By Ronald L. Barrett, Jonathan P. Parry
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Additional info for Aghor Medicine: Pollution, Death, and Healing in Northern India
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.