As a place to die, to dispose of the physical remains of the deceased and to perform the rites which ensure that the departed attains a 'good state' after death, the north Indian city of Banaras attracts pilgrims and mourners from all over the Hindu world. This book is primarily about the priests and other kinds of 'sacred specialists' who serve them: about the way in which they organise their business, and about their representations of death and understanding of the rituals over which they preside. All three levels are informed by a common ideological preoccupation with controlling chaos and contingency. The anthropologist who writes about death inevitably writes about the world of the living, and Dr Parry is centrally concerned with concepts of the body and the person in contemporary Hinduism; with ideas about hierarchy, renunciation and sacrifice, and with the relationship between hierarchy and notions of complementarity and holism.Read more
- Author very well known both for work on Banaras and theoretical contribution to anthropology of death
- Though a difficult subject, extremely lucid exposition
- Equal appeal to anthropologist and Indologist
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- Date Published: July 1994
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521466257
- length: 344 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm
- weight: 0.51kg
- contains: 12 b/w illus. 6 maps 9 tables
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Part I. Death and the City:
1. Through 'divine eyes'
2. A profane perspective
Part II. Death as a Living:
3. Shares and chicanery
4. Giving, receiving and bargaining over gifts
Part III. Death into Birth:
5. The last sacrifice
6. Ghosts into ancestors
7. Spirit possession as 'superstition'
Part IV. The End of Death:
8. Asceticism and the conquest of death.
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