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Dr. Christof Zotter (Heidelberg)

When:Mo 25-02-2013 16:00 - 17:45
Where:room 253, Oude Boteringestraat 38
Colloquium on Indian Religions

Colloquium on Indian Religions

Abstract by Dr. Christof Zotter (Heidelberg)  

The Cremation Ground as an Arena of Ritual Denial. The Case of the Aghorīs.

For the Brahmanical tradition the cremation ground is a place of impurity and danger. Elaborate rituals and sets of rules and regulations have been developed to ensure that the pollution caused by death does not enter the ordered world of normal life. But since ancient times this spot at the periphery of the settlement is the place for other ritual activities, too. Associated with ambivalent deities such as Bhairava and his female consorts, these are often transgressive in character and are usually performed in secrecy.

One of the groups whose practice is related to the cremation ground are the Aghorīs, skull bearing ascetics that are normally seen as the successors of older Śaivite groups, such as the Kāpālikas. The lecture will take Bābā Kīnārām (17th/18th cent.), the most famous Aghorī of North India, and his tradition as an example to demonstrate the complexity of this heterodox movement.