In the Absence of God: The Early Years of an Indian Sect

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The fourteenth-century Marathi text entitled Smrtisthal is an account of the development of the Mahanubhav sect of western India in the first generation after the death of its founder, the divine incarnation Cakradhar. It records events in the period of leadership of Nagdev, Cakradhar's appointed successor. Written by members of the group, for members of the group, shortly after Nagdev's death, Smrtisthal provides an exceptionally detailed and delightfully unembarrassed portrait of a religious movement seeking to...
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Overview

The fourteenth-century Marathi text entitled Smrtisthal is an account of the development of the Mahanubhav sect of western India in the first generation after the death of its founder, the divine incarnation Cakradhar. It records events in the period of leadership of Nagdev, Cakradhar's appointed successor. Written by members of the group, for members of the group, shortly after Nagdev's death, Smrtisthal provides an exceptionally detailed and delightfully unembarrassed portrait of a religious movement seeking to perpetuate the inspiration of its founder. Cakradhar taught an exclusive devotion to a single god and rejected, devalued, or ignored many of the social and religious forms of orthodox Hinduism. He included among his followers people of all castes and of both sexes; he used the regional language, Marathi, instead of Sanskrit; and he opposed polytheism, image worship, and pilgrimage to Hindu holy places. Instead, he prescribed for his disciples a life of constant, solitary wandering. The teachings of the divine incarnation would have been difficult enough to follow during his lifetime, but they were all the more difficult after his death. Smrtisthal shows Cakradhar's disciples attempting to apply his teachings in his absence. It shows the beginnings of a cult of relics and a tradition of pilgrimage to places where Cakradhar had been; it tells of the composition of early scriptures; and it depicts the attempt to create the forms - the rituals and rules - by which to perpetuate a teaching that had originally opposed such forms. In this volume, two of the foremost scholars of Maharashtrian religion not only provide readers with the first complete translation of Smrtisthal but also offer an extensive introduction and three indexes, illuminating a series of features important both to the history of this particular sect and to the general history of religions. Anne Feldhaus and Shankar Gopal Tulpule show that in its detailed depiction of the formation of the M
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780824813352
  • Publisher: University of Hawaii Press, The
  • Publication date: 10/1/1992
  • Pages: 216

Table of Contents

A Note on Transliteration
Pt. 1 Introduction 1
Ch. 1 Context 3
Ch. 2 Devotion 6
Viraha 6
Devotional Practices 8
Ch. 3 Asceticism 13
Renunciation of Family and Sexual Relations 13
Renunciation of Money and Possessions 16
Food and Begging 17
Solitude 19
Wandering 20
Ch. 4 The Structure of the Group 24
The Name of the Group 24
Group Boundaries and Relations with Outsiders 25
Relations within the Group 31
Distinctions within the Group 35
Bhatobas' Role 41
Scriptures 49
Ch. 5 The Text of Smrtisthal 54
Title 54
Edition 55
Authorship and Date 56
Notes to Introduction 60
Pt. 2 Smrtisthal 67
Notes to Smrtisthal 151
Appendix 171
Notes to Appendix 173
Index 175
People in Smrtisthal 177
Places in Smrtisthal 183
Sutrapath Sutras in Smrtisthal 185
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