God of Justice
Ritual Healing and Social Justice in the Central Himalayas
By (author) William S. Sax
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God of Justice by William S. Sax
Book DescriptionGod of Justice deals with ritual healing in the Central Himalayas of north India. It focuses on the cult of Bhairav, a local deity who is associated with the lowest castes, the so-called Dalits, who are frequently victims of social injustice. When powerless people are exploited or abused and have nowhere else to go, they often turn to Bhairav for justice, and he afflicts their oppressors with disease and misfortune. In order to end their suffering, they must make amends with their former victims and worship Bhairav with bloody sacrifices. Many acts of perceived injustice occur within the family, so that much of the book focuses on the tension between the high moral value placed on family unity on the one hand, and the inevitable conflicts within it on the other. Such conflicts can lead to ghost possession, cursing, and other forms of black magic, all of which are vividly described. This highly readable book includes a personal account of the author's own experiences in the field as well as fascinating descriptions of blood sacrifice, possession, exorcism and cursing. Sax begins with a straightforward description of his fieldwork and goes on to describe the god Bhairav and his relationship to the weak and powerless. Subsequent chapters deal with the lives of local oracles and healers; the main rituals of the cult and the dramatic Himalayan landscape in which they are embedded; the moral, ritual, and therapeutic centrality of the family; the importance of ghosts and exorcism; and practices of cursing and counter-cursing. The final chapter examines the problematic relationship between ritual healing and modernity.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780195335859
(234mm x 150mm x 20mm)
Imprint: Oxford University Press Inc
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Publish Date: 4-Dec-2008
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author William S. Sax
God of Justice, Hardback (December 2008)
In God of Justice, anthropologist William S. Sax offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of cursing, black magic, and ritual healing in the Central Himalayas of North India. Based on ten years' ethnographic fieldwork, God of Justice shows how these practices are part of a moral system based on the principle of family unity.
Dancing the Self, Hardback (October 2001)» View all books by William S. Sax
The inhabitants of the former kingdom of Garhwal, located in north India are deeply devoted to the great Indian national epic, the "Mahabharata". This book opens a window on a fascinating (and threatened) aspect of rural Indian life and Hinduism as a living religion, and provides an accessible introduction to the "Mahabharata" itself.
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Author Biography - William S. Sax
William S. Sax Executive Director, South Asia Institute, and Head, Department of Anthropology, University of Heidelberg
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