Ritual Journeys in South Asia: Constellations and Contestations of Mobility and Space 9781138055001, 9781315166278

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Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
List of maps
List of figures
List of tables
List of contributors
1 Introduction: constellations and contestations of mobility and space in South Asian ritual journeys
2 In fear of the past: the pilgrimage to Badrinath in perspective
3 Journeying sovereignties: ritual travelling and networks of power in a West Himalayan kingdom
4 Wandering god: how young Himalayans negotiate religion, caste identity and modernity
5 Places, rituals and past worlds: encounters on a Tibetan pilgrimage in North India
6 Ritual displacement as process of constructing and de-constructing boundaries in a Sufi pilgrimage of Pakistan
7 “To worship our ‘boss’ (the Buddha)”: youth religiosity in a popular pilgrimage site in Sri Lanka
8 Vailankanni Mata and Anglo-Indian Catholics: rising postcolonial devotion and her unlikely pilgrim devotees
9 Muslim-Marathi pilgrimage: the Sufi-shrine of Viśālgaḍh
10 Approaches to pilgrimage: reading some post-Independence pilgrimage accounts in modern South Asian languages
11 Afterword: on pilgrimage and plural paradigms
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Ritual Journeys in South Asia

This book focuses on the ritualized forms of mobility that constitute ­phenomena of pilgrimage in South Asia and establishes a new analytical framework for the study of ritual journeys. The book advances the conceptual scope of ‘classical’ Pilgrimage Studies and provides empirical depth through individual case studies. A key concern is the strategies of ritualization through which actors create, assemble and (re-)articulate certain modes of displacement to differentiate themselves from everyday forms of locomotion. Ritual journeys are understood as ­being both productive of and produced by South Asia’s socio-economically uneven, politically charged and culturally variegated landscapes. From various disciplinary angles, each chapter explores how spaces and movements in space are continually created, contested and transformed through ritual journeys. By focusing on this co-production of space and mobility, the book delivers a conceptually driven and empirically grounded engagement with the diverse and changing traditions of ritual journeying in South Asia. Interdisciplinary in its approach, the book is a must-have reference work for academics interested in South Asian Studies, Religious Studies, ­Anthropology and Human Geography with a focus on pilgrimage and the socio-spatial ideas and practices of ritualized movements in South Asia. Christoph Bergmann is an assistant professor in the Department of ­Geography, South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Germany. Jürgen Schaflechner is an assistant professor in the Department of Modern South Asian Languages and Literatures, South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Routledge South Asian Religion Series

8 Yoga in Modern Hinduism Hariharānanda Āraṇya and Sāṃkhyayoga Knut A. Jacobsen 9 Women, Religion and the Body in South Asia Living with Bengali Bauls Kristin Hanssen 10 Religion, Space and Conflict in Sri Lanka Colonial and Postcolonial Contexts Elizabeth J. Harris 11 Religion and Technology in India Spaces, Practices and Authorities Edited by Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold 12 The Baghdadi Jews in India Maintaining Communities, Negotiating Identities, and Creating Super-Diversity Edited by Shalva Weil 13 Regional Communities of Devotion in South Asia Insiders, Outsiders, and Interlopers Edited by Gil Ben-Herut, Jon Keune, and Anne Monius 14 Ritual Journeys in South Asia Constellations and Contestations of Mobility and Space Edited by Christoph Bergmann and Jürgen Schaflechner

For more information about this series, please visit: https://www.routledge.com

Ritual Journeys in South Asia Constellations and Contestations of Mobility and Space

Edited by Christoph Bergmann and Jürgen Schaflechner

First published 2020 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2020 selection and editorial matter, Christoph Bergmann and Jürgen Schaflechner; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Christoph Bergmann and Jürgen Schaflechner to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record has been requested for this book ISBN: 978-1-138-05500-1 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-16627-8 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by codeMantra

Jitnī taklīf utnā fāydā The more pain, the more gain (Famous saying amongst South Asian pilgrims)

Pilgrims in Baluchistan, Pakistan (J. Schaflechner, 04.2012).


List of maps List of figures List of tables List of contributors Foreword

ix xi xiii xv xix


Acknowledgements 1 Introduction: constellations and contestations of mobility and space in South Asian ritual journeys




2 In fear of the past: the pilgrimage to Badrinath in perspective



3 Journeying sovereignties: ritual travelling and networks of power in a West Himalayan kingdom



4 Wandering god: how young Himalayans negotiate religion, caste identity and modernity



5 Places, rituals and past worlds: encounters on a Tibetan pilgrimage in North India



6 Ritual displacement as process of constructing and de-constructing boundaries in a Sufi pilgrimage of Pakistan M IC H E L B OI V I N


viii Contents 7 “To worship our ‘boss’ (the Buddha)”: youth religiosity in a popular pilgrimage site in Sri Lanka



8 Vailankanni Mata and Anglo-Indian Catholics: rising postcolonial devotion and her unlikely pilgrim devotees



9 Muslim-Marathi pilgrimage: the Sufi-shrine of Viśālgaḍh



10 Approaches to pilgrimage: reading some post-Independence pilgrimage accounts in modern South Asian languages



11 Afterword: on pilgrimage and plural paradigms





List of maps

3.1 M  ap showing Mahasu territory 3.2 The tours and territories of the Mahasu divine kings 4.1 M  ap of Jakh’s journey. Map by Niels Harm, South Asia Institute, ­University of Heidelberg 6.1  Main quoted places in Sehwan Sharif (Courtesy Sophie Reynard, MIFS)

30 41 64 133

List of figures

3.1 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7

A Mahasu procession begins its journey 42 Jakh’s medium, showing his power 69 Jakh’s nishan, with his entourage 70 Jakh’s temporary temple 73 Masks dancing during the nights’ performance 74 Narad, dancing during a night’s performance 75 Ganesh, dancing during the night’s performance 76 A dhol and damau, the drums used during many ritual performances in Garhwal 79 10.1 Vārī pilgrims singing songs from song-books (courtesy of Bhandare) 200

List of tables

7.1 Age of pilgrims at Sri Pada 143

List of contributors

Robyn Andrews is a senior lecturer in the Social Anthropology Programme at Massey University, New Zealand. Her PhD, Being Anglo-Indian: Practices and Stories from Calcutta (2005) was the first of a number of ­Anglo-Indian focussed projects in India and the diaspora. She published Christmas in Calcutta: Anglo-Indian Stories and Essays (2014) and writes for both academic and community publication. Her latest research is in collaboration with Brent H. Otto exploring the place of religion in the lives of Anglo-Indians in India and the diaspora, with particular interest at present in pilgrimage practice. Christoph Bergmann is a lecturer in Geography at the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University. He received his Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology with a dissertation on trade relationships, ethnic identities and mobile livelihoods in the high mountain border triangle between India, China and Nepal. He subsequently conducted several projects in sub-­ Saharan Africa, focusing particularly on the strategic positioning by ­marginalized communities within broader processes of cultural, economic, environmental and political change. As a National Geographic Explorer, Christoph currently builds on his cross-regional expertise and scholarly engagement with processes of (de-)marginalization to investigate forms of contemporary from Africa to Asia. Michel Boivin is the director of research at the Center for South Asian Studies at the National Center of Scientific Research, CNRS, and teaches Historical Anthropology of colonial and postcolonial South Asia at the Advanced School of Social Sciences, EHESS. His research focuses on the societies and religious cultures of the Sindhi-speaking areas in Pakistan and India. Michel’s last book is titled Historical Dictionary of the Sufi Culture of Sindh in Pakistan and in India (2015). In 2016 he has edited Devotional Islam in Contemporary South Asia. Shrines, Journeys and Wanderers (Routledge) together with Rémy Delage. Among his earlier publications are, for example, Les Ismaéliens d’Asie du sud: gestion des héritages et production identitaire (Paris, L’Harmattan, 2007), Sindh

xvi  List of contributors through History and Representations: French Contributions to Sindhi Studies (2008), and Le soufisme antinomien dans le sous-continent Indien. La`l Shahbâz Qalandar et sa tradition (2012). Simon Coleman  is the Chancellor Jackman Professor at the Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto. He is currently ­P resident of the Society for the Anthropology of Religion, and is co-­ editor of the journal Religion and Society. He has carried out fieldwork in Sweden, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom, including work at the English shrine of Walsingham and a number of English cathedrals. He is the co-­author of Pilgrimage Past and Present in the World Religions (1995, with John Elsner), and co-editor of Reframing Pilgrimage: Cultures in M ­ otion (2004, Routledge, with John Eade). His latest book on pilgrimage is the co-edited volume Pilgrimage and Political Economy: Translating the Sacred (2018, Berghahn, with John Eade). Simon is one of the editors of Routledge Studies in Pilgrimage, Religious Travel and Tourism. Deepra Dandekar  is a historian of gender, religion and migration, who has researched variously on women’s rituals of childlessness and on the p ­ olitics of everyday belonging for Muslims in Maharashtra. She has recently published on Christian conversion in a book titled The Subhedar’s Son: A Narrative of Brahmin-Christian Conversion in Nineteenth-­C entury ­Maharashtra (2019). She is currently employed as a researcher at the Center for the History of Emotions, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin on a project exploring Partition memorialization and nation-building in modern India and Pakistan. Hans Jürgen David  is an independent scholar and lecturer in the Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Vienna. His research interests include cultural transfers, borderlands, pilgrimage and intellectual history. His doctoral thesis was a study on rituals and narratives connected to the temple of Badrinath. Premakumara de Silva is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and is a Senior Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the Department of Sociology, University of Colombo and also an Honorary Research Professor at Deakin University, Australia. He has published a number of books in English and local languages, including book chapters and over forty articles. His most recent work (2018) is a book chapter called ‘Colonial Governmentality’: Legal and Administrative Technologies of the Governance of Sri Pāda Temple in Sri Lanka” (Thomas Borchert (ed.) Theravada Buddhism in Colonial Contexts).

List of contributors  xvii John Eade is a professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the university of Roehampton and Visiting Professor at Toronto University. After studying social identity in the context of Bengali Muslim middle class families in Kolkata, he explored Bangladeshi Muslim migration to London and the politics of community. Drawing on his experience of working as a helper at Lourdes, France, he has also written on pilgrimage and tourism. His publications include Contesting the Sacred, 1991, with Michael Sallnow, Reframing Pilgrimage, 2004, with Simon Coleman, International Perspectives on Pilgrimage, 2015, and New Pathways in Pilgrimage Studies, 2017, with Dionigi Albera and Pilgrimage and Political Economy, 2018, with Simon Coleman. He is co-editor of Routledge Studies in Pilgrimage, Religious Travel and Tourism and the Bloomsbury series on Religion, Space and Cities. Hans Harder has been a professor of Modern South Asian Languages and Literatures at the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University since 2007. He is the author of Sufism and Saint Veneration in Contemporary Bangladesh: The Maijbhandaris of Chittagong (2011), and has edited Literature and National Ideology: Writing Histories of Modern Indian Languages (2009). He has published widely on topics such as Bengali and Hindi colonial and postcolonial literature, religious movements on the Indian subcontinent (Sufism, modern Hinduism), literary histories, etc. Lokesh Ohri has a doctorate in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. He has worked extensively on divine kingship in the Western Himalaya. He has also worked on heritage, and has authored the texts Upper Ganga Region: Cultural Resource Mapping (2 volumes), On the Pilgrimage Trail to Kedarnath and Walking with Laata. His forthcoming book on Mahasu, titled Till Kingdom Come, deals with the devi-devta system still extant in the Himalayas. He is currently coordinating a project on documenting the entire stretch of the Ganga for the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. Brent Howitt Otto  is a Ph.D. student in South Asian History at the University of California, Berkeley. His dissertation research centers on the relationship of Anglo-Indians to the colonial state and church in South India. Brent has written about Indian Catholic education, Anglo-Indian migration and diaspora, and Christian religious identity. He has published in two Anglo-Indian collected volumes and written for the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the Jesuits (2017). Collaborative research with Robyn Andrews on the place of religion in Anglo-Indian lives formed the basis of two recent publications (2017). With Robyn Andrews, Brent serves as co-editor of the International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies. Karin M. Polit is a professor of social and cultural anthropology at the University of Tübingen. She is an expert on the ethnography of Uttarakhand in North India, a specialist on gender in South Asia and has published

xviii  List of contributors on global hierarchies of value within the realm of heritage and ritual studies. She is author of the monographs Women of Honour, and When Gods Set Out to Wander. Her current research projects evolve around the various ways hierarchies of knowledge are entangled with economic and ­political dominance and ultimately become embodied forms of power and ­marginalization in its local variants. Jürgen Schaflechner is an assistant professor at Heidelberg University and holds a PhD in South Asian Literary Studies and Anthropology (2014). His research and teaching focuses on cultural and post-colonial theory, the politics of religious and ethnic minorities in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and the role of documentary film in anthropological research. Jürgen’s most recent publications deal with ritual dynamics at a Hindu temple in Balochistan (2018), the politics of so-called forced conversions of Hindu women to Islam in Sindh (2017), and religious stereotypes in ­Pakistani Urdu horror fiction (2016). Jürgen has also explored his r­ esearch topics through the production of six independent documentary films. As a Fung fellow at the Institute of International and Regional Studies at Princeton, he researched emotions of ressentiment among “precarious communities” in South Asia. He is currently a Martin Buber fellow at Hebrew university. Nike-Ann Schröder  is an academic staff member and lecturer in Tibetan Studies at the Central Asia department in the Institute of Asian and ­African Studies (IAAW), Humboldt University Berlin. She is a Tibetologist and completed her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology at the South Asia ­Institute of Heidelberg University with a dissertation on the Tibetan ritual meditation practice of gcod, and its application as a healing ritual. Foci if her research are ritual healing, living conditions of refugees, tantric Tibetan Buddhist practices, and ways of coping with suffering experiences.

Foreword John Eade

The academic study of pilgrimage, to which this volume is a fine contribution, seems to reflect pilgrimage itself since both are characterised by increasing diversity and global growth. While pilgrimage for many centuries was intimately associated with religious institutions, people, places and texts, other modes emerged during the twentieth century, particularly since  the end of the Second World War. Researchers have used various ­categories to differentiate between these modes, such as religious pilgrimage, spiritual pilgrimage, secular pilgrimage and military pilgrimage. The growing importance of the travel and tourism industry in facilitating the growth of visitors to ‘sacred places’ has also led scholars to devise hybrid terms such as pilgrimage tourism and religious tourism and to pay close attention to the diversity of people’s motives, beliefs and practices involved in journeying to and from their destinations and during their stay at these destinations. The study of contemporary pilgrimage has come, therefore, a long way from the pioneering texts which appeared between the 1970s and early 1990s and which focussed on religious pilgrimage. Despite the high proportion of studies of Christian pilgrimage across West Europe and the Americas, pilgrimage research is also inherently global and multi-confessional given the historic and contemporary role played by Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain and Roman Catholic shrines across South Asia and Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, for example. Studies undertaken in Japan, China, Africa and Australia have also strengthened the global character of pilgrimage studies and helped to offset the focus on Christian pilgrimage in the West. The dynamic and multi-dimensional character of pilgrimage also r­ equires a multi-disciplinary approach and a sensitive exploration of the ­complex interweavings of meanings and behaviours. The study of contemporary journeys to and from religious shrines, as well as what goes on there, requires paying careful attention, therefore, to the mixture of religious and non-religious factors involved. As recent moves away from the dominant representational tradition demonstrate, we need also to attend to the relationship between human and non-human/material agency.

xx Foreword The contributions to this volume draw in various ways on many of these developments, paying attention particularly to the underexplored role of ritual and procession. Given the rapid social and economic change in the South Asian region, it is important to understand the dynamic relationship ­between religious and non-religious processes, which take us beyond ­orientalist stereotypes, and this volume is a welcome contribution to this important venture.


The idea for this volume arose during a conference on ritual journeys at ­Heidelberg University’s International Science Forum in 2012, which was ­generously supported with funds from the German Research F ­ oundation (DFG) through the collaborative research center SFB 619 “Ritual D ­ ynamics”. We especially would like to express our gratitude to Simon Coleman and John Eade for their continuous support and faith in this ­project as well as to all contributors for sharing their valuable insights into the complex diversity of ritual journeys in various parts of South Asia.

1 Introduction Constellations and contestations of mobility and space in South Asian ritual journeys Christoph Bergmann and Jürgen Schaflechner The phenomenon of pilgrimage has in recent years gained renewed scholarly attention (Coleman and Eade 2004; Knott 2005; Stausberg 2010; Jacobsen 2013). This surge of interest has largely been guided by the understanding that sacred forms of travel may not only serve people to produce feelings of social togetherness and belonging – what Turner and Turner (1978) have famously phrased as ‘communitas’ – but also provide scope for contesting entrenched positions of power, tradition, and belief (cf. Eade and Sallnow 2000). However, whether or not one could ever establish a precise and universally applicable set of criteria to define unambiguously ‘the’ activity of pilgrimage is nowadays considered a moot point by most scholars. We therefore suggest harnessing the heuristic impulse of imagining certain forms of travel as a bounded category of action, without assuming that the considered phenomena, “must be ‘about’ any one thing, whether it be heightened conflict or the heightened absence of it” (Coleman 2002, 363). Existing scholarship on pilgrimage, both worldwide and in South Asia, bear witness to the importance and complexity of these phenomena.1 ­Research in this field deals particularly with the textual foundations of pilgrimage (Bakker 1990) and its performative aspects (e.g. Gold 1990; Sax 1991; Feldhaus 2003). Scholars have also acknowledged that certain forms of pilgrimage do not involve any physical movement. Bharati, for instance, showed in his research about tīrtha (Hin. “crossing place; ford”) and t­ īrtha yātrā (“pilgrimage to the tīrtha”) that these activities can be realized both by traveling in person to certain religiously important sites and by ­conducting a metaphorical journey, for instance through the recitation of certain ­travelogues (Bharati 1970, 85). While one can find notions of such ­metaphorical journeys in many parts of the world, an interesting variation has been analyzed with reference to ethnic minorities in the Himalayas (Allen 1974). ­Oppitz (1992, cf. Bergmann 2016, 160–184) has labeled them terrestrial ritual journeys, because a ritual performer, in many cases a shaman, facilitates an imagined journey along the paths of the geographical surroundings in which people are actually placed by enacting these movements verbally, namely through the recitation of myths.

2  Christoph Bergmann and Jürgen Schaflechner As a form of what Catherine Bell calls ‘ritualized activity’ all these real and imagined movements involve “a way of acting that is designed and ­orchestrated to distinguish and privilege what is being done in comparison to other, usually more quotidian, activities” (Bell 1992, 74). A key concern of the essays collected in this volume is to scrutinize the strategies of ritualization through which actors create, assemble, and rearticulate certain modes of displacement such as to differentiate them from their everyday forms of locomotion. Our suggestion, therefore, is to analyze and compare a wider set of activities in various regions of South Asia that we subsume under the general term ‘ritual journey.’ Through this polythetic shift in perspective, we leave it open to empirical scrutiny whether a ritual journey f­ eatures, or ­ owever, not, certain characteristics and functions. It is important to note, h that we understand ritual journeys in their many facets as well as their ­literary representations as both productive of and produced by South Asia’s socio-culturally and politically complex landscape. In order to analyze the diverse and changing geographies of ritual ­journeys, two, and in our view complementary analytical foci are brought into dialogue, namely Lefebvre’s (2009) conceptual framework on the ­production of space and the so-called ‘new mobilities paradigm’ or ‘­mobility turn,’ which we will approach through the work of Tim Cresswell (2010; cf. ­Hannam et al. 2006; Sheller and Urry 2006). Both authors reject to ­consider space solely as a stable Euclidean entity and instead emphasize ­ ovements in space are continually produced, contested how spaces and m and ­transformed over time (cf.  Keith and Pile 1993; Urry 1995; Cresswell 2006).2 One of Lefebvre’s key insights is that “each living body is space and has its space, it produces itself in space and it also produces that space” (2009, 169f.). In other words, for Lefebvre, “space” (Fr. l’espace) does not merely emerge as a ready-made three-dimensional structure in which life occurs, but rather as a spatialized process that is constantly produced, re-­ produced, and transformed by various actors, which makes space inherently political. We therefore adopt a notion of space as both contested arenas and ­provisional outcomes of ­political struggle (Urry 1995, 25). Rendering ­l ’espace, in the words of Shields, as a “spatialisation of social order” and a way in which “abstract structures such as ‘culture’ become concrete practices and arrangements in space” (Shields 1998, 155) shows the immediate connection between a production of space and human practices, concepts, and imaginaries. Lefebvre distinguishes three ‘formants’ or ‘moments,’ which are m ­ utually interdependent and form a “three-way dialectic” (Shields 1998, 120) or, as Soja puts it, a ‘trialectics’ (1996, 53ff.): ‘spatial practices’ (Fr. l´espace perçu or perceived space), ‘representations of space’ (Fr. l’espace conçu or ­conceived space) and ‘spaces of representation’ (Fr. l’ espace vécu or lived space). These moments, which scholars have interpreted in different and sometimes also contradictory ways (Urry 1995; Shields 1998; Merrifield 2006), lie at the crux of Lefebvre’s understanding of a dynamic production of space. It is

Constellations and contestations of mobility and space  3 important to note, however, that none of them should be conceptualized separately; each one gains meaning only through its ­relationship to the ­others. Put differently, these moments “exist in interaction, in conflict or alliance with each other” (Schmid 2008, 33). Hence, there is no ultimate ­spatial product, but only temporary scaffolds in which one or the other of these moments might stand out. We thus understand Lefebvre’s spatial dialectic as a useful heuristic tool for analyzing the production of space as it pertains to the many-faceted phenomena of ritual journeys in South Asia. Let us consider this dialectic in more detail. First, ‘spatial practices:’ Lefebvre calls repeated acts that in the course of time transform the space in which they are performed and thus change the visible landscape and topography “spatial practices” (2009, 38). These practices encompass “the process of producing the material form of social spatiality.” (Soja 1996, 66, italics added) They principally include both ritual performances and quotidian activities and are, thus, of particular importance for the study of ritual journeys. In the context of our approach such spatial practices refer to all those activities that help to change and secrete landscape and topography into ritualized space. They bring both material forms and conceptual notions of space into action, and therewith hold important keys to comprehend how the destinations and routes of a journey are produced and transformed. The second moment is called ‘representations of space’ (Lefebvre 2009, 38) and describes a conceptual dimension, namely forms of spatial knowledge. Here the work of cartographers, architects, or various ­institutions ­becomes important. Representations of space help to produce spatial practices and spaces of representation. They primarily encompass an ­intellectual ­engagement with space, for instance through the ­development of ­c ertain methodologies, the application of analytical techniques, and the ­rationalization of procedures relating to the administration and management of space. Powerful actors utilize representations of space as a means to influence processes of ritualization as well as interpretations of and ­movements through ritualized space. The final moment of this triad and the most diversely interpreted is that of ‘representational spaces’ (Lefebvre 2009, 39) or, following a ­different translation, ‘spaces of representation’ (Schmid 2008, 37). We ­understand ­representational space as the location of social ‘fantasy’ (Glynos and ­Howarth 2007) from which actors orchestrate and experience their ­positionality within ritualized space. Due to the wide array of possibilities in how a religious site can be interpreted, representational spaces produce meaning and consistency through reduction and coherence, thus helping to produce an apparent natural link between a site’s material shape, its conceptualization, and its performing actors. For that reason, pilgrimage sites may acquire the potential to be considered the axis mundi of a people. We understand this concept as denoting metaphorical imaginaries of as well as embodied practices in space. Pertaining to the former, one example

4  Christoph Bergmann and Jürgen Schaflechner from a South Asian context could be the proverb “calo pākistān” (“Go to Pakistan”), which is found in various parts of India and expresses an Indian aversion towards the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Shields gives a further illustration of such representational spaces by foregrounding the metaphor of “coming from the wrong side of town” as a classification of one’s social identity (1991, 55). In both cases spatial descriptions are associated with certain stereotypes and attributes. Another example, this time for an embodied practice, would be the display of signs of devotion, such as the repeated bowing in front of the sanctum, or the turning of the Buddhist prayer wheel during a ritual journey. Such embodied acts produce the lived dimension of ritualized space in the same way, as they are a product of it (Knott 2005, 43). To sum up, ‘representational spaces’ give coherent meaning to the relationship between spatiality and community and should therefore be privileged within the study of ritual journeys as a strategic location from which to examine and understand all spaces simultaneously. Echoing Lefebvre’s general objective to explore the multidimensional openness of space, scholars have suggested a similar shift in relation to ­mobility. This ‘mobility turn’ aims at explaining the mutually i­ nterdependent and partly co-constitutive relationship between movement, discourse, and embodied practice (Schaflechner 2018, 181–248). Cresswell emphasizes that these three moments of mobility, which function similarly to the formerly mentioned moments within the production of space, can only be understood interdependently and, thus, in our case serve as a heuristic tool to further examine the logics of ritual journeys (2010). The first moment is conceived as the mere act of displacement in terms of covering distance. Heuristically this part of Cresswell’s trialectical ­paradigm forms a foundation that is required for any study of mobility, as it describes the rather unqualified motion between different locations. In other words, and with regards to our focus on ritual journeys, it characterizes an actor’s – real or imagined – transition from one place to another. For example, such motions might refer to people’s physical movement between urban residences and rural pilgrimage sites as well as to a shaman’s mental journey to the netherworld. In terms of motion, these different itineraries would be void of any meaning but, in principle, need to be spatially traced and conceptualized. Precisely these conceptualizations of motion come to the fore in ­Cresswell’s second moment. Here he focuses on the discursively ­constructed ­representations of mobility, through which actors make sense of, ­i magine, and ­purposely transform mere acts of motion into a meaningful ­activity. Without considering people’s beliefs and aspirations, for example, a ­pilgrimage to Mount Kailash in Western Tibet remains a mere ­long-­distance walk and not a spiritual journey of particular importance – though in d ­ ifferent ways  – to Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, and Bon communities. ­Simultaneously, various actors that do not necessarily take part in the activity themselves observe, comment on, and speak about these journeys.

Constellations and contestations of mobility and space  5 These might include pilgrimage organizations, border guards, government officials, journalists, and also researchers. Importantly, all of these different voices contribute to the production of a discursive space, in which such movements are ­represented and negotiated. These representations always remain deeply entwined with the articulation of power, since they might constrain or extend the possibilities and modalities for mobility. As a third aspect, Cresswell highlights the embodied practices through which people individually and collectively experience themselves and their surroundings en route. Ritual journeys are accomplished because they ­afford distinct and embodied experiences – such as the “muscular consciousness” through which one personally feels the landscape after days of walking (­Ingold 2000, 203f.; cf. Bergmann 2016, 149–155) – which, in turn, establish mobility as a lived practice. One example could be the practices of austerity (Hin. tapasyā) frequently highlighted in the context of ritual journeys in South Asia. Here it is widely believed that the spiritual merit obtained from a pilgrimage grows proportionally to one’s austerity, which is considered as physical exhaustion. This emphasis on hardship is reflected in the popular Hindi/Urdu proverb, jitnī taklīf utnā fāydā (“more pain more gain”). With this analytical framework Cresswell pays particular attention to various constellations of mobility, which he understands as the “historically and geographically specific formations of movements, narratives about mobility and mobile practices” (2010, 17). Focusing on these constellations means to expand Lefebvre’s dictum that “there is a politics of space because space is political” (2009, 59) towards a statement like there is a politics of mobility ­because mobility is political. For the study of ritual journeys this means that we aim to scrutinize the relationship between space and mobility, i.e. site and route, to reveal their mutual dependence and interconnectivity. Applying these paradigms to the wider scope of this volume, we emphasize how a politics of both spatialization and mobility interacts and ­constantly transforms different kinds of ritual journeys. We hope to advance the study of pilgrimage toward a more encompassing perspective of ritual journeys by considering the following three guiding questions: How does the topography, comprising such things as mountain peaks, river sources or different vegetation covers influence conceptions and imaginaries of ritualized space and mobility? What are spatial planners’ motives in configuring a religious site and its accessibility in relation to the motives of its visitors? What kinds of narratives and experiences emerge in association with, and subsequently help to produce, ritual journeys? In answering these questions, the contributions in this volume will shed light on the different types of mobility that actors consider appropriate in a specific environment for a ritual journey to be experienced successful. Furthermore, we also aim to foreground the asymmetry that might exist both within and between the aforementioned moments of space and mobility. An emphasis on notions of progress and modernization, for example, might lead to the dominance of highly rationalized and bureaucratized forms of

6  Christoph Bergmann and Jürgen Schaflechner space, which in turn influence the practices and imaginaries of travelers who visit these places. The construction of a road might lead to new and easier forms of travel, which need to be negotiated in the face of more traditional concepts of ritual journeys foregrounding physical hardship. In sum, such a dynamic approach to the production of space and mobility helps to analyze ritual journeys as a practice not merely within space, but as being produced from and producing their own moving spaces of ritualization. Hans Jürgen David addresses the dominant narratives that explicate the historical development of the famous Hindu pilgrimage site of Badrinath in the Indian Himalayas. He starts from the assumption that such narratives are not simply neutral accounts of a historical past but also attempts to (re-)define the positionality of this religious site in contemporary times. The ­author therefore contrasts such narratives with some of the actual r­ ituals and festivals that are performed in and around Badrinath today, often in connection with processions. Whilst these activities provide a lens into the religious and cultural tradition that has prevailed in the area before Badrinath emerged as one of India’s major pilgrimage centers, the narratives attest a certain fear within mainstream Hinduism about the temple’s past, namely one where the centrality of Badrinath was linked to a network of religious sites, settlements, deities and communities on both sides of the contested border between India and China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. Focusing on a more remote and much lesser known region in the W ­ estern Himalayas, Lokesh Ohri then investigates the ritual journeys of the ­Mahasu brothers, ruling deities or divine kings who are locally conceived as the principal political actors. They appoint ministers and command armies, and they govern their subjects through possession and procession. In ­precolonial times the Mahasu cult was monopolized by headhunting Hindu men from  the Rajput caste, who were proud of their independence from surrounding human kingdoms. Despite the Gurkha, British and now the Indian state’s claim to political power over the region, local inhabitants continue to insist on their cultural autonomy and follow the ritualized regime of their divine kings. In his ethnographic analysis Ohri shows how the present journeys of these divine kings not simply reproduce an ancient polity and its complex networks of interaction based on loyalties to clan and god, but rather induce a kind of mobile politics that spawns fluid fields of identity, agency and territorial power. In the following chapter, Karin Polit demonstrates how a ritual journey in India’s Garhwal Himalaya allows participants to transform a cultural memory across boundaries of space and time. Accompanying Jakh, a ­local divine king, on his long journey through the region, the author shows how regular nightly performances help to renew the devotees’ emotional ties to the deity. During the many stops in villages along the way, the kinggod is entertained by Narad, a semi-god played by one of Jakh’s servants. In performances of dance and song local histories are remembered (often in satirical ways), which strengthen the affective bonds between Jakh, the

Constellations and contestations of mobility and space  7 performer, and the audience. The overall performance, however, simultaneously enforces and questions traditional caste stereotypes. Despite their important role, the drummers and bards are usually marginalized in opposition to their Rajput companions acting as the journey’s patrons. Due to this ongoing marginalization, few youngsters are nowadays keen to enter these traditional professions. Polit points out how this chronic shortage of staff allows one participating bard to gain voice and exert influence, and to therewith disrupt entrenched hierarchies and power structures. A thick description of a pilgrimage conducted by a group of Tibetan ­refugees and the contributing author Nike-Ann Schröder from ­Ladakh’s ­capital Leh to Rewalsar in the Indian Himalayas is the topic of the ­subsequent chapter. The author adds an important dimension to text-based works on Tibetan pilgrimage, which are primarily concerned with Buddhist doctrines, by foregrounding the actually enacted practices as well as the outer and inner encounters they yield. Schröder argues that these encounters ­encompass three different layers: first, geographical places and landscapes; second, tantric and other ritual practices; and third, personal memories from the pilgrims’ own past. By tracing how places, human and non-human beings, ritual practices and biographical events are negotiated en route and at the holy site, the author shows how the lived spaces that constitute this pilgrimage as a journey is afforded by what she calls a ‘­multidimensional encounterscape’. Michel Boivin’s contribution takes us to the site of Lal Shabaz ­Qalandar, a Sufi saint in northern Sindh, Pakistan. Analyzing the shrine’s history ­alongside with results from his own field work, Boivin demonstrates how various groups such as Shias, Sunnis, Ismailis, and even Hindus compete since centuries over the prevailing interpretation of the shrine and its saint. These negotiations are particularly acted out during the annual processions when ‘spatial practices’ yield ‘spaces of representation’ including emergent forms of communitas amongst pilgrims. The mobility and circulation of people between sacred sites at Sehwan (what Boivin calls ‘ritual displacement’), however, is not only integrative, but simultaneously also reinforces already ossified social and religious boundaries. Mobility, thus produces both, dynamics of in- and exclusion. Premakumara de Silva analyses how young Sri Lankans produce, ­contest, and negotiate culturally transmitted patterns of thought and ­practice. He specifically applies this kind of inquiry to the nexus between religious and non-religious behavior and therewith contributes to emergent research on ‘youth religiosity’. de Silva pays special attention to the ways in which young people interlink religious representations, practices, and emotions with quotidian activities during their ritual journeys to Sri Pada, one of the most popular destinations of young Sri Lankan pilgrims. The author challenges public perceptions of these journeys to a sacred site, according to which they are seen as the profane activities of pleasure-seeking teenagers who would be more concerned with smoking cannabis, flirting, drinking

8  Christoph Bergmann and Jürgen Schaflechner alcohol, and singing pop music than about anything religious. de  Silva ­illustrates, however, that these youths (trans-)form a religious heritage and assimilate it into their own ‘lifeworlds’ by blending both religious and non-religious activities and expectations in creative and unforeseeable ways. Marian devotion and pilgrimages to Marian shrines are common features of Catholicism worldwide. In this context, Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto focus on the shrine of ‘Our Lady of Vailankanni’. The shrine is located in a town of the same name in coastal Tamil Nadu, India, and visited by millions of domestic and international pilgrims annually. The ­authors scrutinize the ‘colonial but not colonized’ development of the shrine into a Marian pilgrimage center of global significance by closely considering the experiences made by one particular group of pilgrims, namely Anglo-­Indians. This Indian Christian minority of mixed European and Indian ­ancestry is widely perceived as a community following a ‘­western’ worldview and lifestyle. Against this background, Andrews and Otto a­ ssess the liminal qualities and contestations that shape the ­experiences of Anglo-Indian pilgrims, especially with regard to various normative devotional practices, such as garlanding and tonsuring, which bear witness to the embeddedness of this Marian shrine in a broader South Indian religious context. In the following chapter, Hans Harder looks at ‘representations of space’ through accounts of ritual journeys in South Asian literature. Covering post-independence texts in languages such as Bengali, Hindi, and Marathi, the author shows how these writings often display characteristics of various of literary genres, including sthalapuranas (venerating texts of sacred places), hagiographies, travelogues, and biographies. Even though the texts are written from the perspective of an I-narrator (and so can broadly be termed as autobiographical), Harder argues that they hardly make a clearly defined genre. Deepra Dandekar researches Muslim devotion (bhakti) through texts found at the shrine (dargah) of Malik Rehan at Vishalgadh in Maharashtra, India. Such ‘shrine literature’, she argues, describes and produces the dargah and its attached journeys simultaneously. In other words, ‘shrine l­ iterature’ significantly adds to a discursive space where mobility is negotiated and where kinesthetic activity is supplied with meaning. Such sense-making, however, does not only pertain to the saint’s site and ritual journey, but also reiterates nationhood. Literary productions at shrines render India as a secular geo-political entity which makes forms of Muslim devotion possible.

Notes 1 For an extensive list of publications on pilgrimage in South Asia over the last decades consult the bibliography in Singh (2011). 2 For a more detailed overview on the recent debates on the conception of space see Glasze and Mattissek (2009).

Constellations and contestations of mobility and space  9

Bibliography Allen, Nicholas. 1974. The Ritual Journey: A Pattern Underlying Certain Nepalese Rituals. In Contributions to the Anthropology of Nepal, edited by von Fürer-­Haimendorf Christoph, Proceedings of a Symposium Held at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, June/July 1973, 6–21. ­Warminster: Aris and Philips. Bakker, Hans. 1990. The History of Sacred Places in India as Reflected in Traditional Literature: Papers on Pilgrimage in South Asia. Leiden: Brill. Bell, C. 1992. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. New York: Oxford University Press. Bergmann, Christoph. 2016. The Himalayan Border Region: Trade, Identity, and Mobility in Kumaon, India. Dordrecht: Springer. Bharati, Agehananda. 1970. Pilgrimage Sites and Indian Civilization. In Chapters in Indian Civilization, edited by Joseph Elder, 83–126. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt Publishing. Coleman, Simon. 2002. Do You Believe in Pilgrimage? Communitas, Contestation and Beyond. In Anthropological Theory 2 (3): 355–368. Coleman, Simon, and John Eade. 2004. Introduction: Reframing Pilgrimage. In Reframing Pilgrimage: Cultures in Motion, edited by Simon Coleman and John Eade, 1–25. New York: Routledge. Cresswell, Tim. 2006. On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World. London: Routledge. Cresswell, Tim. 2010. Towards a Politics of Mobility. In Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 28 (1): 17–31. Eade, John, and Michael Sallnow (eds.). 2000. Contesting the Sacred: The ­Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage (2nd edn.). Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Feldhaus, Anne. 2003. Connected Places: Region, Pilgrimage, and Geographical ­Imagination in India. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Glasze, Georg, and Annika Mattissek (eds.). 2009. Handbuch Diskurs und Raum: Theorien und Methoden für die Humangeographie sowie die sozial- und kulturwissenschaftliche Raumforschung. Bielefeld: Transcript. Glynos, Jason, and David Howarth. 2007. Logics of Critical Explanation in Social and Political Theory. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. Gold, Ann G. 1990. Fruitful Journeys: The Ways of Rajasthani Pilgrims. Berkeley: University of California Press. Hannam, Kevin, Mimi Sheller, and John Urry. 2006. Mobilities, Immobilities and Moorings. In Mobilities 1 (1): 1–22. Ingold, Tim. 2000. The Perception of the Environment. Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London: Routledge. Jacobsen, Knut A. 2013. Pilgrimage in the Hindu Tradition: Salvific Space. New York: Routledge. Keith, Michael, and Steve Pile. 1993. Place and the Politics of Identity. New York: Routledge. Knott, Kim. 2005. The Location of Religion: A Spatial Analysis. London Oakville: Equinox. Lefebvre, Henri. 2009. The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell. Merrifield, Andy. 2006. Henri Lefebvre: A Critical Introduction. New York: Routledge.

10  Christoph Bergmann and Jürgen Schaflechner Oppitz, Martin. 1992. Mythische Reisen. In Mythen im Kontext: Ethnologische ­Perspektiven, edited by Karl-Heinz Kohl, 19–48. Frankfurt am Main: Qumran. Sax, William. 1991. Mountain Goddess: Gender and Politics in a Himalayan ­Pilgrimage. New York: Oxford University Press. Schaflechner, Jürgen. 2018. Hinglaj Devi: Identity, Change and Solidification at a Hindu Temple in Pakistan. New York: Oxford University Press. Schmid, Christian. 2008. Henri Lefebvre’s Theory of the Production of Space: ­Towards a Three-dimensional Dialectic. In Space, Difference, Everyday Life, ­edited by K. Goonewardena, S. Kipfer, R. Milgrom, and C. Schmid, 27–45. New York: Routledge. Sheller, Mimi, and John Urry. 2006. The New Mobilities Paradigm. In Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 38 (2): 207–226. Shields, Rob. 1991. Places on the Margin: Alternative Geographies of Modernity. New York: Routledge. Shields, Rob. 1998. Lefebvre, Love and Struggle: Spatial Dialectics. London: Routledge. Singh, Rana P. B. 2011. Holy Places and Pilgrimages: Essays on India. New Delhi: Shubhi Publications. Soja, Edward. 1996. Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-­ Imagined Places. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Stausberg, Michael. 2010. Religion im modernen Tourismus. Berlin: Verlag der Weltreligionen. Turner, Victor, and Edith Turner. 1978. Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. Urry, John. 1995. Consuming Places. London: Routledge.

2 In fear of the past The pilgrimage to Badrinath in perspective Hans Jürgen David

Introduction The establishment of a pilgrimage center is often connected to a number of narratives. Yet, the narratives in circulation today are less concerned with the historical past of a temple, but rather aim to position the pilgrimage place in the present. In the case of Badrinath one of the most circulated narratives concerns the re-establishment of the temple by Adi Shankaracharya.1 In this chapter I will show how his persona was used to (re-)invent an agreeable past for the pilgrimage that does not conflict with the views of the Sanātana Dharma (Skt.: the eternal law) and its followers, while at the same time excluding those who are not in line with this mainstream Hindu tendency. In order to accomplish this, Badrinath was removed from its traditional position as a center in the Himalayan borderland and, with the help of Shankaracharya, the temple became connected to the plains of India and ultimately even to the South where Adi Shankaracharya was born and from where the head priests of the temple come. The empirical basis for this chapter rests on nine months of fieldwork in the western Himalayas between 2009 and 2012. The initial aim of these stays had been to collect as many narratives about the temple and its surrounding sacred topography as possible. However, it proved rather difficult to collect any material that was not yet already published – mostly in local pamphlets. Nonetheless it became apparent who in Badrinath would retell which narrative. The priests, especially the Pandas and Tirthpurohits (pilgrim priests), the ones who work closest with the pilgrims, were most dismissive about narratives that would connect the shrine to local practices or to the ­Buddhist religion practiced just a few kilometers north of the mountain passes beyond Badrinath. Comparing these narratives with what we can gain from historical sources showed that there was a conscious attempt to re-­construct this Himalayan pilgrimage according to contemporary mainstream Hindu tendencies. However, many of the rituals and festivals held in and around Badrinath, often in connection with processions, reveal a different picture of the shrine. Even though their corresponding narratives have been ­altered, or are simply omitted nowadays, they give a hint to the

12  Hans Jürgen David religious and cultural tradition that prevailed in this area before Badrinath evolved into one of ­India’s major pilgrimage centers. Following a short introduction to the temple and the pilgrimage, I will examine the dichotomy concerning the holy Himalaya and the a­ ctual ­mountains. I will then turn to the influence which the alleged visit of Adi Shankaracharya had on the temple and provide a short description of the groups living in the shrine’s vicinity and their perspective towards the ­pilgrimage. Temples dedicated to Badrinarayan, which are not only found within Garhwal but also in the neighboring districts of Kumaon and ­K innaur, offer unique insights into this pilgrimage. The last part focuses on the processions and festivals held at Badrinath, leading to the argument that many aspects from the temple’s past remain alive in these ritual journeys.

The temple and its significance Badrinath is a temple dedicated to Vishnu, one of the most important Hindu deities. The temple is situated high-up in the Garhwal Himalayas, close to the Tibetan border, at an altitude of over 3,000 m above sea level. The name literally means Lord (Hindi: nāth) of the so-called Badri berry (Zizyphus jujuba), also referred to as Chinese or Indian date, which needs to be ­explained with a corresponding narrative. It is said that Vishnu left his wife Lakshmi to practice meditation in the Himalayas. When Lakshmi visited her husband, she saw that he was ­unprotected against wind, snow and sun, so she transformed herself into a tree, giving him shelter and food. This tree was called Badri. Locals say that Vishnu was so pleased by her action that he insisted that her name – in this case in her form as a tree, Badri – should be uttered before his own, nath.2 Yet, the main figures connected to Badrinath, or Badarīkāśrama3 (Skt.: ­Hermitage of Nar and Narayan), as it was formerly called, are the twins Nar and Narayan. It was their intense tapasya (Skt.: ascetic practice) during the krita yuga (Skt.: the first and best of the four ages) that made the place known throughout the Hindu world. The brothers are still being worshipped inside the shrine but their importance has declined in favor of the narrative presented above. Written historical sources providing information about the temple are scarce before the first European visited the shrine. This was the Jesuit priest, Antonio de Andrade, who describes an already flourishing pilgrimage in the early 17th century, mentioning pilgrims from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Vijayanagar. Yet most of the narratives concerning the ­establishment of the pilgrimage do not venture far into the past, but rather start with the visit by Shankaracharya. It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya established four ­monasteries (Skt.: āmnāya mat ̣ha), which are connected to four pilgrimage sites at the

The pilgrimage to Badrinath  13 cardinal points of the subcontinent – called the cār dhām (Hindi: four abodes). This four-fold pilgrimage circuit consists of Rameshvaram in the South, Dvarka in the West, Jagannath Puri in the East and Badrinath in the North of India. In this way it is not surprising that there is a close bond between the temple of Badrinath and the saint Shankaracharya. To be precise, Badrinath is the dhām (Hindi: abode) of the North, but the monastery is in Joshimaṭh, around 50 km to the south of the shrine. Both places still share a strong connection, since Joshimaṭh is the place where Badrinarayaṇ is worshipped during winter. The temple is part of another cār dhām (Hindi) – sometimes called the northern or small (Hindi: choṭā) cār dhām. These four sacred sites mark the sources of the Ganges and Yamuna and are visited usually from west to east, starting in Yamunotri, then to Gangotri, Kedarnath and lastly to Badrinath. All these temples are located at high altitudes and are therefore only open during the warmer half of the year (see Sax 2009, 53). The temple of Badrinath usually opens during the first week of May. A procession arrives the day before the temple doors are opened, consisting of the temple staff and the palanquins of Adi Shankaracharya, Kuber and Uddhav.4 The latter serves as the procession mūrti of Badrinarayan, since the main image is not moved and stays in the temple throughout the whole year. This procession also points to different perspectives of the pilgrimage. While the palanquin of Shankaracharya clearly refers to his role in the e­ stablishment of the shrine, Kuber’s part of the procession is only actively supported by the local inhabitants of the region. Finally, there is a pot of black sesame oil that was made at the palace of the former Maharaja of Garhwal and represents the royal sanction for this pilgrimage. During the months of May and June most pilgrims arrive, because with monsoon, ­towards the end of June, the roads tend to be obstructed due to poor weather conditions. In mid-November the doors of the temple are closed and the place becomes devoid of people, as it is said, whilst the gods themselves come to worship during winter.

The history of the pilgrimage The Himalayas have for a very long time been an important pilgrimage ­region for Hindus, as well as for Bönpos, Jainas, Buddhists, and Sikhs. ­Interestingly, the two most important shrines for Hindus – Kedarnath and Badrinath – are controlled by South Indian religious groups. In the case of Badrinath, the first group to control the temple were the Daśanāmī Saṃpradāya (Skt.), who were followers of Shankaracharya, and later the Nambudri Brahmins from Kerala, who have been since the year 1777 the only ones eligible to be appointed to the post of Rawal, the head priest of the temple.5 The kingdom of Garhwal was freed from the Gorkhas with the help of the British in 1815 and, in consequence, a large area along with the temple of

14  Hans Jürgen David Badrinath came under British rule. While there already had been disagreements between the Rawal and the king, the situation worsened under the new administration and finally led to the “United Provinces Shri Badrianth and Shri Kedarnath Temples Act”, issued in 1939, putting the management of the temple into the hands of a temple committee. The Rawal, along with most of the priests who work inside the temple, became employed by this new institution. It is difficult to say when exactly Badrinath became an important place of pilgrimage, but the site is first mentioned as a place for meditation (Hindi: tapovān) on inscriptions from the middle of the 9th century.6 The name ­Badarīkāśrama (Skt.) occurs in several chapters of the Mahabharata, but these references give the impression that Badrinath was perceived as a metaphysical place, only accessible for gods and great heroes like the Pandavas. Even though Badrinath was probably a pilgrimage place in earlier times, it took many centuries before this secluded spot attracted the masses. The number of pilgrims significantly increased only during the last 50–70 years, exceeding one million pilgrims in 2012. By contrast, there were only five to ten thousand at the beginning of the 19th century, mostly consisting of ­ascetics (Oakley 1991, 152). This development was facilitated by the rise of an Indian middle class that can afford to travel as well as by the construction of tarmac roads during and after the Sino-Indian War in 1962. P ­ erhaps equally important, however, is the fact that the priests and the temple committee are advertising the temple. They paint a picture of an orthodox shrine at the border of Hinduism – one could say, a beacon of Sanātana Dharma (Skt.). As a result, and in the interest of maintaining this image, certain items and practices that are considered impure are no longer tolerated. Possession rituals and animal sacrifice are only allowed to take place in the villages away from the temple. The sacredness of the Himalayas is perceived more on a ­metaphysical level, since the real Himalayan mountains are difficult to travel, are dusty, and certainly not so heavenly as described in the scriptures (Bharati 1978). The fact that real places do not always correspond with what they are imagined to be, does not bother devotees most of the time. However, in some cases, there are circumstances where it does matter, such as during ritual journeys in the Himalayas. Here the physical mountain merges, or is ­supposed to merge, with the metaphysical, ideal picture of the “holy Himalayas”. Maybe Dayanand Saraswati exemplifies this dichotomy best through his expectations when he came to Badrinath during his years of “wanderings and studies” in 1855. In his quest to find and meet “some really genuine yogi” he found instead “a large number of pandits seated with a pyramid of flesh, rump steaks, and dressed up heads of animals” and “profound ­ignorance or ridiculous superstition” (Yadav 1978, 36–41).7 Professor T.V.R. Murti expresses this even more precisely when he states: “[…] the Himalayas of the rishis and yogis, is more important as an ideal to us than the actual

The pilgrimage to Badrinath  15 rocks and the miserable huts of the people there” (cited in: Bharati 1978, 78). The priests of Badrinath do their best to piece both realities together, but face a variety of difficulties in this respect. One of the difficulties concerns the inhabitants of the Himalayas ­themselves. As Sax (2002, 190) writes: “The people of Garhwal have long been regarded as distinctive and backward Others by Hindus from the Gangetic Plain … to them, the mountain dwellers are thought of as poverty-­ stricken and backward hillbillies.” Bharati also notes that they eat meat, drink alcohol, have “unpredictable sex habits” and “are infected by all sorts of northern Buddhist heresy, even if they are Hindus” (Bharati 1978, 79). To ensure that the temple does not suffer from the ill effects of the local ­population and their culture, only two possibilities were apparent: either “sanskritize” the mountain dwellers along with their deities or exclude them, thereby keeping them apart from what is considered “real” Hinduism.

Inventing tradition in the Himalayas In order to cope with these requirements, the whole area of Badrinath was declared vegetarian and alcohol is also banned, but this is only observed officially. In fact, the local moonshine in Badrinath is famous and called Mānā ka Paṇī (Hindi) – the water from Mana. One way to sanskritize an entire region is to present a narrative that deals particularly with this topic and ideally includes a figure who is known and admired throughout all India. In the case of Garhwal, and most eminently Badrinath, this figure is Adi Shankaracharya. There is some dispute as to when Adi Shankaracharya actually lived – traditionally his life is set between 508 and 476 BC,8 while most scholars have decided that the second half of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century of the common era are a much safer guess. His hagiographies were written much later and therefore are questionable authorities concerning the historicity of his life. It is interesting, however, that all of them mention Shankara visiting Badrinath. Of course, at that time  – the hagiographies date from the 14th to the 18th centuries (Bader 2000) – Badrinath was already an established pilgrimage center. Paul Hacker (1978, 479) argues that the reason for the establishment of the four monasteries attributed to Shankara is rooted in an act of “conscious Hindu cultural policy”9 of the Vijayanagar empire in the 14th century.10 He sees this act as a compensation for the defeat Hinduism had suffered from the Muslims. For the authors of Shankara’s hagiographies it seems it was sufficient that Adi Shankaracharya made it to that far and mystical place to complete his digvijaya (Sax 2000), while for the inhabitants of Garhwal this was not enough.11 The following narrative of how the statue of Badrinarayan came into ­being is basically only told in Garhwal and is published in various pamphlets.

16  Hans Jürgen David Since the story has been retold over and over, there are several versions. The following is a paraphrased version that aims to portray its narrative core: At the time of Adi Shankaracharya, Badrinath was already an important pilgrim destination. The saint Shankara was eager to get there from South India, where he had spent his childhood, to see the famous image of the four-armed Vishnu. However, when Shankara arrived, the priest told him that the statue was no longer inside the temple. The priest ­further said that the statue was taken out of the temple and was hidden in the river below in fear that it might be desecrated by the Buddhists. Shankara was very disappointed at not being able to have the experience of darśan (Hindi: to see the image of the deity) of Badrinarayan and therefore sat down to meditate. In his meditation he had a vision of Vishnu himself, who told him where and how he could find his statue. Shankaracharya went down to a place in the river that bears the name of Naradkund and retrieved the image, installing it below the temple near the hot spring. There is also an extension to this narrative, which explains why the statue in the temple is broken – two of the four arms are missing and the face has almost no features:12 When Shankara took the statue out of the water he saw that it was ­broken. Therefore, he threw it back into the river. He continued this, each time retrieving other broken statues until Vishnu once again ­appeared in front of him, telling him that this imperfect form of himself was the one he should show to his devotees in this dark age of kali yuga. It is important to emphasize that this narrative is nowhere to be found in the hagiographies of Shankaracharya. In most of these mystic biographies he indeed went to Badrinath, but there is no word on Buddhists or anything else unorthodox. Badrinath is described as a renowned pilgrimage center, full of ascetics and a place to meet other sages, saints, or even gods (Pande 1994, 27; Bader 2000, 158, 148). This narrative represents an alternative or idealized history. This becomes obvious when it is seen in the context of another narrative that circulates in and around Badrinath, which is called dantkathā (Hindi) or kiṃvadantī (Hindi) – meaning ‘rumor,’ or ‘having no foundation in the scriptures.’ This narrative tells the story that Badrinarayan was originally worshipped by the Tibetans of Tholing – the former capital of the Guge empire.13 At that time, according to this narrative, the inhabitants of Tibet were Hindus. When Buddhism finally came to Tibet they started to eat meat. This disgusted Badrinarayan so much that he decided to flee and in time reached the place where his temple now stands. When the

The pilgrimage to Badrinath  17 Tibetans realized what they had lost, they started a search in order to beg ­Badrinarayan’s forgiveness but it was in vain. The first narrative emphasizes that the mūrti is not of Tibetan origin. Instead it was desecrated by the Tibetans, or the statue was lost while being hidden from them. However, the most important point in this narrative is that Badrinath got the Sanātana Dharma (Skt.) firsthand from Adi Shankara, at a time when most of India remained in ignorance or was in the hands of heterodox atheists such as the charwaks [followers of the Indian ­ hilosophy of materialism], the Jains, the Buddhists and Kapaliks p ­[unorthodox followers of Shiva who] laid stress on the unauthenticity [sic!] of the Vedas, discarded Yajya (religious sacrifices) and condemned monism. The fear of god and the transcendental world was almost extinct. (Sarswati n.d.) Yet, it was not the fear of god but the fear that anybody could believe that their god was in fact Buddha or a Tirthankara.14 The fear that the world, or at least the Hindu community, could believe that the statue was in fact of Tibetan origin is emphasized by the particular posture the image of Vishnu is depicted in Badrinath. Unlike the usual depictions of Vishnu in a standing or lying position, he instead sits in padmāsana (Skt.), the posture of meditation. This is the position that Buddha or the Tirthankaras are usually depicted. In addition to this narrative there are numerous other sources that link Badrinath to Buddhism and especially to Tholing. For example, Atkinson (2002, II, 466) states that “[…] Sankara through his followers preached everywhere the efficacy of pilgrimage to the holy shrines and doubtless the facility of communication and the influx of orthodox pilgrims to Badari and Kedār prevented a relapse into Buddhism […]”. Sāṅkṛtyāyan (1953, 340) adds an even more extreme version than the one previously mentioned, by q ­ uoting a narrative from Gangotri “that this Badrī [Garhwal] is just the lower one, which is meant for the people who are unable to reach the ­original one – the original one being Badrīnāth in the Tholing Gompa”. In my opinion these narratives demonstrate a conscious fear that directly influences the organization of Badrinath and its surroundings. This fear does not exclusively concern Tibet to the North, but also the surrounding settlements and their gods.

Paharis, Bhotiyas and the trans-Himalayan trade There are two villages in the vicinity of Badrinath – Bamni and Mana. These villages are inhabited by Paharis and Bhotiyas respectively.15 Bamni is adjacent to Badrinath, but none the less distinctly separate in terms of

18  Hans Jürgen David culture and inhabitants. The villagers’ status is slightly different from the Bhotiyas of Mana, since their Brahmins hold the rights to certain rituals in the Badrinath temple. Kuber is the village devtā (Hindi) of Pandukeshvar and only the people going to Bamni for the summer organize the Kuber procession. His image is not individually worshipped inside the Badrinath temple, but before it enters the temple it is kept for one night in the Nanda Devi shrine in Bamni. Moreover, before the shrine is closed for the year Kuber visits the village again to take part in a festival, during which he will possess one of the local priests. About 4 km to the north lies Mana, which is solely inhabited by ­Bhotiyas. Today this village represents the mundane part of the pilgrimage to Badrinath, even though there are sites like the Vyasgupha or the bridge that Bhima is said to have built. However, it is seen more as it is advertised: the last Indian village (having also at least three of the last Indian chai shops). Mana’s inhabitants traded borax, salt, wool, and other goods like tobacco and sugar with Tibetans, which helped them gain considerable wealth until 1962 when the border was closed after the Sino-Indian War. Yet, even before the war their wealth was declining due to the falling demand for borax. ­Atkinson (2002, III, 587) writes that “one of them [the Bhotiyas] lent the Rāja of Garhwāl two lakhs [200,000] of rupees to assist in repelling the Gorkhālis; [but] now there are very few worth twenty thousand rupees.” With this decline in trade came also a decline in status for Mana’s ­inhabitants. It was impossible for people outside of the caste system to enter the Badrinath temple until after the Temple Act was issued in 1939 and this was also the fact for most of the inhabitants of Mana. However, today they deny that they were ever refused the right to enter the temple. I believe that there have been two separate efforts between the Bhotiyas and the priests of Badrinath in order to establish a closer connection to one another. On the one hand, the Bhotiyas began to orient themselves more towards the south when trade declined and this reorientation became even more urgent when the border was closed. On the other hand, members of the Badrinath ­establishment were eager not only to distance themselves from the local ­environment, but also to include the sacred landscape of the Bhotiyas. The important point here is that the deities and temples received, so to speak, new identities. For example, narratives that Ghantakarna, ­Kuber and Badrinath are three brothers, who all came from Tibet are rarely heard nowadays. The gods of Pandukeshvar and Mana – Kuber and ­Ghantakarna – are now the treasurer and protector of Badrinath, but all their individual worship, involving possession and animal sacrifice, as well as alcohol and meat as offerings have been banned from the village of Badrinath. These practices were not abolished in their entirety but driven back to the villages of Bamni, Pandukeshwar and Mana. It is therefore reasonable to say that the local deities now have two personalities – one they present to the pilgrim from the plains during summer and one they have when they are worshipped in their villages during winter. I would argue that it was similar

The pilgrimage to Badrinath  19 with Badrinarayan. However, the original qualities of the latter had to be given up completely in order for him to become 100% Vishnu. Again, there is a corresponding narrative for that process: At the time when Vishnu came to Badrinath to meditate, the place was already occupied by someone else – often defined as a demon. This demon has different names according to the respective narrative, he is named Kuber, Ghantakarna or Sahasrakavaca. The demon is, of course, defeated by Narayan, but not destroyed.16 In the existing ­accounts the demon usually asks Vishnu if he can serve him and, with his wish granted, he becomes a servant to the temple. In one narrative, referred to by Dinesh Kumar (1991, 14), a compromise is offered; after a long fight Vishnu became tired and asked Ghantakarna, if he would agree to stop fighting, and promised that in return he will be worshipped along with him in Badrinath as well. The subjugation of local gods by Badrinarayan not only happened in Badrinath but also in the Sangla valley of Kinnaur.

The Badri temples outside of Garhwal The temple of Badrinath in Garhwal is certainly the most famous, but there are several other Badri temples in the Himalayas. There are four other Badris in the vicinity of Badrinath, which form – together with the main Badrinath temple – the Pañc Badrī (Hindi). However, there are other Badri shrines outside of Garhwal as well – at least two of them are in Himachal Pradesh. They are all situated in the Sangla valley of Kinnaur. The most prominent one is the Badri temple in Kamru. When Badrinarayan came to Kamru he first killed all the Thakurs (local rulers), before establishing his own rule over this valley. The Badrinarayan of Kamru is considered from the Kinnauri side as the brother of the Garhwal Badrinath and visits his brother every few years. It is said that the visiting brother receives a place in the sanctum sanctorum, “just below the presiding deity” (Sanan and Swadi 1998, 35). The deity of Kamru still travels to Badrinath,17 although not by foot via Gangotri and Mana, as was the case until a few decades ago, but nowadays by car via Shimla and Haridwar. The last visit took place on the 24th of May in 2010 and the deity remained three days together with ­Badrinarayan inside the temple. The local priests keep rather quiet about the Badri temples outside of Garhwal. In fact, when I inquired about them, they did not show any knowledge, emphasizing that there are only five Badri temples (i.e. the Pañc Badrī) and that outside of Garhwal there are none, or, if there are any, they would just bear the name without any legitimacy. I think the explanation can be found in the narratives that accompany the Kamru-­Badri. One of them says that: “the deity of Kamru first came to Badrinath in Garhwal from Tholing monastery in West Tibet, but not

20  Hans Jürgen David feeling comfortable at Badrinath it proceeded to Kamru for permanent resort” (Singh 1994, 108). Also, there have been various notions about the ­Buddhist origin of the image of the Kamru-Badri. For example, there is “a letter from the devta’s caretaker Rawal Purushottam Sharma in 1869 A.D.” which “describes the deity as an incarnation of the Buddha (bauddh rupi)” (Singh 1990, 247). Moreover, a shopkeeper in front of the other Badri temple in Batseri informed me that before the border to ­Tibet was closed, the mūrti of Batseri used to travel to Badrinath through T ­ ibet. In Kinnaur these connections between Badrinarayan and Tibet are still alive and the parallels between the two temples seem to be more than coincidence. I therefore argue that Kinnaur represents a window into the past of Badrinath before the pilgrims and South Indian sects changed the representation of the temple.

Pilgrims of other faiths Yet even today there is no idle time for the guardians of Badrinath’s r­ eputation. The fear of Badrinath’s possible Tibetan past makes itself ­apparent when it comes to pilgrims from other religions. There are no B ­ uddhists coming to Badrinath for pilgrimage, since those who live in the area – there is one family selling clothes – keep quiet about their religion, and the others most likely understand the strong religious and political implications. Therefore, there are only two other religions seen in Badrinath: Sikhs and Jains. The Sikhs make their pilgrimage in this region to Hemkund – a lake at an altitude of 4,600 m above sea level, which is reached by foot from Govindghat, near Pandukeshvar. As it is not far from there to Badrinath, many Sikhs visit the temple to have darśan and are warmly welcomed by the priests and locals. For the Jains the pilgrimage is slightly different. Badrinath is not one of the most important pilgrimage destinations for the Jains, but their first Tirthankara – Rishabha, or Adinath – is thought to have attained liberation there. The previous story about the odd sitting position of the mūrti is common not only for Buddhism, but for depictions in Jainism as well. Since the statue was under water for some time it is ­difficult to make any precise assertions. There have been pilgrim shelters (Hindi: ­dharamśālās) by the two Jain denominations for some time, but when they announced their plan to build a temple or prayer hall – emotions ran high. The Jains at Badrinath were very cautious not to make any claims concerning the image in the Badrinath temple but on various webpages one can read that it is actually Adinath who is worshipped as Vishnu in the temple. The whole controversy went to court and in the second appeal in 2009 the plaintiffs (Sri Badrinath & Sri Kedarnath Temple Committee) argued that “a Jain Temple in Shri Badrinath Temple area would hurt the Hindu religious sentiments and would also make it difficult for the plaintiff to perform its statutory duties […]” (Uttaranchal High Court 2009). We thus see that the past of Badrinath – whatever it was – still haunts the temple, and in some

The pilgrimage to Badrinath  21 instances, it is still alive. Some remnants of this past might be found in the processions and festivals held in and around Badrinath.

Ritual journeys Even though the narratives connecting the temple to its surrounding and past are slowly fading away, or today are even only preserved in books and pamphlets, and no longer circulated orally to the pilgrims or among the residents of Badrinath – remnants thereof have been conserved within the ritual journeys in and around the shrine. Throughout the whole pilgrimage season, processions take place within the sacred topography of Badrinath. Two of the most obvious are the processions that mark the opening and closing of the temple in spring and autumn. While these processions have the purpose to bring the priests to and from the temple in a ritualized way, the temple’s history and the local culture are weaved into them. Officially the procession in spring starts at Joshimath, however one of the central objects of it commences its journey well before – a pot of black sesame oil (Hindi: tīl ka tel; Garhwali: gārhū gharhā). This oil is made in the palace of the former ruler of Garhwal in Narendranagar and has its own procession through the hills, as a royal sanction of the procession and which date is also set, among others, by the Raj-­Purohit. The pot of oil is taken to Joshimath by a small delegation of priests – ­revealing the ­connection between the deity on the mountain and its worldly r­ epresentation – the king. The processions at the beginning of the pilgrimage season ­ ational Joshimath marks the beginning of the official procession. Local and n TV teams are present and there is at least a short column in every newspaper. Although it is regarded a high honor among the pilgrims to have one of the first darśans of Badrinarayan, the procession to commence the opening of the temple doors has its significance predominantly among the local residents. With the Rawal, Dharmadhikari, Vedpathis and other priests and functionaries of Badrinath taking control over the procession on the morning it will leave Joshimath, the pot of sesame oil becomes less evident. Another integral part of the procession, the palanquin of Shankaracharya, comes into view in Joshimath. How old this tradition of carrying an empty palanquin up to the temple of Badrinath really is, is difficult to say, but it is evident that it is upheld by devotees of Shankaracharya from Andhra Pradesh. The palanquin itself was a gift by the monastery of Shringeri in 2009, replacing a seemingly not very old but poorly made palanquin that was used before. The procession has adapted to modern transportation, but the ­itinerary still reflects a time when the procession was done by foot. Pandukeshwar – a village in the middle of the road to Badrinath – serves as an overnight stop,

22  Hans Jürgen David although nowadays the palanquin arrives well before noon. The i­ mportance of this village relates to the fact that there the procession-­i mage of ­Badrinarayan18 and the palanquin of Kuber are added to the ­procession. The statue of Uddhav – which represents Badrinarayan along the way – is kept in the temple of Pundukeshvar, because this was once the place of Badrinarayan’s worship during winter. Therefore, another name for ­Pandukeshvar is Śita Badrī (Skt.), i.e. the winter-Badri. As such the procession can be seen as a threefold endeavor: first, the pot of oil, as an emblem of the royal sanction, second, the priests and finally the palanquin of Shankaracharya, as a symbol of the re-establishment of the temple in line with mainstream Hinduism, and third when the palanquin19 of Kuber joins the procession on the following day Because when the procession continues, the participants from Pandukeshvar act, though part of the main procession, rather independently. Their vehicles will often not wait for the others along the way and as soon as the convoy reaches the bus stand at Badrinath, Kuber’s palanquin moves ahead of the main procession, aiming for the shrine of Nanda Devi. There Kuber’s image will be kept until the next day, when the doors of the temple of Badrinath will be officially opened. The procession that takes place in autumn has its starting point in the closing of the temple’s doors. Besides the direction there is not much difference in both processions. Yet a few things are different indeed. Most noteworthy is that the priests and all other participants are eager to reach Badrinath in spring. Rituals along the way are done with more enthusiasm in spring than on the way back. The hard months during the pilgrimage season have left their marks on the priests, who are now happy to return to their homes and look forward to the quieter life in the valley; the rituals performed at the various shrines along the procession route now seem to be mere obligation in contrast to the same conducted during spring. A certain neglect concerns Kuber once his palanquin reaches Pandukeshwar,20 as his deity is placed, along with the statue of Uddhav inside the Yog-Dhyan temple. After my inquiry why Kuber is not placed in his own shrine, a local shopkeeper of Pandukeshwar explained that the return of Kuber from the mountain also marks the main harvest in the valley and therefore no one has time to organize a proper welcome. Therefore, the festival held in honor of Kuber commences during winter in Pandukeshwar. Visiting gods and festivals Every other day during the pilgrimage season small processions, usually centered around a village deity, arrives at the shrine. Sometimes these processions have their final destination on the banks of the Alakananda, a river just below the temple. However, more often than not the village god is allowed inside the temple precincts to offer obligations. This is different for the processions that arrive once every few years from the Sangla valley

The pilgrimage to Badrinath  23 in Kinnaur. Two deities from this valley also bear the name of Badri and they are allowed to stay inside the sanctum sanctorum besides Badrinarayan himself (Sanan and Swadi 1998, 35). This demonstration of reverence does not necessarily contradict the notion that no other Badri temples outside of Garhwal are acknowledged, but exemplifies the different cultural and ­religious layers of Badrinath. Yet processions do not only come from outside, but they happen within Badrinath as well. Two of them might provide us with a deeper understanding of Badrinath’s religious and cultural background. Every year in ­September a festival, called Nanda Devi Mela, is held in Bamni. Even though Nanda Devi is immensely popular in Garhwal, and Sax (1991) has dedicated a whole book to her most important procession, the focus here rests on Kuber’s part in the celebration. The festival starts mostly unnoticed within the village, when a few young men climb up to the high meadows above Badrinath to collect a flower that is considered very sacred, the brahma kamal (Saussurea obvallata), the climax of the ritual is only reached after the arrival of Kuber. The procession of Kuber leaves the shrine of Badrinath in the afternoon without much attention. There is only the priest of Ghantakarna, a single drummer, two people carrying the pole on which the mask of Kuber is mounted, and someone walking in front with some incense.21 The importance of this festival lies in the fact that even though most of the priests of Badrinath are present,22 almost no pilgrims attend or even know about it. As soon as the poles of Kuber and Nanda Devi are placed upright, supported with the help of a hole in the ground, their respective priests become possessed by them. The priests demonstrate this altered state, as they are now able to perform tasks unbearable to any human, like sitting on a sword, beating a kind of saw on their backs, and having large pots of ice-cold water emptied over their heads. While these performances are not exceptional within Garhwal, this festival is the only opportunity for the local inhabitants to celebrate what Kuber means for them. Once a year they are allowed to relieve him of his duty as the “cashier” of Badrinarayan. Whilst animal sacrifice, the offering of alcohol and possession is avoided within the premises of the Badrinath temple, at least the latter is allowed to happen once during the pilgrimage season. The day before the Mata Murti Mela – a large festival in honor of Nar and Narayan’s mother, held annually in September the Ghantakarna of Mana, comes to Badrinath. With this example we also come back to the topic of the narratives. Several people in Mana explained on my inquiry on the relationship between Badrinarayan and Ghantakarna that they are brothers, both having their original abode in Tibet.23 Naturally as brothers they share the same mother – Mata Murti. Since her shrine is located across the river in Mana, it is Ghantakarna who is informed first when she desires to see her children. Therefore, a day before the festival, Ghantakarna moves to Badrinath in order to invite his brother to come and see his mother. The procession frays frequently as different

24  Hans Jürgen David parts make detours to small shrines along the way, while others stay on the path to Badrinath. After the procession has reached Badrinath an espalier is formed at the entrance of the temple providing an unobstructed view for Ghantakarna and his priest. With the performance of Ghantakarna’s priest, again involving the pouring of cold water over his head and the sitting on a dagger, the invitation is complete. While Ghantakarna returns to Mana in the late afternoon, the next day it is Badrinarayan’s turn to take the path to Mata Murti’s shrine.24 This day is also the first day the Rawal is allowed to set his foot further than just between the temple and his room. However, he does not walk, as for him and the most important priests, horses are provided.25 In front of the procession walks the priest of the Ghantakarna of Badrinath. He informed me that he represented the protector of the valley (Skt.: kṣetrapāl), and that he was in front of the procession “for security”. Also, the palanquin of Shankaracharya is part of the procession, but is not included in any rituals on this day, giving evidence that the narrative emphasizing his importance to the shrine has not made any impact on the main ritual performances.26 The Mata Murti festival is very interesting in terms of the relationship between the pilgrimage place of Badrinath and the Bhotiya village Mana. While the priests of Badrinath and the Bhotiyas indeed join for this festival, their functions are quite different. The rituals and the worship are strictly in the hands of Badrinath’s priests, who also leave shortly after their duties are fulfilled, whereas the Bhotiyas organize the music and dance and keep the festival going, presumably until late in the evening. The palanquin of Uddhav does take a different route within the village of Badrinath and only joins the procession about half a kilometer after the last settlements. The reason for this was not entirely clear for everyone, and most participants did not even notice. When I inquired about the reason I was told that Badrinarayan has to secretly leave the temple to see his mother; he kind of has to sneak through the back alleys. However, others told me that the palanquin has to steer clear of a certain spot that was polluted by a demon. Whatever the true reasons are, the detour is repeated on the return of the palanquin to Badrinath. There are no longer any pilgrimages, processions, or rituals connected to Buddhism or Tibet in this region, but this might be only true for the last 70 years – since the time after the border to Tibet was closed and declared a prohibited area. However, Sister Nivedita (1928, 68) notes that “[t]he true place of Badri Narayan in history may perhaps be better understood when it is mentioned that it was long a pilgrimage of obligation to the Tibetan Lamas, and that even now certain monasteries pay it tribute”. As the connection with Tibet was severed when neither Buddhist pilgrims, nor trade caravans from either side were able to cross the mountain passes anymore, local practices highlighting the original functions and status of the lesser deities in Badrinath survived. Yet, with the corresponding narratives falling into oblivion and new invented traditions, like the emphasizing of ­Shankara’s palanquin, these ritual journeys are re-interpreted in terms of

The pilgrimage to Badrinath  25 emergent discourses. However not all rituals have survived without alteration. I was told, for example, that that the Ganthakarna of Badrinath used to receive alcohol and animal sacrifices as offerings only 50 years ago. Other traditions that do not fit into the aspired picture of this pan-Hindu pilgrimage center are kept almost secret from pilgrims. William Sax informed me that he was only able to witness by chance a performance of possession and trance within the temple of Badrinath, involving the gods Nanda Devi and Kuber.27 After Sax tried to gather more information on this ritual “it became clear that there was a definite conspiracy of silence to keep me in the dark about it”. It is this silence that does not allow Badrinath’s past to continue.

Conclusion While it is difficult to present any definite evidence on the origin of the temple and the image it contains, it is evident that the temple was not established by Adi Shankaracharya. Nonetheless, narratives depicting him as a founding figure received utmost popularity. Especially when the alleged pilgrimages of Shankaracharya, as recorded in his hagiographies, merged with the most probable local narrative about the retrieval of the statue of Badrinarayan from the river. This narrative serves multiple interests. Firstly, it links this shrine at the periphery of Hindu religion to one of its best organized and influential schools and at the same time explains the state of the statue inside the temple. Secondly, this story offers an opportunity for many of the priesthoods in Badrinath to connect their heritage and, even more importantly, their authority directly to Shankaracharya. Finally, this narrative, while acknowledging a Buddhist presence in Badrinath, places the end of the Tibetan influence into the remote past and marks a new beginning as a direct consequence of Shankaracharya’s stay. However, there are still alternative narratives in circulation, albeit now on the way to be forgotten, that portrait the shrine as a node within a vast borderland, embedded within the local ­Pahari and Bhotiya culture. They retell the cultural flows between the cis- and trans-Himalaya. Yet, the rituals that accompany those almost forgotten narratives are still existing and thriving, although only known by and therefore also accessible to the local population. These processions might have been set in a new context, or had elements, like the palanquin of Shankaracharya, added to them, but still keep the past alive. Within these ritual journeys the other gods of the sacred landscape of Badrinath come alive once more, and are allowed to emerge from their role as servants to Badrinarayan. To conclude, I think that Badrinath serves as a good example to show how a pilgrimage place that is considered important for all Hindus has opened up to pilgrims that are part of the mainstream religion, while at the same time attempts to separate itself from what is considered backward. In Badrinath both mechanisms are connected with a certain fear – a fear that is quite real for the priests and is directly concerned with the influx of pilgrims and their money.

26  Hans Jürgen David

Notes 1 The founder of the Advaita Vedanta. He lived during the second half of the 7th and the beginning of the 8th century CE. 2 A longer and more detailed version of this narrative can be found in Tajendra’s (n.d., 6–26) booklet entitled “The Story of Badrinath Ji”. 3 The place of Badrinath has been called by different names throughout history. In the Epics and Puranas Badrinath is usually referred to as Badarīkāśrama, while the Skandapurāṇa (Tagare 1994, 6) adds that the place was called Muktipradā in the golden age (Skt.: kṛta yuga), Yogasiddhidā in the tretā yuga and for the dvāpara yuga it was Viśālā (SkP II, iii, 1.57). Badarīkāśrama is the name for the present kali yuga and refers to the hermitage of Nar and Narayan. 4 Kuber is the god of wealth and Uddhav was a friend of Krishna, whom he sent to Badrinath (for example: Bhagavata Purana III. 4. 4.). 5 The first one to bear the title of Rawal was Gopal, who was appointed by the king of Garhwal Pradeep Shah in 1776 (Sāṅkṛtyāyan 1953, 342). According to Dhayani Babulkar and Dhayani (n.d., 48) Gopal was a cook in Badrinath and since there was no successor to the then recently deceased head of the Jyotirmaṭh (whose seat remained empty afterwards for 165 years) he was proclaimed Rawal. 6 Most noteworthy is the plate of Lalitaśūradeva from Pandukeshvar, which can be dated with great certainty to the year 853 or 854 A.D. (Sircar 1960, 277–284). 7 These descriptions refer to the region of Garhwal as a whole and not directly to Badrinath. 8 According to the Kāñcī Maṭha tradition (Pande 1994, 41). 9 Original in German, “Eine Art bewusster Hindu-Kulturpolitik”. 10 This kingdom had its center in Hampi in today’s Karnataka and during its ­existence between the 14th and 16th century ruled most of South India. 11 The term is usually translated as “conquest of the (four) quarters” (Bader 2000; Sax 2000) and describes in its initial meaning a military campaign, but was later also used for the travels of several saints. 12 The front side of the mūrti’s stone-head is broken and so the brow, eyes, nose, mouth and chin are missing (Sāed for the tra, 340). 13 An empire in western Tibet from the 11th to the 17th century. 14 Skt. ford-maker. There are 24 Tirthankaras known to Jainism. Their depictions in terms of posture are similar to those of Buddha. 15 Pahari literally means “mountain dweller”, a term that is often used in a derogatory sense, but is also used by Paharis themselves. Bhotiya is an umbrella term for all trans-Himalyan traders. 16 Except Sahasrakavaca [possessing a thousand armors], who is first bereft of all but one of his armors by Nar and Narayan and later loses his last armor along with his life in his reincarnation as Karna. 17 It is not only the Kamru-Badri that travels to Badrinath, but many gods in the Sangla valley have the same destination, as I was informed by their priest in Badrinath. He also mentioned Chitkul Mata, Batseri-Badri and Bairing Nag, according to his documents. 18 Also known as Uddhav. 19 It is interesting to note that even though Kuber has a richly decorated silver palanquin, the pole on which he is traditionally carried and which is used in the rituals and festivals in Badrinath is also part of the procession. 20 The first night upon returning from Badrinath Kuber spends in a village a few kilometers north of Pandukeshwar. 21 Kuber, as long as he is seen and regarded as the “cashier” of Badrinarayan is carried in a silver-plated palanquin, but whenever he is worshipped directly he is carried on a wooden pole of approximately 4 m.

The pilgrimage to Badrinath  27 22 The Rawal, or head priest of Badrinath, does not attend. According to the rules of his office he is not allowed to go anywhere but the temple and his home until the Mata Murti Mela has taken place two days later. 23 By contrast Ghantakarna is regarded as the protector of the shrine and valley, and in no way regarded as an equal to Badrinarayan by the priests of Badrinath. 24 Again, it is the image of Uddhav that is taken as a substitute of the actual image of Badrinarayan. 25 There were five horses, two for the Rawal and his successor the Naib Rawal, and one each for the president of the temple committee, the Dharmadhikari and the priest of the Dimris selected for the office to assist the Rawal inside the temple. 26 His palanquin, though part of the procession from Badrinath to the shrine of Mata Murti, is even kept outside the temple premises during the whole ritual. 27 Private communication via Email.

References Atkinson, Edwin T. 2002 [1881]. The Himalayan Gazetteer, or The Himalayan Districts of the North Western Province of India. 3 Vols. New Delhi: Low Price Publications. Bader, Jonathan. 2000. Conquest of the Four Quarters. Traditional Accounts of the Life of Śaṅkara. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Bharati, Agehananda. 1978. Actual and Ideal Himalayas: Hindu Views of the Mountains. In: Fisher, James F. [ed.], Himalayan Anthropology. The Indo-Tibetan Interface. The Hague, Paris: Mouton Publishers. Dhayani Babulkar, Asha and Pushp Dhayani. n.d. Glory of Badrikashrama. ­Mussoorie: Dr. (Mrs) Asha Dhayani Babulkar. Hacker, Paul. 1978. Kleine Schriften. Ed. by Lambert Schmithausen. Stuttgart: Steiner. Kumar, Dinesh. 1991. The Sacred Complex of Badrinath. Varanasi: Kishor Vidya Niketan. Nivedita, Sister. 1928. Kedar Nath & Badri Nath. A Pilgrim’s Dairy. Calcutta: ­Brahmachari Ganendranath. Oakley, E. Sherman. 1991 [1905]. Holy Himalaya. The Religion, Traditions, and ­Scenery of a Himalayan Province (Kumaon and Garhwal). Gurgaon: Vintage Books. Pande, G. Chandra. 1994. Life and Thought of Śaṅkarācārya. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Sanan, Deepak and Dhanu Swadi. 1998. Exploring Kinnaur in the Trans-Himalaya. New Delhi: Indus. Sāṅkṛtyāyan, Rāhul. 1953. Himālaya Paricaya. Īllāhābād: Īllāhābād Lāṁ Jarnal Pres. Sarswati, Vasudevanand Ji Maharaj. n.d. Jyotirmathasya Guruparampara. ­Jyotirmath: Sree Jyotishpeetha Shankaracharya Sevak Sangh. Sax, William S. 2000. Conquering the Quarters. Religion and Politics in Hinduism. International Journal of Hindu Studies 4, 1: 39–60. Sax, William S. 2002. Dancing the Self. Personhood and Performance in the Pāṇḍav Līlā of Garhwal. New York: Oxford University Press. Sax, William S. 2009. God of Justice. Ritual Healing and Social Justice in the Central Himalayas. New York: Oxford University Press. Singh, A. K. 1994. An Inscribed Bronze Padmapāṇī from Kinnaur. Acta Orientalia 55: 106–110.

28  Hans Jürgen David Singh, Jogishvar 1990. A Brief Survey of Village Gods and their Moneylending ­Operations in Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh; Along with Earlier Importance of Trade with Tibet. In: Icke-Schwalbe, Lydia and Gudrun Meier [Pub.], Wissenschaftsgeschichte und gegenwärtige Forschungen in Nordwest Indien. Internationales Kolloquium vom 9. bis 13. März 1987 in Herrenhut. Dresden: ­Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde. Sircar, D. C. (Ed.) 1960. Epigraphia Indica. Volume XXXI, 1955–1956. Delhi: ­A rchaeological Survey of India. Tagare, G. V. (Trans.) 1994. The Skanda-Purāṇa. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Tajendra. n.d. The Story of Badrinath Ji. Trans. by Anurag Goel. Delhi: B.S. Pravinder Prakashan. Uttaranchal High Court. 2009. Sri Badrinath & Kedarnath Temple Committee vs Shwetambar Jain Temple on 2 September, 2009. Retrieved November 9, 2012, from http://indiankanoon.org/doc/811429/ Yadav, Kripal Chandra. (Ed.) 1978. Autobiography of Dayanand Saraswati. New Delhi: Manohar.

3 Journeying sovereignties Ritual travelling and networks of power in a West Himalayan kingdom Lokesh Ohri Introduction The Western Himalayan mountain region in India comprises parts of today’s Dehra Dun district in Uttarakhand and the districts of Rampur, Sirmaur, Shimla and Solan in Himachal Pradesh. Being relatively isolated from the surrounding political centers, a unique political system has evolved here: gods, journeying in palanquins carried on shoulders by their subjects, ruling over territories, coexisting with regional powers such as the former colonial rulers and the present government. The deities, essentially idols carried in box-like palanquins, in their journeys through the mountains, not only mark territory through ritual processions, but also provide pastoral care to their subjects. They are, therefore, deities as well as rulers, referred to here as ­divine kings. By far the most powerful divine king is Mahasu, ruling over the region collectively known as Jaunsar-Bawar, in Dehra Dun. The divine king rules over his realm through ministers and armies, with possession and procession being the primary modes of governance. The divine king converses with subjects through an oracle, a human in a state of possession becoming the divine king’s voice. Even as the divine king’s processions traverse the vast Himalayan valleys, they knit together a polity through adverse reciprocities (Map 3.1). Social groups living in valleys situated across rivers, even though sworn enemies, must come together to ensure the ritual mobility of their common divine king. These relations, inscribed in the landscape through the ritual task of walking with the divine king and establishing relations with the soil, force a relook at territory, not as spaces marked by border posts, electric fences and lines on maps, but as spaces with outwardly expanding networks of power, established through constant physical movement. A study of historical records and ethnographical evidence shows that this traversing of spaces translates into political power, creating a unique sovereignty for the divine king with a human voice. As pointed out by Bergmann in reference to another Himalayan community, this sovereignty is claimed through “multiple and shifting articulations” (2016a, 88), “positioned in a complex geography of graded and partially overlapping shades of political, economic, and

30  Lokesh Ohri

Map 3.1  Map showing Mahasu territory.

cultural authority” (2016a, 98). In this paper, I trace the historical effects of these ritual journeys and their present impact, describing how processions generate power and legitimacy for the divine kings.

Oracular kingship The residents of the mountain region that forms the realm of the divine king Mahasu, despite being a coherent social group, are traditionally organized into refractory pastoral assemblies of feuding and headhunting Hindus. Historically, they have been known for resisting mainstream culture. British colonial officers alternatively described them as detestable, slothful, treacherous or sanguinary people. Their resistance was rooted in strong religious beliefs and political systems, which have endured despite incursions by the Nepalese (or the Gurkha) and the British, and, post-independence, despite the modernizing influence of a democratic, secular Indian state. Even today the residents of the Jaunsar-Bawar region consider themselves members of a distinct polity, the setup of which is reflected in the processions of the divine king Mahasu, a phenomenon described by Sutherland (2006) as ­“government by deity”. In Mahasu country, after the Anglo-Gurkha battles in 1814–1815, the British arrived in the Western Himalaya and began recording their own ­i mpressions of the mountain people of Jaunsar-Bawar, referring to their god Mahasu as a “religious scarecrow” (Williams 1874). Colonial officers, from whose dispatches the first written records of the Mahasu kingdom come to us, perhaps saw Mahasu’s divine kingship through the prism of their own political strategies and social categories; and they have generally portrayed

Journeying sovereignties  31 the divine kings as tyrannical figureheads devised by the hegemonic castes, the Brahman and the Rajput, to exploit gullible countrymen. Their assessment was, no doubt, influenced by the stereotypes acquired in the plains of India through observation of mainstream Hindu religious practice. Their views were colored by a gradually secularizing mindset. While the earlier administrators of the region had no qualms in engaging with the divine kings, even visiting their temples and seeking divine justice in irresolvable disputes, the later administrators adopted a patronizing attitude towards the divine kings. They could not cede governmental and administrative roles to a divine king over territory they had fought hard to win. Whilst the new rulers thus attempted to confine divine kings to the realm of religion, active political engagements with them became imperative in order to establish control over this mountain region. As colonial records indicate, Major Fredrick Young travelled to the temple of Mahasu at Hanol in 1829, seeking adjudication in a long-standing land dispute between the chieftains and the human king of Tehri state. Almost a century later, in 1911, H.W. Emerson, the administrator of the Simla Hill States, though much more skeptical of divine kingship, also felt obliged to directly interact with the divine king in matters of revenue and temple building. Although the British remained apprehensive of Mahasu tours, construing them as rival attempts towards ­territorial expansionism, they still used the devta’s (as the divine king is usually referred to) juridical authority to meet their own ends. In general, they were concerned about any loss of revenue due to the tributes collected by the divine kings. Their early dispatches indicate, to borrow from Bourdieu (1977), “misrecognition” of the divine king’s territorial power, projecting his tours as a meaningless ritual practice, even though they had no qualms in harnessing Mahasu’s political agency in furthering their own political agendas. In contrast to the bureaucratic modes of colonial governance, religion and politics were inextricably mingled in the Mahasu regime, as they are until ­today. British officials found it increasingly difficult to comprehend the meaning of divine kingship, and therefore attempted to relegate it to the ­category of ‘superstition’. Bureaucracy has continued to follow this ­tradition, and government officials in post-colonial times have rarely ­officially acknowledged the divine king’s political presence. And yet, privately, several officials and political leaders seek the divine king’s blessings to improve their electoral prospects and build a public image. Mahasu is evoked in election speeches even as officials facilitate grants from the politicians’ development funds towards the building of grand temples to the divine king. Galey (1989), in his description of the Garhwal Himalaya, points to the continuing reality and efficacy of kingship in the region. He makes a ­crucial distinction between kingdom and kingship, stating that rather than ­discussing the idea of a kingdom without a king, it would be more relevant to focus on “the reality of kingship without a kingdom” (Galey 1989, 181).

32  Lokesh Ohri He, therefore, points out that even though kingdoms in the mountains may have dissolved and are long gone, the institution of kingship remains a significant aspect around which life revolves. In Garhwal, for instance, the descendants of the Tehri royal family have up until now contested the general elections successfully, without even canvassing for votes. The raja or king Manvendra Shah, as he was known until his death, remained a member of the Indian parliament (a seat now occupied by his daughter-in-law) and won his subjects’ support even though he chose not to mingle with his electorate. It is known that while canvassing, he refused to alight from his car for fear of being rendered impure through the touch pollution of low caste commoners. It is common knowledge in local political circles that once offered a minister’s position in the national cabinet by the then prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, he famously turned down the offer, stating that a raja, the one through whom Lord Badrinath spoke (bolanda badri), could never accept a minister’s position. He could only be king. In the Mahasu realm, kingship is alive not just as a metaphor or ritual practice, but also as a political reality. In fact, it never disappeared, despite several state actors, including both British and Indian officials, claiming territorial control over the region. The divine king is, even today, a political force and zealously protects his turf from state agents. The kingdom too persists, albeit not in the manner modern states would conceive of it. The divine king’s territorial integrity is known to and experienced by his subjects in terms of the spaces where the divine king can travel to, where people seek his ­presence amongst them, agree to pay tributes, subscribe to his ritual justice and build temples to him. The central idiom of Mahasu’s divine kingship is the royal procession that culminates in oracular consultations. The divine king’s ­regime works along two main dimensions, namely a feudalistic-­political and a religious-oracular one. The divine king usually journeys amongst the subjects when community members aspire for his presence and intervention. Mahasu, thus, usually moves when political or social change is in the air. The retinue arrives, the divine king as the idol carried in a box-like palanquin on the shoulders of possessed oracles or Rajput headmen. This usually happens when certain ‘reforms’ challenge his regime or when there is discord within the community. In such situations influential actors would aim to mobilize the community’s support, and bring the divine king to their village in order to seek a resolution. Is journeying, therefore, the idiom through which divine kingship has emerged as a resilient institution that has survived social change over the centuries? In his conception of the Balinese theatre state of Negara, Clifford Geertz (1980) describes the kingdom not as a form of oriental despotism but rather as an organized spectacle. According to him, kingship was created through a dramatization of rank through grand public ritual and ceremony. These cultural processes did not support the state, he argues, but were the state itself. The abstract model of a theatre state developed by Geertz transpired particularly in the institution of kingship, the most visible manifestation

Journeying sovereignties  33 of political life. The whole of Negara—court life, organizational routines, c­ ollection of taxes and dues (extractions that supported it), and accompanying privileges—was essentially directed towards the articulation of control and order. According to Geertz (1980, 124): Particular kings came and went, ‘poor passing facts’ anonymized in ­titles, immobilized in ritual, and annihilated in bonfires. But what they represented, the model-and-copy conception of order, remained ­unaltered, at least over the period we know much about. The driving aim of higher politics was to construct a state by constructing a king. The more consummate the king, the more exemplary the centre. The more exemplary the centre, the more actual the realm. Geertz used the Balinese case to develop an abstract model of the t­ heatre state applicable to South East Asian Indic polities where, according to him, “power served pomp, not pomp power.” Geertz argues that state ­c eremonials in the Negara were a kind of “metaphysical theatre”; that is, a ­theatre designed to express a vision of the ultimate nature of reality that at the same time tried to shape current conditions to match that reality. Ritual events all recreated social relations of jero (‘inner’, to whom one surrendered power in the ritual event thereby making them powerful) and jaba (‘outer’, a ­provider of services to those who are jero) between chieftains and their ­subordinate chiefs. Every ritual performance reproduced jero-jaba relations as both symbolic ideal and pragmatic reality, thereby reinforcing social ­order. Thus, although the state was crosscut by the conflicting jurisdictions of temples, hamlets, and irrigation societies, they all came together for mass state ­r ituals in which the ideal social order of the state was made real. Geertz’s analyses of mass rituals as constituting elements of the ­k ingdom and ideal social order may help to describe Mahasu processions, but his ­depiction of the kingdom as a rather static institution invites ­contestation. His ­analysis has often been criticized as ahistorical, and, as F ­ redrik Barth (1993, 222) states, it has “depoliticized” a political institution and ­emphasized only the cultural but rather ignored the political aspects of kingship. ­Tambiah (1985, 319) notes that Geertz presents the Indic king as the focus of a ritual ­theatre that creates the exemplary center as being “immobilized into ­passivity and reflective trances” whilst simultaneously acknowledging the presence of “virtually continuous intrigue, dispute, violence and an enormous amount of micro-upheaval.” According to Tambiah, Geertz does not transcend the break between expressive and instrumental action, or between power as pomp and power as control of people and ­resources. The state thus remains an illusory representation, where the kingship is neither credited with governmental functions, nor are the rituals seen as creating or legitimizing power. Geertz (1977) also explores the idea of charisma and its legitimizing forces, comparing the splendour and hierarchical display of Indic kingship

34  Lokesh Ohri to processions in Queen Elizabeth’s England as representative of virtue and allegory, and to the Moroccan ruler Hasan’s moving-center to mobility and energy, a relentless searching out for contact. Through his elegant prose, Geertz compartmentalizes these different cultures, once again relegating the political to the background. His contention that political authority requires cultural contexts to define it, ultimately leads to fragmentation. As I will show, the Mahasu kingship, however, constantly breaks through such cultural frames, and his rituals of departure, movement and arrival directly translate into political power and its legitimization. One dimension of Mahasu, to use Geertz’s terminology, is an exemplary center, manifested in the seated Mahasu, the divine king referred to as Bautha, consecrated in the temple at Hanol. All stable and organized societies probably have a political center. According to Geertz, political centers have both a ruling elite and a collection of symbols that legitimize those who rule. Essentially, rulers must justify themselves, and as Geertz (1977, 15) says, they justify their existence and order their actions in terms of a c­ ollection of stories, ceremonies, insignia, formalities that they have ­either ­inherited or, in more revolutionary situations, invented. It is these that mark the centre as centre and give what goes on there an aura of being not merely important but in some odd fashion connected with the way the world is built. Conceptually, the movements of the four brothers and their corresponding territories trace a kind of mandala, with the king as the pivot of existence, an organizational system that answers the description of Tambiah’s (1977) set of “galactic polities”, a pattern that recurs at various levels from the ­construction of the palanquins, to the temples and the organization of the realm with the temple village of Hanol at the center. Hanol, thus, continues to be the main locus of Mahasu’s agency. The two factions that alternatively host the divine king are situated on either side of this central axis. Within the Mahasu realm, territories are divided by mountain rivers like the Tons at Hanol with the downstream half composed mainly of the region known as Bawar, associated with the Kauravas of the Mahabharata, and the upstream half with the Pandavas. The Pandava faction are called pamsya or pansi, and hence their region pansi bil, and the Kauravas are called sathi, from sath or sixty, since the Kauravas are locally believed to have been sixty in number, not hundred as in other parts of India. The region they live in, thus, is referred to as sathi bil. Moieties, the sathi and the pansi get to receive and host their divine king for a period of roughly 12 years. ­During this period, the divine king either holds court in his temples, r­ eferred to as kot (fortified palaces) or processes through his territories. Mahasu ­temples, as in Hanol on the banks of the Tons, are usually located where these sub-districts or land divisions come together, from where both regions are accessible.

Journeying sovereignties  35

Still a king Taking a cue from Galey’s (1989) point that even though kingdoms in the region may have dissolved and are long gone, kingship remains a ­significant trope around which life revolves in these parts, I would argue that in ­Mahasu’s realm, kingship is alive not just as a trope, but also as a ­political reality. In fact, it never disappeared despite several state regimes, including the British and the modern Indian state claiming the divine king’s territory. The deity is, even today, a political force and zealously protects his turf from state agents. What do these royal processions, organized like ­communal journeys involving immense logistical challenges, represent? Why do they retain their significance in a region that is now governed by a secular and democratic government? Do these arduous journeys contribute to the ­longevity of a s­ ocial system that has survived centuries of incursions? Sax (2000, 54) while examining the processional aspect of digvijaya or the conquest of quarters refers to it as the most important Indian concept with regard to sovereignty, a phenomenon that was always both religious as well as political. A term for the conquest of the whole earth—the heroic and idealized aspiration of ancient Indian kings—refers to a venturing out to claim territory. Processions, even today, are a very significant aspect of the practice of political practice in India and indeed the rest of the world. According to Sax (2000, 54), as lord of the earth (bhupati), a king had physically to traverse the land, to mark it with his footsteps, and thus establish a physical relationship with it and the people who lived upon it. The process did not end with military conquest. This suggests that the marking with the footsteps would have to be a ­continuous process. Various state actors may have included the region in their maps and cadastral surveys post military conquest or through ­logical succession. However there was one actor, the divine king Mahasu, that ­actively engaged in establishing this physical relationship with his subjects and the soil of the kingdom. To understand whether these journeys, in any way, to use Galey’s (ibid.) expression, “translate power into authority”, we need to look at their genesis and their present form. The elaborate origin and arrival myth of the four Mahasu brothers as kings into this region forms the ritual repertoire of the divine kings’ ­drummers and bards who have inherited this knowledge, orally, through generations. The drummer bards are genealogists and record keepers for their divine king. According to them, the inauguration of the Mahasu realm was marked by the appearance of the Mahasu siblings in a field at a village called Maindrath, after their journey from Kullu-Kashmir; a day earlier than they themselves had prophesied. Their arrival was a direct result of the epic journey undertaken by a Brahman named Huna Bhat, in order to

36  Lokesh Ohri rid the region of the terror of the cannibalistic demon, Kirmir. The deities, after agreeing to help tame the demon, had instructed Huna that they would appear on the seventh day, following the usual trope of the utpatti murti, or an image that self-manifests. Either due to a miscalculation of the exact time of the divine king’s arrival or on account of impatience induced by the demon’s excesses, the plough was put into the field on the sixth day itself. This ritual error led to one of the Mahasus being struck by the plough and born with a walking disability. Though not the eldest, owing to his handicap, he was stationed at the c­ apital or center of the cult at Hanol as the Bautha, or the sitting Mahasu. The ­eldest and the middle-born, Bashik and Pabasik Mahasu were also impaired and were allotted territories on both sides of the river covering smaller parts of the realm for their touring. The able-bodied and youngest sibling, Chalda Mahasu, adept at the knowledge of magical ritual intuitively knew that their arrival had been marked by ritual failure or inauspiciousness. Chalda ­Mahasu, therefore, opted not to settle at one place and retained a peripatetic role for himself. It is this journeying, as a constant quest to reconcile with the ritual failure accompanying the appearance of the stranger kings that is the crux of the regime’s longevity. The concept of a stranger king, developed by Sahlins (2008) to highlight the imposition of colonialism, not as the result of the breaking of the spirit of local communities by brute force, or as reflecting an ignorant peasantry’s acquiescence in the lies of its self-interested leaders, but as a people’s rational and productive acceptance of an opportunity offered, also helps explicate the acceptance of Mahasu as a divine king. The Mahasu arrival sequence corresponds in some ways to Sahlin’s (1982) depiction of Latin kingship where the accession of the king is equated with a recreation of the universe, with rulers invariably not springing out from the same soil as their subjects. The origin myth also indicates that when the three elder siblings had ­divided the territory amongst themselves, Chalda, the youngest, realized that no part of the realm was left for him to rule and threatened to return to Kashmir. Bashik, the eldest, pacified him by giving away the prestige of his own chatra, the parasol and his royal tent to him, asking him to stand guard over the entire realm by processing through it constantly. That is why he is known as Chalda, the one who is constantly journeying and constantly traces a 12-year procession cycle, on each side of the river. Once the gods had arrived, their immediate task was the slaying of the demon Kirmir, who had terrorized the region with his cannibalism. The deities chased the demon on the ridge that marks the boundary between the two regions of Jaunsar and Bawar and dismembered him serially as he fled across the entire range. Then they processed to the cult center of Hanol, where they forced the local deity, king Vishnu, out of his temple-fortress and occupied it. This inauguration of the realm through a disruption of the existing order is described by Sutherland (2004) as,

Journeying sovereignties  37 the primary introjection of wild power from the forest that, at regular i­ ntervals, is reversed in a secondary projection of power (emphasis by the author), now in its ritually reordered form as the divine, in a ­movement of collective agency—typically by feuding—raiding and looting of sheep and goats, and, in earlier times, also of women, from a neighboring martial group or khund for the temple consecration sacrifice. Sutherland refers to narratives of this “government by deity” being shaped by a double figure of reversal: the immobilization of wild forest power as a god in a temple, and its subsequent remobilization as a roving ruler in ritual practice. This is why, he believes, many origin myths begin with disruption and end with a similar trope: the construction of a palanquin (palgi) as the deity’s ritual vehicle. The palanquin and the procession thus become the primary means of projecting power in ritual when the deity, as a king, tours his domain. Villages group together and send in written applications to the divine king’s minister with a request that the divine king should visit them. The minister consults the deity’s oracle to take time out of his schedule and make a detour. The request, if granted, on the appointed date and time, all able-bodied men from the host villages appear at the temple to escort the deity, and bear his palanquin out. They also carry the royal paraphernalia, the royal sword, scepters, parasols and whisks, cooking cauldrons, tents and the heralding trumpets. The deity’s bureaucrats from the main shrines and the Rajput men from the host village walk along, guarding against any violation of the strict rules of conduct. It is the dominant Rajput and the oracles that take turns in carrying the palanquin on their shoulders. Well ahead of the procession walk the drummers and trumpeters, heralding the arrival of the royal vehicle, but never coming close enough lest they should pollute the divine king. The lowest of the castes, the Kolta, serve as the porters. The priests and the upper caste women, meanwhile, prepare to welcome and host the divine king upon arrival in the host village. These royal processions are a logistics nightmare for the organizers. Though there are no written records of these ritual journeys from pre-­ colonial times, descriptions gleaned through the writings of British authors, mainly colonial administrators, on both sides of the river give us a glimpse of what the processions were like at the turn of the 19th century. G.R.C ­Williams (1874), referring to the year 1827, writes that Major Young, the British Resident and administrator of the region, found Mahasu and his processions a great nuisance during the early settlement operations in the district. Referring to Mahasu as “a deity of pernicious influence and exactions”, Walton (1911), the author of the Gazetteer of the region says, The god when on circuit, observed both state and etiquette. His ­ alanquin was invariably accompanied by a train of sixty to seventy p

38  Lokesh Ohri men and dancing girls, but he never visited a village unless he received an invitation through his vazir (minister). The terror inspired by the god, however, always procured him the necessary invitation. If a village has suffered a misfortune, the god was requested to pay a visit. He attended, seated in a palanquin, surrounded by silver vessels followed by his own retinue to which all chance-idlers invariably attached themselves. The throng was fed for one day by the inviting village and kept for six months by collections levied on the khats (land administration units) in the division, who are also obliged to furnish their quota of ghi (clarified butter) and goods. These exactions, Walton remarks, “ruined the superstitious inhabitants; so much so that they were unable to pay the revenue” due to the colonial masters and the then administrator, Major Young, “interdicted the levy of contributions within British territory and ordered the vazir (the minister) to accept no more invitation from a village.” He further notes that perhaps this ban on Mahasu journeys across his realm was honored more in its breach. Though Major Young, as a colonial administrator out to assert his claim over Mahasu territory, tried to restrict the deity’s movements, he also a­ ctively engaged with the deity. For instance, in a land settlement dispute with the neighboring human King of Tehri, a dispute he himself could not pronounce judgment on as a magistrate since no documentary evidence could be produced in order to legitimize the land ownership claims of each side, he travelled all the way to Mahasu’s temple at Hanol in order to seek the deity’s divine justice. Almost a century later, on the other bank of the river, in the princely state of Rampur Bashahar, of which Emerson was the colonial administrator, ­something even more intriguing was happening. Emerson, who has ­extensively described the region and its people in his unpublished ­ethnographic manuscripts, organized durbars or assemblies inviting ­processions of various ­local deities. On one such occasion, when King George V and Queen Mary visited India and held a durbar or royal assembly of subordinate regional kings in Delhi in 1911, the divine kings were asked to assemble with their regalia and retinues by the Governor of the Shimla Hill States, in the British Raj’s summer capital, Shimla. According to Emerson, the palanquins would arrive in their processions and circle around a portrait of the royal couple in a display of allegiance. Mahasu, however, either did not care to come or was not invited to these assemblies. Emerson (1911), separated in time from Young by a century and therefore more secularized in his outlook, describes Mahasu processions as follows: The spheres of influence have long since been demarcated, and there is generally a code of honor among the gods forbidding one to intrude upon another’s territory. But Mahasu’s conduct is regulated by no such scruples. His relentless energies allow him no repose, he admits no boundaries to his dominions, and his trespasses bring him into constant conflict with his rivals.

Journeying sovereignties  39 He chooses the richest and the most pleasant village to halt in, which have to bear the burden of his exactions. But the neighboring villages do not escape scot-free. Every family in the districts through which he passes has to contribute one-rupee eight annas towards his expenses, the rupee being kept by his priest and the eight annas paid into his ­treasury. In addition, the peasants have to furnish instruments of music and ­ornaments of silver in honor of the god, and grain and other contributions in kind to feed his following. Happily for them, these ­v isitations are followed by long periods of rest, for Chaldu (Chalda Mahasu) ­having finished his progress, takes his ease for the next twelve years in his temple, situated not far from Hanol where his brother Bhothu lives. […] The rapacity of his priests is notorious. If they see a peasant wearing clothes or ornaments of more than ordinary value, they d ­ emand them in the name of the god, threatening his wrath if they were not handed over. And such is the popular estimate of his powers that few dare refuse the request; but they cut their losses by wearing little of value when Chaldu is about. If we go beyond the general tone of colonial disparagement, the narratives do indicate a grudging acceptance of how Mahasu continued to exercise sovereignty over his dominions. The officers also appear to be assiduously attempting to comprehend the Mahasu phenomenon. The imposition of restrictions and references to the deity accepting exactions, also indicate that even though territory traversed by Mahasu processions was now ­under British control, the deity continued to enjoy a sovereign right over his ­subjects through these ritual journeys. Bergmann (2016a) underlines the need to distinguish between territoriality and sovereignty. Referring to what he calls “confluent territories and overlapping sovereignties” as the key to understanding imperial frontiers, the argument is that at many sites in the Himalayas, different actors claim[ed] control over the same sort of thing, for instance trade. Whilst these claims are often imagined as being inherently territorial, their articulation can also, and at the same time, be marked by great uncertainty as to who controls where. (Bergmann 2016a, 91) Mahasu’s sovereignty, rather than emanating from cartography and revenue collection, was embedded in assemblies at temples and in processions; it was expressed in religious ceremony, even though the purpose was political. Depending on when the gaze of the state was focused on the divine king, the subjects could foreground the religious and obscure the political. As was the case then, Mahasu processions continue to crisscross the ­region today. They involve even greater expense and human mobilization. In an age of roads and jeeps, they entail the sheer difficulty of walking with bare feet over the rough and sometimes snow-bound terrain for several miles

40  Lokesh Ohri a day, for days on end. While on tour, the divine king also expects subjects to follow strict codes on food, hygiene and sleep. Food is cooked communally, is quite frugal, and most men accompanying the procession sleep on the floor, wherever they find space around the palanquin. Besides closely knitting together the areas of Mahasu influence spatially, socially and politically, these processions perform the specific role of reassuring Mahasu subjects of his tutelary presence. They also serve to send out a stark reminder that Kirmir, the oppressive demon who ruled the territory before the Mahasus arrived as saviors, is down but not out. This is also explained in the Mahasu origin myth through the conundrum of dividing conquered property described in the elaborate myth of the slaying of the demon. The Mahasu siblings, as is well known to all the kings’ subjects, employed their assisting demigods, the birs, in the slaying of the demon Kirmir, to inaugurate their kingdom. Finally, it was Kailu, one of the demigods, who managed to kill the demon at Kuddu, midstream of the Pabbar River. There were nineteen warriors including the four Mahasus that had accomplished this task and they decided to divide the demon’s body amongst themselves as trophies. Every warrior attempted to achieve an equitable distribution but they always ended up with 20 pieces. The whole was always more than the sum of its parts. At this point, Kailu decided to claim an extra trophy for his efforts while Chalda Mahasu decided to have another go at dividing the corpse into 19 pieces. Instantly, the 20th trophy managed to slip out of his grasp, crossed the river and climbed atop the nearby hill. As the warriors ran to claim it, the other trophies, body-parts of the dismembered demon, cried out that the deities must accept happily what is their own right and leave the extra bit for the rakshasas, the demons. Thus, once again the river was accepted as a boundary with the lowland region to the left, referred to as the Mausat or Mahasu territory, while the land beyond the mountains is known as Rakshasan or the land of the demons, an ­unknown but constant threat. In order to keep the demons at a safe ­distance, Mahasu subjects have to periodically display their allegiance to him as much as the deity needs to renew his claim to the kingdom. In this context, the 12 yearly cycles of travelling also have a social and juridical significance since according to the Hindu code a person loses ownership rights over property if it remains unclaimed for over 12 years. Perhaps, the periodicity of the Kumbha Mela, the Nanda Raj Jat Yatra the principal ­ arhwal and the yatra of Parsuram in Nirmand, Kullu, are pilgrimage of G therefore all linked to this 12-year periodicity for a similar reason. Undoubtedly, places on the divine king’s itinerary are indicative of the space over which Mahasu exercises religious influence. However, they are also markers of his political domination. But what does it mean for the ­average Mahasu subject to host or to accompany a Mahasu procession? Sax (2002), referring to them, says, “As shamanic performance, these processions heal, as legal performance they bind, as political performance they

Journeying sovereignties  41 ratify and as a religious performance they serve to sanctify.” Most significantly, while renewing Mahasu’s connection with the soil, they serve to ­create power and legitimize the divine king’s right to rule over subjects.

Ritual journeying Mahasu is not just limited to a center, but also translates through folklore recited by drummer-bards into allegorical virtue. While Mahasu has an exemplary center in the seated form in Bautha, the other form of Mahasu is the moving form called Chalda Mahasu, which constantly processes through the entire realm, marking territory and performing governmental as well as spiritual acts. The journeying form of the divine king is thus about mobility, contact and search for fealty in the vast mountain terrain traversed. But the Mahasu divine kings are in fact, four siblings. While the Bautha and Chalda Mahasus control the center and the territorial periphery respectively, the other two minor journeying deities are the Basik and Pabasik Mahasu. The collective mobility of the three brother gods, complemented by the stability provided by the center, translates into effective kingship in the realm (Map 3.2). Mahasu kingship, therefore, transcends all of Geertz’s cultural frames alluding to different parts of the world—exemplary center to Indic kings, allegory to the west and mobility to the African and Central Asian—and encompasses actions that account for a stable and organized political

Map 3.2  The tours and territories of the Mahasu divine kings.

42  Lokesh Ohri structure. To comprehend the divine king’s transcendence of such black boxing, one needs to observe Mahasu on tour through his realm. These journeys lead Mahasu and the divine king’s subjects across boundaries of the Indian mountain states, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, where the divine king claims allegiances and retains a delicate balance of power within communities (see Figure 3.1). Ritual activities are adopted on these journeys to reinforce hierarchies, solve the subjects’ personal problems, build consensus within the community and retain political control. Mahasu ­journeys are regal tours, during which the palanquin is carried on the shoulders of either the divine king’s officials, or the high caste men from the villages that invited him. Several people, the crowds sometimes swelling into several thousands, accompany the procession. Armed warriors, now increasingly carrying rifles rather than pick-axes and bows, drummers and other musicians such as the trumpeters, are among them. Frequently, the divine king is called upon to perform exorcisms and make forecasts. In such situations, the oracle must be at the head of the palanquin, resting it on his shoulders, possessed by the divine force while in others, it is usually the Rajput men who take turns in carrying it. The palanquin is never placed on bare, un-consecrated earth. For a night’s rest or a halt, it is either placed in a temple, enters the home of a devoted Rajput family or is sited in a special tent when in the wild. One of the divine king’s priests, carrying his symbols or nisan, always walks a day ahead giving advance notice of his arrival to

Figure 3.1  A  Mahasu procession begins its journey.

Journeying sovereignties  43 villages the divine king agrees to visit whilst also sanitizing the space the divine king will traverse. These days, almost all individuals walking with the procession carry a mobile phone and, therefore, every village in this vast region is well informed about the devta’s movements. Several male mountain goats lead the processions, as an integral part of the divine king’s entourage. Owing to the former pastoralist livelihoods of Mahasu’s subjects, goats are considered the ultimate offering one can make to the divine king. Despite the fact that religious offerings are nowadays increasingly being made in the form of gold or currency, many people, even if they do not follow a pastoralist lifestyle anymore, buy male goats and offer them to Mahasu. The goats are offered for the purpose of bali, or the currently very contested and controversial practice of animal sacrifice. When a goat is brought to the temple, it is presented before the divine king being served by a priest. The priest whispers a mantra in the goat’s ear and sprinkles some water in its left ear. If the goat shakes its head violently at this, the sacrifice is deemed accepted and the goat is promptly beheaded with a machete, blood and meat distributed to different caste groups. This reinforces the caste hierarchies with the upper castes getting the limbs and the shoulders, even as the lower castes have to make do with the toes and the head of the sacrificed animal. If the animal fails to shake its head, the goat has to be released in the temple compound, much to the disappointment of those who brought it. These male goats roam the temple compounds and countryside as the divine king’s property, never to be selected for meat consumption. They walk ahead of the divine king’s entourage. When the entourage is granted hospitality by a village, these royal goats are allowed to feed nonchalantly on crops and kitchen gardens, wherever the procession halts. Today, the procession attracts increasing media attention, and various administrative arrangements are made by the state government to maintain order. Amongst the most arduous processions that I accompanied the divine king on, was the walking or the Chalda Mahasu’s tour from the newly ­consecrated temple at Shiraji in Himachal Pradesh to the cult capital at ­Hanol in Uttarakhand. The expedition took almost 40 days, everyone ­usually walking at the command of the deity, given through his oracle. On the last leg of this exhausting expedition, as we crossed the snow-clad ridge to get a clearer view of the remote Himalayan village of Bhotanu, I heard the faint beating of a dhol, the mountain drum, accompanied by loud shouts from a large group of men, proclaiming their king’s victory. Bhotanu is an outlying high-altitude village in a region known as Bangan, located on the boundary of two major Mahasu territories. From past experience, I could tell that the men were probably also carrying firearms as they ­rallied around a silver palanquin. The group had gone ahead even as I lagged behind, exhaustion caused by days and nights of mountain hiking taking its toll. I had been climbing with the procession of the divine king, Chalda, the walking Mahasu from remote high-altitude villages of Himachal Pradesh to

44  Lokesh Ohri the banks of the River Tons in Uttarakhand state. The crossing of that river is a ritual that can only be witnessed once in twelve or more years, as one cycle of touring, on either of the two banks of the Tons is completed. We had already crossed over into the state of Uttarakhand, but crossing this boundary mattered little to the large number of Mahasu subjects, carrying their divine king in a silver palanquin along with his royal insignia, jewels, parasols, tents, cooking cauldrons and weapons. I deliberately use the expression, days and nights, because Chalda Mahasu’s royal procession usually camped during the day and walked through the night, on very hazardous trails, with the progress only aided by a few dim flashlights and the entranced intuition of the palanquin bearers. At most times, we blindly followed those ahead of us, with no inkling of where the next step in the treacherous terrain would lead. Perhaps Mahasu wanted to test his subjects’ resolve to bring their divine king back, by forcing the subjects to undertake these nocturnal adventures. For Chalda Mahasu’s subjects, the destined boundary was the bank of the river Tons at Thadiyar, the traditional dividing line between the two factions tracing their ancestry to the rival cousins from the epic, Mahabharata—­the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Subjects of the divine king on opposing banks of the river divide themselves into these two constantly hostile factions, each hosting their divine king for what the other hopes would be a 12-year period. We were presently in Pandava territory, or pansi, while on the other bank of the Tons stood the sathi or the land of the sixty Kauravas (as against the hundred Kaurava brothers in the epic’s other ­representations across India). Throughout our expedition, once the travelling party set up camp in a village or a clearing in the forest, we were left clueless about the divine king’s plans. Members from Chalda Mahasu’s council of elders, part of the ­entourage, constantly deliberated and advised the divine king’s ­m inister, the vazir, about the duration of a halt or rules regarding the divine king’s itinerary. However, precedent mattered little to Chalda Mahasu and the progress of the procession depended entirely on the divine king, when, his oracle or mali, in a state of possession announced that it was time to proceed to the next village. Chalda could announce a sudden change in the route or extend his stay, indefinitely, in a particular place. It was then that the advance party, with the priest bearing Mahasu insignia, was asked to proceed to the next halt. During one such tour, seven years ago, Chalda Mahasu had decided to divert his processional route and announced, for the first time in living memory that he would set up camp at the village of Shiraji. Shiraji is a small hamlet atop a hill, bordering the minuscule former kingdom of Dhadi Rao. In pre-independence times, the region was divided into several very-small kingdoms that were referred to by the British collectively as the Shimla Hill States. They were princely states, ruled by human kings reinstated by the British. These states were later consolidated into a district named District

Journeying sovereignties  45 Mahasu, again a marker of Mahasu influence over the territory, and became a part of the state of Himachal Pradesh post 1971. Shiraji is located in a region that was witnessing an economic boom owing to a sudden spurt in apple cultivation. Some parts of the region had switched from an agro-­pastoralist economy to apple horticulture and tracts of high-altitude land, earlier lying uncultivated for most part of the year, were now yielding a r­ emunerative harvest of apples. Even as villages such as Shiraji in Himachal Pradesh experienced unprecedented economic growth, Chalda’s realm on the other bank of the Tons in Uttarakhand remained largely peripheral, burdened with a subsistence economy and the absence of the cash-crop boom. Chalda’s visit coincided, my host in the village remarked, with an apple orchard owner acquiring a BMW car in an area that would rarely catch a glimpse of any kind of automobile until a few years ago. It was here that Chalda ordered the construction of the grandest of all Mahasu temples. Construction took five years, and the ongoing work extended C ­ halda’s stay in pansi to 19 years, against the usual twelve. The delay was so u ­ nprecedented that when I commenced fieldwork in 2009, there was talk on both banks of the river that the divine king was perhaps turning sedentary, p ­ reparing to retire to the grand palace that he had ordered for himself. And now, in the winter of 2012, immediately after the consecration of the temple, the divine king had abruptly announced his plans to leave, to travel and be with his subjects across the river, forcing this tough expedition, as if testing his subjects’ fidelity. During the expedition I admired the determination and stamina of a large number of men, scantily clad and ill-equipped for the rain and snow in the upper reaches, who had trekked with us during the past weeks in order to ensure a smooth carriage of their king’s orders to proceed to the other bank. Carrying the royal palanquin on their shoulders, in order to retain the purity of their divine king’s vehicle, they trudged barefoot across the snowy passes, with the divine sakti overpowering and driving them in the tough conditions, day after arduous day. To Mahasu’s subjects, the difficulties of bearing their king are a matter of faith. For most, the tougher the test and the more discomforting the journey, the more merit they would derive from their ritual journey. Even as the procession made steady progress for over a month, excitement began to mount on the other riverbank. Sathi, the Kaurava faction across the river was gearing up to welcome their divine king. Meanwhile, the state government’s bureaucracy, headed by an Indian Administrative Service officer responsible for the district, the District Magistrate (DM) of Dehra Dun, was also preparing to receive the royal entourage. A ­delegation comprising of the region’s elders, the sayanas, had met him, and also the top ­bureaucrat, chief secretary of the state, had asked for arrangements to be made for the thousands of people who would congregate to receive and send-off their divine king. As one miffed delegation member reminisced, the high-­ranking official had made caustic remarks about the mass frenzy

46  Lokesh Ohri generated by such rituals. He had, however, taken note of the a­ dministrative need for m ­ aintaining law and order and issued suitable instructions. The DM had visited the region and made arrangements to maintain order, since public sentiment was on the edge due to the delays in the arrival of their ­divine king. As the elders recalled, river-crossings were usually accompanied by violence. Engineers of the Public Works Department inspected the flimsy ­suspension bridge across the Tons that separated pansi from sathi, over ­ ivine king would cross with his retinue, and they declared it which the d ­unsafe for large crowds. A police contingent from the headquarters at Dehradun had been specially deputed to maintain order and ensure that not more than twenty crossed the bridge in one go. Newspaper and television reporters looked for vantage points to have a clear view of the ritual, even as the council of elders put their heads together and mobilized ranks to feed and accommodate the thousands who would escort their divine king across the boundary, seeing him off until he was, they hoped, ready to get back ­after 12 years. The official arrangement, quite similar to those made to receive a political figurehead, reflected Mahasu’s political significance. As I arrived in Bhotanu, and met the khat sayana, the native head of the council of elders for this group of villages, he welcomed me warmly and ­invited me to a hearty meal of goat meat and rice. A reluctant meat eater, I was confronted with the sight of goats being sacrificed, skinned and cooked all at the same place. But refusing a meal offered by a chieftain in these parts is never an option one should consider, since one’s acceptance in the group is completely dependent on who is invited by whom, and even a polite refusal to hospitality—on grounds such as a lack of appetite or sickness—can be construed as hostile behavior. As I sat cross-legged on bare earth in the fields with the Rajput sayanas, for the lower castes were being served in the terraced fields below us, I ­ ngaging could sense a deep undercurrent of resentment within the group. E in ­conversation, I realized that the bone of contention was a news item ­published in a local newspaper from across the river. Having finished the meal, we proceeded to the home of the khat sayana, the newspaper report still dominating the conversation. As the clipping was circulated amongst the elders, it was read and re-read several times. All averred that the ­reporting was offensive to the pansi. The journalist in question, Raghuvir ­Rawat, a prominent member from the faction across the river had authored it, describing Chalda’s return to sathi, with the headline referring to the impending river crossing as a homecoming after 19 years. Adding insult to the pansi’s injury was the article’s announcement of a specific date for the river crossing ritual. The pansi minister was furious. “This attitude is responsible for the devta delaying the crossing for so many years, almost settling down in our region. If sathi is Chalda’s

Journeying sovereignties  47 home, is this the home of his in-laws? He is equally our devta-raja (­divine-king). How dare they describe it as a homecoming, as if from exile? And announcing a date, only Mahasu can decide on a date. How dare they announce a date in the newspapers! These blokes need to be taught a lesson!”, he fumed. Even as strategies were being formulated on how this ‘propaganda’ would be countered, the vazir’s mobile phone rang. It was the Dehra Dun District Magistrate, asking for a specific date for the river crossing. Government machinery had been put in place and could not be made to wait indefinitely, at the mercy of a god’s whims. The sathi were running out of patience and further delays would make the large crowds on the other bank even more restive. To the government official the minister was respectful, but evasive, stating quite clearly that it was not within his powers to decide upon a date and that only the divine king could tell when he deemed fit to cross. Despite his nonchalance, it was evident that he would have to facilitate the river crossing soon. In this manner, modern and secular government practices often contest the traditional polity of Mahasu. The divine kings must exercise their power within the ambit of state structures, and to that extent their freedom to move and act is curtailed. Like the British did for Mahasu, the divine king, his ministers and militia, the state and the divine king misrecognize each other as long as one does not obstruct the other. Conflicts emerge in instances where the state insists on altering the tradition. This intolerance of the modern for the traditional, even though increasing by the day, still leaves some scope for renegotiation and adjustment. Generally, such confrontation forces the state to take cognizance of Mahasu’s social and political organization. While on the surface it appears that the government is in control, the work of this traditional polity is mostly visible in the divine king’s ­processional journeys. For most Mahasu subjects, daily life revolves around duties to the deity—accompanying their divine king on his tours when the entourage comes visiting your region, or journeying along when a significant tour is underway. This journeying, ritually performed, is generally referred to as “devta ka kaam”, simply, the work of gods. This work of the gods, and of his kingdom mutually entails religion as well as politics. As one of deity’s ministers put it very succinctly, “devniti (or policy of the gods) and rajniti (politics) can never be separated”. ­Scholars like Sutherland (1998), writing about the region have referred to this r­ itualized polity as a theistic sovereignty. The ritualized regime of the deity’s processions represents the region as politically sovereign, even though successive state actors—the Nepalese Gurkha, the British and the Indian—have ­incorporated it in their political boundaries through cartography, revenue regimes and administration. These social, political and theistic sovereignties are constructed and re-­ emphasized as the sibling deities, the Mahasus, travel through their realms

48  Lokesh Ohri in elaborate processions, accompanied by royal regalia befitting kings. ­Mahasu processions are ritualized performances of regal splendor through which the divine king reaches out to his subjects, fostering unity and marking territorial allegiances. Besides, these processions combat evil ­spirits possessing individuals and spaces, diagnose misfortune, control weather, heal sickness, welcome brides, bless first-born males, settle legal disputes, pronounce punishments when the deity takes offence, remove ­encroachments on the divine king’s lands and even ensure that modern ­government and its symbols do not dare to challenge their authority.

A journey with the king In 2010–2011, accompanying the palanquin of Pabasik Mahasu from his seat or palace in Thadiyar to Village Chatra, I experienced how the god seeks to reassert his sovereignty, a sovereignty that is not just theistic but also very politically significant in the context of contemporary electoral democracy. To initiate a procession and for the deity to rise from his current seat and visit a village, several conditions must be met. For one, the village has to unite and extend an invitation. This is easier said than achieved since many villages would want to invite the divine kings, in the first place, to bring an end to communal social conflicts. The procedure for inviting the divine king involves applying to the deity’s minister, in writing, with a small amount of money or silver as tribute. The minister proposes the visit before the god and reserves a date only after the deity’s assent has been obtained through his possessed oracle or mali. The royal visit is an event of immense significance for the village as it affords an opportunity to display communitas (Turner 1967) by hosting extended families and visitors from all neighboring villages. The sheer act of inviting and feeding guests and expending scant resources responds to the performance of community sacrifice. The population of the village swells by almost ten times during these tours and no visitor is allowed to remain unfed or without a warm bed to sleep in. It was after a period of four years that the village of Chatra had invited, and the deity had agreed to visit. The intervening period had witnessed b ­ itter quarrels over land and property within the village due to ­fragmentation of lands owing to growing numbers and the specificities of inheritance. The ­situation had come to such a tipping point that members of the two principal landowning families had refused to even talk to one other, even though they were neighbors. Young boys within these families, cousins, whose homes stood across a small compound, had grown up without even a word being exchanged, a situation that seems almost unthinkable in the mountain village where community living is of the essence. The village had grown from being a small hamlet of two households to a settlement of sixteen extended families and as many households. A family in the hills usually consists upwards of twenty people with cousins, uncles and aunts all clustered together. The influential ones got together and decided it was about time

Journeying sovereignties  49 they extended an invitation to the divine king, to stem the growing discord over land and resources within the village. On the appointed cold winter morning, Pabasik Mahasu began his ­journey to the village. Every family within the village had dispatched their able-bodied men to fetch the god from the temple at Thadiyar, down b ­ elow in the valley. Even the estranged cousins had come. The low caste men had arrived to lift the god’s baggage, the drummers and trumpeters to ensure the god rose from his seat and took the prescribed shorter route, for one wrong turn after crossing the bridge on the Tons towards Hanol would mean a long detour and an indefinite stopover, delaying the god’s arrival at the ­village, where malicious spirits were anxiously awaiting exorcism. The men of the Rajput castes would, of course, lend a shoulder to the palanquin in procession. One could feel the nervous energy at the Thadiyar temple, as the entire male population of the village waited in anticipation for the god to rise. The moment arrived when the minister felt that sufficient numbers had gathered for the procession’s progress. The box-like palanquin had been readied with the divine king’s idol concealed inside, wrapped in red cloth. First to be lifted out of the small shrine outside the temple complex was the nisan or symbol of Kailath Bir, the deity of the lower castes, who had slain the demon Kirmir, always accompanying Pabasik Mahasu as a bodyguard. The symbol is a long iron tong with pieces of colored cloth strung to it, accompanied by a bell that can be slung over a shoulder. As the drumming reached a crescendo, with the bearer of Kailath’s symbol trembling with the effect of possession, all eyes shut in fear and reverence, and low caste men touching their ears out of obsequiousness; the palanquin, with its poles bearing tiger heads in gilded silver, and draped in spotless white muslin brought in earlier by the host village, emerged from the palace of the raja. Having surveyed the courtyard, going around it a few times, the divine king was on his way, down the precipitous path to the Tons River, where it would cross the river on the swinging wire bridge (the one that was considered too fragile to carry more than twenty at a time) and then take the winding path leading up to the village, or perhaps take another turn towards Hanol, as the bearers feared. The drummers led the way, playing vigorously even as the trumpeters raised the pitch announcing the king’s presence. The minister stayed close to the palanquin ensuring that the deity lodged inside was neither disturbed through contact with the overhanging creepers nor desecrated by the low caste men carrying the god’s tents, cooking pots and musical instruments. For most of the time, the palanquin, though carried on the shoulders of the high caste men from the host village, seemed to move of its own volition. As we crossed the creaking steel rope bridge across the Tons and reached a T-point on the pathway, the procession awaited Mahasu’s decision on which way to turn. To everyone’s relief, the divine king’s possessed palanquin bearers decided to turn left. Had the palanquin taken the path to the right, it would have meant that the god wanted to visit his elder sibling at Hanol

50  Lokesh Ohri and the impatient hosts in Chatra would have to organize a series of time-­ consuming, expensive rituals through their representatives in the shrine of the deity’s brother, before the god would proceed to their village. We continued to climb, even as the drummers kept up the tempo. At times, the palanquin would careen dangerously toward the deep gorges we were leaving behind. At other instances, it would surge ahead as if shifting gears. As we climbed and passed one terraced field after another, more men joined in the procession. Trying to stay ahead of the procession on the minister’s insistence, and since I had a camera in hand, I almost stepped over a man ­lying on the gravel across the narrow pathway at the half way mark where the god’s procession was about to arrive. He had torn away his shirt and flagellated himself with stinging nettle (Urtica dioica). He trembled, in a trance, obstructing the king’s path. As the palanquin reached him, the local oracle bearing the palanquin also became possessed. A protracted but silent negotiation, only through gestures, followed between the god and the squatter. The one obstructing the path had now begun to stretch out his limbs as if in a fit, refusing to budge and let the procession move forward, reminding one of Gandhi’s satyagrahis, the protestors, who would symbolically obstruct the work of government in an act of civil disobedience in pre-independence India. Finally, the god’s oracle, now in a state of furious rage, asked for the symbol of Kailath to be brought before him. The enthusiastic lad carrying the ­symbol had meanwhile continued his ascent, not stopping for the ­negotiations. This led to a lot of shouting and name-calling until the rattled youngster sprinted back down the steep pathway to the god’s palanquin. The divine king finally conferred Kailath’s symbol upon the protestor, therewith making him a ­custodian of sorts. This satisfied the possessed protestor and the procession was once again on its way, the weary researcher grateful for the brief respite afforded by this assumption of office, negotiated through protest. The entourage moved on whilst the shadows between terraced fields ­already began to lengthen. And then, two young women who had thrown off their datoos, the customary scarves that cover the heads of a married woman, and left their hair untied in a display of spirit possession, scrambled down the steep hillside, screaming and writhing painfully. It seemed like we had run into another protest. The divine king, resting on the shoulders of his oracle, heard out the unintelligible mutterings of the women, constantly comforting them through his oracle while also gesturing that they let him reach the village where he would address their complaints. Meanwhile, the first protestor, who now bore the symbol of Kailath on his shoulders re-­entered his trance, jumping violently, constantly gesturing towards the ­palanquin as if questioning the god’s motive in visiting the village. After all the protesting spirits had been ritually pacified with the tossing of rice and placing the heads of their human vehicles under Mahasu’s trumpets, the procession resumed its journey uphill. Finally, arriving at

Journeying sovereignties  51 the outskirts of the village under the huge Peepal tree (Ficus religiosa), the ­ alanquin danced, as did the possessed spirits opposing his entry to the p village. The diminutive shrine to Kailath, the deity of the lower castes, was believed to be here and this warrior of Mahasu had to be propitiated before the village could be accessed. Upon entering the village precincts, the palanquin was received by the village priests holding smoking incense in long ladles. The Mahasu priests always appear before the god with their legs uncovered. This was followed by the yet to be married young women offering floral or banknote garlands to the palanquin. The palanquin bearers, weary of all the climbing, seemed to be in a hurry to take away the god and establish him at the ordained spot, but the divine king would have none of this. His oracle was clearly agitated over something. He declared that the divine king had decided to take a detour on the narrow, winding path leading to another point above the village. And up climbed the exhausted palanquin bearers. The palanquin travelled to the edge of a disused rice field on the upper hillside. Here another tree stood at the edge, with dense bushes on the surrounding ground. The palanquin headed straight through the thorny bushes, and the bearers were instantly bruised and bleeding from the effort. “Here, this is my land! No one dare encroach on it!” shouted the oracle in the shaking, high-pitched voice (cheriya boli) of the divine king. Only then did the entourage notice that Mahasu was addressing the r­ esidents of a hut just below the edge of the precipice, until now completely ­c oncealed from view. The drumming and trumpets began to sound once again, ­followed by another round of loud cries from the god’s warriors ­a ccompanying his procession. The deafening noise had the desired impact. Women and men, in a state of disarray, emerged from the cottage hurriedly. They pleaded before the palanquin that they indeed had been guilty of dumping some garbage at the spot, committing that they would ensure cleanliness in the future. The ruler had therewith drilled some civic sense into his subjects. Once again, we scrambled downhill with the procession, hoping that the divine king would now assume his designated place and rest for the night. But he had other plans. As he was about to enter the courtyard where he usually rested, the palanquin came to a standstill, and the oracle bearing it stood stiff as if turned into solid rock. The chief organizers of the procession came forward and pleaded, but to no avail. The god would not budge an inch. After a long hiatus, the oracle finally indicated that someone had climbed up the balcony of the house that fell in the immediate path of the procession. The offender had not just dared to climb to a position above the god but was audacious enough to keep his shoes on. A gauntlet had been thrown to his supremacy. The boy was pulled down from the balcony amid cursing and name-calling. Forgiveness was begged for by the organizers and finally the procession moved.

52  Lokesh Ohri While the procession had entered the village, the minister and a few elders of the village, exhausted from all the climbing, decided to sit on a platform, facing the courtyard where the divine king would normally stay during night. They had been sunning themselves and chatting in the evening sun as the palanquin completed its drives to clear his lands occupied by unauthorized settlers in the village, and entered the courtyard. The fact that the village elders had assumed a position that would be higher than his own designated space infuriated Mahasu. Another round of apologies and remonstrations ensued, but the god was not ready to accept this affront, involving his own chieftains, whom he thought, should have had better sense this time. The palanquin turned back, to take another round through the village. Every time the palanquin moved, it was accompanied with loud drumming and fanfare. People would fold their hands and then touch their ears, a gesture that usually indicates the begging of pardon. The platform was cleared of all squatters and the palanquin entered the courtyard. The palanquin, borne by the oracle, rested for a few moments and decided to proceed on another round, as if inspecting the space, only to turn back in a few minutes. This time again, everyone thought, the god would agree to settle in the village square, the communal space designated for the divine king. As the palanquin arrived, the bearers were jerked up the platform where the minister and the elders had been sitting and had offended their deity. “The devta would like to rest on the platform and not the square”, announced the oracle. It was clear that the god would not settle on the ground while some of his subjects sat on a higher platform. What this meant, to the consternation of all, was that Mahasu was now going to stay on the platform, a space that was an individual’s property and not a space common to the entire village. The owner of the platform was quite rattled at the prospect of having to host the god and his entourage all by himself, and the social backlash this would lead to, once the god had left. He had already quarreled with his kin across the courtyard. They had invited the divine king to end the discord and this move from the divine king could in fact, intensify it. He could not afford more bad blood and stand accused of usurping the god from the village. If matters were not resolved soon, the man would stand completely isolated from the community. Bystanders averred that the man was in deep trouble and Mahasu would certainly bring upon him his curse (dos), despite claiming his hospitality. No individual familial unit, whatever the resources at their command, could ever satisfy the divine king with their hospitality. And not being able to ­satisfy the divine king would invite his dos, his retribution, and make them recipients of his curse. The family looked very anxious. The entire village was worried. They had organized the visit to foster unity, and their divine king seemed inclined to accept an individual most responsible for the discord as the host. As the palanquin was placed on the platform, a fresh round of possessions, arguments and very serious negotiations ensued. The homeowner’s wife was possessed and exorcised by the devta’s oracle, of the spirit

Journeying sovereignties  53 that was leading to discord. As the sun dipped and dusk set in, it turned out that the deity was not favoring this one individual but was upset that a public land had been encroached upon and that his own officials had forgotten the protocol due to a divine king. He was merely claiming the illegally occupied land, the newly built platform, for the community by wanting to settle on it for the night. The palanquin moved once again. The owner of the house-with-the-platform had sworn to demolish the platform within three months, and he was also asked to remove the steps leading to the platform, another act of forcibly occupying public (or devta’s) land that had led to the dispute in the village. The elders of the village now thought they had convinced Mahasu of their good intentions, and the palanquin moved decisively towards the compound where the divine king’s tent is usually pitched. It moved a few steps and then stopped dead in its tracks. The oracle seemed oddly agitated. The village elders had to once again rush to the palanquin to placate him. They touched their ears and bowed, hands folded before the palanquin and gesturing, as if begging forgiveness. However, no one could figure out what had earned the divine king’s wrath. Finally, the oracle pointed to a signboard hanging from a balcony. The government’s forest department, announcing a tree plantation project, had fixed the signboard. Initially, no one could comprehend why the deity would take offense at this inconsequential object. At that ­moment the oracle raised his voice loud enough for all to hear, announcing, “Tum meri praja ho, yeh mera kshetra hai!” (You are my subjects, this is my territory!) The divine king was clearly indicating that he had sovereign rights over the village and if the people accepted him as the raja, he would not brook any competition from this trespassing entity called the Government of India. Mahasu, the god who extracted tribute from the Dilli Durbar or the court of the Mughal emperors of India, the god who forced the British resident to capitulate and come seeking his justice and whom the state chief minister begged for grace, would not take this insult. He turned away again, threatening to return to his palace, much to the chagrin of the entire village. The signboard was removed in a huff even as the palanquin toured the village once again. The elders rushed to the divine king with a promise that no ­government signboards would be permitted in the village henceforth. The drums and trumpets sounded once again and the palanquin swiftly circled the courtyard twice, as if consecrating the sacred space. Mahasu’s tent was pitched in the middle of the courtyard, with spires (kalash) over it, indicating the sacredness and royalty of the abode. With one final flourish of the drums and trumpets, the deity entered his tent to rest for the night. The feasting, praying and making of offerings began, since the village had been fasting until then. Mahasu was finally satisfied and in repose, at least for the night, only to move on to another destination the next day.

54  Lokesh Ohri Processions, like other rituals of the divine kings, help construct worlds of meaning for their subjects. Undoubtedly, they are reminiscent of the ritual of conquering the quarters, in India, a ritual employed historically by certain groups of actors in order to retain hegemonic control over territory, in the recent past for proselytizing missions and presently for political mobilization. Mahasu processions, however, while serving to mark sovereign territory and mobilizing his subjects, also serve to reinforce a sense of solidarity within the larger realm and underline the specific identity of the local, socio-spatial units in the overall federal structure of the Mahasu realm. Each place the procession halts in or is added to the divine king’s itinerary becomes a part of the deity’s expanding network, where the worship of local gods is discontinued in favor of Mahasu. The logistics of the ritual, when looked at from the mundane aspect of meeting the expenses for the ritual journeying, cost of movement and customary honorarium to be paid to ritual functionaries, reveals how these networks operate expansively. In removing the signboard, Mahasu had rejected the territorial sovereignty of the mundane state, claiming the divine king’s right. At Hanol, Chalda Mahasu stays for the night as a guest of his brother and the expenses are met from the treasury of his brother, the sitting Mahasu of Hanol. At other places he is a guest of the villagers while in human kingdoms that owe allegiance to him, kingdoms like Tharonch and Dhadi Rao, he is a guest to the human kings. In Khashdhar, the villagers alternatively divide the expenses for Mahasu’s one-year stay between themselves and the dhyantis, the out-married daughters. Most places visited by the deity are seats of sadar sayanas, the chieftains, situated at the apex of local hierarchies of power. These chieftains control and manage the logistics of Mahasu tours, and through these tours, they, as the local elite, reinforce each other’s authority. By presiding over these mass festivals and fairs that mark the arrival of the divine king into their territory, and by publicly displaying their proximity to the power center, they gain significant prestige and political leverage. By sharing expenses in a conventionally prescribed manner, the entire realm participates in this mass sacrifice of displaying allegiance to their divine king. For the ordinary Mahasu subject, these celebrations provide a sense of identity and belongingness, an existential meaningfulness from the t­ utelary structure of which each individual is a part. The burden of economic ­support for these tours, both in cash and kind falls over them in the form of ­r itualized levies, taxes and fines. The expenses are also met from the payments charged for ritualized service and voluntary offerings made to the deity. The host populations have to feed the large numbers of functionaries and officials accompanying the processions. Hosting the Mahasu procession is thus seen as an act of collective sacrifice. Collective ritual journeys like the processions of Mahasu create sovereignty within the frame of what Ron Inden (1990) describes as “complex agency” of the deity and his collective institutions. What this effectively

Journeying sovereignties  55 means is that though the divine kings may be non-human agents, they represent, despite some dissent, the collective will, of their subjects. It is this collective will that is manifested in processional rituals. If the collective will were not to be manifested it would become difficult for the grand processions to happen. While conversing with the Mahasu minister on the subject of the divine kings turning sedentary, he suggested that if the divine kings were to stop processing, the one reason for it would probably be the lack of willingness among the bajgi (the drummers) to walk and play their instruments in the procession, or the Kolta (low caste) men to act as porters. He was, no doubt, pointing to the state government’s efforts towards empowering these traditionally suppressed castes by giving to them benefits of education and job reservations. This egalitarianism would lead to the snapping of a significant link in the collective will, weakening the power of the kingdom. Even though continuity in this aspect is based on hegemony of the higher castes, and is being challenged by successive secular governments, the performance of temple and processional ‘duties’ by all Mahasu subjects translates into the collective agency of the divine king. Society in the Mahasu realm has managed to retain this sense of ‘duty’ towards the collective will and this has accounted for the extraordinary longevity of divine kingship.

Procession and power Sax (2010, 90) has pointed out that the collective agency of divine kings is always distributed in “agentive networks”. On similar lines, Galey (1991, 133) remarks “territorial control finds, more often than not, its legitimacy in relation to sanctuaries and to units of the cult that define social space ­r itually.” Mahasu processions ritually connect the central geographical node of this agentive network, the cult capital of Hanol, with the entire realm. Berti (2008) has pointed out that in the Western Himalaya, t­ erritorial links are given priority over links of lineage, while Sax (2006) points out that ­politico-religious relationships are inscribed in the landscape by means of ritual. In his study of Buddhism and polity in Thailand, Tambiah (1979, 112) characterized the field of power in the Indic kingdom as a “centrally oriented” polity rather than a territorially bounded one. Thus, through ritual journeying the deity shows himself to his subjects and renews his connection with soil and territory while stamping his supreme authority over his subjects, confirming their unflinching loyalty, as a true marker of sovereignty. In that sense, processions also become a significant means of ­territorial ­ herever the marking and expansion through allegiances and tributes. W processions are granted hospitality, the regions are interpreted as territory belonging to the divine kings. In this world-view there is no need for marking boundaries with fences and check-posts. A different conception of territory, as a centrally bounded but ever-expanding space, has enabled traditional sovereignty to co-exist with the modern concept of territory as a space where the external borders must be marked to describe it.

56  Lokesh Ohri But the question remains whether and for how long can modern government permit the political co-existence of divine kinship with the traditional systems? In these mountains, Mahasu divine kingship is a social as well as political reality. The nation state has made inroads and established a certain degree of political control even as the overarching ritual presence of the divine kings remains the fulcrum of social life. Galey (1989) suggested that, in these mountains, relationships between king and subject are even today embodied in practice, in every aspect of life. During my fieldwork I realized that despite tremendous change owing to factors such as roads, commercial apple monoculture, education, and tourism, life indeed revolved around a parallel indigenous idiom of rule by the divine kings. With the arrival of democracy, the absolute political control the divine king exercised over his subjects may have come into question, but there is no denying the fact that Mahasu is still a political force, and modern governments have no option but to grudgingly acknowledge it. For long there has been a realization that socio-political practices in the Mahasu realm are peculiar. Literature describing social life in the past is scant and wherever available (Munshi 1962 et al.; Majumdar 1963; Parmar 1975) has focused on specific practices such as polyandry. To quote Sutherland (1998, xvi), the region is usually represented in popular “North Indian discourse—as a remote place with a marginal society of fallen Hindus and promiscuous women, who, in addition to being polyandrous, also poison or bewitch the hearts of unsuspecting travelers”. Stereotypes abound. C ­ oupled with colonial narratives of widespread opium cultivation, headhunting, ­human sacrifice, rituals of mass possession and procession, bride price, ­relaxed rules for divorce and widow remarriage, the region has long remained the ‘other’, a subject of sociological curiosity. Seen from the ­p erspective of the plains, the region does retain a fair share of these particularities. For instance, there is sufficient historical evidence to believe that the region was once home to communities of headhunting Hindus who, until recently, were practicing human sacrifice (Zoller 1993, 127). Even the landscape has not escaped tags of negativity. For instance, the river Tons, that joins the Yamuna in the valleys below, in complete contravention to the usual Hindu belief of rivers seen as holy, is commonly alluded to as Tamasa, a British report from 1827, referring to the river as the “hot-headed one”. In Hindu texts, tamasa, would be seen as an object representing principles of inertia, darkness and decay. At times the river also finds mention as Karmanasha, metaphorically “the destroyer of merit”, in Vedic texts and folklore. In this ‘other’ land, the term Mahasu, to his subjects, represents a ­geographical area, as well as a distinct political formation, a divine kingship. When I commenced fieldwork, I imagined that it was the J­ aunsar-Bawar ­region that was Mahasu country. But as I delved deeper into Mahasu ­k ingship, I realized that as a geographical entity (see Figure 3.1), the ­Mahasu realm extended well beyond Jaunsar and Bawar in District Dehra Dun to Fateh Parvat and Bangan in District Uttarkashi (both in Uttarakhand) and parts of districts Shimla, Sirmaur, Solan and Kinnaur, in Himachal Pradesh.

Journeying sovereignties  57 In fact, until well after the end of colonial rule, before the reorganization of districts in Himachal Pradesh in 1956, parts of these districts constituted the larger district referred to by the British administration, simply as Mahasu (Shimla Gazetteer, 1934). Politically, these regions formed the realm of the divine kings, the four Mahasu brothers, of whom Chalda is thought of as the youngest. While the district named Mahasu may have been partitioned into smaller units post-independence, the divine kingship of Mahasu has proven to be more resilient. In most other regions of India and likewise in the hills, kingship has been subsumed into new political structures and is preserved more as a relic of the past. Here, however, it has retained its significance with most people in the region owing allegiance to their devta raja, seeking his justice and cures, abiding by his system of governance. The Mahasu realm, though straddling a large area, forms one culturally contiguous region, even though some parts like Dodra-Kwar remained virtually unexplored until recently when large-scale road building was initiated in Himachal Pradesh. The economy, here, is still largely agro-pastoral. The region has been known for its cultural distinctiveness and independence, never succumbing to efforts by neighboring kingdoms of Sirmaur, Rampur Bashahar, Jubbal and Garhwal (all ruled by human kings), to incorporate it. Even the British, after acquiring the region from the Nepal armies, did not establish elaborate machinery for governance here, owing, among other reasons, to the toughness of the terrain and the volatility of resident people. Until today, barring a few pockets, the region does not have a formal civilian police system. The cultural and political isolation of the region, however, did not result in the absence of an indigenous political structure. On the contrary, the Mahasu realm and the areas around it are divided into several small territorial units, with local devtas, as regional rulers owing allegiance to Mahasu. Mahasu divine kingship is not a mere metaphor, and Mahasu siblings do not merely ‘resemble’ kings. They are rulers with agentive powers, ruling from their capitals, like the Bautha from Hanol, or the constantly journeying Chalda Mahasu, through his processions and temple building projects. The kings, in fact, are not just theistic sovereigns, but also exercise political power. Their subjects include not only Rajput warrior groups or high-caste priests, but also musician-genealogists, called deval in Hanol, who are known widely in Uttarakhand as bajgi drummer-bards. A special name is assigned to the musician caste in Hanol because they have the privilege of playing for the divine king at the cult center, Mahasu’s capital. These musicians play the god’s naubat, a form of honorific drumming, on a regular basis. The god’s watchmen and messengers, as also the storekeepers or bhandaris live in the village. The lowest local caste, the koli and kolta, provide firewood, and also undertake other forms of menial labor. The mali or oracle has already been mentioned. All these castes, along with the god’s high-caste priests, live in his temple town, giving it a complex, local caste organization. The Mahasu realm represents a particularized Hindu caste society with the four Mahasu brothers as kings forming the axis. Processional and temple rituals create

58  Lokesh Ohri and define territorial units and regulate relations among the subjects and their divine rulers. The practice of ritual, in terms of Mahasu processions and temple ­congregations, questions academic distinctions between politics, e­ conomics and ritual. My fieldwork indicates that Mahasu processions incorporate all these dimensions. In fact, politico-religious relationships are inscribed regularly in the landscape of the Mahasu realm by means of ritual. For instance, the several processions crossing the rivers and other geographical, social and political boundaries in the countryside result in periodic shifts of power from one region to another. When Mahasu is journeying through pansi, the collective will of the community on the other bank, the sathi, pulls the divine king towards their part of the realm. I have observed delegation after delegation visit Mahasu at the divine king’s various halts with requests that since the divine king’s tenure in pansi was over, the devta return. On the day of the river crossing, when Mahasu finally acceded to the request, while the mood on one side of the river was somber, for their divine king was going way for 12 years or longer, the sathi were elated at the prospect of the divine king’s arrival. Hosting the procession grants proximity to the power center. If proximity to the power center translates into power, the Mahasu processions engender this moving center. Mahasu journeys follow a logic of inscribing relations of territorial control as well as consecration of the landscape by means of ritual journeying, thereby resulting in complicated shifting equations of territorial power. In Mahasu journeys and their attendant rituals, the archaic and the contemporary, the political and the religious, the pre-human kingly state and the modern-secular, co-mingle in several ways to create a shifting territoriality. This shifting territoriality, confounding modern administrators in general, has resulted in the survival of a stable sovereignty. From the general theory of South Asian society advocated by Dumont (1966), where political and economic power are separated from the ideological sphere of religion to the central-peripheral models proposed by the likes of Dirks (2002) and the significance of prestations as proposed by Raheja (1988), debates on kingship in India have pointed towards certain characteristics or “essences” of South-Asian social organization. Dirks (1987), for instance, pointed out how comparative Sociology has treated the Indian state as epiphenomenal. By pointing out that the political domain in India was not encompassed by a religious domain until the arrival of the British, he has shown that the “crown was not as hollow as it was made out to be” (Dirks 1987, 3). Stable territorial formations like the Mahasu kingdom represent a regional idiom of kingship, that in the absence of a human entity at the helm, eliminated the dependence on successors to maintain continuity and ­ urkha managed to escape the covetousness of successive invaders like the G forces of Nepal and even the British. The study of such forms of kingship can throw further light on the function of ritual to maintain political stability, the relation of ruler to the soil and means of achieving legitimacy.

Journeying sovereignties  59

Conclusion: Mahasu and modernity The longevity of Mahasu kingship also challenges us to address the t­ raditional conceptions of agency through modern secular norms of ­social ­explanation. In this politico-religious system where non-human gods ­assume kingship roles and where people still go about their daily lives as if they were the divine king’s subjects while still being citizens of India, notions of kingship, as well as territory and borders in relation to political rituals, acquire new dimensions. Modernization theory has postulated that as primitive turns into ­modern, people are likely to give up their “primordial loyalties” (Geertz 1963), to caste, kin, tribe, religion and deity and adopt more secular forms of living. With better access to education and medical facilities and expanding networks of roads and communication, with people being more connected with the modern world, one would assume that the power of the old systems, irrational as they might seem to the modernizing groups, would somehow dissipate. No doubt, in these mountain regions, there is radical change, with democracy at times aligning groups along the lines of political parties rather than clan and lineage groups. People increasingly seek medical help in hospitals rather than referring illness to their divine king. Courts have overtaken the divine king’s juridical authority. With this happening and the secular state empowering lower castes like Mahasu drummer-bards, ensuring that they break from tradition and no longer remain subordinated to the upper castes for sustenance, one might expect that the ritual polity would disappear, but it does not. One would expect that apple wealth and its consequent materialism would dilute people’s loyalties and dissuade them from the ‘outdated’ ritual into adopting ways of living that are more secular and mainstream. And yet, this is not the case. Despite significant change in the economic, political and social systems, religious values, relationship to the divine kings, the associated knowledge of and belief in divine kingship ­remain deeply ingrained in the lives and practices of Mahasu subjects. The discourse of globalization has postulated an emerging world that is borderless, where identity is no longer conceived in terms of outdated models of nation, kinship or lineage. Even though with the rise in populism and right-wing politics, the postulation that the global flows will subsume such sovereignties may have become outdated, most administrative policy is driven by this very thought process. However, even as new borders emerge in South Asia, with the political churning owing to emergence of nation states like India, and its neighbors, people attach even greater significance to historic, ritually demarcated borders and identities. Traditional boundaries, as with Mahasu territories, have not become redundant in the new political dispensations. They may not be represented otherwise in atlases, land records or administrative papers, but the territorial demarcations are retained in the minds of the divine king’s subjects. They are, in turn, performed and embodied during the ritual journeys of the divine king. For instance, the Mahasu subjects of pansi do not cross the Tons River to seek blessings from their

60  Lokesh Ohri divine king unless it is the time of bidding farewell to the divine king. Then the subjects would cross the river, leave the palanquin and return to their local deity. Even as Mahasu journeys transcend these ritual barriers, one finds that while Mahasu sovereignty has survived new and successive political dispensations, most former states ruled by human kings have been absorbed into the nation state even as several human kings have metamorphosed into people’s representatives by jumping into the electoral fray. The Himalayan divine kingdoms, like the kingdom of Mahasu, have managed to retain a form of territorial integrity despite being under the gaze of the nation state. The nation state is present here in ample measure, but the practices of subject hood ingrained in ritual journeys have resulted in the longevity of the regime. The persistence of traditional systems and along with it the Mahasu realm, however, does not signify that Mahasu subjects are deficiently modern. Bergmann (2016b, 83) has pointed out that such marginalized Himalayan communities often “uphold identities that challenge modernist agendas and simultaneously harness the availability of up-to-date technologies and categorical inventories to their seemingly ‘paleolithic’ purposes”. In this view, peripheral groups like Mahasu’s subjects are “tactically selective about modernity” (Michaud 2012, 1854). They adapt to new careers, education, means of transport and communication and forms of government, but do so within the ambit of the Mahasu polity, not rejecting it but adapting their new modes of living to it. This modernity perhaps may not reflect the idea that globalization would mark the decline of religious ritual. This may not be the modernization envisaged by Marx or Weber. Instead, this modernity of Mahasu subjects has evolved with, to use Sax’s (2009, 236) application of Sudipta Kaviraj’s term, “a logic of self-differentiation” (2005, 497). ­Crisis and contestations within the cult, in historical times and in the present, r­ eflect on the “alternative modernities” operating within the Mahasu realm. This, in a manner implies that while people in the region have adapted to electoral politics, constitutional justice, biomedicine and new means of communication, they do not cease to be Mahasu subjects. People still subscribe to the divine kings’ ritual practices because this fulfils certain needs that modern governments and their agents are incapable of providing for. Mahasu rituals knit together communities and restore social relations. As one of the Mahasu oracles remarked, Mahasu is the god of quick justice (tvarit nyaya). Why should people not ask for his help when the king himself visits them and they can seek his help, instantly? The divine king, therefore, through his ritual journeys, still establishes s­ ubstantial connections to the territory, engendering collectivities, ­articulates his subjects’ embodied experiences, restores social order once disturbed, enforces his niyam or rules and retains his subjects’ loyalties, ­providing interesting intersections of the traditional and the modern.

Journeying sovereignties  61

Bibliography Barth, Fredrik. Baseline Worlds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. Bergmann, Christoph. Confluent Territories and Overlapping Sovereignties: ­Britain’s Nineteenth-Century Indian Empire in the Kumaon Himalaya, in ­Journal of Historical Geography 51, pp. 88–98, 2016a. Bergmann, Christoph. The Himalayan Border Region: Trade, Identity and ­Mobility in Kumaon, India. Dordrecht: Springer (= Advances in Asian Human-­ Environmental Research), 2016b. Berti, Daniella. Divine Jurisdictions and Forms of Government in Himachal Pradesh, in Daniella. Berti and Gilles Tarabout (eds.), Territory, Soil and Society in South Asia. Delhi: Manohar Publisher, pp. 1–19, 2008. Bourdieu, Pierre. An Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 16. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977. Bourdieu, Pierre. The Field of Cultural Production. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993. Dirks, Nicholas B. The Hollow Crown: Ethnohistory of an Indian Kingdom. ­Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Dirks, Nicholas B. Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Dumont, Louis. Homo Hierarchicus: The Caste System and Its Implications. ­Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966. Emerson, H.W. Typescript of Unpublished Anthropological Study of Mandi and Bashahr. Personal Papers. London: Oriental and India Office Collections, British Library, 1911. Galey, Jean-Claude. Reconsidering Kingship in India: An Ethnological ­Perspective, in History and Anthropology 4, pp. 123–187, 1989. Galey, Jean-Claude. Hindu Kingship and Its Ritual Realm: The Garhwali Configuration, in Allen Fanger, Maheshvar P. Joshi, and Charles W. Brown (eds.), ­Himalaya: Past and Present. Almora: Sree Almora Book Depot, pp. 173–237, 1991. Geertz, Clifford. The Integrative Revolution: Primordial Sentiments and Civil Politics in the New States, in Clifford Geertz (ed.), Old Societies and New States: The Quest for Modernity in Asia and Africa. New York: Free Press, pp. 107–113, 1963. Geertz, Clifford. Centres, Kings and Charisma: Reflections on the Symbolics of Power, in Joseph Ben-David and Terry Nichols Clark (eds.), Culture and Its ­Creators: Essays in Honor of Edward Shils. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 121–146, 1977. Geertz, Clifford. Negara: The Theatre State of Nineteenth Century Bali. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980. Inden, Ron. Imagining India. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1990. Kaviraj, Sudipta. An Outline of a Revisionist Theory of Modernity, in European Journal of Sociology 46, pp. 497–526, 2005. Majumdar, Dhirendra Nath. Himalayan Polyandry – Structure, Functioning and Culture Change, A Field Study of Jaunsar-Bawar. Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1963. Michaud, Jean. Hmong Infrapolitics: A View from Vietnam, in Ethnic and Racial Studies 35(11), pp. 1853–1873, 2012.

62  Lokesh Ohri Munshi, Kanaiyala Maneklal. Introduction to Social Economy of a Polyandrous ­People. Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1962. Parmar, Y.S. Polyandry in the Himalayas. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1975. Raheja, Gloria Godwin G. The Poison in the Gift: Ritual Prestation and the ­Dominant Caste in a North Indian Village. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988. Sahlins, Marshall. Islands of History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985. Sahlins, Marshall. The Stranger King or, Elementary Forms of the Politics of Life, in Indonesia and the Malay World 36(105), pp. 177–199, 2008. Sax, William S. Conquering the Quarters: Religion and Politics in Hinduism, in International Journal of Hindu Studies 4, pp. 39–60, 2000. Sax, William S. Dancing the Self, Personhood and Performance in the Pandav Lila of Garhwal. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Sax, William S. Rituals of the Warrior Khund, in European Bulletin of Himalayan Research 29–30, pp. 120–134, 2006. Sax, William S. God of Justice: Ritual Healing and Social Justice in the Central ­Himalayas. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Sax, William S. The Royal Pilgrimage of the Goddess Nanda, in Pilgrimages Today, in Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis 22, pp. 334–352, 2010. Sutherland, Peter. Travelling Gods and Government by Deity: An Ethnohistory of Power, Representation and Agency in West Himalayan Polity. PhD dissertation (unpublished), Oxford University, 1998. ­ ocal Sutherland, Peter. Local Representations of History and the History of L ­Representation: Timescapes in Theistic Agency in Western Himalayas, in ­E uropean Bulletin of Himalayan Research 25–26, pp. 80–118, 2003–2004. Sutherland, Peter. T(r)opologies of Rule (Raj): Ritual Sovereignty and Theistic ­Subjection, in European Bulletin of Himalayan Research 29–30, pp. 82–119, 2006. Tambiah, Stanley J. The Galactic Polity: The Structure of Traditional Kingdoms in South East Asia, in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 293, pp. 69–97, 1977. Tambiah, Stanley J. A Performative Approach to Ritual, in Proceedings of the ­B ritish Academy 65, pp. 113–169, 1979. Tambiah, Stanley J. Culture, Thought and Social Action: An Anthropological ­Perspective. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985. Turner, Victor W. The Forest of Symbols: Aspects of Ndembu Ritual. London: ­Cornell University Press, 1967. Walton, Henry G. The Gazetteer of Dehra Dun (Department of Gazetteer of the United Province of Agra and Oudh), Vol. 1. Allahabad: Government Press, 1911. Williams, George R.C. Historical and Statistical Memoir of Dehra Doon. Dehradun: Nataraj Publishers 1874 (Reprint 1985). Zoller, Klaus Peter. On Himalayan Ball Games, Head-hunting and Related ­Matters, in Heidrum Brückner, Lothar Lutze, and Aditya Malik (eds.), Flags of Fame: Studies in South Asian Folk Culture. Delhi: Manohar, pp. 201–237, 1993.

Other Sources Gazetteer of Shimla Hill States, Government Press, Lahore, Punjab. 1934.

4 Wandering god How young Himalayans negotiate religion, caste identity and modernity Karin M. Polit Introduction During October 2006 and March 2007, a deity called Jakh left his temple in the village Maitkot Kujaum in the Central Himalayas of North India to go on a ritual journey. He did not walk alone. In fact, he did not walk at all. Jakh, worshipped as a deity, is locally also understood to be a reigning king. And as a king on a ritual journey he is accompanied by a large entourage of servants. Among them a cook, a priest, a joker and three personal servants. His three personal servants, the dharis,1 carried him. Chosen by the deity (and the village community) they served Jakh for the duration of the ritual journey through his entire mountainous territory roughly depicted on the map, although the boundaries of his territory are rather fluid and in constant flux (Map 4.1). For six months, the servants carried him barefooted through the snowy mountains, bathed him, fed him, sung devotional songs to wake and put him to sleep. At night, they entertained him together with the bards and musicians, who also accompanied them. In March 2007, after several months, the entourage returned to their home village and held a great festival to receive Jakh, but also to bid farewell to the deities and people who had kept him company during the pilgrimage. In this chapter I will delineate how Jakh’s ritual journey affirms his relationship to the community of his devotees. He does this in collaboration with the communities of devotees and the ritual patrons by re-negotiating the ritual landscape and newly producing the deity’s body, the bodies of the participants and the body of the communities by transforming the spaces in which the ritual journey takes place. The three young men who serve Jakh during this time experience the greatest change. As the community’s past is performatively brought into both the landscape and people’s daily lives for the duration of the ritual journey, the young men’s identity as descendants of warrior heroes is re-created and newly negotiated. This identity is enacted and consolidated through affective and emotional attachments to deity, land and community. In the course of this chapter, I will scrutinize the divine ritual journey as well as the festival in which it culminated as performative events with a focus on the ways young Himalayans are involved and changed by their affective and emotional responses to them.

64  Karin M. Polit

Map 4.1   Map of Jakh’s journey. Map by Niels Harm, South Asia Institute, ­University of Heidelberg.

Transmitting and negotiating notions of caste and belonging The people in charge of Jakh’s ritual journey are usually older men, who are also the political leaders of the villages involved in the divine journey. They are landowners (formerly called thakurs) belonging to rajput jatis, heads of large families and thus well-respected men in their communities. Often, they are members of the village council, the panchayat. The men who are designated as the servants of the deity, are usually young and unmarried members of the same community. Officially chosen by the deity, they are pre-selected by their communities. It is important that they can afford to spend time away from their home for six months at a time. The three men who accompanied the Jakh of Kujaum had highly flexible jobs, or were unemployed. In addition, all three of them lived with their extended families for whom they had not (yet) assumed a position of responsibility. Their absence was affordable to their families and the young men were thus able to engage with the deity and his affairs without distractions. The three personal servants (dharis) were chosen to remain with the deity for the six months of the ritual journey. Together with the bards, who customarily come from a sub caste of musicians and drummers, these three young men were the main actors in

Religion, identity and modernity in Himalayan youth  65 the rituals for and with the Jakh deity. They danced to the rhythms of the drums played by the bards, they sang to the deity and performed in order to entertain the divine king Jakh at night. Being a dhari meant a great honor and a special relationship to the deity. Equally important to the success of the ritual journey were the bards, drummers and musicians. The bards’ drums, rhythms, and songs usually accompany all ritual activity in the region and were of special importance to Jakh’s ritual journey as well. Yet, the bards’ relationship to both the deity and the community arranging Jakh’s ritual journey remained distanced. This circumstance results from the fact that the patrons of the ritual, the rajput families of the village, hired the musicians as well as the priests to perform these important services for them. As members of a caste group with low social rank and ritual purity, the higher caste patrons and their designated representatives (the dharis) understand the musicians as servants, employed and paid for their services. As such, the ritual journey and its performances not only transfer knowledge or negotiate affections and emotions concerning the deity, but also perpetuate and re-invent caste relationships and roles among the younger generation.

The divine king Jakh and his ritual journey Jakh, the central figure in the ritual journey in question is a local deity, who is mainly worshipped by people residing in villages surrounding the small mountain town Gopeshwar in the Garhwal Himalayas, close to the two large pilgrimage centers Badrinath and Kedarnath. Jakh is considered an ancient king, an ancestor, and the guardian of the territory in which the journey takes place. He resides in a number of temples in the form of his seven aspects, locally understood as seven brothers in different villages in this region. Accordingly, Jakh appears in numerous stories, songs, and mythical narratives. His territory is dotted with small temples and shrines where he needs to be taken in the course of his ritual journey. Similar to the deity Mahasu, whose multiple forms reign in the neighboring areas of Rawain (described in Ohri’s article in this volume), Jakh also exists in various manifestations, understood as kings as well as brothers. Compared to Mahasu, however, they have much less political significance—even for the villagers surrounding Gopeshwar. Jakh does not rule his territory in a political sense. He is a respected guardian and still called a king by many of his devotees, but he does not play a major role in the politics of the region. He talks through his medium but he neither interacts with local politicians beyond the level of the village panchayats nor does he act as a judge in legal cases. He is referred to as ‘king’ out of respect, quite like the respect given to a senior family member, but not due to his actual political power. Instead of ruling the territory, Jakh blesses his land and the people. He honors the out-married daughters and sisters (dhyanis) of his village of origin and their families with his visit.

66  Karin M. Polit Jakh is connected to several local versions of the Mahabharata and his disciples understand themselves as his descendants. This establishes the villagers as descendants of the first worshippers of Jakh who lived in mythical times. This is a common narrative in the region. Many rajput Himalayans in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh trace their origins back to the great warriors of the Mahabharata (cf. Sax 2002; Zoller 2007). Sax (2002, 57) argues that one of the most common ritual performances in the region, the pandav nritya or pandav lila, is a very elaborate sraddh ceremony (ancestor worship). Jakh, however, differs from the major heroes of the great epic, as he has become a king and a god not due to his heroic deeds during the great war of Kurukshetra, but rather because Krishna sacrificed Jakh in order to assure the Pandava brothers’ victory. The gods had given Jakh the boon to win every fight, so Babru Bahan, as he is also called locally, knew that he would be able to turn the luck of the parties in this war. He went to take part in the great battle to “make the losing party win and the winning party lose”, as Govind Singh Rawat, a respected resident of Kujaum village put it. According to one of the many local stories, Jakh lost his head even before he could enter the great battle in Kurukshetra. Following the boon granted to him by Krishna, the people of his territory worship him as their king and god ever since. This is how Govind Singh Rawat, a local teacher who had become a specialist for the ritual songs during the pilgrimage of the Kujaum deity, told me the story in March 2007: K.P.: Why did Krishna kill Babru Bahan? GOVIND SINGH RAWAT: He did it, Madam,

I have told you yesterday. When

Babru Bahan had said,

I will change the fate of the Mahabharata. I will go and join the battle of Kurukshetra and will join the losing party. So that the winning party will become the losers and the losing party will become the winners.

That is why Krishna came to challenge Babru Bahan at the place of the pipal tree here in Chamoli.2 The ordeal Krishna posed to him was no challenge to the young warrior. “He will surely be able to do this,” thought Krishna. “I will have to think of something.” Babru Bahan ­arrived at Kurukshetra and sat down to watch over the battle field. He sat down and pulled his bowstring over is navel. The tip of the arrow was fixed on his chin. He looked straight down at the battle of the ­Mahabharata. Down there, Arjun fought with Duryodhan. Both were fighting and Shri Krishna saw that Duryodhan was about to lose. ­Arjun’s victory was certain! But what would happen should Babru ­Bahan decide to intervene? If he shot his arrow directly at Arjun, it would lead to Arjun’s downfall. The one standing would be the winner of the war […] and the whole battle would come to an end. The ­Kauravas would win and the Pandavas would remain just like this. So,

Religion, identity and modernity in Himalayan youth  67 this is why Shri Krishna decided to act. He turned himself into a mouse and dug up holes all around Babru Bahan. And he started jumping! Sometimes he sat here, sometimes there, sometimes on his hands! But Babru Bahan did not pay attention. His gaze was directed towards the battle. “I have only the one goal: to make the loser win and the winner lose!” While he was thus occupied, the mouse, Shri Krishna, came and gnawed, […] it may only have been a matter of five seconds, through the bowstring of Babru Bahan’s bow. And the arrow shot up so forcefully; it went in here and came out there! [He indicates the arrow cutting straight through his throat] The bowstring was torn down there. The arrow had to move! And this is how the king’s throat was slit! There are people who claim that it had nothing to do with the arrow, that Shri Krishna cut Babru Bahan’s head off with his discus. That is wrong. The truth is: His head was cut off by his own arrow! This is the story Madam! This is our god Jakh’s story! K.P.: Now, how did Babru Bahan become Jakh? GOVIND SINGH RAWAT: Krishna said: “Look, whatever there was to do about Babru Bahan, it has been done! What has happened has happened.” So he revealed himself to the warrior and called out to the Pandavas:

Oh Pandavas, come to me! This is what I did! I did this in your interest! Otherwise you would never have won! You would neither become kings nor would your name be remembered. All this magic knowledge is mine! The credit goes to me! Now come to me!

And the Pandavas all came. They all came to Shri Krishna. And he said:

Bury Babru Bahan’s body! Pick up his head and bring it to me! I want to explain to him: ‘Hey Babru Bahan! None of this is your fault! This is all my doing! I am the reason your head was cut off!’

He summoned Babru Bahan and explained to him what had happened. At the time Babru Bahan was in human form.

In the future, in the age of kaliyug and through all the coming ages […] I will make you the god of the land. You will be anointed as a deity in several places. Your people will carry you for six months. All your people who belong to the village, where your temple stands […] will take you on a pilgrimage for six months. You will be worshipped in every home. They will give you sacrifice and will take you to holy places and pilgrimage sites. They will take you to all places possible to reach within the six months.

Then Babru Bahan was satisfied. As it is typical for northern India, local gods and goddesses are personified and worshipped as ancestors, and local kings or queens. Jakh is one of many of these local deities. The word Jakh is a modification of the term yaksha,

68  Karin M. Polit which refers to mythological beings who are said to have served as the generals and in the army of the great gods, especially Mahadev Shiva. Many local historians claim that the yakshas lived in the area as kings during these mythological times (e.g. Sharma 2009). They are seen as protectors and warriors who serve a greater god and are loyal to him. The yakshas are also understood to be the land’s guardians, often connected to features of the landscape like trees or streams. As warrior and guardian of the land Jakh personifies many important values of the local rajput population. ­“Rajput” is a general term usually used for the jatis belonging to the warrior castes, often also referred to as kshatriya.3 The numerous Jakh deities residing in the villages around the small town Gopeshwar are considered to be kingly warrior ancestors of the rajput population. Therefore, the ritual journey is also a public enactment of the rajput community and their warrior descent done by and for the patrons of the pilgrimage. Performances, stories, songs, and devotional services to the deity all reinforce, re-negotiate, and re-create this connection. As yakshas, the Jakh brothers are also divine protectors of the villages they rule. Similar to many other local gods, the Jakh deities regularly need to be taken on a pilgrimage in order to re-charge the connection between divine ruler, land, people, and livestock. Officially, the time period between the ritual journeys is fixed. Depending on the specific deity, pilgrimages are supposed to happen every year or every 7, 12, 48 or 72 years (Purohit 1993). In practice, the timings of Jakh’s ritual journeys are much more flexible. People have told me that a deity’s ritual journey is often a result of a period of trouble, when the men are fighting, the women become infertile, the land dries up, and the cows give sour milk. In Kujaum, my friend Mohan Singh’s home village, a general atmosphere of discomfort and conflict over a couple of years led the people to ask (puch)4 their local deity Jakh (or his medium) for help (Figure 4.1). In a séance, Jakh spoke through his medium and demanded a ritual journey which was organized in due course. After the village council had decided that enough resources could be gathered, the more detailed preparations began about two years in advance. As the deity needs to travel to the region’s bigger pilgrimage temples, to the temples of his divine brothers, and the villages of all dhyanis (out-married village daughters) who live in the region, the preparation for this six-month ritual journey requires many resources and even more time. The rajput community, Jakh’s patrons and devotees, need to designate people responsible for various ritual tasks, collect money and other resources needed for the journey, record the donations and offerings, and plan the divine visit accordingly. When the preparations for Jakh’s journey were well under way in Kujaum, another puch was held to set the date in accordance with the deity’s wishes. During the night before the Jakh of Kujaum village left his temple to set out for his ritual journey in October 2006, the deity was transferred onto a large wooden pole. The deity’s copper mask that is usually worshipped in the temple was affixed on top of this pole and decorated with hair from a yak’s tail and cloth used for ritual

Religion, identity and modernity in Himalayan youth  69

Figure 4.1  J akh’s medium, showing his power.

purposes. This turned the wooden pole into a manifestation of the deity— the nishan (Figure 4.2). The three young Rajput men—the dharis—designated to be the personal servants of the deity were bathed, shaved, and ritually purified together with Jakh’s rajput priest (pujari). At the same time, the brahman priests required for the ritual service for Jakh as well as the bards and drummers to accompany him throughout the journey had arrived during the day, ready to begin

70  Karin M. Polit

Figure 4.2  J akh’s nishan, with his entourage.

the journey. While the rajput men serving the deity are usually members of the patron community, the brahman priests and the das5 musicians are outsiders and therefore paid a salary for their services. This money was collected from the villages involved in the ritual journey (see Map  4.1). The rajput donators considered themselves maitis (patrilineal relatives) of the deity. During several rituals that had taken place before this night, people from the multiple Jakhs’ home villages gave and offered money, food, cloth, and other materials needed for this journey. One man was assigned to collect all these materials, to record the donations and offerings and to make sure that they were distributed properly. The records of each pilgrimage are later deposited in the temple of the eldest Jakh brother, the wazir who resides in a temple in the village Dumak, built in the vicinity of one of the ancient Shiva temples of the region named Rudranath. The organization of the pilgrimage with these records are already caste enactments, with the rajputs as patrons, and brahmans as well as das drummers and performers as their paid servants. The rajputs are the landowning patrons of the deity and his rituals. The brahmans and the low caste musicians work for them. During ritual performances, such as Jakh’s ritual journey, these hierarchical relationships are re-enacted, reinforced and the knowledge about them transferred to the younger generation. The transfer of knowledge is not cognitive but rather happens performatively on an affective and emotional level (see also Polit and Sax 2012). This process is clearest in the close relationship of the dharis (servants) to the divine king on the one hand and the much more distant relationship of the low caste bards to the deity on the other hand.

Religion, identity and modernity in Himalayan youth  71

The servants During the pilgrimage, an entourage of priests, cooks, servants, musicians, and performers accompany the divine king Jakh. Once he has left his village, a number of prescribed ritual activities, typical for many personified deities in South Asia, structure the days and nights of Jakh and his servants. For example, he needs to be woken up, washed, dressed, fed, entertained, and put to sleep. His duty to visit his brothers and other deities who have authority over him partly prescribe Jakh’s route (see Map 4.1). His responsibility to visit his dhyanis’ villages and their families structures the rest of his journey. His movement through the landscape is enabled by his three servants, the dharis. Before the ritual journey, the three young men are usually shaved, their nails are cut, they bath, and are ritually purified. During the six months of the ritual journey, they need to maintain their physical and mental purity by eating only specific food, bathing once a day, and restrain from sexual contacts. For the six months of the journey they will not cut their hair, shave or cut toe and fingernails. They will walk barefoot and pay attention only to the deity’s wishes. This kind of purity is necessary so that they can serve the deity. They are closest to Jakh in a very physical sense. They are the only ones allowed to touch the nishan, carry the deity through the mountains, and perform all the tasks described above. For the time of the ritual journey they submit to their ritual duty completely. It is this complete devotion to Jakh that characterizes their close relationship to the deity. It changes the three young men so profoundly that the ties to the deity need to be ritually cut on the last day of the homecoming festival. Several men need to force them away from the nishan, crying and wailing. Gently, but determined, family members need to help them prepare to return to their everyday life, a life without Jakh. Their hair is trimmed, their beards shaved, their nails cut. Slowly, they are being transformed into ordinary men again. For several days after this very last day of the ritual journey, they should not return to the temple or see each other. After having taken care of the deity like junior family members for the past six months, it is difficult for the three young men to return to their human families and resume an ordinary life. For six months, the three dharis of Maitkot Kujaum’s Jakh, Mukesh Bisht, Mohan Singh Bhandari, and Bhagat Singh Bhandari made Jakh the center of their lives. Apart from carrying him and serving him during the day, one of their duties during the ritual journey was to perform for Jakh and entertain him every night. During these performances, their personalities joined with another divine being. These were perhaps among the most extraordinary moments during the ritual journey. Even though the young men were performing with a great deal of personal involvement, the young servants did not frame their efforts as artistic performances. To them, their acts were rather a sign for their very close and personal relationship to the deity. This proximity was expected from them and made possible through their position as the god’s servants. They touched Jakh several times a day,

72  Karin M. Polit fed him, served him, and danced for and with him. Therefore, the deity shared parts of its divinity with them. Temporarily, the young Rajput men entered a realm that brought them very close to the divine realm. As time went by, they became intermediaries between the world of the humans and the world of the gods. They enabled the other devotees to get in touch with the deity and they caused the deity to dance in the midst of his/her devotees. Embodying the blessing for their community, they enacted the reinforcement, renewal, and recreation of the rajput villagers’ relationship to Jakh.

Performing for Jakh During each night, after Jakh was established in a temporary temple, he was ritually entertained by his young rajput dharis and the bards. Usually, the deity reached a new village every afternoon, where he and the men, who accompanied him, would spend the night. A temporary temple was ­established, the deity was laid down and ‘put to bed’ with a ritual lullaby (also called jagar) (Figure 4.3).6 The servants then ate their dinner after which the drummers once again beat their drums to call the villagers back into the courtyard in front of the temporary temple, where the night’s performance would take place (Figure 4.4). Men and women from rajput and brahman family background gathered. The bards began to sing and with the music a figure emerged from the divine king’s temporary temple (Figure 4.5). A man whose face was not visible as it was hidden under untidy black hair—a wig made from the hair of a yak tail. He danced to the songs of the bards, slow and ungracefully, staggering, falling into the audience, every now and then slapping a member of the audience in the face with the white yak tail he carried in his hand, causing joy and laughter among the villagers. The figure’s name is Narad, or Burhdeva. He was impersonated every night by one of Jakh’s personal servants, one of the dharis. Narad is an important part of all ritual journeys taking place for any of the several forms of Jakh in the region. Himself a semi-god, Narad usually serves as a trickster figure for the mask performances for Jakh. The figure of Narad calls the deities to stage, dances with them and sometimes sings their songs together with the bards. At the same time, he theatrically enacts his own story. Born as a Garhwali villager, he has to tackle all sorts of every-day problems that characterize agricultural work, village, and ritual life. He is also usually the satirical chronologist of the ritual journey. Mukesh Bisht particularly enjoyed this part of his duty as a servant. He spent his days watching the villagers and the devotees, collecting ideas and impressions for the night’s performance. For example, one night, the bard Puran Lal, let him dance and stagger under Narad’s mask for a while before he began to engage in a conversation with

Religion, identity and modernity in Himalayan youth  73

Figure 4.3  J akh’s temporary temple.

the untidy figure. Narad answered him in a coarse loud voice. Together, the bard and the trickster then recounted past events of the journey: PURAN LAL: “He Narada, he Narada!” NARAD (IN A VERY COARSE VOICE): “He!” PURAN LAL: “Where did you go?” NARAD: “I went to Lata village.”

74  Karin M. Polit PURAN LAL: “So how were you received?” NARAD: “ Ok ok” PURAN LAL: “Did you get food and drink?” NARAD: “They gave us food, but they were very scroogy!” PURAN LAL: “Were they?” NARAD: “Yes, and very fat.” PURAN LAL: “Were they?” NARAD: “Yes, they ate it all themselves!” (laughter in the audience)

Narad is the messenger of deities and traveler between the world of the gods and the world of humans. A trickster in many traditions found all over India, he also fulfills this role in the Jakh tradition.7 But Narad is also, in the words of my local friend Mohan Singh Rawat:

Figure 4.4  M  asks dancing during the nights’ performance

Religion, identity and modernity in Himalayan youth  75

Figure 4.5  Narad, dancing during a night’s performance

[…] the most important. He comes before all the others. He puts the hair on his head. He is the most important of all, he is what we call the khelwari (the playmate) of the panchnam devtas, he is also a pujari, he performs puja and he also presents the play (khel dikhana). Narad’s performance, thus, was highly entertaining and a divine blessing at the same time. During the ritual journey of Maitkot Kujaum’s Jakh, he called the other deities, to appear during the night’s performances into the various courtyards (Figure 4.6). He watched them dance to the songs of the bard and performed himself several skits from his own mythical life as a villager. Narad prayed, tried to meditate, got possessed by a deity, set off to find a wife. In the course of

76  Karin M. Polit

Figure 4.6  Ganesh, dancing during the night’s performance.

organizing his wedding, he fought with the brahman priests about the cost of the wedding. He ended up marrying two women when he found himself unable to decide between a beautiful but useless and a strong but a coarse woman. Every night his children were born, some of whom died, and Narad struggled with life as a poor villager with a large family, just as many from among his audience also did. Narad also retold the story of Jakh’s particular ritual journey with the events and experience he had witnessed so far, and satirically commented on the villages and their people visited along the way. During the very last performances, just before Jakh’s ritual journey came to an end in ­Kujaum, Narad recounted again all the villages and places visited during the past six months. So, during one of these night-long performance in Jakh’s home village, Narad repeated the criticisms and comments on

Religion, identity and modernity in Himalayan youth  77 the rajput villagers and retold the best jokes made, remembered the funny quirks of every village and, most importantly, reported on how the entourage was received in the important places. In this tradition, Narad is usually greeted and worshipped as a divine figure, closely associated with the great god Shiva (also called Shankar). These kinds of performances are therefore understood as religious or ritual acts both by the dharis, who turn into Narad when wearing his mask, and for the audience. In all the ritual journeys taken by any of the seven forms of Jakh, Narad manifests in front of the audience with the help of Jakh’s servants. This form of ­d ivine manifestation is different from other kinds of divine presence in human bodies experienced during other occasions in Garhwal, e.g. during a séance when Jakh speaks through his medium. It is perhaps possible to explain it as a kind of enactment of the merging of divine and human experience. The young men do not merely lend their bodies to the divine being Narad, they rather become the deity while remaining themselves at the same time. Becoming Narad turns out to be an embodied performance of the relationship between the three dharis and the divine being. This is best explained in their own words. Mukesh Bisht, one of the dharis of the Jakh of Kujaum explained to me: Of course, I watch the people during the day and try to be attentive. But at night, when I wear the mask, it is not me who speaks, it is Narad. I am there but I am not the one who speaks, you have heard him speak, you know that the voice is the same no matter whether it is me or one of the other dharis who performs. He is the one who is making the jokes. One single performance may last an hour (without audience) or may take from sunset to sunrise. This depends on the number of goats available as sacrifice to appease certain masks. These masks (e.g. the goddess Kali, or a tiger) need animal sacrifices in order to be appeased and kept under control. If the rajput men in the host village are able to provide the resources necessary for a full night’s performance, they may request it from the ­deity’s ­entourage. The performance itself, however, is understood to be work for the gods, not for man. Aside from being highly entertaining, the performance is also ascribed with significantly high ritual efficacy. The deities are thought to be actually present during the performance through their masks. As such, the spectacle has many facets: It is frightening, when the ­bloodthirsty goddess Kali or the dangerous Tiger appear on stage. It is sad, when Narad recounts the difficult and hard episodes of his life as a villager, and it is full of divine bliss, when the proper sacrifices cause the various deities to leave the performance space satisfied and benevolent ­towards the audience. During the ritual journey, the performance needs to be staged every night. The masks themselves are thought to carry divine power, which demands

78  Karin M. Polit to be demonstrated during nightly performances—just as Jakh demands to be entertained. When there is no audience but the curious anthropologist, however, the performance is usually done in a short cut version, with the songs as well as the conversations between the bard and Narad considerably ­shortened. The skits are only performed for large audiences. Thus, while I may call these events performances, most people involved call them work (kam) for the gods. The meaning of work is important in this context as it underlines the necessity, importance, and relevance of this ­activity. Entertaining Jakh is work because it is key for the efficacy of the ritual journey: it renews people’s relationship with the divine, and creates a new bond ­between deity, land, and devotee community. The work for the god is therefore as necessary as any breadwinning activity. The artistic value of the dharis’ or the bards’ performances is consequently not foregrounded, though not unimportant as a powerful skill to please the deity. However, touched by processes of modernization and globalization, which value ­folk-art as ­( potentially even world-) heritage, has made the artistic value of the event more attractive, especially for young people. While these performances have quite a few aspects which may be considered art, starting with the music, the rhythm of the drums, the singing, the dancing, and finally the masks themselves, people usually frame all of this as work (kam)—work for the gods.8 Bergmann (2016) describes similar processes in neighboring Kumaon as follows, […] acts of ceremony – like other work tasks – form part of the people’s ongoing engagement with their dwelt-in environment, including the multiple power relation inscribed in them. This is not to say that ­r itualized and quotidian activities are indistinguishable. On the ­c ontrary, rituals are effective because they are designed and orchestrated in ways that clearly differentiate them from everyday forms of activity, a process that Bell (1992, 88–93) describes as ‘ritualization’. My point is, however, that rituals do not serve the purpose of structuring the environment ­according to some pre-given cosmological conception but rather ­d iscover meaning (and perhaps also moral guidance) from ‘clues’ in the landscape that otherwise remain as background noise ­(Ingold 2000, 208). Such clues condense “otherwise disparate strands of experience into a unifying orientation which, in turn, opens up the world to perception of greater depth and clarity (Ingold 2000, 22)”. (Bergmann 2016, 142) The ritual journey described here is in fact a process that does not only discover meaning in a landscape, but that re-installs, negotiates, and creates that meaning by changing the temporal as well as the spatial dimensions in which it takes place. The patron communities’ relationship with the deity is renewed by Jakh’s movement through space. The knowledge

Religion, identity and modernity in Himalayan youth  79 about the ritual actions involved in this process as well as the emotional attachment to land and deity happen as the entourage moves with the deity. The three dharis experience the affective and emotional change the strongest as their connection with all aspects of the ritual journey is the strongest.

The bards The other group of actors important for the efficacy of Jakh’s ritual journey are the bards who are drummers and musicians at the same time. They are called to a similar ritual journey in the region nearly every year. Drumming and singing is their work and their breadwinning activity. However, their work does not necessarily put them into a special relationship with the deity or bring about any change in their lifeworld in any way comparable to what I have described above. The rajput community are the owners of most of Jakh’s land and temples and are the patrons of most ritual events. They provide material resources and food needed for the journey and the manifold ritual practices. Brahmans are usually employed for those ritual activities, which only they can perform and the low caste bards and musicians are called to accompany the deity as part of their duty for which they receive a payment or a share of the crops. It is not so much their creative and aesthetic abilities that are needed, but rather their ritual role to play the dhol and sing the songs that summon the deities into the world of ­humans (Figure 4.7). The performances are conceptualized as work for the deities, because they are part of the rajput patrons’ devotional work for their ancestral ­deity.

Figure 4.7  A dhol and damau, the drums used during many ritual performances in Garhwal.

80  Karin M. Polit Within such a framework, the musicians are not recognized as creative agents on their own, their music and the rhythms of their drums need to be understood as part of the divine play.9 While the artists’ work is by definition the outcome of individuality and creativity, the low caste bards are understood to be the servants of their rajput patrons, playing what has been passed on to them by their fathers and gurus. They themselves are seen as instruments of ritual activity, as reproducing necessary accompaniment for the actual ritual agents, the rajput people. This makes it possible that the bards are part of the ritual journey but, as members of a low status group, a choti jati,10 they are not part of the divine king’s entourage and are usually sidelined during many events. For example, they would not enter the temple, touch the deity or come too close to the nishan. They are usually received with a warm welcome by the villagers, but they build their own sleeping place away from the main activities and cook their own food. During public feasts, they would usually not sit with the entourage or with the guests. In the past decades, however, bards have become rare in the region. In 2008 only two musicians still practiced, Dhom Lal from the village Urgam and Puran Lal (usually accompanied by his two brothers) from Kujaum. This scarcity puts them into an especially powerful position within singular ritual journeys. Puran Lal, who was hired by the temple committee of Maikot/Kujaum was able to negotiate a rather high salary for himself and his brothers. The rajput patrons were resentful of their low caste musicians assuming such a powerful position. They repeatedly told me how much they paid Puran Lal for his participation in the pilgrimage. The rajput patrons clearly thought that Puran Lal’s high demands were immoral. As it is impossible to stage a ritual event in the Garhwal Himalayas without the rhythm of the drums, the rajputs had no other choice but to pay him.11 Puran Lal is also considered a specially gifted guru and performer. People attest him the talent to perform well, which also meant that he was able to please the gods better than his brothers. At days and nights when the performance was expected to have no or very little audience, Puran Lal sometimes decided to go home to visit his wife and children. In these nights, he left the performance to his two brothers. According to the patrons, however, they have less talent and are therefore less able to please the gods. The artistic and aesthetic abilities of the bards also receive increased attention in the context of heritage preservation.12 For example, Dom Lal from the village Urgam received a price for his outstanding artistic achievements as one of the rare folk artists of Uttarakhand some years before. Yet, as the art of making ritual music does not provide a steady income or high status, neither Dom Lal nor Puran Lal are expecting their sons or daughters to continue this work.

Conclusion The performances described transmit social and cultural memory, make political claims, and manifest people’s sense of collective identity. They do that

Religion, identity and modernity in Himalayan youth  81 in various and multivocal ways. Most importantly, the rajput community enacts their relationship with the deity. The deity demands respect given to him in due time. In return, he promises his benevolence over the community of devotees, their land, and livestock. Therefore, organizing a ritual journey is not like organizing a cultural program, it is a work and duty, a duty quite like cultivating the fields, grazing livestock, caring for family, raising kids. Taking part in and organizing the ritual journey of one’s own deity is part of being a responsible member of the community. If the ritual journey is not done or organized in a sloppy way, the deity will react with resentment. A deity’s wrath is understood to be particularly dangerous exactly because the village deity is responsible for the wellbeing of people, land, and livestock. A deity unsatisfied with the work done for him or her means that men and women become infertile, that the crops will wither, and the cows will stop giving milk. Yet, there are many elements in the ritual journey described that are highly entertaining for the deity and the people. Entertaining the deity is a crucial part of negotiating, renewing, and enacting people’s relationship with Jakh. It plays a crucial role in transmitting the affective and emotional ties of people towards their deity to the next generation. When at night, Narad comes to entertain Jakh, he, of course, also entertains the people who have gathered to meet him. As a satirist, he holds a mirror into people’s faces and shows the villagers the absurdities of their life and their struggles. At times, the laughter dies, when the bards sing the story of his marriages and his children—the story of a life as a villager in the high mountains of the Himalayas. Other gods come to dance in the midst of the spectators. Worship and performance for worship are not void of humor and lightness. On the contrary, these types of performance—deeply devotional, yet full of self-irony—are witnesses of the strong relationship between the people and their deities. To the rajput community, the journey of their divine king is a meaningful practice, which is tied directly to their sense of identity, ­meaning that the king is their ancestor and the seven ­rajput jatis living in the area resemble the seven parts of the god. As in many ritual traditions, Jakh’s ritual journey is tied to health and wellbeing and therefore of high importance to the everyday life of local people. It continues to be important for young Himalayans in much the same way and the practice of the ritual journey embeds their relationship to the deity into their being-in-the-world.

Notes 1 The words that appear in their original language in this chapter are vernacular Garhwali. 2 The name of both the district in which Jakh’s territory is situated and the district headquarters, see map in figure 4.1. 3 The Hindu hierarchy is often described by the simplification of the four ­varnas: people who are said to have emerged from the body of Brahma, the

82  Karin M. Polit ­brahmans (priests and teachers) are born from his head, the kshatriyas (warriors, kings, and landowners) are born from his arms, the vaishyas (merchants, traders, and business people) are born from his belly and the shudras (servants, wage ­laborers) are born from his legs. Jati is the term generally used for sub-castes. Neither caste status nor jati affiliation are as fixed, rounded, and complete as anthropologists have formerly discussed them. As Teltumdbe (2010) argues, new groups are constantly being formed. However, division and stratification tend to be the main characteristics of the processes as well. He writes; While they tend to contract inward in forming a new caste, they also seek to establish their relative superiority in relation to other castes. Once this external pressure for asserting superiority is released, the castes look inward once again to locate or invent hierarchies within. (Teltumbde 2010, 44) Compared to other parts of India, the caste system in Garhwal is rather simple. There are various brahman and rajput jatis in Garhwal constituting roughly 70–80% of the population. The numerous suppressed jatis make up the rest of the population. Because of their low social status these groups are locally known as small jatis, often translated as lower caste. Officially they are called backward or scheduled castes; their political leaders prefer the term Dalit (lit. oppressed). Although people with small jati background today are usually ­e ducated, some holding jobs in government offices, caste prejudice and isolation remains prominent in Garhwal. For example, people belonging to a small jati should not enter a high-caste house, share a mat with a higher-caste person, or even sit on a mat at all in the presence of high-caste people. It is considered an offence if a person from a small jati offers water or food to someone of a higher caste in many regions by many people, and sexual contacts between low-caste men and high-caste women are usually forbidden. Having said this, caste is lived and experienced differently in Garhwal than in most other parts of India. Many local scholars insist that the focus on purity is a recent addition to a much less hierarchical division of labor. Marriage between men and women from different caste status is uncommon as well as unwanted but caste based violence of the magnitude known from other regions in India rarely takes place here. 4 Puch, lit. to ask, is also the term used for the mediation session in which the ­deity’s presence of invoked onto the body of his medium in order to answer ­p eople’s questions. 5 Das is one of the common names for a subcaste of musicians and drummers in Garhwal. In other regions, the jatis bagji and auji are predominant (Alter 2003, 63). 6 Jagar is a term used widely to refer to ritual song performed during night (see Gaborieau (1974) for Garhwali jagar; and Henn (2002, 52–69) for the Goan jagor). 7 See also Purohit and Bhat (2004). 8 For a lengthy discussion of the artistic aspects of similar events see Purohit (1993) and Purohit and Bhat (2004). 9 For an overview on the meaning of rhythm, play and music in the context of Garhwali rituals, see Polit (2015). 10 Lit. “small subcaste”. 11 See Polit (2015). 12 See Purohit and Bhat (2004).

Religion, identity and modernity in Himalayan youth  83

Bibliography Alter, Andrew. 2003. Ḍhol Sāgar: Aspects of Drum Knowledge amongst Musicians in Garhwal, North India. In European Journal for Himalayan Studies, 24: 63–76. Bell, Catherine M. 1992. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. New York: Oxford ­University Press. Bergmann, Christoph. 2016. The Himalayan Border Region. Trade, Identity and ­Mobility in Kumaon, India. Dordrecht: Springer. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Translated by Richard Nice. London: Routledge. ———. 1990. The Logic of Practice. Cambridge: Polity Press. DuBois, Fletcher, Erik de Maaker, Karin Polit, and Marianne Riphagen. 2011. From Ritual Ground to Stage. In Ritual, Media, and Conflict, edited by Ronaldy L. Grimes, Ute Hüsken, Udo Simon, and Eric Venbrux, 35–62. New York: Oxford University Press. Gaborieau, Marc. 1974. Classification des récits chantés. In Poétique: Revue de théorie et d’analyse littéraires, 19: 313–332. Henn, Alexander. 2002. Wachheit der Wesen: Politik, Ritual und Kunst der Akkulturation in Goa. Münster: LIT Verlag. Ingold, Tim. 2000. The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London: Routledge. Osella, Filippo, and Caroline Osella. 2000. Social Mobility in Kerala: Modernity and Identity in Conflict. London: Pluto Press. Polit, Karin. 2011. Heritage, Art and Elections: Popular Culture, Ritual and Political Competition in Uttarakhand. In Ritual, Heritage and Identity: The Politics of Culture and Performance in a Globalized World, edited by Christiane Brosius and Karin Polit, 149–164. London: Routledge. ———. 2012. Wenn Rituale Kulturerbe werden: Zur Konstruktion und Ästhetik kulturellen Erbes in Uttarakhand, Nordindien. In Ritualdesign: Zur kultur- und ritualwissenschaftlichen Analyse “neuer” Rituale, edited by Janina Karolewski, Nadja Miczek, and Christoph Zotter, 175–200. Bielefeld: Transcript. ———. 2015. Rhythm, Agency and Divine Presence in the Garhwal Himalayas. In Musical Text as Ritual Object, edited by Hendrik Schulze, 151–161. Brussels: Brepols. Polit, Karin, and William. S. Sax. 2012. Moved by God: Performance and Memory in the Western Himalayas. In Body Memory, Metaphor and Movement: Advances in Consciousness Research, edited by Sabine C. Koch, Thomas Fuchs, Michael Summa, and Cornelia Müller, 227–242. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Purohit, Data Ram. 1993. Medieval English Folk Drama and Garhwali Folk Theatre: A Comparative Study. PhD diss., Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, Srinagar, Uttarakhand. Purohit, Data Ram, and Rakesh Bhat. 2004. Satire and Civil Society in the Mask Theatre of Garhwal. In Folklore, Public Sphere and Civil Society, edited by M. D. Muthukumaraswamy and Molly Kaushal, 177–185. New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. Sax, William S. 2002. Dancing the Self: Personhood and Performance in the Pandav Lila of Garhwal. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

84  Karin M. Polit Sharma, Devidatta. 2009. A Cultural History of Uttarakhand. New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. Teltumdbe, Anand. 2010. The Persistence of Caste: The Khairlanji Murders and ­Indias Hidden Appartheid. New Delhi: Navayana. Zoller, Claus Peter. 2007. Himalayan Heroes. In The Concept of Hero in Indian ­C ulture, edited by Heidrun Brückner, Hugh van Skyhawk, and Claus Peter Zoller, 237–274. Delhi: Manohar Publishers & Distributors.

5 Places, rituals and past worlds Encounters on a Tibetan pilgrimage in North India Nike-Ann Schröder

Introduction More than 900 years ago, a woman from Lab in Tibet set out as a wandering yoginī, meditated in caves and became the student of an Indian mahāsiddha.1 This yoginī, named Machig Labdroen2 (1055–1153), is described as the founder and lineage holder of the Tibetan Buddhist tantric ritual of gcod.3 Gcod, which includes an elaborate tantric meditation – aims at the pacification of suffering, and at overcoming ego-grasping which is seen as the source of all suffering. It serves as both, a meditation practice through which the yogin (or the yoginī) aims to attain enlightenment, and as a ritual applied for healing. The gcod-ritual is passed on and performed on the basis of different sādhanas4 which serve as a ‘map’ on the basis of which both ritual and meditation are conducted. Various gcod sādhana texts, transmission lines, and histories, as well as the biography of the yoginī have been discussed within the scope of sādhana commentaries, and historical or Tibetan-Buddhist studies.5 Those textual studies provide very valuable contribution and form a solid basis for understanding gcod. However, when taking the sādhana text as a kind of ‘map’ of the actual ritual and meditation practice, it is worthwhile to reflect Tim Ingold’s (2000, 225) consideration on maps: While the map indexes a tradition, it is non-indexical with regard to location. [… To] separate tradition from locality, or culture from place, is also to divorce traditional knowledge from the contexts of its production in the environmentally situated experience of practitioners. Thus the form of life is reduced to a ‘world view’ or ‘cognitive schema’. When we apply this statement to the field of studying the gcod ritual, it opens the field of research beyond text-centered studies which tell little about the practical and individual contexts of current gcod practitioners: in this article, I will shift the perspective from the text towards the acting and encountering subject by describing a pilgrimage with a current practitioner of the gcod ritual.

86  Nike-Ann Schröder In summer 2011, four Tibetans including an old yogin and practitioner of gcod, and me, a German researcher in Tibetology and Cultural Anthropology, undertook a pilgrimage that led us from Ladakh across the ­Zanskar Range and the Great Himalayan Range down to Manali and further to a holy lake near the Indian town Rewalsar and back. The Tibetans name the lake with the nearby Tibetan monasteries and settlement ‘Tso Pema’ ­[mtsho pad ma] – ‘Lotus-Lake’ – as it is associated with the activities of the tantric master Guru Rinpoche who is said to have appeared on a lotus on the lake which miraculously came into existence when the tantric master counteracted an attack on his life. Huber (2008, 239ff.; see also Huber 2000, 118; Handa 2008, 67ff.) describes the historical development of the site’s religious significance: the earliest historical records of Tibetan pilgrims are from the first decades of the 19th century, the significance of the pilgrimage site6 seems to have declined during the early 20th century7 and was only restored after the Tibetan exodus into exile in India starting from the 1950s. Rewalsar is also an important site for Hindu pilgrims as well as for Sikhs (see Cantwell 1995, 4; Huber 2008, 244). The overall aim of this article is to document ritual practices, which included performances of the gcod ritual, contexts and encounters during the pilgrimage to Tso Pema. A major approach in the scholarship dedicated to Tibetan pilgrimage8 is the ordering and interpretation of the landscape of pilgrimage sites in terms of sacred geography which sees features of the natural landscape as dwelling places of tantric deities, ḍākinīs, mountain gods and protectors. An important emic source for understanding such ‘sacred landscapes’ are Tibetan pilgrimage guidebooks9; (various authors provide translations, summaries, and analysis of such texts, see Huber 1994, 1998, 1999a, 2000; Kapstein 1998; Ramble 1999; Bründer 2008), and of Tibetan narratives which tell how the site was established and thus explain features of sacred landscape (Huber 1999b, 62ff.). According to emic understanding, this literature is based on pilgrims’ pure visions and dreams of sacred landscapes (see Huber 1998, ­ uber 124; Lungtok Tenpa’i Nyima Rinpoche in Gelek Jinpa et al. 2005, 11). H (1998, 120f.) points out that such pilgrimage guidebooks have served to promote the sanctity of the pilgrimage sites as well as a set of beliefs and a particular way to experience and interpret these landscapes – he describes both processes in detail in his various works. Huber (1998, 21; 1999a, 78; 1999b, 7) points out that there has been a trend, among both Western scholars and Tibetan clerics alike, to lay too much emphasis on Buddhist doctrines and models in order to understand Tibetan pilgrimage. He suggests instead that we view pilgrimage “in terms of an overall Tibetan world view, a complex syncretistic religious history, and the observable characteristics of its practice” (1999a, 83) and that all research on Tibetan pilgrimage ritual and sites should acknowledge aspects of Tibetan world view concerning places, persons, and the relationship between them. I take as my starting point, not an idealized picture of ‘sacred landscape’ but rather a phenomenological approach to pilgrimage which

Places, rituals and past worlds  87 10

looks at actual practices and how people relate to place, not only at the pilgrimage site itself but also on the way there. It is an attempt to describe in-depth our various encounters – to provide an ‘inside view’ of the pilgrimage as it was experienced. As a first objective I – following Ingold’s consideration quoted in the ­beginning – intend to trace the specific experience of the practitioner which is environmentally situated during ritual and journey. When the ritual is performed, a complex network of encounter arises: on the one hand, the yogin (or yoginī) evokes a particular inner world that is populated by various beings and in which certain activities need to be carried out. The gcod sādhana thereby serves as a map of an inner field of action and encounter, which I conceptualize as an inner, tantric ‘world’. On the other hand, every ritual performance takes place in a particular situation and is embedded in interaction with other activities and encounters. By tracing both during the course of the pilgrimage, I seek to document the lived spaces of ritual ­practice and the pilgrimage journey. My second objective is to trace how the experience of the practitioner is environmentally situated. When pilgrims are journeying through various places, then how do they meet and encounter those places? At this point, I draw on Tim Ingold’s ‘dwelling perspective’, which counteracts the conventional view of a “self-contained individual confronting a world out there” by trying to grasp how a person becomes an “agent in its environment” and articulates her “being in the world” (Ingold 1995, 58). The world – when not seen as an assembly of ‘objects’, but as a lively environment with which the person interacts – attains it’s meaning through engagements: “It is through being lived in, rather than through having been constructed along the lines of some formal design, that the world becomes a meaningful environment for people” (Ingold 1995, 58). I combine this focus on engagements with Casey’s notion of ‘implacement’, which suits the conceptualization of the interactive and dynamic relationship between people and places. Implacement designates that people and place enter into a mutual relationship which might eventually result in a situation of inhabitation: a place ceases to be a mere location and opens up (or is opened up) into being a ‘lived space’, an encountered world in that place, or, as Casey calls it, a ‘place-world’: “a world that is not only perceived or conceived, but also actively lived and ­receptively experienced” (Casey 2001, 687, emphasis in the original). To interact with and to encounter a place-world are active missions. As people stitch relations to the world in a particular locality, they contribute to create, maintain and transform a particular place-world, and by this activity become its inhabitant who encounters that world. The places, in turn, retroact on a person’s self: “The power of place […] determines not only where I am in the limited sense of cartographic location, but how I am ­together with others […] and even who we shall become together.” (Casey 2009, 23, emphasis in the original). I, therefore, look at practices and rituals carried out during the pilgrimage journey as the means through which pilgrims

88  Nike-Ann Schröder and places become interwoven, enabling ‘implacement’ and encounter of such place-worlds. In this light, ritual practices such as the tantric gcodsādhana become skillful means to relate to places, and to create or evoke place-worlds, and thereby facilitate particular encounters. I take Casey’s concept of the ‘place-world’ as a point of departure, but extend it to establish a multi-dimensional perspective on the pilgrimage journey described. More specifically, I put forward the argument that our pilgrimage encompassed journeys to (at least) three different kind of placeworlds. First, the pilgrims traveled through the ‘outer’, material placeworld, where they interacted with and encountered a succession of different places, topographies, and people, whilst being engaged in various activities. Second, the yogin created ritual place-worlds and evoked inner (or meditative) worlds within, encountered deities and spirits, interacted with them, and perceived a tantric environment. I conceptualize tantric meditation and ritual practices as acts of dwelling in particular worlds because like in the ‘outer’ world, the meditator assumes a particular self, carries out activities, meets and relates to other beings, and perceives a particular (tantric) ­environment in this ‘inner’ world. The same applies to the past – which ­describes the third dimension: in ‘past’ worlds one dwells in memorized places. There was a subsequent interplay of all those journeys to various placeworlds and their worlds of encounter: the dimensions of the journey intersected and intermingled, and eventually effected and transformed each other. Often there was no sharp boundary between an ‘inner’ imagined place-world and its cosmos which is evoked during Tibetan Buddhist meditation on one hand, and an ‘outer’ material place-world with its topography and inhabitants on the other. That the worlds overlapped became evident on various occasions during that pilgrimage, such as the following encounter which took place during the pilgrimage journey near the Himalayan ­mountain pass ‘Taglangla’: Three out of the five people in the car had lived a long time as nomads, and with their trained eyes it took them only a few seconds to spot the wolf, whose greyish brown fur merged with the landscape behind the high mountain pass and made him almost invisible to travelers passing through. The driver stopped the car immediately; Palden stepped out and took a picture with my camera. The old yogin looked from his front seat and asserted with satisfaction: “The wolf has presented his right shoulder to us! He is a protector sent by the dgra lha (warrior deities).” Excitement filled the car. The pilgrims’ eyes lit up and their voices intermingled while directing their attention first to the wolf who stood at some distance from the car silently watching us, and then on my camera display which brought him into sharp focus. We scrolled through the close-up view and the excitement grew: “Look! There are three stūpas11 behind the wolf!” We all looked up from the display around which we

Places, rituals and past worlds  89 had huddled our heads and peered closely through the windows of the car. “There! The stūpas are there!” The old yogin pointed into the distance where we saw the three white buildings which we had first identified on the display. “That is a very auspicious sign. This pilgrimage will have good fortune”, the yogin said. The wolf still stood motionlessly watching us. We waited a while, then started the car and went on. After our routes had intersected, also the wolf wandered off, following his own path. Not only was the wolf encountered as a warrior deity and messenger of the tantric cosmos, he also acted within a sophisticated network that led to a symbolic picture of a whole, condensed into a photo, a snapshot of the quality of time which the pilgrims considered to be an omen.12 The Tibetan ritual cosmos intersected with the outer world through which we passed, and both merged within the enterprise of that pilgrimage. The inhabitants of the Tibetan ritual cosmos (as well as meditative states of being) eventually cross the lines of the imaginary inner world and are then perceived as reality. The pilgrims’ reactions were not a mere passive reading of a random incident filtered through cultural systems of meaning and beliefs. They were rather actively engaged with their surroundings and thereby created specific subject positions and fields of encounter. The entanglements of the three dimensions of the ‘outer’, ‘inner’ and ‘past’ worlds during the journey formed the rich textures of the pilgrims’ experiences and encounters. There is yet a ‘subtle story’ enclosed within this pilgrimage account which unfolds across the conceptual line between ‘place’ and ‘place-worlds’. It ­results from the situation of being on pilgrimage as a – or with – ­refugee(s) in exile. The Tibetans lost their ‘home’, their place of belonging, due to ­political circumstances. Casey writes that “home-coming is ­re-implacement” and “home-coming can achieve ‘co-habitancy, settled coexistence between humans and the land, between natural and cultural, contemporaries and ancestors” (Casey 2009, 291). However, for refugees in exile homecoming in a literal (and political) sense is not possible, due to a non-permission to re-enter Tibet and due to the fact that – in case of the yogin – all family members inside Tibet have passed away, and that former life circumstances have changed over time. Does this then mean that these pilgrims cannot attain a ‘re-implacement’: that the yogin cannot ‘come home’? This article traces the yogin getting into contact and relating to various place-worlds on the journey. If we reverse the order of “home-coming is re-implacement” to ‘re-implacement is home-coming’, and consider the fact that ‘new places’ might be more actual and likewise to a former home than the very place assumed to be ‘home’ but might have turned very differently now, then this is the first axis for unfolding another view. The second axis goes along the line that home-coming according to Casey is to “come back to a home that was” (Casey 2009, 299, emphasis in the original) yet ­‘coming-home’ is a process that takes place now. This article operates in

90  Nike-Ann Schröder a field that stretches out between those axes: ‘encountering place-worlds’ opens up into what I will call an ‘encounter-scape’ that – like a landscape encompassing many different places and environments – housed multifold but interlinked encounters including various re-findings of ‘home’ and ­actual encounters of belonging. ‘Implacement’ and encounter does not take place as a structure projected on a natural setting, but rather as a process in a particular situation which evolves in a particular form through the interplay and involvement of ­various actors. If this understanding is applied, far-reaching consequences result from that. One is that, as Tim Ingold (1995, 57) puts it, “environments are never complete but are continually under construction”. A second point is raised by Edward S. Casey (2009, 23) when he writes “implacement itself, being concretely placed, is intrinsically particular. It is occasion-bound; or more exactly, it binds actual occasions into unique collocations of space and time [emphasis in the original]”. It is such an actual occasion which I will ­describe in the paper, to fill the considerations above with substance and life. This article is an experiment. It describes experiential encounters and I am fully aware of the inherent difficulties of theoretical and practical kind. I do not claim to speak for the Tibetans who took part in the pilgrimage, and inevitably my writing is biased by my own biography. I can only invite the reader to take part in my description which I have written with my current state of knowledge, understanding, and empathy, and based on Pema Wangchuk’s declared wish to tell his story. I have lived together with the Tibetans who took part in this pilgrimage in the refugee camp, shared daily life and activities, religious practice, uncountable research questions, and conducted collaborate work in different practical projects over a period of several years. It is this close relationship and the resulting mutual understanding which forms the background of both my contextual knowledge and my own personal involvement. The paper has five sections which describe stations of the pilgrimage journey, their respective place-worlds, the pilgrims’ activities, ritual practice and encounters. The first section follows the pilgrims’ departure and being on the way, and it describes how a seemingly barren landscape opens up into various dimensions of encounter. The second section gives an ­account of the pilgrims’ stay with Tibetan nomads, the yogin evoking ritual spaces in the context of the nomad settlement, and the emergence of multi-dimensional place-worlds. In the third section, I provide an account of the interaction between the experience of arrival at the holy site, and a traumatic memory which enforces its actuality. In the fourth section, I explain how the pilgrims perceived the temple and deciphered the various depictions of outer and inner worlds in its mural paintings, and how they performed the gcod ritual at the holy site. The last section turns to a coincidental meeting of a newcomer from Tibet, which led to a reconcilement of past worlds with the presence.

Places, rituals and past worlds  91

Being on the way: How the pilgrims got into contact with a seemingly barren Himalayan landscape On the morning of our departure, we went to the nearby rnying ma monastery to meet Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche asking for his blessing with regard to our upcoming journey. As we kneeled side by side in front of his seat and bowed our heads, he laid his hand on the crown of our heads, one after the other, whilst reciting a prayer. By renewing our connection with himself and the members of the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon, and by granting protection, he implaced us firmly into our enterprise: the pilgrimage had begun. We then all took our seats in the car; Pema Wangchuk and Tenzin in the front, and Palden, Tenzin’s mother Dolkar and me in the back. Soon we had left the Tibetan Refugee Settlement Choglamsar behind and were following the Leh-Manali highway. As we passed the Ladakhi villages along the road, the pilgrims looked out of the windows as if seeing the area for the first time. Not that the surroundings had changed but our status as pilgrims gave us a heightened interest in the landscape although, in this initial stage of the way, it was familiar to everyone in the car. At first, the road followed the Indus River and then began to climb upwards through a high-altitude Himalayan landscape, an arid area without rivers, trees or any patch of green, and without villages. It was unimaginable how anybody or anything could survive here, the landscape was a picture of pure desolation, and it seemed to grant no protection and no possibility of contact. Apart from some evidence of road building and repair, only on the high passes such as Taglang, located at about 5,328 m altitude, there were some traces indicating human activity: small boards provided information such as the name and altitude of the pass, and there were collections of five colored prayer flags or ‘wind-horses’ [rlung rta]13 as well as numerous ­little heaps of stones. There were several ‘micro-rituals’ to be carried out at those landmarks: every pilgrim contributed a small stone, and we added our prayer flags to the many which were already there so that they would be blown by the wind and the prayers written on the flags be carried to the gods. ‘Maņi stones’ – stones which Pema Wangchuk had inscribed at home with the ­bodhisattva of compassion’s mantra (oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ)  – were also ­ ibetan carefully placed at the mountain passes we crossed. According to T understanding, maṇi stones are – like wind horses – mediums to carry prayers – which are constantly performed through the wind which let the papers and flags fly, while the stones keep the ingrained prayers alive as long as they exist. Thus, the wind horses and maṇi stones are material ­objects which become endowed with agency, as the contained prayers become active forces in the landscape. The pilgrims assume that to hoist prayer flags or ‘wind horses’ [rlung rta] in places of high altitude increases their personal fortune, which is depicted by the same name.14 In this way, the individual’s health, personal powers, and fortune are related to the wind-blown prayers on the mountains pass. By installing the wind horse flags and maṇi stones,

92  Nike-Ann Schröder the pilgrims connect  themselves with the place. These agents will remain effective even after the pilgrims have left. In other words, it is a lasting ­connection  – an anchor that associates the pilgrims to a particular place in the rough landscape. The traces of those rituals – prayer flags and maṇi stones – bear w ­ itness to the pilgrims’ practices which then in turn induce other pilgrims to carry out the same activities: the pilgrims contribute to and recreate a place of ­pilgrimage, and at the same time they establish a relationship to the pilgrims who came before and the ones who will come after. That the land was not bare of living beings became also evident when we encountered what on first glance seemed to be a wild animal on the way. In the introduction, I have already described what happened when the pilgrims’ path intersected with that of a wolf and all of sudden the pilgrims were held and recognized in the wolf’s gaze. Edward Casey (2009, 280) draws our a­ ttention to the dimensionality of place through which involvement and ­immersion may arise: “Even on mundane journeys, places are areas of possible immersion. Far from being superficial ‘positions’ – which, having no dimensionality, can offer no room for immersion – they are loci of and for involvement ­[emphasis in the original].” On the mountain pass, such involvement had been facilitated through and was encouraged by the pass simultaneously being a landmark, and a place of religious practice. Such a place is stable and encounterable for all travelers. Yet the situation with the wolf was different: it took place at the location where the pilgrims met the wolf; the area of immersion was the location of the encounter, where the path of the pilgrim crossed the path of the wolf. The location was accidental, not predefined. The encounter with the wolf was a multilayered matter – it was not just a wild animal we saw on the way, but rather taken as a messenger who signified through his appearance and behavior that the warrior deities were with the pilgrims. Furthermore, the stūpas, which referred to the Buddhist cosmos, caught the attention of the pilgrims through their appearance in the same picture with the wolf – which was only possible through the use of technical equipment. A network emerged, linking the pilgrims to a wild animal and messenger, the warrior deities and their ritual cosmos, as well as to the stūpas which themselves are significant within Tibetan Buddhist practice, and indicate that practitioners had taken great efforts to erect the buildings in that place. The yogin framed all this with the expression ‘rten ‘brel yag po’, i.e. an ‘auspicious coincidence’: the yogin assumed that every occurrence emerges not by chance but through interdependent origination.15 This paradigm is described and taught thoroughly in Buddhist philosophy, and every Buddhist teaching gets a deeply social dimension when being applied in encountered and lived situations as here: not only do the pilgrims act towards their environment, which in the same course is assured to be their world, but the world also acts towards the pilgrims and holds them in a close mutual relationship and resonance. The wolf turned out to be not only a messenger from the warrior deities but also a messenger from the past. As we went on, the yogin shared a

Places, rituals and past worlds  93 memory with us, recalling a previous situation in which he had met a wolf: it was when he had been a member of the armed resistance against the Chinese advancement into Tibet, and he and his fellow members of the Chushigangdruk group had often been chased by the Chinese army. In one situation when they had desperately looked to get away, they met a wolf who presented his right shoulder to them. Shortly afterward, they had found a safe place to hide and escaped arrest. Although the nomads usually fear wolves, which frequently attack their flocks, such a threat was minor when comparing it to the threat to their home country, culture, and religion, to themselves, their family members and companions due to the invading Chinese army. In that situation, the mountainous landscape of Tibet with its wild animals had enabled them to hide, and the wolf became a protector. By sharing his memories with us, the yogin’s past life world became part of our pilgrimage; or rather his past experiences were brought into the present through his narrating them, and this narrative was an act of reconciliation with events of the past which in Tibetan society are often neglected.16 Although for the old yogin, his past life world as a resistance fighter was anyway very present in one regard: his main motivation to undertake the pilgrimage was the purification of karma. He assumed that he had to purify the non-virtuous deeds he had carried out during his time as a member of the armed resistance. The yogin lives within a field of tension that many Tibetans face; after the invasion of the Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army), they fought to protect their family, homeland, culture, and religion. But, of course, many of the activities carried out ran contrary to the Buddhist ethical code. Thus, they found themselves in a double-bind – to protect their religion, they had to fight but to fight meant to violate ethical principles. But not to fight meant to accept the destruction of Tibetan-­Buddhist culture and the death of family members and highly revered Buddhist t­ eachers – which then took place anyway and despite the armed resistance. Today the yogin sees the fighting, killing and the urge for revenge as a collection of black karma – which he tries to purify through tantric Buddhist practices, in particular by practicing gcod. It turned out that the environment we were passing through was not empty at all – there were places of ritual practice, animals, protectors and messengers, and potentially – as they occurred in many stories which the old yogin told about incidents which happened to gcod practitioners – spirits, ghosts, and other invisible beings. What had initially appeared to me as a barren landscape devoid of life turned out to be populated by many beings and forces, which provided clues for various sorts of encounter.

Staying with the nomads and practicing gcod in the nomads’s place-world We were searching for a particular nomad camp where we wanted to meet the old yogin and gcod practitioner Lobsang Jinpa. It was already late afternoon

94  Nike-Ann Schröder when we saw some nomads who had pitched their tents near the road and were busy rounding up their flocks of yaks, sheep, and goats. We stopped the car and asked them where the family of Lobsang Jinpa was currently settled. They turned out to be family members of the group we were looking for and we learnt that Lobsang Jinpa was settling in a nearby valley. The nomads, who had looked curiously into our car and spotted Pema Wangchuk in his sngags pa dress, requested a ritual for some family members who had fallen ill. Pema Wangchuk was addressed as a healer and all of us were well received and enjoyed the nomads’ hospitality. Within minutes we found ourselves in the midst of the nomads’ life world. Instead of us ­going through the process of introducing ourselves and asking permission to pitch our tent and to meet the old yogin, the nomads requested our fellow pilgrim to help them, thereby taking the initiative in introducing their group to us. Pema Wangchuk discussed the case with the nomads and located the source of the problem within the world of invisible beings: the women would be afflicted by evil spirits. He then confirmed that he would perform a gcod ritual to pacify the evil spirit and thereby heal the women. It was about to get dark and the shepherds were returning home with their flocks. We could hear them yelling and soon the area in and around the white summer tents was crowded with sheep, goats, yaks, and dri (female yaks). I carried Pema Wangchuk’s red suitcase with his ritual instruments to a place in front of a tent and then waited for him to decide where to perform the ritual. He said: ‘Any place is fine, just put the ritual suitcase down, maybe here?’ The nomads brought some carpets and the women sat down. During the course of the ritual, the yogin went through various sequences, and in the end, he encouraged the participants to recite the mantras. While the yogin carried out his meditation, the group of participants took part in the evocation of Buddhas and bodhisattvas, with the nomads and us collectively chanting mantras. Through this shared activity we called for the presence of enlightened beings. The yogin could draw on the contextual knowledge and practical skills that every participant in this nomad camp knew by heart from childhood: they knew their role in the ritual, the pantheon of deities and how to invoke their presence through mantras. While the participants dwelled in the presence of holy beings, the ritual master transformed his own self into a deity with enlightened perception, offering a personal bridge between the outer place-world and the enlightened inner place-world of tantric practice. When the yogin had completed this ritual in the nomad camp, he packed his things and we went to look for a place to settle down for the night since it was already dark. We were at an altitude of 4,700 m and without sunlight, it was getting very cold. The gcodpa we wanted to meet was already asleep and his family showed us a place where we could pitch our tents. Several members of the nomad family offered their help. They brought a lamp and also lent us a bigger tent and tent poles. While they cooked tea for us, we pitched two tents and made use of the car as a shield against the cold winds.

Places, rituals and past worlds  95 Finally, we sat together in a tent of the nomads, drinking hot tea and e­ xchanging news. Most of the conversation was dedicated to the four ­Tibetans of our group and the Tibetan nomads trying to find out in which way they were related. Dolkar, Pema Wangchuk, Tenzin and Palden entered a place-world familiar to them in a two-fold way: they knew the nomads’ way of living and they found kinship links with them. In other words, they entered the settlement not only as pilgrims but also as members of the nomad families; and by reaching the camp and exchanging news, memories of the former nomads’ life became renewed and actualized. The family took the opportunity to request another healing gcod for several members who were sick and we learnt that their old gcodpa had stopped performing rituals due to his advanced age. After we had eaten dinner, we went over to one of the tents of a nomad family, where people were waiting patiently for the old yogin to perform the healing ritual. The yogin put on his hat and started to perform the ritual by singing the sādhana text, playing the drum and the bell and using the bone trumpet. In his meditation, he invited the ḍākinīs, lamas17 of the lineage and his root guru to be present inside that small tent. He generated in his mind an enlightened perception of all phenomena being empty of independent existence, and an attitude of loving-kindness towards all beings. Having created this inner place-world populated by enlightened beings, he then entered into the main part of the inner activity to be carried out during the choreography of gcod meditation, the detailed procedure of which is kept secret from non-practitioners. During the course of it, the yogin took on an enlightened self. He called for a huge gaṇacakra, a tantric feast. His guests were not only enlightened beings but also beings to whom he owes a k ­ armic debt. Additionally, he invited all kinds of evil spirits, e.g. spirits of the deceased, troublemakers and roaming spirits. The yogin in his ­meditation makes use of his own body to create different offerings from it. He asks the invited invisible guests to take whatever they need and lets them enjoy the feast until they are satisfied. In this way, he meditatively offers his own body to everyone, from the meditation deity to the evil spirits: all guests are invited together for the feast, and even the spirits who were assumed to have caused the patients’ ailments were important guests because the aim of the ritual was to pacify suffering – theirs and therewith that of the patients. The feast can be imagined as a huge assembly of all beings, and none are left out. In the meantime, it was already late at night and we stayed in the summer tent of the nomad family. While the yogin used his ritual and meditation skills to invite all classes of guests, we kneeled on patterned carpets around a metal stove with its chimney pipe going up through a hole in the middle of the tent. A big kettle was steaming on the stove, whilst the yogin’s voice wove his evocations around us, and a girl kept the stove going by adding dried dung. We, the participants, were kneeling so tightly together inside the tent that we felt quite warm despite the freezing cold creeping through the thin

96  Nike-Ann Schröder cotton of the summer tent. If one aspect of healing is to restore social relations, this was mirrored within the setting of the participants: there was no space for any of us to get lost or be forgotten. And the yogin also summoned the invisible beings to return ‘home’ and take their place and food. After the completion of the gcod ritual on this first day of our pilgrimage, we finally went to sleep. As I lay in my sleeping bag, I reflected on the various invitations we had received over the day. The nomads near Taglang pass had shown great hospitality. Though we had brought along our own tents and kitchen utensils, the community had arranged everything for us. They had lent us a large tent, provided water, and cooked for and eaten together with us. We had received some animal products in exchange for some fresh vegetables and stories from Leh and the nearby refugee camps. Furthermore, the yogin had invited them to partake in the gcod rituals. In this harsh environment, hospitality is not only a matter of kindness, because being alone or getting lost can become a matter of life and death. The yogin on his part had also welcomed those beings who had caused some community members to suffer due to their homelessness. He had therefore offered the spirits a place to be and the community of the tantric feast. In that ­regard, local understandings and practices of granting the visitors shelter in this harsh environment were mirrored in the approach of the healing ritual which aimed at the pacification of obstacles, illnesses, and misfortune. The next morning, we woke up at five o’clock in the morning. We had breakfast together and watched the nomads herding their animals that slowly moved towards some nearby pasture grounds. In the meantime, I prepared to visit the old gcodpa Lobsang Jinpa in his tent for an interview. All the pilgrims and several nomads had decided to join. The camp was rather small and an alternative to the daily routines so rare that such a chance was immediately and understandably seized. Lobsang Jinpa received us sitting next to an enormous mobile shrine which he had carefully arranged in his tent. On the shrine there were numerous huge ga’u (reliquary boxes), dpe cha (Tibetan scripts enclosed in wooden covers) wrapped in orange cloth, offering bowls filled with water, and pictures displaying the Dalai Lama as well as the Karmapa and Milarepa. We took a seat on the ground which was covered with a carpet. The experiences of the old gcodpa were engraved into the wrinkles of his face. Lobsang Jinpa was so old that he had difficulties hearing and seeing, and he frequently told us that he was suffering from a loss of memory. We later learned that he was 88 years old. Nevertheless, he kindly agreed to listen to and try to answer our questions. When I posed my first question in Lhasa Tibetan, this marked the starting point of a complicated translation process. Palden helped me to translate the answers in Ngari dialect and the rather slurred speech of a great-­g randfather back into English. Soon Tenzin intervened and reformulated what I had said in honorific Tibetan into more simple and loud questions. Then Pema Wangchuk got involved and retranslated my questions from the polite form of Tibetan into informal speech. In spite of these difficulties, I learned that

Places, rituals and past worlds  97 the old nomad had met his root guru in that same area where the Rinpoche used to stay for meditation retreats and that more than three decades ago Lobsang Jinpa had worked as his helper. I had worked ­extensively with ­yogin Pema Wangchuk on his biography and gcod practice, so he was familiar with my way of questioning and started not only to explain my research but also began to pose to the old yogin the same questions, that I had asked him before. Then he compared the responses to his own experience: PEMA WANGCHUK: Then, [when you met Rinpoche], what did you think and

feel? LOBSANG JINPA: I used to be very nervous. PEMA WANGCHUK: Yes, I can understand,

because he was a very high

Rinpoche. I felt that he has very much power and that I should ­practice gcod.


Pema Wangchuk, who does not speak English, translated what Lobsang Jinpa said into a Tibetan that I was able to understand. In that way he took on the role of my research assistant. Our teacher became himself a kind of ­student again, since he was curious to learn from the older yogin, who was a fellow student of the same Rinpoche. During the conversation Pema shifted roles easily; as a pilgrim, a fellow student, a research assistant and ­Tibetan-Tibetan translator, a nomad amongst nomads, and a gcodpa ­conversing with another specialist. All these roles related to different lifeworlds and contexts yet converged on a single task: seeking the senior y­ ogin’s advice. While we were sitting together I wondered why our yogin and fellow pilgrim, who was in his seventies, looked so very young during this conversation. He moved without ailment and had a bright smile over his face which let his golden tooth twinkle. His voice sounded younger than usual and at first, I thought that my impression was derived from the contrast to the ­elder Lobsang Jinpa. But then the two started to compare their experience of ­nomad life and I got a hint as to what had happened: after Pema Wangchuk’s escape to Ladakh in the 1970s, he had settled near the capital Leh. Rudiments of the nomad world were still there, such as horses and cattle which he kept in a small field. There had been only few opportunities to meet nomads who had not abandoned their lifestyle. Now he was meeting nomads after a long time and these nomads were not settled in a winter village but dwelling on the move. I remembered how he had spoken about it last night. Good memories had come alive through this encounter, as the yogin had recalled the times from before the Chinese invasion when he was a young boy and his parents were still alive. At that time his mother had wanted him to become a monk so that he could be taught to read and write by his monk uncle. When he had re-entered the nomad’s tent – for the first time in more than 60 years – these memories became embodied

98  Nike-Ann Schröder in his gestures, his expressions, his emotions, and physical condition. The past collapsed into the present, and a lost place-world was retrieved in this encounter. When Casey refers to ‘dwelling as non-residing’, he refers to his memories in which he was wandering around in familiar built structures that were not ‘home’ in a literal sense but yet served for a kind of transitory dwelling (see Casey 2009, 114). If the meaning of ‘dwelling’ is extended from ‘inhabiting’ to ‘existing or being situated within’, then the pilgrims can be tackled in such transitory modes of dwelling in two ways: first, they leave home for going on pilgrimage but likewise to the nomads build encampments which serve as temporary ‘homes’. Second, the pilgrims leave their usual familiar track of activity, and travel with an increased openness: they seek encounters which are different from usual daily routine. Casey (2009, 111) furthermore refers to buildings when he writes: “In becoming implaced, we emerge into a larger world of burgeoning experience, not only by ourselves but with others.” When meeting the nomads, it was neither a familiar place or built structure, nor our independent encampment which served or was the most important aspect achieving ‘implacement’, but it was rather our meeting and interacting with the nomads: dwelling and a sense of ‘home’ arose within those actual encounters. It was evident that such process had taken place when we left the camp: the farewell was almost heartbreaking – and the nomads only let us go after we had promised to visit them again on our return. The nomads’ place-world and the tantric place-world had shared many similarities, especially in terms of setting-up a ‘mobile encampment’: like the nomads’ tents, the yogin’s ritual place-world could principally be set up anywhere. In order to create a dwelling place that offers hospitality, both the nomads and the ritual specialist (including his participants) had enacted a place-world of exchange and communal support. And like the nomads had invited us as guests and shared food with us, the yogin in his meditation and ritual had invited all classes of invisible beings and offered them food and whatever else they required. This describes the gcod method of healing: by creating a shelter for roaming spirits, by including them into the community and satisfying their hunger, or, in short, by offering them a home, the experienced yogin had pacified the evil spirits and therewith stopped them from causing suffering and illness.

Meeting the holy site I: how a traumatic memory enforced its actuality After a long drive, we eventually approached Rewalsar/Tso Pema. During the last kilometers in the car, we had started to recite the Guru Rinpoche mantra. Through this activity, the pilgrims aimed to accumulate karmic merits, but it also served to synchronize the activities of ‘body, speech and mind’ [lus ngag sems] – with the holy site they were about to reach. By ­reciting the mantra we aligned our heart and mind with the quality of the

Places, rituals and past worlds  99 person-cum-deity Guru Rinpoche. Since we were about to reach a site that is so closely connected with him, it simultaneously described a preparatory implacement practice. The pilgrims not simply related but also contributed to the specific historical and spiritual meanings of this site, which itself ­retroacted back onto us pilgrims. We arrived at the settlement and lake Tso Pema in the evening and first looked for a place to stay. According to Cantwell (1995, 4ff.) who describes the development of the settlement, it was changed considerably by the arrival of the Tibetan ­diaspora; before 1959 there had been only a small temple with a few monk ­caretakers there.18 Through the influx of exiled Tibetan Buddhists who ­settled within the Indian village located at the lake, plus pilgrims from the Buddhist Himalaya, Buddhists from other Asian countries and from the West as well as through the establishment of three Tibetan Buddhist ­monasteries (also described by Handa 2008, 67ff.) and a hermitage, the place attained – or regained – a Tibetan-Buddhist significance.19 Cantwell concludes that, though Tibetans in Rewalsar lacked a community organization and saw themselves as politically powerless and economically vulnerable, they felt privileged to be living at a site of such great religious significance. When we arrived at Rewalsar/ Tso Pema, it was Pema Wangchuk, the eldest in our group, who was most excited to have arrived in this holy place and he immediately planned to go around the lake that same evening. Whilst the others went to fetch tea, I accompanied the yogin on this short excursion, which turned out to become a multilayered encounter. When we reached the lake, there was a small green board that described the place in the Tibetan language. Pema Wangchuk stood for a while in front of the board to read its ‘abridged history of Rewalsar Lake’, whilst I had turned to the nearby English version. It was stated there that during the 8th century and in this very place, the king of a kingdom located in ­present-day Mandi20 had tried to burn alive the tantric master Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche).21 All of sudden the flow of our activities seemed to have come to a halt. The surrounding noises faded away; and as they are indicators of manifold activities, this experienced absence of noises indicated a disruption of the world’s ongoing becoming. Within this folding of time, a terrifying memory of a past-life world had transported Pema Wangchuk back to Tibet and into his childhood: the yogin’s father, who had been a local clan chief, had refused to cooperate with the Peoples’ Liberation Army. Pema Wangchuk had to witness how the soldiers burned his father to death. He was a young boy at the time and the experience had left an indelible mark on him. During that very same night of his father’s death, so the yogin had told me, he had had a dream or vision how king Gesar took his father with him; but the boy’s pleas to Gesar to take him, too, had remained unfulfilled. The yogin remained in thoughtful silence for quite some time. We looked at each other and the few words we exchanged, in an atmosphere that was charged with burdens of the past, proved that I knew which situation he had

100  Nike-Ann Schröder remembered.22 The threat of being burned alive which was reported in the text on the board had been like a clue that opened the door to another past experience and called it into presence. Casey remarks that “the things of memory remain with me. They occupy interior psychical (…) places and are the determinative loci of my life. I ­remain with them as well by returning to them in diverse acts of remembering” (Casey 2009, 129, emphasis in the original). Yet traumatic memories have no place. But here, on this board, it was written in black and white that such things as the traumatic incident which the yogin had encountered can take place. This kind of validation seemed to unlock his memory. We can speak of memories – but this is not accurate: as long as the experience of traumatic incidents is not processed, it cannot become a memory integrated into one’s personal history, and its contents can stay ‘current’ over a long time.23 Being banished below the level of the conscious mind, the traumatic entity lives its own existence – and within reading the signboard the whole traumatic past actualized in the moment: the soldiers, the father who struggled and then died in the fire, while he and his mother were forced to watch helplessly; the unheard plea to King Gesar and the staying behind within a situation where the Chinese soldiers took away property, status, and agency, radically transforming the nomad’s former way of life. The words written on that small sign had the power to plunge Pema Wangchuk into a non-­ volitional implacement, into a situation where he had lost all agency and was exposed to immense losses, by the power of his traumatic experience which enforced its actuality. I could see the anguish in the yogin’s eyes. Pema Wangchuk continued to stand in front of that small green board with its white letters and went on reading how Guru Rinpoche did not burn to death but, through his miraculous powers, transformed the funeral pyre into the lake that is seen today. The tantric master emerged unharmed, upon a lotus in the center of the lake. This triumph caused the king who had tried to kill him to become his devotee. I started to understand why Pema ­Wangchuk, after his first visit to Tso Pema, had decided to dedicate his life to the yogin’s path. Taking a quick glance at the circumambulation route, I thought it would be challenging for the old yogin but I offered him my arm and we set out. He clearly found the walking difficult and painful, yet he was determined to do it. He seemed to draw power from his enthusiasm to be at the site and ignored the pain, and he seemed to absorb the ambiance of the site and its surroundings. We took a rest on every bench and rock near the path. It was very dark as we were nearing the end of the circular path where the yogin discovered a painted relief of Guru Rinpoche and his mantra on a big rock nearby. He stood facing the figure carved out of stone, and with his fingertip he gently stroked the relief and traced the letters of the mantra. While his fingers reached out to the actual figure, his attention was directed ­inwards; apparently, the yogin’s mission was to strengthen the contact with the ­h istorical person-and-deity and open his heart for encounter.

Places, rituals and past worlds  101

Meeting the holy site II: The temple with its murals and practice of the gcod ritual at the holy lake The next day we got up early with a feeling of joyful excitement. First, we went around the lake, which according to Buddhist history came into existence when the tantric master foiled the king’s attack on his life. Toni Huber, referring to a Tibetan pilgrimage guidebook to La phyi that gives an account of the site’s conversion, describes how such narratives and ritual journeys flow together (1997, 121): The very details of topographical form are attributed to the results of battles of magic, struggles for power, or other acts, while the landscape becomes named and recognized on the basis of these events. The pilgrimage guidebooks and oral narratives link the landscape and the events that occur there so that the pilgrims understand the associations with specific places and maybe even experience them: Because oral and written guides present […those] scenarios and then anchor them in the landscapes and features of the pilgrimage sites, such texts become manuals for explaining and interpreting the very terrain that the pilgrim is negotiating and, indeed, experiencing. (Huber 1997, 121, emphasis added) The association with legendary past events thereby infuses the natural ­topography with a sacred significance (see Huber 1994, 44). The narratives direct the attention of the pilgrims to the events that took place and which “remain both evident there and active in certain ways” (Huber 1997, 121). In that way, the lake itself can be seen as the first representation of Guru ­Rinpoche’s presence in Tso Pema as it is taken to be both the proof and result of his activities. A second representation was also a natural feature, this time not associated with the past but with the present: the yogin pointed out the bamboo plants growing in the lake and explained: “These are wandering, it is a ­m iracle. The plants indicate Guru Rinpoche’s presence here.”24 Up the hill, there was a third and more directly recognizable representation of Guru Rinpoche: a huge statue of him which overlooked the lake and the surrounding area. Sometime later we followed a path leading up towards the statue. Inside the foundation of the giant statue, we found a temple and painters who were busy working on the murals. We learnt that they had started their work one year before and that it would take them another six months to complete all the pictures. The old yogin headed directly towards a mural which depicted King Gesar and in the background the beautiful grassy landscape and waterfalls of the three-peaked mountain range of Amnye Machen in Eastern Tibet – the yogin’s home area. Another mural showed Machen

102  Nike-Ann Schröder Pomra, a protector and mountain god who resides on one of the three peaks of Amnye Machen. The graphical depictions of mountains, iconic landscape features, animals and local deities together constitute a visible representation of ‘home’ thereby matches with the nomads’ perception which lays ­emphasis on landscape, animals and local deities instead of built structures. Both of these inner place-worlds, i.e. of ritual meditation and an imagined ‘homeland’, came together in these visualizations. Next, the yogin turned to a huge mural which displayed Machig Labdroen as a saṃbhogakāya deity of white color, dancing naked and playing a drum. Above her head, her teacher Padampa Sangyas was painted in lotus posture with long hair, the characteristic white earrings of shell, being engaged in meditation ritual while playing a ḍamaru (ritual drum). The yogin closed his eyes, concentrated and demonstrated a posture of respect: he laid his fingertips together and held his hands onto the crown of his head. Next, he placed his hands in front of his throat and heart cakra. This practice symbolized prostrations towards his meditation deity Machig Labdroen and her teacher. The yogin then demanded: “Please take a photo of me and Machig Labdroen!”, a request which I fulfilled happily. His request mirrored the social interaction, I took the picture of them both, he being a yogin in the 20th and 21st century and her being a yoginī of the 11th and 12th century which had been transformed into a deity and was frequently invoked during the yogin’s meditation. Pema Wangchuk closed his eyes and placed his hands above his head – a yogin’s practice against a painted scenery of Tibet. He then started telling about his beginnings of tantric dharma practice. While he talked about his education and shared memories with me, the d ­ imension of time opened up the current situation into a long chain of years of daily practice as steps on the long path to the present moment. While we later left the room which had turned out to be filled with a huge array of colorful and highly differentiated depictions of an inner cosmos which allowed manifold encounters and stepped outside into the bright sun, the thangka painters went on creating depictions of inner and outer worlds. Cantwell (1995, 3) begins her article with a Tibetan quote which says ­“Zahor, endowed with the Lotus Lake, palace of the heruka of Orgyan”. This refers to Guru Rinpoche and the lake is considered to be his palace. The Tibetan term for ‘pilgrimage’ denotes to ‘meet and encounter the holy site and abode of a deity and its presence’ [gnas mjal] and it is interesting to reflect how the depictions of the various murals we saw in the temple accord with the actual pilgrimage practice. Huber (1999a, 81f.) refers to ­“landscape palaces” of tantric deities which are imagined in the environment. In the ­pilgrimage guide, he presents there are descriptions of deities’ maṇḍalas which are projected or seen within the landscape (e.g. Huber 1994, 45; for an explanation, see Huber 1997, 123f.). However, it is said that only highly realized tantric practitioners can perceive them directly (Huber 1994, 46; 1997, 124). So how do ordinary Tibetan pilgrims encounter Guru Rinpoche at the pilgrimage site?

Places, rituals and past worlds  103 In the afternoon, the yogin asked us to take our gcod texts and instruments and we went back to the lake. As we performed the Tibetan Buddhist ritual together, it started to drizzle and the pilgrims held out their hands to collect the raindrops. The yogin stated happily and with shining eyes: “These are the blessings of Guru Rinpoche!” The others supported this statement and Tenzin said: “Look, this is the answer to our prayers!” The presence of Guru Rinpoche was taken for granted and there was no doubt that he communicated with us. Taking the rain as a blessing was a twofold relating to place: the first one a physical, and the second spiritual. Whilst it is the latter which makes the place holy for the pilgrims, it was the former which assured a ‘real connection’ between Guru Rinpoche and them: in being embodied in raindrops, his blessings had become tangible; and they were perceived to ­occur in response to our religious activities: the pilgrims took these embodied blessings as something that was directed individually to them. To understand the significance of this from the viewpoint of the pilgrimage we should take three issues into consideration. First, the pilgrimage site [gnas] is generally considered to be a dwelling place of deities (and possibly other beings as protectors, spirits, etc.): [G]nas […] always carries the double meaning of the actual physical place, and of the residence or existence of deities, entities or beings ­believed to be powerful or significant in some way by the pilgrims who go there for encounter (mjal-ba). (Huber 1999a, 83) Second, Huber (1999a, 88) makes the point that “Tibetan pilgrimage has primarily to do with persons forming certain relationships with the gnas” and (Huber 1999a, 83) that material substances of the place are equated with the being residing there. So, the rain which the pilgrims took as a ‘­blessing’ [byin brlabs] can be considered as a form of ‘physical contact’ establishing a relation between the pilgrims and Guru Rinpoche who was assumed to be present in the gnas of Tso Pema. Third, Huber (1999a, 88) mentions ­various types of physical, sensory relationship between person and place such as touching, consuming, collecting and exchanging which are common ­Tibetan pilgrimage practices – and it is in this light that the pilgrims felt they actually received something from Guru Rinpoche. They may not have seen the maṇḍala, but they felt they had encountered the presence of the deity. While on all other occasions where gcod had been practiced on the way, the tantric world was evoked in mediation, here it was different. We were in a place where Guru Rinpoche’s presence and that of the tantric place-world were assumed to be inherent. The meditated maṇḍala usually serves to meditate and encounter the presence of the deities, and the practitioner then seeks to enter an enlightened state of perception. Here, at the holy site, it was assumed that the deity’s presence was given – only that one had to open oneself to encounter. The boundary between the physical world around

104  Nike-Ann Schröder us and the inwardly meditated tantric world with its maṇḍalas got blurred which enabled various pathways to be pursued. When the lake can be encountered as a maṇḍala itself, the worlds can fall into one. All of a sudden dwelling in the tantric world was not anymore a mere dwelling in an ‘inner’ place-world of meditation, but rather became one with the physical placeworld that integrated the dichotomy of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’. Another Tibetan term for pilgrimage – gnas skor – refers to ‘circumambulating (around) holy sites’, a practice which the pilgrimage group undertook many times during the stay in Tso Pema. Besides accumulating spiritual merit which is the traditional belief, I suggest that this practice enhances a feeling of relationship and familiarity with holy places and to the deities and beings associated with them. Casey describes processes of getting familiar to a place, as “developing a com-presence, a ‘being-with’”: I find myself with the palazzo as I approach or enter it, linger alongside or circumambulate it. As I come to know it, this building becomes a com-presence in my experience, and I become compresent with it. Such double withness underlies my sense of being-at-home with a built place. (…) I feel that I belong there not because I have been there for an ­allotted stretch of time but because I am so much with the place – and it is so much with me – that we seem to belong to each other. (Casey 2009, 128, emphasis in the original) Casey describes this process for building, yet in our case, the same process happened – and was induced – by our group of pilgrims at the lake site. This site was perceived as one ensemble of the lake, the beings living in and around it, and the all-pervading presence of Guru Rinpoche. The ‘com-­ presence’ with Guru Rinpoche was enabled and empowered through the habituation with previous practices of addressing prayers to him in the temple (and elsewhere), and of relating to him as a yid dam [personal meditation deity] in practice, thus an opening up to encounter was less opening up to a completely new site, but more of re-discovering the com-presence through the medium of a familiar deity. Furthermore, in developing a com-presence with the new site, not with a building but a landscape, the ­pilgrims could draw on their former experience as nomads, where most of the daily life took place under the open sky, and landscape features rather than built structures were important for orientation and experiencing a sense of belonging. Such ‘fitting’ circumstances may contribute to the intensity of openness and interaction, which, in turn, strengthen a sense of familiarity. In this way, ‘staying in a location’ opened up to ‘dwelling in a place’. Casey writes that “to be with a given built place is not just a matter of being in its literal presence (…) the with is an abiding and subtle being-with” (Casey 2009, 129). This held very true for our interacting with the holy site on our first day, on which religious practice had been entwined with numerous ­p ersonal ­situations and ­manifold encounters.

Places, rituals and past worlds  105

Rediscovering Tibet in the hidden sacred place-world The next day, we visited a cave which is located on the upper side of a hill, where the scenery was somewhat different from the assembly of houses and monasteries on the lakeside. On the way upwards, Palden suddenly stopped and crouched down at the side. Some rocks which were partly covered by grass and fern left an opening in the middle. We saw water running down into the depths of the rocks. A line of colorful prayer flags marked this special place. The yogin exclaimed happily that this was a klu’i pho drang, a palace of serpent deities or spirits [klu] corresponding to the Indian nāgas to which are attributed ambiguous characteristics: on one hand, they are said to guard jewels, and on the other to cause illness (see Nebesky-­Wojkowitz 1956, 290f.).25 The yogin displayed joy and respect, referring to their ­dwelling-place as a ‘palace’- an attitude which accords with that of Bonpo pilgrims in the pilgrimage account of Gelek Jinpa et al. (2005, 100f.).26 The klu are always associated with water; springs and lakes are considered to be one of their dwelling places. We went on and eventually entered a huge and sparsely illuminated cave – this marked the culmination of our pilgrimage. The yogin spoke of the cave as a ‘secret’ place – it was certainly more hidden from the public and was considered to be a place of tantric practice. We paid respect to a huge Guru Rinpoche statue adorned with colored light bulbs, flowers, and khataks. Above the central statue, a small opening let daylight into the cave, and a bit further inside, there was a smaller cave which turned out to be a shrine room for Mandāravā, the princess of Zahore,27 who according to Buddhist history had meditated here with her master and spiritual consort Guru Rinpoche. Thus, the whole cave and the surrounding hill was reckoned to be infused with the power of their practice which added to the Buddhist-historical significance of the establishment of the site itself.28 We paid respect and made offerings to both of them. After we had stayed a long time in the cave, we stepped outside into the bright light. We then followed the stairs leading up to the hilltop where we already spotted some prayer flags. On the top, we met a monk who invited us to have tea in his meditation cave. He took us to an entrance which was ­masoned from bricks and nestled into green thicket. We entered a kind of small patio that led deeper into the cave: there was a shrine, a bed and a small kitchen inside. We learnt that the monk had just recently arrived from ­Tibet. The monk’s native area was located in Kham, a place that was not far from where the others lived. This discovery induced excitement among the ­pilgrims. Pema Wangchuk and Dolkar asked numerous questions about the region in ­Tibet, about the current situation and about what they still remembered from there. Inside of the small retreat cave, something like a jump of time took place. Since the monk just recently came from the homeland, he brought the ‘real Tibet’ with him – which for the others seemed to have crystallized into an entity which is at the same time very much alive and

106  Nike-Ann Schröder there, but also solidified in formalized pictures, anecdotes and discussions about the Tibet issue talked about so many times. The repetitions of remembering, the decades that have passed since actually being in Tibet, and the inaccessibility of the homeland have transformed it into something which is reproduced in many ways but has lost its immediacy. Suddenly, however, some aspect of Tibet which is described in books, sang about in songs, performed in cultural activities and drawn in children’s’ pictures immediately presented itself: it was there and it was still existing. I could watch how my elder fellow pilgrims, Pema Wangchuk and Dolkar, immersed themselves into the felt atmosphere of eastern Tibet by refreshing their past memories through the actuality of the monk’s account. I asked the monk’s permission to interview him about his biography and education. He agreed happily and I prepared my recording device. All our pilgrimage group followed the monk’s description of how and where he had been educated in Tibet. We learnt that he was a yogin, lama, and practitioner of Great Perfection. He had spent several years serving his master, and meditating in caves, putting his master’s advice into practice. He reported that even though such traditional forms of religious education were exposed to political pressure in Tibet, people sought to maintain them wherever possible. Pema Wangchuk got very excited and started to ask his own questions. His attitude towards the monk – though it had been very respectful from the beginning – turned into that of a student addressing a teacher. For the old yogin, it wasn’t important that the monk was much younger than himself; he had received teachings from highly respected Rinpoches in Tibet, and he was thoroughly educated in the Buddhist philosophical background of a yogin’s practice. Such an education had been unobtainable for Pema Wangchuk since he had never joined a monastery but worked full time until mature in age and lived in the refugee settlement without financial means to travel and meet educated teachers. His teacher who had lived in the settlement had passed away before transmitting many teachings. For this reason, the yogin had focused on carrying out his practices. Now he happily took the chance to ask some philosophically inclined questions. We all learnt about ways of learning meditation and transforming the mindset, the importance of motivation and cultivating the bodhicitta mind – the enlightened mind which combines a perception of the emptiness of self and phenomena with the attitude of compassion. The lama invited us to come back the next day in order to continue answering these questions and give us more teachings. On the following morning, we went to see the lama again. After we had sat down in his cave, the lama gave advice according to Pema Wangchuk’s and Tenzin’s questions. The yogin was particularly interested in offering practices directed towards Gesar of Ling. The lama had demanded that we bring our meditation texts, which, in following, allowed us to recite the rituals, make prayers and chant invocations and mantras directed towards Guru Rinpoche. Our group then cooked together and it felt like being in a family – with members of the pilgrim group and the monk addressing each

Places, rituals and past worlds  107 other as ‘elder lama-brother’, ‘mother’, ‘sister’ or ‘brother’. Everybody was joking and short requests crossed that little cave: “Give me that knife!”’ or “Don’t add that much oil!” The monk was smiling and obviously enjoyed the unexpected familiarity – which he had missed badly after leaving Tibet as he told me later. The yogin, for his part, seemed to ponder over something and was unusually quiet and withdrawn. After we had eaten lunch, he turned to the lama and stated that he would need his advice on an urgent issue. The monk agreed and prepared himself to listen carefully. While the pilgrimage and meeting the newcomer from Tibet had elicited actuality of many events which had taken place in Tibet, and the difficult issues were not been spared out. Yet so far, the difficult issues had been those which had happened to the yogin. Now he was rather concerned with his own deeds. He sought the monk’s advice concerning deeds which he had carried out during his time as a member of the armed resistance in Tibet, and which were painful to remember since they ran contrary to his Buddhist training and beliefs; and because they had caused suffering and death to many people, and thus produced ‘black’ karma. The yogin asked the lama what he should do. I started to practice dharma when I was over 50 years old. Before that, I have committed lots of sins. LAMA KUNZANG: What kind of non-virtuous deeds did you do? PEMA WANGCHUK: I have killed many Chinese. LAMA KUNZANG: How many? PEMA WANGCHUK: I cannot count. PEMA WANGCHUK:

The monk gave extensive answers. The main part naturally was to develop compassion and the enlightened mind towards all beings. He did not judge and he did not make any statement implying that the practice of dharma was not suitable for a person with such a history. On the contrary, his explanations stressed its essence in the following statement: Oh, then dharma practice is very useful. […] It is your attitude which is the most important. […] Purification is very essential.


The monk advised the yogin that first of all; he needs to have a strong regret. Without regret there would be no transformation possible. He said that it was regret; which was crucial as the basis from which a transformation could take place. Then he recommended various purification practices, some of which were tantric, and some of which were part of the ‘Great ­Perfection’ – practices. The outcome should be a state in which all beings are to be perceived as ‘mother-beings’ – sentient beings who in former lives had been our mothers and had taken many pains giving them birth, nurture, and protection whilst growing up. Our perception should mirror the wish to repay their kindness, as well as limitless love and compassion. The monk

108  Nike-Ann Schröder concluded with the statement that there should be no dividing into ‘friends’ and ‘enemies’. Of course, these Buddhist ‘basics’ were known to the yogin, so why did he listen so closely and in such deep respect? What made this repetition so precious for him? Sitting in the cave and watching the scenery, I saw several strands which were closely entwined: First, serious practitioners are not satisfied with reading and intellectually understanding an issue once. They go through it again and again, and the issue sinks in and reaches deeper and deeper levels of understanding. Secondly, oral instructions are considered to be far more valuable than knowledge derived from books, since they ­include a direct encounter with a teacher and living example of embodied practice. The teacher is thus simultaneously a source of inspiration and a living validation of the Buddhist philosophy, with an additional blessing through the teacher’s field of presence. Third, he received these explanations from a lama from Tibet, a younger one, representing the continuance of passing on the dharma explanations and practices – despite the destruction which takes place inside Tibet; the very same destruction which had made the old yogin become a resistance member several decades before. His military efforts to stop the destruction of his home country had been in vain, yet the young lama proved that not all sources of Tibet culture and religion had been annihilated. Fourth, he received these explanations in a cave in this particular place, a holy site where a transformation of great impact is believed to have taken place. When the pilgrims and the lama had been talking about the very place the day before, responding to my research questions about the significance of the holy site, Palden had retold its history similar to what was written on the small board near the lake: Mandāravā went away from her family to learn from Guru Rinpoche in this cave [we visited up here]. One of the cowherds who was looking after the cows on this hill had a look inside the cave and saw Guru ­Rinpoche and Mandarava. He then informed the king of Mandi and all the local people. They all came and took them out of the cave and tied them over there. Then they untied and the princess and took her to Mandi. They tried to burn him alive over there. After all the wood was burned, there were ashes, but Guru Rinpoche was not burnt. He was there in a very peaceful form, and the pyre had turned into the lake. So that is why this Lotus Lake is holy, and why even the element of fire cannot burn this area. Palden’s reference to the site’s history sheds light on how the tantric master counteracted the aggression directed towards him – he had appeared, as Palden emphasized, in ‘a very peaceful form’ – a point which I will return to in my concluding consideration. The lama who stayed in the cave had emphasized another aspect of the site’s history:

Places, rituals and past worlds  109 Up here is the meditation cave of Guru Rinpoche and Mandāravā, and this is the place where he tamed the klu (nāga deities). Yesterday next to the stairs which lead up the hill, you saw the klu’i pho brang (palace of the nāga deities), that is the place where he tamed the serpent deities. When I then asked him whether the holy site would possess any particular nus pa (inherent quality and power), he answered: This is a very special place. It is known to be a dwelling place of many sri gdon [spirits which cause harm] … this why Guru Rinpoche came here… to tame all these spirits. Thus, the transformation that the tantric master had initiated at the holy site was concerned with the invisible world, with disturbances and hindrances caused by evil spirits. The master had carried out meditation to tame the local spirits, limit their negative influence and convert them into protectors of the dharma. In doing so, he had applied the same procedure to the place of Rewalsar as he had carried out in Tibet to prepare the ground for a successful establishment of Buddhism in the country. The special quality of the place then attracted more meditators, right up to the present day. The lama described the practitioners who had meditated in the cave we were just sitting in before: So even in this cave, two hermit meditators [mtshams pa], one tāntrika [sngags pa] and one nun [a ne lags] meditated here. The tāntrika passed away in this cave; and when he died, he stayed here for 7 days in thugs dam [a state that a great meditation practitioner may enter during death, dwelling in recognition of the nature of mind. During this time, the ­deceased may stay in a sitting posture without his body starting to decay] in this cave, where we sit now. In this way, the yogins, who seek the nus pa of the site to empower their meditation, through their own practice contribute to the creation of the holy site. They add the reenactment of realization, and in doing so they not only show that the tantric path of the master can be followed successfully by ­others but eventually display ‘signs’ of realization such as staying in thugs dam during the process of dying. This matches accounts in Tibetan pilgrimage guidebooks which, as (Huber 1994, 44f.) has shown, list not only the famous religious practitioners who stayed at a gnas, but also their meditation experiences and spiritual attainments which are believed to have contributed to the ‘sanctification’ and ‘powerful transformations’ of those places. When I asked the lama about the biggest difference between the holy site and other places, he replied: This is a very special place: here all the snakes, the cobra, and all other snakes, they never bite the people because they are tamed. [Here it is]

110  Nike-Ann Schröder unlike in the rest [of India, where] the cobra bites people, here they are all tamed…like the animals in Tibet. They are not harming people. The monk described the holy site as a place where one is protected from dangerous animals since they have been tamed. There are two aspects to this in Tibetan pilgrimage guidebooks. The first can be seen in Huber’s (1994, 43) account of Milarepa ‘opening the door to the site’ of La phyi through neutralizing and converting the local mountain goddesses and gods in order to make the place ‘safe’. Huber concludes: Through these stories, the present-day visitors and residents of La phyi are made to feel that it is by virtue of these earlier events that they are now able to come and meditate in the caves or herd their yaks safely in the pastures of the valley. A second aspect which Ramble (1999, 15) emphasizes, is the ‘conquest’ in which the natural topography is transformed into a spiritual place: The whole process is best understood in terms of the notion of subjugation (‘dul-ba) in which the hostile anarchy of nature is organized and brought into the service of the conquering religion. Besides transforming the landscape into a maṇḍala, he says: “the wildlife is literally tame”.29 In the case of Tso Pema, the transformation which the tantric master effects in the spirit world through taming the serpent spirits here cross the line and applies to their visible embodiments in the fauna that are prevalent in the place: animals which belong to the most dangerous species in India have been transformed into peaceful creatures. The descriptions all attribute a special quality to this site which has witnessed various transformations and where the activities of practitioners including their meditations on compassion and emptiness have proven to be very powerful and have produced visible effects. The lama and newcomer from Tibet had drawn a comparison to Tibet when he had described the snakes which had been turned into peaceful ­animals. This did not refer to the ‘Tibet’ which had faced destruction and resistance, but to an imagined ‘Tibet’ as a place of sanctuary where ­dangerous creatures can be tamed and taught not to harm others. Such a vision of Tibet has to be seen from a religious viewpoint and also as an idealized image propagated not just by Western authors, but also by the Tibetan exile community (for the last see Huber 1997, 300ff.). Longing for a home which is not accessible and a culture which has been the target of oppression and destruction here possibly merge with childhood memories which might be in parts selective and idealized, yet not necessarily untrue especially those that dated back to a time before he was faced with danger, loss, trauma, and guilt.

Places, rituals and past worlds  111 However, there is a downside to imagining ‘the old Tibet’ as a place of pure peace and non-violence, it may help create a specific ‘Tibetan identity’ and gain support for the Tibet cause but it is problematic for the former members of the armed resistance who struggle to implace their own ­h istories, actions, and identities into such a monolithic picture.30 The monk in the cave, as a refugee himself who had just left Tibet, helped the elderly yogin, also a fellow refugee, to relate to a less idealized Tibet by both reporting from the country as it is now and by considering the yogin’s former deeds without judging him adversely as a person. He gave valuable spiritual ­advice by means of which the ‘black deeds’ could be converted to a manageable ‘work task’ of purification, and he suggested practices to accumulate spiritual merit and to cultivate wisdom and compassion which would guard against hatred and the wish for revenge. All this took place at a pilgrimage site located in exile but with strong ties to Tibet, assumed to have both witnessed and being empowered through a tantric Buddhist conversion, embodied by a figure which appeared on the lake in peaceful form but endowed with a power granting agency and a­ bility to bring about transformation which was enhanced through the spiritual practices of him and his consort. Its religious significance regarded against the background of the yogin’s biography shows a deep entwinement ­between life events, life decisions and deeds of the religious practitioner on one hand and religious practice on the other – and tracing their interplay offers glimpses of the profundity of both.

Conclusion The pilgrimage journey was saturated with encounters: there were new encounters en route, remembrance of past place-worlds, as well as evoking and opening up to tantric inner place-worlds. The intensity of encounter was increased through the frequency of new encounters during the journey, and the openness towards the presence of members of the tantric Tibetan Buddhist pantheon who were frequently evoked in ritual. The Buddhist rituals and meditations were not just performances of texts, but colored and informed through individual biography and social encounter, and thus ­enriched and brought to life. In turn, the ritual practices shaped social encounters as well as attitudes and perceptions. The lived spaces that arose from the interplay of place, people, deities, animals, and spirits were inevitably enmeshed. The entangled situated interactions and experiences grouped into compounds, unique formations of engagements, responses, and unexpected occurrences, in short: the pilgrims traveled through a multi-­dimensional encounter-scape. Though it felt different when departing, the enterprise of the pilgrimage was the reverse of an act of dislocating. It was rather a continuous flow of finding places of belonging: it harbored the potential of ‘coming home’. ‘Coming home’ is thereby not reduced to coming back to the Tibetan

112  Nike-Ann Schröder Refugee Settlement in Ladakh after the pilgrimage, though the movement of setting-out-and-return – with a treasury of encounters – might increase the feeling of ‘home’ and make it more stable.31 During the pilgrimage, still other processes of encountering, re-finding and even creating ‘home’ occurred. Let us for one moment apply Casey’s (2009, 109, emphasis and translation in the original) comparison of the e­ xperience of being lost at sea to the situation of being a refugee in exile: We feel that we could go anywhere, yet we might be nowhere in particular (…) we lack a sure sense of where our own place is. What we lack, therefore, is twofold: stabilitas loci (“stability of place”) and inhabitancy in place. Home and belonging to a particular place are lost. When Casey writes that homecoming means that “I come back to a home that was” (Casey 2009, 299, emphasis in the original), this is impossible for a refugee in exile. But during this pilgrimage, it became evident that also lost places can serve as places to ‘come home’ to, as a focus of identity, when their trajectories and memories from the past are stable and inhabitable for the self. ­Memories were evoked and entwined with encountering actual situations. Immersion, interaction and implacement (into places and actual encounter of ­landscape, people, animals, deities, and spirits) occurred through the integration of memory not only reminding people of home but also bringing the memory of past time and belonging into actuality. And even if homecoming is painstaking in some instances: it is normally better than being lost. Casey (2009, 291) notes: By coming home, I effect on series of alliances with those, who still remain there; with those who were once there but are now dead or ­departed; with my own memories; with my current self, disparate as it doubtless is from the self who once lived in this same place; and above all with the home-place I once left. The yogin found ‘those who still remain there’: he met with the nomads who still keep the way of living in which the yogin had grown up, and he met the monk who had come just recently from Tibet and reported from Tibetans who are actually in Tibet. The yogin also found ‘those who were once there but are now dead or departed’ when the traumatic memory of his father’s death enforced its actuality, when he remembered his family and his comrades in the resistance group, and when in his ritual he called the deceased Tibetans’ consciousnesses, which had lost their way, to come home. He also found his current self in various roles: yogin, gcodpa, student, teacher, as well as his past self in various situations, as nomad, resistance member and student of a monk. The ‘home place that I once left’ was lived among the

Places, rituals and past worlds  113 nomads, mirrored in reports, painted in the temple and evoked in ritual. All those the old yogin met on the way of the pilgrimage. What distinguishes it from mere remembrance, is that all this was not found in the past alone, but in actual encounters in the present. Our pilgrimage only lasted 12 days, but coming home and experiencing a sense of belonging is not necessarily bound to having spent a long period of time in a place that is experienced or referred to as ‘home’: “What counts is not a continuing investment in a place but the intensity and quality of my current experience in returning there. Re-implacement and co-habitancy are on the agenda at the ends of journeys.” (Casey 2009, 291). When we then extend Casey’s (borrowing from Thoreau) ‘co-habitancy’, a “special kind of settled coexistence of humans and land, natural and cultural, contemporaries and ancestors” with the category of co-habitancy between past and current self, the possibility of ‘coming home’ in various places opens up. Relating back to the former self was encountered and re-actualized in manifold situations during the journey: the interplay of memories and actual encounter wove patterns which granted actual places of belonging, feeling ‘home’. Although it might seem to be contradictory at first glance, those places of belonging were found far away from the former ‘home’ in Tibet and not in stable places one frequently returns to, but en route and within and across the lived spaces (inner and outer, past and present, tangible and visualized in meditation) of our ritual journey.

Notes 1 A mahāsiddha is a great accomplished tantric practitioner (Tib. grub thob chen po) who acts as tantric master and teacher. 2 I have decided to write Sanskrit terms in italics and with diacritics, also Tibetan terms are given in italics, and transliterated according to the Wylie s­ ystem; ­Tibetan names and place names are for the reader’s convenience written in a transcription which follows the pronunciation. 3 Gcod is a Tibetan term and means ‘to severe’, ‘to cut (off)’. 4 In the Tibetan Buddhist context, a sādhana is a ritual text that is recited or sung, and that guides the practitioner through a meditation process. For the gcod ritual, practitioners of different lineages rely on distinct sādhana texts (though there are cross-overs). One of the most famous and widely practiced sādhana texts is ‘The Sound of the Ḍākinī’s Laughter’ which forms part of ‘Longchenpa’s Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse’ compiled by Jigme Lingpa (1729/30–1798). 5 See Gyatso (1985), Kollmar-Paulenz (1993), Edou (1996), Harding (2003), Kyabje Zong Rinpoche (2006), Karmapa Thekchok Dorje and Jamgön Kongtrul Lodö Taye (2007). 6 In Havevnik’s biography of Jetsun Lochen Rinpoche who was born in ­Rewalsar/ Tso Pema in 1865, the site is listed as one of four places which the Nepalese mother regarded as ‘important for pilgrimage’, together with Mount Kailas, Muktinath and Gasha Khandroling (Lahoul) (see Havevnik 1999, 2f.). 7 The Tibetan scholar Amdo Gendun Chöphel who wrote an account and a guidebook for pilgrimage sites based on his travel and to India and Ceylon from 1934 to 1946 mentioned Tso Pema with only one sentence (see the Tibetan text and Huber’s translation in Huber (2000, 70 and 71; see also Huber 2008, 326).

114  Nike-Ann Schröder 8 For an overview on studies of Tibetan pilgrimage see Huber (1999a, 99; 1999b, 231) and Bründer (2008, 3ff.). 9 For the different genres of Tibetan guidebook literature see Huber (1994, 39f.), Ramble (1999, 3), and Bründer (2008, 13f.) who provides a list and classification of 372 Tibetan guidebooks and pilgrimage accounts. 10 For accounts of pilgrimages in form of diaries see e.g. Hanna (1994) and Gelek Jinpa et al. (2005) for pilgrimages in Tibet, and Nicoletti (2013) for a pilgrimage of Nepali gcod practitioners in Nepal. For a detailed description of actual ritual culture and practices of pilgrimage at Tsari in Tibet see Huber (1999b). 11 Stūpas are Buddhist buildings which are placed in the landscape. They contain a srog shing – a ‘life tree’ or ‘axis of life’ – and are filled with mantra rolls, relics, precious stones, tsa tsa (deity reliefs made of clay) and other items which symbolize, refer to or are part of the ‘Three Jewels’ Buddha, dharma (Buddhist ­doctrine, scriptures and treachings), and saṅgha (assembly of enlightened beings, often extended to include also those being on the path to enlightenment). In Tibetan religious culture, there are eight different shapes of stūpas, each of which refers to a particular event in the life of the Buddha. Stūpas are painted white, or in an assembly of three, they are sometimes painted white, orange and blue to express the presence of the ‘three protectors’, the bodhisattvas of compassion (Avalokiteśvara), wisdom (Mañjuśrī) and power (Vajrapāni). Stūpas are highly symbolic in shape, referring to many elements of tantric Buddhism, and at the same time indicate the presence of the ‘Three Jewels’. According to ­Tibetan Buddhist understanding, stūpas have the power to alter the landscape by granting the presence of Buddha, dharma, and saṅgha. If Tibetan devotees pass a stūpa, they often circumambulate it three times clockwise to pay respect to the Three Jewels. 12 In the Tibetan cultural context, both lay and monastic people are very open to the occurrence of an ‘omen’ and to adjust their planning in accordance with their interpretation of it. See Cantwell (1995, 4f.) for an example of a monastic community interpreting a natural phenomenon as a reassuring omen that a planned ritual dance should go ahead despite a shortage of monks. See Hanna (1994, 5ff.) for a report of a Rinpoche telling pilgrims that they might expect all kinds of omens and even see phenomena in the sky depending on the pilgrim’s merit. Life stories of famous religious figures often describe a whole array of omens preceding and accompanying their birth (see e.g. Edou (1996, 123ff.) and Harding (2003, 60ff.) for the birth of Machig Labdroen). 13 See Karmay (1998, 413ff.) for a description of rlung rta and a discussion of their features and origin. According to him, these flags and paper prints as well as the underlying concept were not originally religious (Buddhist). He traces their origin to Tibetan secular cults of mountains and high places, and to ­concepts borrowed from Chinese astrology [nag rtsis]. According to him, the inscribed prayers and mantras are a later addition – when local ritual traditions were reshaped through Buddhist practices. Rabten (2011, 151ff.) agrees that the ­Buddhist prayers were a later addition but claims that both the flags and the personal forces associated with rlung rta stemmed from Bon and ‘ancient Tibetan’ origins. 14 Rlung rta is one of several personal forces which are identified in Tibetan astrology; see Karmay (1998, 414) for a list of those forces. He translates rlung rta in this context as ‘well-being’ or ‘good fortune’ (Karmay 1998, 415). 15 See Sumegi (2008, 107ff.) for a discussion of ‘rten ‘brel referring on the one hand to the Buddhist doctrine of pratītyāsamutpāda [dependent or interdependent origination], and on the other to its usage as an ‘omen’ in the Tibetan cultural context mostly based on folk beliefs. She remarks that the term is used both

Places, rituals and past worlds  115 philosophically and practically and seeks to trace how they are integrated. Her reformulation of an explanation by Khenpo Tsewang Gyatso reads: Because the principle that all phenomena arise interconnectedly and interdependently applies without exception to every existent [being, incident and phenomena], linking them throughout time and space, what appears to be a random or chance occurrence can be analyzed in terms of its connections. One can understand tendrel, then, as experiences or events that indicate the principle of interdependence and interconnectivity at work. 16 See McGranahan (2010, 2f.) for the neglected history of the Tibetan armed resistance. She suggests four explanations: (1) the secretly conducted support through the CIA which demanded that military operations were kept secret. (2) The declared non-violence of the struggle for the Tibetan cause based on Buddhist ethics (3) the failure of the guerilla war to regain political control over Tibet for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government and (4) the resistance member challenging long-standing Tibetan power structures and cultural hierarchies (p. 2). She furthermore argues that veterans experience the forgetting of resistance history as part of social politics of belonging. Forgetting creates not just a narrative absence for this past, but also a specific social presence for the veterans. Despite […their] sentiment that they were and still are in service to Buddhism and Tibet, they are socially categorized as problematic, as inhabiting subject positions and embracing political projects at odds with Tibetan society. 17 The Tibetan term bla ma is written ‘lama’ here for convenience; when referring to a particular person and being part of the name, I will write ‘Lama’. 18 According to Huber (2008, 307), this temple was erected during the 19th century. Handa (2008, 69) notes that the old part of the monastery was built in the late 19th century on the foundation of an older construction. 19 There had been attempts by non-Tibetan Buddhists, too: see Huber (2008, 307f.) for a description of South Asian Buddhist pilgrims in the 1930s who described the Tibetan temple as a ‘pitiful sight’ and ‘filthy beyond description’ and following appeals to revive the site as part of a network of ancient Indian Buddhist holy places. 20 According to Handa (2008, 66), Tibetan sources and local belief refer to king Arshadar of Sahor (Zahor) but no evidence for this can be found in historical Indian sources. Handa relies on Taklung Tsetrul Rinpoche, the former head of the Tibetan Buddhist rnying ma school, who asserts that Sahor (Zahor) refers to a region in present-day Bengal, but a branch of the ruling house might have colonized the area around Rewalsar. Huber (2008, 239f.) mentions that the Tibetan rnying ma school refers to a king of Zahor in Rewalsar, while the newer schools locate Zahor in Eastern India. He points out that the equation of Mandi and Zahor in Tibetan sources did not occur before the late 18th or early 19th century. 21 See also Cantwell (1995, 3), Huber (2008, 239f.) and Handa (2008, 68) for a short description of this mythological or, according to the Buddhist view, historical event which is documented in hagiographies. 22 I worked intensively with the yogin on his autobiography and thus knew about many of the incidents he had experienced. 23 For an introduction to Psychotrauma and its ‘cultural translation’ into Tibetan concepts and approaches to treatment, see Schröder (2011). 24 Handa (2008, 69) mentions ‘two islands, thickly covered with the bamboo-grass and a medicinal herb’ floating on the lake. In the earliest Western historical record of Tibetan pilgrims at the site which dates from 1817 to 1818 and is documented by Huber (2008, 241), the author describes ‘seven floating islands’ which he assumes to be based on wood, carrying a tree and flowers. According to his

116  Nike-Ann Schröder







report, the local lamas claimed that they were able to call the islands to come. Cantwell (1995, 4) describes an incident which took place in 1982, when the larger of the floating islands arrived in front of the rnying ma monastery located at the lake; she reports that the monks took its arrival as an omen and referred to it as ‘island Guru’ [gling gi gu ru]. Waddell (1979 [1895], 368) mentions four different kinds of nāgas. One kind guards the mansions of the gods, another kind causes winds to blow and rain to fall (see Waddell 1979, 499 and 508 for related rituals), one kind marks the courses of rivers, and one kind of nāgas acts as guardians of hidden treasures. According to Tibetan belief, the pollution of water springs causes the nāgas to send illness. In his diary of a Bonpo pilgrimage to Mount Kailās and the Khyunglung ­Valley, Gelek Jinpa describes Lake Mānasarovar [ma pham g.yu mtsho] as the place where Tonpa Sherab taught not only humans but also nāgas. The lake is thought to be the dwelling place of a nāga queen and her 100,000 servants. The nāga queen is described as the “symbolic source of all life-giving water” who “bestows the world with rivers, flowers, fruit, medicinal herbs, and forests” (Gelek Jinpa et al. 2005, 101). According to Buddhist history, the king of Zahore tried to kill the tantric master because he was accused of having seduced his daughter (see Cantwell 1995, 3; Huber 2008, 239). She is said to have been a nun and practitioner of the dharma before meeting the tantric master with whom she then engaged in tantric practice. Handa (2008, 68) reports a slightly different version, that she “caught fancy for Padmasambhav [Guru Rinpoche]” and that his rivals instigated the king to kill him. He (Handa 2008, 69) describes Mandāravā as a “tantric goddess of the Tibetans”. In any case she is a well-known and powerful female figure in Tibetan Buddhism, ‘deified’ and regarded not only as one of the two main spiritual partners of Guru Rinpoche (the other one being Yeshe Tsogyal), but also as an outstanding practitioner in her own right. See Huber (1994, 42ff.) for an example of a narrative of the conversion of a site to a gnas as laid out in the Tibetan pilgrimage guide of La phyi. According to the narrative, the first conversion was undertaken by the Buddhist deity Cakrasaṃvara, his consort and retinue who overpowered heterodox powers and manifested their maṇḍala. The site was subsequently ‘opened’ through the great meditator Milarepa who subdued further hostile forces and empowered the site with his practice. This account credits both divine intervention and further empowerment by a powerful human practitioner for the transformation of the site to a place of pilgrimage. Both principles are at play in Tso Pema where the lake is the site of the main transformation, further enhanced by the cave becoming empowered through the practice of Guru Rinpoche and Mandāravā. See also Huber (1999a, 80): “During [the period when Indian Buddhist ideas entered into and developed in a Tibetan cultural milieu], important models were established for the relationship between human beings and the world. On one level, “nature” was “conquered” (‘dul-ba) by “culture” (i.e. Buddhism) …” and Ramble (1999, 27): “All sacred geography involves doing violence to nature by reorganizing it in ways that are congenial to human terms of reference.” Dodin and Räther (1997, 343) note that a non-critical and idealizing approach to Tibet’s past is not only far from the reality but also has hampered reformative ­efforts. Brauen (2000, 255ff.) refer to various Tibetan authors (including the ­Dalai Lama) who try to represent Tjbet and its history in a more realistic way – and points out that these more nuanced accounts meet with a lack of interest from Western audiences as well as resistance from the Tibetan community in exile. This is the context in which members of the armed resistance find themselves in difficulties to negotiate their former deeds and struggle. See McGranahan (2010) for the neglected history of the Tibetan armed resistance.

Places, rituals and past worlds  117 31 See Casey (2009, 291): “An initial implacement is succeeded by a displacement elsewhere as a journey is undertaken; the displacement, which might itself be multiple, in turn gives way to a last implacement at the end of the journey that is comparatively conclusive and stable.”

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118  Nike-Ann Schröder Huber, Toni. 1999a. “Putting the Gnas back into the Gnas-skor: Rethinking ­Tibetan Pilgrimage Practice.” In Sacred Spaces and Powerful Places in Tibetan Culture: A Collection of Essays, Toni Huber (ed.). Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, pp. 77–104. Huber, Toni. 1999b. The Cult of Pure Crystal Mountain: Popular Pilgrimage and Visionary Landscape in Southeast Tibet. New York: Oxford University Press. Huber, Toni. 2000. The Guide to India: A Tibetan Account by Amdo Gendun Chöphel. Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. Huber, Toni. 2008. The Holy Land Reborn: Pilgrimage & the Tibetan Reinvention of Buddhist India. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Ingold, Tim. 1995. “Building, Dwelling, Living: How Animals and People make themselves at Home in the World.” In Shifting Contexts. Transformations in ­Anthropological Knowledge, Marilyn Strathern (ed.). London, New York: ­Routledge, pp. 172–188. Ingold, Tim. 2000. The Perception of Environment. Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London, New York: Routledge. Kapstein, Matthew. 1998. “The Guide to the Crystal Peak.” In Religions of Tibet in Practice, Donald S. Lopez (ed.). New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, pp. 103–119. Karmapa, Thekchok Dorje; Jamgön, Kongtrul Lodö Taye. 2007. Chöd. Practice Manual and Commentary. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications. Karmay, Samten G. 1998. The Arrow and the Spindle: Studies in History, Myths, Rituals and Beliefs in Tibet. Kathmandu: Mandala Book Point. Kollmar-Paulenz, Karenina. 1993. Der Schmuck der Befreiung: Die Geschichte der Zhi byed und gCod Schule des tibetischen Buddhismus. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, and Molk, David, ed. 2006. Chöd in the Ganden Tradition. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications. McGranahan, Carol. 2010. Arrested Histories: Tibet, the CIA, and Memories of a Forgotten War. Durham: Duke University Press. Nebesky-Wojkowitz, Réne de. 1956. Oracles and Demons of Tibet. The Cult and ­Iconography of the Tibetan Protective Deities. The Hague: Mouton & Co. Nicoletti, Martino. 2013. The Nomadic Sacrifice: The Chöd Pilgrimage among the Bönpo of Dolpo. Kathmandu: Vajra Publications. Rabten, Tenpa. 2011. “A Brief Discussion of the Origin and Characteristics of the ­ ibet: Decorative Design on the Tibetan Rlung Rta (Prayer Flags).” In Art in T ­Issues in Traditional Tibetan Art from the Seventh to the Twentieth Century, ­Erberto F. Lo Bue (ed.). Leiden: Brill, pp. 151–160. Ramble, Charles. 1999. “The Politics of Sacred Space in Bon and Tibetan Popular Belief.” In Sacred Spaces and Powerful Places in Tibetan Culture: A Collection of Essays, Toni Huber (ed.). Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, pp. 3–33. Schröder, Nike-Ann. 2011. Discussing Psychotrauma with Tibetan Healing ­Experts: A Cultural Translation. Berliner Beiträge zur Ethnologie, Vol. 24. Berlin: ­Weißensee Verlag. Sumegi, Angela. 2008. Dreamworlds of Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism: The Third Place. Albany: State University of New York Press. Waddell, L. Austine. 1979 [1895]. Buddhism & Lamaism of Tibet with Its Mystic Cults, Symbolism and Mythology and in Its Relation to Indian Buddhism. New  Delhi: Heritage.

6 Ritual displacement as process of constructing and de-constructing boundaries in a Sufi pilgrimage of Pakistan Michel Boivin Introduction The broader topic I wish to address in this article relates to the ­articulation of social dynamics within religious practice. According to Stuart Hall, ­articulation is “the form of connection that can make a unity of two different elements, under certain conditions”. He points out that articulation is not a necessary or determined form of linkage, but rather a linkage ­“between that articulated discourse and the social forces with which it can, under certain historical conditions, (…), be connected” (Grossberg 1986, 53). In other words, I shall try to offer ways for understanding the mechanism through which certain communities, what Hall calls “social forces”, have built “private rituals”, which can be interpreted as crucial identity markers, while they simultaneously trigger an integrative process leading to ­communitas. My claim is that the Sufi pilgrimage site of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh, Pakistan, allows different communities to construct boundaries but, at the same time, offers ways in which they may merge into an encompassing community. Victor Turner distinguished between three types of ­communitas Turner 1969, 132). The first is existential or spontaneous communitas; the ­second is the transient personal experience of togetherness or normative communitas, while the third is a communitas organized into a permanent social system or the ideological communitas, which can be applied to many utopian social models. Turner claims that the experience achieved by pilgrims refers to the second type of communitas (Turner 1969, 169). However, the final aim of this paper is not to provide a detailed analysis of communitas as a social a­ nti-structure. It will rather focus on the argument that equality is provided through the ­performance of ritual displacements which involve two ­dynamics which appear ‘antagonistic’:1 the first one works as an exclusive process through which a given community exhibits and celebrates itself as such, and the ­second works as an integrative process allowing members of a community to transcend/overcome the boundaries that separate them from others. ­Contrary to Fredrik Barth (Barth 1998, 15 passim), I wish to go beyond the issue of ethnic boundaries in taking a local society as an entity which

120  Michel Boivin consists of a number of ‘communities’, or groups whose separate identities can be framed through religion, ethnicity, social status, or through an overlapping of each one. My main aim is to find out how a Sufi figure, such as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, can be involved in the process of identification, and how can the coexistence between communities be achieved. The case study here involves the Sufi center of Sehwan Sharif, or in short, Sehwan, a town located in Sindh, the south-eastern province of Pakistan.2 I shall start by providing a survey concerning the ways in which the local elite has constructed a shared belief represented as a doxa through the figure of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, the Sufi saint who is buried in the town. I will then analyze the processes by which competing narratives are framed by different communities. The third part will examine the ritual displacement as an integrative process, i.e. as the implementation of communitas. It will show that the rituals under study allow all kinds of people to participate as actors or at least, as spectators. The fourth part will study ritual displacements as processes involving the construction, or the reinforcement, of boundaries; social and/or religious boundaries. The fifth and last part will refer to Foucault’s concept of ‘conditions of possibility’ to scrutinize the ­structural strata which allow the different ritual displacements as ­p erformed in ­Sehwan Sharif. My analysis will concentrate on the mobility inside the urban space of Sehwan Sharif. Since my focus will be restricted to this territory, I prefer to speak of ritual displacement instead of ritual journey, a term which usually implies long scale travel. A ritual displacement is a circulation of a person or a group between two poles which are considered as sacred, and thus providing spiritual benefits. The circulation is performed according to a planed itinerary, as well as codified norms of behaviors and gestures. My chapter seeks to show that in 21st century Pakistan, ritual displacements play a leading role in involving social classes and that religion is not always the determining factor, although religious discourse is mostly used to express the competition between these social groups.

Inventing a doxa In the introduction of their renowned book on the invention of tradition, Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger distinguish between three overlapping types of invented traditions: those establishing membership of groups, those establishing or legitimizing institutions, and those whose main purpose is socialization (Hobsbawm and Ranger 2009, 9). The case of Sehwan Sharif, nevertheless, shows that there are a number of competing narratives which contribute to the invention of tradition, and which, despite the diversity, both start with and converge on the figure of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. The involvement of different groups in the pilgrimage, therefore produces separate ‘imagined communities’, whose narratives involve a double process, i.e. an integrative and a de-constructing one (Anderson 1991). Before turning to

Ritual displacement and the Sufi pilgrimage  121 the complex processes at work in Sehwan Sharif – what I call the Sehwan system – it is necessary to give a brief introduction to the history of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, as well as a short survey of the site, since the territories are the main spatial components and obviously play a role in the implementation of these complex processes.

Setting the scene In 1274, a Sufi belonging to the antinomian order of the Qalandariyya died in Sehwan Sharif.3 He was born in Azerbaijan in Persia with the name of Usman Marwandi, and after travelling to the Middle East, he was ­initiated into the Qalandariyya order by its alleged founder, Jamal al-Din Savi. The members of this order, known as qalandars, were antinomian Sufis, for whom sharia was but the first step on the mystical path. They didn’t live in a fixed place and used to stay in graveyards. Usman Marwandi alias Lal Shahbaz was asked by Jamal al-Din Savi to go to the Indian subcontinent where he settled first in Multan, in Northern Sindh, which at that time was the main center of the Suhrawardy order. There Lal Shahbaz met Baha’al-Din Zakariyya (1182–1262), and he stayed in the Suhrawardiyya environment for some time. Eventually he left Multan, although the governor, himself the son of the Delhi Sultan, Balban, offered him a land ( jagir) and a lodge (khanaqah) if he would stay in the city. When Lal Shahbaz arrived in Sehwan he probably found it under the domination of the Shivaites, and maybe with an Ismaili following. Until the mid-13th century, the town was located inside a huge fort, which spread across a hill from where the city gradually expanded southwards Today, Lal Shahbaz’s mausoleum (mazar) is located in the core of the town. It looks like a matrix from which concentric circles, made out of secondary sanctuaries (dargahs), are organized. The urban development of Sehwan obfuscates the old boundary between the northern part, which c­ orresponds more or less to the old town, and the southern part, which was the realm of the dead, since it is comprised of graveyards and other mausoleums. ­Significantly, the mazar, which supposedly was built on the place where Lal Shahbaz used to stay, lies at the junction of these two parts. ­Furthermore, it is said that before Lal Shahbaz’s arrival, there was a Shivaite temple at this place. The partition between the realm of the living in the North, and that of the dead in the South, reproduces a classical figure of Hindu cosmology (Gaborieau 1993). The population of Sehwan, currently around 50,000, is mainly i­ nhabited by Sindhi and Baluchi Sunni Muslims. While the archives show that ­Hindus played a leading role in the municipality before partition, many have ­m igrated to India from 1947 onwards. Only a few families belonging to high castes are still present, and play, as we shall see, a major ritual role, together with so-called untouchables of the Odh caste, who settled in ­Sehwan in the 1970s.4 The structure of the Muslim society corresponds to

122  Michel Boivin the representation, which can be found all over the Indian subcontinent: the Sayyids, who are said to be the descendants of the Prophet ­Muhammad, are at the apex. They are separated into three lineages (khandan), i.e. the ­Lakkiyyaris, the Sabzwaris, and the Bokharis, but only the first group, whose members, interestingly, are indigenous, control the pilgrimage ­system in Sehwan.5 Their domination was nevertheless interrupted in the 1960s, when the mausoleum of Lal Shahbaz was nationalized and therefore managed by the Waqf Department.6 Archives provide evidence that before ­nationalization, the Lakkiyyaris controlled the Sehwan system, even though some agreements had obviously been negotiated with other main actors, chiefly the Sabzwaris.7 Nevertheless, even now, the eldest member of the Lakkiyyari khandan, Murad Shah, is acknowledged as the master of the masters, at least on the symbolic level. The Lakkiyyaris are the only Sufi masters to be mentioned in 19th century sources.8 It is thus certain that the tradition concerning the figure of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, which is the ultimate foundation as well as the legitimizing force of any discourse or action produced in Sehwan, was imposed by them. Despite the existence of brief mentions in medieval sources, the first book devoted to the qalandar was published in 1904 by a local intellectual, named Fateh Muhammad Sehwani (1882–1942). Since the author was himself a Sehwani, and familiar with their domination, he was certainly forced to express the Lakkiyyari official version. Until today, his representation of Lal Shahbaz constitutes the official tradition, a status, which was confirmed and thus reinforced by the publications patronized by the Waqf Department.9 The main feature of Sehwani’s construction of Lal Shahbaz is the suppression of the antinomian aspect of the Qalandariyya. The main goal of Sehwani, who was supporting the Lakkiyyaris’ official tradition, was the neutralization of all the unorthodox features in order to construct a charismatic figure everyone can agree to. These features did not disappear but were stripped of their challenging potential. The implementation of such a process helps to mitigate at least some tensions related to social competition and power control between the different agents. Nonetheless, it could also reflect a general consensus among the dominant actors resulting from negotiations based on the distribution of ritual roles. However, Sehwani’s Lal Shahbaz is a high-level Sufi, as is attested by his ‘spiritual flight’.10 In his version, Shahbaz had performed all the deeds required by the pillars of Islam, including the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. He was respectful of the sharia, and spent most of his time immersed in meditation and prayers. The figure is also a very tolerant one. It is said that Lal Shahbaz was open to every human being, even the ones most discriminated against in the local social system. He took care of people belonging to religious minorities, like Hindus, and other marginalized groups, such as prostitutes. All these features are indeed very common in the Sufi pattern of South Asian hagiography. Furthermore, a salient innovation in Sehwani’s book is the part devoted

Ritual displacement and the Sufi pilgrimage  123 to topics outside of the scope of Sufi scriptures. The opening ­chapters provide a biography of the saint while subsequent chapters are devoted to ­architecture and patronage, and above all, to the popular ­attendance of the pilgrimage in Sehwan Sharif. One of them gives a depiction of the most popular ritual performed in Sehwan, i.e. the ecstatic dance locally known as dhamal. Nonetheless, Sehwani does not use this vernacular term, preferring to use nawbat instead, which originates from Arabic and is therefore a more ‘normative’ term. This could be seen as a clue to the ‘orthodoxization’ process of the figure of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.

Competing narratives and imagined communities In Sehwani’s depiction, there is no room for other representations. This is particularly obvious in the part devoted to his honorific titles (laqabs). A number of quoted laqabs are referring to other traditions, Muslim or not, but Sehwani provides a quite reified interpretation of them. For example, the laqab Mahdi isn’t a soteriological concept anymore, and in withdrawing what is a capital reference for the Shias, he severs the interaction with the Shia sect.11 Of course, this does not prevent other narratives from expressing other discourses. Although the latter are still within the broad scope of Islam, they are obviously not the result of a consensus between the different agents, but what can be described as sectarian discourse. The Shia narrative largely comes from Punjabi Shias, who mostly pay a visit to Sehwan for the annual fair, the ‘urs, and this narrative is not a permanent discourse in Sehwan. For them, Lal Shahbaz is nothing more than a manifestation and they employ the technical term mazar, from the Arabic root which means to appear, to be manifested, of the third imam Hussein and they claim his real name was Shah Hussain. With regard to the construction of religious boundaries, another interesting discourse is the Ismaili narrative, which intermingles with the Suhrawardiyya discourse. The Ismailis claim that Lal Shahbaz was a ­descendant of the sixth Shia imam, Jafar Sadiq, through his son, Ismail, the eponymous founder of the Ismailiyya, whose members acknowledge him as the 7th imam, contrary to the Twelver Shias who acknowledge Musa Kazim as such. Nonetheless, the Ismaili tradition of Sindh states that Lal Shahbaz was a son of Pir Hasan Kabir al-Din, a main Ismaili preacher who wrote a number of devotional songs known as ginans (Alidina 1952, 236). Lal ­Shahbaz would thus have been the brother of Pir Taj al-Din, the last ­medieval head (Ismaili meaning of pir) of the South Asian Ismailis. Ismaili scholars claim that the main Sufi rituals of Sehwan were borrowed from ­Ismaili ­r ituals through Lal Shahbaz, who, accord­ nally gave up his Ismaili affiliation to enter the ing to some sources, fi Qalandariyya. Beside this, it is said that Lal Shahbaz was a first cousin of Pir Shams, another major charismatic figure of the Indus Valley, who is claimed by both the

124  Michel Boivin Ismailiyya and the Suhrawardiyya. Such narratives mirror the complexity and competition between a number of Islamic persuasions. Due to the scarcity of historical data, it is not possible to ascertain Lal Shahbaz ­Qalandar’s affiliation. What is more important is to decipher how, i.e. in what circumstances, such narratives are expressed, how they are related to each other, and how they are related to the official or orthodox discourse. Another issue is to understand the impact of such a narrative on other agents, especially those belonging to minority groups, and to which audience it was intended. For tackling this issue, let us turn to another narrative about Lal Shahbaz Qalandar as endorsed by Hindu tradition. Once again, the scarcity of sources, most of them very recent documents, makes a historical enquiry difficult. The Hindus claim that Lal Shahbaz was in fact Raja Bharthari, or Raja Vir (Advani 1994, 109).12 According to them, Raja Bharthari was a local Hindu ascetic but his figure and name were ‘islamicized’ by the Muslims when they arrived through giving him the laqab of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. Raja Bharthari is a key figure of the Nathpanth, a yogic Shivaite sect founded by Gorakhnath probably around the 12th ­century, not long before the advent of Lal Shahbaz in Sehwan. Moreover, another regional Hindu figure, Udero Lal, for whom Sehwan was a main place of worship before partition, is also linked to the Nathpanth. Furthermore, nowadays, in India and in Pakistan, the figure of Udero Lal has merged with that of Lal Shahbaz through the laqab of Jhule Lal, which means ‘the Red Swinging’. The narratives devoted to Lal Shahbaz reflect the competition and negotiations between groups, which have prevailed at times in Sehwan Sharif and its area. The narratives are therefore comparable to a reservoir, which provides clues for regional history and local communities, even when they have disappeared from the scene centuries ago, at least as dominant groups. This, for example, is the case with the Ismailis, who have ruled Sindh for some centuries, maybe up until the 13th century, i.e. the period when Lal Shahbaz reached the province. But the memory of his Ismaili connection was preserved, both by the Ismaili tradition, and by the official tradition, although by each one in different shapes. In the latter, we can nevertheless find the assumption that Lal Shahbaz was a direct descendant of imam Ismail. From the Ismaili, Suhrawardi, Shia and Hindu’ narratives one can observe a distribution of roles. Of course, the Sayyids, who constitute the elite, are running the system, while the Shias play a leading role during the ‘urs and the Hindus lead the mendi procession.13 Only the Ismailis have been excluded from the scene, probably because they left the town centuries ago. Since they were involved in trade, one can surmise that the ­Ismailis have followed new commercial networks and moved to other towns in Sindh. Consequently, the narratives provide sketches about how communities have found their way to be integrated in the Sehwan system. The smooth running of this integrative process is interesting to the extent that even when

Ritual displacement and the Sufi pilgrimage  125 an official discourse, or a doxa, was formulated by Sehwani at the beginning of the 20th century, it did not totally reject minority discourses, although they were simultaneously reified, so that the communities concerned could not claim the control of the Sehwan system anymore. On the other hand, the narratives can be understood as playing a leading role in the regulation of social order. The best evidence for this might be that the Waqf supported the orthodox narrative, since it resulted from balanced negotiations between the main actors of the Sehwan system.

Ritual displacement as integrative process These narratives provide the ideological framework on which a number of social processes are performed. The social processes under study take the shape of a ritual displacement, i.e. a ritual activity whose social meaning is given by the circulation of groups in the sacred space demarcated by the town of Sehwan. In this context, one can observe two categories of ritual displacements. A first category can be called integrative, meaning that some rituals seek to integrate people into a particular group which can be temporary or last a lifetime. This does not involve any prerequisite since the sole condition is someone’s wish to be integrated in the group. The group, into which a devotee seeks integration, depends on its own expectations such as the fulfillment of a vow, the sharing of spiritual emotions with other devotees, the guidance of a Sufi master, the feeling of spiritual brotherhood etc. Consequently, there is not one single integrative process but several, which are working simultaneously and in parallel. A devotee can thus be part of several integrative processes. The most common integrative process is the ziyarat proper. In Arabic, the ziyarat is a visitation of the tombs. In the context of South Asian Sufism, it is a visitation with the aim of capturing the saint’s baraka, the mystical grace, which is conceived as a magic power. Through his baraka, Lal Shahbaz ­Qalandar is able to perform miracles, thus transcending the natural laws. The ziyaratis’, i.e. the persons performing ziyarat, plead to provide them with his miraculous strength to remove obstacles and difficulties. The performance is framed by an exchange process based on the gift given to the saint. The ziyaratis are supposed to bring a gift to Lal Shahbaz to expect a favor. A chador, a simple textile with Quranic inscriptions, or better a ghilaf, a brocade also with Quranic inscriptions, is offered in a procession. This is accompanied with the singing of devotional songs in praise of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, sometimes supported by musicians. But what are the devotees expecting from the Sufi saint? There are a number of petitions, which can be found in all the Sufi shrines, and probably beyond. They are linked to suffering or frustration, and the vows are therefore mostly related to healing and cures, although some are expecting wealth. Another petition involves possession rituals. A number of ziyaratis, ­especially women, come to pay a visit to Lal Shahbaz Qalandar wishing

126  Michel Boivin to be exorcised. The possessed women are usually in their early twenties and belong to lower middle classes. They are often suffering from depression which is interpreted as being triggered by the possession of a jinn. They come to meet Lal Shahbaz hoping that the saint will be able to expel the jinn from their bodies. Generally speaking, there are two ways for the ­i mplementation of the exorcism. The first one is performed through a trance dance, locally known as dhamal. Every evening, after the last prayer, the salat al-fajr, big drums are beaten in the main courtyard of the shrine for about 20–30 ­m inutes. Initially the drumming begins slowly and builds up to a crescendo, ending in a tremendous rhythm. The women sit, start to free their hair and slowly move their bodies according to the rhythm, from right to left. The pinnacle is reached when the rhythm is the fastest. A successful dhamal involves the jinn speaking through a woman, with a very deep voice, and in an unknown language. Usually, this means that the jinn is compelled to leave the woman’s body. The other form of exorcism involves the mediation of a faqir. The possessed woman is brought to the faqir by her family and he puts his hand on her head and utters some sacred formulas. Possession rituals and arranging a procession are congruent actions since the ziyaratis participate in an integrative process by putting their destiny in Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s hands. They dive in a communitas, which, though informal, brings them into the spiritual brotherhood of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. The communitas is informal because there is no compulsory initiation ritual, although its members do share common expectations and feelings. For a few days, the ziyaratis all live together despite belonging to different social classes, religions, and castes. This removal of social markers and practices is one of the main features of this communitas but it is not exactly the one conceived by Victor Turner, where liminality is understood as being between and betwixt. For example, liminality is the situation of the neophyte before initiation. Here, the communitas is born from a most significant link which all the ziyaratis share: their location in a time of expectation in relation to a request they have addressed to Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. They are waiting for his supernatural grace or baraka, and this time of expectation is a major dimension of the communitas in this context. Unlike Turner’s communitas, this one is not a transitional state between two others, but a time of expectation which will last as long as Lal Shahbaz does not realize a vow. But it will be over when it is realized, and the ziyarati will go back to the situation in which he was before. He will not have access to a new state, such as the one who has been initiated. Another main opportunity where other forms of communitas are created is the ‘urs. The ‘urs, an Arabic word meaning marriage, is the most important time in the liturgical year. Officially it lasts three days, but in fact the event takes place over about ten days. Many ceremonies are arranged for this occasion, because the main belief is that it is the period when the baraka radiates from Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s tomb all over the town of Sehwan Sharif. In the following I shall focus on two processions: the sajjada nashins’

Ritual displacement and the Sufi pilgrimage  127 procession, who are the masters of a Sufi lodge, and that of the mendi. The procession is a major vector, which plays a role on two levels. Firstly, as a movement which links two places and, secondly, as a practice of visualization, through which the followers can see the master as a spiritual being. Ritual displacement as procession thus provides a good opportunity for ­investigating the relationship between space and mobility. Here more than in topography which deals with physical and material representations, it is the symbolic meaning given to a place that will inform us about its ritual meanings. The procession of the sajjada nashins is crucial in the ‘urs of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. The participants start from their lodge or kafi and walk to the mazar of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. The Waqf decides on the schedule. The sajjada nashin of a given kafi is preceded by his faqirs. Every kafi has its own identity markers, especially through the faqirs’ dress and ritual paraphernalia, and this enables the bystanders to know who is who. Many people, such as pilgrims and devotees, watch the procession over the whole course. By looking at the sajjada nashin and his faqirs, many bystanders are convinced that they will catch a piece of the baraka. Furthermore, the procession works like a showcase where these bystanders act like potential followers (murids). The scene is reminiscent of a market where people can see the different sajjada nashins and faqirs, and a number of them choose a Sufi master in order to become a murid. The procession thus establishes a triangular relationship between Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, the sajjada nashin and his faqirs, and the bystanders. This interrelation materializes the circulation of the baraka since the act of gazing itself constitutes the best way to capture baraka. Although the significance of the sajjada nashins’ processions is pivotal, the climax of the ‘urs is decidedly the procession of the mendi. The mendi ceremony, which is typical of South Asian Sufism, is the core of a wedding ceremony where the groom usually puts henna on the hands of the bride. The Sindhi word mendi designates the henna, which symbolizes an imitation of a marriage unifying a Sufi, in this case Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, and God, i.e. Allah.14 During the ‘urs, God becomes the bridegroom, and the Sufi adept is the bride. Throughout the three days of the ‘urs, three different Sehwani groups perform the mendi ceremony. On the first day, the 18th of Shaban,15 the performer is Murad Shah, the head of the Lakkiyyaris, and the master of all the Sufi masters. On the second day, the 19th of Shaban, the head of a local Hindu family, Ramchand, performs the mendi. On the third and last day, the 20th of Shaban, which is said to be the day of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s death, the performer is another Hindu, named Lal Gul. This mendi procession can be interpreted as an integrative ritual displacement in different ways. Firstly, like the sajjada nashin’s ritual displacement, this procession also works like a show. Moreover, touching the mendibardar, i.e. the person bearing the mendi, provides the bystanders with baraka − one reason why many are eager to watch his performance. The procession climaxes when the mendibardar puts the henna on the saint’s tomb, thereby

128  Michel Boivin imitating the wedding ceremony when the bridegroom puts henna on the bride’s hands. Secondly, the mendi procession works as a representation of a local integrative process. It is worth noting that on the three successive days when the mendi is carried out, it is twice performed by Hindus and once by Muslims. According to local tradition, this organization was the wish of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar himself. Although it is not possible to verify such an a­ ssertion, it nevertheless shows that the interaction of different communities was a key issue for many years, or maybe centuries. Integrative processes were presumably the core of the tradition of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, perhaps from its beginning. While it undoubtedly works as an integrative ritual displacement, the mendi procession is limited to the extent that not so many devotees participate: it seems to function as a balanced negotiation between Muslim and Hindu elites, which could have been introduced decades ago. This is quite different with the most important ritual of Sehwan, which is not a procession, but a dhamal or ecstatic dance. The current dhamal practice is a dance performed by jumping from one foot to another with raised arms and index fingers. With the swelling sound of the drums, the performers fall into a trance. Although some limited cases are related to possession, as we saw above, the final aim of the performance is the fana fi’l shaykh, (Arab. ‘annihilation into the master’) the merging with Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. The realization of the Oneness of God is to be merged into God. Consequently, there is no physical displacement, as in the processions, but a shift from a physical space to a spiritual space.

Ritual displacements as construction of boundaries Beside the many processes of integration, which are implemented in Sehwan, the devotees are not allowed to take part in some specific rituals. Most of these are related to the dominance of the Sayyids. Constructing such a boundary is necessary for them in order to protect their superior status, which is the foundation of their power. This legitimacy is mainly related to the ownership of relics, locally known as yadgars, i.e. artifacts of remembrance. It is significant that the Lakkiyyaris are the owners of all the yadgars, apart from those which are under Waqf control. After the death of the head of the Lakkiyyaris, Gul Muhammad, in 1981, the duties were distributed among his three sons. Murad Shah, who is ­acknowledged as the head of the family (khandan), is the keeper of the main artifacts, even if he ­ llah is not in charge of their exhibition. Gul Muhammad’s second son, A Bakhsh Shah, is in charge of the godri. This piece of wool is a typical and long-established Sindhi reference to the wandering faqirs. The word was used by Shah ‘Inat, a 17th century Sufi poet (Boivin 2015, 288), who employed it as a typical sign of the jogis,16 a Shivaite sect. The godri, sometimes called relli, is a kind of blanket, which is used by wandering Sufis as a mantle, a mattress for sleeping, or as a blanket for when it is cold. The

Ritual displacement and the Sufi pilgrimage  129 exhibition of the godri is closely related to the ceremonies performed during Moharram; it is exhibited only once on the 10th of Moharram, a sacred day for the Shiites when they commemorate the death of the third imam, Husayn. Interestingly, the godri is put under a tazia, a miniature cenotaph of imam Husayn that is paraded up to a place named Karbala,17 where the main gathering or majlis is held. The godri is itself covered by a ghilaf, a ­brocade, so that the common people cannot see it and many do not even know that it is there. The contact between the godri and both the tazia and the ghilaf reveals how Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s narrative is inextricably tied to imam ­Hussain’s martyrdom. Lal Shahbaz is said to be Hussain’s descendant and the physical contact between these artifacts refresh and sustain this sacred relationship. Finally, it demonstrates that the martyrdom of Hussain is the main source in Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s mystical achievement. Nonetheless, the exhibition is hidden to the common spectator. Only a very few, murids as well as faqirs, know that the godri is kept under the ghilaf, and on the tazia. This knowledge of the godri works as a selective process: distinguishing those knowing about this connection from those who do not know. Nonetheless, beyond the symbolic meaning of the godri, and its limited exhibition, the itinerary of the procession is crucial. First, it is stored and showed off in the dargah of Awladi Amir, an ancestor of the Lakkiyyaris who was Lal Shahbaz’s successor. Selecting this site is meaningful since it only concerns the Lakkiyyaris’ followers: it thus draws a community. The displacement goes into the heart of the city and finally reaches ­Karbala, so that only a few ‘chosen’ know about the sacred link between Lal Shahbaz and imam Hussain, while common people think it is the usual Moharram procession commemorating Hussain’s massacre. Gul Muhammad’s youngest son, Ajan Shah, is in charge of the kishti. The term kishti is a symbolic name given to the bowl, a main sacred object of the wandering faqirs. The original word is kashkul and it described a tool used for begging. As is attested in medieval Persian poetry, the kashkul crystallized many symbolic interpretations but it was also a cup for drinking. Between the eleventh and the 13th centuries, the kashkul was symbolized through a series of metonymic processes such as the wine-boat, or kishti, for which wine was the symbol of illumination and mystical knowledge. In 17th century Iran, the kishti was used exclusively by the qalandars. Its shape gradually began to resemble that of a boat, including an enlarged hull, two raised edges, a stern, and a bow. Interestingly, in Persian poetry, wine as a source of mystical knowledge is often associated with the ruby, referred to as lal in Persian (Melikian-Chirvani 1993). The kishti is thus obviously a decisive object in the Sufi initiation of the Qalandariyya but it appears that wine has been replaced by bhang, a local concoction made with cannabis indica, some other herbs, and sometimes milk. Although a qalandar is supposed to possess only one kishti, there are currently two kishtis in Sehwan that supposedly belonged to Lal Shahbaz

130  Michel Boivin Qalandar. These kishtis are part of the private collection of the Lakkiyyari lineage (khandan). One is kept by Sayyid Ajan Shah, the brother of Sayyid Murad Shah, while the other is in the possession of Amanallah Shah, a distant relative and the sajjada nashin of Juman Jati dargah. The explanation for the existence of two kishtis is conflicting. Local tradition claims that Lal Shahbaz Qalandar possessed two kishtis, although this is quite unlikely.18 The kishti in the possession of Ajan Shah is exhibited once a year, on the twentieth of Shaban, the last day of the ‘urs of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. It is displayed in the othaq (mansion) of Murad Shah Lakkiyyari. The faqirs and all the sajjada nashins of the kafis are obliged to come for the vision (didar) of the kishti. Local tradition claims that the sajjada nashin, who does not come to pay homage to the kishti, can be fined by Ajan Shah, or by the kotwal, who is in charge of the rules and regulations. The main sajjadah nashins and their faqirs come to touch it, and Ajan Shah gives them dried fruits from the kishti, as well as a small piece of a chador from the tomb of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. The kishti in the possession of Amanullah Shah is also displayed once a year, on the same day as Ajan Shah’s, which is the last day of the ‘urs of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, the twentieth of Shaban. It is displayed in a special kafi, the kafi of the ‘Kishti and the Mendi’, in Urdu and Sindhi Kishti ain mendi kafi. Although all are free to come and look at it, it seems that it is mostly faqirs who come, which is why it is sometimes called the ‘kishti of the faqirs’. The ritual of display is assumed to be similar to the one associated with the kishti of Ajan Shah. Both the kishti processions make Awladi Amir dargah the nexus of the ritual displacements, since they both converge on it, and through this convergence, Awladi Amir is also the centre of the whole Sehwan system. As a matter of fact, Amanullah Shah’s kishti is paraded from the aforementioned kafi up to Awladi Amir. The itinerary of Ajan Shah’s kishti is more complex. It is taken from Murad Shah’s mansion to Awladi Amir dargah, and from there Ajan Shah takes it to the dargah of Bodlo Bahar, another main follower of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. The sajjada nashin of Bodlo Bahar, ­Ikhtyar Hussein, keeps it for a few days before giving it back to Ajan and Murad. Hence, the ritual displacement performed by the kishti reinforces the ­alliance between Murad Shah and Ikhtyar Hussein but it also gives ­evidence of the Lakkiyyaris’ domination who are the keepers of the kishti. By implementing private rituals to create sub-communities, the Lakkiyyaris seek to reinforce their control over the Sehwan system. The ritual displacements headed by the Lakkiyyaris are powerful means for exhibiting their superiority over other Sayyids’ lineages. They work as markers for their domination over the Sehwan system. The first people to be concerned are the Sehwanis, and all those who are closely related to it, like the other sajjada nashins, the faqirs, murids, and staunch ziyaratis. The domination is nevertheless regularly challenged. Since the 1960s, the mazar is under Waqf control. It is supposed to secure the Sehwan system through an equal distribution of ritual roles between the main local actors.

Ritual displacement and the Sufi pilgrimage  131 Nevertheless, other groups implement processes for taking control over the site. During the past 20 years, a group of Punjabi Shiites have been challenging the Sehwan system, and thus mainly the Lakkiyyari Sayyids. The majority of the sajjada nashins in Sehwan Sharif are Shiite and the first ten days of Moharram is, therefore, a crucial time for the town. In the 1980s new Shiite actors burst onto the scene. They originated from Lahore and are under the guidance of one Sada Hussain. Many Shiite associations ­(anjumans) used to attend the ‘urs before, but this new Shiite group ­reinvented it in two ways. Firstly, they perform flagellation known as matam. Not only do they beat their chests, but they also use zanjirs, i.e. knives ­attached to the end of chains, for striking their backs and making them bleed. They also utilize big knives for cutting the scalp. Not only is the matam performed during a procession, but it is also performed inside the Lal Shahbaz shrine. In 2011, the matamis, i. e. the conductors of matam, arranged fires inside the shrine courtyard for sharpening the blades of the knives. Their procession was a­ ccepted by the Waqf and officially acknowledged in their official schedule. Performing the matam of Moharram during the ‘urs of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, and in a place like Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine, can be understood as innovations within the Sehwan system. Furthermore, the matamis innovation is introduced with brutality, since it did not result from negotiation with the different groups belonging to the local elite. The matamis occupy the space, especially the shrine courtyard, without taking care of the processions of the ‘urs organized by the local population. Thus, with the blood running on the floor, quite a different ambience is created in the shrine, which stands in stark contrast to the strong emotions that are internalized by the ziyaratis when they touch the tomb. This causes conflict with other processions, especially local ones. I witnessed at least two incidents on the second day of the ‘urs where the matamis were occupying the entrance to the courtyard, while the Hindu mendi procession was arriving. The presence of the matamis almost brought down the mendi. Another time, a fight nearly broke out between matamis who were obstructing the main entrance of the shrine, and some faqirs, when their sajjada nashin was arriving with his followers. Here one can observe a strong discrimination process. Moreover, it seems also to be based on an almost opposite mechanism compared to the one at work within the Sehwan system.

Mechanisms of articulation: the prerequisites The matamis’ procession is, in fact, a real challenge to the Sehwan system. While it is based on the implementation of a number of integrative processes, under the shape of the different processions, the matamis also use violence and discrimination. While the Sehwan system is based on e­ motions and toleration, the matamis’ procession is dabbling in suffering and pain. For some it is even understood as an inversion of the Sehwan system.

132  Michel Boivin Ultimately, it shows the ambivalence of the Sufi pilgrimage center: a religious hub, which hosts a very complex system encompassing a number of groups whose ­interests are partly shared and partly antagonistic. Furthermore, the Sehwan system also reflects the social structure of the place, with a hierarchical organization which is dominated by the Sayyids, who are divided into different lineages which can be rivals. Therefore, after describing the different integrative and discriminating ritual displacements implemented in Sehwan Sharif, it is now necessary to address the issue of the framework. I propose to investigate this by what Michel Foucault coined as the ‘conditions of possibility.’ In his book L’archéologie du savoir, Michel Foucault states that it is ­i mportant to address the issue of the circumstances which make possible a discourse or, in other words, the conditions for the appearance of an ‘object of discourse’.19 How do the conditions of possibility of discourse integrate some features, and simultaneously exclude others, providing ­l imitations and lacunas? Of course, these conditions have changed through history so that in the case of Sehwan Sharif, two categories of conditions can be identified. The first category consists of the sustainable conditions of ­possibility, meaning conditions which have been attested for a long time. It does not mean that these conditions escape any contingency and are pure essence; on the contrary, it means that they are attested by historical sources for centuries to such an extent that they can be framed as structural. The second category consists of the conditions of possibility related to conjuncture. The structural conditions of possibility are mainly related to the urban space. It is thus necessary to leave now what Henri Lefebvre calls l’espace vécu or ‘representational space’, as noted in the introduction, from which actors experienced their positionality in ritualized space. We want to address the issue of urban space through another category developed by ­Lefebvre, that of l’espace perçu, or spatial practice.20 As a social space, ­l ’espace perçu is a social product, which can be used as a tool for both thinking and acting. Also, it is a means of control, domination and power. ­L’espace perçu deals with how visible landscape and topography change over the course of time. In this context, the conditions of possibility operate at multiple levels. Interestingly, the sacred geography of Sehwan integrates both Hindu and Muslim features, which have been aggregated over time. This is especially true regarding the distribution of the main religious monuments and their orientation. It works as if an Islamic infrastructure had superseded a Hindu superstructure, although the first did not suppress the latter. Furthermore, in a number of cases, it shows what can be described as continuity between the Hindu element and the Islamic element. For example, a major boundary was dividing the town along an east-west axis. Almost all the Muslim shrines are located in the western part, while to the east there is only one shrine, that of Juman Jati, and the ancient temple devoted to Shiva, known as Shivalo, which disappeared during the 1990s.21 The location of

Ritual displacement and the Sufi pilgrimage  133

Map 6.1  M  ain quoted places in Sehwan Sharif (Courtesy Sophie Reynard, MIFS).

the Shivalo fitted with Hindu cosmology where the North-East was Shiva’s cardinal point (Gaborieau 1993, 30). In the north-western area of Varuna there was a temple of Udero Lal, an incarnation (avatar) of Varuna (Gaborieau 1993, 32) but it also disappeared during the 1990s and now the locality contains the shrine of Bodlo Bahar,

134  Michel Boivin a renowned follower of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. Interestingly, both Hindu temples were adjoined by two Sufi shrines. Nonetheless, the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, being located as the core of concentric circles of secondary dargahs, implements an integrative geometry. All the minor shrines are located in circles, which surround the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine, and this facilitates a smooth circulation and, thereby, the ritual displacements or processions, which are the main vectors for the implementation of the integrative processes. Consequently, spatial practices are predetermined by the building of religious monuments, their establishment in the urban space, and their orientation. Furthermore, even if there is no longer a Hindu temple in Sehwan, the spatial infrastructure of the town is still determined by the Hindu ideology of space. Another key structural condition is the principle of vahdat-e vujud, the ontological Unity of Being, which the Sindhi Sufis call haqq mawjud. In the words of many 19th century Sindhi literati, it was the root and origin of Sindh’s Sufi culture. For them, the vahdat-e vujud was similar to the Advaita Vedanta, a philosophical school founded by the Shivaite thinker Shankara (8th C.), which teaches the non-duality of the Divine, thus enabling Sufi poets to use both the Persian originated word, didar, and the Sanskrit originated word, darshan, for vision, even though these terms refer to different religious cultures. The best expression of this shared culture is the poetry in Sindhi. The main literary motifs are convergent since, for example, the ­figure of the jogi, a Shivaite renouncer affiliated to the Nathpanth, is ­acclaimed by Sindhi Sufis as the model of renunciation. Another example is the importance given to the sama, the mystical concert, which for many is the real meditation (zikr). Other conditions are related to the legitimacy of the Lakkiyyaris which, at least officially, remains unchallenged. They constitute a very powerful lineage, which is also prominent in other parts of Sindh, since for example the famous Pir Pagaro is a descendant of the Lakkiyyaris (Ansari 1992). Although the Waqf has curtailed the domination of the Lakkiyyaris, it has not removed it completely because it is perceived as the keystone of the ­Sehwan system. Unfortunately, nobody knows how the Lakkiyyaris were able to build their domination but it must have emerged through negotiations over a long period with local elites, other Sayyids’ and non-Sayyid sajjada nashins, and Hindus as well. The control implemented by the Waqf has certainly compelled the Lakkiyyaris to develop new processes out of the main center, which is Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s mausoleum. Despite the apparently balanced relationship between the different groups involved in the Sehwan system, discriminatory processes are also at work. In order to maintain their domination the Lakkiyyaris are compelled to implement discriminatory processes, which maintain a group of staunch followers who are devoted to them. Other integrative processes, such as the exhibition of the relics, perpetuate the quasi-feudal relations they sustain with the other sajjada nashins. All these processes are more or less a

Ritual displacement and the Sufi pilgrimage  135 sedimented order of things. However, the basic condition of possibility is that they are embedded in the Sindhi religious culture. As Foucault states, it is a given episteme, which defines the conditions of possibilities (Foucault 1969, 179). The latest challenge to the Lakkiyyaris’ authority has come from Punjabi Shiites. Since they are obviously outsiders, it is legitimate to wonder if the conditions of possibility will allow them to be integrated in the Sehwan system.

Conclusion In conclusion, we can state that in Sehwan Sharif, the ritual displacement works as a key process which involves different groups of actors, locals and outsiders, and implements a diversity of social dynamics. The different ­religious communities, which have played a role in Sehwan’s Sufi pilgrimage for centuries, re-use their predecessors’ heritage and this allows them to ­contribute to the framing of a spirit of continuity. This historical legacy seems a necessary prerequisite. The articulations between integrative and ‘discriminating’ rituals nevertheless operate through the shared worship of an overdetermined charismatic figure: Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. Interestingly, there is an operative articulation between this all-encompassing figure, and other facets of the saint. The integrative process works for the implementing of communitas, while the discriminating process expresses a specific identity. Although another prerequisite is obviously the vahdat-e vujud through which different religious sections are integrated, the Sehwan system mostly emerges from the power strategies pursued by the locale elites. These strategies were designed to promote integrative processes which maintained the elites’ authority over the shrines. While the elites had to face two main events − the partition in 1947 and the shrine’s nationalization in 1960 − the only goal they had in mind was the preservation and perpetuation of their domination. The Sayyids reacted to these disturbing events by re-focusing the cult and celebrations within their private sphere, thanks to the several benefits they enjoyed, such as their ownership of the major relics. The Sehwan system mostly works thanks to the ritual displacements ­performed throughout the town. They are the most significant tools for undertaking both the process of integration and distinction. Nevertheless, a ritual displacement can hardly be framed from an individual initiative ­undertaken outside the control of the elite. While the ritual displacements implement a form of harmony and equality among the ziyaratis, they are also the main object of domination used by the dominant groups, primarily the Sayyids. The social function of the ritual displacement is thus ­ambiguous. Outsiders nevertheless showed the limits of this integrative policy. For centuries, thanks to negotiations related to the share of power, the ritual displacements had been able to integrate all regional communities into the pilgrimage system, and the rituals involved. Yet they were unable to control new outsiders, such as the Panjabi Shias, who were recently incorporated

136  Michel Boivin in the official program of the ‘urs by the Waqf under the name of the matamis, the mourners. Does this suggest that the discriminating process is now starting to overwhelm the integrative process? The historical legacy at work in Sehwan Sharif has shown that the oscillation of inclusivity and exclusivity will not be challenged yet. Such an observation should not be seen as essentialist. Although one ­cannot not deny the continuity of the integrative process through the ritual displacements, we have also observed that besides the building of communitas, there are other ritual displacements working to construct boundaries, or at least to consolidate these boundaries. The boundaries mainly refer to the social field, particularly between Sayyids and non-Sayyids in the local society. In this respect, the disruption by the Waqf during the 1960s did not really threaten the Sehwan system. This said, and due to the conditions of possibility, such as the vahdat-e vujud, the building of religious boundaries between Muslims and Hindus is not happening, although it is true that the few Hindu families do not challenge the Lakkiyyaris’ domination. Furthermore, the nationalization of the shrine has deprived the Lakkiyaris of the shrine income, but their domination in the hierarchical system of Sehwan was not challenged.

Notes 1 In using the word antagonistic, I draw upon Laclau and Mouffe’s concept of antagonism according to which the social only exists as a partial effort for constructing society – that is, an objective and closed system of differences – antagonism, as a witness of the impossibility of a final suture, is the ‘experience’ of the limit of the social. Strictly speaking, antagonisms are not internal but external to society; or rather, they constitute the limits of society, the latter’s impossibility of fully constituting itself; Laclau, Ernesto and Mouffe, Chantal, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. ­Towards a Radical Democratic Politics (1985), 122. 2 On Sehwan Sharif, see the excellent work by Omar Kasmani (2015). 3 For more details on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar and current sources, see Boivin (2012a). 4 I am conscious that it is problematic to use colonial categories in relation to caste. It is nevertheless not easy to escape these categories since the members of the high castes themselves reproduce them. In Sehwan, the high castes mainly belong to the two sub-castes of the Lohanas, namely the Bhaibands, specialized in trade, and the Amils, specialized in administration. The Odhs, who are newcomers from the town of Dadu, about 30 km north from Sehwan, were primarily a caste of masons with low status. It is noteworthy that they have no relation with the Lohanas, and furthermore, though both claim to be Hindu, they don’t worship the same divinities. 5 The Sayyids’ lineages are identified through their nisba, the part of the name which indicates a person’s, or his ancestor’s, place of origin: the Lakkiyyaris come from Lakki, a village located less than 20km south of Sehwan; the ­Sabzwaris came from Sabzwar in Khorasan, nowadays in Afghanistan; and the Bokharis came from Bokhara, nowadays in Uzbekistan.

Ritual displacement and the Sufi pilgrimage  137 6 In a Muslim context, the waqf (pl. auqaf ) is a good devoted to religious purpose, and consequently exempted from tax. In Pakistan, as in many other Muslim countries, it is nowadays the name given to State managed religious buildings. 7 The terms of the negotiation are unfortunately not known, but they allowed a distribution of the financial outcome as well as of the symbolic capital. I would like to warmly thank Akash Datwani, Deputy Archivist in Sindh Archives Clifton, in Karachi, who found a main piece related to the issue. The reference is Management of Seri grant, Sehwan taluka, Lal Shahbaz, File N°212, Sindh Government Record Office, Revenue Department Branch, 1932. 8 One of the earliest sources is the famous book devoted by Richard Burton to Sindh in 1851 (Burton 1988, 212). 9 During some decades, the Waqf was the main patron for publishing books on Lal Shahbaz. All of them were based on Sehwani’s tazkira. See for example Solangi Sehwani (1972). 10 Among the supernatural powers which are ascribed to great Sufis, there is the flight through which a Sufi can travel not physically but spiritually (Boivin 2015, 258). 11 Here, the word Shias means the Isna Ashari or Twelver Shias, who acknowledge twelve imams and wait for the coming of the Mahdi who will impose justice on earth. 12 Interestingly, although Raja Vir is hardly mentioned by colonial and vernacular sources, a temple is devoted to him in Ulhasnagar, in Maharashtra. Ulhasnagar is a city where many Hindu Sindhis migrated after partition. According to a local informant, it is a replica of a temple settled in Khudabad, in Sindh. One night, Raja Vir came and made the keeper write a madah, a eulogy devoted to a saint. Later on, it was printed under the shape of a booklet made of twenty pages. Raja Vir would have thousands of followers, but there is no consensus among them about who he was, although his Shivaite connection is obvious. For some, he is a form of Raja Vikramaditya. 13 The mendi, or henna, symbolizes the death of the Sufi as his mystical wedding with God. 14 Although the term mendi is still used, the henna is most of the time replaced by an offering made of chadors and flowers. 15 Shaban is the eighth month of the Islamic calendar. 16 The vernacular form of the Sanskrit word yogi. 17 From the city of Karbala in Iraq, where imam Husayn, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, died with his family as a martyr in 680 and where his mausoleum is located. 18 Sources on the qalandars state their lives were based on poverty and therefore they used only one kishti. 19 See Foucault, Michel, L’archéologie du savoir (1969, 167). 20 Lefebvre, Henri, La production de l’espace (2000); 265 passim. 21 According to my informants, the temple was no longer visited by followers. The land on which the temple stood was sold and a house was built after the temple was destroyed.

Bibliography Advani, Bherumal Mehrchand, Sindh ain Sindhi, Delhi, Usaat Sahit Malha, 1994. Alidina, Sherali, Tarikh imamat, Karachi, Ismailia Association for Pakistan, 1952. Anderson, Benedict, Imagined communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, London and New York, Verso, 1991.

138  Michel Boivin Ansari, Sarah, Sufi Saints and State Power. The Pirs of Sind, 1843–1947, Lahore, Vanguard Books LMT, 1992. Barth, Fredrik (ed. by), Ethnic Groups and Boundaries. The Social Organization of Culture Difference, Long Groe, Waveland Press, 1998. Boivin, Michel, Le soufisme antinomien dans le sous-continent indien. La`l Shahbaz Qalandar et sa tradition, XIIe-XXème siècle, Paris, Cerf, 2012a. Boivin, Michel, The Sufi Center of Jhok Sharif in Sindh (Pakistan): Questioning the Ziyârat as a Social Process, in Clinton Bennett and Charles M. Ramsay (Eds.), South Asian Sufis: Devotion, Deviation, and Destiny, London, Continuum, 2012b, pp. 95–109. Boivin, Michel, Historical Dictionary of the Sufi Culture of Sindh in Pakistan and in India, Karachi, Oxford University Press, 2015. Burton, Richard, Sind and the races that inhabit the valley of the Indus, Karachi, Indus Publications, 1988 [1st ed. 1851]. Foucault, Michel, Les mots et les choses. Une archéologie des Sciences humaines, Paris, Gallimard, 1966: Engl. Tr. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of Human Sciences, New York, Pantheon Books, 1971. Foucault, Michel, L’archéologie du savoir, Paris, Gallimard, 1969; The Archaeology of Knowledge, Translated by A. M. Sheridan Smith, New York, Pantheon Books, 1972. Gaborieau, Marc, Des dieux dans toutes les directions. Conception indienne de l’espace et classification des dieux, dans V. Bouillier et G. Toffin (éds.), Classer les dieux? Des panthéons en Asie du sud, Paris, EHESS, 1993, pp. 23–42. Grossberg, Lawrence, On Postmodernism and Articulation: An Interview with ­Stuart Hall, Journal of Communication Inquiry. 1986, 10 (2): 45–60. Hobsbawm, Eric, and Terence Ranger, The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge, ­Cambridge University Press, 2005 (1983). Kasmani, Omar, Off the Lines. Fakir orientations of Gender, Body and Space in ­Sehwan Sharif, Pakistan, Ph. D. in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Berlin, Free University, 2015. Laclau, Ernesto, and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. Towards a Radical Democratic Politics, London, New York, Verso, 1985. Lefebvre, Henri, La production de l’espace, Paris, Anthropos, 2000; The Production of Space, Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith, Hoboken, Willey-Blackwell, 1991. Melikian-Chirvani, Asadullah-Souren, From the Royal Boat to the Beggar’s bowl, Islamic Art, IV, pp. 3–111, 1993. Sehwani, Fateh Muhammad Saghir, Qalandar nâmo sindhî, Hyderabad, Qalandar Shahbâz Âkedemî, 1972 [1904]. Solangi Sewhani or Sewestani, Muhammad Paryâl, Gulzâr-i Qalandar, Hyderabad, Qalandar Shahbâz Akedemi, 1972. Turner, Victor, The Ritual Process. Structure and Anti-Structure, Chicago, Aldine Publishing Company, 1969.

7 “To worship our ‘boss’ (the Buddha)” Youth religiosity in a popular pilgrimage site in Sri Lanka Premakumara de Silva

Introduction Youth constitutes a fascinating site for exploring issues of religious p ­ ractice and experience, as well as the transmission of culturally coded behavior in general. Whilst scholars have for a long time neglected the supporting and active role of young people within society, youth agency has recently reemerged as a research topic (Durham 2000; Bucholtz 2002).1 In the A ­ frican context Durham has, for instance, underscored the role of youth as a ­“social shifter”, i.e. as a context-renewing and a context-creating force that simultaneously (re-)produces and contests social relations. Argenti (1994, for ­Cameroon) and Gable (2000, for Guinea-Bissau) have further analyzed the ways in which young people contribute to the revitalization of inherited cultural and religious practices. Berliner (2005), studying the ways in which Guinean youngsters take up and re-create their religious heritage, similarly argues that youth is key to understand processes of remembrance and knowledge transfer. In the South Asian context, Lukose (2005) has shown how new and ­globally-inflected patterns of consumption (such as clothing styles, films, and the staging of beauty pageants) among young people in the state of ­Kerala, South India, have been reconfigured in relation to evolving colonial, postcolonial and nationalist political projects, particularly by targeting the place of women in society. A further landmark in the growing body of literature on South Asian youth is to be found in the work of Osella and Osella (1998, 2004, 2007). These authors have explored youth behavior in Kerala, for instance by contrasting modes of friendship amongst young men with heterosexual pre-marriage flirting and romance relationships. Whilst principles of caste hierarchy have little or no role to play with regard to the former, they are consciously played out with regard to the latter (Osella and Osella 1998). This small but growing body of literature foregrounds how young ­p eople produce, contest, and negotiate culturally transmitted patterns of thought and practice. In the following I apply this kind of inquiry to scrutinize the nexus between religious and non-religious behavior in Sri Lanka.

140  Premakumara de Silva By focusing on ‘youth religiosity’ I will explore how young people interlink religious representations, practices and emotions with quotidian activities during their ritual journeys to Sri Pada, one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the country. My ethnographic account explores the ways in which young Sir Lankans (trans-)form a religious heritage and assimilate it into their “lifeworlds” whilst they are publicly often conceived as mere ‘pleasure seekers’ who engage only in non-religious activities. I argue, however, that their journeys combine religious and non-religious activities and expectations. The first part of the article identifies key limitations within existing anthropological studies on religious activities of Sri Lankan youth. I then analyze some counter-discourses with regards to the journeys of young people to Sri Pada. The final section presents the conclusions.

The anthropology of Sri Lankan youth Sri Lankan youth in general and their culture in particular has so far not been sufficiently explored. The first attempt of such an analysis, however, was already made by Gananath Obeyesekere (1974) with reference to the youth-driven insurgency in 1971. The works of Hettige (1988, 1998, 2002) as well as Hettige and Mayer (2002) have subsequently helped to deepen our understanding of how Sri Lankan youth have positioned themselves within broader social, economic, political and cultural developments.2 However, to date there exists no systematic analysis of their religiosity. Based on data from a nationwide youth survey in 1999/2000, Hettige (2002, 30) yet states that “80% of Sri Lankan youth consider themselves to be ‘religious’ ­irrespective of their educational attainment.” In my view, however, the validity of such a demographic claim needs to be grounded through a thorough analysis of young people’s behavior from within the microcosm of their day-to-day encounters in postcolonial Sri Lanka. In what follows, I will realize such an analysis in relation to the ritual journeys of young ­pilgrims to Sri Pada. The only existing study on youth religiosity in Sri Lanka is by Seneviratne and Wickermeratne (1980). It focuses on the collective representations that have emerged in connection to a new form of religiosity, popularly known as Bodhipuja, which became a centrally visible phenomenon particularly among “educated urban middle class youth in the mid 1970s”.3 The authors argue that the young and popular Buddhist monk Ariyadhamma, the religious ritual innovation of Bodhipuja as well as the secular musical performances of a popular singer, Victor Ratnayaka, provide novel pathways to temporarily ameliorate the asahanaya (Sinh.: hopeless, strain or oppression) to the youth. According to Seneviratne and Wickermeratne (1980, 736), the new Bodhipuja provides a rite of collective amelioration from hopelessness and oppression, and thus from conditions that have coined the experiences of many young Sri Lankans.

Youth religiosity in Sri Lanka  141 Socio-psychological factors provide one possible explanation for the i­ ncreasing appeal of pilgrimage sites like Sri Pada to young people. My own study, however, pursues a different approach by answering the following three questions: What do young people do when they come to Sri Pada? What do they say about their journey to Sri Pada? How do they interrelate notions of place and route? By exploring these questions, I show how a study of youth can provide crucial insights into our understanding of the various linkages between religious and non-religious behaviors in the age of globalization.

The background Between August 2001 and September 2002, and briefly again in ­February 2006 and April 2017, I carried out ethno-historical research on one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka, popularly known as Sri Pada4 or the temple of the sacred footprint. The place is also known to the ­English-speaking world by the name “Adam’s Peak”. Due to the long presence of colonial powers on the island, the Anglicized name has taken deep roots in regional discourses and is still widely used (de Silva 2015, 2016). The temple is situated on a lofty mountain called Samanala (Sinh., butterfly), roughly 7,360 ft. (or 2,200 m) above sea level. It rises dramatically on the south-western edge of the central hills as a part of the boundary between ­Sabaragamuva Province and Central Province. This tropical forest ‘mountain territory’, or Samanala adaviya (Sinh.), comes under the jurisdiction of the guardian deity Saman. This deity, along with the sacred footprint, is venerated at this remote temple in the mountain jungles (de Silva 2008). Historically speaking, Sri Pada temple is a remarkable place of worship for people belonging to all four major religions in Sri Lanka. Irrespective their religious affiliation, worshippers share the same object of worship – the sacred footprint – but associate different interpretations with it (de Silva 2007). The largest ethno-religious community on the island, the Sinhala Buddhists (70.19% of the total population in the year 2011), maintains that the footprint-shaped indentation at the top of the mountain is that of Buddha, implanted during his third mythical visit to the island. Tamil Hindus (12.6% of the total population in 2011) consider it to be the footprint of Lord Siva (Sinh., Sivan-oli-padam). Muslims (9.7% of the total population in 2011) hold the belief that it belongs to Adam (Baba-Adamalei), as do Christians (7.4% of the total population in 2011) who hence coined the name ‘Adam’s Peak’). Sri Pada, therefore, represents a very important place of worship for many centuries and across ethnic-religious boundaries. Like to some other major pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka, thousands of ­pilgrims annually make the journey to Sri Pada in order to worship the ­sacred footprint. In the past, many people climbed up the mountain with the intention of acquiring religious merit. Today, however, people visit for many different reasons. The majority of pilgrims coming to Sri Pada are

142  Premakumara de Silva Sinhala Buddhists. Whilst Hindu Tamils also visit the site, they are small in number and mostly come from the tea estates in the area surrounding the temple. Unlike in the past, Hindu as well as Muslim and Christian p ­ ilgrims are thus notably absent.5 Indeed, religious co-existence and hybridity among Sinhala Buddhists and Tamil Hindus in everyday religious practice has been as much a unifying and bridging factor between these communities, as it has been a dividing one since the rise of post-colonial Sinhala-­ Buddhist nationalism. Though the post-colonial conflict on the island is primarily ethno-linguistic, public religion or Sinhala Buddhist nationalism has been used by a range of political actors to marginalize other religious minorities.6

Youth religiosity at Sri Pada The emergence of young pilgrim groups going to popular pilgrimage sites like Sri Pada describes a relatively recent phenomenon, not least because traditionally these ritual journeys were conducted collectively by entire villages or kin groups that were steered by veteran pilgrim leaders known as nadegura (Sinh.). As I have explained elsewhere, the emergence of new group leaders, especially amongst youth pilgrims, distinguishes these ­emergent from traditional forms of pilgrimage (de Silva 2005). Surprisingly, anthropologists have so far neither analyzed such changes7 nor identified the “youth pilgrim” as a distinctive and noteworthy category. One possible reason for this lack of scholarly attention is the often rather small number of ‘youth pilgrims’ at those sites. However, a focus on the whole spectrum of pilgrims, including youth, helps to scrutinize the diversity and complexity of ritual journeys – as they are conducted by individuals and groups – to a number of popular sites in postcolonial Sri Lanka. My point here is that the anthropology of pilgrimage should speak to more than one theoretical paradigm. However, it so far seems to be divided between Turner and Turner’s (1980) communitas and Eade and Sallnow’s (1991) postmodern notion of ‘competing discourses.’ As Coleman (2002, 363, italics in original) puts it correctly: “Neither [Turnerian] communitas nor contestation [i.e. competing discourses] should themselves become fetishized in order to produce neatly symmetrical anthropological theory, made up of views that appear to constitute a simple binary opposition.” As Coleman (2002, 366) further suggests, and in order to overcome such conceptual challenges, “we should not allow such ethnographically rich spaces [i.e. pilgrimage sites] to become prisons of limited comparison.” I argue that the anthropology of youth, and youth studies in general, provides one promising entry point into these ‘rich spaces’ because it is especially young people who negotiate and (trans-) form inherited forms of religious and non-religious behavior. Following this approach, I recognize ‘youth pilgrims’ as a distinctive ­category in the context of the Sri Pada ritual journey, not least because Sri Pada, unlike some other sites, attracts a relatively high number of young pilgrims (see Table 7.1).8 Though many youth pilgrims seem to come from

Youth religiosity in Sri Lanka  143 Table 7.1  A  ge of pilgrims at Sri Pada Age



15–19 20–29 30–39 40–49 50–59 60–69 70+ Total

142 310 127 133 135   53   24 924

  15   33   14   14   15   6   3 100

Source: own survey (2002).

a lower social background, a considerable number of “lower middle class” youth is also present (e.g. children of teachers, traders, and clerical workers).9 According to Table 7.1 nearly half (48%) of the interviewed pilgrims ­belonged to the age group between 15–19 and 20–29 years, and most of them (60%) were young men.10 These age groups constitute around 30% of the total population of the country.11 Why is such a large contingent of the youth population attracted to Sri Pada? In my view, it is not easy to discard their presence at Sri Pada as ‘pleasure seekers’ or ‘unfaithful pilgrims’ as some of my elderly informants have described their behavior at the site. Attitudes of local people in the Sri Pada area towards youth pilgrims might be well demonstrated through the following phrase I picked up from a child selling cigars to passing youths: “Fashion young (i.e. westernized and disco dance type) brothers, have Rambo brand cigars and you need only one such cigar for the way up to the temple” (own translation from Sinhala). The general public believes that young people come to Sri Pada not for worship but for various pleasures such as smoking cigars and cannabis, teasing girls, drinking alcohol and singing pop music. Let me briefly discus this agnostic view of youth pilgrims at Sri Pada.

Agnostic view of youth pilgrims One of the main stated objectives of liberal economic reforms in Sri Lanka in the late 1970s was to create more employment opportunities for unemployed youth. Yet these opportunities did often not match with the aspirations of a majority of unemployed youth. According to many writers on Sri Lanka, young people have mainly been thought of in that country as a problem (Hettige 2002; Lakshman 2002). They have been seen as an anti-­ establishment and violent group of people. Scholars argue that Sri Lankan youth have been neglected and alienated from the socio-­political and economic mainstream of Sri Lankan society (Hettige 1988, 1998; Fernando 2002). This led to youth unrest in the south in 1971 and 1987 and in the north and east from the 1980s to 2009. It is in the above context the agnostic view on Sri Lankan youth must be understood. Youth behavior and activities at Sri Pada have become constantly ­attacked by certain individuals and institutions. One elderly person told me: “today

144  Premakumara de Silva we don’t see people come for worship, instead they come for pleasure.” Such criticisms are longstanding and can easily be found in newspaper articles and editorials of the last few decades.12 Let me extract a few paragraphs from one long editorial of a popular weekend newspaper, in order to precise the agnostic view of youth pilgrims’ behavior at Sri Pada: [T]his is shocking but true. Now the Sri Pada pilgrim season is on and all you have to do is to go to the hills to see these young men [bad behavior] for yourself […] After observing closely for the past two months of what is really taking place in the Hatton-Maskeliya area [one of the pilgrimage bazaar towns], I am more than shocked […] The jet-set, mod looking youngsters who make up a large segment of the pilgrims consider it a picnic and not a pilgrimage […] The poems sung while climbing has become a joke to them. They sing their own version of poems much to the annoyance of the genuine pilgrims. Young girls are their targets. The modes of dress are far from decent […] heavy drinking [of alcohol is quite common and] […] some have come with their sweethearts […] These are some of the shocking acts of the youngsters who desecrate this holy place […]. If allowed to go unchecked, even the genuine pilgrims who undertake this arduous pilgrimage will give way to these pseudo pilgrims and fun seekers. The doings of these youngsters are detrimental to the spirit of the pilgrimage.13 A similar view was portrayed under the heading of ‘Pilgrims digress: Once a holy pilgrimage for the faithful seems to have become a holiday trip now’.14 According to very recent newspaper reports, several youths on pilgrimage to Sri Pada carrying narcotic drugs and cannabis were arrested by the ­Police and 600 such pilgrims were arrested within three months.15 Such an agnostic public view of youth pilgrims’ behavior at Sri Pada is not uncommon. No doubt, many youths go to Sri Pada for more than worshipping the ­sacred footprint and the deity Saman. Their behavior, the made-up look, and the display of fashionable clothing clearly indicate some of their i­ ntentions. Many youth pilgrims I spoke to clearly said that they visited Sri Pada for “worship” (Sinh., vandinna) and “fun” or “pleasure” (Sinh., vinoda). Only a small minority emphasized that they frequented Sri Pada either for religious or pleasure-seeking purposes. The youth groups who entirely seek “fun”, as we found, are from both Buddhist and non-Buddhist religious backgrounds, and they tend to visit Sri Pada more than once in a pilgrimage season. These groups of young men and women may routinely worship the footprint and the deity Saman, and even offer a few coins (Sinh., panduru) at those two places, but on their own admission they are journeying to Sri Pada for pleasure (Sinh., vinoda) rather than because of any great devotion to Buddha or the deity Saman. This situation is somewhat similar to Jock Stirrat’s description of the Sinhala Catholic youth who visit the main Christian pilgrimage sites in

Youth religiosity in Sri Lanka  145 Sri Lanka, particularly Madhu and Talawila. Stirrat reports that “most of these pleasure seekers are young men, and the place where they have all this fun is in the jungle around the shrine. They try to entice their girlfriends, smoke ganja, drink alcohol and visit prostitutes” (Stirrat 1982, 409). Such pleasurable activities are also not uncommon among young men at today’s Sri Pada. Although the youths journeying to Sri Pada engage in such ‘fun activities’, a close analysis of their behavior at such sites will reveal that it always seems to be a mixture of religious and non-religious activities.

Youths’ mixture of religious and non-religious activities Gombrich and Obeyesekere have interpreted the word ‘vinoda’ (pleasure) in relation to Sinhala-Buddhist pilgrims going to Kataragama and concluded: “In Sinhala consciousness vinoda does not contradict the “sacred” aspects of Kataragama but is intrinsic to the latter” (Gombrich & Obeyesekere 1988, 192). In Kataragama, vinoda refers to the joyous, playful dimension of the god’s cult, which therefore does not contradict with pilgrims’ behavior. But can such an interpretation help us to understand the distinct forms of youth behavior at Sri Pada? Traditionally, pilgrims express the religious quality of Sri Pada through the use of devotional language and restricted forms of behavior. In earlier times the pilgrimage to Sri Pada was conducted in order to acquire a substantial amount of merit.16 This is why elderly people also refer to it as a ‘pin gamana’ [Sinh.], i.e. as a journey through which they would gain spiritual merits. But today the journey to the Sri Pada temple cannot be understood as an activity that is solely or primarily conducted for spiritual reasons, since the religious ­dimension of the journey is increasingly entangled with worldly affairs and quotidian activities. Especially the youths articulate their interest in these journeys in terms of both merit- and pleasure-seeking. This is visible, for ­instance, in the creative ways these youth pilgrims modify the devotional language of traditional religious recitations or poems in order to also ­articulate their everyday emotions. However, in my view, youth groups do not only conduct these journeys for seeking fun. It always seems to be a mixture of religious and non-­religious activities. At the temple, they do engage in personal religious practices, ­particularly in making vows and wishes (Sinh., prartanāva) on themes that are most relevant to young people in contemporary Sri Lanka such as (un-) employment, education, and marriage. In order to cope with these experienced demands of life, Sri Lankan youths often blend religious codes of conduct with pleasure-seeking forms of behavior.

Youth as a ‘social shifter’ Sri Lankan youth clearly have become innovators or “social shifters” who creatively transform existing pilgrims’ religious practices at Sri Pada

146  Premakumara de Silva (Durham 2000). One such innovation includes the modification of devotional songs (Sinh., tunsarana) and friendly greetings during the climbing of the mountain (de Silva 2005). A commonly sung traditional devotional poem looks as follows: Buddhan sarane sirasa daragane Dhammam sarane sita pahadagane Sangan sarane siuru daragene Einie tunsarane adahagene May you keep the blessing of Buddha in our mind May you be mindful with Buddha’s doctrine May you keep the blessing of Sangha (Buddhist monk) in your mind May all live a life with the blessing of the three refuges (Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha) Young people typically modify such devotional poems, which are then not sung but rather shouted out with much laughter and in a joyful mood. Let me illustrate some of the modified poems that I recorded from groups of youth pilgrims: Apē ‘bosa’ – Api vadinna Saman deviyo - phihita vanna! We need to worship our boss (i.e., the Buddha) May god Saman help! In this devotional poem, the Buddha is being called not “our Buddha” but “our Boss.” This form of address is, by any means, a secular name for the Buddha that echoes youth experience. The following example further shows how “old devotional poems” have given way to a currently emerging new style of song: Nai nai nai –Budu sarani Vai vai vai – karünavai Tai tai tai – devi phihitai17 Aluth jōdu vandavanna Parana jōdu vandavanna Pänalagiya jōdu vandavanna Nāki jōdu vandavanna!! Sri Pada is to be worshiped by newly [married] couples Sri Pada is to be worshiped by [old] married couples Sri Pada is to be worshiped by couples who have eloped Sri Pada is to be worshiped by old couples!!

Youth religiosity in Sri Lanka  147 Similarly, the tone and the content of the traditional forms of greetings have also changed in comparison to the modified forms of greetings, which were expressively exchanged among passing pilgrims and emphasized a religious manner. An exchange of traditional greetings would typically assume the following form: Caller: Vandala bahina me nadeta Sumana Saman devi pihitai! May the grace of deity Sumana Saman Be with this group which is descending! Responder: Vadinna yana me nadeta Samma sam budu saranai! May the blessing of Lord Buddha Be with this group which is ascending! The following example shows how youth pilgrims modify the religious c­ ontent of such traditional greetings and therewith “entertainment” rather than “devotional” purposes: Male youth caller: Vändala bahina me nangita Ape sīya ‘sure’ tamai Younger sister who is descending after the worship My grandfather would definitely like to marry her Female youth responder: Ehema kiuva ē ayyata Apē achchi ‘sure’ tamai Brother who said so My grandmother would definitely like to marry you Though this new style of exchange of (friendly) greetings does still ­contain clues to devotional or religious activities, it, no doubt, emphasizes the ­enjoyment. Youth pilgrims have thus modified the content and rhythmic nature of old devotional poems and traditional greetings in order to make them correspond to an emergent youth culture at Sri Pada, which combines and recombines both religious and non-religious elements. Similar changes are also evident with regard to a new form of youth pilgrims’ group leaders who nowadays often substitute (and challenge) the traditional pilgrimage guides.

148  Premakumara de Silva According to elderly informants, pilgrimage groups were traditionally formed around close relatives, sometimes including fellow villagers and friends. In Sinhala a group of pilgrims is called nade, and the veteran male person in charge of this group is known as nadeguru (lit. the teacher of the pilgrim’s group). During a pilgrimage nobody would have the courage to question the authority of the nadeguru. Pilgrims would have to obey him, respect him and conduct themselves according to his word. Today many pilgrim groups are not guided by a nadegura. Instead, small pilgrim groups now enlist the services of an experienced fellow pilgrim who can pass on basic instructions to fellow members during the journey to Sri Pada or other sacred sites. This experienced person could be an elderly male or female pilgrim, but sometimes also rather inexperienced and young characters ­assume this role within a group that they themselves have formed. Interestingly, the archetypal pilgrimage guides (Sinh., nadegura) are ­increasingly substituted by the new youth pilgrims’ leaders. This new leader type is popularly referred to as ‘manager’ (using the English word) by youth pilgrims. A manager is temporally selected by the pilgrimage group. ­Basically, his task is to look after and maintain a collective fund, which is collected from the fellow pilgrims before the journey begins. The money is spent on travelling, food, cigarettes, liquor, and sometimes also for covering the expenses of unemployed group members who could otherwise not afford the journey. These managers, who are thus quite important for youth pilgrims, have both implicitly and explicitly challenged the highly restricted and authoritative role of traditional nadeguras (de Silva 2016).

The case of Sugath The youth who come to Sri Pada today do not consider their journey as ­either a secular or a religious activity alone. As the following case shows, they rather understand it as an occasion for enjoyment combined with religious worship. In this section I will explain how youth pilgrims experience both the ‘secular’ and the ‘sacred’ during a ritual journey through a detailed case study of a youth pilgrim called Sugath.18 Sugath is a 22-year-old male from Moratuwa, a town in Sri Lanka’s ­western province. At the time when I interviewed him, he was doing an undergraduate course in a local university. Sugath has one brother and one sister. His sister got married recently and his brother is expecting to take the Ordinary Level examination at the end of the year. Sugath’s family is heavily dependent on his mother, who has been working as a housemaid in a middle-eastern country since 1987. His father is a carpenter, but since his income was not sufficient to support a family, his mother had to find a job abroad, as many Sri Lankan women in her position do. Sugath’s first journey to Sri Pada took place when he was an eight-year old child. It was a special journey that he made with his father because Sugath had to fulfil a vow that had been made on his behalf by his mother on a

Youth religiosity in Sri Lanka  149 previous journey. The following is an account of his second journey in his own words: My second journey had taken place when I was preparing for my ­ rdinary Level examination. That was a completely different journey O compared to my first one. We did not take that journey as a pilgrimage. It was like a picnic (Sinh., vinoda gamanak). In the train, we sang ­[Sinhala pop] songs and teased our friends. Some time we did the same thing for the other groups, especially for girls who were travelling in the train. One girl in our group fell in love with another guy in a different group and we saw her again at the foothill just before we came home. In our group there were four girls, including my sister, and four boys. Except my sister, the other girls were my classmates. Two of them had brought their boyfriends. In addition to that, there was a newly married couple in their early twenties from our neighborhood who also joined our journey to Sri Pada. As soon as we arrived at Nallatanni we had a bath in the river as others did. After that we all went to a temple and ­observed the five precepts and then proceeded to climbing the mountain. The couples began to climb on their own and I myself joined other youth groups and teased girls until we reached the temple. On one ­occasion, as a joke, a boy pulled a cap from a girl’s head and ran away. But her boyfriend chased behind him and grabbed him and punched him several times in his face. At this point, several boys interfered and stopped further assault. I have seen such things on several occasions. They are not uncommon at Sri Pada. After we reached the temple we worshipped the footprint and enjoyed the surrounding of the mountain for about ten or fifteen minutes and then began descending from the temple […]. The case of young Sugath shows that the prime intention or motivation of journeying to Sri Pada is neither exclusively religious nor exclusively non-­ religious. When considering emerging youth behavior at Sri Pada, it is quite evident that the dichotomy between sacred and profane, or religious and ­quotidian activities is not tenable. Sugath’s third journey to Sri Pada took place just a few months prior to the start of his university education, one weekend in April 2000. At that time, he was working with a well-known local NGO in his hometown, namely the Sarvodaya, where other members of the party had been working or taking part in training programs. A friend at Sarvodaya had suggested going on a trip (not the pilgrimage) to Sri Pada for ‘pleasure.’19 In Sugath’s words: [W]e all agreed on his suggestion to go to the Sri Pada. In our group, there were eight boys and three girls, and all were between twenty and twenty-five. The girls were with their boyfriends, who were actually friends of mine at Sarvodaya. But the girls were not working at

150  Premakumara de Silva Sarvodaya, but were garment factory workers from the Ratmalana ­industrial zone. This time we did not take the train, instead we hired a vehicle [Engl.]. The driver of the mini bus was also a young guy, probably our age, and he also very much enjoyed the journey with us. I became aware later that all the girls in our group had gone to a temple on the eve of our journey to ensure our safety, but none of us boys had followed such a ritual at all. On our way to Sri Pada, we stopped at Kitulgala [a popular river bathing place on the Colombo-Hatton road] and we had fun there bathing, drinking [alcohol], eating, singing, and dancing. The girls didn’t take alcohol, but they enjoyed taking a river bath, singing, and eating. Some of the boys got heavily drunk. Just right down the river few of them took naked photographs for fun. We very much enjoyed being at the bathing spot. We were not alone at that place: there were many groups like us. Some groups were playing loud music with their instruments. ­After Kitulgala, we stopped drinking alcohol, but carried on singing until having reached Nallatanni (a pilgrimage Bazar town). There some had another bath, whilst others just washed their faces before going further to ­observe the five precepts at a temple. As in my previous journey, the couples didn’t accompany us, but they climbed (Sinh., nägga) the mountain alone and the remaining members of the group climbed together while making the girls laugh through the friendly greetings and modified tunsarana (devotional songs). After we had arrived at the temple and as usual worshipped (vända) the footprint, we went to the bell and tolled it. I tolled thrice because that was my third visit to Sri Pada. One of my male friends and a girl in our group made vows at the shrine of the deity Saman, but I was not sure whether others had done the same things, because I did not see them until I found them at the place for watching the sunrise at the temple. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the rising sun due to the cloudy sky and decided to go down. On our way back, no one made jokes or sang songs as we did during the climbing, simply because we were so tired and exhausted. After seven or eight hours of walking, we finally reached the foothill. Soon after our vehicle left Nallatanni, we began to drink alcohol until we came to Kitulgala, the place where we had made a stop on our way to Sri Pada. There we had another bath, took our meal and rested for a while. We came back home late at night. Finally, I asked Sugath if there was a special purpose for him in going to Sri Pada? He replied In the first two journeys, particularly in the first journey, I went to Sri Pada with great devotion [Sinh., bhaktiyen gēye] and there was a bit of fear in it [Sinh., bayakuth tībuna], but now I don’t have such a great ­devotion to Sri Pada (or the footprint), though as a Buddhist I worship it when I visit there.

Youth religiosity in Sri Lanka  151 Whilst this particular voice of a so-called youth pilgrim conceptualizes the Sri Pada journey increasingly as an undertaking done for fun. Sugath’s narration also indicates that the phenomenon of youth pilgrimage cannot be understood fully when looking at the pleasure dimension alone. Many youths have a lot of fun and enjoyment during their journey, but they simultaneously seek blessing and help from the sacred footprint and its guardian deity Saman for their concerns such as unemployment, marriage and education. Most of the youth that were interviewed enthusiastically confirmed that they enjoyed the journey in general and the stay at Sri Pada in particular. Their narrations mostly reflect experiences that are more or less similar to those made by Sugath during the second and third journey. Many of them come to Sri Pada with friends, mostly from their neighborhoods or workplaces, and sometimes also with schoolmates or classmates. Many groups predominantly consist of young males, but sometimes there are mixed sex groups. However, at Sri Pada it is hard to find youth groups that consist of young women alone. The pleasure activities in which young people are engaged during their journey to Sri Pada include; the drinking of alcohol, smoking, river bathing, the singing of modified devotional songs (tunsarana) and local pop songs, dancing and teasing girls. But as we see in the above narration, youths also make vows at the temple, they ensure the safety of their journey, and they take vows and express wishes (parthana) in relation to their everyday life. Many youth groups observed the five precepts before the commencement of the climbing and at the temple, and they worshiped the footprint (with or without great devotion to it). These are all common practices that each pilgrim would perform once they come to the Sri Pada temple. Some youth even go beyond such common practice by bringing their private problems to the temple’s divine power for assistance. Many youths I spoke to told me that when they come to the temple they wanted to stick to common ­religious practices, and for them anything like fun would take place beyond the ­sacred boundaries of the temple. One member of a youth pilgrim group from Avissawella (a bazar plantation town) expressed this as follows: We came to Sri Pada as Buddhists, we think that we would get a ­ lessing (Sinh., asirvadayak) by coming here. Hence, though we enjoyed b ­ourselves on our way to Sri Pada [the temple] we were never expecting to have a “fun” (Engl.) at the temple. When interpreting such statements, however, one must not forget the fact that disciplinary measures have been taken up by the temple authorities during the last decade or so in order to control what they called “disrespectful behavior” by pilgrims, particularly young ones, at the temple.20 Though the “disrespectful behavior” of pilgrims seems to be controlled on the temple premises, the boundaries between the ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ are rather fluid at Sri Pada. Though the sacred character of the Sri Pada temple has been

152  Premakumara de Silva reinforced by the authorities, the territorial extent of the sacred area remains rather unclear. This is a major difference to many other state-­sponsored national pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka, such as Kandy, Anuradhapura and Kataragama where the sacred geography is clearly marked out. The sacred boundary that we see at the Sri Pada temple today, has been reinforced by  the temple authorities to deal with the emerging ‘non-religious’ behavior of the youth. Though such measures have been taken by the temple ­authority, the youth groups continuously challenge the existing traditional structure of pilgrimage by innovatively transforming, adding and merging new practices and beliefs into the (post) modern journeying to Sri Pada.

Conclusion Like other pilgrims, the “youth pilgrims” come to Sri Pada to worship and to ask for help. No doubt many youths do go to Sri Pada for more than worshipping the sacred footprint and the deity, and for seeking favor from these divine ­powers for their worries and concerns. But, as I have analyzed in this article, the intention to gain spiritual merit is often combined with the objective to achieve a maximum of pleasure. Both the spiritual and enjoyment dimension have been explored through the accounts of personal experiences, for instance by accounting for the memories of young pilgrims. The analysis has shown that both religious and non-religious experiences are equally important when it comes to understanding the pilgrim groups in general and youth groups in particular. The study further shows that youth pilgrims can be identified as a separate sociological or anthropological category in the context of the Sri Pada pilgrimage and perhaps even Sri Lankan culture in general. The ethnographical accounts foreground the some of the manifold strategies through which young people articulate, negotiate and contest their tradition in relation to a sacred site, and how they therewith assimilate and transform a religious heritage quite differently and innovatively.

Notes 1 For earlier studies see, for instance, Mead (1928) and Mungham and Pearson (1976). 2 See also a recent study conducted by Sirisena (2011) on romantic relationships of Sri Lankan university students. 3 See also Singh (2011), who has articulated the relation between religious ­p erformances and the well-recognised insecurities of contemporary social ­conditions with reference to the Indian youth during the Kanwar pilgrimage. He argues against a cognitive individualist interpretation of how such insecurities inform religious performances, and instead emphasizes the overbearing reality of ­material conditions and the pilgrims’ embeddedness in an ethic of ­concern and dependence. 4 I use Sri Pada in this paper quite loosely and without intending to emphasize any specific religious connotation.

Youth religiosity in Sri Lanka  153 5 As I observed during my last visit to Sri Pada, in April 2017, and as one of my temple informants restated, the attending of Hindu Tamils and Muslims from the north, west, and east coast has increased after the war due to the country’s experience of relative peace. During my fieldwork in 2001/2002 and briefly in 2006, non-Buddhists participation was not significant. Interestingly, in 2017, I had a chance to meet with few youth groups travelling from Jaffna. 6 As I have discussed elsewhere in detail, this pilgrimage has now been transformed or rather (re)ordered into an ethnic majoritarian Buddhist space, concurrent with the rise of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism in postcolonial Sri Lanka (de Silva 2013). 7 Compare, for instance, with Seneviratne (1978); Obeysekere (1981); Nissan (1985); Bastin (2002). 8 The random survey was carried out over some weekends and holidays between January and May 2002. To collect numerical data at a major pilgrimage site is by no means an easy task. Large numbers of pilgrims come and go and the interviews took place in an extremely busy situation, particularly after the long and tiring climb of the mountain. There is also limited space at the temple, preventing the pilgrims from staying long at the premises. In view of such difficulties, it is hard to judge how far the information obtained was reliable. Altogether we interviewed 924 pilgrims. Given that pilgrims tend to arrive in groups, we tried our best to ensure that members of the same group were not interviewed more than once at different times or over and over again. 9 I have also noticed a small number of environmentally concerned English ­speaking urban middle-class youth operating at Sri Pada under respective NGOs. They are basically there for conducting a range of environment awareness programs for pilgrims rather than having any devotion to the sacred centre. For example, the Young Biologists’ Association of Sri Lanka conducts such clean-up programmes at Sri Pada www.dailynews.lk/2018/02/16/features/142942/all-­ nature-lovers-are-invited-sri-pada-clean-project-young-bilogists%E2%80%99 (accessed 07/04/2018). 10 Out of the 924 people we interviewed at Sri Pada, 40% were female and 60% male. 11 Census of Population and Housing, Department of Census and Statistics (2011). 12 For example: ‘siripa gamane yedena sinhala hippiyo’ (in Engl.: Sinhalese hippies journeying to Sri Pada), a newspaper article written by Rev. Pallekiruve Piyananda (Divaina February 12, 1984) or ‘siripa gamana mod velada?’ (in English: Has the journey of Sri Pada spoiled?), an editorial appearing in budusarana (a Buddhist newspaper) on March 6, 1985. 13 Times, April 21, 1973. 14 www.sundaytimes.lk/990228/plus6.html (Sunday Times February 28, 1999) ­(accessed 06/04/18). 15 www.dailynews.lk/2018/04/02/local/147229/youth-sri-pada-end-cop-shed (accessed 06/04/18). 16 Coomaraswamy (1908) identifies the pilgrimage to Sri Pada as a journey of ­acquiring merit and of transferring merit (to the deity). 17 This is a rather exceptional way of singing such old-type devotional songs, as it sounds like rap music. 18 The name appearing in the case study has been changed. We interviewed him on November 28, 2001. 19 He used the term “arthal.” This word is common among young people in Sri Lanka and employed instead of “vinodaya” when they expect to have “pleasure” or “fun.” 20 One such measure is the deployment of a considerable number of policemen both in uniform and in plain clothes to maintain the “conformity of the temple.” The police were more particular about the youth (mis)behaviour at the temple

154  Premakumara de Silva premises. According to them people are not allowed to wear head caps or footwear, to take photographs, to make noise, to listen to music, to eat, etc. During my fieldwork, a few drunken youth pilgrims were taken into police custody. In addition to the temple’s police post there are five other police posts operating during the pilgrimage season in order to tackle the perceived misbehaviour of the pilgrims and any illicit trading. According to a police report during the 2000/2001 pilgrimage season, 205 liquor bottles belonging to the pilgrims were confiscated and 52 illegitimate liquor-selling spots and 16 ganja sellers were tracked down. Additionally, at the temple, an announcement was constantly made through a PA system on certain things that pilgrims should not do in the sacred area (Sinh., udamaluva).

Bibliography Argenti, Nic. 1994. Air Youth: Performance, Violence and the State in Cameroon. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 4(4): 753–782. Bastin, Rohan. 2002. The Domain of Constant Excess: Plural Worship at the ­Munnesvaram Temples in Sri Lanka. New York: Berghahn Books. Berliner, David. 2005. An ‘Impossible’ Transmission: Youth Religious Memories in Guinea-Conakry. American Ethnologist 32(4): 576–592. Bucholtz, Mary. 2002. Youth and Cultural Practice. Annual Review of Anthropology 31: 525–552. Coleman, Simon. 2002. Do you believe in pilgrimage?: Communitas, Contestation and Beyond. Anthropological Theory 2(3): 355–370. Coomaraswamy, Ananda K. 1908. The Village Community and Modern Progress. Colombo: Apothecaries. de Silva, Premakumara. 2005. Sri Pada: Diversity and Exclusion in a Sacred Site in Sri Lanka. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh. de Silva, Premakumara. 2006. Anthropology of Sinhala Buddhism. Contemporary Buddhism 7(2): 165–170. de Silva, Premakumara. 2007. Hindu and Muslim Connections to Sri Pada, in Jayadeva Uyangoda (ed.), Religion in Context. Colombo: Social Scientists’ ­Association, pp. 136–146. de Silva, Premakumara. 2008. God of Compassion and the Divine Protector of ‘Sri Pada’: Trends in Popular Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Journal of the Humanities (SLJH) 34(1–2): 93–107. de Silva, Premakumara. 2013. (Re)ordering of Postcolonial Sri Pada in Sri Lanka: ­Buddhism, State, and Nationalism. History and Sociology of South Asia 7(2): 155–176. de Silva, Premakumara. 2014. Religion, History and Colonial Powers: Colonial Knowledge Productions on Sri Pada as ‘Adam’s Peak’. South Asian Journal of Social Sciences (SAJSS) 5: 21–34. ­ ilgrimage: de Silva, Premakumara. 2016. Anthropological Studies on South Asian P Case of Buddhist Pilgrimage in Sri Lanka. Journal of Religious Tourism and ­Pilgrimage 4(1): 17–33. Durham, Deborah. 2000. Youth and the Social Imagination in Africa. Anthropological Quarterly 73(3): 113–120. Durham, Deborah. 2004. Disappearing Youth: Youth as a Social Shifter in ­Botswana. American Ethnologist 31(4): 589–605.

Youth religiosity in Sri Lanka  155 Eade, John, Sallnow, Michael J. (eds.) 1991. Contesting the Sacred: The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage. London: Routledge. Fernando, Laksiri. 2002. Youth and Politics: Why They Rebel?, in Siri T. Hettige and Markus Mayer (eds.), Sri Lankan Youth: Challenges and Perspectives. ­Colombo: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, pp. 121–141. Gable, Eric. 2000. The Culture Development Club: Youth, Neo-tradition, and the Construction of Society in Guinea-Bissau. Anthropology Quarterly 73(4): 195–203. Gombrich, Richard F., Obeysekere, Gananath. 1988. Buddhism Transformed: ­Religious Change in Sri Lanka. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Hettige, Siri T. (ed.) 1988. Unrest or Revolt: Some Aspects of Youth Unrest in Sri Lanka. Colombo: German Cultural Institute. Hettige, Siri T. (ed.) 1998. Globalization, Social Change and Youth. Colombo: ­German Cultural Institute. Hettige, Siri T. 2002. Sri Lankan Youth: Profiles and Perspectives, in Siri T. ­Hettige and Markus Mayer (eds.), Sri Lankan Youth: Challenges and Responses. Colombo: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung: pp. 24–67. Hettige, Siri T., Mayer, Markus. (eds.) 2002. Sri Lankan Youth: Challenges and ­Responses. Colombo: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. Lakshman, W.D. 2002. A Holistic View of Youth Unemployment in Sri Lanka, in Siri T. Hettige and Markus Mayer (eds.), Sri Lankan Youth: Challenges and ­Perspectives. Colombo: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung: pp. 58–89. Lukose, Ritty. 2005. Consuming Globalization: Youth and Gender in Kerala, India. Journal of Social History 38(4): 915–935. Mead, Margaret. 1928. Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilisation (1st ed.). New York: Harper Collins. Mungham, Geoff, Pearson, Geoff. 1976. Working Class Youth Culture. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Nissan, Elizabeth 1985. The Sacred City of Anuradhapura: Aspects of Sinhalese ­B uddhism and Nationhood. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis. London: University of London. Obeyesekere, Gananath. 1974. Some Comments on the Social Backgrounds of the April 1971 Insurgency in Sri Lanka. Journal of Asian Studies 33(3): 367–384. Obeysekere, Gananath. 1981. Medusa’s Hair. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Osella, Caroline, Osella, Filippo. 1998. Flirting and Friendship: Micro-politics in Kerala, South India. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (Incorporating Man) 4(2): 189–206. Osella, Caroline, Osella, Filippo. 2004. Malayali Young Men and their Movie ­Heroes, in Radhika Chopra, Caroline Osella and Filippo Osella (eds.), South Asian Masculinities: Context of Change, Sites of Continuity. Delhi: Kali for Women, pp. 224–261. Osella, Caroline, Osella, Filippo. 2007. Men and Masculinities in South India. ­London: Anthem Press. Seneviratne, H.L. 1978. Rituals of the Kandyan State. Cambridge: Cambridge ­University Press. Seneviratne, H.L., Wickermeratne, Swarna. 1980. Bodhipuja: Collective Representations of Sri Lanka Youth. American Ethnologist 7(4): 734–743. Singh, Vikash. 2011. Precarious Life and the Ethics of Care: Subjectivity in an ­Indian Religious Phenomenon. Culture and Religion 12(4): 419–440.

156  Premakumara de Silva Sirisena, Mihirini. 2011. Learning about Love, Life and Future with Colombo ­University Students. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh. Stirrat, R.L. 1982. Shrines, Pilgrimage and Miraculous Powers in Roman Catholic Sri Lanka, in W.J. Sheils (ed.), The Church and Healing. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, pp. 385–413. Turner, Victor, Turner, Edith. 1980. Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture: ­Anthropological Perspectives. Oxford: Blackwell.

8 Vailankanni Mata and AngloIndian Catholics Rising postcolonial devotion and her unlikely pilgrim devotees Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto Introduction Since 2013 we have been involved in several research projects which explore the place of religion in the lives of Anglo-Indians, both in India and the diaspora. A theme that has emerged from these projects is the prevalence of the practice of pilgrimage. As co-religionists, making pilgrimages struck us as being much more common than we had anticipated, certainly more than among other Catholics we knew. It was one particular pilgrimage that stood out in our data: to the South Indian shrine of Our Lady of Vailankanni.1 On further investigation, including both interviews and time spent at the shrine, we recognized the very ‘Hindu’ character of the practices engaged in at Vailankanni, such as garlanding, tonsuring, thali offerings and dressing the statue as will be discussed in more detail later. These practices struck us as unlikely given that Anglo-Indians have traditionally been proud to adhere to ‘western’ cultural mores in most every respect of dress, language and the symbolic economy of their Christian worship. As a result, we wondered what motivates Anglo-Indians to make pilgrimages there, as families or with other groups of Anglo-Indians even from abroad? How do they feel about expressing their Catholicism in the very non-western devotional modes that are normative at Vailankanni? How do pilgrimages to Vailankanni relate to Anglo-Indians’ sense of their ethnic identity and belonging? In this chapter we discuss Anglo-Indians’ motivations to journey to the shrine, draw attention to some of the trends in practice (including some ­surprisingly Hindu ritual elements that we have observed and heard about in interviews with Anglo-Indians), and discuss the meanings attached to them. In trying to understand the accounts we were hearing, we found that Turners’ (Turner and Turner 2011 [1978]) classic understanding of pilgrimage was a helpful starting point. As we discuss in a later section, it is their conception of pilgrimage involving a three-part process (separation, ­l iminoid, re-engagement), inspired by van Gennep’s theorization of rites of passage (Turner and Turner 2011 [1978]), that particularly resonated with the accounts we heard – more than the Turners’ focus on communitas which we found of limited relevance. Eade and

158  Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto Sallnow’s (1991) idea of contestation is a more apt model for activities at the shrine, ­p articularly around the occasion of Our Lady of Vailankanni’s feast day. Before looking at the research and the findings we will introduce the community. We also discuss the site and its history in order to fully understand the significance and popularity of the shrine of Our Lady of Vailankanni, not only to Anglo-Indians but to Indian Christians and non-Christian Indians as well.

Who are Anglo-Indians? Anglo-Indians are a minority community of mixed Indian and European descent. The community originated as a result of various European groups making their home in India under colonialism, with the most influential arguably being the British. They are defined in the Indian Constitution: An Anglo-Indian means a person whose father or any of whose other male progenitors in the male line is or was of European descent but who is domiciled within the territory of India and is or was born within such territory of parents habitually resident therein and not established there for temporary purposes only. (Section 366 [2]) Socially and culturally Anglo-Indians are generally much more ‘western’ than ‘Indian’: they are Christians, almost all speak English as their mother tongue, have western names, and eat, dress, and socialize in western ways – and distinguish themselves from the majority population in doing so. ­During the British Raj many were employed by the British in government jobs such as post and telegraph, the police and armed forces, and the railways (Mills 1998; Caplan 2001; Bear 2007, 156, 160, 199, 248; Almeida 2017, 170). Another characteristic of Anglo-Indians is that those in India have a culture of migration, or as Caplan puts it, a ‘culture of emigration’ (Caplan 1995). This idea is based in large part on the fact that since India gained its independence from Britain in 1947, more than half of the population has left India for English-speaking Commonwealth countries including England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (Caplan 1998, 2001; Blunt 2005; Otto and Andrews 2017). From our earlier research with Anglo-Indians, and particularly that which focused on religious practices, we found that Anglo-Indians both in India and the diaspora are regular and often fervent practitioners of their Christian – and mostly Catholic – faith (Otto and Andrews 2017). In ­addition to attending weekly, and sometimes daily, masses, they take leadership and ministry roles in their parishes. They talk openly about their faith (not only in interview settings) and narrate their beliefs and practices with many ­mentioning their pilgrimage activities, mostly to the shrine we focus on here.

Vailankanni Mata and Anglo-Indian Catholics  159

Pilgrimage: theoretical moorings In this section we establish the theoretical framework that is applied to ­analyze the collected historical and empirical material on the Anglo-­Indian pilgrimage to Vailankanni. Our discussion begins as many theoretical ­discussions of pilgrimage do, with the Turners’ (2011 [1978]) pioneering work. As indicated earlier, while their work was our starting point, not all aspects of their theory resonate precisely with our material, and this is where Eade and Sallnow’s (1991) later ideas have been illuminating. We draw on Coleman’s nuanced articulations of both Turners’, and Eade and Sallnow’s theories, and bear in mind his plea for researchers to bring pilgrimage back in connection with everyday lives (Coleman 2002, 363–364). In their landmark study of the anthropology of religion, Victor and ­Edith Turner conceive of religious pilgrimage as a journey “to a sacred site or holy shrine located at some distance away from the pilgrim’s place of residence and daily labour” (Turner and Turner 2011 [1978], 4). Coleman and Eade (2004) argue that the Turners understood that these journeys had the ­potential to “creat[e] social and/or psychological transformations, even if only on a temporary basis” (Coleman and Eade 2004, 2). It was this ­transformative characteristic that saw the Turners looking to van Gennep’s analytical perspective on rites of passage to explain the phenomena, as Coleman describes: For them, pilgrimage had certain similarities with [rites of passage] in the way it encouraged people to move (literally and metaphorically) from their normal, everyday lives and enter, however temporarily, different social and spiritual worlds. They coined a term for the experience of ‘losing’ one’s old identity and freely and spontaneously encountering others on pilgrimage: communitas [emphasis in the original]. After such an experience, as in a rite of passage, there was a chance that the person would return renewed, even transformed. (Coleman 2011) Turner and Turner (2011 [1978], 34) claimed that pilgrimage includes the ­following characteristics: “release from mundane structure; homogenization of status; simplicity of dress and behavior; communitas; ordeal; reflection on the meaning of basic religious and cultural values; …”. This conceptualization builds on Turner’s (1974, 166–167) initial framing of pilgrimages as “liminal phenomena” in van Gennep’s sense. However, they later elaborated that “pilgrimage is perhaps best thought of as ‘liminoid’ or ‘quasi-liminal’, rather than liminal in van Gennep’s full sense” (Turner and Turner 2011 [1978], 35). The reason they offer for this adjustment in terminology is to account for the voluntary, rather than obligatory nature of a pilgrim’s undertaking (Turner and Turner 2011 [1978], 36). They also observed that in western contexts religious pilgrimage is one of the few areas of social life

160  Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto that people experience dimensions of liminality in their lives (Turner and Turner 2011 [1978], 4). The hallmark of the Turners’ theorization of pilgrimage is their focus on communitas (an essence of the liminal phase), which is understood as a phenomenon where the usual social structures entailing and prescribing a hierarchy and fixity of roles and relationships is temporarily abandoned to form a new set of more egalitarian relations. Describing further their ‘anti-structure’ paradigm, as Coleman (2002, 356) terms it, they propose that pilgrims become ‘as one’ with each other, with former structural ­divisions such as class and status overlooked. Barbara Myerhoff also writes about ­communitas, describing it as an experience of ‘intense camaraderie’ ­(Myerhoff 1978, 274). Anglo-Indians’ enactment and experience of participation in the pilgrimage to Our Lady of Vailankanni, resonate in many ways with the Turners’ three phase rite of passage model, in that they separate from their everyday lives in particular ways, and after their pilgrimage they reintegrate drawing on a specific set of practices. The weakest resonance, as discussed below, is with the idea of communitas, which others have also been dubious about. Sallnow (1981), for example, challenged the Turners’ anti-structure model of pilgrimage, based on examples from his research of pilgrimages to ­Andean shrines, aiming directly at communitas. He argues that assuming communitas as the pilgrims’ “goal is spurious…” (Sallnow 1981, 163).2 Following this line against communitas, Eade and Sallnow argue that the notion “failed to take account of the mundane conflicts inherent in ­pilgrimage” (quoted in Coleman 2002, 357). The focus on conflict became the foundation of their approach, referred to as the ‘contestation’ paradigm, and articulated through a set of contributions to the volume, Contesting the Sacred (1991) edited by Eade and Sallnow. For Eade and Sallnow, and their contributing authors, the sacred site is understood as a ‘contested’ space, as Coleman summarizes: Eade and Sallnow’s much-quoted introduction thus presents pilgrimage as a capacious arena capable of accommodating many competing religious and secular discourses: The power of a shrine … derives in large part from its character as a religious void, a ritual space capable of accommodating diverse meanings and practices – though of course the shrine staff might attempt … to impose a single, official discourse. This … is what confers upon a major shrine its essential, u ­ niversalistic ­character: its capacity to absorb and reflect a multiplicity of religious ­discourses … The sacred centre … appears as a vessel into which ­pilgrims devoutly pour their hopes, prayers, and aspirations. And in a perfect illustration of the classic Marxist model of fetishization and alienation, the shrine then appears to its devotees as if it were itself ­dispensing the divine power and healing balm which they seek. (Eade and Sallnow 1991, 15–16 in Coleman 2002, 357)

Vailankanni Mata and Anglo-Indian Catholics  161 Eade and Sallnow’s ‘contestation’ paradigm includes the idea of a struggle between rival communities with a degree of boundary marking occurring as any contestation plays out. Such struggle can be of varying severity, and more or less obvious to an observer. Examples of contestation offered by Coleman include, “brancardiers [official pilgrimage helpers] and impatient bathers at Lourdes, between local residents and Padre Pio ‘groupies’ at San Giovanni Rotondo”, or competition for access to particular icons (Coleman 2002, 359).

Research methods and theoretical application As noted earlier, our interest in this pilgrimage practice emerged directly from our earlier religion-related research with the community. As co-­ religionists having completed other research projects with the community over the last two decades, we were well placed to carry out semi-structured informal interviews, (some together, some separately, and all in English) and to take part in a two day visit to the site together, with Anglo-Indians known to us. They showed us around, accompanied us to Mass, and explained and demonstrated what they do on their visits. Our empirical data set comprises recorded and transcribed interviews with Anglo-Indians who have visited the site and detailed field notes written during our visit to Vailankanni in late 2014. We undertook not to use real names so we employ pseudonyms when drawing on interview material. In our analysis of ethnographic material from Anglo-Indians in relation to their pilgrimages to Vailankanni, we draw on portions of the two frameworks addressed above: anti-structure, and contestation. The Turners’ model provides a useful overarching three-phase framework, resonating as it does with the way Anglo-Indians talk about their experiences of separation and reintegration. But is communitas, or anti-structure, experienced? Our data is insufficient to suggest that it is, although we can speculate that in some arenas – such as the daily English mass, with familiar responsorial and Eucharist practices – it may be; and with other Anglo-Indians, whom they do not know, it is sure to be. Where language is not shared, and practices are more alien to them, Anglo-Indians are less likely to experience communitas. Eade and Sallnow’s ‘contestation’ paradigm may better account for ­Anglo-Indians experiences at the shrine, including their reaction to p ­ ractices observed of the different pilgrim groups they meet. Sebastia’s (2002, ­32–34) account of the groups who go to Our Lady of Vailankanni, especially over the festival period, suggest that demarcation of roles and allocation of ­responsibilities rostered to distinct days is a way of managing contestation. We look more closely at this further along. In drawing on aspects of both paradigms (anti-structure and contestation), to better understand our data we heed Coleman’s advice to be open to interpretations of what is happening and what it means, rather than limiting

162  Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto the treatment of pilgrimage to one or other paradigm or, for that matter, to only the time of the pilgrimage. Before presenting our empirical material through the three-stage model of pilgrimage though, we describe the site of Vailankanni, providing a ­h istorical and geographical context of the place so many pilgrims make their way to on a regular basis.

The shrine of our lady of good health: history and sacred geography In coastal Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam district lies the village of Vailankanni, a satellite of the larger town of Nagapattinam which is about seven kilometers to the north (Santos 1978, 1). It is a seaside town where life historically ­c entered around fishing and coastal trade, with farming and cattle grazing as secondary occupations mainly concerned with providing for local needs. Today Vailankanni has grown from a sleepy village into a major pilgrimage center, where an estimated 15–20 million domestic and international pilgrims visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health annually (Mukherjee 2004, 462). Among these pilgrims is an increasing number of Anglo-Indians from all over the world. On our visit we could observe that this former village is now a bustling town with multistory buildings, numerous hotels and restaurants, all serving visitors to a landscape now defined by a basilica, multiple shrine churches and chapels, a museum, processional paths, and numerous sites and services that aid pilgrims in carrying out their devotions. The greatest number of pilgrims come to Vailankanni for the annual feast of Our Lady of Good Health, celebrated on 8 September, which is universally recognized as the Nativity of Mary in the liturgical c­ alendar of the Catholic Church. The radical transformation of Vailankanni from fishing village to shrine town began in the 16th century with two local apparitions and miracles, ­followed by a third miracle in the 17th century, all of which were ­attributed to the Christian Mary, mother of Jesus. The story of V ­ ailankanni’s ­transformation is also a story that intertwines Indian and Portuguese ­Catholics, colonialism, and the major events of post-colonial global Church. This section will survey this history to provide a context for the motivations and means by which present day Anglo-Indians make their sacred journeys to Vailankanni. Sources of knowledge We do not have contemporary written accounts of the apparitions and ­m iracles, but instead a strong oral tradition that appears to stretch back to the 16th century. This does not mean that such accounts did not exist at one time; for when the Dutch invaded Nagapattinam in 1660 and wrested it from a century and a half of Portuguese control, the Portuguese were expelled

Vailankanni Mata and Anglo-Indian Catholics  163 along with all missionaries, and their properties and records ­destroyed ­(Santos 1978, 16–17). There may have been accounts of the miracles, or other documentation about the annual feast, managing pilgrims and the inevitable disputes that arise around such important public rituals. Yet it is puzzling that scholars have found scant mention of Vailankanni and this shrine in Portuguese records or colonial British gazetteers (Mukherjee, 463). The attempt to consolidate the oral tradition and promote the devotion beyond the region was begun by the Church in the late 19th century (Bayly 1989, 368). The account which most other sources appear to draw from is a history of the shrine, written by a priest historian, Fr. S. R. Santos, published first in 1933, apparently rewritten sufficiently in 1965 to require a new imprimatur by the bishop of Thanjavur, and in numerous editions thereafter. The founding apparitions and miracles The miracles and apparitions said to have taken place are described as ­follows according to Santos’ shrine history, and corroborated by our c­ onversations with pilgrims. At some point in the 16th century, the first apparition is said to have taken place. A Hindu shepherd boy was resting by a small pond (a “tank” in Indian English parlance), and carrying with him a pot filled with milk to sell to a man in Nagapattinam. While resting, a ‘divine lady’ a­ ppeared to him in supernatural appearance, holding her child in her arms. She requested that he give her some of the milk to feed the child, with which he complied. Then he went on his way with the remaining milk. When he ­arrived in ­Nagapattinam he told the man what had happened, and apologized that as a result the milk pot was no longer full. But as he took off the lid, the pot was filled to the brim with milk, replenished apparently by s­ upernatural agency (Santos 1978, 7–9; Varghese 2000, 76; Mukherjee 2004, 462). Some time later, a lame Hindu boy, the son of a poor widow, was selling buttermilk beneath a tree. A divine lady appeared to him, once again with a child in her arms. She also requested that he give her milk for her child, and he complied. Then she asked him if he would carry a message to a wealthy Catholic gentleman in Nagapattinam, that she wanted him to build a chapel on this site dedicated to Mary. The boy agreed, but asked how he could go all that way as he was lame and could not walk. The divine lady instructed him to get up, and he was immediately healed of his disability. So the boy sought out that man in Nagapattinam and gave him the message from the ‘divine lady’. He was unsurprised at the news because he had a dream in which Mary asked him to build a chapel in her honor in Vailankanni. The boy’s visit authenticated for him the divine origins of the man’s dream. So the man constructed a thatched chapel on the site of the boy’s apparition in Vailankanni (Nadu Thittu) and from that point it became a place of popular devotion, particularly of the Catholics who interpreted the ‘divine lady’ and child of these two apparitions to be Mary with the infant Jesus in her arms (Santos 1978, 9–11; Varghese 2000, 77–78; Mukherjee 2004, 462).

164  Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto Interestingly the recipient of both these apparitions were Hindu boys in the peripheral village of Vailankanni, not local Indian Catholics nor Portuguese Catholics in the main town of Nagapattinam. Both boys responded to the divine request with generosity, and for that they were rewarded with miracles. The healing of the second boy’s legs is offered as the reason the Mary of these apparitions and the chapel that was constructed would be called Our Lady of Good Health, or Vailankanni Arockia Matha in Tamil (Santos 1978, 11; Varghese 2000, 78). The devotion that began and continues today is predominantly focused on asking for Mary’s intercession in matters of health. A third miracle occurred in the 17th century, this time not in the village of Vailankanni and not to local Hindu children, but out at sea to Portuguese sailors. They were en route from Macao to Colombo and were caught in a terrible storm in which they were sure they would sink. Praying to Mary fervently for her protection, the storm ceased and they came ashore at Vailankanni on 8 September, the feast of the Nativity of Mary. Certain that Mary had answered their prayers and saved their lives, they knelt and prayed as soon as they reached the beach. Locals recognized this prayer posture as Christian and summoned the local Christians, who showed them the thatched chapel to Our Lady of Good Health. The Portuguese insisted expanding it into a stone church as a way of expressing gratitude to Mary for their miraculous escape from death at sea. The new church was dedicated on the feast of the Nativity of Mary, the 8 September, the anniversary of their deliverance, and thereafter that particular Marian feast became the patronal feast of Our Lady of Good Health at Vailankanni (Santos 1978, 12–14; Varghese 2000, 78; Mukherjee 2004, 462–463). Besides appealing to local Catholics, these miraculous occurrences are sure to have had great appeal to Hindus as well. The Tamil region of South India had a deeply rooted cult of Amman, a fierce warrior and conquering mother goddess. In her study of the sacred landscape of South India, Susan Bayly explains that some in Vailankanni, including shrine officials, claim that the basilica sits on the former site of an Amman temple. As Our Lady of Good Health is known primarily as a healer or exorcist of maladies, she fits the paradigm of the fierce goddess and the qualities of Amman. It is likely that many Hindu devotees then and now either conflate Our Lady with Amman or else interpret Our Lady to have triumphed over Amman, with the basilica and the increasing devotion as material signs of that conquest (Bayly 1989, 368). Our lady: colonial but not colonized? As Vailankanni receives scant mention in historical documents of the period, it is unclear exactly the speed and intensity with which devotion and pilgrimage grew in Vailankanni. As it apparently receives no regard in colonial gazetteers even in the British period (Mukherjee 2004, 462), it

Vailankanni Mata and Anglo-Indian Catholics  165 is doubtful that the Portuguese had taken any great interest in promoting Our Lady’s devotion there. Without a doubt, patronage of the shrines of saints and holy figures was an important way in which rulers manifested their power, linking temporal and eternal realms by making their mark on the sacred landscape. This was true of both Hindu and Muslim rulers in India, who regularly crossed religious lines to offer patronage of temples, mosques and dargahs [saints’ mausoleums] (Bayly 1989).3 The Portuguese also took seriously the patronage of holy sites, although they did not cross religious lines to do so. If they took little interest in Vailankanni Mata, it may well be because they were busy promoting devotion to Francis Xavier, missionary par excellence to the Portuguese Indies, whose body was said to be miraculous and which they had entombed and made into a pilgrimage center in their colonial capital, Goa. As Pamila Gupta shows in The Relic State (2014), the Portuguese consistently invested tremendous effort in promoting devotion Francis ­Xavier, certifying the miraculous state of the corpse, accounting for miracles done for devotees by his intercession, and regulating periodic expositions of the body to the public for veneration. The Portuguese from the mid-16th century until the final end of Portuguese rule in Goa in 1961, tied the fortunes of state to the state of Xavier’s body (Gupta 2014). Although situated near the commercially important port of Nagapattinam and also the hub of missionary activity on the coast (Santos 1978, 17),4 Vailankanni was on the periphery of Portuguese India and Our Lady’s appearance there were surely remote to the concerns of the colonial state. Moreover, their devotional focus rested on the cult of Xavier. Indeed, the Portuguese built a church dedicated to St. Francis Xavier to the north of Nagapattinam’s town center (Santos 1978, 17). Nevertheless, it appears a long-standing local devotion to Our Lady of Good Health grew to attract Indian Catholics and many H ­ indus and Muslims as well, from around South India. If the miraculous intercession of Our Lady for the Portuguese sailors ­occurred in the 17th century, it must have been in the first half, for in 1660 the Dutch invaded. They expelled all Portuguese and missionaries, at least from the port and fort of Nagapattinam. Although the Dutch invasion forced them to rebuild the church outside the area the Dutch controlled in 1662, Franciscan missionaries continued to serve the singular parish based in Nagapattinam that included within its territory Vailankanni and the church to Vailankanni Mata (Santos 1978, 18–19). Vailankanni only became a separate parish over 100 years later in 1771, as Dutch rule was waning; the parish priest of Nagapattinam, Fr. Antonio D’Rozario, was appointed the founding priest of the new parish at Vailankanni, his former mission station (Santos 1978, 20). By 1781, the British had completely defeated the Dutch and taken possession of that territory, and it would remain so until Indian independence in 1947. Santos can say little of Vailankanni over the 19th century besides giving the ecclesiastical history, listing the parish priests, their orders, and

166  Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto bishops. Mukherjee (2004, 463) claims the colonial gazetteers are silent about the shrine. Church records appear only to discuss the shrine with ­respect to tensions which arose when, for example, ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the region passed from the Goa based Portuguese Padroado to the more Vatican-­directed Propaganda Fides, or when the Jesuits in 1839 ­replaced the Missions Étrangères de Paris in serving Nagapattinam and Vailanakanni (Sebastia 2002, 19–21) all of which probably had little impact on local devotees. The Jesuits did build a new shrine church in the middle of the century to serve the Catholics in Vailankanni, whom they estimated to number 3,000 (Sebastia 2002, 21–22). It is safe to say that devotion to Vailankanni Mata likely remained mainly a local affair through most of the 17th through 19th centuries, for massive regional or trans-regional pilgrimage flows would have provoked regulation, organization and a resulting ­paper trail concerning it. One event in the 19th century, however, may have ended Vailankanni Mata’s relatively local importance and initiated the trajectory towards the international fame she now enjoys: in 1854 the Vatican promulgated the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (that Mary had to have been conceived without Original Sin in order to be mother of Jesus, incarnate God). This reinforced her preeminence among the saints. Indeed, since the 19th century the Catholic Church has experienced a tremendous surge in Marian devotion, especially in the realm of pilgrimage to sites of apparitions and miracles of the Virgin. Only since then has Vailankanni become a global destination like many other Marian shrines, including Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe (Mexico), or Medjugorje (Bosnia-Herzegovina). At some of these sites old apparitions had taken place, like Vailankanni and Guadalupe (Mexico), but at others Mary only appeared subsequent to the promulgation of the Immaculate Conception. Whether the promulgation of the Immaculate Conception was the Vatican’s response to the sensus fideli, or conversely that the new teaching fueled the rise in devotion, it is clear that the teaching certainly lent special recommendation of Marian devotion. Either way, the surge in Marian devotion was backed by doctrine, and pilgrimage was further facilitated by the revolution in transportation technology: steam powered ships and trains and later, motorized road transport. An apparent turning point in Vailanakanni’s increasing popularity, was the creation of the diocese of Thanjavur in 1953, in which Vailankanni would now fall (formerly it was part of Mylapore) (Sebastia 2002, 23). The newly appointed bishop, Most Rev. R. Arockiasamy Sundaram, took a great interest in devotion to Our Lady of Vailankanni. When he was installed as bishop he made his own pilgrimage to Vailankanni to commend himself and the new diocese to her intercession (Santos 1978, 43). In the universal Church 1954 was declared a Marian year, and this was the occasion for the diocese of Thanjavur to erect a host of new buildings and services in Vailankanni to cater to pilgrims and offer charity, including a shrine museum, book depot,

Vailankanni Mata and Anglo-Indian Catholics  167 orphanages, additional chapels and a shrine magazine in both Tamil and English (Santos 1978, 44–45). When Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council in 1962 (running through 1965), Vailankanni had grown so much as a popular site of pilgrimage that Bishop Sundaram made a special request of the Pope when he traveled to Rome for the Council. Calling Vailankanni the “Lourdes of the East” he requested that the Pope elevate Our Lady of Good Health in Vailankanni to the status of a basilica. The pope acceded to his request, issuing a papal brief composed by the Vatican secretary of state, which after acknowledging the power of Our Lady’s intercession there on the authority of popular tradition, designates Vailankanni a minor basilica associated to Santa Maria Majore in Rome, and outlining special privileges for the shrine and spiritual merits for those who make pilgrimage there. Santos quotes the document in its entirety (Santos 1978, 45–49; Mukherjee 2004, 462). The Second Vatican Council emphasized in its revolutionary Church reforms, a deeper respect for the many cultures of the world, which should be more meaningfully reflected through cultural adaptation in liturgy, ritual, and devotion. This ushered in many changes, including in India. The Indian Church began major reforms to “Indianize” what had previously been a very Roman and internationally uniform sort of liturgy – largely in Latin with only some readings and the homily delivered in the vernacular languages. It was a liturgy that took European culture, symbolic order and gesture to be normative throughout the world. All of this changed with the Vatican Council, followed by what were inevitably tumultuous times in the 1970s. The Church went about translating all the liturgical and sacramental rites into all the many vernacular languages. Rites were being examined alongside Hindu ones in an attempt to “acculturate” – to adapt gesture and symbol to a more culturally relevant idiom, yet without endangering the intended theological meaning (Sebastia 2002, 58). On one level this was an old and controversial idea reinvigorated, for 17th through 19th centuries missionaries like Robert De Nobili, Constanzo Beschi, John de Britto and even the Abbè Dubois had done something similar as part of their mission strategy. New in this 20th century moment was that the Church was Indianizing, indigenizing by central policy, not peripheral experimentation, and the aim was no longer conversion but better cultural conformity with the existing Catholic community.5 Did the post-Vatican II reform of the Indian Church, at that post-colonial moment, create an appetite for a truly Indian saint, a truly “uncolonized” figure, place of pilgrimage and style of veneration, to rally around as a new devotional fulcrum for Indian Catholicism? For with little doubt Vailankanni Mata has now become the devotional center of gravity for Christians in India. Far from the highly regulated devotional activity surrounding colonial saints such as St. Francis Xavier’s – with rules, monitors and entry tickets to venerate his body in Goa (Gupta 2014) – is the more organic and

168  Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto uncolonized devotional life of Our Lady of Vailankanni. Devotees of all religions, a large minority of whom are Catholic, express their devotion in an Indian motif – with garlands, thalis, totemic offerings, tonsuring, tying turmeric on tree branches, raising flags to the saint on each procession day, and ­enrobing the statue of Vailankanni Mata in saris, which along with other objects such as string, coconut pieces, candles and more, then become holy relics to take home or distribute to relatives. Indeed, a change at the basilica following the Council was that the sari with which Vailankanni Mata’s statue was robed would no longer be blue (the universal color of Mary in the Catholic Church) but now saffron, the holy color of Hinduism (Sebastia 2002, 58). This Mary is Indian, not the historic person of Mary of course, but Mary’s manifest apparitional and miracle-working self in Vailankanni. She appeared first not to Europeans, but to non-Christian Indians. While Xavier had been the missionary of colonial Christianity, one could claim that Our Lady of Vailankanni was a supernatural bearer of Christianity to India – not the apostle Thomas (claimed as the ancestor of Syrian Christians), and not Xavier (claimed mostly by low caste colonially converted Christians) – but heaven-sent to the Christians and non-Christians alike of South India. It would seem that Vailankanni Mata was the ideal saint to be patroness for India’s Christians, or more, a universal mother to all Indians, in the post-colonial post-Vatican II imagination of the late 20th century. The question thus presents itself: Why has Vailankanni Mata, an Indian and increasingly Indianizing Mary, seem to have captured the attention and devotion of Anglo-Indians who are known to pride themselves on western cultural mores? Among Anglo-Indians three or four decades ago, few outside of South India would have known about Our Lady of Vailankanni. The shrine’s popularity as a pilgrimage site for Christians throughout India and across other parts of South and Southeast Asia, has grown considerably in this time period. It is now spoken of as the “Lourdes of the East” and an icon of Catholic devotion in India. Yet local Anglo-Indians have a long relationship with the shrine, including the patronage of one day of the annual novena prior to the feast (Sebastia 2002, 33). Only in this post-­colonial period has Our Lady of Vailankanni become known to Anglo-Indian Catholics throughout the North and even abroad and emerged at the center of significant devotion among them, including pilgrimage. In fact, Anglo-­ Indians in various other places in India and even abroad, have named parish churches after our Lady of Vailankanni or organized regular devotional activities centered on her. In the following sections we will attempt to answer how these ordinarily westernized Anglo-Indians are attracted to, engage in and take meaning from their pilgrimages to Vailankanni, in dialogue with theoretical work on pilgrimage and our ethnographic research among Anglo-Indian pilgrims. We look initially though, at motivations for making the journey since a number of our interviewees placed great emphasis on this point.

Vailankanni Mata and Anglo-Indian Catholics  169

Anglo-Indian pilgrims and pilgrimage Why Anglo-Indians make the journey There are many reasons for Anglo-Indians to go on this ritual ­journey. Among our research participants their reasons ranged from being a ­calendrical devotional habit (usually annual), to the special occasion of a family members’ visit, to specific needs such as finding a matrimonial partner, seeking employment, or asking help with health concerns, such as trouble conceiving a child or coping with illness. Some made their pilgrimage in the hopes of increasing the likelihood of success in their quest to migrate to another country. For others it was thanksgiving for good news or favors ­received – e.g., a birth, engagement, employment, or a positive health ­outcome – which often resulted in vows to return. Diasporic Anglo-­Indians appear often to time their pilgrimages around other events which might also be referred to as ‘pilgrimages’: visits home, or to participate in triennial World Anglo-Indian Reunions that are sometimes held in India. The health-related reasons were explained to us as self-evident, as this comment from a woman who has recently migrated to New Zealand indicates: She’s known as Our Lady of Good Health. So we normally go there in any time of sickness, and any kind of trouble. We just go for a visit. When a health scare or health related reason may provide an initial ­motivation to journey to Vailankanni the pilgrimage often becomes an annual undertaking, and very much a part of their faith lives. An Anglo-Indian woman from a small city in West Bengal, for example, told us that she visits Vailankanni every year, but that she first went to Vailankanni when her husband was diagnosed with cancer, and then she continued after he was cured. I went to Vailankanni and I prayed to Our Lady and I asked Our Lady, “I’m not asking you to cure Peter, just show us what is wrong with him so that doctors can help him”. So we came back from Vailankanni and we went to another doctor and that day he was detected with malignant cancer. So I believe in Our Lady of Vailankanni. I told Our Lady that next time I come back, when Peter is healed, I will offer up Peter’s hair (…) Then when Thomas was born, Peter took us all back to Vailankanni. We went and fulfilled that wish, with Thomas’s hair and Peter’s hair. RA: Did they shave it there?6 They shave it in Vailankanni. She continued her account with another health-related incident: So, when I came back my son got very sick. He was born with one ­testicle. One of his testicles was stuck in his kidney. So we took him back for surgery in Chennai. Then again we went to Vailankanni, then

170  Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto I prayed for everyone. I prayed to Our Lady “Give me what I need most, I don’t need anything. Thank you for everything you’ve given me, but whatever I need most give me that.” And when I came back from Vailankanni I conceived [my daughter]. She was like Our Lady’s baby. It was like a blessing. RA: Now you pilgrimage every year? Every year to Vailankanni. Whenever we go south for a check-up, for Peter and Thomas’s check-up. Every year we go to Vailankanni. Another account, from a now 80-year-old Anglo-Indian man living in New Zealand, highlights the tendency of Anglo-Indian pilgrimages to Vailankanni to be repeated. He spoke of a number of visits to Vailankanni, the first of which was with his wife-to-be and her invalid brother. The next time they visited was to get married, after which they moved to live in the Middle East. This was followed by their heart-rending losses of their first two babies, both of whom were born with spina bifida, a rare birth defect affecting the spinal cord. One had died at birth and another at six days. After the first two died, then we went to Vailankanni. I can’t remember what year that was, it must have been in the early 1960s I think. It was before the healthy children came around, yeah. Then when Teresa would have been a baby, and Angela might have been about two or three years old. We thought, we’d go to Vailankanni for, like a pilgrimage, just to give thanks for the children that we’d had. While his explanation for follow up visits was to give thanks, phrased almost as a courtesy, others described such returns differently. A number of Anglo-Indian pilgrims, for example, related to us that a journey is made as a result of a promise to return after a vow has been fulfilled. Sebastia (2002, 52) also writes about this, noting that: “although the virgin is considered to be benevolent, in certain circumstances she can appear dangerous and menacing”. One such circumstance she wrote of was of pilgrims not fulfilling vows to return. Vows are viewed as transactional then, as Sebastia (2002, 53) says: so a favour delivered in the form of a child, a cure, a husband, requires the promised vow to return, to be fulfilled. There is a risk to the person and their family in overlooking this obligation, as demonstrated in explanations offered in the excerpt below. It covers events and visits over more than twenty years, all of which were connected: I was also born more than five years after my mother got married. She was 18. She was getting worried ‘Why do we have no children?’ So she made a vow to Vailankanni mother to make a silver cord the height of the child and take it to Vailankanni [if she had a baby]. But when I was born she forgot this vow. It was not done. When a marriage proposal came for me it was always going wrong. Either I didn’t like the man or

Vailankanni Mata and Anglo-Indian Catholics  171 they didn’t like something, or my parents didn’t like the man. Something would go wrong. One day my mother suddenly remembered, ‘I have made a vow and have not done it, so maybe that’s why things are going wrong’. I was in Bombay then. When I came back she told me this. Then she got a gold thread my size. When she made it [a vow to return with] silver, now she made it gold because it was [her] fault.7 My mother said, ‘That’s why so many things which were coming for you were going wrong.’ And within six months I got married. She married in the Vailankanni church because, as her mother told her: “I have made a vow that you’ll get married in Vailankanni church. That is my promise to Our Lady.” She said that she also had trouble conceiving a child. Her mother had made another vow on her behalf in the hope of a baby, “If it’s a boy we name him Joseph. If it’s a girl we name her Mary”. They had a baby boy whom they named Joseph. This woman focused her account on the vows her mother had made for marriage and for children. She did not dwell on the journey except to say that when she went there to marry it was a long journey to take (from ­Mumbai). For others their accounts included more attention to the journey, as we describe later. The three-part pilgrimage In this next section we look ethnographically at Anglo-Indian pilgrimage to Vailankanni, organised mostly according to the Turners’ adjusted version of van Gennep’s rites of passage model. The Anglo-Indian experience of visiting Our Lady of Vailankanni involves three quite distinct phases with particular activities marking (1) separation from their social world along with travel of some type, (2) then a temporary liminoid phase which sees them taking part in rituals including some which are discrepant from their cultural and religious norms, and (3) then their re-engagement with society in particular and prescribed ways. (1) Separation and the journey Anglo-Indians we spoke to described what they do before going to Vailankanni. Because it seems to be a pilgrimage very often taken as a family, first of all someone in the family initiates it. Then they make travel arrangements and inform their Anglo-Indian friends and family. As one interviewee, who lives in the United Arab Emirates explained: …we tell people that we are going. That’s because people send us their offerings. They put them in a sealed envelope – some money – and they’ll tell us, ‘this is for Mass for so-and-so, or for a thanksgiving,’ or just an offering, and seal it and we drop it into the offertory boxes in the

172  Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto shrine. And my Aunt cut off a bit of her hair, and gave it to us, and we’re supposed to drop into the ocean. So different people give us different offerings to carry on their behalf, and we take it off there. People tell us, ‘come back and bring some holy oil’, or ‘bring some salt’, or ‘bring some black thread from there’. Anglo-Indians recounted a range of ways they make their pilgrim journey to Vailankanni. In the last few years, as such Anglo-Indian pilgrimages to Vailankanni have become increasingly popular (as pilgrimage in its many manifestations has also globally (Coleman and Eade 2004)) the journey itself is becoming, for some, much more onerous. While most Anglo-Indians, such as the person above, still take the more traditional travel option of relatively easy public transport (including flights, trains, buses and taxis) others we heard of join an organized walk to travel by foot to the sacred site. This seems to represent a change from pilgrimage as centered on spending time in the sacred place, to one where the journey is also of great spiritual significance (as many other pilgrimages are, the Camino de Santiago, for example (Frey 1998)); that is, the pilgrimage includes both the journey and the destination. The following is an account we heard of Anglo-Indians who walk the over 300 km from Chennai to Vailankanni in the days before Our Lady’s feast day which is 8 September each year. The following is an account from a young Anglo-Indian man who walked to Vailankanni with a group of other Anglo-Indians: It takes nine and a half days. We organize it in such a way that it’s nine and a half days. Along the way people stay in chapels, marriage halls, schools, churches, church compounds. And if you don’t have church compounds, there’s a lot of fields nearby, and the [owners of the] fields are [happy] for them to spend the night. There was a guide who used to provide food daily. No matter if they come at 3 o’clock, or 11, 12 o’clock in the night, or 3 o’clock early morning, he will definitely provide something to eat, and a tea or a coffee. So that was something. Many people, along the way, villagers, farmers, come to the a­ reas ­ uttermilk where these people are walking, and they give them unlimited b to drink. So even though [the villagers and farmers] are not Christians, they’re helping the walkers to go to Vailankanni, by giving them buttermilk or maybe some snacks. They get blessed in turn. While other community groups have a history of walking to Our Lady of Vailankanni’s shrine, as occurs for other Indian religious pilgrimages (for example, Hindus to Jagannath Temple in Puri) Anglo-Indians did not have this tradition.8 As we were told by one middle aged man in Chennai: They always used to go by train. Even my Mother, and so many other people. I remember her telling me. They used to take the train to

Vailankanni Mata and Anglo-Indian Catholics  173 Nagapattinam… And from there they used to take a taxi or a bus, or a bullock cart. That bullock cart, used to take half a day to reach the church, the actual Vailankanni Church. It was not until the 1970s when an Anglo-Indian from Chennai started walking the nine days of the novena that this tradition has grown, as we were told “He was a pioneer. Before he started this movement there was nobody doing this.” Now up to fifty Anglo-Indians walk, and they are accompanied by non-Anglo-Indian Christians so the group, which is comprised mostly of men, numbers several hundred each year. Details of the walk were described to us by an Anglo-Indian who had been part of the group: Along the way they say the Rosary. We start at 4 o’clock in the morning. We get up 4 o’clock, and we leave by 4:15. And, until we reach our breakfast spot, which is another 10 to 12 km, we keep saying our Rosary. And then again it starts. Then we tend to move into small groups, small group of five, or ten, or families. As is the case for other pilgrimages there can be danger on the journey, as the Turners note, “For many pilgrims the journey itself is something of a penance. Not only may the way be long, it is also hazardous, beset by robbers, thieves, and confidence men aplenty…” as well as physical hardship (Turner and Turner 2011 [1978], 7). For those Anglo-Indians who walk this is certainly the case: There’s a sad story to these walks as well. Because every year there’s some accident or another, a fatal one. Two years ago, an Anglo-Indian gentleman, he had his breakfast and he come out onto the main road. And a small minivan came right into him, and he died on the spot. So a big group of them had to come back and bury him in Madras, and then again go back and catch up on the walk. So these things happen, and many years ago, an Anglo-Indian man was bitten by a cobra snake, and by the time they took him to the nearest hospital he was dead. So there’s some dangers involved. You have to really rough it out because, you’ll be sleeping out in the open. Sometimes it’ll be raining. Mosquitoes. And the heat! And taking rest on the road, it’s not easy. The places you booked also suddenly they say, ‘some other group is already staying there.’ So you have to sleep on the pavements. Even having a bath is very inconvenient. They go to a well, or they go to a pond with pumped water – it’s mostly for irrigation, the water comes for the plants, the plots. But we use it for a bathing spot, we take a bucket along – those ten days they really rough it out. In the past, even though most Anglo-Indian pilgrims would have taken public transport they were still much less comfortable than most modern

174  Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto pilgrims to Our Lady of Vailankanni are during their stay. As one Anglo-­ Indian who had been visiting the shrine for a number of decades told us: In those days [the 1960s and 1970s], people used to take their ingredients with them. Take their rice and dhal and all that, their lentils. And we used to cook there. It was very common among Anglo-Indians at the time. Nowadays people don’t do it. For Anglo-Indians who make the arduous foot journey to the pilgrimage site, or travel there with a large group, it could be understood that the liminoid phase starts as they set out. For most Anglo-Indians, though, who travel as couples or as a family in relative comfort then this phase is entered into on arrival at Vailankanni. We turn now to what occurs at the site. (2) At the Shrine Once arrived, Anglo-Indians go through a series of specific activities, in roughly the same order. The first of which is a visit to the shrine/basilica/ main church (there are several churches and chapels on the site) which has the principal image, a statue of Our Lady of Good Health. Most Anglo-­ Indians we spoke to said they time their arrival so as to attend the 10 am daily mass in English, although one said they go to the 9 am one. One young man recounted: …when you land there, first you visit the shrine. Now there are different rituals which take place. So you could get yourself what we call a thali, one of those stainless steel trays. And that will have two halves of a coconut, and there will be muri [puffed rice], salt, oil, some medals, and black thread or red thread. These are offerings, which are offered up. So you take it to the main shrine and you give it to the person who’s there, one of the volunteers. And they take it up to the altar, because you’re not allowed to go right up to the altar. And it’s touched, or placed, at the feet of Our Lady, and then it’s brought back. Then you bring those things back with you, back home. The coconut, once it dries (the kernel), you cut up and distribute among people back home. Even the black thread, the holy oil, and the rock salt. So these are relics which are kept in times of crisis and need, if someone is very sick. So the belief is that if you anoint the person with that holy oil, or … someone needs a little bit of … a spiritual upliftment in their life, you add a pinch of salt in your food, or the thread around your neck to hang holy medals. Things like that. Another offering could also be that they shave their head. They ­become completely bald. RA: Why do they do that?

Vailankanni Mata and Anglo-Indian Catholics  175 That is a vow. For a vow fulfillment. So if you’ve received favours granted, the vow might be to shave off your hair. The hair is offered in your name, meaning in His [God’s] name. I offer it to the sea. Much of what is described here, and by others we talked to, is particular to Indian Christian (and Hindu) religious practices, but not to Anglo-Indian, especially those who now live in the west. For example, an Indian Christian wedding often includes the offertory presentation of thalis holding similar objects to those described, including candles, incense, fruit and other food items.9 But in this pilgrimage circumstance such offerings are also made by Anglo-Indians, as are other rituals practiced. It was hearing of the practice of tonsuring in particular that alerted us to the site-specific practices that occur here. Although it is clear that Anglo-Indians do engage in the practice of tonsuring, based on a number of reports from Anglo-Indians who had experienced it themselves or within their families, there was some resistance to the idea. It may be that this is a new practice for Anglo-Indians, which older Anglo-Indians have not accepted. One older Anglo-Indian explained to us: “… we don’t do all that, the shaving of the head, because we’ve come down from that domiciled European actual AI, we don’t do that. The others do it, many do it.” The distinction she was making was between ‘real’ ­Anglo-Indians and those who called themselves Anglo-Indian but in her view were not Anglo-Indians. Other examples narrated to us included people who desire to purchase a house who may pray for Our Lady’s help and when their prayer is fulfilled they come to offer a model house made in silver, and a selection of them are pictured in Santos’ (1978) history of the shrine. There is a museum at the shrine containing hundreds of such offerings from devotees. We were also told that some devotees make a ritual journey to the main shrine on their knees by way of a one-kilometer-long sand path, while praying the rosary. Another commented about her brother: “Yeah, he who never takes his slippers off his feet, he walked bare foot in the sand in Vailankanni.” This is regarded as a penitential offering or a sacrifice in thanksgiving or petition. The examples of practices we’ve been told about, and observed when we visited with Anglo-Indians in 2014, indicate that on this pilgrimage ­Anglo-Indian assume quite divergent practices from those of any other parts or times of their lives. Such unified practice could be understood in terms of communitas in that the usual social boundaries and roles are disrupted for the period of this shared experience. Myerhoff’s sense of communitas as intense camaraderie is more likely to be experienced when there is also shared language, and practices, for examples, around the daily 10am English masses at the shrine. On the other hand, there are a number of areas in which we identify ‘­separation’ as opposed to ‘communitas,’ such as masses celebrated in different languages for Christians from different regions. And as Sebastia (2002) and Meibohm (2004) note, and we observed, it is not only Catholics

176  Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto (of different castes and cultures) who come from throughout India and the Indian and Anglo-Indian diaspora, but also “Tamilians from all castes and all religions” (Sebastia 2002, 11) who visit. This creates very heterogeneous spaces with, for example, jostling for position to offer thalis and saris, operating with language, caste and community differences. It seems less likely that there is a sense of camaraderie experienced between Anglo-Indians and other devotees at these times. Sebastia (2002) makes it quite clear that there has been competition from different groups over procession responsibilities over the novena10 leading to the patronal feast day. This event is central to her analysis so she has provided detailed ethnographic material to illustrate the tensions, some of which have been resolved through a fixed schedule of different groups who take responsibility for the festival requirements on their respective assigned days over the period of 29 August until the 8 September (plus the addition of two more days of evening processions on 9 and 10 September). These groups are mostly castes and sub-caste Christians who live in Vailankanni or close by. One family though, “The Pereira family of Chennai (Anglo-Indian)”, is listed by Sebastia (2002, 33) as being responsible for the celebrations and attendant expenses for 4 September. Sebastia (2002, 33) explains in a footnote that: The Anglo-Indians are a caste. The Pereira family explains its ­ articipation in the festive cycle of Velankanni by an entitlement inp herited by ­ancestors who resided in Nagappattinam in the last century. ­Today, most of the family members are scattered in Europe, Asia and the United States. When they are unable to participate in the patronal festival, they send their vari [a collection], contribution, to a family member, who hereditarily exercises the function of talaivar. Thus, this festival presents itself as an opportunity to unite the family and paying of the vari as an opportunity to reaffirm family ties. We spoke to an Anglo-Indian, now living in Trivandrum in Kerala, who is part of this family. He said that for centuries perhaps, his family lived there in Nagapattinam, and as wealthy people sponsored the ritual procession and all its attendant decorations, music, lighting, charity offerings and the dispensing of roles and honors in the procession on one of the days of the nine-days celebration (the novena) preceding the annual feast on 8 September (the Nativity of Mary in the universal Catholic calendar). As his local relatives are no longer financially able to bear this expense, it has fallen to him, a prosperous businessman. Thus every year he and his immediate family go to Vailankanni to perform these duties of patronage and devotion. He related that giving up this duty was never a question. (3) Reintegration Through pilgrimage Anglo-Indians connect with other Anglo-Indians both prior to, and after their visit. Once pilgrims have returned home they visit

Vailankanni Mata and Anglo-Indian Catholics  177 their friends and family delivering the relics, holy oil and water, rosary beads, prayer cards etc. An Anglo-Indian family in Trivandrum, for example, offers a large number of candles and statues at the feet of Our Lady at Vailankanni every year, specifically to gift to friends and family to connect them to Our Lady in a tangible way that they could not undertake by way of pilgrimage themselves. Indeed, they offered them to us as well. Our lady of Vailankanni also seems to have particular significance to Anglo-Indians, beyond visiting the pilgrimage site. One person told us that his grandmother, in Calcutta, would feed beggars during Our Lady of Vailankanni’s novena. A further indication of the significance is that this is the name of the church erected in the recently established (within the last two decades) Catholic parish in the Picnic Gardens area, a section of Kolkata to which many Anglo-Indians have relocated from the central areas over the last 30 years. Further, for diasporic Anglo-Indians in the San Francisco area of the United States, a monthly mass in honor of Our Lady of Vailankanni at a particular church has become a meeting place of ­Anglo-Indians from the region, although it was initiated by a priest originally from Kerala, and most of the other attendees are South Indian Christians.

Conclusion The sacred site of Vailankanni has a long history, and one which has over the last century and a half become increasingly significant not just to South ­Indians, but Indian Christians in general. For the apparitional figure of Mary, Our Lady of Good Health (Vailankanni Mata), appeared in their own home country and to non-Christian Indians. She thus exemplifies ­divine favor on Indians, a Christian figure largely uncolonized in contrast to missionary saints such as Francis Xavier. Anglo-Indians have an historic relationship with this sacred site, but one which appears to be evolving from only the local or regional community (with the Pereira family in Nagapattinam for a century or more sponsoring the feast alongside other castes and groups), to now the national and international diaspora of Anglo-Indians. This is manifest in frequent pilgrimages to Vailankanni. On the one hand this rise in Vailankanni’s popularity among Anglo-Indians tracks a similar pattern across the broader Indian Christian community; but, what is curious is that this ‘uncolonized’ Mary has become popular with Anglo-Indians – the most ‘colonized’ of Christian communities, indeed the ‘children of colonialism.’ As such the pilgrimage to Vailankanni present an unlikely and unexpected discordance between their westernized mores, and the very Indian and indeed Hindu-origin sign, symbol and ritual forms of devotion which prevail at the shrine. Our ethnographic research to understand what is going on for Anglo-­ Indian pilgrims to Vailankanni, appears to map convincingly onto the three-part Turnerian anti-structure model of pilgrimage of (1) separation, (2) liminoid experience, and (3) reintegration. In the second, liminoid

178  Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto phase, we see Anglo-Indians accommodating the divergent norms of ritual practice they accept and engage in while at Vailankanni (tonsuring, garlanding statues, thalis and gold or silver offerings). The idea of communitas is more complex for Anglo-Indians than the Turners’ anti-structure model can explain, for while Anglo-Indians may experience communitas with those whose practices, culture and language are similar to their own  – for example, other Anglo-Indians or similarly westernized Goan Catholics – the many devotional practices which are alien to them are not likely to engender communitas. Sallnow and Eade’s idea of contestation offers a better explanation for Anglo-Indian experiences of those rituals which are dissonant with their quotidian religious practices. Sebastia’s account of the structural division of the annual feast at Vailankanni, with each day of the novena being patronized and arranged by distinct castes and groups (including A ­ nglo-Indians), suggests that contestation is at the very center of the devotional world of Vailankanni Mata and pilgrimages to her shrine. We have learned that pilgrimage to Vailankanni activity holds a ­particular place in the imagination of the diasporic Anglo-Indian community. At the same time as it expresses religious devotion for a community of largely practicing Christians (mainly Catholic) it is a religious experience intrinsically connected to their homeland in India. This encompasses both the pilgrims themselves, as well as the non-pilgrims to whom they are connected, often materially, by carrying offerings to and holy objects from the site of pilgrimage. Despite being westernized both by communal tradition as well as by diasporic residence, Anglo-Indians accept and engage in distinctly Indian material ritual practices while at the shrine – a sign of the liminoid quality of the pilgrimage, and an acknowledgment, perhaps, that especially in diaspora, India and Indianness cannot be separated from Anglo-Indian identity, however different they may be from other groups of Indian origin. A further indication of the growing significance of this pilgrimage to ­Anglo-Indians is that the triennial World Reunion of Anglo-Indians, taking place in Chennai in 2019 includes an organized pilgrimage to Vailankanni at the conclusion of the week-long event. The organizers anticipate that this will be a very popular addition to the program.

Notes 1 She is also known as Our Lady of Good Health, Vailankanni Mata, and Vailankanni Arockia Matha. 2 An analysis of Anglo-Indian three-yearly world reunions as pilgrimages argues that this is precisely what participants seek, see Andrews (2010). 3 See also Gupta (2014) and Leonard (2011). 4 Santos cites Jesuit mission reports in the Monumenta Xavieriana. 5 This Indianization of ritual life is exactly what, in our experience with the community, quite a few Anglo-Indians have resisted and lamented in the Church. Dalit Catholics have also criticized Indianization as tantamount to

Vailankanni Mata and Anglo-Indian Catholics  179 Brahminization, a tacit approval of ritual elements that reflect the religion that is at the root of oppression of Dalits (Tharamangalam 2004). 6 Italics are used to indicate that these are researchers’ questions. RA is used to indicate who of us was asking the question. 7 This research participant told us this story twice, a year apart. In the second telling she didn’t refer to the offering as being gold. 8 While this is the case for Anglo-Indians and Vailankanni, we are aware of other religiously motivated walks by Anglo-Indians, for example, groups walk from Howrah to Bandel in the winter months, and on Good Friday individuals, couples, and family groups process around the central Kolkata Catholic Churches. 9 These items are later gifted to the priests who celebrate the marriage. 10 A novena refers to the nine days leading into a Catholic feast day, but in this case the ‘novena’ is ten days long, which aligns it with the Hindu village festival period (Sebastia 2002, 32).

Bibliography Almeida, Rochelle. 2017. Britain’s Anglo-Indians: The Invisibility of Assimilation. New York: Lexington Books. Andrews, Robyn. 2010. “Christianity as an Indian Religion: The Anglo-Indian ­Experience” Journal of Contemporary Religion 25(2): 173–188. Bayly, Susan. 1989. Saints, Goddesses, and Kings: Muslims and Christians in South Indian Society, 1700–1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bear, Laura. 2007. Lines of the Nation: Indian Railway Workers, Bureaucracy, and the Intimate Historical Self. New York: Columbia University Press. Blunt, Alison. 2005. Domicile and Diaspora: Anglo-Indian Women and the Spatial Politics of Home. Oxford: Blackwell. Caplan, Lionel. 1995. “‘Life is Only Abroad, Not Here’: The Culture of Emigration among Anglo-Indians in Madras” Immigrants and Minorities 14(1): 26–46. Caplan, Lionel. 1998. “Colonial and Contemporary Transnationalisms: Traversing Anglo-Indian Boundaries of the Mind” International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies 3(1): 16–34. Caplan, Lionel. 2001. Children of Colonialism: Anglo-Indians in a Post-Colonial World. Oxford: Berg. Coleman, Simon. 2002. “Do you Believe in Pilgrimage? Communitas, Contestation and Beyond” Anthropological Theory 2(3): 355–368. Coleman, Simon. 2011. “Pilgrims and Pilgrimage: Social Anthropology” www.york. ac.uk/projects/pilgrimage/content/soc_anth.html (accessed 25.02.2019). Coleman, Simon, and John Eade, eds. 2004. Reframing Pilgrimage: Cultures in ­Motion. London: Routledge. Eade, John, and Michael J. Sallnow, eds. 1991. Contesting the Sacred: The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage. London: Routledge. Gupta, Pamila. 2014. The Relic State: St. Francis Xavier and the Politics of Ritual in Portuguese India. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Leonard, Karen. 2011. “Hindu Temples in Hyderabad: State Patronage and Politics in South Asia” South Asian History & Culture 2(3): 352–373. Meibohm, Margaret. 2004. Cultural Complexity in South India: Hindu and Catholic in Marian Pilgrimage. Ph.D. thesis, Social Anthropology, Pennsylvania. Mills, Megan. 1998. “The Anglo-Indians – A Christian Community of India” The International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies 3(2): 2–15.

180  Robyn Andrews and Brent Howitt Otto Mukherjee, Rila. 2004. “Contested Authenticities” Rethinking History 8(3): 459–463. Myerhoff, Barbara. 1978. Number our Days. New York: Simon and Schuster. Otto, Brent Howitt, and Robyn Andrews. 2017. “Durability and Change: Anglo-­ Indian Religious Practice in India and the Diaspora” In Religion and Modernity in India, edited by A.P. Sen and S. Bandyopadhyay, 290–308. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Sallnow, Michael J. 1981. “Communitas Reconsidered: The Sociology of Andean Pilgrimage” Man 16(2):163–182. Santos, S.R. 1978. The Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Health, Vailankanni. 10th ed. Thanjavur: Don Bosco Press (original edition, 1965). Sebastia, Brigette. 2002. Mariyamman-Mariyamman: Catholic Practices and Image of Virgin in Velankanni (Tami Nadu). Pondicherry: French Institute of Pondicherry (Pondy Papers in Social Sciences, 27). Tharamangalam, Joseph 2004. “Whose Swadeshi? Contending Nationalisms among Indian Christians” Asian Journal of Social Science 32(2): 232–246. Turner, Victor. 1974. Dramas, Field and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human ­Society. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Turner, Victor, and Edith Turner. 2011. Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture: Anthropological Perspectives. New York: Columbia University Press (original ­edition, 1978). Varghese, Roy Abraham. 2000. God Sent: A History of the Accredited Apparitions of Mary. New York: Crossroad.

9 Muslim-Marathi pilgrimage The Sufi-shrine of Viśālgaḍh1 Deepra Dandekar

Introduction Pilgrimages in India are commonly associated with traditions of temple or shrine worship and ritualistic expressions of devotion (bhakti), while bhakti in Maharashtra is especially associated with saints and village deities. My present article explores Muslim bhakti and the devotion of Sufi saints (commonly known as Bābā) at shrines (dargāhs).2 Exploring Sufi worship at the dargāh of Malik Rehān at Viśālgaḍh located between Kolhapur and Ratnagiri districts, my analysis frames Sufi Muslim bhakti at dargāhs as represented within shrine literature; in this case, locally printed booklets commonly sold at dargāhs. The primary thrust of this article explores the dynamism of shrine literature, these being locally produced vernacular texts that inscribe dargāh devotion and produce ritual belonging. Shrine booklets therefore constitute ontological artefacts that play an agential role in producing dargāh and pilgrimage.3 Reading and listening practices associated with shrine booklets that are considered part of the saint’s ritual articles, produce imagery and meaning for pilgrims at the dargāh, who can imbue their devout journey to Viśālgaḍh on the lines of recounted and prescribed pilgrimages described in the shrine booklet. I have organized this article in two layers. Providing analyzed and ­paraphrased sections from the shrine booklet of Bābā Malik Rehān’s dargāh in the article’s main text, I have annotated this with historical and anthropological information in footnotes. This double-layered writing consisting of complementing literary, historical and anthropological materials seeks to reconstruct Muslim devotion, pilgrimage and dargāh worship at ­Viśālgaḍh. While providing historical and anthropological footnotes for analyzing shrine literature is not mandatory, I have followed Ranajit Guha’s (2002) critical yoking of literature-writing in India to the morality of global ­h istory-writing that interrogates rationalist values underlying all processes of history writing. Similarly, my anchoring of shrine literature to mainstream regional historical and anthropological information attempts to ­explore ­political claims, often encountered in shrine literature that v­ alidates ­community belonging to ritualized places and journeys.

182  Deepra Dandekar

Setting the scene Almost every Marathi village has a dargāh, where local Hindus and ­Muslims pray for divine intervention. Dargāh rituals however fall outside the purview of local mosques that do not involve Hindus; neither do all Muslims congregating at local mosques pray at dargāhs. This makes dargāh-worship a specific and shared Hindu-Muslim devotional practice at many rural outposts in Maharashtra (Dandekar 2016). Some dargāhs, like the dargāh of Malik Rehān at Viśālgaḍh and others, such as the dargāh of Haji Malang at Kalyan (Dandekar 2015, 2016), have gained considerable influence over the last two decades due to urban growth in the areas surrounding ­Mumbai, Kolhapur or Ratnagiri that facilitate pilgrim access to shrines through networked regions. Dargāh worship therefore transcends the local framework of village-deity worship by inhabiting the interstices of non-uniform urban growth. Urban growth, often described by devotees in ritual terms, as Bābā’s healing power that spans to include an ever-­ increasing pilgrim base, results in newer miracle stories appended to shrine booklets and their reprints. Pointing to trees in the dargāh compound, festooned with ritual offerings tied to their branches,4 devotees describe how every brick and plant here is infused with Bābā’s miraculous powers that take effect on all pilgrims immediately after entering the dargāh, even if they are foreigners to the region.5 At Viśālgaḍh though, I was unable to compare older reprints of the shrine booklet with new ones available at the dargāh when doing fieldwork. Devotees described recent-most reprints as increasingly elaborate, a feature that resulted in their diversification into technologically sophisticated forms such as CDs and DVDs. According to devotees, this diversification is also encouraged by local Muslim reformists, who privileged the Quran over any other written devotional texts and shrine booklets, which accorded CDs and DVDs with greater acceptance among Muslims. Shrine literature is therefore entangled, as an agential and meaningful artefact, within processes of dargāh-making. While booklets described dargāhs as the eternal abode of Sufis arriving in Maharashtra, enriching the ritual landscape with Muslim devotion, their narrative simultaneously produces dargāh devotion by reframing journeys undertaken by those in trouble, as mystical and miraculous healing experiences. Furthermore, the wide social base among pilgrims, narratively presented in the booklet sets the scene for readers, who are informed of miraculous encounters at the shrine, and learn to anticipate healing at a semi-urban and transcultural Sufi Muslim pilgrimage center, complete with modern amenities. In the light of this, I suggest that shrine literature encountered at pilgrimage centers be considered an independent and intertextual genre of its own kind, informed by recounted legends and oral narratives of miracles, instead of being classified as grey or pulp literature. Grey/pulp literature as a category, consisting of various literary genres is chiefly defined by an absence of

The Sufi-shrine of Viśālgaḍh  183 International Standard Book Numbers, that produces all literature outside formalized publishing as non-conformist and deviant. On the other hand, meticulous examination of these various genres of literature, hitherto encompassed within the category of grey/pulp, such as shrine literature, can result in an alternative reading, especially if embellished and accompanied by complementing historical and anthropological information. Both the booklet of Bābā Malik Rehān and devotees at the dargāh, rearticulate their devotion of Bābā as bhakti, describing Sufis in competitive terms with enlivened ( jāgṛt) Hindu deities and their temples. Bābā Malik Rehān is therefore also marked by the miracle of his invisible presence (hayāt) at the dargāh that produces him as omnipresent.6 The Viśālgaḍh shrine booklet resembles the māhātmyā or ākhyān format encountered at other Hindu temples in Maharashtra that describe the deity’s origin, miracles, fame and the temple’s accessibility and amenities for pilgrims. Its narrative compares dargāh urūs (urs) or the annual commemoration of the Sufi’s birth anniversary with village-goddess festivals ( jatrā) in the region,7 even as Bābā’s urūs is equated with other Muslim festivals like muharram or Īd. The often-­ overlapping dates between the urūs and other Muslim festivals identify the Sufi with Prophet Muhammad by comparing the pilgrimage made to the dargāh with Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. The Viśālgaḍh dargāh is surrounded by a large market (bājārpeṭh) that is ­located on a forested mountain-top. This market mostly consists of ­temporary stalls owned by villagers, who stay at the base of the dargāh-­ mountain and travel to the shrine every day.8 Only shrine ritualists (mujawar) own homes at the mountain-top and stay near the shrine, accompanied by those seeking Bābā’s ritual intervention and healing. This phenomenon is common in Maharashtra and can be compared with other dargāhs, where homeless communities cluster around shrines.9 Shopkeepers outside the dargāh mostly sell ritual articles including sweets, flowers, ornate brocade/ flower-coverings for the grave (cādar), bottles of rose-water and perfume (ittar), sandal-wood powder, incense sticks, coconuts and wish threads, apart from manning shoe-stalls where devotees store footwear before entering the dargāh. Besides shrine booklets, shopkeepers also sell pictures, photos of other important religious shrines, prayer booklets, CDs and DVDs, and ­amulets. Identifiable as a typical form of piety encountered at dargāhs in Maharashtra, shops sell traditional drawings of pilgrimage routes to the shrine, imagined as winding roads interspersed by pictures of other shrines that are en-route. The Sufi, in pictures sold at shops, is often depicted as a large and caparisoned, white horse. The horse is an important and pious symbol for Hindu and Muslim devotees at the shrine, since on the one hand it identifies the Sufi as imām Mahdi (the last imām in hiding, known only to Allah) and Kalkī (the last avatār of Vishnu). Finally, non-uniform urban growth and the availability of modern amenities (food, water, medical and accommodation facilities) at the Viśālgaḍh mountain-top has altered pilgrimage to the dargāh; an alteration reflected

184  Deepra Dandekar within shrine booklet narratives. Since the chief feature of the booklet aims at producing Bābā’s moral code, mandatory for every devotee undertaking pilgrimage, unless inviting punishment from the saint, this morality is combined with the silent acceptance of urban growth that is delinked from any punishments. To elaborate, the Viśālgaḍh shrine booklet exemplifies Bābā’s strict moral code in a case-description of an ideal pilgrimage undertaken by a devotee travelling through a specific route to the shrine. The case further recounts how Bābā punishes the devotee for breaking prescribed moral rules at the dargāh. While these narratives teach pilgrims moral and devotional conformity, the booklet remains silent about modernity at Viśālgaḍh that side-steps the winding pilgrimage route through the Western Ghats. ­Devotees no longer walk to the shrine through the prescribed route and Bābā does not punish them for it. Instead, this modern alteration, inaugurated by roadways, is reframed in terms of Bābā’s growing popularity in regions exceeding Western Maharashtra. Neither is the individual devotee defined by the larger group of pilgrims traveling to the mountain-top. While most ­devotees drive to the dargāh and park their vehicles at the base of the mountain, all of them have to climb the mountain to reach the shrine. At the time I was doing fieldwork at Viśālgaḍh, a devotee had promised to construct a ropeway to the ­mountain-top for pilgrims as an expression of his gratitude to Bābā. Modern and urban amenities that arrived as gifts to the dargāh were therefore not subject to Bābā’s punitive gaze, unlike immorality, unbelief in God and disrespect for saints that is narratively recounted as punishable. ­Pilgrims recount how the somewhat arduous climb to the mountain-top therefore becomes symbolic of their suffering in personal difficulties, as climbing the mountain on foot, despite the presence of a ropeway, provides ­ either them ritual space to formulate and meditate on wishes and prayers. N are pilgrims the only group climbing the mountain every day, since the way up is also populated by hundreds of shopkeepers and vendors, who cater to pilgrims. The combination of urban growth and morality at the shrine, represented in the booklet as a technologically printed ritual ­object therefore becomes extended to all modern products at the shrine that are viewed as ritual objects of devotion. The pejorative descriptions of taboo-breaking contrasted with narrative silence about urban amenities or even modern gifts by devotees at the dargāh such as marble-inlay courtyards and drinking water taps, demonstrate pilgrimage here to be symbolic of the Sufi moral code, encapsulated in the ultimate climb to the mountain-top shrine.

The Viśālgaḍh dargāh booklet The 16-page long shrine booklet at Viśālgaḍh, titled “Hajrat Malik ­Rehān Mirāsāheb Bābā (rah.) Viśāl Gaḍ,” with an additional sub-title (p. 1) ­“kariśmāt” (miracles), is a small book with bright yellow jacket and photocopied pictures of the dargāh on its front and back. Typical of the genre, the booklet does not mention organizations, author-names, dates, or printing

The Sufi-shrine of Viśālgaḍh  185 press details. Neither do the booklet’s pages bear any trace of print-­framing, decoration or typesetting. Written in the nāgarī script and a mixture of Urdu, Dakkani and Marathi languages, the booklet avoids l­ inguistic ­uniformity, and therefore produces shared spaces between different religious groups and the linguistic regions of Maharashtra and Telangana. Apart from the introductory passage, the booklet is characterized by five overlapping themes: the Sufi’s arrival and the establishment of the Viśālgaḍh dargāh, his battle with demons, and a description of his reception here that inaugurates the leitmotif of Muslim bhakti. Three subsequent sections describe Bābā’s moral code for pilgrims at the dargāh, pilgrimage route to the shrine, and lastly, his urūs. Introductory Passage: (pp. 2–4) The Viśālgaḍh booklet inaugurates the pilgrim’s bhakti from the very start, as the narrative begins with a devotee requesting Bābā for a boon: “Malik Rehān Bābā, please fulfill a wish of mine, with God’s grace!” (Allāh ke phajalse merā ek kām kardo, Malik Rehān Bābā)! The introductory section proceeds by declaring India a pure country (pavitrabhūmī) that attracted many Sufis (sūphi, sant, pīr, walī) in the past who guided society (mārgadarshan). This guidance demolished the barriers of caste (dharma jātī kī bandista dīvār) and introduced pilgrims to divine humanity (īshvarīya mānavtā). Islam is declared an exemplary way of life (ādarśa jīvan paddhatī), demonstrated by Hajrat Malik Rehān Mirāsāheb from the moment of his birth to the day of his death, in the form of an ­ideally-led childhood, ideal educational activities, and examples of ideal filial piety (māṃ-bāpke kartavya). His life exemplified spousal rights (pati-patni ke hakk, kartavya), social, political, religious, economic, moral duties, and nationalism (apne vatanse vaphādārī). Further, the booklet claims that normative beliefs about Allah’s Prophet guiding only Muslims and those from Arabastān is false, since Allah’s Prophet is the universal guide. He guided everyone in the world out of his best intentions for human society (mānav samāj). The Prophet, living according to Allah’s wishes, provided society with an idealized example (ādarśa misāl), and he sent his companions, friends and relatives (sahābā), and many Sufis (sūphi, pīr, walī) on similar missions across the world so that they could convey Allah’s message. According to the booklet, Khāja Mainuddīn (sic) Chistī at Ajmer and Hajrat Nijāmuddīn at Delhi, along with Bābā Malik Rehān, were given orders (hukūm) to spread Allah’s message in India (bhārat). Malik Rehān Bābā arrived in the Islamic year (hijri) 750 and while his clan-name was Mirāsāheb, the name ‘Malik’ was a title (laqab) given him by Allah.10 He belonged to the Khilji tribe from a village called Rehān near Mecca and the name Mirāsāheb was also used to identify his nephew, who accompanied him to India.11 The uncle and nephew (māmā-bhāñjā), buried together at the dargāh, were therefore considered a unified Sufi entity: Malik Rehān Mirāsāheb.12 On arriving in India with forty initiates and followers (murīd) and two servants (khādim), Malik Rehān Mirāsāheb received divine orders to travel southwards (dakṣin) to the impenetrable (durgam) region of Konkan. Setting off for Konkan, they

186  Deepra Dandekar stopped on their way, at village Devaḍā, where a meditation spot (chillā) is still dedicated to their memory.13 Defeating Demons (pp. 4–6): Bābā climbed the mountain of Viśālgaḍh with his horse Burāq and decided to offer prayers at the mountain-top.14 However, unable to find water for ritual ablutions (vajū), he raised his hand heaven-wards, requesting Allah for water. Thereafter, Burāq reared up, and stamping the ground with his forelegs, broke into a water spring on the mountain; jets of fresh water leapt-up into the air. At the time when Malik Rehān Mirāsāheb came to Viśālgaḍh, an evil magician named Bhopāl ­(Bhopāl-jādūgār) used to harass villagers, especially women. He imprisoned pretty women as his concubines by first transforming them into insects and animals before capturing them. Bhopāl had 52 of such captured concubines at the time Malik Rehān Mirāsāheb arrived in Viśālgaḍh. Bhopāl had also ordered his brother to marry his own sister, despite Bābā having forbidden this immorality (nīc gandagī). Ignoring Bābā, Bhopāl organized a grand and noisy wedding procession of elephants, camels, and horses to disturb Bābā’s daily prayers (namāj). After finishing his prayers, Bābā raised his holy-finger (kalmẽ kī uṅglī) pejoratively at the wedding procession, and instantly turned them to stone, bringing an end to Bhopāl.15 The booklet describes various spots within dargāh precincts where pilgrims can visit and combine devotion with tourism, presenting readers with visions of pleasant relaxation, infused with miracles. The spot where Burāq’s hoof-marks drew water, for example, is worshipped as a small shrine in Viśālgaḍh (ghode ke ṭāp) and the booklet describes it as a place where travelers find respite from heat. The booklet also describes where Bābā turned Bhopāl’s procession to stone, and this portion of fallen rocks belongs to the broken ramparts of the Viśālgaḍh fort, called ‘hidden marriage procession’ (varhāḍ gupt).16 Bābā’s Reception: (pp. 7–8, 11–13) After defeating Bhopāl, Bābā began staying at the mountain-top. He was soon joined by Khokli-bāī (the goddess of coughs and colds), who became his devotee, and to whom Bābā delegated the task of blessing childless couples. Bābā’s murīd, initiates and attendants who came to Viśālgaḍh with him remained loyal, as their graves surround the main shrine.17 The booklet thereafter narrates many healing experiences at the shrine, like the example of a 60-year-old woman, suffering from childlessness, who was healed here. Then, the 55-year old Kadar Hasan ­Mujawar, who came to the dargāh from Tasgaon (near Kolhapur) in 1987, was healed of barrenness after making a pilgrimage here. The booklet describes how the dargāh that had grown dilapidated was rebuilt by a devout local ­Muslim community from Rajapuri (Konkan) in 1942, and finally, the booklet posits Bābā Malik Rehān Mirāsāheb as a historical figure connected to the Deccan Sultanate of Bijapur. It is claimed that the Sufi healed Sultan Adil Shah’s ­father of blindness.18 Witchcraft had been suspected after ­Sultan Adil Shah’s father’s blindness could not be healed, despite various ­remedies ­suggested by traditional doctors (vaidyas and hakīms). Having heard of Bābā’s ­m iraculous powers, the Sultan consulted the latter and recounted

The Sufi-shrine of Viśālgaḍh  187 his father’s suffering to be the result of witchcraft (chalāvā). Bābā healed the ­Sultan’s father, who r­ egained his eyesight. Fulfilling his vow, Sultan Adil Shah renamed the mountain-top village Viśālgaḍh from its earlier name Khelnāghaḍh and bestowed it revenue.19 Morality, Rituals and Pilgrimage: (pp. 9–12) The booklet informs readers about how boons at Viśālgaḍh are ‘earned’ by pilgrims through vows made at the dargāh. Bābā’s miracle of fulfilling the pilgrim’s wish is counterbalanced against his acceptance of the pilgrim’s vows, making this mechanism of associating wishes with vows, a process of enforcing his moral code. Bābā can punish the devotee for rejecting this moral code at the dargāh by rejecting the pilgrim’s vow, and this leaves the latter without blessings. Vows are therefore necessary for pilgrims at Viśālgaḍh, to ‘complete’ their wishes, and corollary to this, the Sufi’s acceptance of vows proves the devotee’s innocence and her success at adhering to the dargāh’s moral code. Proving innocence is an important ritual at the dargāh, as devotees are shackled with chains and prescribed to make five rounds of the dargāh on foot. The Bābā’s chains (beḍī) are important ritual articles hanging on large hooks inside the shrine. These are borrowed by devotees to complete their ritual, and it is common to encounter persons walking around the shrine in chains at ­Viśālgaḍh. These chains are said to automatically unlock and fall away, once Bābā accepts the devotee’s vow and fulfils her wishes. This produces her as pure candidate for his blessings.20 The booklet warns its readers about the perils of insulting Bābā and dargāh rituals. According to a narrated example, an important landowner ( jāgirdār sarkār) visited Viśālgaḍh and made fun of Bābā. He asked an iron-smith to break open the chains secured around his legs.21 He then sneered at the Sufi, turned his back to the shrine and sat on an elephant to ride away. At that moment, Bābā’s beḍī flew in the air to become clamped around his head. Fainting, and falling off the elephant, the rich landowner apologized to the Sufi, but he was banished from Viśālgaḍh.22 The booklet further elaborates Bābā’s moral code by narrating the story of two sisters. After the older sister married, the younger sister fell in love with the older sister’s husband (behnoī). But finding no way of marrying him, she went to Viśālgaḍh, asking Bābā for a boon. She wished for her sister to die and for her behnoī to marry her. As time passed, the older sister grew ill and died, and the younger sister pretended to weep. The village ­elders (pañcāyat), deciding on the case, asked the behnoī to remarry. But since he had a small child, he voiced concerns about whether a new wife as stepmother would look after the child. Everyone suggested he marry his wife’s younger sister (sālī) who would care for the child as a mother. So, the behnoī married the sālī and her wishes were fulfilled. After a few days, she returned to Viśālgaḍh, to fulfil her vow (mannat pheḍnā). But her chains refused to open, even after making five rounds of the shrine. When the khādim asked her about her boon, she kept silent. So, he prayed to Bābā, even as she continued circumambulating the dargāh. Although her feet began bleeding, the

188  Deepra Dandekar chains refused to open. The khādim again asked: “Sister, tell me what boon you asked”? Finally, the chains broke after she was forced to publicly relate how she had wished for her sister’s death, to marry her behnoī. On hearing this admission, everybody at the dargāh fell silent with shock. The booklet reiterates the warning by announcing that devotees must declare their mistakes at the shrine, especially if their wishes are intentionally harmful (galat man se māṅgā huā). The pilgrimage route prescribed for devotees at the dargāh is reflected in the story of the two sisters, as the narrative describes the younger sister’s pilgrimage to Viśālgaḍh to ask Bābā for a boon. While not many devotees take this circuitous route today, the route finds illustration in pictures sold outside the dargāh that depicts ritual stops and intermediate destinations. The younger sister made five stops according to the shrine booklet on her way to Viśālgaḍh, and this journey took five days. Beginning in Kolhapur, she proceeded to ­Panhalgadh, Bambavade, Malkapur, Amba, Gajapur, and reached Viśālgaḍh on the sixth day. It is interesting to note that these stops between Kolhapur and Viśālgaḍh are also characterized by dargāhs and other mountain-­top Maratha forts that Shivaji conquered from the Bijapur ­Sultanate. ­Panhalgadh, for instance, houses the dargāh of Sadoba, whereas the other stops are marked by other Maratha forts such as Pawangadh and others.23 Implicating Maratha forts in Bābā’s pilgrimage to Viśālgaḍh indicates privileging Sultanate polities or Islamic rule to Maratha polity and subverting general notions about Shivaji’s superiority (Hindavī Svarājya) in the booklet. Overlaps between Urūs, Islamic Festivals, and Pilgrimage: (pp. 13–15) The Sufi’s urūs and the dargāh’s annual festival is celebrated twice a year to commemorate Bābā Malik Rehān and Mirāsāheb ’s birthday. While the first urūs śarīf lasts three days, between the 11th and the 13th of jil-hajj (Dhu al-Hijjah/ Zul-Hijjah or Zil-hajj),24 the second urūs is celebrated between the 11th and 13th of January, irrespective of the Islamic calendar (a time for urūs that coincides with many other Konkani dargāhs). While these dates identify the Sufi with both Prophetic tradition and important Islamic holidays such as Īd and the Hajj, they also align the Sufis with other regionally important dargāhs in the Konkan. According to booklet narrative, thousands attend Bābā’s urūs. Describing the celebrations in detail, the booklet informs readers about how devotees experience Bābā’s special miracle during the urūs when dargāh doors open automatically, demonstrating the Sufi’s invisible presence.25 The first urūs day is dedicated to coating Bābā’s grave (majār) with lime. Sandalwood paste is smeared on the grave on the second day (sandal), and devotees make a special prayer on that day, commemorating Bābā’s victory over Bhopāl the magician. Sandal is specially brought to the dargāh by the Muslim communities of Rajapur, Mumbai, Pune, Satara, and other cities in Karnataka for the urūs. Bābā’s grave is draped with brocade coverings (galef ) and sheets woven with flower (cādar) on the third day and khādīms serving at the dargāh dedicate a special galef to Bābā. The urūs ends on the fourth day. The booklet reiterates how important it is to pray

The Sufi-shrine of Viśālgaḍh  189 here with a clear (sāf ) mind with good (nek) intentions. The booklet ends by saying that the dargāh of Bābā Malik Rehān Mirāsāheb at Viśālgaḍh consolidates India’s national integration and unity (deś kī akhandatā aur ektā) and secular democracy (nidharmī lokśāhī).

Muslim-Marahti Bhakti and Dargāhs Bhakti occupies a certain historical and literary value in Maharashtra26 that associates its expression with premodern religious emotions, especially in the vernacular. There has been little academic attention to Sufi emotions at dargāhs in Maharashtra, aside from healing practices27 and the reframing of Sufi piety through the history of Indian secularism.28 Academic focus on a literary history of Muslim bhakti in the Deccan is therefore incipient and contextualizes the analysis of the above text, as an example of regional and vernacular Muslim bhakti gleaned from and produced by locally sold shrine booklets at dargāhs.29 Not only do shrine booklets produce and recount Marathi Muslim bhakti, but they alter mainstream history-writing by introducing politics within its frame. For example, the booklet’s focus of locating the Sufi and the dargāh within Islamic and Deccan Sultanate polity simultaneously, co-opts non-­ Islamic regional polity such as the Marathas into its narrative, as sources of pre-existing moral corruption, whereas, historically speaking, Shivaji followed the Deccan Sultans, maintaining close political alliance with them.30 The Sufi’s arrival at Viśālgaḍh and the healing of Sultan Adil Shah’s father, momentous events among the Sufi’s life deeds, is untenable due to the almost two centuries between the Bahāmanīs and the Bijapur Sultanate. Neither is there any historical co-relation between the Sufi, the Prophet and North Indian Sufis. Similarly, the renovation of the dargāh by the Muslim community from Rajapuri in 1942 is separated by decades from the story of the barren Kadar Hasan Mujawar in 1987. The booklet arranges the recounting of historical incidents in the present tense, and through this arrangement, collapses their internal chronology within narrative format. By flattening or collapsing the narrative, however, the booklet endorses the emotion of Muslim bhakti as an equalizer among devotees, across time and space, and irrespective of historical specificity. The association between Malik Rehān -Mirāsāheb, North Indian Sufis, the Khilji tribe, and ‘Arabastān’,31 and the Sufi’s political alliance with the Sultans of the Deccan (Bahāmanīs and ­Bijapur) is therefore a narrative production and constitutes alternative ­h istorical reading and writing of local religion. The narrative also indicates the moral conquest over the Marathas by establishing the Viśālgaḍh pilgrimage route as Muslim. The shrine booklet provides meaning to other ritual artefacts at Viśālgaḍh too: iron chains (bābā kī beḍī) hanging on the dargāh walls, pictures of the horse holding importance for Hindus and Muslims alike, and paintings of the pilgrimage route that is no longer perfectly followed. The booklet

190  Deepra Dandekar narratively produces the wearing of chains (bābā kī beḍī) and the pilgrim’s climb to the mountain-top as central to the devotee’s ritual initiation in the Sufi’s microcosm, elevating bhakti as the dargāh’s primary morality. The  narrative, however, also embroils Sufi-Islam with the eradication of the caste system and Hindu kingship, a feature that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Hindu devotees. Hindu devotees increasingly claim Khokli-Bāī as a Hindu goddess rather than as Bābā’s devotee.32 The dargāh of Bābā Malik Rehān Mirāsāheb at Viśālgaḍh therefore constitutes an intermediary and interstitial space between various contested identities among pilgrims, and mutually differentiated ‘communities’. While Muslim Marathi bhakti narratively negotiates differences between reformist, North Indian Islam, and vernacular Islam, it negotiates dharma, morality and bhakti between Hindus and Muslims. Negotiating gender, the narrative production of dargāh morality treats sexual immorality and unbelief alike, and as equally sinful. Finally, it is healing and the acceptance of the pilgrim’s vows by declaring her bhakti as pure, that Bābā’s blessings to all pilgrims at the dargāh acts as an equalizer and unifier among genders, classes, regional belonging and religious groups.

Conclusion I conclude this article by summarizing the two intertwined themes that I have already stressed: the shrine booklet and its narrative as a framing ­device that produces Marathi dargāhs and Muslim bhakti, and along with this, the literary production of religious pilgrimage as a form of political morality for all devotees, irrespective of gender and religion. Based on Ronie Parciack’s analysis (2014, 249–277) of Chishtiyya Sufi and dargāh iconography from Compact Disk media available at shrines from north and central India that produce Islamic deshbhakti (patriotism) within ­ ooklets, such as India’s Hindu public space,33 I present my analysis of shrine b that from Viśālgaḍh as a political instrument of Muslim deshbhakti and secular modernity in Maharashtra. The booklet narrative refers e­ mphatically to ­India as a specific political space, described as a purified land wherein Sufi Islam prospered. The booklet also reiterates the ­political axiom of viewing dargāhs as central to India’s secularism, democracy and national ­integration. Since these assertions underline the importance of religious ­tolerance within the politics of modern India and ­Maharashtra, these statements locate M ­ uslims as minorities, and situate Sufi Islam, M ­ uslim devotion and dargāh-­morality as enhancers of India’s political m ­ odernity, democracy and secularism. The booklet’s production of the dargāh, ­pilgrimage, Sufi ­Islam, and Muslim bhakti as part of dargāh-making ­activity, therefore ­i mplies nation-building in modern India and M ­ aharashtra, while the booklet’s dargāh-making becomes equated with Sufi Muslim contribution to modern India.

The Sufi-shrine of Viśālgaḍh  191 This Sufi Muslim literary production of Indian and Marathi secularism is based on the erasure of Shivaji and the Marathas, who are viewed in political terms as Hindu. Not only does the booklet’s narrative erase Viśālgaḍh as a Maratha fort, but the pilgrimage route to Viśālgaḍh along other Maratha forts in the region (the five ritual stops undertaken by the younger sister that also find representation in pilgrimage pictures) are acts of erasure as well, since Maratha forts in this case are replaced by the pilgrimage route to the dargāh. This erasure and replacement of ‘Hinduism’ highlights Sufi Muslim contribution to secularism in modern India, contrasting with Maratha and Hindu history that is perceived as violent and anti-Indian. The networked region linking Muslim groups who participate in the Sufi’s urūs and repair and rebuild the dargāh further highlights Muslim efforts at dargāh-making and nation-building. In a similar vein, as already mentioned, urbanized pilgrimage journeys that no longer adhere to the traditional route narrated in the booklet, bear evidence to how dargāhs reflect the modernity of Indian nationhood and its religious institutions that are built out of democratic and secular processes. According to such secular processes, Muslim saints welcome Hindu devotees, who are already aware of the Muslim contribution to social morality, and hence do not need to replace Maratha forts through traditional pilgrimage routes; they already respect modern Indian Sufi Islam. These same secular processes allow devotee-goddesses (Khokli-Bāī) to ­confer boons to childless couples at the Sufi shrine, irrespective of the religion and gender of devotees. And the booklet that produces the dargāh therefore produces secular nation-building itself. The introduction to this volume already frames space as a political concept, that includes mobility and pilgrimage as a p ­ olitical exercise, and the shrine booklet from Viśālgaḍh mirrors ­similar processes. The replacement of Shivaji’s Hindu political layer at Viśālgaḍh allows Sufi Muslims space to formulate and conceptualize the positive ­position of minorities in India’s religious and political mainstream, inaugurating processes that invite secular Indians to the dargāh and heal them as part of modern Indian ethics. The booklet’s narrative equates sexual immorality with unbelief and equates these both as forms of moral disrespect towards Bābā, resulting in their punishment or the withdrawal of Bābā’s blessings, as can be seen from Bhopāl’s case, and the other stories of immorality, unbelief and disrespect narrated in the booklet. Fitting in with the general aim of this volume that scrutinizes relationships between space and mobility and its internal in­ iśālgaḍh dargāh terconnectivity with pilgrimage, the shrine booklet from V institutes Sufi morality as the primary reason underlying pilgrimage. Undertaking this pilgrimage and becoming integrated into the dargāh’s microcosm to accept Bābā’s morality by making vows, expressing wishes and ‘earning’ Bābā’s blessings are, then, reconstituted as participatory acts of secular dargāh-building, nation-building and secular citizenry in modern India and Maharashtra.

192  Deepra Dandekar

Notes 1 Since I am arguing for the vernacular identity of Marathi dargāhs, rather than an Islamic or Hindu one, I will use Marathi transliterations for Urdu, Persian and Arabic terms in my text. I have avoided elevating Urdu, Arabic or ­Persian transliterations to fit mainstream representations of Islam and have instead ­continued to use Marathi transliterations. 2 Cf. Novetzke (2007) for an outline of the public and performative nature of bhakti at Hindu temples and shrines. I am extending Novetzke’s argument of bhakti as performance to pilgrimage at Marathi dargāhs that are also public and collective events and expressed through ontological artefacts like prayer/ ­hagiography booklets. 3 Cf. Henare et al. (2007) for ‘the ontological turn’ that formulates a theory of meaningful artefacts in field. 4 Most ritual objects tied to grills and railings leading to the shrine, or trees surrounding dargāhs include wish threads or locks that signify a wish made to the Sufi. 5 Sufi graves are understood to infuse their healing power, known as barkat, into all surrounding, inanimate objects such as the dargāh building, its locality, and ritual objects sold at shops outside. 6 This is also a commonly held notion about Sufis among Muslims outside ­Maharashtra (Smith and Haddad 2002, 183). 7 One of the first anti-pilgrimage Marathi missionary booklets from 1871 describes Hindu and Muslim participation in Sufi urūs and the village-goddess’s yātrā or annual festival, as regional, Marathi phenomena (cf. Anonymous 1871). 8 These stalls close by evening, before the evening namāj and this makes the Viśālgaḍh dargāh a lonely place at night. One of my key-informants at the dargāh, a shopkeeper (Mr. Choughule), who sold me the Viśālgaḍh-booklet, managed the shop at the mountain-top for two days every week and spent the rest of his time at a puncture-repair shop in the village below. 9 In cities like Mumbai, it is common to find established Muslim communities and localities that build their own mosques and enjoy community control over their traditional burial grounds that facilitate dargāh building controlled by established waqf boards. A waqf-board refers to a Muslim charitable trust that governs disposal of movable property used for religious and charitable purposes under Islamic law (under the Indian waqf act 1954). Dargāh-building and dargāh-renovation therefore aids local Muslim-communities in identity/ history-building through processes that identify important graves and reach a consensus about miracles. Some typical miracles commonly ascribe protective power against natural calamities such as earthquakes and floods to the buried Sufi and the dargāh. (Cf. Green 2011, for an exploration of processes surrounding Sufi-shrine formation in 19th-century Bombay). 10 Hijri 750 (between 1349 – 1350 C.E.) is an important date for the Deccan, since it coincides with the foundation of the Bahāmanī Empire (considered the first independent Muslim kingdom of the Deccan and South India) that controlled a large area of the Deccan, overlapping with current-day Maharashtra by 1349 C.E. The first Bahāmanī ruler, Ala-ad-din Bahman Shah, assumed the throne in 1347 C.E. after freeing himself from the Delhi Sultanate. He wrested control over Viśālgaḍh, originally known as the fort of Khelnā or Khelnāgaḍh from local Maratha chieftains, who controlled the ports of Ratnagiri. It is not difficult to imagine this court attracting Sufis like Malik Rehān and Mirāsāheb, who traveled to Khelnagaḍh/Viśālgaḍh. 11 The place cannot be located on the map today, though Ar Rayyan is a common place-name in Saudi Arabia. And the name Khilji is an important identifying feature, since it associates the Sufi with the Delhi Sultanate.

The Sufi-shrine of Viśālgaḍh  193 12 My key-informant, Mr. Choughule, provided more information about Malik ­Rehān Mirāsāheb. The two saints, Malik Rehān and Mirāsāheb were mutually ­related as maternal uncle and nephew, and this blood-relationship facilitated the mutual sharing of divine powers through blood-ties (soyrīk) between them. This sharing or inheritance was formulaic for the relationship between the Prophet and imām Alī, since the latter was Prophet Muhammad’s cousin. According to Mr. Choughule, not only was establishing such relationships in-line with Prophetic tradition (sunnat), but cross-cousin marriages between the maternal uncle and his sister’s son were also considered auspicious in Maharashtra. Mr. Choughule hence, combined Malik Rehān and Mirāsāheb’s story with Prophetic practice and Marathi marriage-traditions, producing local Muslim-Marathi concepts of bhakti. 13 Sufi hagiographies are usually associated with spiritual genealogy (shajrā) ­consisting of enlisted Sheikhs and Sufi teachers/ initiators, who form a networked organization of families and schools (tarīqā or silsilā), engaging in specific spiritual and intellectual practices. Unknown Sufis without proof of genealogy are either associated with imām Mahdi or then as Sufis from the ­A rabian Peninsula (Dandekar 2015, 2016). Alternatively, they become linked with important Indian Sufis, such as Khwājā Moinuddin Chisti and Nizamuddin Awaliya, validating their links with regional control (vilāyat) under the ­Sultanate. Cf. Metcalf (2009) about locally worshipped Sufis and their traditions in South Asia. 14 Marathi Sufi shrine booklets often narratively frame mountain-top dargāhs in accordance with details of the Prophet’s life. The Sufi’s horse for example is often called Burāq or Duldul after the Prophet’s horse and mule. While the Sufi’s journey on Burāq’s back is framed by the Prophet’s divine ascension (mirāj), seated on Burāq, his journey with Duldul associates the Sufi with the Prophet and imām Alī’s advances in holy war. 15 Vernacular Sufi hagiographies in Maharashtra commonly explain Islamization by describing pre-existing shrines and religious communities as heathen and immoral. Depicting Islam as a civilizing mission against pre-existing culture, much of shrine literature allegedly describes the latter as demonic, immoral, incestuous, and corrupt. Shabnum Tejani describes Lokmanya Tilak’s political production (1897 and 1890) of King Shivaji in similar ways (2008, 82–83), as benevolent and righteous Hindu saviors of a country and community beleaguered by Muslim persecution. Further, Muslim dissent to Hindu musical processions outside Mosques is equally historical. Tejani provides examples of how Hindu musical processions outside mosques resulted in inter-community rioting and legal battles at Yeola (Maharashtra) in 1894 (2008, 61–73). 16 Dargāhs, especially those on mountain-tops often share space with Maratha forts ascribed to King Shivaji (1674–1680). Sufi shrine booklets pertaining to mountain-top/fort dargāhs commonly challenge the narratives of Maratha heroism by claiming local topography and structure as remnants of pre-existing corruptions. 17 There seems to have been an old Muslim inhabitation and graveyard at Viśālgaḍh. The graves here may have been reframed as Bābā’s initiates (murīd) and attendants (khādim) within the shrine booklet. 18 Many famous Sultans from the Deccan Bijapur like Mohammad Adil Shah (1627 – 1656 C.E.) had strong alliances with both North Indian Sultanates, and the Arabian Peninsula. Grant Duff, one of the earliest Maratha historians of the 19th century (Cf. Deshpande 2007) describes how Khelna was conquered by Shivaji from the Bijapur Sultanate in 1659 C.E., after which he renamed it ­Viśālgaḍh (Duff 1826: vol. 1, 177–178). 19 To provide a brief history of Khelnā (Viśālgaḍh): the fort remained largely ­under the control of local Hindu chieftains till well into the 15th century, despite efforts made by Bahāmani Sultans to conquer it. Ferishta (1981, 2, 268–272)

194  Deepra Dandekar



22 23 24

25 26 27 28 29

30 31

provides vivid descriptions of the fort’s impregnability, made additionally terrifying by dense and hostile forests. Describing Khelnā, Ferishta portrays it as mountainous, with dark walls and dreadful labyrinths, that allow no light; where the breeze is like a dragon’s fetid breath, the water tasting of poison, and the grass like knife-blades. Ferishta documents how the Bahāmanis fought repeated wars with the Marathas in the region to gain control over Konkani ports, but were defeated due to Viśālgaḍh’s terrain. Khelnā was briefly controlled by the Vijayanagara kings in the mid-15th century and then reconquered by the Bahāmanis, under Mahmud Gawan in 1470 C.E. The entire region passed to the Bijapur Sultanate and Adil Shah at the end of the 15th century (1498 C.E.) and was thereafter conquered by Shivaji. Associations between Marathas and the Adil Shahi Sultanate are considered fluid and P.N. Oak, a historian with rightwing leanings, calls the Sufi grave at the dargāh a Shiva temple dedicated to the memory of Vijayanagara king, Mallikarjuna Raya (2001, 82). Basu (2009) has written extensively on practices of chaining afflictions (balā) at Gujarati dargāhs, where pilgrims requiring of healing are chained. She writes that such practices are common and perceived positively by pilgrims as soothing. She advocates for a vernacular understanding of dargāh rituals, without giving in to liberalist interpretations that are deployed within rationalist frameworks. I would add that the hermeneutics of ritual chaining are also subject to the believer’s experiential microcosm. The contested intensity of dargāh-piety transcends rationalist and reformist debates, just as experiences of healing can sometimes evade language. The landlord’s style of condemning dargāh rituals, by making blacksmiths ­unlock his chains, is similar to the methods of the rationalist movement, while demonstrating scientific reasons for miracles (cf. Quack (2012) for research on the anti-superstition movement in rural Maharashtra). It is also not as if a Muslim reformist critique of the Viśālgaḍh dargāh does not exist (cf. Momin 2002, 70). However, it is more common to encounter examples of rationalist critiques in shrine booklets as accusations of anti-Muslim attack. Cf. Campbell (1886). According to my key-informant, Mr. Choughule, urūs festivals at rural dargāhs provide poorer Muslims with an experience of Hajj or umrā. Besides, even ­Hindus enjoy the Hajj-umrā experience through urūs. Moreover, at Viśālgaḍh, the urūs dates overlap with Bakri-Īd, or the sacrifice and feast that marks the end of Hajj. I was unable to verify this collective miracle but on asking, I was repeatedly told of the miracles devotees experienced privately during the celebration. Cf. Novetzke (2016) for the literary and historical value of Bhakti traditions in medieval Maharashtra. Bellamy (2011) and Mohammad’s (2013) academic contributions, though not ­focused on Maharashtra, therefore constitute a breakthrough, when describing Sufi emotions in the vernacular. C.f. Assayag (1993) for relationships between Hindu goddesses and Muslim saints at the famous temple of Yellamma at Saundatti, Karnataka. Exploration of bhakti, its meaning, experiences and emotions have been ­i ntensely discussed (Hawley 2015), though defining any singular understanding of it, apart from a rudimentary translation as ‘devotion’, has proved elusive, due to the ­myriad vernacular expressions associated with it. C.f. Laine (2003) for an exploration of Maratha (and especially Shivaji’s) ­relationship with the Sultans of Bijapur. Konkani Muslims today (known as the Navāyatis) consider themselves to be descendants from Arabs, who arrived in Konkan and Western Maharashtra as traders in the 10th century (Momin 2002).

The Sufi-shrine of Viśālgaḍh  195 32 Hayden (2002) has discussed the question of shrine-conversion in Maharashtra at Madhi (wherein a Sufi shrine was converted to the shrine of a Hindu deity), explaining such conversions through the theories of antagonistic tolerance. 33 Parciack (2014, 249–277) presents imagery and iconography from the media available at Chishtiyya dargāhs by analyzing these images within the framework of Muslim deshbhakti or patriotism in Hindu-dominated India, in accordance to their relative position and power within social space.

References Anonymous. 1871. Urūs va Yatresaṃbaṃdhi zarīmarī yaṃvishayīṃ saṃbhashaṇeṃ. Bombay: Bombay Books and Tracts Society. Anonymous. No date. Hajrat Malik Rehān Mirāsāheb Bābā (rah.) Viśāl Gaḍ: ­Kariśmāt. No Publisher. Assayag, Jackie. 1993. The Goddess and the Saint: Acculturation and Hindu-­ Muslim Communalism in a Place of Worship in South India (Karnataka), Studies in History 9(2): 219–245. Basu, Helene. 2009. Contested Practices of Control: Psychiatric and Religious ­Mental Health Care in India, Curare 32(1+2): 28–39. Bellamy, Carla. 2011. The Powerful Ephemeral: Everyday Healing in an Ambiguously Islamic Place. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press. Campbell, James N. 1886. Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency Volume XXIV: ­Kolhápur. Bombay: Government Central Press. Dandekar, Deepra. 2015/16. Muṃbaī ke Aulīyā: The Sufi Saints Makhdoom Ali ­Mahimi (Mumbai) and Hajji Malang (Mumbai-Kalyan) in Songs and Hagiography, Zeitschrift für Indologie und Südasienstudien 32/33: 233–255. Dandekar, Deepra. 2016. Grey Literature at the Dargāh of Pīr Bābar Sheikh at ­Hātis, Pantheon: Journal for the Study of Religions 11(1): 121–135. Deshpande, Prachi. 2007. Creative Pasts: Historical Memory and Identity in Western India 1700–1960. Ranikhet: Permanent Black. Ferishta, Mahomed Kasim. 1981 [1829]. History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India till the Year A.D. 1612, 4 vols., translated by John Briggs, New Delhi: Oriental Books Reprint Corporation. Grant Duff, James. 1826. A History of the Mahrattas, 3 vols. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green. Green, Nile. 2011. Bombay Islam: The Religious Economy of the West Indian Ocean, 1840–1915. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Guha, Ranajit. 2002. History at the Limits of World-History. New York: Columbia University Press. Hawley, John Stratton. 2015. A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Hayden, Robert M. 2002. Antagonistic Tolerance: Competitive Sharing of Religious Sites in South Asia and the Balkans, Current Anthropology 43(2): 205–231. Henare Amiria, Martin Holbraad, Sari Wastell (ed.). 2007. Thinking Through Things: Theorizing Artefacts Ethnographically. Oxon: Routledge. Laine, James. W. 2003. Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Metcalf, Barbara (ed.). 2009. Islam in South Asia: In Practice. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

196  Deepra Dandekar Mohammad, Afsar. 2013. The Festival of Pīrs: Polpular Islam and Shared Devotion in South India. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Momin, Mohiuddin. 2002. Muslim Communities in Medieval Konkan (610–1900 A.D.). New Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan. Novetzke, Christian Lee. 2007. Bhakti and Its Public, International Journal of Hindu Studies 11(3): 255–272. Novetzke, Christian Lee. 2016. The Quotidian Revolution: Vernacularization, Religion, and the Premodern Public Sphere in India. New York: Columbia University Press. Oak [Ōk], Pu. Nā. 2001 [1989]. Samast itihāskārānnā niṣprabh karṇārā śodh: ­Tājmahāl he tejomahālay āhe. Pune: Ravirāj Prakāśan. Parciack, Ronie. 2014. Islamic deshbhakti: Inscribing a Sufi Shrine into the Indian Nation-space, Contributions to Indian Sociology 48(2): 249–277. Quack, Johannes. 2012. Disenchanting India: Organised Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Smith, Jane Idleman and Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad. 2002 [1981]. The Islamic Understanding of Death and Resurrection. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Tejani, Shabnum. 2008. Indian Secularism: A Social and Intellectual History, 1890– 1950. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

10 Approaches to pilgrimage Reading some post-Independence pilgrimage accounts in modern South Asian languages1 Hans Harder Introduction It would be an understatement to say that pilgrimage in South Asia is as lively a phenomenon today as in earlier times. Judged by the sheer n ­ umbers of pilgrims, it is livelier than ever. Evidence suggests that the spread of ­modern means of transport such as the railways has led to ever-increasing pilgrimage activities since colonial days (Ahuja 2004, 110) – a fact that did not find appreciation in all quarters of society and was famously lamented by M. K. Gandhi in his Hind Swaraj (1909): The holy places of India have become unholy. Formerly, people went to these places with very great difficulty. Generally, therefore, only the real devotees visited such places. Nowadays, rogues visit them in order to practise their roguery. (1997, 47) The inversely proportional relationship between rapid locomotion and religious merit in pilgrimages has troubled others as well, both contemporaries of Gandhi2 and posterior writers to be dealt with in the following. But whatever the assessment of increased pilgrimage activity may be, what is striking is that the role of ritual journeys in modern South Asian literatures appears to be quite marginal. Of course, the present author cannot claim to have access to even a fracture of the languages these literatures are written in, and is aware how hazardous it is to start off with such a general statement. However, what catalogue research for titles and keywords3 yields and literary histories confirm is precisely this. Pilgrimage narratives are no genre in their own right in literary histories of modern South Asian languages, but linger somewhere between, or inside, autobiographical and travel literature or hagiography, ritual manuals, māhātmya and sthalapurāṇa.4 The mostly Hindu-connoted term yātrā, “(religious) travel,” for example, is frequently used in modern literature, but usually refers to travels rather than pilgrimages, and certainly does not stand for any critical mass of pilgrimage accounts. The term ziyārat (Arabic ziyāra), used for pilgrimage to saintly tombs

198  Hans Harder in a Sufi context, is hardly more ­useful for ­tracing ­respective accounts.5 Autobiographical literature, with few notable exceptions such as Rahul Sankrityayan,6 also seems to contain little detailed pilgrimage accounts, if skimming through a shelf of Marathi autobiographies may be taken as an indicative basis for such a statement. The Marwari life account Merā anubhav (written in 1956 and first published 1990) by Banasa ­(1896–1957), a saintly Vaishnava woman of the Shekhawati region, somewhat typically mentions a pilgrimage to Haridwar and Badrinath in passing without any of the intensity that characterises some of the other passages of the book (Horstmann 2003, 52). Neither do fully-fledged pilgrimage accounts abound in modern hagiographical literature; if pilgrimage features in them, it is apparently as a side topic rather than as the focal theme.7 A major exception is, of course, accounts of the ḥajj, the Mecca pilgrimage for Muslims, which Barbara Metcalf (1990) has examined in detail and, thus, this article will not engage with.8 Secondary literature on the topic is rather rare, but there are some valuable leads to follow. Vasudha Dalmia prepares the ground in her recent study on Pilgrimage, Fairs and the Secularisation of Space (2009). Her initial assessment tallies with the above: while, on the one hand, print intensified “the production of literature on the pilgrimage experience,” this increase remains confined to texts in traditional genres; and the sphere of modern literary genres that print also brought into being “seems to have removed and relegated religion to another realm.” (Dalmia 2009, 117) Dalmia, in the further course of her article, delineates a small selection of writings pertaining to such modern genres in Hindi, Marathi, and English that broaches the issue of pilgrimage.9 Victor Turner’s concept of liminality informs D ­ almia’s analysis as well as Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities and the role of pilgrimage in nation building.10 Summarising her findings, we can say that these accounts deal either with the technicalities and adversities of ­pilgrimages in the light of such modern concepts as hygiene, or with the unavailability of the pilgrim’s proper attitude and religious sentiment for the modern-minded protagonists.11 Modern pilgrimage literature thus appears as secularised and nationalist: The faithful continue to exist, but they retreat to the background as it were, either to a past that cannot be recovered, or to a sensibility that becomes equally elusive for the central figures in our novels. (Dalmia 2009, 131) The other branch of literature on pilgrimage that Dalmia consciously leaves out of her survey, namely the māhātmya literature, also received a boost from the proliferation of print. This has been studied very recently by ­Andrea Pinkney (2013). She traces seven Hindi and English māhātmyas on the cār dhām, the “four holy sites” in Uttarakhand, in their transition from black-and-white leaflets to colour print and lately the VCD medium,

Pilgrimage accounts through modern languages  199 and argues that despite integrating a large list of practical extra information that ancient māhātmya literature lacked, these writing are basically to be understood as a means “to read sites into relevance” (Pinkney 2013, 257) and in terms of the traditional genre paradigm.12 If these two articles are taken to represent the limits of the stage, the idea of what follows is firstly to look at additional material and thereby enlarge the corpus. In this course, I will try to extrapolate how the texts under discussion conceptualise pilgrimage, and to delineate the location of these texts in terms of reader reference, epistemology, and genre. On the basis of these readings, I will shortly discuss and confirm, following Dalmia, the basic underlying grouping of the sources into māhātmya texts, on the one hand, and writings pertaining to “modern literature” in the widest sense, on the other. Thereupon I will, however, challenge Dalmia’s general contention that the “modern genre” accounts of pilgrimage are generally characterised by secularisation, nationalisation, and the elusiveness of the pilgrimage experience, and I will argue for a more malleable accommodation of other “modern” approaches to pilgrimage beyond Dalmia’s suggestions. But it should be stated right away that any further-reaching attempts such as defining a genre of pilgrimage novels or the like is flawed by the small number and the highly diversified nature of the texts. As Dalmia (2009) shows and the following confirms, many descriptions of pilgrimages are part of other narrations, for example novels or autobiographies. It therefore does not seem feasible to impose any prefabricated generic norms on this production or to attempt to derive such norms deductively from the material. The present article is intended to not more than delineate a number of (additional) textual approaches to South Asian pilgrimage phenomena by South Asian authors.

Overview of the texts The texts that are proposed for examination here are invariably post-­ Independence writings, ranging from the early 1950s to 2008, and written in Hindi, Marathi, and Bengali. Since this article attempts to identify different types of literary approaches to pilgrimage rather than to construe anything like a genre history, they are not dealt with in chronological or linguistic order here. The texts are, by order of appearance, two accounts by Hindi writer Vishnu Prabhakar (1912–2009) on visits to Rameshvaram (Tamil Nadu) und Uttarkashi (Uttarakhand, formerly Uttar Pradesh); the year of their composition cannot be deduced from the work edition, but may safely be estimated to be a decade or two after 1947, i.e. Independence. Thereafter follows the Bengali novel Marutīrtha hiṃlāj (“The desert shrine of goddess Hinglaj”, 1955) by Abadhut alias Dulalchandra Mukhopadhyay (1910–1978), a sannyasi since his wife’s death and author of a few books on Hindu religious topics.13 The third in this line-up is V. L. Manjul, author of the Marathi book Paṃḍharˡpurˡcyā alakṣit kathā (“Unperceived Stories about Pandharpur”,

200  Hans Harder 2008),14 and a devotee of the Krishnaite deity Shri Viththal in Pandharpur himself. The popular pilgrimage to Pandharpur in Maharashtra is also the topic of another Marathi book called Vārī ek ānaṃdayātrā (“Vari: a pilgrimage of joy”, 2008); the author Sandesh Bhandare is a journalist and photographer. Famous Hindi novelist Nirmal Varma’s (1929–2005) 1997 (2007) account of the Kumbh Melā in Prayag/Allahabad entitled “Sulagˡtī ṭahˡnī” (“Burning stick”) will be examined thereafter. The Kumbh Melā is also the focus of the two remaining works, both Bengali: Shashishekhar Basu (1874–1955), actually an English-writing journalist who spent some years of his early life in Allahabad, left some autobiographical Bengali essays about this period and the festival. And finally, well-known Bengali writer Kalkut (Kālˡkūṭ) alias Samaresh Basu’s famous novel Amŗta kumbher sandhāne (“In search of the vessel of ambrosia”, 1954) will be dealt with. To start with, and no matter how highly diverse these texts are, it is ­obvious that they are texts on pilgrimage and not for pilgrimage. None of them, not even Manjul’s book, is meant for being pocketed for ready use while ­going to a holy place. In this they differ from the contemporary sthala­ purāṇa and māhātmya production Vasudha Dalmia mentions and ­Andrea Pinkney focuses on. They also deviate, however, from other types of publications such as collections for bhajans and the like that can be used for singing sessions or even while walking (textual material that features on the photographs in Sandesh Bhandare’s volume, cf. figure 10.1). It may be debatable to what extent the modern māhātmyas that Pinkney describes do actually fulfil the touristic guide book part of their multifunctional design, and the observation that most of them are available at the sites themselves

Figure 10.1  Vārī pilgrims singing songs from song-books. (courtesy of Bhandare)

Pilgrimage accounts through modern languages  201 may rather suggest that they are acquired as souvenirs and not as guides. But at least they have this potentiality of pragmatic use on the spot, whereas the selection proposed for examination in this article are not the kind of texts these pilgrims hold in their hands or maybe carry in their pockets; they are reflections on holy sites and pilgrimage situated on another level of observation and production.

Vishnu Prabhakar on Uttarkashi and Rameshvaram Vishnu Prabhakar is a prominent Hindi author of prose and drama, known for a “leftist Gandhian” political orientation. He has extensively written travel and pilgrimage accounts which are placed together in two volumes called sampūrṇ yātrāvŗtt in his works edition. A good number of them deal with holy places in the Himalaya. The reason for choosing one of these, the account of Uttarkashi, alongside one about Rameshvaram in the South is not so much meant to strike any geographical balance between these ­locations, but intended to show the range from the autobiographical to the encyclopaedic approach that Vishnu Prabhakar has to offer. Vishnu Prabhakar’s Uttarˡkāśī (1999b) is a detailed autobiographical ­account of three visits to this Himalayan shrine in 1958, 1970, and 1981 – the first with colleague writers and journalists, the second with his family and the last one with a friend. Prabhakar briefly deals with Uttarkashi’s history, its place in Rama mythology and its relation with pūrvī kāśī, “the eastern Kashi,” i.e. Benares (p. 114). He then comments on the groups of sadhus he encountered along with classifications into true and fake ascetics (p. 116). In the following he mixes reports of his travels, weather conditions etc. with some general observations and quite detailed accounts of his contacts and conversations with spiritual persons. The narrative often resembles a ­personal journal, and in one instance Prabhakar actually quotes from his diary notes (p. 118). However, it lacks mentions of personal religious feelings, spiritual experiences, or even ritual actions performed at the site. Noteworthy in this account are Prabhakar’s diachronic reflexions regarding the changes the pilgrimage had undergone over the stretch of time covered by his three visits. In the part on the 1981 pilgrimage, for example, he remarks: On the way [i.e. during a seven hour bus ride from Rishikesh] I was shaken by memories. A lot had changed in these years, especially because of the Maneri Valley Hydro Project. There were new settlements and new roads. Along with life and growth, noise and dust was also there, especially in Uttarkashi. (p. 121) Such developments, in his view, led to an erosion of the spiritual character of the site: In the course of a comparison between Uttar- and Purvakashi, Prabhakar quotes one Tapovanˡjī Mahārāj, a local monastic person, who had

202  Hans Harder written in his book Himˡgiri vihār15 that Benares and Uttarkashi were like the conceited city versus the authentic rural refuge,16 but Prabhakar concludes by stating that this holds no longer true, since Uttarkashi has grown into an urban settlement itself and thereby forfeited its former ­character (p.  126). Prabhakar’s Uttarkashi account represents an autobiographical form of writing that comes close to diary style insofar as the reader address is not very pronounced, and the recording of happenings in their chronological order is the main structuring feature around which general observations and reflexions are organized. This stands in contrast with Prabhakar’s account of Rameshvaram (1999a, 379–382), which is characterised by what I propose to call an encyclopaedic mode. After an opening statement about India as the land of holy places that are knit together by the religious duty to go on pilgrimages (p. 379), the author gives a geographical, mythological, and historical profile of Rameshvaram. He evokes Rameshvaram as the place where Rama asked for the atonement for the sin of killing the Brahmin Ravana, traces the history of the temple, and lists the religious festivals performed on the site in their yearly cycle (pp. 379–381). In all this neither the social phenomenon of ­pilgrimage in general nor the individual experience of it in particular, play any role whatsoever. Prabhakar adds some remarks about the way the “old Aryans” (sic.) saw stability manifested in mountains and fluidity in water and accordingly built tīrthas at both, and concludes this little write-up with a remark on the national didactics of pilgrimage: Under the pretext of this pilgrimage, people of this country not only see their whole country but also again and again have the opportunity to be in the lap of nature. […] It can also be said that the inhabitants of India who visit these holy places get acquainted with the history, geography, culture and civilization of their country and become knowing and liberal. In this sense the importance of these pilgrimages is not negligible.17 In sum, Prabhakar’s accounts, no matter whether they are autobiographical or documentary, are personally rather disinvolved and not elaborately narrativized. His dictum on the educative function of pilgrimage seems to mirror M.K. Gandhi’s take on the topic who famously had the editor in Hind Swaraj (1909) say that the “far-seeing ancestors” conceived of India as “one nation” and therefore “fired the people with an idea of nationality in a manner unknown in other parts of the world.” (1997, 1–125; 48f.).18 Prabhakar’s statement is far soberer but equally asserts national integration as an important function of pilgrimage.

Abadhut on Hinglaj On the other end of the spectrum as far as involvement and ­narrativization are concerned, there is the Bengali novel Marutīrtha hiṃlāj (“The desert

Pilgrimage accounts through modern languages  203 shrine Hinglaj”). This 1955 Bengali work by Kalikacharan Abadhut, a sadhu, made its author famous19 and became the model for the film of the same name made in 1959. The novel narrates a pilgrimage to the shrine of Hinglaj Devi, the westernmost śaktitīrtha just across the western border of Sindh in Balochistan that took place in 1946. Notably, this preceded the commodification of this pilgrimage described by Schaflechner (2018) by a number of decades, and the book is an impressive testimony to the difficulties involved in this four-week desert camel journey. Accordingly, the narrator of this largely autobiographical narrative is extremely and indeed existentially involved in the pilgrimage. Marutīrtha hiṃlāj has longish passages on the hardships of the desert trail and the mental crises the pilgrims undergo.20 The presentation is also highly narrativised: the I-account is interspersed with extensive dialogues and reflections, and the chronology of the account is occasionally broken by flashbacks with childhood memories etc.21 There are successful attempts to generate suspense and thus to narrate the pilgrimage as an adventurous journey. Contrary to Prabhakar’s account of Rameshwaram, and despite the tendency to enter into various digressions, there are almost no educative introductions into mythology, faith, and śakti worship to be found in the novel, and the narrator stays quite closely with the pilgrims and their lives, backgrounds and experiences. The ascetic author-narrator of Marutīrtha hiṃlāj is indeed remarkable in his wordly attitudes, his emotional maturity, and his liberal reflections about religion, pilgrimage etc. – an intellectual liberalism one would usually associate with secular modernity rather than with traditional moves like ­becoming an ascetic, an avadhūta. Marutīrtha hiṃlāj furnishes a good ­example for Dalmia’s claim that hardship enhances religious merit22 in the following reflection about the necessity of the tough travel in order to become void – a passage that is exceptional enough to warrant a lengthy quotation: I suddenly had a very simple and natural explanation why these holiest places, these alchemical jewels for the liberation from the sufferings of the world were found at the end of such abstruse trajectories beyond everybody’s experience and reach. No-one but the great goddess of fullness knows how much merit one gets from his visit to Vishvanatha Shiva of Benares by jumping on the train and going there over night – who then heaps flowers and bel-leaves on Lord Vishvanath and one day after is back home and going to the office. But one can be very sure that the merit-seeker’s need for merit is thereby not completely fulfilled. If you take a bundle of tamarind bark and desert indianwheat23 on your back and walk through the mountains for two months, ruining your body and finally creeping back from Kedarnath, the satisfaction makes your chest grow ten times its size. That is why the importance of Kedarnath exceeds that of Vishvanath. […] In fact, the hardship of pilgrimage is ascetic exercise [tapas]. Through ascetic exercises you attain Brahma. That is why it is said: tapohī brahma [tapas is the brahman]! When you

204  Hans Harder enter the train, you also visit the holy site, but you don’t get a scratch on your body, and the aspect of ascetic exercise gets lost in the process. The pilgrim’s path must be such that after overcoming it and when arriving, mind, intellect and ego-consciousness, as well as all the senses, have been burnt and become pure gold. (p. 124) In Abadhut’s novel, the narrator is a modern-day individual who reflects openly and occasionally even critically about the uses of pilgrimage,24 but whose basic belief in its merits is at no point put into question. Therefore, if we revert to the dichotomic scheme introduced in the beginning with reference to Vasudha Dalmia’s exposition, this pilgrimage account would seem somewhat non-paradigmatic and exceptional: it neither falls on the ­traditional māhātmya/sthalapurāṇa side where the importance of tīrthas is an unquestioned premise, nor on the secular modern side that does no longer have direct access to the pilgrim’s experience. It also cuts across the rural-urban divide if understood as modernity vs. tradition; the narrator is a Calcutta cosmopolite who has to tell the villagers in Sindh about the marvels of the modern city, but at the same time a traditional believer who takes the liberty to declare Chandrakup, a deity on the way to Hinglaj, a demon, but does not question the concept of puṇya or religious merit. Thus, the narrator/author of Marutīrtha hiṃlāj embodies a curious but not unconvincing set of attitudes to pilgrimage in a mode of existential religious adventure.

Accounts on the Vārī Yet other types of approaches to pilgrimage and holy sites are found in two recent Marathi sources on Pandharpur in Maharashtra and the vārī, the annual Vaishnava mass pilgrimage in the month Āṣāḍh to this place. The first of these sources deals with Pandharpur rather than with pilgrimage, which is not more than a marginal side topic, but is included here b ­ ecause it represents one particular type of account in its own right. Vasudev ­Lakshmaṇ Manjul, author of Paṃḍharˡpūrˡcyā alakṣit kathā (“Unknown stories about Pandharpur”, 2008) and retired librarian at the Bhandarkar Research ­Institute in Pune, is from Pandharpur and has a long-standing spiritual connection with Lord Viththal, the deity of Pandharpur.25 In his own foreword, Manjul talks about his ancestors who were kīrtanˡkārs26 and used to perform bhajans in praise of Lord Viththal. He describes how he grew up very close to the temple, witnessed the rituals, events and pilgrimages there very closely, and on his grandfather’s and father’s instigation also had to compose stories on the rituals and the mythology of the place. With the help of many persons, I studied up to my doctorate. I worked for forty years as a librarian at the Bhandarkar Research Institute. From the research of Indian and foreign scholars, I acquired a new outlook

Pilgrimage accounts through modern languages  205 which I used to examine many of the things I had seen in my young age. I looked for the logic [kāryakāraṇˡbhāv] in them, and made new pilgrimages to Pandharpur with this new outlook.27 The book has eleven separate chapters dealing with mythological, historical and religious aspects of Pandharpur; Chapter 8 (Kāhī vāṅmayīn sādhane, 84–98) furnishes descriptions of altogether 15 māhātmyas on Pandharpur, and Chapter 10 (Śrīviṭhṭhal āṇi videśī saṃśodhak, 107–113) gives a survey of the research work by foreign scholars on Pandharpur and Viththal. M ­ anjul’s approach combines the reverential attitude of a devotee and life-long ally with the perspective and inquisitiveness of a scholar. This disciple-cum-­ researcher combination of a rather traditional devotional approach together with critical scholarly add-ons strikes me as a frequent occurrence in many religious environments.28 A very different set-up characterises the second book on the vārī to be dealt with, Sandesh Bhandare’s Vārī ek ānaṃdayātrā (“Vārī: A Pilgrimage of Joy”), published in the same year (2008) as Manjul’s book.29 The author is a photographer and essayist who has published documentaries on things like wrestling and tamāśā theatre. His book is actually a 156-page photo essay with a substantial introduction (Nivedan, 11–27). Drawing his inspiration partly from the poet Dilip Chitre’s book Punhā tukārām (to whom he dedicates the book) and partly from the film by Günther Sontheimer and Henning Stegmüller,30 Bhandare starts by explaining his motivation (his curiosity about why 600,000 people undertake the hardships of the ­pilgrimage), his resolve to undertake the pilgrimage himself, and the technicalities such as his photographical equipment (p. 11), but then he personally mostly vanishes from his account. In the following, the readers learn about the two different pilgrimage routes that constitute the vārī, the saints connected with the pilgrimage (p. 14f.), the organisation of most of the vārˡkarīs (vārī pilgrims) into diṇḍīs or walking groups of between 200 and 4,000 members (p. 16f.), the independent or “free” (mokˡḷā) pilgrims, etc. Thereupon ­Bhandare addresses the history of the vārī in the context of bhakti, vernacularisation and social integration in Maharashtra, claiming along the lines of current interpretations of the bhakti movement31 that the pilgrimage has been a decisive force in bringing about social cohesion across caste and religious boundaries (p. 20ff.). In particular, he cites the fact that the famous Marathi form of Shiva, Khandoba, was given Muslim names as Mullākhān and Ajˡmat Khān, and adduces the appearance of numerous Muslim saṃtas such as Sheikh Muhammad, who composed in Marathi, as an instance of the vernacularisation of religious literature (p. 23).32 The pilgrim Sandesh Bhandare reappears only once at the end of the ­account in quite an interesting episode. He relates that at one stage of the ­pilgrimage, a vārˡkarī got ritually dressed up as a woman, apparently to ­enact the gopībhāva or the state of mind of the cowgirls vis-à-vis Krishna, and was scolded thereupon by a middle-class, first-time pilgrim who thought this

206  Hans Harder was indecent behaviour. Bhandare records that since proper vārˡkarīs are bound by a vow not to quarrel with anyone, he as an outsider to retort to that man that he did not know what he was talking about and should learn about vārī customs properly before interfering (p. 25). Generally speaking, Bhandare’s account does maintain the distanced but concentrated gaze of an outsider that results from his close contact and even participant observation of the vārī. He sheds this strategy of non-­interference only once when his idea of authentic practice clashes with a competing ­notion, and he is provoked into guarding the vārī’s true spirit by warding off the contamination by sanitised middle-class attitudes. Bhandare’s approach is characterised by a general sympathy for the vārī as an element of Maharashtrian heritage and folk culture; his is a detached, nationalist-philantropic attitude with a special focus on the aesthetical aspects of the experience.

Some Kumbh Melā accounts In the three remaining examples, all on the Kumbh Melā, I entirely enter Dalmia’s ground of “modern literature” in the narrowest sense and look at the works of three well-known urban authors of novels and short stories: Nirmal Verma (Hindi), Shashishekhar Basu and Samaresh Basu alias Kalkut (both Bengali). There is one noteworthy structural difference in these narrations as compared to some of the preceding ones, which is caused by the character of the Kumbh Melā in Prayag: while in other narratives ­(especially the one on the Hinglaj pilgrimage) the path to the tīrtha is the main topic and becomes a theme in itself, the Kumbh Melā does not lend itself to being narrated as a trajectory. As a result, the chronology of events also becomes much weaker as a principle of organisation in the narrations, and it is rather the Melā‘s overwhelming impact of simultaneity that becomes in itself an object of description. As regards the chronology of the texts, Shashishekhar Basu comes first, even if his texts appeared almost simultaneously with Samaresh Basu’s. The narrated time is far earlier as he describes the Prayag of his childhood, i.e. presumably of the first decade of the 20th century. Samaresh Basu follows with his narrative about the Melā of 1954, which was published in the same year, and thereafter I turn to Nirmal Varma who writes 22 years later in 1976. The first account – or actually two separate accounts – of Prayag and the Kumbh Melā represent an approach to holy places and pilgrimage quite different from the ones dealt with so far. Shashishekhar Basu, the eldest of the famous Basu brothers of Parsi Bagan Lane in Calcutta,33 approaches Prayag in a humoristic vein. Shashishekhar apparently never visited the Kumbh Melā as a pilgrim but lived in Allahabad for a number of years. As for the motive for visiting the Melā regularly, “we had no other scope than strolling around, going for anything we could nibble, suck, lick or drink, and watching the spectacle” (Basu 2005, 26). The “we” apparently refers to the young writer and his relatives and/or friends.

Pilgrimage accounts through modern languages  207 The two texts about Prayag are Māghe praẏāge (1952–1953) and Smŗtipaṭe kumbha (1953–1954) and have been republished in a collection of ­m iscellaneous writings under the title Yā dekhechi yā śunechi (“What I’ve seen and heard”, 2005).34 The first, “Prayag in Month Magh,” when the Kumbh Melā takes place, introduces the site, the appearance of the pilgrims and the commercial aspects of rituals to be performed at the confluence of the rivers (p. 19). After some remarks about the dustiness of the place (housewives in Calcutta ask their husbands if they have been to the race course when they return home covered with dust, whereas in Allahabad it is the beṇīghāṭ, i.e. the ground by the rivers, where husband are deemed to have acquired such a dust coverage) and the toys for sale at the festival, the article deals in some length with particular Kumbh Melā food items (pp. 20–22) and with sadhus: Like a huge white mountain besmeared with ashes and dust, a crowd of 100,000 sadhus entered the water. Hundreds of binoculars were raised above the noses. When they came up from the water, the avalanche of white sannyasis became black. The ashes had been washed away and exposed their dark colour. (p. 22) Despite knowing about the vow of silence of the sadhus, the I-narrator asks one of them whether he renounced worldly life “because he had a quarrel with his wife or because he had lost his fortune in the race course” (ibid), and reports having witnessed an American sadhu in 1910 who was smoking hemp under a tree and refused to sit together with the “black” sadhus out of racial pride (p. 24). Smŗtipaṭe kumbha, “Memories of the Kumbh Melā,” starts with some mythological background information and an aside about the kumbha, a vessel. This article argues that the Kumbh Melā used to be a market for vessels quite literally in the past (p. 26). There are passages on frauds and politicians who invade the festival to give speeches (ibid); a list of different sorts of crimes in the festival police files; a quite funny section on the lost property office at the Kumbh Melā (p. 29); also details about sadhus (p. 30) and, again, particular food items at the Melā (p. 31). It concludes with a detailed description of the (costly) atonement of a Bengali from Calcutta for eating a shish kabab at the hands of a priest at Prayag (p. 31f.). What is interesting in these accounts is that the I-narrator does not in any way problematize his presence on the site. The Kumbh Melā, it seems, is the most natural place to go for food and excitement. The Basu family of Parsi Bagan Lane, however, was certainly anything but class-indifferent, but by contrast very decisively middle-class and bhadralok. It appears that the satirical mode prevents such gestures, and that the distance of about forty years between experience and the act of writing makes this irony more natural and easier.

208  Hans Harder Almost contemporary to Shashishekhar Basu’s articles is the next Kumbh Melā narrative in the present survey, Kalkut’s alias Samaresh Basu’s35 Amŗta kumbher sandhāne (“Search for the ambrosia vessel”, 1954), also written in Bengali. This text is in some ways a linkage between the accounts by Shashishekhar Basu and Nirmal Varma. Though much longer, Amŗta kumbher sandhāne resembles Nirmal Varma’s account in a number of ways, as we shall see. The narrative set-up is similar and Basu’s account is not less intense then Varma’s, even if it is in some sense much more relaxed. In Amŗta kumbher sandhāne, too, author and narrator merge, making this 200-page novel a quasi-autobiographical account; in both texts, the narrator features in the narration as a writer and feels uncomfortable about it (partly because people won’t understand, partly apparently because of the peeping factor, cf. p. 78); in both, an urban person (“young man”) is setting out to discover what he calls the peoples’ “national characteristics” ( jātīẏa svabhāb). Quite programmatically, at the beginning of the novel, the I-­narrator tells a South Indian interlocutor on his overloaded train to Allahabad: [The young men] don’t like [to go to pilgrimages], you are saying? That’s right. I’m also not going to get my head shaven. [But] look, our life is very confined. We decay [pāpakṣaẏ kari] by quarrelling along, confined within our delineated philosophy of life. But how little do we know about our country! How little do we see! As a young man, how can I ignore that which keeps the millions of men in our country living and dying (I don’t know if it is good or bad), [the place] where they gather with their national characteristics, where our whole nation laughs, cries and sings? If I feel like it, I will laugh or cry. If my head bows down then I won’t force it to remain upright by false pride. And if I manage to ­remain disinvolved I will do that. Such a huge country, so many people, such diversity! I have come in order to see you [people]. (p. 16f.) This attitude, along with an inherent self-deprecating anti-urbanism, is all-pervasive in Kalkut’s book. There are slanting remarks about the “dull urban materialist mind” (p. 23), and the author/narrator’s “city-civilized eyes” (p. 61) are attracted and scandalised by the nudity of a woman taking a bath. “All about sadhus and sannyasis is absurd to our modern urban minds” (p. 105) which are “arrogant” and look upon life as the proverbial frog in the well (p. 159). So the Melā is a discovery; and the account of it is fascinating indeed with its numerous anecdotes, embedded stories, and the very close interactions between the narrator and his casual acquaintances. At times, Kalkut also feels removed from time and place: I forgot that I was the citizen of a creative and cultured city in a civilised country! It was as if I had returned to a past [gone by for] thousands of years. The night of this sandbank had embraced me with both hands

Pilgrimage accounts through modern languages  209 out of some invisible. Like some benighted blind or dumb I started to stroll around, groping on all sides. (p. 57) And Kalkut does not fail at times to unroll the great canvas of Indian ­h istory, which haunts him in the shape of ghosts in a nightly vision, and completely overwhelms the narrator: Many men, many shadows of men are coming to surround me in all ­directions. The shadows of a forgotten age are crowding in upon me on all sides. They gaze at this little being of human form, clad in an ­overcoat, in speechless astonishment. They insistently wonder which country that person is from. What is that being of flesh and blood [doing] at night on their century-old lonely wandering ground by the Ganges? […] They were whispering and floating around with the wind. Nobody knows – only they know inside-out the history of India that lies hidden in Prayag. […] I was going to say something, but I lost track. They were pinching each other’s arms and laughing. They were pointing fingers at me. (p. 57f.) While the dichotomic set-up underlying the quoted passages (urban/­ modern/arrogant vs. rural/archaic/authentic) has a strong presence in Amŗta ­kumbher sandhāne, the narration is nevertheless much more ­complex and open; Kalkut does not finish by declaring the Kumbh Melā the soul of Indian culture, but in fact describes the ill-famous stampede of 1954 in which many people die, among them one of his protagonists, a crippled k ­ īrtan singer. The narration concludes with the great metaphor we have ­already encountered elsewhere: “Where is the end of the pilgrimage? […] The search does not end,”36 meaning that life is the great pilgrimage. This reveals an attitude that characterises the book as a whole, and may be termed a peculiar type of “secular bhakti.” The last text to be considered here, Nirmal Varma’s account, deserves special attention also because this author has the somewhat ill-famous image of being a highly westernised and alienated urban writer whose works, according to some, could only conditionally be counted as Indian literature at all, even if they were written in Hindi.37 The text is a story of 22 pages entitled Sulagˡtī ṭahˡnī: prayāg 1976 (“The burning twig: Prayag 1976”).38 The I-narrator of this piece is urban, a writer, likes to call himself reporter and thus bears all the traces of the author Nirmal Varma himself.39 It is a little unclear which Melā Varma refers to since the major ones (ardha­ kumbh and pūrṇakumbh) occur in intervals of six years; therefore it appears that Varma attended neither of these, but perhaps a smaller intermediate Melā. Equally unclear, on another plane, is the role of the I-narrator at the Melā, and this is an object of discussion from the start of the narration:

210  Hans Harder the gate-keeper of the ashram where he stays cannot make out why he is there (p. 136). Like in Abadhut’s account, the inner void as the appropriate attitude to a pilgrimage is emphasized in Nirmal Varma’s text, too: “I came here leaving everything behind and having made myself completely empty” (ibid),40 though of course with a twist, because in Abadhut’s novel it is the pilgrimage which does the job of emptying, whereas here this inner evacuation is more of a conscious mental resolve prior to the pilgrimage to suspend feelings, troubles, and judgments. Varma gives intense depictions of the masses, the pushing and shoving, the sounds, all inescapable and dissolving not only space but also time. The narrator recounts an experience of boundlessness in which the spatial grandeur of simultaneity of the spectacle is converted into a temporal ­infinity, and the Melā is equated with the course of Indian culture in quite an ­i mpressive emotive passage: I wanted to sit down there, on the wet black sand, mending the line of my fate in between the countless footsteps. But this was impossible. There was an endless row of pilgrims before and behind me – walking for centuries, tired, desperate, dirty, but still permanently flowing. I did not know where they were going, in which direction, or which direction they were looking for while climbing the steps of the centuries. Where was that vessel which the gods had inserted into the sand here? Who knows how that truth would taste – those few drops of nectar searching which this long desireous dust-covered pilgrimage had started – a long march of thousands of years, a tīrtha journey, the extreme thirst of dry throats – which the historians call “Indian culture”? (p. 137 f.) There are thick descriptions of bathing scenes, of the police watching the crowds (p. 139), reflections about living and dying (p. 141), and depictions of the various camps with their dark back lanes. The author/narrator, quite in tune with the theme of self-evacuation, prompts himself to “forget that you are a human, have come from Delhi, weave stories and have been to Europe.”41 He goes on to describe hippies in their tents (p. 146), various sadhus, akhāṛās and gurus (especially one Sikh guru, p. 149 f.), and his encounter with a man who has just left his family for good in order to start a new life (p.  151).42 Another theme is, again and again, God, who is variously referred to as a “stream” or “flowing” (pravāh, p. 144); as helpless but still to be believed in;43 and, for atheists like the author/narrator, as “God in the ashes”. Taking up a custom of carrying burning sticks on one’s shoulders and after calling the Kumbh Melā an epic, Varma comes to his conclusion: a curious atheist proclamation of faith, in which the I-narrator envisages himself as an angel, or as […] a reporter, a news-bearing messenger both ways, who takes God’s news to men and the beauty of the earth to the remote God – a God who

Pilgrimage accounts through modern languages  211 maybe does not exist, but whom he keeps on his shoulders like a burning rod while walking. I do not know, but I would like to believe in him, to live with the help of that belief. (156 f.) All this may, from a certain perspective, speak of the cultural alienation that critics like Jaidev have attested to Varma. It certainly betrays Varma’s mystification of Indian culture and constitutes one more example of ­Verma’s essentialist understanding of India when he conceives of this Kumbh Melā visit as a pilgrimage to the spiritual roots of “Indianness.” Still, what we have here is not Dalmia’s “elusive sensibility of the masses” (Dalmia 2009, 131) that escapes the sophisticated modern writers, but another kind of ­sensibility that seeks contact by all means and does its best to overcome alienation by exposure.

Conclusion What to say about these pilgrimage narratives in summary, and how to place them in the context of South Asian literature and culture? As stated above, this article has taken up the leads from Vasudha Dalmia’s (2009) contribution and gone along with her basic dichotomy between māhātmya and “modern genre” literature. This bifurcation appears to remain valid also in the light of the present additional material. If we resort to the ­somewhat hackneyed elite-folk divide in textual production, no matter how simplistic it may be, we can assert that the authors of these texts all belong to the middle class, and also that most of them place pilgrimage in a national or sub-national framework. Moreover, all the texts we have dealt with are ­hybridised forms of literary expression if seen from the vantage point of premodern tīrthayātrā and its concurrent māhātmya literature, in the sense that all either carry forth, or at least bear traces of encounters with, cultural practices of modernity that the māhātmyas and abhaṅga collections in the hands of the pilgrims (probably) don’t. This is most importantly so because in the latter, the importance of holy places and pilgrimages are part and parcel of the epistemic frame in which these texts function, whereas for the texts under discussion, this importance and relevance is argued in a different, modern epistemic frame that requires shifts of meaning, for example towards history, heritage, nation, anti-­ urbanism etc. But as announced at the outset of this article, the texts under survey reveal quite a number of approaches or modes in which pilgrimage is envisaged by their authors, and it is not sufficient to say that pilgrimage recedes into a realm of “past experiences” or “elusive sensibilities” (Dalmia 2009, 131). Broadly speaking, we can say that the majority of the texts, whatever their degree of literariness, are autobiographical in nature; i.e., an I-narrator

212  Hans Harder retells his pilgrimage experiences in the first person singular, and paratextual or internal evidence permits to identify the narrator with the author. This certainly holds true for the texts that belong to the category of what Dalmia calls modern genre literature. The present selection has also admitted two examples into the corpus that appears to fall beyond the boundary of such genre literature and would seem to come under discursive prose. Prabhakar’s Rameshvaram account is ambiguous, since even if the pilgrim’s experience is left out of the picture, it features among his travel accounts and to all appearances is the fruit of a visit to the place; Manjul’s book, however, definitely transgresses the borderline and cannot be called a pilgrimage narrative but rather an academic treatise, even if the personal nature of the author’s involvement with the tīrtha and the pilgrimage is a very prominent topic in both the introductory paratexts. At any rate, as regards the attitudes revealed in the single texts, and within the autobiographical mode that characterizes most of them, we find a documentary or encyclopaedic approach where the narrator retreats into invisibility (Prabhakar); a depiction of pilgrimage as an ­existential ­religious adventure (Abadhut); a devotion-cum-research (Manjul) and a ­popular ­philanthropist approach (Bhandare); a “secular devotion” a­ pproach (Kalkut); as well as a type of cultural self-search (Varma) and even a ­humourist/­satirical approach (Shashishekhar Basu). So, these narratives, if taken together as a collective of voices of modernity about ritual journeys in South Asia, are far more polyphonic and open than Vasudha Dalmia suggests on the basis of her corpus. Secularisation and ­nationalism are powerful discursive features in them, but especially in the last two accounts we find spiritual search rather than secularisation, e­ xperiences that are not just elusive, and also a high degree of exposure and involvement. In sum, then, we detect quite a variegated repertoire of attitudes or positions in these few post-Independence literary engagements with pilgrimage. As a social practice, in fact, ritual journeys appear, to some extent, to shatter the clear-cut divisions between the religious and the secular, modernity and tradition, or rural and urban that are thought to govern contemporary South Asian realities and, by extension, South Asian literary production. This is not to say that post-Independence pilgrimage accounts are per se transgressive; but if they are to be fit into a single discursive formation, whoever wants to do so certainly seems to have a good deal of further research to do.

Notes 1 Transliteration from South Asian languages follows the respective customary schemes. For New Indo-Aryan languages in Indic scripts, the system proposed by Rahul Peter Das (Indo-Iranian Journal 27, 1984, p. 66, n. 2) is used, with some slight modifications: retroflex ‘r’ appears as ṛ, vocalic ‘r’ as r, and Bengali ‘b’ as ˚ the latter part of conjunct consonants as rendered as ‘v’. 2 Cf. also Ahuja, ‘The Bridge-Builders’, p. 111, for other late-19th century statements from Bengal to this effect.

Pilgrimage accounts through modern languages  213 3 Terms like yātrā, tīrth(a), bhramaṇ(a), pāyaṉam, ḥajj or ziyārat would seem to work, to some extent, for most modern Indo-Aryan and some Dravidian ­languages; keyword research for pilgrimage, pilgrimage account, travelogue etc. have also been undertaken at the KVK (Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog), an ­online catalogus catalogorum. 4 i.e. mythological accounts devoted to a particular (holy) place (sthala). This ­subcategory of purāṇa literature can be defined to include both Sanskrit and “vernacular” texts. 5 A WorldCat search yields more than 700 entries, but not much from post-­ Independence South Asia (and if so, mostly either expositions of ziyārat-gāhs/ pilgrimage sites, somewhat equivalent to māhātmya literature, or manuals with rules for pilgrimage, or anti-shrine pilgrimage sources); for Arabic pilgrimage accounts like the Urdu book by Khusrau (1966) or Abdul Majid (1967), see below. 6 Rahul Sankrityayan’s Hindi autobiography titled Merī jīvan yātrā (“My life pilgrimage”), a work that Vishnu Prabhakar, e.g., refers to (cf. below), is in large part a series of travel accounts, some of which comprise visits to pilgrimage centres. This huge work was composed in instalments; the part covering the years 1893–1934 were written during the author’s imprisonment in Hazaribagh in 1940 and brought out in 1944, while the rest was added later by himself and Kamala Sankrityayan. The chapter Dakṣiṇ kā tīrthāṭan, e.g., narrates Sankrityayan’s visits to South Indian religious sites in 1913–1914 as a monastic emissary from Parsa and grants fascinating insights into the travel modalities, networks and customs of sadhus from a young insider’s perspective (cf. Sāṅkrtyāyan 1994). But these narratives by and large precede the time frame set for˚ the present article and moreover would warrant a more intense study and detailed assessment, if only for their sheer length, than possible in the present context. In any case, Sankrityayan’s title jīvan yātrā rests on pilgrimage as the metaphor for life as such which appears to be a common-place trope. Cf. also Abadhut’s Marutīrtha hiṃlāj (dealt with below), p. 21 and in greater detail p. 108, where life is portrayed as a journey or pilgrimage (yātrā) from birth towards death. 7 This statement is based on my experience with the role of ziyārat (pilgrimage to saintly tombs) in a Bangladeshi Sufi context (Harder 2012). Ziyārat is prominent as an institution and a frequent practice, and it often features in the miracle sections where adepts undertake a pilgrimage to a certain spiritual master and witness his miracle-working powers. But there is no such thing as a genre of the pilgrimage account apart from the informal (either oral or written) accounts collections of which are customarily given to validate a saint’s greatness, sometimes which a nuclear sanad type of authentication giving the name of the one or the ones who have reported the respective deeds or pilgrimage experience: almost the denial of a genre. However, the stress here is so strongly on the factual that one might interpret such presentations almost as the denial of any affiliation to literature or the likening to a genre. 8 For pre-nineteenth century material, cf. also Pearson (1994): Pious Passengers: The Hajj in Earlier Times. New Delhi: Sterling. 9 Namely, Iravati Karve: Pandharpur (1962); Shraddharam Phillauri: Bhāgya­ vatī (1877); Rajendrabala Ghosh ‘Bangamahila’: Kumbh mem choṭī bahū (1906); Premchand: Premāśram (1922); Ajñeya: Nadī ke dvīp (1951); Arun Kolhatkar: Jejuri (1973). 10 Dalmia refers to Anderson in rather general terms, though, and his concept of the secular bureaucratic civil servant-pilgrim and the philanthropic nationalist pilgrimage to prominent sites of the nation is not highlighted (cf. the section on “Travel and Traffic” in Benedict Anderson [2006 (1983)] p. 207ff.). Peter van der Veer (1994) builds upon this to develop his idea of pilgrimage going political and

214  Hans Harder



13 14 15 16 17


19 20

21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28


nationalist in India; the ideal illustration of this process would seem to be L.K. Advani’s Rath yātrā campaign that preceded the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992. Here we find the “secularisation of space” of her title with an occasional inkling of the national as in Choṭī bahū (Dalmia 2009, 129f.): “It is amāvasyā today. An unforgettable vista is to be seen today on the banks of the Triveni at Prayagraj … O proud Hindu progeny, may your firm belief in Hindu dharma be ever praised!” But this is rather rare. I also wish to mention a recent unpublished MA thesis (2014) by Anna Baumann at the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University, on the cār dhām that takes into account both māhātmyas and pilgrimage accounts on these Himalayan holy places. Cf. Senˡgupta and Basu (eds.) (2010): Saṃsad bāṅāli caritābhidhān. 5th rev. ed. Kalˡkātā: Śiśu Sāhitya Saṃsad; p. 297. Maṃjūḷ (2008): Paṇḍharˡpurˡcyā alakṣit kathā. Puṇe: Utkarṣa Prakāśan. I have unfortunately not been able to trace this work. Yadi pūrvˡkāśī nāgˡrikˡtā aur āḍaṃbar meṃ magna bhārat kā ek baṛā nagar hai to uttarˡkāśī bilˡkul anāgˡrik, anāḍaṃbar aur purānī paraṃparā meṃ virājˡmān śuddh sāttvik himālay kā ek choṭā sā grām hai (p. 126). Is tīrthˡyātrā ke bahāne hī is deś kā manuṣya na keval apˡne sāre deś ko dekh letā hai balki prakŗti kī god meṃ rahˡne kā bhī usˡko bār-bār avˡsar milˡtā hai. […] vahŗ yah bhī kahā jā sakˡtā hai ki jo bhāratˡvāsī in tīrthoṃ kī yātrā kar letā hai vah apˡne deś ke itihās, bhūgol, saṃskŗti aur sabhyatā se paricit hokar jñānī aur udār ho jātā hai. Is dŗṣṭi se in tīrthoṃ kī yātrā kā mahattva kam nahīṃ hai (p. 382). It is with Gandhi that Vasudha Dalmia opens her contribution, saying that “Pilgrimage sites and pathways have for so long been regarded as integral to the geography of the subcontinent that in mustering proof of India’s nationhood, it was these that Mahatma Gandhi brought forward as evidence.” (Dalmia 2009, 117). Cf. Saṃsad bāṅāli caritābhidhān as above, p. 297. E.g. p. 42: attack by way-layers; 59–61: feeling extremely lost during nightly wanderings, and resisting the onslaught of a desert storm at night; p. 68: the terrible desert path towards Chandrakup; 76f. crisis among the pilgrims upon finding a well buried in sand; p. 85: quarrel about the food one of the pilgrims had hidden for himself contrary to the rules of the pilgrimage which forbid personal; etc. P. 58 on the theme of personal loss; p. 84 on the notion of peace (śānti); p. 89 on obligation and grace; pp. 99, 102: comparisons with, and memories of Calcutta; p. 108: life as pilgrimage, etc. “[…] the more arduous the mode of travel, the more meritorious its gain” (Dalmia 2009, 118). Tamarind bark is an essential cooking ingredient, and desert indianwheat (Bengali isabˡgul, lat. plantago ovata) is commonly used as dietary fiber. Cf. p. 135 where Chandrakup, a mud-volcano deity on the way to Hinglaj, is portrayed as a demon. Cf. R. C. Ḍhere’s foreword (prastāvanā) in Maṃjūḷ 2008: (cār)-(pāc): (pāc). Cf. Dadhe’s (2012) monograph on this this performative tradition. Lekhakāce manogat. Maṃjūḷ (2008): (sahā)-(sāt): (sahā). Scholars like Selim Jahangir and Manzurul Mannan from Chittagong, Bangladesh, whom I met during my research on the Maijbhandari Sufis, would seem to be similar examples. Both are anthropologists now settled in metropolitan locations but affiliated to, and (occasionally) writing about, the Sufi shrine of Maijbhandar in rural Chittagong. Cf. Harder (2012, 16). An English translation without year has recently appeared as Sandesh Bhandare: Wāri: Pilgrimage of Joy. Pune: Heritage India Communications.

Pilgrimage accounts through modern languages  215 30 This documentary of 1989 is available online under: onlinefilm.org/en_EN/ film/51112. 31 Dr. Shaṃ Bha Dev is the author he refers to, but whom I unfortunately could not trace. 32 However, among the other names he mentions (Śekh Pharīd, Dādū Piñjārī, Śekh Salīm, Latīk [Latīph?] Śahā and Ālamˡkhān), at least those of Śekh Pharīd and Dādū Piñjārī certainly do not refer to Muslim saṃtas writing in the Marathi language. 33 Namely, Rajshekhar Basu (1880–1960), chemist and author of satirical short stories that belong to Bengali’s modern classics; and Girindrashekhar Basu (1887–1953), the first proponent of psychoanalysis in India and founder of the Psychoanalytical Society of India. 34 Ibid, pp. 19–24 and 25–32. 35 Samaresh Basu (1924–1988) is one of the most popular post-Independence ­Bengali novelists. His pen-name Kalkut is reserved for those works in which he deals with predominantly spiritual topics. 36 Yātrār śeṣ kothāẏ? […] sandhāner śeṣ nei (p. 208). 37 Cf. the part on Nirmal Varma in Jaidev (1993). 38 In: Dhundh se uṭhˡtī dhun, 135–157. 39 The fashioning of the narrator or reflector as a reporter is most conspicuous in Varma’s novel Rāt kā riporṭar (1989) on the Indian Emergency. 40 sab kuch piche choṛˡkar āyā thā … bilˡkul khālī hokar āyā thā. 41 bhūl jāo, tum manuṣya ho, dillī se āye ho, kahāniyā̴ gaṛhˡte ho, yurop ghūme ho … (p. 142). 42 This topic also features in Shashishekhar Basu’s account. 43 Īśvar ko nissahāẏ pākar bhī unˡmeṃ viśvās karˡnā. (p. 153).

Bibliography Abadhūt (2005): Maritīrtha hiṃlāj (1st ed. 1955). Kalˡkātā: Mitra o Ghoṣ. Ahuja, Ravi (2004). ‘The Bridge-Builders’: Some Notes on Railways, Pilgrimage and the British “Civilizing Mission” in Colonial India. In: Harald Fischer-Tiné and Michael Mann (eds.): Colonialism as Civilizing Mission: Cultural Ideology in British India. London: Anthem Press, pp. 195–216. Anderson, Benedict (2006). Imagined Communities. London: Verso. Baumann, Anna (2014). Cār Dhām. MA Thesis at the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg. Bhaṃḍāre, Saṃdeś (2008). Vārī ek ānandayātrā. Puṇe: Manovikās Prakāśan. Bhandare, Sandesh (n.d). Pilgrimage of Joy. Pune: Heritage India Communications. Basu, Śaśiśekhar (2005). Yā dekhechi yā śunechi. Kalˡkātā: Mitra o Ghoṣ. Dadhe, Kasturi (2012). Anecdotes in the Vārakarī Kīrtana Folk Tradition of Mahārāṣṭra. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. Dalmia, Vasudha (2009). ‘Pilgrimage, Fairs and Secularisation of Space in ­Modern Hindi Narrative Discourse.’ In: Heidi Rika Maria Pauwels (ed.): Patronage and Popularisation, Pilgrimage and Procession: Channels of Transcultural Translation and Transmission in Early Modern South Asia. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, pp. 117–133. Das, Rahul Peter. (1984). Some Remarks on the Bengali Deity Dharma: Its cults and Study. Indo-Iranian Journal 27 (2): 66. Gandhi, M. K. (1997). Hind Swaraj and Other Writings. Ed. Anthony J. Parel. ­Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Harder, Hans (2012). Sufism and Saint Veneration in Contemporary Bangladesh. London: Routledge.

216  Hans Harder Horstmann, Monika (translator) (2003). Banasa: A Spiritual Autobiography. ­Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. Jaidev (1993). The Culture of Pastiche: Existential Aestheticism in the Contemporary Hindi Novel. Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study. Kālˡkūṭ (2008): Amŗta kumbher sandhāne (1st ed. 1954). Kalˡkātā: Beṅgal Pābˡliśārs. Khusrau, Mah ̣mūdulh ̣asan (1966). Hajj, ʻumrah, aur ziyārat-i mazār-i Nabvī. Karācī: Int ̣arneshanil Pres. Majid, Abdul (1967). Safar-i H ̣ijāz: H ̣aj o ziyārat kā mufaṣṣal o mukammal hidāyat nāmah. Lakhnʻau: Nasīm Buk D ̣ipo. Maṃjūḷ, V.L. (2008). Paṇḍharˡpurˡcyā alakṣit kathā. Puṇe: Utkarṣa Prakāśan. Metcalf, Barbara (1990). The Pilgrimage Remembered: South Asian accounts of the Hajj. In: Dale F. Eickelman and James P. Piscatori (eds.): Muslim Travellers: Pilgrimage, Migration, and the Religious Imagination. Austin: University of Texas Press, pp. 85–110. Pearson, Michael Naylor (1994). Pious Passengers: The Hajj in Earlier Times. New Delhi: Sterling. Pinkney, Andrea Marion (2013). An Ever-Present History in the Land of the Gods: Modern Māhātmya Writing on Uttarakhand. International Journey of Hindu Studies 17: 3. Prabhākar, Viṣṇu (1999a): ‘Bhārat kā tīrthˡsthān: rāmeśvaram’. In: Sampūrṇ yātrāvrtt ˚ – 2. Racˡ nāvalī, vol. 15. Dillī: Prabhāt Prakāśan. Prabhākar, Viṣṇu (1999b). ‘Uttarˡkāśī’. In: Sampūrṇ yātrāvrtt – 2. Racˡnāvalī, vol. 15. ˚ Dillī: Prabhāt Prakāśan. Sāṅkrtyāyan, Rāhul (1994). Merī jīvan yātrā. In: Rāhul vāṅmay, Part I, vol. I. Nayī ˚ Rādhākṛṣṇa Prakāśan. Dillī: Senˡgupta, Subodhˡcandra and Añjali Basu (eds.) (2010). Saṃsad bāṅāli caritābhidhān. 5th rev. ed. Kalˡkātā: Śiśu Sāhitya Saṃsad. Varmā, Nirmal (2007). ‘Sulagˡtī ṭahˡnī’. In: Dhundh se uṭhˡtī dhun. (1st ed. 1997). Nayī Dillī: Bhārˡtīya Jñanˡpīṭh, pp. 135–157. van der Veer, Peter (1994). Religious Nationalism: Hindus and Muslims in India. Berkeley: University of California Press.

11 Afterword On pilgrimage and plural paradigms Simon Coleman

Ritual Journeys encourages us to focus on South Asia and its religious ­traditions, but—as in all the best social scientific scholarship—­contributors explore vivid examples to illustrate points that have a much larger resonance. In the context of pilgrimage studies, an important feature of this book is that it forces us to think carefully about what we actually mean by the ritualization of movement. Most obviously, the book contains case-­ studies involving very different forms of mobility, ranging from the effortful trek Nike-Ann Schröder made with nomadic companions from Ladakh across the Great Himalayan Range, to the procession of divine kings across the landscape (Lokesh Ohri), to Michel Boivin’s discussion of displacements not across vast distances, but between jostling varieties of action enacted within the intense, urban space of Sehwan Sharif in Sindh. Less obviously, the book asks us to reflect on the malleability of ritual itself as it frames and marks out journeys that involve and invoke divine powers. For this reason, I think the spirit of Catherine Bell—quoted by Christoph Bergmann and Jürgen Schaflechner in their introduction—­ pervades much of the volume. In the introduction to her well-known work Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice (1992, viii), Bell criticizes theories that reach toward a predetermined circularity, constituting ritual in such a way as to “mandate in advance” a particular form of expertise or knowledge. Thus, instead of arguing that a specific set of practices necessarily constitutes ritual, Bell describes “ritualization” as “a way of acting that differentiates some acts from others” (ibid., ix), thus leaving the exact semiotic make-up of such differentiation open to local variation. In this way, for Bell, ritualized action becomes a contextually sensitive “window on the cultural dynamics by which people make and remake their worlds” (ibid., 3). Something similar can be discerned in Ritual Journeys. If we read across the chapters in order to trace what Bergmann and Schaflechner call ­“polythetic” shifts in perspective, we witness the often halting, arduous, ambivalent ways in which people not only go on pilgrimage, but also plan, produce, and differentiate it as ritual action. Consider for instance Robyn Andrews and Brent Otto’s description of post-colonial, Anglo-Catholic pilgrimage in South India, and their contention that multiple paradigms

218  Simon Coleman of understanding are necessary to comprehend the very different roles and responsibilities that go into the chronic making and remaking of journeys to Vailankanni Mata. Or, note how Jürgen David describes a context in Badrinath (India), where there is a constant battle over what we might think of as ‘meta-pilgrimage’—the reflexive delimiting of the behavior required to constitute legitimate ritual journeying within a religious tradition. More generally, Ritual Journeys demonstrates the range of cultural ­resources that are available to be drawn on in differentiating action from the everyday—not merely arduous travel, but also circulating narratives, burgeoning shrine literatures, shifting cultural memories, all located within expansive temporal and physical landscapes as well as moveable scales of operation. These very different ritualized media are, in turn, examined by contributors who adopt very different methodological approaches amongst themselves, ranging from the explicitly phenomenological perspective of Nike-Ann Schröder to the narrative analysis of Deepra Dandekar. Where Bell’s stance resonates closely with Bergmann’s and Schaflechner’s other theoretical inspirations, Henri Lefebvre (2009) on the production of space and Tim Cresswell (2010) on the ‘new mobilities paradigm’, is in the understanding that both spatiality and mobility are constantly under ­negotiation by actors, subject to chronic forms of creation and recreation. Numerous variations on this inherently processual approach to cultural reality have been evident in pilgrimage studies at least since the work of the Turners (1978), who were influenced in part by Max Gluckman’s (1958) situational analysis. What I want to emphasize here are some of the ways in which this volume explores the contingencies and processual qualities of ritual journeying—the political, social, and semiotic uncertainties and risks that often come to the fore in both planning and producing ritual journeys. I begin with the contention that a number of chapters explore pilgrimage as performative action that entails the possibility of failure as well as success. By this I do not mean necessarily to invoke the ideal of individualistic, personal transformation that dominates so much of the literature on European and North American journeying, but rather to reference more collective forms of action, and ones where economic, social, and political stakes often combine with the religious. An obvious example comes from Lokesh Ohri’s documentation of the numerous anxieties accompanying the visit of the palanquin of Pabasik Mahasu to the village of Chatra—a royal visitation that affords the opportunity self-consciously to display communitas: in other words, not communitas as a spontaneous, emergent state, as in the famous Turnerian imagery, but as a form of solidarity that must be strategized over, and which involves considerable community investment, sacrifice, and even trust. As Ohri shows, such solidarity certainly cannot be taken for granted given the deep divide between two landowning families in the village, but in addition the very question of where the god will settle becomes an issue that threatens to exacerbate antagonistic relations, rather than damping them down. Still more broadly, this processional culture takes place in a wider

On pilgrimage and plural paradigms  219 context marked by tension between the parallel authorities of divine kingship and ‘modern’ governance. Ohri’s gripping ethnography therefore shows how such ritual journeying traverses numerous physical, metaphysical, and political realms, and ones where the possibilities for both the staging and the continued production of processions remain always open to question at different levels of societal organization. In its emphasis on the journeying of the divine king as meaningful, ­h igh-stakes practice, Ohri’s chapter has obvious parallels with Karin Polit’s account of Jakh—a deity treated like a regent as he proceeds with his ­entourage around the Central Himalayas of North India. Polit makes the important point that such journeying can be fun, since making the e­ ffort to entertain the deity can itself be a diverting pastime. Devotional performance can even include self-irony (compare Coleman and Elsner 1998; Obeyesekere 2014). But in its performative register such ritualized mobility is also work—Polit calls it “a duty quite like cultivating the fields, grazing livestock, caring for family, raising kids”—and part of the risk involves the danger of acting in a careless way that might upset the deity. If Polit and Ohri demonstrate the labor involved in keeping pilgrimage going, but also the hazards of performative failure, other chapters of Ritual Journeys indicate how ‘reproduction’ of tradition can bring its own forms of transformation. Premakumara de Silva’s piece on young people’s religiosity in a Buddhist pilgrimage site is particularly illuminating in this respect. He is opening up a promising further direction for pilgrimage studies in his subtle discussion of how what looks like hedonism and disrespect from certain perspectives—those of locals, or older people, or even demography— can be shown to contain much more complex and nuanced attitudes toward ­religiosity in postcolonial Sri Lanka. Drawing on the detailed insights provided by ethnography, de Silva indicates how apparently customary ways of ­going on pilgrimage to Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) are both invoked and adapted to resonate with younger people’s world views. For instance, instead of ­village- or kin-groups being led by veteran nadegura, newer leaders may be deployed; furthermore, the devotional language of religious recitations is modified, and in one poem the Buddha is actually referred to as “our Boss.” In my view, de Silva is demonstrating how humor and irony may themselves become important media for adaptation of tradition, allowing older forms to be both deployed and altered rather than ignored altogether by groups who may feel uncomfortable adhering strictly and solemnly to custom (Taussig 1993). Of course, traditions are changing all the time— as various contributors to this book indicate through tracing the ways in which narrative ­‘histories’ are far from stable in their representation of the past—but in their role as ‘social shifters’ these Sri Lankan youth provide a distant echo of a Kuhnian paradigm shift, associated with new generations invoking different frames of reference to those that guide and seem to bind their immediate forebears. In their transformation of the ways in which their journey is ritualized, they also remind me of how, increasingly,

220  Simon Coleman younger Muslims see the Hajj to Mecca not as a single act appropriate to old age, but rather a potentially repeatable opportunity to “enjoy immediate benefits for spiritual and personal growth” (Buitelaar 2018, 35). Through such transformations, ritual forms are both challenged and kept alive. All of the chapters in this volume show how ritual journeys may invoke the past, not least as a means of social inclusion or exclusion, but that such journeying must not be dismissed as merely nostalgic. In fact, it is deeply embedded in current struggles over rights to traverse and occupy space and place. Furthermore, the very framing of travel is changing, not only because long-distance mobility is much easier than before, or because the place of religion in public realms is altering in many parts of the world, including South Asia, but also because wider understandings and cartographies of ­belonging are themselves shifting. While many of the contexts d ­ escribed in the book might still be described as post-colonial, Hans Harder’s wide-ranging readings of various “post-independence” pilgrimage accounts reveal some notable commonalities among mostly middle-class authors: alongside the tendency to place pilgrimage in a national or sub-national framework we see a notable autobiographical strain, as well as a willingness to engage with forms of spirituality. It seems that ritual journeys, as well as representations of such journeys, transcend older divisions between secular and sacred, pre-modern and modern. Our paradigms to understand such journeys must themselves remain plural yet rooted in close observation, as chapters in this book so richly demonstrate.

References Bell, Catherine 1992. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice Oxford: Oxford University Press. Buitelaar, Marje 2018. “Moved by Mecca: The Meanings of the Hajj for Present-day Dutch Muslims”. In Ingvild Flaskerud and Richard J. Natvig eds. Muslim ­Pilgrimage in Europe London: Routledge, pp. 29–42. Coleman, Simon and Elsner, John 1998. “Performing Pilgrimage: Walsingham and the Ritual Construction of Irony”. In Felicia Hughes-Freeland ed. Ritual, Performance, Media. London: Routledge, pp. 46–65. Cresswell, Tim 2010. “Towards a Politics of Mobility” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 28 (1): 17–31. Gluckman, Max 1958 [1940]. Analysis of a Social Situation in Modern Zululand. Manchester: Manchester University Press for the Rhodes–Livingstone Institute. Lefebvre, Henri. 2009. The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell. Obeyesekere, Gananath 2014. “In Praise of Foolishness (With Apologies to ­Erasmus)” Religion and Society 5: 1–10. Taussig, Michael 1993. Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses ­Routledge: London. Turner, Victor and Turner, Edith 1978. Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture New York: Columbia University Press.


Note: Bold page number refer to tables, italic page number refer to figures and page numbers followed by ‘n’ refer to end notes. Abadhut, Kalikacharan 202–4, 210 Adam’s Peak 141, 219 Advaita Vedanta 26n1, 134 Ajan Shah, Sayyid 130 Amman temple 164 Anderson, Benedict 198, 213n10 Andrews, Robyn 8, 217 Anglo-Indian Catholics 8, 157–8, 178n5; reintegration 176–7; separation and journey 171–4; shrine 174–6; to Vailankanni 159–62, 168–78, 179n8 Atkinson, Edwin T. 17, 18 Bābā 181, 181–91, 193n17 Bābā Malik Rehān 181, 183, 185, 186, 188–90 Babru Bahan 66–7 Badarīkāśrama 12, 14, 23n3 Badrinarayan 12, 13, 15–17, 19–25, 26n21, 27n23, 27n24 Badrinath 6, 11–12, 25, 26n3, 27n22, 65, 198, 218; Bamni and Mana 17–19; in Garhwal 19–20; gods and festivals 22–5, 26n19; history 13–15; procession 21–2, 27n26; Sikhs and Jains 20–1; temple and significance 12–13; tradition 15–17 Bamni 17–19, 23 baraka 125, 127 bards 79, 79–80 Barth, Fredrik 33, 119 Bashik 36 Bautha 34, 36, 41, 57 belief 1, 4, 30, 56, 59, 86, 89, 104, 107, 115n20, 120, 126, 141, 152, 158, 174, 184, 185, 190, 191, 204, 211, 214n11

Bell, Catherine M. 2, 78, 217 Bergmann, Christoph 39, 60, 78, 217, 218 bhakti 181, 183, 185, 189–90, 192n2, 193n12, 194n29, 205 Bhandare, Sandesh 200, 205–6 Bhotiyas 17–19, 24 Bodhipuja 140 bodhisattvas 91, 94, 114n11 Bokharis 122, 136n5 Bonpo pilgrims 105 brahma-kamal (Saussurea obvallata) 23 brahmans 70, 72, 76, 79, 82n3 Buddhas 17, 20, 94, 114n11, 141, 144, 146, 219 Buddhism 4, 7, 11, 13, 15–17, 20, 24, 25, 55, 114n11, 115n16, 116n27, 140, 219; Sinhala 141, 142, 145, 153n6; Tibetan 85, 86, 88, 91–3, 99, 101, 103, 105–8, 111, 113n4, 114n11, 115n20, 116n27, 116n28 Burhdeva 72 cannabis indica 129 Cantwell, Cathy 99, 102, 114n12, 116n24 cār dhām 13, 198 Casey, Edward S. 87–90, 92, 98, 100, 104, 112, 113, 117n31 castes 136n4; Anglo-Indians 176; and belonging 64–5; enactments 70; Garhwal 82; hegemonic 31; hierarchies 43; Hindu 57–8; Kolta 37; Odh 121; Rajput 49; system 18 Catholicism 8, 157, 167

222 Index Chalda Mahasu 36, 39–41, 43–7, 54, 57 choti jati 80 Chushigangdruk 93 Coleman, Simon 142, 159–61 communitas 1, 7, 48, 119, 120, 126, 135, 136, 142, 157, 159–61, 175, 178, 218 community 4 8, 17, 29, 32, 42, 48, 52, 53, 58, 63–5, 68, 70, 72, 78, 79, 81, 96, 98, 99, 110, 114n12, 116n30, 119, 129, 141, 158, 161, 167, 172, 176–8, 178n5, 186, 189, 192n9, 193n15, 218 ‘contestation’ paradigm 160, 161, 178 Cresswell, Tim 2, 4, 5, 218 ḍākinīs, lamas 95 Dalmia, Vasudha 198–200, 203, 204, 206, 211, 212, 213n10, 214n18 darśans 16, 20, 21 dargāh 121, 129, 130, 134, 165, 181–91, 192n1, 192n2, 192n4, 192n8, 192n9, 193n14, 193n16, 194n19–194n22, 194n24, 195n33 Das 82n5 Daśanāmī Saṃpradāya (Skt.) 13 datoos 50 Dayanand Saraswati 14 Dehra Dun 29, 45, 47, 56 deval 57 devotees 14, 16, 21, 63, 65, 68, 72, 78, 81, 100, 125, 127, 128, 160, 164–6, 168, 175, 176, 182–91, 194n25, 197, 200, 205 devotional poem 146–7 dhamal 123, 126, 128 dharis 63–5, 69–72, 77–9 dharma 107, 108 dhyanis 65, 68 dhyantis 54 digvijaya 35 Dirks, Nicholas B. 58 doxa 120–1 Dumont, Louis 58 Eade, John 142, 157, 159–61, 178 Elizabeth, Queen 34 Emerson, H. W. 31, 38–9 encounter 87–90 l’espace percu 132 faqirs 126–30 Foucault, Michel 120, 132, 135 Fredrick, Young, Major 31, 37, 38

Galey, Jean-Claude 31–2, 35, 55, 56 Gandhi, M. K. 197, 202 Ganesh performance 75, 76 Gangotri 13, 17, 19 Ganthakarna of Badrinath 25 Garhwal Himalayas 6, 12, 13, 15, 21, 80, 82n3; Badri temples 19–20, 23; caste system in 82; Galey 31–2; Gopeshwar 65; performances 79, 79 gcod 85–7, 90–8, 101–4, 113n3, 113n4 gcodsādhana 87, 88 Geertz, Clifford 32–4, 41 Gelek Jinpa, Geshe 105, 116n26 Ghantakarna 18, 19, 23, 24, 27n23 ghilaf 129 ginans 123 globalization 59, 60, 78, 141 gnas skor 104 godri 128, 129 gods and festivals 22–5 Great Perfection 106, 107 “Hajrat Malik Rehān Mirāsāheb Bābā (rah.) Viśāl Gaḍ” 184–5 Handa, Om C. 115n20, 115n24 Hijri 750 192n10 Himachal Pradesh 19, 29, 42–5, 56, 57, 66 Himalayas: community 29, 60; landscape 91–3; rajput 66; trade 18; tradition in 15–17 Hind Swaraj (Gandhi) 197, 202 Hinduism 6, 7, 13–15, 16, 22, 25, 30, 56, 121, 122, 124, 128, 134, 136, 141, 142, 153n5, 164, 165, 168, 172, 182, 189–91 Hindu Tamils 142, 153n5 Hinglaj (Abadhut) 202–4 Huber, Toni 86, 101–3, 110, 113n7, 115n18, 115n20, 115n24, 116n28, 116n29 Imagined Communities (Anderson) 198 Immaculate Conception 166 implacement 87–90 Inden, Ron 54 India 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 15–17, 29, 31, 34, 35, 38, 44, 50, 53, 54, 57–9, 63, 67, 74, 82n3, 86, 110, 121, 124, 139, 157, 158, 164, 165, 167–9, 178, 181, 185, 190, 191, 197, 202, 211, 218–19 Indian Christians 8, 158, 175, 177 Indic kingship 33–4, 41, 55 Ingold, Tim 85, 87, 90

Index  223 integrative process 125–8 Islamic deshbhakti 190 Ismailis 121, 123–5 jagar 72, 82n6 Jainism 20, 26n14 Jains 17, 20 Jakh (divine king) 6–7, 63, 81n2, 219; bards 79, 79–80; caste and belonging 64–5; medium 68, 69; nishan 68–9, 70; performance 72–9, 73–6; and ritual journey 65–70, 69, 70; and servants 71–2; temporary temple 72, 73 jatis 68, 82n3 Jaunsar-Bawar 29, 30, 56 jero-jaba relations 33 jinn 126 jogis 128 John XXIII, Pope 167 Joshimath 13, 21 kafi 127 Kailath 49–51 Kamru-Badri 19–20, 26n17 karma 93 Karmay, Samten G. 114n13 kashkul 129 Kataragama 145, 152 Kauravas 34, 44, 66 Kedarnath 13, 14, 20, 65, 203 khandan 122, 130, 131 khat sayana 46 Khelna 193n18, 193n19 Kinnaur 12, 19, 20, 23 kishtis 129–30 Konkani Muslims 194n31 kshatriya 68 Kuber 13, 18, 19, 22, 23, 25, 26n4, 26n19–26n21 Kumar, Dinesh 19 Kumbh Melā 200, 206–11 Lakkiyyaris 122, 127–31, 134–6, 136n5 Lal Shahbaz Qalandar 119–31, 134, 135 lama 106–10 laqabs 123 Lefebvre, Henri 2–5, 132, 218 ‘Lotus-Lake’ 86 Machig Labdroen 85, 102, 114n12 Māghe praẏāge 207 Mahabharata 66–7 mahāsiddha 85, 113n1 māhātmyas 198–200, 204, 211

Mahasu (divine king) 6, 29–30, 65; dimension 34; journey 48–55; kingship 30–41; and modernity 59–60; political significance 46; procession and power 33, 38–40, 42, 54, 55–8; realm 34, 35, 57; ritual journeying 41–8; siblings 40; sovereignty 60; territory 30, 38, 40, 43, 59 maitis 70 Mana 17–19 maṇḍalas 34, 103–4 Mandāravā 116n27 Manjul, V. L. 199, 204–5, 212 mantras 94, 106 Marathi Sufi shrine 193n14 Marutīrtha hiṃlāj 199, 202–3 Marx 60 Mary, Queen 38 matamis 131–2, 136 Mata Murti Mela 23, 24, 27n22, 27n26 mazhar 123 Melā 210 mendi 127, 131, 137n13, 137n14 mendibardar 127 mendi procession 124, 127–8 Merī jīvan yātrā 213n6 miracles and apparitions 163–4 mobile encampment 98 modernity 59–60, 184, 190, 191, 203, 204, 211, 212 modernization theory 59 mountain territory 141 Mukhopadhyay, Abadhut alias Dulalchandra 199 Murad Shah, Sayyid 130 murids 129, 130 mūrti 13, 20 muscular consciousness 5 Muslim-Marathi bhakti and dargāhs 189–90 Muslims 15, 128, 137n6, 182, 193n15; bhakti 181, 185, 189–90; dargāhs 189–90; deshbhakti 195n33; and Hindus 128, 136, 165, 182, 183; Sindhi and Baluchi Sunni 121–2; Sufi 191, 192n6 Muslim saṃtas 205 nade 148 nadegura 142 nadeguru 148 Nagapattinam 162–6, 173, 176, 177

224 Index Nanda Devi Mela 23, 25 Narad 6, 72–8, 81 nationalism 142, 153n6, 185, 212 Negara 32, 33 nishan 69, 70, 71, 80 Nivedita, Sister 24 nomads 93–8 novena 179n10 Novetzke, Christian Lee 192n2, 194n26 Obeyesekere, Gananath 140, 145 orthodoxization process 123 Our Lady of Vailankanni 8, 157–78 Pabasik Mahasu 36, 41, 48, 49, 218 Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) 99 Paharis 17–19, 26n15 Pakistan 4, 7, 119, 120, 124, 137n6; see also Sufi pilgrimage Paṃḍharˡpurˡcyā alakṣit kathā (Manjul) 199–200, 204 pamsya/pansi 34 Panc Badrī (Hin.) 19 panchayats 64, 65 Pandas 11 Pandava faction 34 Pandavas 14, 34, 44, 66–7 pandav nritya/pandav lila 66 Pandukeshvar 18, 20, 22, 26n6 pansi 46, 58, 59 Parciack, Ronie 195n33 pilgrimage: to Badrinath 11–27; Hindu 6; Marian 8; Muslim-Marathi 181–95; organization of 70; phenomenon 1; and plural paradigms 217–20; postIndependence 197–215; servants 71–2; Sufi 119–37; Tibetan 7, 85–117; to Vailankanni 159–79; youth religiosity (see Sri Lankan youth) pilgrims, religions 20–1 ‘pin gamana’ 145 Portuguese 162–6 post-independence 8, 30, 57, 199, 212, 220 power 33, 111; political 65, 99; procession and 55–8; strategies 135; Tibetan 115n16 Prabhakar, Vishnu 199, 201–2 processions 21–2 puch 82n4 Punhā tukārām (Chitre) 205 Qalandariyya 121–3, 129 qalandars 121, 122, 137n18

Raja Bharthari 124 rajput 65, 66, 68, 70, 72, 77, 79–81 rajput dharis 72 rajput jatis 81, 82n3 rakshasas 40 Rameshvaram 201–2 Rawal 13, 14, 20, 21, 24, 26n5, 27n22, 27n25 The Relic State 165 religion 20; Anglo-Indians 157; Buddhist 11; Hindu 25; and politics 31; protection 93; in Sri Lanka 141; Tibet culture and 108 religiosity see youth religiosity relli 128 representational spaces 3 representations of space 3 Rishabha 20 ritual displacement 7, 119, 120, 125–32, 134–6 ritualization 2, 3, 6, 78, 217 ritual journeys 21; gods and festivals 22–5; processions 21–2 Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice (Bell) 217–19 Rlung rta 114n14 Sabzwaris 122, 136n5 sadar sayanas 54 sādhanas 85, 95, 113n4 Sahasrakavaca 19, 26n16 sajjada nashins 127, 130, 131, 134 Sallnow, Michael J. 142, 158–61, 178 Samanala 141 saṃbhogakāya 102 sampūrṇ yātrāv 201 Sanātana Dharma (Skt.) 11, 14, 17 sanctum sanctorum 23 Sankrityayan, Rahul 198, 213n6 Santa Maria Majore 167 Santos, S. R. 163, 175 Sarvodaya 149 sathi 34, 44, 45, 47 Sax, William S. 15, 23, 25, 35, 40, 55, 66 Sayyids 122, 124, 128, 130–2, 134–6, 136n5 Sebastia, Brigette 161, 170, 175–6, 178 Second Vatican Council 167, 168 Sehwan 122 Sehwani, Fateh Muhammad Saghir 122, 123, 125, 127, 130, 137n9 Sehwan Sharif case 120, 121, 123, 124, 126, 131, 132, 135, 136, 217

Index  225 Sehwan system 124, 125, 130–2, 135 sensus fideli 166 sesame oil 21 Shah Hussain 123 Shankaracharya, Adi 11–13, 15, 16, 21, 22, 24, 25 Shias 137n11 Shivaji, King 43–5, 193n16 Shivalo 132 Sikhs 13, 20, 86 Sindhi 121, 127, 128, 130, 134, 135 Sinhala Buddhist 141, 142, 145, 153n6 Śita Badrī (Skt.) 22 Sm tipaṭe kumbha 207 social process 125 social shifter 145–8 socio-psychological factors 141 Sontheimer, Gunther 205 South Asia 1–8, 197–201, 211–12, 212n1, 220; deities in 71; Hinglaj 202–4; Ismailis 123; Kumbh Melā 206–11; Sufism 122, 125, 127; theory 58; traditions 193n13, 217; Uttarkashi and Rameshvaram 201–2; vārī 204–6; youth 139 spatial practices 3 sraddh ceremony 66 Sri Lankan youth 7, 12, 139–42, 152, 219; anthropology 140–1; pilgrims 143–5; religiosity 142–3, 143; religious and non-religious activities 139, 145; social shifter 145–8; Sugath case 148–52 Sri Pada 7, 140–52, 152n4, 153n5, 153n9, 219 sthalapurāṇa 200 Stirrat, R.L. 144–5 stūpas 92, 114n11 Sufi hagiographies 193n13 Sufi Muslim 189–91 Sufi pilgrimage 119–20, 132, 135–6; doxa 120–1; narratives and communities 123–5; prerequisites 131–5; ritual displacement 125–31; settings 121–3 Sufi-shrine 192n9 Sulagˡtī ṭahˡnī: prayāg 1976 209 Sutherland, Peter 30, 36, 37, 47, 56 Taglang 91, 96 ‘Taglangla’ 88 tamasa 56 Tambiah, Stanley J. 33, 34, 55 Tamil Hindus 141, 142 tapasya 12

tazia 129 thakurs 19, 64 Tibet 4, 6, 16–20, 23, 24, 85, 89, 90, 93, 99, 101, 102, 105–13, 115n16 Tibetan pilgrimage 7, 85–90, 115n24, 116n28; Buddhist 85, 86, 88, 91–3, 99, 101, 103, 105–8, 111, 113n4, 114n11, 115n20, 116n27, 116n28; discovery 105–11; gcod 101–4; Himalayan landscape 91–3; memory 98–100; nomads 93–8 Tibetans of Tholing 16 Tirthankara 17 tīrthas 1, 202, 204, 206, 210, 212 tīrthayātrā 1, 211 Tirthpurohits 11 tradition 6, 7, 26n19; greetings 147; in Himalayas 15–17; Hindu 124; invention of 120–1; Ismaili 124; Jakh 74, 81; Narad 77; religious 217, 218; systems 60 trans-Himalayan trade 17–19 Turner, Edith 1, 142, 157, 159, 218 Turner, Victor 1, 119, 126, 142, 157, 159, 198, 218 Uddhav 13, 22, 24, 26n4 United Arab Emirates 171–2 urūs 188–9 utpatti murti 36 Uttarakhand 29, 42–5, 56, 57, 66, 80, 198, 199 Uttarˡkāśī (Prabhakar) 201 Uttarkashi 201–2 vahdat-e vujud 134–6 Vailankanni Arockia Matha 164 Vailankanni Mata 165–8, 177, 178, 218 van Gennep, A. 157, 159, 171 vārī 200–1, 200, 204–6 Varma, Nirmal 200, 209–10 Vernacular Sufi hagiographies 193n15 Viśālgaḍh 181–91, 192n8, 192n10, 194n19, 194n22 Vishnu (Hindu deities) 12, 16, 17, 19, 20 Walton, Henry G. 37, 38 Waqf Department 122, 125, 127, 130, 131, 134, 136, 137n9 West Bengal 169 Western Himalayan 29–30; see also Mahasu (divine king) Xavier, Francis 165, 167, 168, 177

226 Index yadgars 128 yakshas 67–8 Yamunotri 13 yātrā 197 yogin/ yoginī 85–90, 92–3, 95, 99–103, 105–7, 111–13 youth pilgrims 142–8, 151, 152, 154n20

youth religiosity 7, 140–3, 219; at Sri Pada 7, 140–52, 152n4, 153n5, 153n9, 219; see also Sri Lankan youth zanjirs 131 ziyārat 125, 197–8, 213n7 ziyaratis 125–6, 131, 135