Alchemies of Violence: Myths of Identity and the Life of Trade in Western India
Publication Year: 2004
Subject: Social & Cultural Anthropology
This study shows how myths construct and express the social identities of a community. Focusing on Rajasthan, it describes how myths here mostly centre around the theme of violence and its rejection. The social persona of the trading groups are created around this and hence issues of violence and its control emerge as the symbolic key to trader social identity in this cultural context.
Analyzing what myths have to say about traders, the author examines the nature of caste in general, as well as the specific place of trading castes in Indian society. Moreover he looks at the problems of the social identity of traders. By studying myths, the book shows how Indian trading groups have dealt with these problems by using symbolic material provided by ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
Copyright © Lawrence A. Babb, 2004
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Babb, Lawrence A.
Alchemies of violence: myths of identity and the life of trade in western India / Lawrence A. Babb.
Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Marwaris—India—Rajasthan—Ethnic identity. 2. Marwaris—India—Rajasthan—Folklore. 3. Merchants—India—Rajasthan—Social life and customs. 4. Violence—India—Rajasthan—Folklore. I. Title.
ISBN: 0-7619-3223-2 (US-Hb)
Sage Production Team: Geetanjali Minhas, Radha Dev Raj and Santosh Rawat
List of Figures[Page 7]
- Figure 1 Rajasthan with selected locations. 12
- Figure 2.1 An eighteenth century depiction of a royal buffalo sacrifice on navrātrī at the Ambā Mātā temple, Udaipur. 60
- Figure 3.1 The Dadhimatī temple. 77
- Figure 3.2 The kuṇḍ at the Dadhimatī temple. 80
- Figure 3.3 The image of Dadhīci at the Dadhimatī temple. 82
- Figure 4.1 The Sūrya Kuṇḍ at Lohargal. 106
- Figure 4.2 The creation of the Māheśvarī caste as depicted by a temple wall-painting in Bikaner. 109
- Figure 4.3 A genealogist who serves members of the Khaṇḍelvāl Vaiśya caste. 119
- Figure 4.4 A traditional genealogist's book with wrapper. 119
- Figure 5.1 The revival of Upaldev's son-in-law. 168
- Figure 5.2 Having chiselled off the Mahāvīr image's flaws, the artisan is killed by the flow of blood. 170
- Figure 5.3 The view from Luṇādrī Hill. 174
- Figure 6.1 The temple-center at Agroha. 187
- Figure 6.2 The ruins at Agroha with Agravāl tourists. (from Udaipur and Mumbai). 187
- Figure 6.3 King Agrasen and attendant in truck-borne tableau. 189
A Note on Transliteration[Page 9]
I have given most Indic terms in italics with standard diacritical marks. I have not italicised proper names and titles. I have provided diacritical marks for the names of authors of Hindi materials and names appearing in Hindi writings or discourse. I have not used diacritics on place names appearing in standard English-language maps and have used standard English spellings for these. I have, however, given the names of more obscure locations with diacritics. With some exceptions, the criterion on which I have based this judgement is whether or not a given term appears in The Rajasthan Road Atlas (Arya and Arya 1997). In keeping with the vernacular character of this study's subject, I have privileged the Hindi as opposed to Sanskrit versions of most terms where there is a choice to be made (thus, TirthaṄkar as opposed to TirthaṄkara and dān as opposed to dāna), but have kept the Sanskrit ending in the case of terms most familiar in that form (such as Śaiva or karma).
The research on which this book is based took place, sometimes episodically, over period of several years. The bulk of the research was done was in Jaipur from August 1996 to May 1997 and was supported by an American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Research Fellowship. Additional material (appearing in portions of Chapters Two, Three and Five) was gathered during the spring of 1998 while engaged in a collaborative research project on the temple complexes at Goṭh-Mānglod (Dadhimatī) and Osian conducted with John E. Cort and Michael W. Meister and supported by the J. Paul Getty Trust. I would like to thank my Getty colleagues whose fellowship and intellectual stimulation have added to this book in many ways and at many levels. Amherst College Faculty Fellowships supported brief visits to Rajasthan in 2000 and 2002. I would like to thank Dr R. C. Swarankar and the Department of Anthropology, University of Rajasthan, for institutional hospitality in 1996–97 and the Institute for Rajasthan Studies and its then Director, the late Professor Rajendra Joshi, for providing an institutional base for the Getty project.
The individuals who assisted me in the course of this lengthy investigation are far too many for all to be singled out by name, but some deserve special mention. For assistance and kindnesses of various kinds I am grateful to Ashok Bhandari, M. C. Khandelval, Gyan Chandra Khinduka, Jyoti Kothari, Fateh and Indu Singh, Rajendra Shrimal and Ranbir Sinh. Radhe Shyam Dhoot and I explored Khandela and Lohargal together—a happy memory for both of us—and he assisted my investigations in many other important ways. Mukund Lath and Rajendra Joshi were sources of valuable advice and intellectual stimulation throughout the period of research. Vivek Bhandari took the time to give me a valuable critical reading of a portion of the manuscript. John Cort, companion in the field and critical reader of this manuscript, is the very model of what a colleague should be: interested, always willing to lend a hand, and the sharpest of critics. Surendra Bothara is a friend and colleague whose helping hand, warm support, and invaluable advice have long been [Page 11]indispensable to my work in Jaipur, and the Bothara family has been my family away from home. To all of the above I am deeply grateful. To these expressions of gratitude, however, I must append the declaration that all errors of fact and interpretation in this book are my responsibility alone.
I would also like to thank the editors of Contributions to Indian Sociology and International Journal of Hindu Studies for permission to include reworked materials from two previous articles of mine (Babb 1998 and 1999 respectively).
My wife, Nancy, supports my endeavours in too many ways to describe. For her patience and so much else, my thanks indeed.[Page 12]Figure 1 Rajasthan with selected locations.
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