Download Aghor Medicine: Pollution, Death, and Healing in Northern by Ronald L. Barrett, Jonathan P. Parry PDF

By Ronald L. Barrett, Jonathan P. Parry

ISBN-10: 0520252187

ISBN-13: 9780520252189

For centuries, the Aghori were referred to as the main radical ascetics in India: dwelling bare at the cremation grounds, meditating on corpses, accomplishing cannibalism and coprophagy, and eating intoxicants out of human skulls. lately, besides the fact that, they've got shifted their practices from the include of ritually polluted components to the therapeutic of stigmatized illnesses. within the approach, they've got develop into a wide, socially mainstream, and politically strong association. in accordance with huge fieldwork, this lucidly written publication explores the dynamics of pollutants, dying, and therapeutic in Aghor drugs. Ron Barrett examines a number of Aghor cures from ritual bathing to transformed Ayurveda and biomedicines and clarifies many misconceptions approximately this little-studied team and its hugely unorthodox, strong rules approximately sickness and healing.

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Additional resources for Aghor Medicine: Pollution, Death, and Healing in Northern India

Example text

At the same time, I see a need to acknowledge areas of intersection between certain features of Aghor and those that contribute to operational definitions of Tantra in South 12 Introduction Asian religious studies. The task is nevertheless problematic; indeed, several of these definitions in the literature are prefaced with the famous quotation that Tantrism is “probably one of the haziest notions and misconceptions the Western mind has evolved” (Guenther 1971: 103). The etymology of Tantra is based upon a metaphor of weaving; the Sanskrit root tan signifies the extension of threads in a warp.

I could follow the biomedical process and trace its relative influence in the pluralistic mixtures of “masala medicines” that are often found in India. Nursing also gave me a framework for tracing therapeutic interventions across different healing systems. Bearing in mind the shortcomings of cross-cultural interpretation, I could use these assessments to help me identify whether, and to what degree, a physician’s bedside manner was well practiced or merely performed for my benefit, as was sometimes the case.

Speaking about medical efficacy, Indians who use multiple systems often discuss the quality of their healers more than the methods (Nichter and Nordstrom 1989; Kakar 1982; Beals 1976). I argue that this emphasis reflects the fact that the practice of medicine in India is strongly informed by a cultural model of food exchange, in which foodstuffs, especially foods that have been cooked or highly prepared in some way, carry the qualities, both polluting and purifying, of the people who serve them (see Marriott 1976).

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Aghor Medicine: Pollution, Death, and Healing in Northern India by Ronald L. Barrett, Jonathan P. Parry


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