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Giving up and Taking on: The Body in Ritual


Author(s): Michael W. Meister
Source: RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 41 (Spring, 2002), pp. 92-103
Published by: The President and Fellows of Harvard CollegeThe President and Fellows of Harvard CollegeThe
President and Fellows of Harvard College acting through the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and
EthnologyPeabody Museum of Archaeology and EthnologyPeabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
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ffl

rI^H

Figure 1. Lohanipur, Bihar. Male torso, possibly a y/na, RatnaMuseum,


American Council for Southern Asian Art Slide Project.

<*^H

J^^l

ca. third century b.c. Courtesy of John C. Huntington

and the

Giving up and taking on


The body in ritual
MICHAELW. MEISTER

inWestern
If iconoclasm
traditions seems to
a
distrust
of the human body as a
represent
profound
in India it is precisely
vessel of sacred meaning,1
the
as
a
acts
cosmic
creation
that
model
for
body
(figs.

at Bodhgaya
enlightenment
(fig. 3), set up under the
Bodhi tree there during the period of the Mauryas
(ca.
third century B.c.), or those that surround li?ga pillars as
depicted on a number of stone reliefs carved for use in

1-2).2 Stella Kramrisch wrote


sacrifice (figs. 3-4):

in the first centuries B.c.


the sacred groves of Mathur?
and A.D. (fig. 4).7
"All the surface of the earth is vedi [the altar]," says
one text for the geometric
construction
of altars

of the Indie ritual of

[i]n building up the sacrificial body, the altar, the sacrificer


. . .becomes the very altar itself; he builds for himself a
sacrificial body and by doing so he is beyond time and
death.3

think of South Asia as a region of icon


with vast temples to house images,
worshipers,
profusely covered by divine and semi-divine
figures.4 To
discern
India's understanding
of the role of the body,
however, we must return to the root meaning of "idol" as
We

often

makes visible that which cannot be seen."5


rituals in ancient
know that brahmanic
India first
focused on altars and ritual sacrifice rather than on cult
images.6 Such altars (vedi) were open to the air, as is
the stone altar marking the place of Buddha's
"that which
We

1. Virgil C?ndea,
inMircea
of
Eliade, ed., The Encyclopedia
vol. 7 (New York: Macmillan
1987), p.
Company,
Publishing
that "iconoclastic
claimed
that representing
the
theologians
Savior was tantamount
to either separating
his dual nature or limiting

Religion,
2, wrote

his person, which


could not be circumscribed.
They insisted rather on
the essential
of God."
indescribability
2. This essay was first
for an international
symposium
prepared
on

"Sarira" at the University


of California,
Santa Cruz, April 1999.
to the conference
"Literally meaning
'body', sarira," according
of spiritual
terms, the manifestation
literature, "is, in more
figurative
as art, theater, and music."
ideas in such embodiments
3. Stella Kramrisch,
The Hindu Temple
of
(Calcutta: University

1946),
Calcutta,
4. Vishakha
Guardians,
700-1200
in human
second
5.

p. 69.
N. Desai

and Darielle Mason,


eds., Gods,
from North
India a.d.
Lovers, Temple Sculptures
(New York: The Asia Society Galleries,
1993). God
images
do not play an important role until the first
form, however,
and

century a.d.
The American

Heritage

Dictionary

of the English

Language,

New College Edition (Boston:Houghton Mifflin Company, 1979), p.


visible but without
654, says "Archaic.
substance,"
Something
tracing
it from "Greek eidolon,
from eidos,
form."
image, form, apparition,
see Louis Renou,
6. For early Vedism,
of Ancient
India
Religions
of London, The Athlone
(London: University
Press, 1953).

(Srautas?tra) of the fourth-third century B.c., "still,


it they
selecting a particular part of it and measuring
should perform the sacrifice there."8
In ancient
India's cosmogony,
the image of the
human

Its
the altar and the universe.
body measured
marked
the
skin
surface
of
the
square
flayed
original
altar in diagrams of ritual construction
called the
The
male
5).
v?stupurusamandala
(fig.
figure of the
the demon who
both
v?stupurusamandala
represented
was the first sacrifice and his transubstantiation
through
into the guardian of all construction.9
sacrifice
A somewhat

later image type, but with older


the female body, with a lotus
antecedents,
instead of a head, as the surface of the earth/altar, her
knees drawn up, her pregnant potential
rooted to the
shows

soil through
(fig. 2).10

the soles of her strangely

down-turned

feet

7. Cf. Susan

L. Huntington,
The Art of Ancient
India: Buddhist,
(New York: Weatherhill,
1985), fig. 4.10; Michael W.
on Siva
of
Meister,
ed., Discourses
(Philadelphia:
University
Press, 1984), figs. 4, 20, 26.
Pennsylvania
Hindu,

Jain

8. The Apastambha
Points Connected
with
Bhandarkar

Oriental

cited by R. N. Apte, "Some


Srautas?tra,
the Geometry
of the Vedic Altar," Annals
of the
Institute 7 (1926):14.
Research

9. C. P. S. Menon,
George Allen & Unwin,
note

and Cosmology
(London:
The Hindu Temple
{see
Ltd., 1932); Kramrisch,
Michael W. Meister,
and Architectural
"Symbology
Early Astronomy

3), pp. 49-50;


in India," in Emily Lyle, ed., Sacred Architecture
Practice
in the
Traditions of India, China and Judaism and Japan (Edinburgh:
Press, 1992), pp. 5-24.
Edinburgh University

10. Stella Kramrisch,


"An Image of Aditi-Utt?napad,"
ArtibusAsiae
19 (1956):259-270.
The most
of these images, ca. seventh
remarkable
is from the Sangamesvara
century a.D., now in the Alampur Museum,
Bolon, Forms of the
temple, Kudavelli, A.P. See Carol Radcliffe
in Indian Art (University
Goddess
Rark, PA: Pennsylvania
Lajj? Gaurl
State University
second-fourth

Press, 1992),
a.d.
centuries

for antecedents
(fig. 52) and

for this
from

textual

image from
sources.

the

94

RES 41 SPRING 2002

Figure 2. Kudavelli, Andhra Pradesh. Image of a headless goddess, called variously Lajj?
Gaur? or Adit? Utt?napad, Alampur Museum, ca. seventh century a.d. Photograph by
Michael W. Meister.

Figure 3. Bodhgaya, Bihar. Sandstone altar beneath the Bodhi tree, Maurya period, ca. third
century B.c. Photograph by Michael W. Meister.

Meister: Giving up and taking on

(a)

95

(b) (c)

Figure 4. Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. Details of "Tinga"pillars represented on early reliefs:


(a-b) as a jambhu plant and in phallic form surrounded by a railing (no. 52-3625,
Government Museum, Mathura); and (c) in phallic form with a projecting face, emerging
from a brick altar (no. 53.123, State Museum, Lucknow). After M. Meister, Discourses on
Siva (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984), plates 20 & 26. Courtesy of
Doris Meth Srinivasan.

Perhaps one of the earliest surviving "icons" used for


some form of ritual in India is a polished
sandstone
male torso from Lohanipur near P?tna, capital of the
in the third century B.c. (fig. 1).11 This
Maurya dynasty
seem to have represented a Jain tirthankara ("one
would
who crosses over"). There has been some debate over
why Jain images may have used the body first, but I
that
that it is because of the Jain philosophy
contend
sees the body as a residue?as
is a residue
the universe
to use as a
therefore appropriate
of the sacrifice?and
In Jain cosmic
symbol of what stands invisibly beyond.12
it is
centuries
of
the
first
b.c/a.d.,
(?y?gapata)
diagrams
the physical body of a jina that sits at the center as the
navel of cosmic creation.13

In early Buddhist art, scholars argue an "aniconic


controversy."14 Yet Buddhist art in India begins a long
tradition of figured narrative; only the Buddha's body
does not appear in these early narratives. A famous relief
shows the
from Amaravati
(now in the British Museum)
and birth and for
narrative of the Buddha's conception
me best defines this debate (fig. 6).15 In that relief, at the
top right, is a reclining figure of M?y?, mother of prince
Sidd?rtha, the future Buddha, whose dream of a white
elephant signals her impregnation. At the lower right she
stands as if she were a nature spirit (yaks?) clutching a
from her
flowering tree; Sidd?rtha is born miraculously
into
of
hands
of
lord
received
the
Indra,
side,
right

(New Delhi: Manohar,


Heritage
N.
P.
26.I;
Joshi,
"Early Jaina Icons from
plate
Mathur?,"
ibid., pp. 332-367,
pi. 34.I; Sonya Rhie Quintanilla,
Artibus
and Chronology,"
Characteristics,
Symbolism
"Ayagapatas:
Asiae 60 (2000):79-137.
14. Most
in a series of exchanges
Susan L.
between
recently
Srinivasan,

CT:
11. George M. A. Hanfmann,
Classical
(Greenwich,
Sculpture
New York Graphic
(see note 7),
1967), fig. 278; Huntington
Society,
a different
Frederick Asher and Walter M.
dating,
fig. 4.11; and for
Ars Orientalis
19
Reconsidered,"
Spink, "Maurya Figurai Sculpture
(1989):1-25.
12. Radmanabh
S. Jaini, The Jaina Path of Purification
(Berkeley:
of California
Press, 1979), pp. 124-126,
University
speaks of three
one" and two
bodies
the "manifest physical
{sarira) in Jain thought,
subtle

bodies

from one

which

incarnation

13. Alex Wayman,


Auspicious

Symbols)

a soul moves
the 'vehicle' whereby
to another,"
body behind.
leaving the physical
Set of Astamangala
"The Mathura
(Eight
in Doris Meth
in Early and Later Times,"

"constitute

1989),

ed., Mathur?:

The Cultural

pp. 236-246,

Art
"Early Buddhist Art and the Theory of Aniconism,"
and the Multivalence
(1990): 401-408;
idem, "Aniconism
22 (1992):111-156;
and
of Emblems: Another
Look," Ars Orientalis
Ars
Art
of
Buddhist
and
the
Aniconism,"
Theory
Vidya Dehejia,
"Early
Huntington,
Journal 49

Orientalis

21

(1991 ):45-66.

15. Douglas
Barrett, Sculptures
Museum
(London: British Museum

from Amaravati
Press,

1954),

in the British

plate VII; see also

RES 41 SPRING 2002

96

In the first few centuries a.D., all sects in India


Iwould call "cosmogonie
with what
experimented
to use the image
attempt to find a means
figuration"?an
one
In
to
of the stranger of
of the body
focus the mind.
of the second-century
N?nd Iinga,
these experiments?that
a
Vaisnava figures surround the shaft of
pillar with a
recessive head where four ithyphallic sages sit (fig. 7).18
as a Vaisnava
"meditational
Described
by T. S. Maxwell
construct," open to the air, could this pillar have been
used by sages as a device to focus the mind, concentration
on its images one by one leading to a transcendent
state
to that of the aroused sages at its top?19
comparable
More common were the Iinga pillars of Saivism
framed on open-air altars or surrounded by a railing in

(diagram of construction). This


Figure 5. V?stupurusamandala
often published ?mage follows one drawn by a traditional
Gujarati architect, O. Sompura.

heaven, yet Sidd?rtha remains invisible, marked only by


a cloth in Indra's hands to receive the child (fig. 6). To
still indicated
the lower left, the newborn Buddha-to-be,
only by that cloth, is taken to an altar of a local spirit
the universal divinity of the
(yaksa); he, recognizing
Buddha, bows to the child invisibly present on the cloth
now held by M?y?.16
Iwould argue that the
The baby is not shown.
one
set
is neither
is
of
vision:
that which
up
paradigm
real nor seen?the
spirit or yaksa of the altar (a
be made visible (represented); and that
"ghost")?can
which
represents ultimate reality, the Buddha, remains
invisible, or visible only to the mind (as the first
brahmanic
sages were also called "mind-born").17
Bodies can be given up or taken on.

this early period; on some the face of Siva is physically


present, as if itwere a vision brought forth by worship,
or a mask is attached, as in later rituals (fig. 5).20 In front
of one of the earliest free-standing
Tingas surviving,
from perhaps as early as the second century B.c. at
Andhra Pradesh?surrounded
Gudimallam,
by a simple
stone railing exposed
recently by excavation?Siva's
power (vira) is prefigured as a semi-nude male standing
above an aquatic dwarf.21 Not unlike the jina from
Lohanipur (fig. 1) or the yaksa respecting the Buddha at
Amaravati
(fig. 6), thisVFra (hero-figure) of Siva makes
"visible" something
that is "without substance," an index
of a symbol forming an icon.22
Ifcosmic creation can be figured in the human body,
time's breath and
then within each body is contained
altars or temples.
the navel of all ritual centers, whether
As images of Hindu deities began to be given human
form in the first to fifth centuries a.D., many were given
as "multiple bodily
what one colleague
describes
in an important
heads?as
and
limbs,
parts"23?eyes,

18. R. C. Agrawala,
"Caturmukha
Siva Li?ga from N?nd Near
Pur?tattval
(1968-69):53-55.
Pushkar, Rajasthan,"
19. T. S. Maxwell,
Saiva Images as
"N?nd, Rarel, Kaly?npur:
on Siva (see note 7), pp.
in Discourses
Meditational
Constructs,"
on Siva, pp.
U. P. Shah, "Lakul?sa: Saivite Saint," in Discourses
62-81;
mean
not
to
92-102.
should
be
taken
"sign,"
"phallus,"
"Li?ga"
useable

Knox, Amaravati:
(London: British Museum

Robert

Buddhist

Sculpture
1992).

from

the Great

on Siva

Press,
K. Coomaraswamy,

Yaksas, 2 pts.
1928, 1931) and new
Yaksas, Essays in the Water Cosmology,
ed. Raul Schroeder
(Delhi: Oxford
Press, 1993).
University
17. Michael W. Meister,
"Indian Seeing and Western
Knowing: An
in L. K. Srinivasan
and S. Nagaraju,
Art-Historian's
eds.,
Perspective,"
Rao Festschrift)
vol. 1,
Sri N?g?bhinandanam
(Dr. M. S. Nagaraja
16.

See also Ananda

DC: Smithsonian
(Washington,
edition
revised and enlarged,

(Bangalore,
157-170.

1995 Dr. M.

Institution,

S. Nagaraja

Rao Felicitation

Committee),

pp.

sects.
by many
Gritli v. Mitterwalner,

"Evolution of the Li?ga," in Discourses


7), pp. 12-31,
plates 21, 24, 26.
21.
Ibid., pp. 12-20 & fig. 18, argues for a third-second
century
b.c. date. Doris Meth Srinivasan, Many Heads,
Arms and Eyes: Origin,
in Indian Art (Leiden: Brill, 1997), p.
and Form of Multiplicity
Meaning
exact date is
Siva Li?ga, whose
223, says only that the "Gudimallam
to be the earliest"; also,
is agreed
still under dispute,
idem, "Pre
20.

St?pa

Kus?na

(see note

Saivite

Iconography,"

32-3*4.
22.

See note

23.

Srinivasan

in Discourses

5.
(see note

21).

on Siva

(see note

7), pp.

Meister: Giving up and taking on

97

Figure 6. Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh. Relief from a Buddhist stQpa showing the nativity of the Buddha and his presentation at the
altar of a local nature-spirit (yaksa) (lower left).Copyright the British Museum.

RES 41 SPRING 2002

98

Figure
second

7. Nand,
century

Rajasthan.
a.d. After

Vaisnava
M.

Meister,

Kushan
pillar,
period,
on Siva
Discourses

ca.

Figure 8. Parel, Maharashtra. Image of Siva Mah?deva,


century a.d. Photograph by Michael W. Meister.

ca. fifth

(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984), plate


46.

of T. S. Maxwell.

Courtesy

parturition was also figured in the Vaisnava tradition in a


series of visvardpa
in an eighth
images, most detailed
from
century Visvar?pa-Visnu
image
Changu N?r?yana
in Nepal where Visnu's body is represented
twice:
on
as
cosmic
the
reclining
ground and as the
Sesan?ga
vortex
axis
from
cosmic
which
the
of
birth and
rising
are
destruction
and
absorbed.26
spring
By the sixth century A.D., the cults of temple
Hinduism
had defined their cosmic gods and given them

I recently helped excavate at a


sixth-century
temple site on the River Indus.24 From
these material bodies sprout the diverse forms of the
created world, maintained
by the continuity of ritual,
most
in the unique, over
realized
remarkably
perhaps
eleven-foot
Saiva
"visvardpa" (form giving) image
high,
from P?rel, Maharashtra
(fig. 8).25 Such cosmogonie
three-headed

24.
Kafirkot

image

"The Discovery
of Siva Mahesvara
Rehman,
Figure at
Lahore Museum
Bulletin 9.2 (1996): 51-54; Michael
of
the Indus," Expedition,
the Magazine
"Temples Along

Abdur

North,"

W. Meister,
the University

Museum
of Archaeology
and
of Pennsylvania
38.3
of a New Temple
and "Discovery
(1996):41-54,
Anthropology
42.1
the Indus," Expedition
(2000):37-46.
25. Maxwell,
(see note 19), plates
"N?nd, Rarel, Kaly?npur"
49-53.

on

26.
1988),

T. S. Maxwell,
for the Vaisnava

see Meister,
N?r?yana,
note 17), plate 19.

Visvarupa
tradition
"Indian

(Delhi: Oxford
Press,
University
of Visvarupa
?mages; for Changu
(see
Seeing and Western
Knowing,"

Meister: Giving up and taking on

99

Figure 9. Nimaj, Rajasthan. Goddess temple, image of Durg? as slayer


of the demon Mah?sa, ca. tenth century a.d. Photograph by Michael W.
Meister.

faces; each had a role in this world and stories to tell.27


These gods moved easily from "non-being"
to a state of
an
to
and
active
in
this
world,
presence
"becoming"
in the triadic hierarchy
perhaps most tellingly represented

in
Narrative, first shown as stasis, the frozen moment
time creating the icon, becomes
of
the
indexical
part
divine images.
sign value of India's medieval
In ancient rituals the body had remained unseen,

of images in the great cave-temple


at Elephanta.28This
narrative imperative flowed from the cosmogonie
figuration of previous centuries, but created a newly
varied iconic world. The icon becomes
narrative, as in
the increasingly widespread
of
the
image
goddess who
unites all gods and goddesses
through action, Durg?,
buffalo demon
slayer of the earth-threatening
(fig. 9).29

in the form of the


receiving and returning the sacrifice
seen as the
altar. In temple rituals the body becomes
as
but
it
that
which
is
icon,
only
figures
beyond sight.
In temple legends in Rajasthan that Ihave recently
from the
studied, often an ?con emerges miraculously
earth.30 A rock-cut step-well at Mandor near Jodhpur has
a seventh-century
it
inscription.31 Since its excavation,

27.

Renou,

(see note

6); Ludo Rocher,

The Pur?nas

ed., Pur?na
Doniger,
York Press, 1993).
"The Great Cave Temple

1986); Wendy
Harrassowitz,
NY: State University
of New

O.
(Wiesbaden:
Perennis
(Albany,

28. Stella Kramrisch,


of Siva in
on Siva
Levels of Meaning
and Their Form," ?nDiscourses
Elephanta:
(see note 7), pp. 1-11.
29. Odile
and
Divakaran,
"Durg? the Great Goddess:
Meanings
in the Early Period,"
on Siva (see note 7), pp.
in Discourses
B. Coburn,
Thomas
A Translation
the Goddess:
271-288;
Encountering
of the Devl-Mahatmya
and a Study of Its Interpretation
(Albany, NY:
Forms

State University
of New York Press), 1991. For a similar evolution
from
to devotional
form in the Vaisnava
tradition, see Michael
cosmogonie
W. Meister,
"Man and Man-Lion:
The Philadelphia
Artibus
Narasimha,"
Asiae 56 (1996):291 -301.
30. As part of a multidisciplinar/
"Continuities
of
project,
of Western
India," with
Community
Patronage:
Pilgrimage
Temples
John E. Cort and L. A. Babb sponsored
by the J. Raul Getty Trust
for collaborative
research.
program
31. Michael W. Meister
and M. A. Dhaky, eds., Encyclopaedia
of
Indian Temple Architecture,
vol. II, pt. 2, North
India: Period of Early

100

RES 41 SPRING 2002

10. Above:
Figure
the stone
protrusion

natural-stone
worshiped

in a roadside
shrine,
?mage
Udaipur,
as the
of the Dadhimat?-mat?
goddess

Photographs by Michael W. Meister.

Rajasthan;
temple

below:
near

portable

Nagaur,

version

Rajasthan.

of

Meister: Giving up and taking on

101

Figure 11. Os?an, Rajasthan. Saciy?m?ta temple, goddess ?mage (left) covered by a silver cloth, her
head just emerging, following her ritual bathing on the first day of the Navar?tri festival; and (right)
in the process of being re-ornamented. Photographs by Michael W. Meister.

has also been split by the moving plates of an


as if physically echoing
at some moment,
earthquake
stories of the goddess
into
splitting the earth to emerge
view. To either side of the well at Mandor, carved on the
natural rock face, are, in fact, images of Siva as master
of yoga seated on a lotus at the center of the cosmos
and of Siva dancing, within human time, among the
Seven Mothers
(saptam?trk?).32
Inmany goddess
temples in Rajasthan today, the ?con
a
stone (fig. 10).33 At the
is only
naturally emerging
near
a
temple of Dadhimat?-m?ta
Nagaur, for example,
a
legend says that goatherd, hearing the horrendous

sound of the Goddess


splitting the earth, halted her
(a natural rock)
emergence with only a knee protruding
with his fear-filled cries.34
"icons" are covered with masks,
These discovered
clothed and decorated,
and in some instances a
substitute
image is taken in procession
during festivals,
as at the Dadhimat?-mata
temple (fig. 10), its increased
from
visibility and access a projection of the goddess
her unseeable

I first heard

34.
earth

in interviews

core.35

the story of Dadhimat?-mata's


from the
emergence
Buddhi Prakash Acharya,
Jodhpur, 12/25/91
at the temple),
the painting of the image circulated
with

(who showed me
and Dr. Rama Dadich

Maturity

(Princeton,
270-273.

NJ: Princeton

University

Press),

1991,

p. 125 and

plates
32. Michael

inM?trk?
W. Meister,
"Regional Variations
Artibus Asiae 47 (1986), pp. 233-262.
Conventions,"
see the
33. For the DadhimatNm?t?
temple
Encyclopaedia
Indian Temple Architecture
II.2, pp. 252-254,
plates 562-568.
some

of

Temples:

of
For

see Lawrence A. Babb, "Time and


its history and ethnography,
Social and Metrical
John E. Cort, "Patronage,
Antiquity,"

On

and
Rights, and History: Communities
inWestern
India," and Michael W. Meister,
Pilgrimage
Temples
inMeister,
ed.,
"Ethnography, Art History and the Life of Temples,"
Notes
From the Field (Jaipur: Rawat
and Personhood:
Ethnography

Authority,

Publications,

Proprietary

2000).

and Dr. D. G. Ohja,

1/12/92. Widely
Bombay,
sold at
through ephemeral
pilgrims'
pamphlets
is not, however,
in the community's
the temple,
this version
recorded
Purana (Jaipur: Shri Dadhimati
Evam
Dadhimathl
Sahitya Shodha
Prakashan
that we
Samiti, 1981, a reprint of an earlier Ratlam edition
known

and circulated

not yet been able to locate).


on Siva
35. Mitterwalner,
"Evolution of the Li?ga," in Discourses
in
"Altars and Shelters
(see note 7), plates
14-17; Michael W. Meister,
In
39.
16
Research
(1979):
India," aarp (Art and Archaeology
Papers)

have

an

interview

president
described

with

Brahma

of the All-India
as

Dhatta
D?him?

being "three murtis:


Shankarlal Caturvedi,

'sleeping'."
trans, by John Cort) wrote:

Sharma
then
(Jaipur, 1/5/92),
the goddess was
Mah?sabh?,
1. stationary, 2. processional,

and 3.

in the Rajasthan
Patrika, 31/3/98,
"On the morning
of the day of Saptami

(as

RES 41 SPRING 2002

102

it is as an extension

at
of the earth?as
the
the icon first comes
10);
temple
(fig.
in some tales as spontaneously
itself is also described
rising up around the image as part of its garb.36
In the Saciy?m?t?
in Rajasthan, on
temple at Osian
the first day of the spring festival of Navar?tri, as the
sun rises the image in the sanctum
is covered,
her
are removed, and brought as a blessing to the
ornaments
family who sponsors the ritual.37 A curtain is drawn, the
stone image is bathed, and when
the curtain is opened
can be
reborn
of
the
Saciy?m?t?
newly
image
again
Thus

Mandor?that

seen barely emerging


from a sea of silver cloth (fig. 11),
in the cosmos
if becoming
visible
for the first time. In
are
armaments
her
restored, she is dressed
stages, then,

as

and made ready to receive offerings from


and garlanded,
this ritual for many
worshipers who have witnessed
hours, these offerings to be made to the goddess and
returned

(fig. 12).
As the day progresses,
priests prepare a mixture
water
will
and
that
sprout into tender shoots
grains
the festival's nine days evolve. Beds of such sprouts
also been seeded by Brahmins during Navar?tri at

of
as
have
the

temple of Dadhimat?.38 On the eighth day of the


Navar?tri festival at both temples, a havan is performed?
a fire sacrifice that takes many hours. Into the fire, a
similar mixture of oil and seeds is offered. Ashes to

At the Saciy?m?t?
temple, the process of giving up and
on
in the goddess's
has
another
dimension
taking
as
For the Oswal
illnesses.
role
healer
of
Jains
perceived
who have enlivened
this Saciy?m?t?
with
temple
in the past thirty years?and
these are "non
patronage
has
(Sthanakvas?) Jains?Saciy?m?t?
temple-worshiping"
come to embody a special function.39 She can inhabit
other people's bodies both to speak through and to cure.
inOsian, one case of
While we were doing fieldwork
and a history of others
spirit possession was observed
a
one case witnessed,
in
In
the
interviews.40
reported
man
from
who
the
quite unprepossessing
Bombay,
priests told us comes once a month, arrived with a
group of pilgrims. Setting himself in front of the inner
shrine as a supplicant,
he quickly became possessed,
over
and falling on his back. He began to call
flipping
witnesses?those

shape
ultimate

come

Mata

for the mela

a band, and the people who


have
In the
Mata.
sing songs to Dadhimathi
in the kund which
is the innate form of

is taken out with


dance

and

after having bathed


morning,
the shakti of all the tilths, the goddess
36. A version
told us by Dr. Ram
Jodhpur,
ground.
she was

to the temple."
Dadhich
(interview,

is returned
Prasad

the
that

and that they should not be afraid. But her


coming,
a great earthquake,
loud roaring. The
with much
caused
emergence
she couldn't
and ran away. Hence
herders became
fully
frightened
At the time that the goddess
but only her right knee emerged.
the 'inside temple' emerged with her." For the temple as
emerged,
of
"The Five Aspects
of the deity, see also T. S. Maxwell,
embodiment
Arts International
and Architecture),"
Siva (In Theory,
Iconography
emerge,

25.3-4

(1982):41-57.
were
My notes on this ceremony
at the Saciy?m?t?
of Navar?tri
celebration
37.

temple
see Michael

For more

of the history of this temple


or Corpses? Art History and
118-132.

"Sweetmeats
pp.

38.

taken on

Notes

of Navar?tri

taken on

the seventh

at the Dadhimat?-mata

the first-day
(Osian, 3/28-29/98).
W. Meister,

Ethnohistory,"

Res 27

up is to move beyond
to the world, but does

(1995),

and eighth days of the celebration


(4/3-4/98).
temple

to

the body, which can give


not move beyond
it, the

goal.

an ?mage in a Jain temple, but see


Such Jains will not worship
as an act of
in the presence
of an efficacious
goddess
good
See John Cort, ed., Open
and
Jain Communities
Boundaries,
in Indian History
Cultures
of New York,
(Albany: State University
39.

Oswal
group,

a visit by Amar Chand Rathor, an


The following
describes
or so with
Jain from Mallard West who comes
every month
as observed
on 2/20/98.
Other
histories of healing
through

possession

were

(Jaipur, 4/14/98),

from
started to emerge
"Then the goddess
1/31/98) went:
some
there. She told them
There were
local cattle-herders

him?and

being
sense.

1998).
40.
Dadhimathi

had come with

in the voice of the goddess,


he gave
each, quietly,
comfort and advice.
Through his human form, those who did not worship
her idol (fig. 12) could receive her blessing;
through his
not
to
the
claim
heal
themselves.
icon,
Yet,
body,
they
as with the icon itself, the object of taking on and
giving

rebirth
ashes, earth to earth, the cycle of the goddess's
is complete.
and of our bodily sacrifice as worshipers
on a body for
That divinities?as
well as we?take
that
of
the icon itself
has
from
many meanings,
worship
to divinity's more social role in the cycle of human life.

who

described

in interviews

and Kanak Mai

Dugar

with

Navratanmal

(Bombay,

4/27/98).

Dugar

Meister: Giving up and taking on

Figure 12. Osian, Saciy?m?t? temple, Saciy?m?t?'s ?mage fully clothed and inworship. The food offerings in the
foreground will be returned to the devotees. This ?mage is representative of photos sold in shops outside the temple as
pilgrims'

souvenirs.

103