Medusa's Hair: An Essay on Personal Symbols and Religious by Gananath Obeyesekere

By Gananath Obeyesekere

The good pilgrimage middle of southeastern Sri Lanka, Kataragama, has develop into in recent times the religious domestic of a brand new classification of Hindu-Buddhist non secular devotees. those ecstatic clergymen and priestesses normally demonstrate lengthy locks of disheveled hair, they usually exhibit their devotion to the gods via fireplace jogging, tongue-piercing, putting on hooks, and trance-induced prophesying.The expanding acclaim for those ecstatics poses a problem not just to orthodox Sinhala Buddhism (the authentic faith of Sri Lanka) but in addition, as Gananath Obeyesekere exhibits, to the conventional anthropological and psychoanalytic theories of symbolism. Focusing first and foremost on one image, disheveled hair, Obeyesekere demonstrates that the traditional contrast among own and cultural symbols is insufficient and naive. His distinctive case reviews of ecstatics exhibit that there's continuously a reciprocity among the personal-psychological size of the logo and its public, culturally sanctioned function. Medusa's Hair hence makes an enormous theoretical contribution either to the anthropology of person adventure and to the psychoanalytic knowing of tradition. In its analyses of the symbolism of guilt, the adaptational and integrative value of trust in spirits, and a bunch of similar concerns touching on ownership states and religiosity, this ebook marks a provocative enhance in mental anthropology.

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This page intentionally left blank 2 Getting and Giving Do you believe that ahead of you grief carries the flag of your destiny? And in the skull do you discover your ancestry condemned to bone? —Pablo Neruda, The Book of Questions S´raddha¯ and Bhakti: States of Mind In trying to determine what ´sraddha¯ is, it is helpful to determine what it isn’t, and the text makes it clear that one thing it isn’t is bhakti. 2 Instead of assessing these materials, however, I will examine how bhakti is delineated as a practice and a mental state within the Divya¯vada¯na.

Ita proceeds, he passes through three monasteries, each seemingly normal for half the day and then sites of misery for the other half of the day. In each case, the monks undergo terrible suffering: they begin to break each other’s skulls with hammers, douse each other with molten lead, and—in the third instance—all of them are torched and incinerated. As it is explained to . ita, these are the results of monks performing misdeeds within the confines of a monastery: fighting in the dining hall, wasting food that was given out of ´sraddha¯ (´sraddha¯deya), and lighting a fire in the monastery.

A-avada¯na, it is said that the householder Balasena didn’t have a son but desired one. a, Kubera, S´akra, and Brahma¯ , as well as a park deity, a forest deity, a crossroads deity, and a deity who received oblations. He also prayed to his hereditary deity, who shared the same nature as him and who constantly followed behind him. There is a popular saying that as a result of such prayers, sons are born and daughters as well. But this isn’t the case. If this were the case, then every man would have a thousand sons, just like a cakravartin king.

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