chapter  2
24 Pages

The Kathmandu Valley: The Mandala as Indic Trope

In this chapter, I elucidate the confi guration of the mandala, that quintessential and powerful metaphor that the Indic civilisation has so long lived by (Tambiah 1977; Geertz 1980; Lakoff and Johnson 1980; Dirks 1993). Before doing that, however, I will fi rst briefl y delineate the cultural history of the pan-South Asian Tantric traditions within which my ethnographic data are embedded; thereafter, I zoom into the Kathmandu Valley where my fi eldwork was actually conducted. There I introduce the mandala trope, which is so overwhelmingly widespread in the Indic civilisation and is transparently exhibited in the spatial distribution and the civic space of the three major traditional towns of the Valley where my informants make their lives, namely Bhaktapur, Kathmandu and Patan. After exploring this public, mesocosmic aspect of the mandala, I go on to describe the macro and microcosmic facets of this potent and ubiquitous cultural design for Indic living, which then enables me to proceed to the description of the nature of Indic individuality in chapter 3.