Ascetics and Kings in a Jain Ritual Culture

Lawrence A. Babb, Motilal Banarsidass, 1998, 244 p, ISBN : 8120815394, $13.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Contents: Introduction. 1. Victors: i. The lord's last life. ii. The cosmos. iii. Living ascetics. 2. Kings of the Gods: i. The lord's bath. ii. Reflexivity. 3. Magical monks: a ritual subculture: i. Ascetic career as ritual charter. ii. Dadagurudevs. iii. A ritual subculture. 4. Valor: the transformation of warrior-kings: i. Kings who give up meat. ii. Khartar Gacch legends. iii. Warrior-kings transformed. 5. Giving and giving up: i. Variations. ii. Hot potatoes. Notes. Glossary. Bibliography. Index.

"What does it mean to worship beings that one believes are completely indifferent to, and entirely beyond the reach, of any form of worship whatsoever? What the implications of such a relationship with sacred beings for the religious life of a community? Using these questions as his point of departure, Babb explores the ritual culture of image-worshiping Svetambar Jains.

Jainism is, aside from Buddhism, the only surviving example of India's ancient non-Vedic religious traditions. It is known and celebrated for its systematic practice of non-violence and for the rigor of the asceticism it promotes.

Ascetics and Kings in a Jain Ritual Culture sheds light on a little-known religious tradition and demonstrates that divine "absence" can be as rich as divine "presence" in its possibilities for informing a religious response to the cosmos." (jacket)

[Lawrence A. Babb teaches Anthropology and Asian Studies at Amherst College. He also wrote Redemptive Encounters: Three Modern Styles in the Hindu Tradition.]

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