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

By Ronald L. Barrett, Jonathan P. Parry

For centuries, the Aghori were often called the main radical ascetics in India: dwelling bare at the cremation grounds, meditating on corpses, carrying out cannibalism and coprophagy, and eating intoxicants out of human skulls. in recent times, although, they've got shifted their practices from the include of ritually polluted components to the therapeutic of stigmatized illnesses. within the technique, they've got turn into a wide, socially mainstream, and politically robust association. in response to huge fieldwork, this lucidly written e-book explores the dynamics of pollutants, demise, and therapeutic in Aghor drugs. Ron Barrett examines various Aghor cures from ritual bathing to transformed Ayurveda and biomedicines and clarifies many misconceptions approximately this little-studied crew and its hugely unorthodox, strong principles approximately sickness and healing.

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Sample text

Moreover, like most researchers in Banaras, I had picked up very little of the Bhojpuri that constituted a large portion of the Banarsi Boli spoken by most of my informants from eastern Uttar Pradesh and western Bihar (Simon 1993). Because of these limitations, I relied upon research assistants for most of my interviews. Banaras has developed a very well established network of professional research assistants, but many can be as indistinguishable from tour guides as ethnographers can be from sightseers.

Bantu and Sujata contributed their own talents and chemistry to the ethnographic experience. With Bantu, I had both the advantage and disadvantage of having a key informant whose childhood friends included both Dom cremation attendants and the current head of the Aghor lineage, Baba Siddhartha Gautama Ramji (also known as Gautam Baba). Bantu introduced me to many people and provided me with invaluable insights on Aghor. Yet his motives and attitudes as an Aghor disciple sometimes hindered his ability to conduct research with sufficient detachment.

His marriage was arranged by the time he was nine, but he correctly foresaw the death of his bride-to-be on the eve of their wedding. The circumstances surrounding her death were considered ominous, and the young Kina Ram was released from the obligations of family life to become a wandering ascetic.

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