Lamas, Shamans and Ancestors

Village Religion in Sikkim

Series:

This careful study of the co-existence over time of Buddhism and shamanism among the Lhopo (Bhutia) people of Sikkim sheds new light on their supposedly hostile relationship. It examines the working relationships between Buddhist lamas and practitioners of bon, taking into consideration the sacred history of the land as well as its more recent political and economic transformation. Their interactions are presented in terms of the contexts in which lamas and shamans meet, these being rituals of the sacred land, of the individual and household, and of village and state. Village lamas and shamans are shown to share a conceptual view of reality which is at the base of their amiable coexistence. In contrast to the hostility which, the recent literature suggests, characterizes the lama-shaman relationship, their association reveals that the real confrontation occurs when village Buddhism is challenged by its conventional counterpart.

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Biographical Note

Anna Balikci, Ph.D. (2002) in Social Anthropology, SOAS, University of London, is Research Coordinator at the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Sikkim. She is the editor of the Bulletin of Tibetology and author of a number of articles and films on Sikkim.

Review Quotes

"The particular value of this work lies in its presentation of an unusually well-documented case study concerned with the social and religious transformation of a Sikkimese village in the twentieth century, (...). The plan chosen to expose this complex reality leads to a few repetitions, but the ethnographic material is exceptionally rich, varied and well described. It also opens many avenues for comparison with other Himalayan communities. Anna Balikci’s book is essential reading for anyone interested in this region." – ANNE DE SALES, in: Bulletin of Tibetology 85
"This book will be of great value not only for those interested in Himalayan syncretism, bön, or shamanism in general, but also for anyone with an interest in Sikkim or a detailed ethnographic account of Himalayan village life." – Abraham Zablocki, Agnes Scott College, in: Religious Studies Review 38.2

Table of contents

PREFACE
A NOTE ON THE TEXT
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

PART I: THE SETTING

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER TWO: PERSPECTIVES ON THE PAST
CHAPTER THREE: THE HIDDEN LAND AND ITS SUPERNATURAL POPULATION
CHAPTER FOUR: VILLAGE RELIGION: RITUAL OF ILLNESS
CHAPTER FIVE: THE SHAMANS

PART II: THE LAND

CHAPTER SIX: THE LAND, ITS WORKERS, HARVESTS AND RITUALS
CHAPTER SEVEN: THE LAND, ITS PROBLEMS AND RITUAL SOLUTIONS

PART III: THE HOUSEHOLD

CHAPTER EIGHT: LIFE AND RITUAL CYCLES OF HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS
CHAPTER NINE: CURING AND PROTECTIVE RITUALS OF THE HOUSEHOLD

PART IV: THE VILLAGE AND THE STATE

CHAPTER TEN: RITUAL, THE VILLAGE AND THE STATE
CHAPTER ELEVEN: CONVENTIONAL BUDDHISM AND VILLAGE RELIGION
CHAPTER TWELVE: CONCLUSION: THE APPARENT DICHOTOMY BETWEEN BON AND BUDDHISM

GLOSSARY............................................................................................
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

Readership

All those interested in the culture, religion and history of the people of Sikkim, the Himalayas and Tibet, as well as Asian shamanism, village Buddhism and multi-faceted ritual systems.

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