Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 4

Search results for: syncretism

4 Modern Pilgrimage Narratives and India’s Heterogeneity

Authors: Alan Johnson

Abstract:

This paper focuses on modern pilgrimage narratives about sites affiliated with Indian religious expressions located both within and outside India. The paper uses a multidisciplinary approach to examine poetry, personal essays, and online attestations of pilgrimage to illustrate how non-religious ideas coexist with outwardly religious ones, exemplifying a characteristically Indian form of syncretism that pre-dates Western ideas of pluralism. The paper argues that the syncretism on display in these modern creative works refutes the current exclusionary vision of India as a primordially Hindu-nationalist realm. A crucial premise of this argument is that the narrative’s intrinsic heteroglossia, so evident in India’s historically rich variety of stories and symbols, belies this reactionary version of Hindu nationalism. Equally important to this argument, therefore, is the vibrancy of Hindu sites outside India, such as the Batu Caves temple complex in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The literary texts examined in this paper include, first, Arun Kolatkar’s famous 1976 collection of poems, titled Jejuri, about a visit to the pilgrimage site of the same name in Maharashtra. Here, the modern, secularized visitor from Bombay (Mumbai) contemplates the effect of the temple complex on himself and on the other, more worshipful visitors. Kolatkar’s modernist poems reflect the narrator’s typically modern-Indian ambivalence for holy ruins, for although they do not evoke a conventionally religious feeling in him, they nevertheless possess an aura of timelessness that questions the narrator’s time-conscious sensibility. The paper bookends Kolatkar’s Jejuri with considerations of an early-twentieth-century text, online accounts by visitors to the Batu Caves, and a recent, more conventional Hindu account of pilgrimage. For example, the pioneering graphic artist Mukul Chandra Dey published in 1917, My Pilgrimages to Ajanta and Bagh, in which he devotes an entire chapter to the life of the Buddha as a means of illustrating the layering of stories that is a characteristic feature of sacred sites in India. In a different but still syncretic register, Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, and a committed secularist proffers India’s ancient pilgrimage network as a template for national unity in his classic 1946 autobiography The Discovery of India. Narrative is the perfect vehicle for highlighting this layering of sensibilities, for a single text can juxtapose the pilgrim-narrator’s description with that of a far older pilgrimage, a juxtaposition that establishes an imaginative connection between otherwise distanced actors, and between them and the reader.

Keywords: India, literature, narrative, syncretism

Procedia PDF Downloads 33
3 The Importance of Jewish Influence on Foundation of Manichaean Philosophical and Religious System

Authors: Tatyana Suvorkina

Abstract:

It is indisputable that the problem of the origin of Manichaeism is very complex. Manichaeism is characterized as a syncretic religion, which was influenced by many teachings, but it is difficult to define one which can be called fundamental. The aim of this paper is an attempt to regard Jewish apocalyptic tradition as one of the most defining source of formation of Manichaean systems. To realize this aim a comparison of the Manichean texts and the Jewish apocryphal literature is made. Consideration is given first to the Coptic Manichaean treatise Kephalaia, The Cologne Mani Codex and to books of Enoch. Under the article it is not denied that Manichaeism was influenced by different doctrines and, passed through centuries, it could adapt and strengthen this influence at an even deeper level. But the fact that the Judeo-Christian environment where Mani grew up and where the first sprouts of his teaching were formed had impact on future prophet seems obvious. Nevertheless, attempts to analyze the system of Mani within the Jewish tradition are quite rare, although such studies were carried out for Gnosticism. But Manichaeism, despite the Gnostic features it contains, is not 'one of the Gnostics' to place it under this term among the rest. Frequently, gnostic currents are pointed out as the main sources for the formation of Mani’s teachings. But it seems possible that Mani's interest in Gnosticism was motivated by the fact that he considered it as something close to that interpretation of Hebrew texts, which he aspired to undertake. The question of understanding the Manichaean system is connected not only with Manichaeism but also with other dualistic teachings, which were recognized by contemporaries as Manichaean. It is seen that polemics between Manicheans and Hellenized Christianity separated from Judaism and continued to separate with every century, were polemics between adherents of initially two different worldviews who had, however, a common source. Therefore an analysis of the controversy in the context of interpretations of this common source by disputing parties is seen very important for further study.

Keywords: dualism, Jewish apocalypticism, Manichaeism, syncretism

Procedia PDF Downloads 49
2 Sounds of Power: An Ethnoorganological Approach to Understanding Colonial Music Culture in the Peruvian Andes

Authors: Natascha Reich

Abstract:

In colonial Peru, the Spanish crown relied on religious orders, most notably Dominicans, Franciscans, and Jesuits, for accelerating processes of colonization. The dissemination of Christian art, architecture, and music, and most of all, the agency of indigenous people in their production played a key role in facilitating the acceptance of the new religious and political system. Current research on Peruvian colonial music culture and its role as a vehicle for colonization focus on practices in urban centers. The lack of (written) primary sources seems to turn rural areas into a less attractive research territory for musicologists. This paper advocates for a more inclusive approach. By investigating seventeenth-century pipe organs as material remains of Franciscan missionary music culture, it shows how reactions to colonial forces and Christianization in rural Andean locations could follow tendencies different from those in urban areas. Indigenous musicians in cities tried to 'fit' into the European system in order to be accepted by the ruling Spanish elite. By contrast, the indigenous-built pipe organs in the rural Peruvian Colca-Valley show distinctly native-Andean influences. This paper argues that this syncretism can be interpreted as hybridity in Homi K. Bhabha’s sense, as a means of the colonized to undermine the power of the colonizer and to advance reactionary politics. Not only will it show the necessity of considering rural Peruvian music history in modern scholarship for arriving at a more complete picture of colonial culture, but it will also evidence the advantages of a mixed-methodology approach. Historical organology, combined with concepts from ethnomusicology and post-colonial studies, proves as a useful tool in the absence or scarcity of written primary sources.

Keywords: cultural hybridity, music as reactionary politics, Latin American pipe organs, Peruvian colonial music

Procedia PDF Downloads 25
1 Nuancing the Indentured Migration in Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies

Authors: Murari Prasad

Abstract:

This paper is motivated by the implications of indentured migration depicted in Amitav Ghosh’s critically acclaimed novel, Sea of Poppies (2008). Ghosh’s perspective on the experiences of North Indian indentured labourers moving from their homeland to a distant and unknown location across the seas suggests a radical attitudinal change among the migrants on board the Ibis, a schooner chartered to carry the recruits from Calcutta to Mauritius in the late 1830s. The novel unfolds the life-altering trauma of the bonded servants, including their efforts to maintain a sense of self while negotiating significant social and cultural transformations during the voyage which leads to the breakdown of familiar life-worlds. Equally, the migrants are introduced to an alternative network of relationships to ensure their survival away from land. They relinquish their entrenched beliefs and prejudices and commit themselves to a new brotherhood formed by ‘ship siblings.’ With the official abolition of direct slavery in 1833, the supply of cheap labour to the sugar plantation in British colonies as far-flung as Mauritius and Fiji to East Africa and the Caribbean sharply declined. Around the same time, China’s attempt to prohibit the illegal importation of opium from British India into China threatened the lucrative opium trade. To run the ever-profitable plantation colonies with cheap labour, Indian peasants, wrenched from their village economies, were indentured to plantations as girmitiyas (vernacularized from ‘agreement’) by the colonial government using the ploy of an optional form of recruitment. After the British conquest of the Isle of France in 1810, Mauritius became Britain’s premier sugar colony bringing waves of Indian immigrants to the island. In the articulations of their subjectivities one notices how the recruits cope with the alienating drudgery of indenture, mitigate the hardships of the voyage and forge new ties with pragmatic acts of cultural syncretism in a forward-looking autonomous community of ‘ship-siblings’ following the fracture of traditional identities. This paper tests the hypothesis that Ghosh envisions a kind of futuristic/utopian political collectivity in a hierarchically rigid, racially segregated and identity-obsessed world. In order to ground the claim and frame the complex representations of alliance and love across the boundaries of caste, religion, gender and nation, the essential methodology here is a close textual analysis of the novel. This methodology will be geared to explicate the utopian futurity that the novel gestures towards by underlining new regulations of life during voyage and dissolution of multiple differences among the indentured migrants on board the Ibis.

Keywords: indenture, colonial, opium, sugar plantation

Procedia PDF Downloads 250