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Title: Religion in Tamang society : a Buddhist community in northern Nepal
Author: Hall, Andrew R.
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 1982
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This thesis examines the interrelationship of the religious rituals, beliefs and specialists of a Tamang community in northern Nepal, where a variant of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism ('Lamaism') is found in tandem with Hindu festivals and an array of traditional tribal beliefs and practices including shamanism. A comprehensive account is first given of the community, including its economic basis and social structure. Particular attention is paid to household composition and the domestic cycle, and to clan and lineage structures. The importance of ritual in strengthening social bonds is noted, as is the way in which utilitarian activities are subordinated to religious values and ordered according to symbolic ideas of time and space. Three ritual modes are then described and discussed. First, those concerned with the protection of the individual and the community, either by appeals to the traditional village guardians or by invoking the Buddhist protective deities. Second, the use of exorcism to expel evil, personified as the demons and witches believed to cause illness, misfortune and death. Third, rituals which, by means of offerings to the high Buddhist deities, seek access to their divine power and compassion in order to transform the worshippers. In the course of this account the religious ideas which structure the rituals are encountered, as are the symbolic forms through which they are realised. Then the selection, training and empowerment of religious specialists are examined, as is their role as mediators between men and the gods. Finally, the different religious complexes are shown to be linked by common procedures and strategies for dealing with external threats to individual and communal well-being - and hence in competition with one another, but differentiated and opposed by their attitude towards traditional authority. Additionally they are hierarchically ordered in terms of values and moral range.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral