When the Goddess Speaks Her Mind: Possession, Presence, and Narrative Theology in the Gaṅgamma Tradition of Tirupati, South India

When the Goddess Speaks Her Mind: Possession, Presence, and Narrative Theology in the Gaṅgamma... In the context of the South Indian Gaṅgamma grāmadevata (village goddess) tradition, this article asks: what can ethnographers learn by thinking theologically, an orientation that is identified as theological ethnography. Within this analytic perspective, the ethnographer looks and listens for ways in which worshipers ritually perform and narrate their own theologies about the goddess, but does not create theological analyses for that community. The article further asks what we can learn about the goddess—her agency and its limits, the ways in which she acts and moves in the human world, her desires, and her motivations to possess devotees—by listening to personal narratives of women so possessed. These narratives are forms of vernacular theology and imply a dialogic agency between humans and goddess. They help us to answer what both the goddess and humans gain (and may lose) when Gaṅgamma enters the human world through possession in/of and in the presence of human bodies. To imagine, describe, and analyze a world in which gods/goddesses are active agents is a theological move, and also one mode of good ethnography. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Hindu Studies Springer Journals

When the Goddess Speaks Her Mind: Possession, Presence, and Narrative Theology in the Gaṅgamma Tradition of Tirupati, South India

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Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Subject
Religious Studies; Religious Studies, general; Non-Western Philosophy; Hinduism; Asian History; Philosophy of Religion
ISSN
1022-4556
eISSN
1574-9282
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11407-017-9210-4
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In the context of the South Indian Gaṅgamma grāmadevata (village goddess) tradition, this article asks: what can ethnographers learn by thinking theologically, an orientation that is identified as theological ethnography. Within this analytic perspective, the ethnographer looks and listens for ways in which worshipers ritually perform and narrate their own theologies about the goddess, but does not create theological analyses for that community. The article further asks what we can learn about the goddess—her agency and its limits, the ways in which she acts and moves in the human world, her desires, and her motivations to possess devotees—by listening to personal narratives of women so possessed. These narratives are forms of vernacular theology and imply a dialogic agency between humans and goddess. They help us to answer what both the goddess and humans gain (and may lose) when Gaṅgamma enters the human world through possession in/of and in the presence of human bodies. To imagine, describe, and analyze a world in which gods/goddesses are active agents is a theological move, and also one mode of good ethnography.

Journal

International Journal of Hindu StudiesSpringer Journals

Published: Jul 11, 2017

References

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