sources, but also examining religious symbols in newer subject areas in connection with religious studies, such as art and politics. Numerous sources and new perspectives are studied in the eleven chapters contained in this book, and hence contributions of analyses from multiple sources are many. This chapter attempts to briefly summarize the contributions of chapters included in this book. Elaine Fisher’s examination of new sources in Chapter 2, “Multiregional and Multi-​ linguistic Vīraśaivism:  Change and Continuity in an Early Devotional Tradition,” showed that Vīraśaivism, perhaps like many other devotional communities across the subcontinent, did not originate as a form of regional nationalism, grounded in a single language and soil. Fisher’s analysis demonstrates that textual culture was born not only multilingual but fundamentally polyglossic in its textual registers. This further informs the universal outlook noticed in Śaivism. The fluid commingling of identities and voices, indeed, may be suggestive of broader dynamics in the transmission of religious identities in premodern southern India:  insistently multilingual and fundamentally transregional. Michael Baltutis analyzes the ritual of praveśa in Chapter 3, “Entering the South Asian City:  Praveśa in Literature and Practice.” Examination of the Vedic house, the royal chariot, and the South Asian city indicates that social power has, in fact, a single central point and that this power derives from a unique source of sovereignty: a patriarchal domesticity, a semidivine object obtained from the forest, or a royal government backed by military power. This chapter shows that understanding praveśa is important for understanding Hinduism. Carl Olson’s examination of “Demonic Devotees and Symbolism of Violence in Hindu Literature” in Chapter 4 shows that an ignorant and demonic greed for power is the main reason behind violence. Even though practicing asceticism led demonic beings to obtain special boons, their conduct following such special powers only proved to be destructive rather than leading to positive results for the worlds. When compared

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with modern theories of violence, it is greed and thirst for power as well as short-​sighted policies that cause violence. This chapter makes a unique contribution by analyzing ancient scripture in light of modern theories of violence. Deepak Shimkhada and Jason Mitchell examine Sacred Groves in Chapter  5, “Sacred Groves: The Playground of the Gods.” This chapter analyzes the Sacred Grove of Pañcavaṭi, and forest in general as a concept rooted in Hinduism. Examination of Hindu literature and practice in India and Nepal postulates that protecting wild green zones within urban spaces contributes positively to protecting biodiversity, and hence contributes to the well-​being of all who live in those regions. Although the chapter studies Hindu ecological sensitivity in protecting such spaces, it has wider application for the modern world in providing a model for protecting green zones in urban centers. Amy-​Ruth Holt’s examination of “Religious Symbolism in Contemporary Political Art: Hussaini and Tamil Popular Culture,” in Chapter 6, demonstrates the all-​pervasive use of religious symbols and concepts in modern India. Symbolism of the goddess is superimposed on the favorite female politician, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Mrs. Jayalalitha. Hussaini, through dedicating his art to depicting Jayalalitha by using the concept of bhakti (devotion) of devotees (bhaktas), presents himself as the ultimate bhakta of the goddess, Jayalalitha in this case. Through such portrayals, Hussaini projects himself as the central bhakta, in an ideal position to launch a new political party. This shows the immense power of religious symbolism in the modern public life of India. This chapter, through a study of symbolism of religion, art, myth, and practice, understands the nature of symbols and the pervasive influence of Hinduism in new media and new spheres of activity. This chapter not only helps understand modern religion in India, but also sheds light on the influence of religion seen explicitly in art and implicitly in politics. Lavanya Vemsani examines “  ‘Rite of Passage’ in India’s National Struggle: Understanding Rabindranath Tagore’s Gora in the Context of Religion” in Chapter 7. Although it is clear that Rabindranath Tagore was not aware of the formal theories of rite of passage when he wrote the novel Gora, it may be said that his understanding of life and nation aligns very closely with what we understand as the scheme of rite of passage. Through an examination of the novel utilizing such a template, this chapter contributes to the understanding of religious symbolism in the literature of modern India. Analysis of Gora reveals new meaning in the text, which until now had not been examined in comparative literary and cultural studies. Religious symbolism and rituals provide an important lens through which we may better understand twentieth-​century India. Religion as symbolically represented in the transactional rituals of individuals might also find expression in the literary representation of a nation. Deborah Logan examines biographies of Indian visitors during the early twentieth century to America in Chapter  8, “America, the Superlative, and India, the Jewel in the Crown:  Religious Ideologies, Transnationalism, and the End of the Raj.” She studies relationships between America and India. This chapter not only highlights the nationalistic aspirations and religious sentiments of Indian travelers to America, but also helps show how the interactions benefited both sides by opening up a dialogue in the field of religion. Young America had much to learn from the ancient culture

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of India and as India moved toward political unification for the first time in its long history, the exchange proved mutually beneficial. Patrick Beldio examines Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in Chapter  9, “The Integral Yoga of the Sri Aurobindo Āśram: Gender, Spirituality, and the Arts.” Beldio considers five aspects of integral yoga: (1) The notion of spiritual consorts to describe the partnership of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo; (2) the silencing of the mind, its replacement by other spiritual faculties in a process known as manonāśa, and the use of the arts to help express the resulting new consciousness; (3) the role of opposition and a descendant spiritual approach that overlaps with the use of matter and the attempt to perfect it in art; (4) the role of opposition to stimulate growth and the resulting use of creative process to negotiate difficult opposites; and (5) the principle of beauty as a manifestation of the Divine Ānanda that art seeks to express when done in service to their descendant spirituality. The Mother is imagined as representing the śakti (inner energy) portrayed in the consorts (Mahāsarasvatī, Mahākālī, and Mahālakṣmī) and of the Hindu Trimurty (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva) as she presents the integral yoga of art for the future evolution of blissful minds. Nanette R.  Spina, in “In Relationship with the Goddess:  Women Interpreting Leadership Roles and Shaping Diasporic Identities,” Chapter  10, examines women’s authority and ritual negotiations through her fieldwork and interviews at the Sri Lankan Hindu temple in Toronto. Spina’s examination showed that women’s leadership in the temple casts women as individuals, working together in mutual support and in turn, as they feel supported, they are able to further support one another, family, and community. Women’s roles are flexible and this system operative at the mandram inherently allows opportunity for shifting roles both in ritual and administration, as specialists, practitioners, and ritual performers. The divine feminine serves as inspiration to the women for their roles in the “inclusivity” discourse, the collective patterns of worship, women’s responsibilities for daily pujas, the management of the mandram, and of course, the support of their guru Bangaru Adigalar and the transnational Om Sakti community. The prominent discourse on inclusivity and nondiscriminatory ethics and the ritual practices that support those ethics are considered collective ideals that help sustain community across borders. Kaustavi Sarkar examines a diaspora dance practice in North America in Chapter 11, “Spirituality and Ritual in Odissi Dance:  Health, Healing, and Ritual in a Diaspora Performance Tradition,” and how it draws from traditional symbols of Hinduism to connect itself to contemporary issues, health, and healing by helping find inner peace. Being a dancer-​scholar of Odissi, Kaustavi utilized her personal experience as well as research methods of religious studies to analyze the contemporary dance group Ananya Dance Troup in Chicago. Her unique experience as a dancer lends credibility to the medium she worked with in order to bring the application of religion to art and contemporary issues. Horidraa is a story of hope and healing. Time, as in a dance metaphor, works in a dipping and spiraling manner. The technical difficulty of the principles of formal movement choreographically connects with Shawngram, resistance, and Anch, heat. This heat is the emotional source of Horidraa which encourages power, strength, connection, and healing.

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Antoinette E.  DeNapoli examines women’s religious practices and changing authority in Hindu monastic settings in Chapter 12, “A Mandal of Their Own: Gender and the Reimagining of Community by Hindu Renouncers in Northern India.” At the Women’s Mandal of Mewar, women from diverse backgrounds come together to speak and be heard. The dialogue is sometimes chaotic, sometimes indeterminate, but overall, they work to form a more equitable future for women sadhus, while preserving the integrity of sanyas. Venturing within and outside the traditional fields of study of religion, all these chapters contribute to enriching the sources and methods of religious studies.

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Appendix: Poetry by Ananya Chatterjea Recipe for #Browngurlmagyk Take A small length of turmeric root Grind it with raw honey Still fragrant with the kiss of wild flowers. Smear its golden rain All over your skin. Then Catch the image of the full moon In the pool of water Caught gently in your cupped hands And guide the image slowly down your throat And as stars begin to dance across the horizon And grasshoppers balance on dandelion petals remind yourself: Healing is real, love is yours, The magyk we weave will carry us through. Listening for my story In that interval between cultures In the intersection of ancestral desires Daring tumultuous ocean-​crossing To love are my stories. My body holds memories Of voyages, encounters, shared intimacies. Rocked in the fervor of Indian ocean waves My knowing defies textbooks/​ Flouts limits of race, religion, caste/​ Refuses long-​held fictions of unworthy/​ Throbs with the porous density of truths Known by cellular resonance.

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In my body live story fragments that, Churned by leaping dreams Will stream turmeric Across my firmament.

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Glossary Ācārya/​acarya: Accomplished teacher or yogi, leaders of several monastic traditions of India are also commonly referred to as acarya. Āgama: Generally used in connection with Śaiva scripture, this term also designates traditional doctrine or precept or anything handed down by tradition. Āśram/​Ashram: Originally referred to as forest retreats, dwelling places of yogis, sages, and their students. However, in current usage, several monastic traditions in India are referred to as ashrams. Āśrama: Stage of life, Hinduism lists four stages in the life of man:  student (brahmacarya), householder (grihasta), forest dweller (vānaprastha), and renouncer (sanyāsa). Avatāra/​avatara: Descent of divine, especially Vishnu, although it is not uncommon to find this concept utilized in connection with other divinities of Hinduism. Baul or Bauls: Mystic itinerant singers commly seen in Eastern India. Although Bauls are mostly Hindu some may follow syncretistic traditions. Bhādrapada: Name of the sixth month in Hindu calendar. Commonly referred to as “Badon,” it signifies the beginning of monsoon season in India. Badon is considered to be an auspicious month for Śivabhaktas (kanvariyas) to undertake pilgrimage to holy sites (tīrthas) along the Ganga river, including Varanasi, Triveni, Gangotri, and so on. Bhakti: Generally denotes devotion to god, but bhakti is also used in connection with reverence or devotion to a variety of persons and objects. Devotion to parents is referred to as pitribhakti, and patriotism is referred to as deśabhakti. Bhakta: A devotee. Bharatvarsha: Name of India, commonly noted in classical Hindu texts, originally named after Bharata, the legendary king of India. The name of Bharat is included as an alternative name for India in the Constitution of India, which begins with the phrase, “India, that is Bharat.” Bhūta: It is a Sanskrit word, which could be translated as “past, gone, been, or become”; it also designates past tense grammatically. In general, it designates earthly beings. However, colloquially, it is used to designate ghost-​like beings among several categories of spirits such as bhūta, preta, and piśāca, lingering on the margins of human life in between earth and heavens. Bhūta is also commonly used to refer to ghosts of the departed beings, which get trapped between this world and the other world, when proper escape to the other world is not achieved following death. Chhau: Semiclassical Indian dance tradition with origins in Eastern India, geographically located between the states of Assam and Odisha. Generally performed during festivals and spring this dance involves acrobatics, masks,

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martial show mixed with traditional dance repertoire. Common themes of performance are derived from Hindu classical literature. Daivajña: Designates an astrologer. Darśan: This is the ritual of viewing and being viewed by one’s favorite deity, person, being, or object. The mere act of viewing auspicious and reverential subject/​person is considered a meritorious act in Hinduism. Draupadi: Daughter of King Drupada of Pānchala kingdom and wife of the Pāndavas. She is the main female protagonist of the Mahābhārata. Gadya: Verse compositions as opposed to Padya (poetical) compositions. An important genre of literature in southern India. Grihasta/grihastha: Translated as “householder,” second stage of the life of adult males according to Hinduism. Transition into this stage of life is marked with an elaborate and ceremonial ritual of marriage (vivāha). Kali Age/​Kaliyuga/​kaliyug: The last of the four yugas (ages) according to Hindu cosmology: krita, treta, dwapara, and kali. Kaliyuga is the designation for the current, deteriorating age, considered an age of strife. Kolkata: Previously known as Calcutta, capital of British Raj when Gora was written. The locations described in the book of Gora are located in this city. Mandal: The Sanskrit word “Mandala” designates circle or anything that is circular or round. Currently, it is used as a term to designate a specialized group, collection, band, society, or company. Maṭha: Literally, a “cottage, hut, or dwelling of an ascetic.” It also designates Śaiva monasteries or traditions that include a college, temple, and residences of ascetics. Mewar: This is the southwestern region of the state of Rajasthan in India. This region is known as Mewar kingdom, home of legendary kings Maharana Sanga and Maharana Pratap, renowned for their valor and opposition to the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire. Sant Mirabai also belongs to the princely state of Mewar. Dotted with cities which contain forts and temples, including Jaisalmer, Chittorgarh, Kumbhalgarh, and Udaipur, this region is also known for several protected wildlife sanctuaries, such as Jaisalmer-​ Gir Ecoforest Reserve, Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Reserve, and so on. Mudra: Literally means a seal, but it is used to designate specific hand gestures associated with classical dance postures. Odissi: Classical dance style which originated in the eastern state of Odisha, formerly Orissa. This dance style is traditionally associated with the Jagannatha temple of Puri. Prasāda/​Prasad: Grace of god, anything touched by the grace of god, anything offered to god as reverence is said to receive the divine grace. Sat-​chit-​Ānanda: The final blissful resting state of the soul, which passed beyond life obtaining moksha (release) in Hinduism. Śataka: A Sanskrit word meaning “a hundred.” It indicates a genre of literature, indicating a composition of hundred poems, in southern Indian languages especially Kannada and Telugu. Sadhu: Monk or nun in the Hindu tradition.

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Sanyāsa/​sanyas: Renunciation of worldly life of luxuries and comforts. This is the final stage of the four stages of life of a man described in the Hindu texts. Monks and nuns are also referred to as sanyasi/​sanyasin due to their renunciation. Samskāra: Hindu ritual sacraments marking different stages of life. The four stage of life, brahmacarya, grihasta, vānaprasta, and sanyāsa, are marked with important rites of passage. Tīrtha/​tirtha: Translated as ford, important sacred centers located on banks of the holy rivers of India, frequently visited as centers of pilgrimage. Tribhanga: Literally, “three bends.” A dance posture involving hand, leg, and waist postures of the dancer resembling an “S” roughly. Triveni: Name of an important tīrtha (place of pilgrimage), the literal translation of the name means, “triple braide,” indicating the confluence of the three holy rivers of India, Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati in Prayag near Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh. Upanayana: The most important sacrament in the life of a Hindu commonly referred to as the “thread ceremony,” performed at the initiation of one into the student (brahmacarya) stage of life. Vacana: Designates simple, lyrical, rhythmic style of verse literature commonly known in Kannada and Telugu, associated with Vīraśaiva tradition since the eleventh century CE. Vana/​van/​ban: Sacred groves or forests; part of sacred geography of Hinduism. It is said that ancient sages and ascetics have located their hermitages in forests for perfecting their ascetic and religious practices. Van yātra denotes pilgrimage through sacred groves and forests. Most important pilgrimage of this type is noted in Braj, holy land of Krishna, an area encompassing Mathura and Brindavan in northern India. Vedanta/​Vedānta: Designates the end books of the Vedas. However, monistic Hinduism derives its philosophical background from these sources and hence commonly known as Vedanta. Vivāha: Simply means marriage. However, it is the most important rite of passage and an important sacrament Hinduism consecrated with vedic chants and rituals.

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Notes Chapter 2 1 On the history of the Kāśī Jaṃgamvāḍī Maṭha, one of the five principal pīṭhas of the Pañcācārya Vīraśaiva tradition (see below on the latter), see Ramesh (2008). 2 In the subsequent discussion, the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi is not analyzed in detail in this chapter for the following reasons: (1) it was not composed in the Andhra region; (2) it is relatively well known within the tradition and contemporary scholarship compared to the other texts under discussion; and (3) because of the politically charged nature of this work, it is impossible to properly contextualize its contributions in such a short chapter. Continuities between this work and the works of the Vīramāheśvaras of Andhra Pradesh will be discussed at a later date. 3 A branch maṭha of the Kāśī Jaṃgamvāḍī Maṭha exists today in Bhaktapur, Nepal; further research would be needed to cast light on its historicity. See also Bouillier (1983). 4 See discussion below concerning the potentially early date of Jyotirnātha’s Śaivaratnākara, his own prior lineage, and the inscriptional records of the early monastic institutions of the Vīramāheśvaras. These issues of dating are compounded by the fact that the earliest Vīramāheśvara sources accepted as human-​authored treatises or handbooks cite prolifically from an already existing canon of proto-​ Vīraśaiva Āgamas, most important of which are the Vīrāgama and the Vātulāgama. What can be recovered of the pre-​twelfth-​century or twelfth-​century textual recensions of these Āgamas, of which no published edition exists today, will be discussed in subsequent publications due to space constraints. 5 See Ben-​Herut (2013) and Narayana Rao and Roghair (1990). 6 As disputes periodically emerge concerning the equivalence of the terms “Vīraśaiva” and “Liṅgāyat,” see below for further discussion on the political significance of the terms today. I employ the term “Vīraśaiva” in this chapter simply because it is the term of self-​reference employed by the authors under investigation, inheriting the weight of the earlier term “Vīramāheśvara.” 7 My point is not that Tamil poet-​saints had no influence on the Kannada vacanakāras. There are demonstrable instances of dialogue between the two (see, for instance, Ben-​Herut 2015). My point, rather, is that this metanarrative has prevented inquiry into other equally formative textual traditions, without which the early theology and rituals of the Vīraśaiva tradition cannot be adequately contextualized. 8 Note that while the vacanas are particularly celebrated as scriptural texts by many who identify as Liṅgāyat or Vīraśaiva today, other forms of vernacular literary production are in evidence by the thirteenth century, which are particularly valuable as early sources for the study of narrative literature. See, for instance, Ben-​Herut (2013). For what can be safely said regarding the historicity of the vacanas themselves, see Chandra Shobhi (2005), who admirably articulates the canonization of the currently accepted editions of the vacanas in the twentieth century. Succinctly, because the

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Notes editorial standards of the vacanas remains highly politicized in the present day, particularly with regard to the degree of Sanskritic and multilingual influence editors have believed to be original to the material, it is not possible at this time to cite the vacanas themselves as reliable documents for the thoughts and practices of the twelfth century. For similar reasons, it would be equally impossible to seek to reedit them at this time. Personal correspondence, anonymous devotee, June 2017. See Hawley (2005); Hawley and Bryant (2017). See, for instance, Ritti and Kumbhar (1988). No objection is made in this chapter to the idea that Basava, to the best of our knowledge, advocated against caste distinction in the practice of Śaivism. Such a stance in and of itself is perhaps unsurprising, as the early Tantric Śaivism of the Atimārga and Mantramārga quite regularly did away with caste distinctions upon Śaiva initiation. The Śivadharma, for instance, states, prefiguring the more famous utterance of the Bhāgavata Purāṇa: “I am not partial to either a Caturvedī or a Dog-​ cooker, if he is my devotee. One may give to him and take from him; he should be worshiped as I myself ” (Śivadharma 1.36). Ramanujan (1973: 21). See Ripepi (2017) on twentieth-​century schisms between Vīraśaiva communities. It is worth noting that during my visit to the Basava Samithi in November of 2016, the entire staff enthusiastically welcomed my research interest on “Vīraśaivism,” but took care to note, gently, that they identified by the name “Liṅgāyat”—​Vīraśaivas, they informed me, were an entirely different religious cohort. In contrast, every member of the Pañcācārya or Pañcapīṭha Paramparā (see below) with whom I have spoken has insisted that Vīraśaiva and Liṅgāyat are exact synonyms. Note that the distinction between these categories has been re-​politicized in national and international outlets following a renewed attempt in 2017 to call for designating Liṅgāyatism as a distinct religion from Hinduism. For a similar critique of the reading of Vīraśaivism as Protestant Revolution, see also Zydenbos (1997) and Leslie (1998). Hunsal (2004: xv). Hunsal’s work is only one expression of this particular narrative. While substantial literature exists in Kannada on historical representations of Basava, for further examples in English, see also Desai (1968) and Cidanandamurti (1980). For the similar centrality of this origin narrative to the Liṅgāyat community of Mate Mahadevi, see, for instance, Mahadevi (1973). See also Zydenbos (1997), who interrogates the usage “Gurusthalada” as it appears in Schouten (1991). Members of the community today typically employ “Pañcācārya” or “Pañcapīṭha” as terms of self-​reference. The Pañcapīṭha Paramparā has received little scholarly attention in the Western academy. Among further publications that explore the history of the Pañcapīṭha Paramparā, including both academic scholarship from Indian institutions and self-​representations by the tradition, one may consult Sadaksarayya (2003), Sivasankarayya (2013), Ramesh (2008), Savadattimath (2011), Sa. Bra. Candrasekhara Sivacaraya (2006), Sivamurthy (2011), and Sulocana (2011). The author of the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi itself refers to himself as “Śivayogi Śivācārya.” Although the text takes the form of a dialogue between Reṇukācārya, one of the original five Ācāryas of the Kali Yuga, and the sage Agastya, there is no apparent ground for attributing its authorship, as some editors have done, to a historical Reṇuka or Reṇukācārya. In his introduction to his edition of Śrīpati’s Śrīkarabhāṣya, for instance, Hayavadana Rao conflates the authorship of the root text of the

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Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi with that of a commentary written by Sosale Revaṇārādhya in the seventeenth century. Michael himself does not consult any of the original primary sources for the “Gurusthala” foundational narratives, preferring to cite only the secondary attestation of Nandimath (1942) and Sakhare (1942). The best attested account of the origin of the five Ācāryas is found in an extract attributed to the Suprabodhāgama, entitled the Pañcācāryapañcamotpattiprakaraṇam, which was published in Solapur in 1903. The questions raised in the present chapter will be pursued in greater detail in a book-​ length monograph, currently in progress. For a summary of the textual sources and history of Vīraśaivism as it has been represented to date, see, for instance: Nandimath (1942), Michael (1992), and Schouten (1991). In an attempt to turn attention to the weight of unstudied evidence, the present chapter, and the larger work it represents, foregrounds unstudied material in multiple languages over the vernacular ragaḷĕgaḷu, which are relatively better studied, particularly in Kannada-​language scholarship. See Ben-​Herut (2013) for an important contribution to the study of earliest examples of the ragaḷĕgaḷu corpus, focusing on the work of Harihara, and Ben-​Herut (2015) on the interpenetration of Kannada devotional literature with Tamil and Telugu among the early Śivayogī communities. As discussed below, I focus in this early period in the Āgamic and śāstric textual corpus in Sanskrit and Telugu, which proved particularly foundational for Vīraśaiva ritual practice across regions in later centuries. I would like to offer my gratitude to the local communities and library staff who have made possible my access to archival materials at collections including, but not limited to: the Kuvempu Institute at the University of Mysore; Kāśī Jaṃgamvāḍī Maṭha; Basava Samithi, Bangalore; the University of Dharwad Kannada Department; Kalburgi Vīraśaiva Adhyayana Saṃsthĕ at Tōṇṭadārya Maṭha, Gadag; Nāganūr Maṭha Belgaum; Siddhagaṅgā Maṭha, Tumkur; the Murugha Rajendra Bṛhanmaṭha, Chitradurga; Suttūr Maṭha, Mysore; Adyar Library and Research Centre, Chennai;Institut français de Pondichéry; and The British Library, London. One of the most interesting works of this sort is the Telugu-​language Śivatattvasāramu of Mallikārjuna Paṇḍitārādhya, which blurs expected genre constraints about the relationship between devotional narrative and śāstric philosophical argument. See below for further brief discussion, although due to space constraints analysis of this work will be carried out in subsequent publications. Note also that when speaking of alternative “origins” of Vīraśaivism, it is important to note that abundant evidence speaks to the adaption of earlier Kālāmukha monastic networks to the needs of nascent Vīraśaiva lineages. While space does not permit extended discussion in the present chapter, see Lorenzen (1991) for further details. The Kālāmukha networks in present-​day Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh were particularly significant owing to the inheritance of Kālāmukha monastic infrastructure by later Vīraśaiva communities. Narayana Rao (1995: 27). For example, Narayana Rao and Roghair (1990: 6): “Somanātha’s rejection of Sanskritic, brahminic, literary conventions was complete.” Translation in Narayana Rao (1995). Narayana Rao (1995: 28). In addition to his prabandha-​style narrative works, such as the Basavapurāṇamu and the Paṇḍitārādhyacaritramu (see below), Pālkurike Somanātha also composed a

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Notes Telugu work entitled the Caturvedasāramu, “The Essence of the Four Vedas,” a theme strikingly popular among Sanskrit works of the period in the Andhra region, such as Haradatta’s Śrutisūktimālā, which sets out to prove that the Vedic corpus as an aggregate asserts the supremacy of Śiva over all other deities. Jyotirnātha claims his own lineage was transplanted to the Srisailam region from Saurashtra. Inscriptional evidence demonstrates that the Vīramāheśvara network extended well beyond Srisailam in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, as I will explore in further detail in future publications. And yet, for various reasons, the discursive irruption of Vīramāheśvara textuality appears to have been centered squarely in the greater region of Srisailam. For some further discussion of the changing relationship between Vīraśaivas at Srisailam and the Srisailam Mallikārjuna temple around the fourteenth century, see also Reddy (2014) and Sastry (1994). “Ārādhya” remains a caste transregional designation today. To underscore the prevalence of the term, the five “Pañcācāryas” are also termed, in places, the “Pañcārādhyas,” and their names often appear as suffixed with the title “ārādhya,” particularly in the case of Mallikārjuna Paṇḍitārādhya of Srisailam. For example, ARE 4, 25 of 1993–​94. Vīramāheśvaras and Vīraśaivas of the later centuries accept a canon of twenty-​eight Sanskrit Śaiva Āgamas, with a list essentially identical to that of the Sanskrit Śaiva Siddhānta. A number of these, which show evidence of significant redaction to confirm to Vīramāheśvara theology, become core proof-​texts for the later tradition, such as the Vīratantra, the Vātulaśuddhottara, an upāgama of the Vātula Āgama, the Candrajñānāgama, and the Suprabhedāgama. Āgamic citations in Vīramāheśvara literature are seen in virtually all texts of the early period. Members of the present-​ day Pañcācārya Vīraśaiva community put forth the argument that each of the Śaivāgamas originally contained an Uttarabhāga, a latter portion, dedicated to propounding the teachings of Vīraśaivism, the majority of which have been lost. See Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi, ed. M. Sivakumar Swami (2007), introduction. See Goodall (2009). Basava, for instance, given the fact that his name was glossed as a vernacularization of the Sanskrit vṛṣabha, “bull,” is nearly universally represented in Vīramāheśvara literature as an incarnation of Śiva’s bull Nandin. Even today, Basavaṇṇa is worshipped in temples in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in the form of a bull with iconography common to Nandin. See, for instance, Uma Devi (1990) and Sivaprasad (2011). Attributed Sanskrit texts, which remain little studied, include several “minor” gadya and śataka works. See, for instance, Sivaprasad (2011). In my reading of the text thus far, I feel that evidence favors the attribution of the Vī ramāheśvarācārasāroddhārabhāṣya to Pālkurike Somanātha, despite the fact that the author does not state his name in the introduction of the text. It is beyond doubt that the work originates from the same discursive milieu, that is, the ca. thirteenth-​ century Andhra Pradesh Vīramāhēśvara community. The author of the commentary is a Telugu speaker—​“kudhārasyāndrabhāṣāyāṃ śokārādir bhavati”—​and quotes periodically from the Śrīśailakhaṇḍa. I have yet to locate a copy of this work circulating without Somanātha’s commentary. The root text, as contained within Somanātha’s Bhāṣya, states its title as follows: nānāvedeṣu śāstreṣu vedānteṣu bahuṣv api /​āgameṣu ca śākhāsu purāṇesv akhileṣu ca //​ithāsādisūkteṣu tathā śaivāgameṣu ca /​vīramāhesvarācārasāroddhāraḥ prakalpyate //​

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40 Chapter and text colophons read, for instance, “iti śrīmadvīramāheśvarācārasārod dhāre śrībasavarājīye somanāthabhāṣye rudrākṣamāhātmyaṃ dvitīyaprakaraṇam.” In certain chapter-​end colophons, the term “vīramāheśvara” is replaced by “vīraśaiva”; indeed, throughout his Bhāṣya, Somanātha intermittently employs the term “Vīraśaiva” as well as a synonym for Vīramāheśvara. Interestingly, the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi, the central scripture of present-​day Pañcācārya Vīraśaivism, asserts that the Vīramāheśvaras and Vīraśaivas are distinguished by focus on external and internal ritual respectively (e.g., SS 5.19). 41 namaḥ śrīpaṇḍitārādhyagurave sarvavedine /​maheśacaraṇāmbhojapariniṣit acetase //​vedaśāstrapurāṇeṣu sāram uddhṛtya śāṅkaram /​sāroddhāraḥ kṛto yena lakṣmīdevaguruṃ bhaje //​yas sarvavādān nirjitya vīramāheśvarocitam /​ śrīmadbasavarājīyaṃ nāma grantham acīkarat //​pālkurkesomanāthāya namas tasmai suśīline //​śaivaratnākaraṃ nāma granthaṃ yaḥ kṛtavān purā /​jagaddhitārthaṃ kṛpayā jyotirnātham namāmi tam //​Vīramāheśvarācārasaṅgraha, vs. 13, 15, 17, 18. Note here that two other pre-​fourteenth-​century authors are honored by Nīlakaṇṭha Nāganātha—​Mallayāryaguru, who composed a Śivajñānadīpikā; and Nāgeśaguru, who composed a Śivajñānasamuccaya. Little is known with any certainty about these authors or works as of yet. Interestingly, a work entitled the Śivajñānapradīpikā was commented upon by the sixteenth-​century Vīraṇārādhya of Sosale, in a compilation known by that period as the Daśagranthi, seemingly attributed in manuscript catalogues to Pālkurike Somanātha. Further work remains to be done on this text. 42 vṛṣabhasya basavanāmatvaṃ kasmāt kāraṇād āsīt /​vṛṣabhasyaiṣā prakriyā vrṣābhaḥ /​ ṛtot /​vṛtatvṛtot /​kṛtvā kāmena hṛtvā vyāmena dhṛtvā bhāmeṇeti lakṣaṇām /​ vṛkārasya vakārādeśo bhavati /​bavayor abheda iti vakārasya bakāraḥ /​śaṣoḥ sa iti sūtrāt śakārasya sakārādeśo bhavati sakārasya ca pavarga iti ramaśca [?]‌sūtrāt bhakārasya vakārādeśo bhavati /​ 43 Vīrabhadra remains a favored deity in Vīraśaiva temple worship to this day. 44 veda eva pramāṇam ity ata āha /​atha kiṃ vede pratyakṣaṃ iti? pramāṇam vidyata ity āha. 45 śrīmadvīraśaivācāraniṣṭhāparaiḥ sadā liṅgasannihitaiḥ talliṅga-​pādodaka-​ prasādopabhoga [sāṃvanānaiḥ] śivetaradevatāsmaraṇasaṃstavanadarśanasparśanapa ṭhanādayo varjanīyāḥ /​iti sakalaśrutismṛtītihāsāgamapurāṇoktaprakāreṇa bhṛṅgiriṭi-​ ghaṇṭākarṇa-​sukeśy-​upamanyu-​bhṛgu-​dadhīci-​gautamādibhiḥ pramathagaṇaiḥ purātanabhaktagaṇaiḥ caivam anuṣṭhitatvāt //​ 46 See Śivatattvasāramu, vs. 31. 47 To name a single example, these authors are eulogized as a cohesive lineage in Kāñcī Śaṅkarārādhya’s (1993) Sanskrit Basavapurāṇa (ca. 1500). 48 Namo basavarājāya vṛṣendrāparamūrtaye /​carārcanaikaniṣṭhāya śivācārapravartine //​ śivatattvāmṛtāsvādacetase yogine namaḥ /​śrīcannabasaveśāya ṣaṭsthalabrahmavādine //​ śivayogāmṛtāmbhodhimagnamānasavṛttaye /​vande śrīsiddharāmāya bhaktisampatpramodine //​sānandacaritaṃ nāma granthaṃ cakre ‘tiyatnataḥ /​yas tasmai padmarājāya namo durvādadāhine //​Vīramāheśvarācārasaṅgraha, vs. 9–​10, 12, 16. The Kannada-​language Sānandacaritrĕ is attributed to Kumāra Padmarasa, ca. early thirteenth century. 49 The dating of the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi has generated no small amount of political controversy. Alexis Sanderson (2012–​13), for instance, suggests a date of the late thirteenth to early fourteenth centuries. Its terminus ante quem is Śrīpati’s Śrīkarabhāṣya, a Vīraśaiva commentary on the Brahmasūtras composed in Andhra Pradesh, which cites the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi as an established authority. The

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Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi’s author, Śivayogi Śivācārya, appears to belong to a Kannadiga family, as one of his ancestors bears the name Muddadeva. 50 See also Vīramāheśvarācārasaṅgraha, ch. 48. I currently know of no text prior to the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi attesting 101 sub-​sthalas. 51 See Fisher (2017b). 52 Śivayogi Śivācārya, Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi, 7.79: śivaṃ bhāvaya cātmānaṃ śivād anyaṃ na cintaya /​evaṃ sthire śivādvaite jīvanmukto bhaviṣyasi //​The term has older history in the Trika theology of Kashmir, used synonymously with śivādvaya, perhaps explaining the strong interest that Hooli exegetes show in that corpus of literature. 53 The term śivādvaita is also attested in Kannada-​language Vīraśaiva works such as the Śūnyasampādanĕ. 54 Chandra Shobhi (2005: 268), for instance, maintains that Sanskrit texts held minimal influence post-​Virakta Vīraśaivism: “In contrast to the virakta instance, two significant differences emerge from the above analysis. First, Vedas and āgamas, the two Sanskrit sources, appear to be significant for both Śaivasiddhānta and Śrīvaiṣṇava traditions and form the basis for the synthesis. Therefore, second, both of these traditions remain within the Vedic-​Brahminical fold in the pre-​modern context and in the modern context, within the Hindu fold.” Aside from a handful of texts, such as the Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi, Śrīpati’s Śrīkarabhāṣya, and Anubhavasūtram of Māyīieva, he argues that the remainder of Sanskrit textual sources on Vīraśaivism remain fundamentally undatable and thus insignificant as historical source material. 55 Although little known for its intellectual history in the Vijayanagar period, Pūvalli (or Hooli) has been cited as a strong example of the institutional transference of Kālāmukha institutions to later Vīraśaiva leadership. See also Lorenzen (1991), Nandimath (1942), Thipperudra Swamy (1968), and Leslie (1998) for brief references. Kittel (1875) incorrectly identifies Pūvalli as Hubbli. For the original inscriptions, see in particular EI vol. XVIII (1925–​26), pg. 170–​218. 56 Śivānubhava is also known to have written another work entitled the Śivānubhavasiddhānta. 57 See, for example, pg. 6: vedānte paramaṃ guhyaṃ purākalpe pracoditam . . . adhītavedāya jitendrayāya ca pratiṣṭhitāṣṭāvaraṇānusāriṇe /​sadā sadācārayutāya dhīmate deyaṃ śivādvaitam idaṃ mumukṣave //​ityādiśrutyāgamokteḥ patidharmaprāptyanantaraṃ yato ‘dhikārapūrṇatvarūpapatidharmaprāptiḥ, ato hetor brahmaṇo jijñāsā kartavyeti śeṣaḥ. 58 Śivādvaitadarpaṇa vs. 1–​16. 59 Several verses from the original Sanskrit chronicle are cited in a Kannada-​language historical work—​the sole copy of which, to my knowledge, is held at the maṭha itself—​composed by Nīlakaṇṭha Śivācārya (1953), a recent pontiff of the Hooli Bṛhanmaṭha. I am currently attempting to obtain a complete copy of this lineage chronicle; the entire text was available to Siddhabasava Sastri at the time of his original edition of the Śivādvaitadarpaṇa, during his tenure as instructor at the maṭha’s Sanskrit pāṭhaśālā. 60 See Pañcavarṇamahāsūtrabhāṣya, vs. 1–​10. 61 A certain Siddhāntasūtravṛtti is attributed to an author by this name, held at the GOML in Chennai (MD 5556). 62 Because Siddhanañjeśa (author of the Pañcavarṇamahāsūtrabhāṣya) ends his homage to the lineage with Svaprabhānanda, we may estimate his floruit as contemporary to that of Cidambara Śivācārya.

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63 While direct quotations of both appear in the Śivādvaitadarpaṇa, I have not been able to locate a copy of the complete texts; Siddhabasava Sastri appears to have been in possession of both works. 64 Śivādvaitadarpaṇa vs. 5. 65 See Fisher (2017a) on the sectarianization of southern Indian Hindu communities. 66 While I know of no other Nīlakaṇṭha Śivācārya affiliated with another historicizable Vīraśaiva lineage, current hagiography preserves the names of several pontiffs as “Nīlakaṇṭha Śivācārya” (including the twentieth-​century historian of the lineage), suggesting a high likelihood that any individual with the name may bear an affiliation to the Hooli maṭha. 67 kṛpāsamudraḥ khalu nīlakaṇṭho bhavāmbudhau magnajanoddidhīrṣuḥ /​ svanāmadheyāṅkitabhāṣyapotaṃ nirmātum evāvatatāra bhūmau //​Śivādvaitadarpaṇa vs. 13. See also vs. 4, 9–​12, and Pañcavarṇamahāsūtrabhāṣya vs. 6. 68 The Śrīkaṇṭhabhāṣya must significantly predate this Nīlakaṇṭha Śivācārya, as it is cited by Śrīpati’s Śrīkarabhāṣya. See Hayavadana Rao (1936) on the dating of Śrīpati. 69 See also the colophon preserved in the published edition of the text: iti śr īmadviśiṣṭādvaitasiddhāntarahasyaikottaraśatasthalābhijñanīlakaṇṭhakṛte nigamāgamasārasaṅgraheḥ kriyāsāre brahmasūtradvitīyādhyāyavyākhyārūpaḥ dvitīyopadeśaḥ; iti caturthopadeśe brahmasūtravyākhyābhāgaḥ samāptaḥ. Earlier mentions of the commentary of “Nīlakaṇṭha,” including that in the Kriyāsāra itself, appear to refer to Śrīkaṇṭha. It is worth noting a number of strong textual parallels between the Śrīkaṇṭhabhāṣya and Kriyāsāra, despite the latter’s deliberate theological innovations (e.g., Śrīkaṇṭhabhāṣya vs. 1.5–​6, Kriyāsāra vol. 1, pg. 254, vs. 13–​15). The current pontiff of the Hooli Bṛhanmaṭha, Śivamahānta Śivācārya, independently accepts the Kriyāsāra as authored within his own lineage (personal communication, 03/​2017). 70 The Kriyāsāra remains a core ritual manual and pāṭhaśālā textbook of the Pañcācārya Vīraśaivas to this day. 71 Although the Kannada-​language Rāghavāṅkacaritrĕ and Gururājacaritrĕ are typically attributed to a certain “Siddhanañjēśa,” the two can be disambiguated as the works of a teacher and pupil, sometimes referred to as “Siddhanañjēśa” and “Cikkanañjēśa” respectively. See the introduction to the Kannada edition of the Gururājacaritrĕ for further details. Based on the lineage information available in the text, the Gururājacaritrĕ appears to be the work of the disciple of the Siddhanañjēśa who composed the Pañcavarṇamahāsūtrabhāṣya in Sanskrit, and the author of the Sanskrit hymn Śrījagadguruviśvakarṇavijayanakṣatramālikā (published along with the Pañcavarṇamahāsūtrabhāṣya). As will be discussed in future publications, the Gururājacaritrĕ is a seminal work for contextualizing the current self-​representation of the Pañcapīṭha Paramparā and its indebtedness to the lineage of the Hooli Bṛhanmaṭha. 72 Furthermore, as will be discussed in future publications, a similar case of programmatic polyglossy can be found in the oeuvres of Sosale Vīraṇārādhya and his grandson, Sosale Revaṇārādhya, who are responsible for a spate of Kannada-​language commentaries on Vīramāheśvara Sanskrit works, evidently aimed at widening their circulation. 73 On Vīraśaivism in early modern and colonial Tamil Nadu, see Steinschneider (2016a, b). On Vīraśaiva literature and thought in Maharashtra, see Mogalevara (1977–​82; 1976). My own monograph-​length study currently in progress will include some

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Chapter 3 1 She also refers to this narrative device as an “arrival scene” (35, and elsewhere), “arrival trope” (42), and “arrival experience” (43). 2 Ann Gold’s Fruitful Journeys (2000) provides a narrative rebuttal of this type of arrival story. Living in the northwestern Indian village of Ghatiyali and portraying herself as being deficient in her clothing, language, technology, and ability to navigate local culture, she is accepted despite—​or even because of—​her sympathetic ignorance. 3 This volume belongs to the series “The Routledge Worlds.” There are twenty-​five terms in twenty-​three chapters and Julius Lipner’s opening chapter serves as an introduction to the entire volume, while Laurie Patton’s chapter handles both “Veda and Upaniṣad.” 4 Frazier (2017: 19) is also relevant here, as “it aims to reveal certain assumptions held by those texts, and often does so at the levels of metaphysics and of the (super)natural world.” 5 Gonda (1993 [1954]: 54, 65) relates the common linguistic connection of √viś with the god Vishnu who pervades and repeatedly enters the world. 6 Llewellyn (2010: 304–​5) attends to the confusion regarding the precise definitions of these words, both within the South Asian tradition of possession and within Smith’s book. 7 Vedic ritual provides other specific applications of entrances, for example, the internalization of the Vedic fire (Heesterman 1985: 40–​2; 1993: 140). 8 Translations of the Upanishads and of the Gṛhya Sūtras are heavily influenced by those of Müller; those of the Mahābhārata below are influenced by the respective volumes of van Buitenen (1973) and Fitzgerald (2004). 9 Āśvalāyana similarly uses forms of pra+pad to describe the return of a householder from a journey, with a similar inclusion of grain: “It has been declared how he should enter [gṛha prapadanam] the house (when returning from a journey). The house, when he enters [prapadyate] it, should be provided with seed-​corn” (2.10.1–​2). Regarding the similarity of pra-​pad and pra-​viś, Smith (2006: 238, note 72) surmises that the “sense of penetration and permeation is stronger [in pra+pad] than mere entrance, pra √viś. Thus, pra-​pad is probably closer to ā-​viś [than to pra-​viś].” 10 brahmānujñāti praviśati ṛtam prapadye śivam prapadya iti 11 See Renou (1998) for additional details about the structure of the Vedic house. 12 Crooke (1918: 138) describes the northern Indian gṛha-​praveśa as a “scapegoat rite” because of a barber who ritually takes upon himself the sins of the new householder and whom, while running away from the house, “people pelt . . . with grains of rice.” The lamp that he had used to remove the householder’s sins represents the protective deity Bhairon, “an old earth god,” whose rights over the site of the house he has abandoned; the lamp is then flung into “a pool of dirty water.” 13 The author of Pāraskāra also has the husband make his wife ascend the marriage stone with the causative ārohayati (1.7.1), a word frequently used for a king mounting his chariot, a prominent theme in the second half of this chapter. 14 For more about the Nepalese Indra festival, see Pauḍyāl (1988), Toffin (1992), van den Hoek (2004), and Baltutis (2011, 2013). See Gonda (1967) for more on the classical festival.

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15 This difference is also misunderstood by van Buitenen (1973) in his translation of the first book of the Mahābhārata—​the first account of this festival—​in which he conflates these terms, resulting in this first Indra pole being raised three separate times. 16 Davis (2009) describes a similar rite at the beginning of Aghoraśiva’s Mahotsavavidhi, but the focus in this festival is more on the pratiṣṭhā (consecration) of the pole rather than on its initial praveśa. In her analysis of primarily Buddhist rites and stories, Nancy Falk (1973: 11) argues that the political use of such aniconic objects obtained in the wilderness (e.g., Buddha’s tooth at Dantapura) assert the necessity of the king’s subversion of and domination over the chaotic forces of the wilderness. 17 For the relevance of the Indra pole in the Nāṭyaśāstra, see Kuiper (1977). 18 Bṛhat Saṁhitā has the pole pulled “by people or on a carriage” (śakaṭena nayen manuśyair vā [43.21]); Devī Purāṇa has it carried on a cart or by a bull (śakaṭena vṛṣeṇa vā [12.22]). 19 Kālikā Purāṇa similarly reads: “Then, having led it to the gate of the city, it should be made into a flagpole (ketum). On the bright eighth of Bhādrapad, the flagpole should be made to enter the sacrificial space” (ketum vedim praveśayet [87.15b–​16a]). See also Samarāṅgaṇa Sūtradhāra (17.64–​68) for the public and festival welcoming of the pole into the capital city. 20 See Baltutis (2014) for the entire process for bringing the pole to and through the city of Kathmandu, Nepal. 21 Nīlakaṇṭha, in his commentary on the Mahābhārata, also focuses on the pole’s entrance as the festival’s archetypal element: “Nowadays one can still see the ‘entrance’ of the pole in Mahārāṣṭra and other countries at the end of the year (saṁvatsarānte yaṣṭipraveśo ‘dyāpi mahārāṣṭrādiṣu dṛśyate)” (in Kuiper 1977: 133). 22 Heitzman (2008: 31–​4) mentions the Silappadikaram and the Kāma Sūtra as two texts representative of urban literature from the period of the Second Urbanization. 23 Heitzman (2008: 12–​42); Sharma (1991); Kaul (2010). Gutschow and Bajracharya (1977) describe a similar, though much later, process for the coalescence of the city of Kathmandu, Nepal. 24 Heitzman (2008: 37) asserts that such rituals “exemplify the manner in which the conqueror confirms dominion over the earth.” 25 Richard Davis’s (2015) contribution to the Princeton University Press “Lives of Great Religious Books” series—​The Bhagavad Gita: A Biography—​tells one such story of the continued global significance of the Mahābhārata. 26 The extant literature on the Mahābhārata is massive and growing. Cf. Sullivan (2016) for the latest summary of recent scholarship on the epic. 27 I also have Ramanujan’s (1991) “repetition” clearly in mind here. 28 Only once is praveśa used as an example of deity possession: in 1.166.017, where the rākṣasa Kiṁkara took possession of king Kalmāṣapāda (viveśa nṛpatiṁ). 29 Āruṇi (saṁviveśa kedārakhaṇḍe [1.3.23]), Takṣaka (mahabilaṁ viveśa [1.3.137]), Ṣeśa (vivaraṁ praviśya [1.032.022]), and the Śārngaka birds as they are commanded (praviśadhvaṁ bilaṁ [1.222.009]). 30 Uttaṇka, in 1.3.109–​115; Yayāti, in 1.77.1; Kuntī, in 1.145.18 and 1.186.9; and Kalmāṣapāda, in 1.166.23. 31 Mādrī entered Pāṇḍu’s funeral pyre (hutaṁ praviṣṭā [1.117.28]), as did the good Āṅgirasa woman, after cursing the king Kalmāṣapāda for killing her Brahmin husband (dīptaṁ praviveśa [1.173.20]). Moreover, the sage Vyāsa entered Ambikā’s bed (śayanaṁ praviveśa [1.100.4]) and “a husband enters his wife and is reborn from her” (bhāryāṁ patiḥ saṁpraviśya [1.68.36]).

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32 Takṣaka (dīptaṁ praviṣṭaṁ [1.047.]8) and the snakes of the sarpa sattra (praviṣṭā havyavāhanaṁ [1.052.5, 9]). 33 Vyāsa enters the sacrificial arena (tad yajṅa sadas tadā viveśa [1.54.7]), and Āstīka desires to enter (yajṅaṁ praveśārthī [1.49.28]). Karṇa entered the large military arena at the beginning of ­chapter 126 (viveśa raṅgaṁ vistīrṇaṁ karṇaḥ [1.126.1]). 34 “Devāpi while still a child entered the forest” (devāpiḥ khalu bāla evāraṇyaṁ praviveśa [1.90.47]); “After offering the Viśvajit sacrifice, Janamejaya entered the forest” (viśvajitā ceṣṭvā vanaṁ praviveśa [1.90.11]); and King Pratīpa, after anointing his son Śaṁtanu king, entered the forest (vanaṁ rājā viveśa [1.92.23]). 35 Janamejaya entered his own capital (praviveśa svakaṁ puraṁ [1.67.22]); Devayānī says, “Now will I enter the city, father . . . She entered the city, worshiped by all the Dānavas” (praviśāmi puraṃ tāta . . . praviveśa puraṁ hṛṣṭaḥ pūjitaḥ sarvadānavaiḥ [1.75.24–​25]); Kalmāṣapāda entered Ayodhyā whose residents came out to see him (praviṣṭe rājendre . . . purīm dadṛśus taṁ tato rājann ayodhyāvāsino janāḥ [1.168.16, 21]); and Saṃvaraṇa reentered his capital (nṛpatir śārdūle praviṣṭe nagaraṁ punaḥ [1.163.19]). 36 harṣayan sarvaśaḥ paurān viveṣa gajas āhvayaṁ 37 alaṁkṛtaṁ janākīrṇaṁ viviśur vāraṇāvataṁ | te praviśya puraṁ vīrās tūrṇaṁ gṛhān brāhmaṇānāṁ 38 nagaraṁ hāstinapuraṁ ṣanaiḥ praviviśa 39 Krishna and Arjuna’s entrance into Dvārakā at the end of their tīrtha yātrā performs much of the same work as this narrative—​entering a decorated city, being welcomed by its residents, and celebrating a festival—​but this account uses language of “going” (abhijagmivān [1.210.15]) rather than of entering. 40 The phrase viveśa bhavanaṁ rājṅaḥ in 1.213.35 is also used in 1.38.15, when Gauramukha enters the royal palace. 41 In another example, the BhP (X.50.37–​9) describes Krishna’s victorious entrance into the city of Mathurā following his defeat of Jarāsamdha: “As the lord entered the city (puram praviśati prabhau), conchshells (śaṇkha), kettledrums (dundubhayo), bheri-​ drums, vīṇās, flutes (veṇu) and mṛdaṅga-​drums all sounded at once. The city was adorned with flags, its roads were cleaned, its people were happy, the sounds of Vedic chants reverberated throughout it, and its gateways were festively ornamented. The women of the city, looking longingly [at Krishna] with eyes opened wide, adorned him with flower garlands, ghee, rice and shoots.” 42 This last group, the people from the provinces (jānapadair), is mentioned also in Rām. 2.6.25–​6. The presence of these people, more than that of the city-​dwellers, signals the intense focus on the centrality of the city within the larger region and its resident king (and prince). 43 See Minkowski (2001) for the persistent epic theme of the interrupted ritual. 44 vaiśasaṃ su-​mahatkṛtvā jñātīnāṃ lomaharṣaṇam | āgaskṛtsarvalokasya pṛthivīnāśakārakaḥ || 45 sa taiḥ parivṛto rājā nakṣatrairiva candramāḥ | dhṛtarāṣṭraṃ puraskṛtya svapuraṃ praviveśa ha || 46 The emphasis on the lavish decorations that fill the city is communicated with the repeated use of forms of the verb alaṃ √kṛ. 47 Kathleen Erndl (1993: 108) adds savārī (a “vehicle”) that is ridden or mounted—​as another way that deity possession is named. 48 Not coincidentally, the Sanskrit word for political power—​daṇḍa (the stick, club, or scepter)—​can also refer to the name of the tall ceremonial pole that is caused to

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enter the city for the celebration of the Indra festival and also carries with it this same language of conquest.

Chapter 5 1 www.iisc.ernet.in/​currsci/​aug25/​articles10.htm. 2 “Sacred Groves,” accessed November 4, 2016, http://​www.aerfindia.org/​index. php?option=com_​content&view=article&id=49&Itemid=66. 3 For a discussion of Ādivāsis of Munda tribe, see Parkin (1992). 4 Vṛkśāyurveda: The Science of Plant Life. 5 http://​www.indianscriptures.com/​vedic-​lifestyle/​food-​and-​health/​neem. 6 http://​www.natureneem.com/​index_​fichiers/​Neem_​history_​Neem_​and_​India.htm. 7 http://​www.natureneem.com/​index_​fichiers/​Neem_​history_​Neem_​and_​India.htm. 8 http://​www.natureneem.com/​index_​fichiers/​Neem_​history_​Neem_​and_​India.htm. 9 http://​lordshiva.nishchala.org/​2014/​07/​bilvashtakam.html. 10 http://​www.indianscriptures.com/​vedic-​lifestyle/​food-​and-​health/​asoka. 11 http://​www.indianscriptures.com/​vedic-​lifestyle/​food-​and-​health/​asoka. 12 http://​giftingtrees.blogspot.com/​2011/​02/​ashoka-​great.html. 13 http://​www.yogamag.net/​archives/​2005/​dapr05/​amla.shtml. 14 Tradition has it that Sanjeevani is an unknown plant that is capable of bringing one to life from unconsciousness or even from death. 15 “The Kerala Joint Hindu Family System (Abolition) Act,” accessed November 5, 2016, http://​www.geocities.ws/​paivakil/​personallaws/​03097600.html#Sec1. 16 “Sacred Groves of Kerala: Down from 10,000 to 1,200,” accessed November 5, 2016, http://​www.downtoearth.org.in/​news/​ sacred-​groves-​of-​kerala-​down-​from-​10000-​to-​1200–​49070. 17 “Deforestation | Threats | WWF,” World Wildlife Fund, accessed November 19, 2016, http://​www.worldwildlife.org/​threats/​deforestation/​. 18 For further analysis, see Hartig, Mang, and Evans (1991); Leather et al. (1998); Maller et al. (2006); Jennings et al. (2008).

Chapter 6 1 Diacritics are used in this chapter only for Sanskrit and Tamil religious terminology. In order to be consistent, the common spelling of proper nouns such as politicians’ names, political parties, places, and films are used throughout. 2 AIADMK stands for All-​India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (All-​India Anna Dravidian Progress Party), and DMK stands for Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (Dravidian Progress Party). 3 Shihan Hussaini’s given name is Syed Ali Hussaini. He goes by the first name “Shihan” because it is the title of a karate master and teacher, and this is originally how he became known in Tamil films. He also prefers to be called “Hu” instead of “Hussaini” because he does not want to be recognized by his parents’ Muslim faith (Warrier 2013). 4 These politicians are C.N. Annadurai, M.G. Ramachandran, M. Karunanidhi, V.N. Janaki, and J. Jayalalitha. The only exception to this rule has been the short

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Notes intermediary governance of O. Paneerselvam’s rule during Jayalalitha’s jail time and recent death. The more recent Tamil “superstar” Rajinikanth did a popular remake of this MGR character but as an auto rickshaw driver in Batcha (1995) that has similarly cemented his career as an “everyman” hero and become one of his most recognized roles. This female Kṛṣṇa appeared as part of a triptych, where Jayalalitha appeared as the goddess Pārvatī, the Christian Virgin Mary, and the flute-​playing god Kṛṣṇa. I saw an example of this poster while in Trichy in 2004, and a similar example is available online in poor reproductions (Chandra 2016). A photograph of this image called Jayalalitha Portrayed as the Goddess Kālī by George Francis in 1998 can be accessed online at http://​www.artnet.com/​Magazine/​features/​ higgins/​ higgins7-​20–​4.asp. It was part of a gallery exhibit called Woman/​Goddess held at the India Center of Art Culture, 530 W. 25th Street, New York, NY, 10001, and ran from June 21 to August 11, 2001. Shihan Hussaini has acted in twelve Tamil films. He starred opposite Kamal Hasan in his first movie Punnagai Mannan (1986) and he later acted with Rajinikanth in Velaikaran (1987). Hussaini is not the first to make a portrait image out of frozen blood; the British contemporary artist Marc Quinn did a series of self-​portraits in frozen blood from 1991 to 2006. Unfortunately, this sculpture was destroyed in Chennai’s power outage in 2016 due to severe flooding throughout the city. Hussaini claims that he still has the freezer and its remains, but has yet to clean it out and remake the sculpture. Today, images of this blood sculpture and The Prayer are available on Hussaini’s Facebook page. His website TamilTaai.com is no longer available, but many of the images from this site are found on his Facebook page. Images of female politicians are commonly described in relation to the map of India as “Mother India” or Bharat Mata. The most popular examples are those of Indira Gandhi (Ramaswamy 2010: 274–​81), where she was often quoted saying, “Every drop of my blood will strengthen the nation.” Thus, Mother India-​Indira Gandhi also bleeds like a sacrificial martyr. The rising sun is also the symbol for Sun TV, one of the most famous Tamil television stations, which is owned and operated by Karunanidhi’s nephews, Dhayanidhi Maran and Kalanidhi Maran. Not to be outdone, Jayalalitha also owns her own television station called Jaya TV, which often runs old movies of her and MGR. The MGR Memorial was originally set up under the past chief minister Karunanidhi in 1989–​90, although Jayalalitha has since completely remodeled it (Holt 2017). The doctor’s embodiment of modern rationality in this scene also aligns him with the secular, anti-​Brahmanical, opposing DMK party, which was reemerging in popularity following Jayalalitha’s decline at this time. Placing the doctor’s character opposite to the overly emotional Nataraj, thus, suggests a comparison between the DMK and AIADMK agendas. Another popular example of MGR’s everyman appeal is the song in MGR’s hit film Anbe Vaa (Come, my love) in 1966, which had MGR’s character singing, Puthiaya Vanam (New sky), that praised the Indian country and all its people, castes, and places. A well-​known parody of this song and its influence on Tamil politics was also given in the 1997 Mani Ratnam movie Iruvar (The Duo), where MGR’s character is shown using this song in a political rally, singing, “I am one of a thousand (Aayirathil

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Naan Oruvan),” which could be understood as further defining him as a subaltern “everyman.” 16 The Tamil celebrity-​cookery show was called Adhiradi Samayal (Mega TV) and it aired on May 15, 2014, while the late-​night show was called Thenali Darbar (Thenthi TV) and it aired on August 21, 2013. Since Hussaini’s rise in popularity in 2013, he has also given numerous television interviews (in English and Tamil) such as on India Today, Jaya TV, Vikatan TV, News7, News Giltz, and Lankasri News and these can also be found on YouTube. 17 Hussaini’s AMMA party stands for Amma Makkal Munnetra Amaippu, which loosely translates as “Amma’s Peoples Progressive Organization” (Ramanathan 2016). 18 Sasikala’s political nickname, created after Jayalalitha’s death, is “Chinna Amma” (Little Mother) in reference to Jayalalitha’s nickname “Amma” (Bagriya 2017).

Chapter 7 1 Gora was published as a serial in Bengali monthly magazine Probasi from 1907 to 1909. Subsequently three versions of the original Bengali serial were published: The first abridged version of the book was released in 1910, and a second abridged version was released in 1928, while a full and standard version of the book was released only in 1941 as part of Rabindra Rachanabali. The first English-​language translation of Gora is based on the first abridged version of the book published in 1910 by MacMilan & Co., which underwent almost fifteen reprints between 1924 and 1976, and it was reissued as McMillan Pocket Tagore in 1980, which also underwent a number of reprints. However, MacMilan & Co never revised its translated text, although the original Bengali version of the book of Gora was revised to include the full text (Mukherjee 2001: “Preface”). Poor quality of translations of Tagore’s work is said to have contributed to attrition of popularity of Tagore in the West since his Nobel Prize (Thomson 1921; Mukherjee 1964). 2 Arnold van Gennep’s Les rites de passage (The Rites of Passage) was published in 1909, and hence it is not possible that Tagore was aware of ritual theory or rites of passage including its three phases (preliminaire [pre-liminality], liminaire [liminality], and postliminaire [post-​liminality]) during the writing of his book Gora. However, Tagore’s work closely depicts life and religion in contemporaneous India, hence, even though he was unaware of these theoretical perspectives, Gora fits the scheme of rite of passage perfectly. 3 Āśramas divide the life of a Hindu into four stages, which are marked with important sacraments. Upanayana marks entry into the second stage of life known as Brahmacarya, which marks one’s entry into student life. The end of student life is marked with vivāha (marriage) as a rite of passage into the Grihasta (householder) stage of life, which marks one’s status as a fully-​f ledged member of society. 4 Colonization of the mind through education and language is noted across the colonial world (Thion’go 1981). 5 It appears that it would have been easier to write an entire book independently based on a single plotline than borrow unrelated minor details from four other books and weave it into a masterful tale such as Gora. For example, even though there were no

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Notes similarities between the characters of Gora and Sir Thomas (Pride and Prejudice), allusions to Sir Thomas’s plantation visits are said to have influenced Gora. Gora’s visit to an indigo plantation was altogether reformist and nationalist while Pride and Prejudice provides no details of Sir Thomas’s visits to his plantations in Antigua. However, it could be surmised that he visited those plantations in his capacity as a landlord. Similarities offered between the theater shows in both the novels were even vaguer. While theatrical performance in Mansfield Park was completely different in nature and did not draw any protest, the theatrical performance in Gora was foiled due to the protest of Binoy and Lalita upon the arrest of Gora. It seems farfetched to consider that these nonexistent details are sufficient enough to warrant the accusation that “Tagore not only revised Mansfield Park. He took up Pride and Prejudice as well, and he did so more extensively and more systematically, drawing the character of structure for Gora almost entirely from this novel, along with some elements of the romantic plot” (Hogan 2003: 180). See footnote 1. The baul’s song is translated a bit differently in the earlier translation of W. W. Pearson (Tagore 1910: 1). “Into the cage flies the unknown bird| It comes I know not whence|| Powerless my mind to chain its feet||| It goes I know not where||||”. It is clear that the translation here failed to capture the symbolism of the song. Although I compared my translations with the original Bengali (also known as Bangla) text of Gora ([1907–1909] 1941), quotations in this chapter are from the Sahitya Akademi’s publication of Gora ([1997] 2001). Tagore notes of this trend of colonized mind that “educated men then kept at arms’ length both the language and thought of their native land,” in his autobiography (Tagore 1917: 138–​9). Spear (1938: 78–​101). Tagore’s ideals discussed in Gora are drawn from the majority Hindu perspectives of what constituted the nation of India and patriotism, which favored secular, independent, and modern democratic India. However, this does not represent the aspirations of Muslim populations of India at that time, which moved toward religious nationalism guided by Muslim orthodoxy, which finally led to the creation of Pakistan (Roy 1983; Ahmad 1966). Muslim populations also ignored regional origins and syncretistic Islamic culture in India to find similarities with Islam outside of India. These views of Tagore expressed in his autobiography Reminiscences (1917) are also noted in Gora’s views on India in Gora. Upanayana marks the entry into the second stage of life known as Brahmacarya, which marks one’s entry into student life. The end of student life is marked with marriage as a rite of passage into the Grihasta stage of life, which indicates the status of a man as full-​fledged member of society. This might not have been a reference only to Marshman’s history of India, but an indictment of colonial history machinery of nineteenth-​century India, which has presented distorted and colonial versions of Indian history, which has forever changed the historical perception of India. The Irish Parliament (Dublin) was dissolved in 1800 through the Act of Union and Ireland joined with England. Following the Great Famines of 1845–​51 the Irish fight for independence intensified, culminating in the Easter Rising of 1916. Following the suppression of Easter Rising, the nationalist movement turned fierce and violent. See Hopkinson (2002).

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16 The Irish and Indian nationalist movements show parallel political development demanding Home Rule from Britain simultaneously. 17 Triveni Sangam is located in Prayag (modern-​day Allahabad). It is considered to be one of the holiest junctions of rivers marking the joining of three rivers, Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswathi (a dried up historical river). Pilgrimage and bathing in Triveni Sangam is considered auspicious. Controlling access to this Hindu pilgrimage site had been a priority of most rulers since the establishment of Sultanate in Delhi in the late thirteenth century (Mclean 2008). 18 “We shall neither feel ashamed nor elated by finding equivalences after detailed scrutiny of west or to ourselves for any custom, belief, scripture or community, which belongs to the country of our birth. Whatever is ours, we shall uphold proudly and forcefully to protect our country and ourselves from all humiliation” (Tagore [1907–​ 1909] 1941: 28). 19 Similarly, India’s demand for self-​rule received ridicule from Britain. 20 Tagore vision of new India is centered on village development. Through the Sriniketan Tagore initiated a number of programs aimed at rejuvenation of the village economy of India (Raha 2016; Das Gupta 1977). 21 The reservation policy allows certain castes listed in the constitution under Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), and Other Backward Castes (OBC) privileged admission to reserved seats even though their grade point average might fall well below average. A new India that was ambitious to develop beyond caste is in fact mired in a new caste-based policy of inequalities sanctioned through the constitutional privileges accorded to certain categories of citizens of India, whose mere fact of birth in a certain caste ensures their educational and career path to success in life. A policy that was intended to undo the ill effects of caste system is leading to the creation of a new reservation-​based caste system of privileges. The Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (AA/​EO) Policy of the United States (https://​www.dol.gov/​general/​ topic/​hiring/​affirmativeact) is more nuanced and only provides guidelines and allows agencies and institutions to decide their own procedures, instead of enforcing across-​the-​board quotas so merit and quality of institutions and organization might not be compromised. This has led to a diverse system of AA/​EO policies across the educational institutions in the United States. See https://​www.nytimes.com/​2017/​08/​ 05/​us/​affirmative-​action-​justice-​department.html?module=ArrowsNav&contentCollec tion=U.S.&action=keypress®ion=FixedLeft&pgtype=article.

Chapter 8 1 For example, during the time frame under discussion here, the 1876–​78 famine is credited with 5.5 million deaths (some estimates exceed 10 million); in 1896–​7, 5 million; in 1899, 1 million; and in 1943–​4, 5 million. Critics pointedly questioned excessive, and to some degree preventable, loss of life in the context of such costly imperial celebrations as Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (1897) and the Delhi Durbars (1877, 1903, 1911). 2 I am grateful to Lehigh University Press/​Rowman & Littlefield Publishers for permission to use an earlier version of this material, which is forthcoming in a book project. 3 Examples in this discussion are taken primarily from The Indian Ladies’ Magazine (cited ILM), an English-​language monthly edited by Kamala Satthianadhan and

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Notes published in Madras (1901–​18; 1927–​38). ILM was the first English-​language magazine written and published by and for Indian women. Kamala Chattopadhyay’s America: The Land of Superlatives (1946) analyzes American exceptionalism circa World War II (discussed below). Women practitioners were alternately essentialized as innately maternal and thus by nature nurses (and so should neither be professionally trained nor remunerated for their work), and condemned as unfeminine/​unsexed for pursuing studies in “base” bodily functions (presented as an exclusively masculine domain). Joshi was committed to the idea that maternal-​child health standards in India would improve with the availability of Indian women doctors. Ramabai’s sponsor, Sister Geraldine of the Anglican sisterhood at Cheltenham, was unsparing in her critique of this determined, energetic, intellectually superior woman. Ramabai was constitutionally incapable of the unquestioning submission and obedience expected by any religious order. Whereas Geraldine accused her of pretending to convert to Christianity in order to get to England (and thence to America), Ramabai’s conversion was both genuine and highly idiosyncratic, to the chagrin of both Hindus and Christians. She aimed to adapt Christianity to Indian frameworks, for example, translating the Bible into Marathi, and setting Christian hymns in traditional Indian musical styles and instruments; her dress featured a modest Western blouse beneath a traditional sari. To Ramabai, patriarchal gender oppression was constructed by men, perpetuated by incurious women, and maintained by social convention, generating the pseudo-​ religious sanctity typically surrounding unexamined traditions. Frances Willard, of the WCTU, was a strong supporter and advocate of Ramabai’s work. Sister Nivedita (Margaret Noble, 1867–​1911) published The Web of Indian Life in 1904. In its aim to promote gendered cultural practices as reflections of nationalist ideology, the book romanticized the very attitudes and practices negatively effecting Indian women (child-​marriage and motherhood, widowhood practices) that reformers East and West aimed to reform (see ILM, “A Well-​Meaning” 1904: 126). There was no such legislation: “the status of the Hindu mother was so high and unassailable” that formal law was considered unnecessary (Chakravarti 1998: 336). The scope of the problem is striking: in 1891, there were an estimated 23 million widows in India, many of them under 15 (Enock 1925: 16). Evidencing what would now be termed “Hindu fundamentalism,” Vivekananda “mounted attacks on Bengali social reform for adopting Western values and forms . . . combining this with paeans to the glory of Aryan India and Hinduism” (Kumar 2002: 37). This of course was not true, nor does it consider the dearth of educational and socioeconomic opportunities that would preclude such activism and that was accessible to less than 2 percent of the female population at the time. See, for example, Kumar (2002). Appasamy alludes to Elizabeth Gaskell’s humorous novel Cranford, set in a primarily female community. Referring to “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, a poem engraved on the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor. While Mayo’s approach was offensive, some of her observations were valid. Critiques of poor sanitation and personal health standards were part of nationalist discourse. What was not appreciated was commentary on these points from outsiders who

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aimed to establish India’s “unfitness” for self-​rule. A project solicited by the British, Mayo’s book represented an unsavory collusion at a time when Indian nationalists sought an alliance with the United States against Britain.

Chapter 9 This chapter highlights part of my research in Art and Beauty, Opposition and Growth in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, doctoral dissertation, The Catholic University of America, 2016. 1 For example, Deutsch (1964); Bruteau (1971); Zaehner (1971); O’Connor (1976); Minor (1978); Phillips (1986); Heehs (2008); Stoeber (2009); and Gleig and Flores (2014). 2 The Mother, The Mother’s Agenda XIII, March 19, 1972. The Mother uses “the New Being” seventeen times in The Agenda. 3 See, for example, my article comparing the Mother and Sri Aurobindo with a Western example of spiritual consorts, St. Clare and St. Francis of Assisi (Beldio 2015: 11–​32). 4 Sri Aurobindo, reported oral remarks, notation of November 27, 1926, Haradhan Bakshi Papers, notebook 3, 240, in the Sri Aurobindo Āśram Archives; quoted by Heehs (2008: 345). 5 See Sri Aurobindo (2003a), especially “The National Value of Art,” 431–​54. See also Sri Aurobindo (1997d). 6 The Mother, The Mother’s Agenda X, July 26, 1969. 7 The Mother, The Mother’s Agenda I, undated 1951. 8 This term is difficult to define. It can mean simply “any distinguished person in the language of respect” or a “descent (especially of a deity from heaven), appearance of any deity upon earth.” Monier-​Williams (2005: s.v.), “avatāra.” Ava is a preposition that means “off, away, down” and tāra can mean “carrying across, a saviour, protector.” MMW, s.vv. “ava” and “tāra.” 9 Over the years, she named 898 flowers, and exchanged them with her sādhaks (aspirants) on many different occasions to deepen the students’ contact with nature and with her consciousness. If one studies the names that she gives these flowers with her commentary, as well as the colors, the botany, and even medicinal qualities in some cases, one can come to a very full, visual, and creative understanding of the Integral Yoga. See The Mother (1979, 2000). 10 See Heehs (1979: 211–​19) for an analysis of Sri Aurobindo’s symbol and its relationship to the Jewish Magen David, a.k.a. Seal of Solomon or Star of David, and how the Mother came to create it before she met Sri Aurobindo. 11 http://​www.sriaurobindo Āśram.org/​ Āśram /​mother/​symbol.php; accessed March 3, 2016. 12 Ibid. 13 I am grateful to James Madaio and Roland Steiner for pointing these sources out to me. They note that the philosophical text Mokṣopāya (tenth century) is a monist work that informs the later Advaitin traditions in the use of the concept of manonāśa. The Laghu-​Yoga-​Vāsiṣṭha (ca. fourteenth century) is the key textual source for the usage of manonāśa in Advaita Vedānta. Similar constructions of “mindlessness” can also be found in the works of early Advaitins like The Āgamaśāstra of Gauḍapāda as well as early medieval yogic works. In the twentieth century, manonāśa can be found in the thought of Maharshi (1997), and in the teachings of Meher Baba; see Kalchuri (online edition: 2927–​3032).

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26 27 28 29 30

Notes See “The National Value of Art,” in Sri Aurobindo (2003a: 431–​54). See “Indian Art” and “Indian Literature” in Sri Aurobindo (1997d: 255–​383). “Letters on ‘Savitri,’ ” in Sri Aurobindo (1997e: 730). She mentions this experience seventy times in The Mother’s Agenda. She also says that Sri Aurobindo had the same experience; see The Agenda XI, July 11, 1970. The Mother, The Mother’s Agenda I, June 6, 1958; my emphasis. See the eight essays grouped under the title “The Supramental Manifestation Upon Earth,” especially “The Perfection of the Body” and “The Divine Body,” in Sri Aurobindo (1998: 521–​57). See also The Mother (2001: 143–​4). The word “man” is derived from the Proto-​Indo-​European root √man, to think, which is the root also of manas. “Man” is by this definition a creature of the manas, whereas the supramental “being,” having experienced mānonaśa takes no part in this nature. For an exploration of this androgynous ideal in relationship to their use of art, see Beldio (2015: 11–​32). See note 2. See The Mother (2004e: 279). The project is called Meditations on Savitri and includes 476 paintings. As a visual piety that seeks to display them in a way and in a context that fulfills the vision of the Mother and Huta, the Havyavāhana Trust, who care for Huta’s work in Auroville, India, did not give me permission to publish any of these images. The Trust wrote to me stating that Huta “gave specific instructions that none of the Meditations on Savitri paintings or sketches should be reproduced except in Havyavāhana Trust publications. At present a book covering all the five cantos of Book One [of Savitri] is in preparation, and it is planned to publish the rest in three or four volumes before long.” Letter from the Havyavāhana Trust to the author, October 14, 2014. The Mother’s Agenda II, September 23, 1961. The Mother’s Agenda XI, July 11, 1970. “Letters on ‘Savitri,’ ” in Sri Aurobindo (1997: 728). See Danto (2003); Steiner (2001); and Hickey (1993). See Sri Aurobindo (1997b: 19), and Huta (2001: 11).

Chapter 10 1 Alternatively transliterated Ātiparācakti in Tamil and Ādiparāśakti in Sanskrit. Here, I have selected the spelling that is used by the community in Toronto. 2 When community members are speaking English, the word “temple” is often used interchangeably with the word “mandram,” which implies a smaller worship center, satellite to Melmaruvathur, which is a village located in the state of Tamil Nadu, about eighty kilometers southwest of Chennai (Madras). For more information on the history of this tradition see, for example: Moorthy (1986); Chandrasekharan and Sambandam (2004); Narayanan (2013: 531–​4); Spina (2017). 3 The four main objectives of the Om Sakthi tradition are as follows: (1) to inculcate faith in the divine and foster spirituality; (2) to raise the status of women both socially and spiritually; (3) to promote the cause of education and health, and meet the cultural needs of the society; (4) to cater to the needs of the weaker sections of the society and the helpless suffering masses through self-​help measures and

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philanthropic undertakings, (5) and to interest and enthuse them in spiritual activities as well. Chandrasekharan and Sambandam (2004: 88–​9). With regard to the history of goddess worship in India, the Devi-​Mahatmya or “Glorification of the Goddess” is an early text of approximately the sixth century CE. Thomas Coburn notes that “the Devi-​Mahatmya is not the earliest literary fragment attesting to the existence of devotion to a goddess figure, but it is surely the earliest in which the object of worship is conceptualized as Goddess, with a capital G.” Coburn, “Devī the Great Goddess,” 31–​48. For engaging research, including this facet of goddess worship and community, see Craddock (2001: 145–​69). The academic literature on Hindu goddesses is expansive and would exceed the scope of this chapter; nonetheless, some examples include: Kinsley (1986); Hawley and Wulff (1996); Craddock (2001: 145–​69); Pintchman (2001). A number of women at the temple support the notion of empowerment for women, however defined in their terms, and do not necessarily align themselves with particular Western or South Asian feminist movements. While there are differences in the way the term “feminism” is conceptualized in India and the West, a detailed discussion of the subject would exceed the scope of this chapter. It is important to acknowledge that feminism has developed differently in other parts of the world including India. See Mohanty, Russo, and Torres (1991); Mohanty (2003); Mahmood (2005); on Indian feminism and Hinduism, see: Kishwar (2001: 285–​308; 2004: 26–​51); Purkayastha et al. (2003: 503–​24); on postcolonial feminist work, highlighting specificity and concerns in diverse locations including Sri Lanka, see Loomba and Lukose (2012). Mohanty, Russo, and Torres (1991); Arnstein (2001).

Chapter 11 1 Growing up in a middle-​class Bengali household in Kolkata, Bengali language is central to Chatterjea’s work. Her performance philosophy integrates and grounds in Bengali disparate movement influences from India. 2 This image comes up in Act III in Horidraa where Chatterjea in a solo sequence performed to poetry, “Recipe for #Browngurlmagyk” (Appendix), acknowledges her embodied memories with turmeric. 3 For more on Odissi, please refer to scholarship by Banerji et al. (2010); Ghosh (2012); Roy (2006); and Chatterjea (1996). 4 Spiritual practice in Yoga has been discussed by Coney (2000); Lasater (2000); and Adiswarananda (2005). 5 Chhau is a martial art form originating in eastern India, which has been discussed by scholars such as Kothari (1969); Bharucha (1984); and Chatterjea (2004), among many others. It was first practiced only by men, but at the beginning of the twentieth century, it started being performed by women. 6 Scholarship in Tantra is extremely varied, differing due to historical, theoretical, and cultural specificity. Here, Tantra arises in the discussion of tenth-​century theologian Abhinavagupta who is a practitioner of Tantric Śaivism. For more, please refer to religious studies scholars, namely, Sanderson (1990, 2009); Sanderson et al. (1985); Masson and Patwardhan (1970); Urban (2001); and Muller-​Ortega (1989).

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Chapter 12 1 The Lok Sabha (literally, “House of the People”) describes the regional elections held within the country of India, in which candidates for the House of Parliament are elected to office. 2 The term “The Mewar Mandal” translates as “The Mewar Council.” It consists of sadhus who reside in the state of Rajasthan and serve as the central administrative unit for sannyas-​as-​practiced in the Mewar region of the state. According to several leaders of the organization with whom I spoke in the year 2014, the Mewar Mandal has between 200 and 250 members. The Mewar Mandal is considered to be the official renunciant mandal in the region and is recognized in its authoritative capacity by the state of Rajasthan. 3 The Shaiva-​based traditions of renunciation as practiced in Mewar consist of the orthodox Dashanamis (literally, “ten names”), developed by the ninth-​century renouncer Adi Shankaracarya, and the nonorthodox Kanphata (literally, “split ear”) Nath Yogis, which is said to have been organized by the twelfth-​century mystic Gorakhnath. By contrast, the Vaishnava-​based traditions consist of the Tyagis, Vairagis, and Ramanandis. It also serves sadhus from the Sikh-​inspired Udasin sadhus and Tantric Aghori sadhus. The Shaiva traditions, in theory if not in practice, consider the Hindu deity Shiva (said to be the renouncer par excellence) as their tutelary god; for the Vaishnavas, they worship the god Vishnu, or one of his incarnations like Rama or Krishna. I will have more to say about the Dashanami Tradition, in particular, later on in this chapter. See Gross (2001). 4 These districts are: Bhilwara, Chittoor, Rajsamand, Udaipur, and Kumbhalgarh. 5 According to Tulsi Giri (2014), a former member of the executive board of the Mewar Mandal (see below), there are twenty-​five female sadhus who participate in the Mewar Mandal. 6 See Knight (2011); Gutschow (2009); Khandelwal (2004, 2009); Hausner (2007); Khandelwal, Hausner, and Gold (2006); Pechilis (2004); Denton (1991, 2004); Vallely (2002); King (1984); Ojha (1981, 1985, 1988). 7 Whether we look to the example of Sadhvi Shakti Parishad, which began in 1998, or more recently, to the formation of a new women’s renunciant order (akhara), the Juna Sannyasini Akhara, which gained recognition in January of 2013 at the Kumbh Mela held in Allahabad, these institutions aim to recruit and support female sadhus, create solidarity and group identity, and provide its members with the educational, financial, and leadership resources to improve and transform their lives. For more information about the Shakti Sadhvi Parishad, see the organization’s website: http://​ vhp.org/​vhp-​glance/​dimensions/​dharmacharya-​sampark/​sadhwi-​shakti-​parishad. As for the Juna Sannyasini Akhara, it began with the intention of providing female renouncers participating in the Kumbh Mela their own separate enclosures, bathrooms, resources, and safety measures. As of January 2013, the leader of the Juna Sannyasini Akhara is Devya Giri, who, before she became ordained as a sadhu in 2004, received a postgraduate degree as a medical technician from the Institute of Public Health and Hygiene in Delhi. See Sanyal (2013). An even more recent formation of a women’s akhara concerns the Sarveshwar Mahadev Vaikunth Dham Akhara Pari (or, Akhara Pari in shorthand). It was mobilized by Trikal Bhavanta Saraswati in January 2014 in Allahabad (Prayagraj), Uttar Pradesh state, during the winter Hindu festival of Makar Sankranti. See DeNapoli (2016). See also the following: Gidwani (2014); Sarita (2014); Sikhaula (2014); and Pandey (2014). To clarify: while Akhara Pari has received legal

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recognition by the state of Uttar Pradesh and retains legal documents to that effect, it has not been recognized as a legitimate akhara (order/​council) by the pan-​Indian institution of the Akhara Council. 8 The sadhus said that, to their knowledge, there is no other women’s mandal for sadhus in Rajasthan. None of the leaders of the Mewar Mandal could confirm the existence of a mandal organized by and for women in Rajasthan. 9 On northern Indian sadhus’ uses of technology to theologize the modernity of renunciation, see DeNapoli (2017b). 10 In this chapter, I provide the Hindi transliteration of Indian-​language terms, such as samsara, sannyasa, and moksha. In Hindi, the last vowel “a” is dropped in pronunciation and transliteration. In this case, samsara is transliterated as sansar, sannyasa becomes sannyas, and moksha is written as moksh. Since the sadhus with whom I worked, both men and women, speak in the Hindi vernacular (or a local Rajasthani dialect like Mewari, Marwari, or Dhundhari), and not in the classical language of Sanskrit, I use their pronunciation of terms rather than the standard Sanskritic pronunciation/​transliteration. 11 The Indologist Patrick Olivelle (1992) emphasizes that the Samnyasa Upanishads are Brahmanical texts. They are part of the elite, high-​caste, and hierarchical Brahmanical tradition out of which they came. It is tempting to see these texts and the model(s) of renunciation they prescribe through the oppositional lenses of anti-​caste, anti-​ hierarchy, anti-​status, and so on. Because renunciation emerged as a serious and significant challenge to the dominant sacrificial theology in ancient India, and because it offered a prescient commentary on the human condition, and more significantly, a critique against human cultural constructions and the norms they prescribe, sannyas has sometimes been said to be blind to gender, caste, status, and community. To be sure, renunciation constituted a “new” cultural element in the religious landscape of ancient South Asia. At the same time, it drew on a shared religious vocabulary and conceptual framework that contained implicit value structures for cultural life and practice in ancient South Asia. Thus, Brahmanical forms of renunciation took for granted shared cultural assumptions about power, status, and authority, but transferred these signs to another context, the new context of renunciation, where the texts proclaim the authority of this uncommon way of life for “twice-​born” (Brahmin, Kshatriya, and Vaishya) males who had the right to perform the Vedic sacrifices before they renounced position, obligations, and society. 12 In some versions of the Rāmāyaṇa, Shabari serves the renouncers of the forest in hiding. In the night, while all the renouncers are asleep, she engages in numerous tasks of selfless service and devotion, such as gathering firewood for their yajnas (sacrifices), purifying their ritual spaces, and drawing water for their holy baths. None of them, however, know of the identity of the person behind these selfless acts. Interestingly, according to a vernacular version of the tale as told by female sadhus in Rajasthan, when the renouncers discover the Bhilni identity of Shabari, perceiving her to be of a low social group and, hence, ritually impure, they physical beat and torment her. In the end, the male renouncers are severely chastised by the divine, who, like Rama in the Rāmāyaṇa narratives, recognizes the authority of Shabari as a “real” renouncer and rewards her devotion. See DeNapoli (2014: 178). 13 The practice of asceticism is not limited to unmarried celibate women in the Brahmanical textual traditions. Texts such as the Yoga Vasistha, a devotional text, and the Tripura Rahasya Sundari, a tantric text, provide examples of queens, Chudala and Hemalekha, respectively, who serve in the role of gurus to their king-​husbands and

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undergo severe asceticism to reach the ultimate. The vernacular language bhakti traditions illuminate examples of female ascetics, such as Lal Ded from Kashmir, the householder Bahina Bai from Maharashtra, and the princess-​turned-​ascetic Mira Bai from Rajasthan. See Pechilis (2004: 15–​25); and Khandelwal (2004: 39–​43). 14 The Oxford Hindi-​English Dictionary, edited by R. S. McGregor, p. 1005. The female sadhus also referred to themselves and others whom they perceived to be like them as “sants.” Since their use of “sant” (literally, a “good person”) occurred less frequently than their use of “sadhu,” I refer to renouncers in general, including the more and less radical classes (sannyasis, sannyasinis, yogis, and aughors), as sadhus. 15 The male sadhus with whom I worked belonged to Shaiva-​based Dashanami and Nath orders, or to the Vaishnava-​based Ramanandi (Sita Ram), Tyagi, and Vairagi orders. 16 Among these orders they are the Puri, Bharati, Saraswati, Giri, and Dandi Swami, which allow women to join their branches. 17 Many of the sadhus’ disciples also address them through use of the term “Maiyya,” meaning “holy mother.” 18 For other vernacular models of renunciation featured in the oral traditions of Rajasthan, see Gold (1989: 770–​86; 1991: 102–​35). 19 In her monograph, Women in Ochre Robes: Gendering Hindu Renunciation (2004), Meena Khandelwal describes three competing discourses that inform the attitudes and practices of renouncers in northern India with whom she worked in the pilgrimage city of Haridwar located in the state of Uttar Pradesh. According to Khandelwal, one (ideal) type of discourse genders renunciation as a masculine way of life, using “hydraulic” metaphors; another claims the irrelevancy of gender, drawing on the genderless “atma” (self); and the third discourse, which she describes through examination of the lives and practices of the female renouncers she knew, that renunciation is maternal, establishing its legitimacy through use of symbolic images of motherhood and maternal femininity. The latter discourse has been submerged by the other two ideal types of models, and Khandelwal brings the maternal femininity model of renunciation to the center of the scholarly literature on renunciation in India. For a discussion of representations of renunciation through the hydraulic metaphors, see also Khandelwal (2001: 157–​79). 20 See the following selections from Olivelle (1992: 129–​31); Paramahansa Upanishad, 137–​40; Maitreya Upanishad, 165–​9; Naradaparivrajaka Upanishad, 185–​8. 21 The statistics for the approximate numbers of renouncers in India can be found in Narayan (1989); Gross (2001); and Khandelwal (2004). 22 The term “shakti” translates as the feminine creative power of the universe. Shakti is thought to be the great Goddess of the universe and (as shakti) the panentheistic life-​ force energizing the world of nature and existence. 23 See Olivelle (1992, 1993, 1995: 533–​46). 24 The acting treasurer of the Mewar Mandal (2014) confirmed this detail. 25 Tulsi Giri said that she spent over two years in her post, resigning before the requisite third year was completed. 26 Some of the female sadhus were unclear about this point, but it seems to me that the mandal leaders encouraged (or unofficially delegated) them to serve in a particular post, and they are then elected to that post through the established voting procedures of the mandal. 27 The majority of sadhus with whom I worked were born between 1920 and 1940 in different regions of northern India (Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh), and came from mostly Brahmin and Rajput (warrior) families. In these high-​caste

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32

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households, education was not positively viewed, or made available, for women at the time in which the sadhu would have been at an age to receive primary and secondary education, in particular. The concept of gender androgyny describes a “two-​sexed” and inclusive model of humanity. However, as we will see, the religious concept of androgyny as it is conceived in Indian cultural contexts can be read in multiple ways, and in the case of the religious leadership of mandals, the readings that male sadhus and female sadhus give oppose one another. For a discussion on gender androgyny, see Gross (1996). Ram Giri’s understanding of gender featured in her narrative parallels what sociologist of religion Meredith McGuire (2008: 160) says: “Gender is based on multiple social-​cultural meanings attached to what is socially defined as ‘male’ and ‘female.’ ” Historian of religion Rita Gross presents an excellent discussion of the ways that androcentric models of reality as featured in cultural institutions and religious studies scholarship assume masculine experience as the universal human experience and, thus, eclipse gendered social realities of both men and women. See her essay, “Here I Stand: Feminism as Academic Method and as Social Vision,” in Gross (1993). The Laws of Manu, a classical text depicting orthodox Brahmanical prescriptions of gender, describes the parameters of respectable femininity for (high-​caste) Indian women and even warns of spending time with female renouncers, as their freedom of movement casts doubt and suspicion on the purity of their characters and is thought to affect the purity of the householder women who commiserate with them. See Doniger and Smith (1991). See also the discussion of stridharma (literally, “women’s duty”) in Hallstrom (1999: 57–​9). Hallstrom describes this notion from the perspective of not only The Laws of Manu, but also a seventeenth-​century Brahmanical Bengali text, namely, the Stridharmapaddhati, authored by the Brahmin Tryambaka. In her ethnography of a Buddhist nunnery (samnak) in Thailand, anthropologist Sid Brown brings to light the mainstream cultural perceptions of female renunciants (maechi) as transgressive to the norms and expectations of Thai society. Noteworthy is that the people whom Brown interviewed talked about maechi in general negatively, and yet, they spoke about specific maechi whom they knew in the local community positively. I have seen a similar dynamic at work in my own field research, in which householders talk about female sadhus generally in a manner that suggests suspicion and distrust of this class of religious practitioners. At the same time, these householders speak with noticeable devotion and love about the individual female sadhus whom they serve (and told me are “real” sadhus). See Brown (2001). The female sadhus with whom I spoke agree, however, that the posts that the women practitioners hold are generally perceived by the local members to be inferior to the leadership positions in which the men serve. See also Lamb (2000), in which she discusses the fluid views of the feminine gender held by the elderly Bengali women with whom she worked, and who affirm that one’s age and place in the life cycle affect one’s mentality, behaviors, and experiences of gender. The detail about the Mewar Mandal coming into formation in the late 1980s was provided in response to my question about its origins by the treasurer of the mandal (2014), Prakash Bharti. Cultural variations of the gendered ideology of the suffering of women are known throughout the Indian subcontinent and found in oral traditions. See Wadley (1991

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[1980]), for an example of this ideology as it emerges in the expressive practices of Tamil women in southern India. In Rajasthan, and as illustrated by the practices of the female sadhus in my field study, the trope of the suffering woman makes explicit that women not only suffer because of perceived inferiority of their feminine gender, but also the gendered nature of their suffering, whether it arises in domestic or religious contexts, endows them with more Shakti than if they did not suffer for being women, and makes them better than men “in everything,” and in the views of the sadhus, in the purity of their devotion to the divine and the quality of their renunciation. 37 This ritual, which occurs over a period of twelve days, absolved Jamuna Nath of her responsibilities in the mandal, because she cannot continue to serve in it if she has symbolically died “in” the world. According to the sadhus I spoke with, a sadhu who has performed her mrtyu-​bhoj can no longer participate in any social activity. 38 Two sadhus in favor of forming the Women’s Mandal of Mewar shared this information on July 9, 2015. 39 As I was told by leaders of the Mewar Mandal, the mandal does not regulate the behavior of its members. Nor does it punish deviant sadhus. 40 For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to this alternative renunciant aesthetic as the “tiban-​sari.” 41 The wearing of nonstitched clothing constitutes, as I have been told by the female and male sadhus with whom I worked, a general “rule” in sannyas. And yet, in practice there exists a great deal of idiosyncrasy and variety in the ways that diverse sadhus dress. The male sadhus whom I have known wear stitched clothing in the form of t-​shirts, blouses, and vests dyed in the color of bhagva. In 2011, my research associate, Manvendra Singh Ashiya, and I met a sadhu who traveled on his motorcycle dressed in a stitched bhagva-​colored bodysuit (and orange helmet), which he said was his preferred clothing during the monsoon season. It was quite the sight to behold this sadhu dressed in his bhagva body suit and riding his motorcycle on the open highways of southern Rajasthan. The female sadhus similarly wore blouses and vests and a long, simple piece of cloth (dhoti) that wrapped around the waist (the dhoti was bhagva-​colored or white). But some of the female sadhus also clothed themselves in the traditional Rajasthani-​style women’s dress, in which they wore a stitched, long-​ sleeved blouse that covered the midsection, a plain long skirt (ghagri) that fell below the ankles, and a long sheet of cloth tied to the waist and draped around the body, which was used to cover the face, and thus, functioned as a veil for these sadhus. Beneath the ghagri, the sadhus also wore a bhagva-​colored, or white, petticoat. This style of female sadhu-​dress was typically worn by the high-​caste Rajput (warrior) sadhus I knew. Although the Shaiva sadhus often dress in full bhagva, it is common for the Vaishnava sadhus, who typically dress in white clothing, also to wear bhagva, or a combination of white and bhagva colors. I thank my colleague, anthropologist Ann Grodzins Gold, who shared her ethnographic stories of meeting diverse sadhus wearing all kinds of dress, from orange t-​shirts to the nonstitched cloth that the sadhus I worked with identified as the “rule” for the clothing of sannyas. Personal communication via email, January 14, 2017. 42 I have even seen sadhus, men and women, wear brown-​colored or gold-​colored garments (e.g., vests, t-​shirts, and blouses) to depict the color of bhagva. 43 In “Gender, Power, and Violence: Rajasthani Stories of Shakti,” Ann Grodzins Gold (1994) presents a different—​and subversive—​etymology for the term bhagva drawn from a vernacular tale as told by the Rajasthani Shaiva sadhu and bard, Madhu Nathisar Nath, whom Gold describes as “an old man in his seventies belonging to

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a caste of yogi-​magician farmers (Nath).” According to Madhu Nath, bhagva is the color of ochre (or red) because it originally came from the goddess Parvati’s bhag (vagina). I cite a portion of Madhu Nath’s fascinating tale here: “Parvati had no vagina so Shankar [the god Shiva] scratched her with his nail and made her a vagina and they collected the blood in a pot and dyed some cloth and Shankar accepted it as ochre [bhagava because it came from Parvati’s bhag] and from this time the Nath yogis wear this colour of cloth” (33).Of course, as I have said, the ochre clothing about which Madhu Nath speaks is not unique to Nath sadhus. The Rajasthani sadhus whom I knew did not offer such an etymology of bhagva, rather associating it with the sun, which they said represents God’s presence in the world and divine power of light, wisdom, and purity. Whether they know of the tale of the origin of bhagva or not, I am not surprised that the sadhus did not correlate the term with Parvati’s bhag, or vaginal blood, because of its scandalous connotations. In her analysis of the story, Gold says that “renouncers’ robes are a highly valued symbol of detachment from the world, and from women; here they are dyed in vaginal blood—​perhaps the blood of Parvati’s defloration . . . [This myth] . . . might express male and female complementarity. Throughout the story, the need for mutuality, for pairing . . . rather than for domination of one sex by the other seems to resonate. In accepting the colour emblematic of their identity as dyed in vaginal blood, yogis thus acknowledge an intimacy with female body substance even as they outwardly reject contact with women” (34). Let us keep Gold’s insights about complementarity in mind, as later on I will have more to say on the female sadhus’ shifting understandings of cultural notions of gender complementarity symbolized by the Parvati-​Shiva pair. 44 See http://​www.archive.india.gov.in/​knowindia/​national_​symbols.php?id=2. 45 A “working” Hindu temple means that it operates as a place of worship and has a full-​time priest to serve the temple deities. Many nonworking temples in India today operate as cultural heritage sites and have no established divine images (murtis) or priests to serve them. 46 While the term “mahatma” literally translates as “great soul,” Tulsi Giri uses it in this conversational context to mean the leaders of the Mewar Mandal, in particular, the leaders and members of the executive board. 47 The Sanskrit term is Kali Yuga. Kali Yug represents the age of decay, degeneration, and destruction. It is the last (and worst) of the four ages (satya yug; treta yug; dwapara yug; kali yug), which move from better to worse, and in which dharm decreases by one-​fourth with every declining age. See Dimmitt and van Buitenen (1978).

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References Chapter 2 Ben-​Herut, Gil. (2013), Narrating Devotion: Representation and Prescriptions of the Early Kannada Śivabhakti Tradition According to Harihara’s Śivaśaraṇa Ragaḷĕgaḷu. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Emory University. Ben-​Herut, Gil. (2015), “Figuring the South-​Indian Śivabhakti Movement: The Broad Narrative Gaze of Early Kannada Hagiographic Literature.” Journal of Hindu Studies 8(3): 274–​95. Bouillier, Véronique. (1983), “Les Jangam du Népal: Caste de Prȇtres ou Renonçants?” Bulletin de l’Ecole française d’Extrȇme-​Orient 72: 81–​148. Candrasekhara Sivacaraya, Sa. Bra. (2006), Vīraśaiva Pañcapīṭha Parampare. Ujjaini: Sri Jagadguru Saddharma Simhasana Jnanaguru Vidyapitha. Chandra Shobhi, Prithvi Datta. (2005), Pre-​modern Communities and Modern Histories: Narrating Vīraśaiva and Lingayat Selves. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Chicago. Cidanandamurti, M. (1980), Basavanna. New Delhi: National Book Trust. Desai, P. B. (1968), Basavēśwara and His Times. Bangalore: Basava Samithi. Fisher, Elaine. (2017a), Hindu Pluralism: Religion and the Public Sphere in Early Modern South India. Oakland: University of California Press. Fisher, Elaine. (2017b), “Remaking South Indian Śaivism: The Confluence of Śaivism and Advaita Vedānta.” International Journal of Hindu Studies 21(3). Fisher, Elaine. (Forthcoming), “Biography of a Maṭha: The Transregional Influence of a Village Monastery.” In Sarah Taylor and Caleb Simmons (eds), The Maṭha: Entangled Histories of a Religio-​political Institution in South India. New York: Oxford University Press. Goodall, Dominic. (2009), “Who Is Caṇḍeśa?” In Shingo Einoo (ed.), Genesis and Development of Tantrism. Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo. Hawley, John Stratton. (2005), Three Bhakti Voices: Mirabai, Surdas, and Kabir in Their Time and Ours. New York: Oxford University Press. Hawley, John Stratton. (2015), A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Hawley, John Stratton, trans., and Kenneth E. Bryant, ed. (2017), Sur’s Ocean: Poems from the Early Tradition. Murthy Classical Library of India. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Hunsal, S. M. (2004 [1947]), The Lingayat Movement: A Social Revolution in Karnatak. Bangalore: Basava Samithi. Jyotirnātha. (1992), Śaivaratnākara, ed. C. N. Basavaraju. Mysore: Oriental Research Institute. Kāñcī Śaṅkarārādhya. (1993), Basavapurāṇam Saṃskṛta Paṭhya mattu Kannaḍa Anuvāda, Kañcī Śaṅkarārādhya Viracita, ed. Ni Pra. Muragoda. Dharwad: Karnataka Visvavidyalaya.

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Chapter 7 Ahmad, Rafiuddin. (1966), The Bengal Muslims 1871–​1906: A Quest for Identity. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Das Gupta, Uma. (1977), Santiniketan and Sriniketan: A Historical Introduction. A Visva Bharati Quarterly Booklet. Santiniketan: Visva Bharati University. Gennep, Arnold van. (1909), Les rites de passage (The Rites of Passage), trans. Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L. Caffee. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Gill, Robin. (1996), “Victor Turner: Pilgrimage as a Liminoid Phenomenon.” In Robin Gill, Theology and Sociology: A Reader. Cassell: London, 384–​98. Hogan, Patrick Colm. (2003), “Gora, Jane Austen, and The Slaves of Indigo.” In Patrick Colm Hogan and Lalita Pandit, Universality and Tradition. Madison: Associated University Presses, 175–​99. Hogan, Patrick Colm, and Lalita Pandit. (1995), Literary India. New York: State University of New York Press. Hopkinson, Michael. (2002), Irish War for Independence. Dublin: Gill and MacMilan. Mclean, Kama. (2008), Pilgrimage and Power: The Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. New York: Oxford University Press. Mehta, Jaya. (2003), “Some Imaginary ‘Real Thing’: Racial Purity, the Mutiny, and the Nation in Tagore’s Gora and Kipling’s Kim.” In Patrick Colm Hogan and Lalita Pandit, Universality and Tradition. Madison: Associated University Presses, 199–​213. Mukherjee, Sujit. (1964), Passage to America. Bookland: Calcutta. Mukherjee, Sujit. ([1997] 2001), “Preface.” In Sujit Mukherjee (trans.), Rabindranath Tagore Gora. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. Nandy, Ashis. (1994), The Illegitimacy of Nationalism: Rabindranath Tagore and the Politics of Self. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Ngugi Wa, Thion’go. (1981), Decolonizing Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers. Pandit, Lalita. (1995), “Caste, Race, and Nation: History and Dialectic in Rabindranath Tagore’s Gora.” In Patrick Colm Hogan and Lalita Pandit (eds), Literary India: Comparative Studies in Aesthetics, Colonialism, and Culture. Albany: State University of New York, 207–​33. Pandit, Lalita. (2003), “The Psychology of Aesthetics of Love.” In Patrick Colm Hogan and Lalita Pandit, Universality and Tradition. Madison: Associated University Presses, 141–​75.

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Chapter 8 Adhav, Shamsundar. (1979), Pandita Ramabai. Bangalore: Christian Institute. Arora, Anupama. (2009), “The Nightingale’s Wanderings: Sarojini Naidu in North America.” Journal of Literature 44(3): 87–​105. Athavale, Parvati. (1930), My Story. The Autobiography of a Hindu Widow, trans. J. E. Abbott. New York: Putnam. Bakshi, S. R. (2000), Kamala Devi Chattopadhyaya: Role for Womens’ Welfare. New Delhi: Om Publishers. Chakravarti, Uma. (1998), Rewriting History: The Life and Times of Pandita Ramabai. New Delhi: Kali. Chattopadhyaya, Kamaladevi. (1939), The Awakening of Indian Women. Madras: Everyman. Chattopadhyaya, Kamaladevi. (1944), Uncle Sam’s Empire. Bombay: Padma. Chattopadhyaya, Kamaladevi. (1946), America: The Land of Superlatives. Bombay: Phoenix. Dall, Caroline. (1888), The Life of Dr. Anandabai Joshee. Boston: Roberts. Engblom, Philip. (2003), Translator’s Preface. In Robert Fryckenberg, Pandita Ramabai’s America. Michigan: Erdmans, xvii–​xxii. Enock, E. (1925), Cannibalism Conquered. London: Pickering. Everett, Jana Matson. (1979), Women and Social Change in India. New York: St. Martin’s. Fyzee-​Rahamin, Begum. (1919, July 19), “America No Place for a Simple Life.” Japan Advertiser 10.

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Index Abhinavagupta 150, 151, 221, 247, 248 Addams, Jane 118 Ādhi/​Ādi 45, 57, 98, 222, 223 Ādiparāśakti/​Ᾱtiparācakti (Tamil) 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, see also śakti Ādivāsi 56 Āgamas 10, 14–17, 19 Vīraśaivism, see entry Agastya 55–​6 All India Women’s Conference 118 Āmalā 59–​60 Āmalaka 56 America 105 Boston Tea Party 121 critiques of see Fyzee-Rahamin deference to England 116, 117, 120 and democracy 106 and divorce 111, 112, 120 egalitarianism, gender 110, 111, 112, 115, 119 exceptionalism 106, 120 and first British Empire 106 funding for Indian social projects see Athavale; Joshi; Ramabai; Vivekananda Gilded Age 115 Great Migration 117 materialism 115, 119–​20 Transcendentalism 121 women’s social activism 110, 115, 119 work ethic 110, 114 androgyny 125, 131, 135 Annamaya Kośa 60 Appasamy, Kirubai 115–​16 “The Social Ape in America” 115–​16 “Women’s Clubs in America” 115 Appayya Dīkṣita 18–​19 Athavale, Parvati 113 and Christianity 114

and Hinduism 113 Ārādhya, Brahmins 15 Ārādhya Śaivism 17 Aranyaka 63 Ardhanarishwara 178, 179 art and yoga 123–​4, 132–​3, 134–​5 ascetics/​asceticism 41–​2, 44, 48–​50 Aśoka 55–​6, 59 Āśram/Āśramas 4, 9, 59, 123, 125, 126, 128, 133, 195, 219 asuras 43 Aśvattha 57 ātman 41 Austen, Jane 89, 240 authority 137, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145 Avatāra 124–​5, 127–​8, 135 Āyurveda 60, 236 Bali 45 bali (sacrificial offering) 69 Ban Devī 62 Ban Kāli 62 Banāsura 42 Banyan 56 Baroda, Maharani of 111, 115 Basava 11–​12, 14–​17 Baṭa Bṛkṣa 56 beauty 124, 134–​6 Bel 58, 62 Bengal 88, 92, 147, 149, 215, 240, 241, 249 Berkeley 53 Bhandara 184 Bhagva 175, 185, 186, 187, 188 Bhagvan 186, 187 Bhāgavad Gīta 57 Bhakti 16–​17, 65–​6, 69, 140, 165, 169, 186, 187, 194, 199 bhakta or bhakti saint 66, 67–​9, 75–​7, 78–​83

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Index

Bhakti Movement 10–​11, 14, 22 Bilva 58 Brahmā 42–​5, 60 Brahman 57 Brahmasūtras 19–​20 Nīlakaṇṭhabhāṣya 20–​21 Śrīkaṇṭhabhāṣya 18, 20–​21 British 4, 61, 88, 89, 91, 92, 95, 97, 101, 105, 110, 106, 121, 126, 200 colonizing mind 91, 97, 218 colonial rule/​colonialism 89 Empire 4, 92, 96, 97, 98, 100, 105, 106, 110 English education 101, 102 and Indian famines 105 missionary 100, 190, 109 and press censorship 105, 111 and Raj era 105, 109 and Ramabai 109 subjects 2, 101 Viceroys 88 Buddha 12 caged bird 90–​1, 97, 104 Campbell, Joseph 54 Cāḷukya Empire, Kalyāṇi 19 Carpenter, Mrs. B. F. 107, 108 caste hierarchies 106–​10, 113, 115, 118, 120 Central Park 64 Chañdana 55 Chandogya Upaniṣad 41 Chattopadhyay, Kamaladevi 118–​19 America, the Land of Superlatives 119 The Awakening of Indian Women 119 social and political activism 118–​19 Chempaka 55 Chhau 148, 149, 151, 153, 158, 159, 160 Christianity 107–​10, 112–​14, 118. See also Ramabai Chyawanprash 60 clean energy 53 climate change 53, 64 Collins, Randall 49–​50 Conrick, Jon 58 contemporary Indian dance 147 cosmology 41 daimon 46 Dalal 57

Dandaka 59 Dandi Salt March 118 and American Civil Rights Movement 121 danger 47 darbha grass 43 darśan 65, 69, 71, 81, 82 death 28, 38, 41, 43–​4, 47, 66–​9, 74, 77–​82, 107–​8, 113, 125–​7, 130–​5, 156–​7, 160–​1, 168, 170, 182, 199, 213, 214–​15, 234 deconstruction 147, 148, 149, 151, 152, 160, 161 demonic 41–​2 nature of 46–​8 demons 41–​5, 49 Derrida, Jacques 48–​9 Descendant spirituality 124, 133–​4, 135 Dhundhu 43 Diaspora 138, 139 Draupadī (or Koṛṛavai) 67–​9, 80–​1 Draupadī Ratha 68 Dukshayani 58 Durkheim, E´ mile 56 East and West, gender ideology 111 East India Company 105 ecosystems 53 En Uyir Thozhan (film, “My Dear Comrade”, 1989) 77–​9 eroticism 45 ethics 137, 138, 145 female power 181 female renouncers 164, 167, 169 (see also sadhu; sannyasini) film (Tamil) 65–​6, 70, 77–​83 flood 53 forest 27, 30–​34, 38, 40 fossil fuel 53 Foucault, Michel 48–​9 Freud, Sigmund 48 Fyzee-​Rahamin, Atiya 114–​15, 116–​18 critiques of America 114–​15 Gaori 58 Gandharva 56 Gandhi, Mohandas 116, 117, 118, 121 Garuda 44 Girard, René 48–​50

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Index gender 137, 138, 139, 141, 142, 143, 144 Gennep, Arnold van 89, 90, 215, 240 Girijā 58 global warming 53 godāvari 55 goddess 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145 Goddess Durga 58 Great Migration 117 guru 138, 139, 145 Haberman, David 56–8, 60 Hari 57 Hiraṇyakaśipu 44 Hrāda 44 Hussaini, Shihan 65–​83 identity 137, 138, 139, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145 ignorance 41 India/​Indian 1–​5, 9, 11–​14, 22, 41–​3, 45, 48, 50, 54–​9, 61–​3, 67, 70, 71, 73, 75–​80, 82, 87, 88, 89, 90–​123, 126, 129, 135, 138, 139, 140–​2, 148, 155, 157, 164–​71, 189, 190, 193–​5, 196, 199 ancient 102 Bharat 95–​7 Bharatmata or Bharat Mata 75, 76, 214 Bharatavarsha 91, 95, 97, 102, 104, 199 child-​marriage and motherhood 107, 108, 112, 117 colonial rule 5, 96, 97 history 5, 10, 216 National Struggle/​national movement 4, 103, 105 and second British Empire 106 separatism, gender 111, 112 and widowhood 108, 109, 112. See also Athavale; Ramabai women’s social activism 115 Indian Ladies’ Magazine, The 105–​21 Indian National Congress 105 Indian nationalism 105, 113 and gender ideology 109, 111. See also Nivedita; Vivekananda Indian travelers 106–​21 Indra 27, 28, 35, 37, 38, 41, 47, 58 Indra festival 29–​32, 34, 36, 40 Indrajit 43

255

Irish 89, 97, 98, 216 iṣṭaliṅga 15 Jain 44 Jayalalitha, J. 65–​83 jīva 41 Joshi, Anandabai 107, 108, 111, 112, 113 death of 108 “defensive nationalism” 107, 109, 118 husband Gopal 108, 114, 117 Juergensmeyer, Mark 49 Kaḍaṁba 55 Kaitabha 43 Kal-​Yug 186 Kālakeya 43 Kāli 58 Kamba Rāmāyaṇa 55–​6 Kamsa 41 Kandari 60 Kannada 9–​13, 17–​18, 21 Karve, D.K., Institute for Widows 113 Kāśī see Varanasi Kāśī Jaṃgamvāḍī Maṭha 9, 19 Karma 58 Katha Upanishad 57 Kathmandu 61 Kātyāyani 58 Kent, Eliza 56 Kipling, Rudyard 89, 240 Kodagu 61 Kolkata 19, 63, 95, 200 Kula Devata 62–​3 Kṛṣṇa 41–​2 Kriyāsāra 20–​1 Kuder, David 54 Kuvalāśva, King 43 Lakshmana 55, 59–​60 Lakshmi 58 Levering, Ida Faye 111 liminal/​liminoid 87, 91, 94, 96, 102, 215 Lincoln, Bruce 48–​9 Liṅgāyat, Liṅgāyat Movement 12; see also Vīraśaiva Los Angeles Times 53 Madhu 43 Madras (film, 2014) 80–​3

256

256 Mahābhārata 32–​9, 43, 56, 63 Mahavīra 12 Maheśvari 58 Malhotra 61 Mandal 163–​92 Mañḍapa 62 mango 62 Manhattan 63 Manonāśa 129–​32, 134, 135 Marathi 9, 18 marriage 29, 42, 75, 87, 88, 94–​5, 102–​3, 107 rites 27–​9, 103, 108, 112, 144, 168, 200 Mārīca 42 market 153, 155, 156 Martineau, Harriet 108 Society in America 108 transatlantic abolitionism 110 Mataram 175, 176, 177, 186, 188, 190 materialism 115, 119–​20 Math 171, 172 Maṭha 9 Hooli Bṛhanmaṭha 13, 19–​22 Kāśī Jaṃgamvāḍī Maṭha 9, 19 māyā 43–​5 Mayo, Katherine, Mother India 116, 118 Mazumdar, Haridas 121 Migration 137, 142, 143 Moksa 57 monastery, see maṭha. Mother, The (Mirra Alfassa) life 124 spiritual role 125–​8 use of the arts in her spiritual practice 130–​3 Mt. Mandara 58 Mudhalvan (film, “Chief Minister,” 1999) 83 Mumbai 63 Munda 56 Murthi, Professor 120 mythology 54 mythos 54 Naidu, Sarojini 116–​18 National Council of Women (Chicago) 117–​18 Narmadā River 44 narrative 41–​2, 45, 47, 51

Index Nāyanmār saints 66, 69, 78 neem 56–​8 Nepal 54 Newari 59 Newman, Cathy 58 New World 105–​6, 110, 115–​20 Nivedita, Sister (Margaret Cousins) 111–​13 Notermans, Catrien 61–​2 Occidentalism 117, 118, 121 Odissi 147–​62 Old World 105, 110, 119 opposition and growth 124, 133–​4, 135–​6 Orientalism 109, 117, 118, 121 Padma Pūrāṇa 57 Pālkurike Somanātha 14–​17 Pañcavaṭi 55–​60, 62–​4 Pañchāyat 56 Paṇḍitārādhya, Mallikārjuna 15–​17 Paramparā 12, 15, 17–​18 Pārijāta 55 Parvati 58 Pashupatinath 61 patala 49 performance 138, 139, 144 performative 147 Philadelphia Medical College 107, 108 Pipal 56, 57, 62 power 42–​3, 48–​50 Prajapati 41 prasāda 65, 66, 69, 81, 82 Puja 138, 144, 145 Pulomā 43 Purāṇas, Skanda Purāṇa, Nepalese 15 Pūtana 42 queer 152 Rajasthan 163, 164, 165, 172, 178, 180, 187 rākṣasa 42–​3 Rāmā 43 Ramabai, Pandita 108–​11, 112–​13, 115, 118 American Ramabai Society 109 and American social-​work models 109 and Cheltenham Anglicans 109 Christianity, conversion to 109, 113 critiques of 110

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Index High Caste Hindu Woman 108, 109, 110 and gender ideology 109 on oppression of women 110 Peoples of the United States of America 108, 109–​10 Rāmāyaṇa 35–​7, 42–​3 Rāvaṇa 42–​3 Reddy, Muthulakshmi 117–​18 religious ideologies 105–​21 and America 109 and Christian Mission Schools 107 and Enlightenment Humanism 110 and Joshi 108 and secular politics 106 See also caste; Christianity; Hinduism religious rhetoric 106, 112 Ṛig Veda 41, 47 rite of passage 4, 87–​91, 105, 201, 215 ritual 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 144, 145 ritual posts 26–​32 Rukhmabai, Dr. 112 sadhu 163–​92 sadhvi 164 Śaivism 9–​22 Śakti 123, 124, 125–​6, 127, 133, 134 Sanger, Margaret 119 Sannyas 167, 168, 170, 171, 172, 176, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 190 Sannyasi 169 sannyasini 169 Sanskrit 9–​22 Satthianadhan, Kamala 120 Schelling 47–​8 secularism 106, 113, 119 self 41 Shaiva 163, 164, 171, 172 Siddhanañjeśa 19–​21 Siddhāntaśikhāmaṇi 12, 17–​19 Śiva 42, 44–​5 Śivādvaita 17–​18, 21 Śivādvaitadarpaṇa 19, 21 Śivādvaitasudhākara 20–​1 Śivādvaitamañjarī 20 Sītā 42 Sollamale (film, “Without Saying”, 1998) 79–​80 soma 47

257

spiritual consorts 124, 125–​6, 129, 139, 133, 134, 135–​6 Sri Aurobindo life 123–​4 spiritual role 125–​8 use of the arts in his spiritual practice 129, 130–​1, 132 Sūtra literature 27–​9, 33 swadeshi 117 Tagore, Rabindranath 118 Tamil 10, 18, 22 Tamil Tai (“goddess of Tamil language” or tamiḷtāy) 67, 72–​6, 79–​80 tapas 42–​3, 45 Tāraka 44 Telugu 9, 13–​18, 22 Tiban-​sari 185, 186, 188 Transcendentalism 121 transnational 137, 138, 145 transnationalism 105 Tṛnavarta 42 Turner, Victor 4, 90–​1, 96, 240 Umā 45 uncanny 47–​8, 50 unheimlich 47 Upaniṣads 25–​7 vacanas 11–​12 Vairocana 41 Vaishnava 163, 164, 171, 172 Varanasi 9 Varṇāśramadharma 12 Vāyu Purāṇa 45 Vedas 16 Vedānta/​Vedanta 17, 19, 21, 100, 201, 229 vernacular 9, 13 Vernacular Millennium 10 Victoria, Queen 105 Vijayanagara Empire 18 violence 41–​2, 45, 48 cycle of 48–​50 Vīrabhadra 16 Vīramāheśvara 13–​18 Vīramāheśvarācārasaṅgraha 15–​17 Vīramāheśvarācārasāroddhārabhāṣya 15–​16 Vīraśaiva 9–​22 Virakta 11, 18, 20–​22

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Index

Viṣṇu 42–5, 47 Vivekananda, Swami 111–13 critiques of Ramabai 112–13 on American gender ideology 111 Vṛtra 41, 47 White, Hayden 14 women doctors, Indian see Joshi; Reddy women’s leadership 165, 178, 191 Women’s Mandal of Mewar 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, 173, 175, 182, 184, 185, 186, 187, 189, 190

women’s mission to women 118 women’s social activism 110, 115, 119 work ethic 110, 114 World Alliance for Peace (New York) 116 World Conference of Religions (Chicago) 111 World War II 118 World’s Fair (Chicago) 118 Yoga-​Vāsiṣṭha 45 Young India 116