Whilst some work has been carried out concerning the lives and events of Hindu saints associated with the Gujarāt region of Western India, there has been little sustained work on the life of and the miraculous events surrounding the popular Nineteenth Century, Lohānā saint Jalarām Bāpā. During his life, few would have known about Jalarām Bāpā beyond the Kathiawad region of Gujarāt, a region that at the time was experiencing considerable social, economic and political upheaval. Due to the nature of the Gujarātī Diaspora, however, Jalarām Bāpā has become a transnational phenomenon and the miraculous events that he is associated with have travelled with him. Despite his global popularity, however, no attempt has been made to contextualise the hagiographical narratives that speak of his teachings and miracles in nineteenth century Gujarat. This article will attempt to address this scholarly lacuna whilst at the same time providing an understanding of the wider religious and social fabric of the Gujarat at the time.
Based on first-hand ethnographic evidence and historical information, this section aims at portraying the transformations of religious traditions in the Himalayan mountain barriers, situated on the frontier between two great civilisations: Chinese, in the North, and Hindu, in the South. It specially focuses on Buddhist and Shamanic traditions installed in the Himalayan regions of Northern Nepal, on the Tibetan borderland. In Nepal, like in other regions in the Asian world, modernisation processes assume different forms and have varied effects on each religious tradition. Mahayana (Tibetan) Buddhism and (oracular) Shamanism in the Northern area of the Nepalese Himalayas are subjected to somewhat similar driving forces of modernisation, but respond to them in different ways. These two attitudes offer interesting grounds for highlighting and questioning theoretical and methodological issues regarding the use of the (originally Western-styled) concept of “modernity” in the context of the Himalayas.
In India jyotiṣa, which includes mathematics, astronomy, astrology, and divination, is one of the six vedāṅgas, ancillary branches of the Vedas necessary for understanding them. The technical tradition visible today has recognisable roots in Vedic hymns and calendars dating from the late second to mid-first millennium bce. In the second century ce, however, the use of horoscopes (planetary positions at the moment of birth) to portend the fate of the individual was introduced from the classical west, thus integrating with the Vedic tradition to form a uniquely Indian astrology. Today, astrology is invariably concerned with questions of destiny, serving a variety of functions designed for people to manage the present and inquire into the future. Oftentimes, there are corresponding rituals, intended to facilitate harmonisation with the flow of time, or to amend a predicted future. This article highlights the history of astrology in India (from the Vedas through the introduction of horoscopes); its technical and interpretative procedures in light of Vedic tradition; planetary deities; temple ritual; concepts of soul, karma and time; pilgrimage (especially the Kumbha Mela); philosophical contexts (including those articulated in, and inherited from, the classical and Hellenistic world); archaeoastronomy (city design and temple architecture related to the stars); sociological contexts, political functions, and notions of world ages. Finally, it will consider colonial dynamics and the modern western adoption of Indian astrology in the context of theories of enchantment, and the postmodern in western ‘alternative’ spiritualities and New Age ideology.
The country of Indonesia is not only the world largest Muslim country but also has a diverse culture and history. This paper will try to answer the question of how the historical context and political environment have contributed to shaping the relationship between Islam and (secular) democracy in Indonesia today. By examining remnants of the country’s colonial past, independence from the Dutch in the late 40’s, through the authoritarian regime of Sukarno and The “New Order Administration” and how these periods of the country’s existence have helped shape the socio-religious environment of contemporary Indonesia. By looking at how the socio-religious context interacted with political context of the country during its modernizing transformation after the colonial period, I suggest that the Islam found in Indonesia, exists in a variety of ways but cannot be looked at without taking the historical context into consideration. As a consequence of large diversity among Indonesians both ethnically and religiously, Islam was never a united political force as in other countries. But how does the contemporary political environment affect religious identity construction for contemporary Indonesians? With the socio-religious climate in Indonesia one of dynamism, active participation and as it contains the largest Muslim populous in the world as well as one of the largest growing economies, Indonesia and the relationship between Islam and democracy is of increasing global importance.