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By Adheesh A. Sathaye

What does it suggest to be a Brahmin, and what may well it suggest to turn into one? through the years, intellectuals and dogmatists have provided lots of solutions to the 1st query, however the latter offers a cultural puzzle, on the grounds that normative Brahminical ideology deems it most unlikely for a typical person to alter caste with out first present process loss of life and rebirth.

There is, despite the fact that, one impressive determine within the Hindu mythological culture who's stated to have reworked himself from a king right into a Brahmin via collecting nice ascetic strength, or tapas: the ornery sage Visvamitra. via texts composed in Sanskrit and vernacular languages, oral performances, and visible media, Crossing the strains of Caste examines the wealthy mosaic of legends approximately Visvamitra came across around the Hindu mythological culture. It deals a finished historic research of the way the "storyworlds" conjured up via those numerous tellings have served to conform, improve, and make stronger the social identification of real-world Brahmin groups, from the traditional Vedic previous as much as the hypermodern present.

Using a performance-centered method of situate the construction of the Visvamitra legends inside particular old contexts, Crossing the traces of Caste unearths how and why mythological tradition has performed an lively, dialogical position within the development of Brahmin social strength during the last 3 thousand years.

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Extra info for Crossing the Lines of Caste: Visvamitra and the Construction of Brahmin Power in Hindu Mythology

Example text

2] This is what I wish to hear, righteous ruler of men. So please tell it to me in detail, grandfather. 26 [5] Tell me how, lauded as a Brahmin, that wise man went on to establish in this world the great Kuśika lineage that is replete with hundreds of Brahmin sages. [6]‌Tell me how Ṛcīka’s son, the great ascetic Śunaḥśepa, was released from the great sacrificial rite in which he had been placed as a victim, [7] and how, during Hariścandra’s sacrifice, he became the son of great Viśvāmitra by gratifying the gods with his majesty.

How can we compare modern performances with premodern texts without automatically regarding the former as being derivatives or deviations from the latter? Practically everything that we know about Viśvāmitra before the nineteenth century comes from rapidly deteriorating handwritten documents composed primarily 22 Anderson uses the term “horizontal comradeships” to describe the construction of the nation as a fraternity despite “the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each” (1991: 224).

Chapter 4 concerns a characteristic feature of later purāṇic adaptations: the “geo-mapping” of stories to sacred riverine sites called tīrthas. We consider Viśvāmitra’s appearance in the Nāgarakhaṇḍa of the medieval Skanda (c. 1100 CE), which detailed holy sites in and around the northern Gujarati town of Vadnagar, and in the Gautamī Māhātmya of the Brahma Purāṇa (c. 1300 CE), which catalogued tīrthas along the Godāvarī River in Maharashtra. By localizing the Viśvāmitra legends, these texts both asserted Brahmin authority over pilgrimage sites and solidified elite Brahmin status within the burgeoning regional cultures of India in the second millennium.

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