Drawing on original fieldwork, this book develops a fresh methodological approach to the study of indigenous understandings of disease as possession, and looks at healing rituals in different South Asian cultural contexts. Contributors discuss the meaning of 'disease', 'possession' and 'healing' in relation to South Asian religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Sikhism, and how South Asians deal with the divine in order to negotiate health and wellbeing.

The book goes on to look at goddesses, gods and spirits as a cause and remedy of a variety of diseases, a study that has proved significant to the ethics and politics of responding to health issues. It contributes to a consolidation and promotion of indigenous ways as a method of understanding physical and mental imbalances through diverse conceptions of the divine. Chapters offer a fascinating overview of healing rituals in South Asia and provide a full-length, sustained discussion of the interface between religion, ritual, and folklore. The book presents a fresh insight into studies of Asian Religion and the History of Medicine.

part |31 pages


chapter |14 pages

Possession in theory and practice

Historical and contemporary models

chapter |16 pages

Is possession really possible?

Towards a hermeneutics of transformative embodiment in South Asia

part |44 pages

Possession from the West

chapter |13 pages

Possession in an Islamist valley

Spirits, Islamists and love in Chitral, northern Pakistan

chapter |14 pages

Ancestors, demons and the goddess

Negotiating the animate cosmos of Jainism

part |48 pages

Possession from the North

chapter |19 pages

Disease, the demons and the Buddhas

A study of Tibetan conceptions of disease and religious practice

chapter |14 pages

Shamanic healing

A jhāñkri in the city

part |39 pages

Possession from the Eest

chapter |20 pages

The whisper of the spirits

Shamanic kinship and the cult of the ancestors among the Lanjia Saoras of Orissa

chapter |17 pages

In the shadow of the devil

Traditional patterns of Lepcha culture reinterpreted

part |46 pages

Possession from the South

chapter |16 pages

Gumēg, Wizārišn andTan-drustīh

Affliction and healing in Zoroastrianism

chapter |14 pages

Possession as protection and affliction

The goddess Mariyamman's fierce grace 1

chapter |14 pages

The obsolescence of the demons?

Modernity and possession in Sri Lanka

chapter |6 pages