Self-Possessed, 4.2-4.3



Exorcists, Oracles, and Healers

pp. 142-6

p. 143 varieties of oracles & of exorcists

[quoted from Wadley 1976, p. 235] “In North India, the native terms for oracle are baki {vacin} and bhagat {bhagavant}. The native terms for exorcist include jhad.n.ewala, ojha, mantravidh [“sic : should be mantravid”], and mativah.”

They are : baki (babbler); bhagat (devotee); jhad.n.evala (spiritualist); ojha (exorcist, folk healer); mantravid (well-versed in mantras); and mativah (… opinion-bearer).

Henry [1981, p. 303] and Lambert [1988, p. 356] distinguish between Tantric healers called sidh {siddha} or sayana and mediums, bhopa or ojha.

Fuchs [1964] records that in central India the barwa cures by exorcism, while a janka does so by divinization.

McClintock [1990, pp. 37, 47], in Pakistani Panjab, cites Urdu amil, more properly “agent” or “operator,” as “exorcist,” distinguishing it from the jadugar (magician) and pir (saint).

In Gujarati …, the term bhagat is mentioned as someone who is able to diagnose the provenance of a spirit, while a bhuva … is an exorcist [GSGBD 1961, pp. 121, 124].

This is also a common term in Marathi, along with jhad. (medium) [Wagle 1995, pp. 194, 198].

Bhattacharyya [1986, pp. 42-7] rovides three words for folk healer in Bengali … : ojha (Skt. upadhyaya), roja, and gun.ina.”

Wadley 1976 = Susan S. Wadley : “The Spirit 'Rides' or the Spirit 'Comes' : possession in a North Indian village”. In Bharati (ed.) : The Realm of the Extra-Human. pp. 231-51.

Henry 1981 = E. O. Henry “A North Indian Healer and the Sources of His Power”. In :- Giri Raj Gupta (ed.) : The Social and Cultural Context of Medicine in India. Delhi : Vikasa. pp. 286-307.

Lambert 1988 = H. Lambert : Medical Knowledge in Rajasthan. D.Phil. diss., Oxford U.

Fuchs 1964 = Stephen Fuchs : “Magical Healing Techniques among the Balahis in Central India”. In :- Ari Kiev (ed.) : Magic, Faith, and Healing. Glencoe (IL) : Free Pr. pp. 127-31.

McClintock 1990 = Wayne McClintock : “Demons and Ghosts in Indian Folklore”. MISSIOLOGY 18.1:37-47.

GSGBD 1961 = Gujarat State Gazetters : Broach District.

Wagle 1995 = N. K. Wagle : “On Relations amongst Bhuts, Gods, and Men … in pre-British Maharashtra.” In :- Gu:nther-Dietz Sontheimer (ed.) : Folk Culture, Folk Religion and Oral Traditions … in Maharashtrian Culture. New Delhi : Manohar. pp. 181-200.

Bhattacharyya 1986 = Deborah P. Bhattacharyya : Pagalami … in Bengal. F&CS, SAS, no. 11. Syracuse U Pr.

pp. 143-5 varieties of shaman

p. 143

the primary terms in Nepali for a religious healer are jha~mkri [p. 168, n. 4:191 : “Macdonald 1975:327n5, for regional variants of this word. Dietrich 1998:259 … records the word dhami as a rural variant.”] and paju, who can be either spirit mediums or practitioners of other shamanic arts, and the related jaki in Assamese [VShDY 2004, p. 15].”

p. 144

Macdonald states [1975, p. 118] that a jha~mkri is one who “after having first of all suffered possession by a spirit foreign to his everyday world, manages to control it and regulate it.””

[quoted from Ho:fer 1994, p. 18] “the jha~mkri is a 'shaman,' i.e., a socially recognized ritual specialist … capable of controlling and/or producing paranormal experience – visions, possession, etc. – allowing for a privileged, direct contact with occult forces and beings.”

Gaborieau records [1975a, pp. 73, 76 sq] the … word dhami and … d.amgre {cognate with, or a pun on, */DHYANA-KRIYA/ (/jha~mkri/)} in central Nepal.”

Berglie [1976] provides a detailed description of the training of a spirit medium …, and an account of the trance experiences of the Tibetan dpah.-bo.”

p. 145

The [Muslim] faqir invokes … jinns {jnun} to cure diseases, while

the ojha, … Hindu, arrange and sing religious songs known as bhasan [p. 169, n. 4:211 : “The word bhasan, writes Karim, “suggests one who is floated” (p. 307n15).”], padmapuran. or behula laks.indar, whoch invoke the serpent deity (as in the debaddhani festival in Assam) Manasha for healing.” (Karim 1988, p. 295)

Shukla noted the words sokha (one who absorbs or dries up) and gun.i (adept), in addition to ojha and bhagat.”

[p. 159, n. 4:29 (quoted from Parry 1994, p. 236) : “The ojha lures and entraps the ghosts, while the sokha supervises his efforts and is the real expert in identification”.]

Inglis notes [1985:90-1] … kot.anki (“possession specialists … who ply the trade of soothsaying in a market or other public place for a fee”).”

Macdonald 1975 = Alexander W. Macdonald : “The Healer in the Nepalese World”. In : Macdonald : Essays on the Ethnology of Nepal and South Asia. Kathmandu : Ratna Pustak Bhandar. pp. 113-28.

Dietrich 1998 = Angela Dietrich : Tantric Healing in the Kathmandu Valley. Delhi : Bk Faith.

Ho:fer 1994 = Andra`s Ho:fer : A Recitation of the Tamang Shaman in Nepal. Bonn : VGH Wissenschaftsverlag.

Gaborieau 1975a = “Les bayu du Nepal Central”. PURUS.ARTHA 1:67-90.

Berglie 1976 = Per-Arne Berglie : “Some Tibetan 'Spirit-Mediums' in Nepal”. KAILASH 4.1:85-108.

Karim 1988 = Anwarul Karim : “Shamanism in Bangladesh”. ASIAN FOLKLORE STUDIES 47:277-309.

Parry 1994 = Jonathan R. Parry : Death in Banaras. Cambridge U Pr.

Inglis 1985 = Stephen Inglis : “Possession … Serving the Divine in a South Indian Community”. In :- Waghorne & Cutler (edd.) : Gods of Flesh / Gods of Stone. pp. 89-102.

pp. 145, 146 terms for 'oracle' in Malayalam and in Tamil

p. 145

Caldwell [1996, p. 223 n 23] and Freeman inform us that, in Malayalam, the words for oracle are vel.icchapat.u or komaram. Most are male priests associated with temples. However, some are females who reside in the hilly tribal areas near Palghat.”

p. 146

For S`ri Lanka “Tamil, Lawrence [2003] cites the word kat.t.akal for “oracle” and teyvam at.ukakkal for deity-dancer, as well as vakku solluratu for “uttering oracle”.

Caldwell 1996 = Sarah Caldwell : “Bhagavati : ball of fire”. In :- John Stratton Hawley & Donna Wolff (edd.) : Devi : goddesses of India. Berkeley & Los Angeles : U of CA Pr. pp. 195-226.

Lawrence 2003 = Patricia Lawrence : “Kad.i in a Context of Terror … in Sri Lanka … .” In : Rachel Fell McDermott & Jeffrey J. Kripal : Encountering Kali. Berkeley : U of CA Pr. pp. 100-23.

p. 146 the “evil eye”

Maloney discusses [1980, p. 242] fand.ita in Maldive islands, which is “magic or religious 'science' of any sort …, curative or preventive, fertility ritual or divination.” The word fand.ita, from Sanskrit pan.d.ita, … entered Divehi, the local language … . … Nevertheless, in Divehi a conjurer, exorcist, herbalist, astrologer, and protector of {from} the evil eye (esfinna < Sinhala a svaha) is called a “fand.ita man.””

[p. 218, n. 4:218 : “On the evil eye in Sri Lanka, see Wirz 1954:178 f.”]

Wirz 1954 = Paul Wirz : Exorcism and the Art of Healing in Ceylon. Leiden : Brill.

Maloney 1980 = Clarence Maloney : “Don't Say 'Pretty Baby' Lest You Zap It with Your Evil Eye.” In :- Clarence Maloney (ed.) : The Evil Eye. NY : Columbia U Pr. {The usual reason for not saying “Pretty Baby” is that evil spirits of jealousy may use such an occasion to do harm to the baby. But because Nazaren (Christian) infidels (one of whom C.M. was evidently suspected of being) are (in Muslim countries) believed to harbor such-like evil spirits within their unbelieving bodies, therefore Christians could easily be said to inflict, by means of their own bodies, that fiendish harm on innocent babes.}



On “Folk” and “Classical” in South Bharata

pp. 146-56

p. 170, n. 4:225 cannabis, opium, tobacco, and liquor as offerings in a temple to Draupadi; chili as as offerings in a temple

the presence in the Draupadi cult's Mahabharata of a {legendary} devotee, Muttal Ravuttan, who serves Draupadi by … receiving impure offerings, including gan~ja, opium, and arrack.

cf. Hiltebeitel 1988, pp. 101-27

At one temple, red and green chili peppers are offered to his [Muttal Ravuttan's] dog.

Hiltebeitel 1988 = Alf Hiltebeitel : The Cult of Draupadi. Vol. I : “Mythologies”. U of Chicago Pr.

p. 149 spirit-possession of Brahman.a-s

brahman [spirit-]possession … is widespread in the bhuta cult of South Kanara district of Karnataka, in East Gadavari district of Andhra Pradesh, and elsewhere”. (Prabhu 1977; Honko 1998; Knipe 1989)

Prabhu 1977 = Sanjiva K. Prabhu : Special Study Report on Bhuta Cult in South Kanara District. CENSUS OF INDIA, 1971 : Series 14 : Mysore. Bangalore : Gvmt of India Publ.

Honko 1998 = Lauri Honko : Textualizing the Siri Epic. FOLKLORE FELLOWSHIP COMMUNICATION, No. 224. Helsinki : Suomalainen Tieleakademia.

Knipe 1989 = David M. Knipe : “Night of the Growing Dead : a cult of Virabhadra in coastal Andhra”. In :- Hiltebeitel (ed.) : Criminal Gods and Demon Devotees. pp. 123-56.

p. 151 spirit-possession by major deities in Maharas.t.ra and elsewhere

Rigopoulos … states [1993, p. 54 n. 18] : “... Maharashtrian gods possess their devotees. For instance, Khandoba, Kal Bhairav, Dattatreya do possess””.

I have heard

in Maharashtra … of [spirit-]possession by Hanuman,`a, and S`iva, and

outside Maharashtra, of Kr.s.n.a (in Nepal) [Gellner 2001, p. 203],

the Buddha (also in Nepal) [Gellner 2001, p. 211],

Vis.n.u (in S[`]ri Lanka [Holt 2004] and Nepal [Gellner 2001, p. 102]”.

Rigopoulos 1993 = Antonio Rigopoulos : The Life and Teachings of Sai Baba of Shirdi. Albany : State U of NY Pr.

Gellner 2001 = David N. Gellner : The Anthropology of Buddhism and Hinduism. Oxford U Pr.

Holt 2004 = John Cifford Holt : The Buddhist Vis.n.u. NY : Columbia U Pr.

p. 172, n. 4:241 alleged evanescence from North America of Amerindian languages

Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, ... Dakota and Nebraska, … Mississippi … and … Chicago. All of these are Native American names, the total number of which by now surely exceeds the number of Native Americans in these areas who have any knowledge of their ancestral languages.”

{The U.S. Census Bureau figure is over 250,000 for native speakers of “the American Indian languages spoken in households across the United States.” (“AILS”) Thus, the number of Amerindian state-and-city names “surely” doth not exceed the number of Native North American speakers of Amerindian languages.}

AILS” = “American Indian Languages Spoken in U.S. Homes: 1990”

{“Even as recently as the 50's, Indian children were being forcibly removed from non-English-speaking households and sent to boarding schools to be "socialized." They were routinely punished there for speaking their languages, and Indian-speaking parents began hiding their languages in hopes of keeping their children in their houses”. Languages of the Americas : Endangered Language Revitalization and Revival”}

p. 153 broadly-distributed & cross-cultural spirit-possession phainomena

The … affinities of bait.hak as performed in Peshawar with, for example, the possession rituals aong the Jalari of Andhra Pradesh and the bhuta festivals among the Tulu speakers in Karnataka testify to a broadly distributed cultural form”.

Shail Mayaram, who [2000] studied [spirit-]possession in Ajmer, Rajasthan, records that a Hindu woman regularly reports possession of {by} Imam H[.]usayn, the grandson of Muh[.]ammad … . Conversely, Mayaram notes that a Muslim woman healer reported regular possession of {by} a local mother goddess called Bayasaab Mata.”

Mayaram 2000 = Shail Mayaram : “Spirit Possession : reframing discourses of the self and other”. In :- Jackie Assayag & Gilles Tarabout (edd.) : La possession en Asie du sud. PURUSARTHA 21. Paris. pp. 101-31.

pp. 155, 171 dancing spirit-media

p. 171, n. 4:234

For a description of a spirit medium who “dances” with S`akyamuni Buddha in contemporary Singapore, see DeBernardi 1995:158.”

p. 155

Dirks notes [1992, p. 231] that the camiyat.i (possessed “deity dancers”) in the Aiyanar festivals in Pudukkottai District of Tamilnadu were “initially chosen for possessing special spiritual powers,” but .. became hereditary.”

DeBernardi 1995 = Jean DeBernardi : “On Trance … in Malaysian Chinese Popular Religion”. In :- Jane Marie Law (editrix) : Religious Reflections on the Human Body. Bloomington : IN U Pr. pp. 151-65.

Dirks 1992 = Nicholas B. Dirks : “Ritual and Resistance : subversion as a social pact”. In :- Douglas Haynes & Gyan Prakash (edd.) : Contesting Power : resistance … in South Asia. Berkeley & Los Angeles : U of CA Pr. pp. 213-39.


Frederick M. Smith : The Self-Possessed : Deity and Spirit Possession in South Asian Literature and Civilization. Columbia U Pr, NY, 2006.