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These are the guiding questions taken up here. In approaching these questions, moreover, we shall give special attention to the kinds of exchanges and transactions that are engaged in, or are not engaged in, by occupants of ritual roles. This connects the study with a tradition of social analysis that can be said to have begun with Marcel Mauss ; orig. These new insights will play an important part in the book's final chapter in which Jain ritual patterns are compared with other South Asian ritual cultures. My materials are drawn from two periods of field research.

I spent the summer of in the Gujarati city of Ahmedabad. Here my work was quite narrowly focused on the structure of the principal Svetambar rite of temple worship the eightfold worship or astprakari puja. This initial investigation was followed by a stay of several months in Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan, in see map of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

This time my research was much more broadly based. Ahmedabad is a major Jain center and is dominated by the Svetambar sect; my work in this city was entirely with Svetambar Jains. Jaipur also has a large Jain population, but its composition is very different from Ahmedabad's. Most Jaipur Jains are Digambars, but there is also a relatively small but flourishing Svetambar community, mainly supported by the gemstone business. As in Ahmedabad, my work in Jaipur was focused mainly on the Svetambars, but I was also able to learn something about Digambar traditions during my stay in this city.

An important difference in my work in these two cities has to do with caste. Here the principal Svetambar castes are only two, the Osvals and the Srimals, who are more or less equal in status but with the Osvals the larger of the pair. In Jaipur the division between superior bisa and inferior dasa sections, so important to intracaste stratification among Osvals and Srimals elsewhere, seems to have fallen into desuetude, and intermarriage between Osvals and Srimals is not uncommon.


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My concern was primarily with the Osvals of Jaipur, and particularly with the relationship in this caste between Jainism and clan and caste identity. The image-worshiping Svetambar communities in Ahmedabad and Jaipur are very similar in most ways. The principal difference is that in Ahmedabad and in Gujarat generally most temple-going Svetambar Jains are linked with a particular ascetic lineage—that is, a lineage of monks and nuns based on disciplic succession—called the Tapa Gacch, whereas in Jaipur the dominant ascetic lineage is the Khartar Gacch. This in itself is a highly significant fact about the two communities.

The Tapa Gacch is currently in a flourishing state, with large numbers of monks and nuns. The Khartar Gacch is much smaller and.

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This means that the lay Svetambar Jains of Ahmedabad enjoy much more sustained contact with monks and nuns—especially monks—than do their co-religionists in Jaipur. Khartar Gacch nuns are almost always present in Jaipur, but monks visit only from time to time. This issue aside, however, the ritual practices of the two communities are very similar in most ways.

Accordingly, my treatment of general ritual idioms—by which I mean. At another level, however, there are certain special features of the Jaipur scene to which I shall give very close attention. Associated with the Khartar Gacch is a complex of ritual and belief—a "ritual subculture," as I call it—based on the veneration of certain deceased monks known as Dadagurus or Dadagurudevs.

The cult of the Dadagurus is central to the ritual pursuit of worldly success among the Svetambar Jains of Jaipur, and it is also linked to the origin mythology of clans belonging to the Osval caste. This is where caste becomes relevant in the Jaipur context. An extended discussion of the cult of the Dadagurus will enable us to see how, in one Svetambar community, the tension between ascetic and worldly values including social values is dealt with and mitigated.

This book is an interpretation of a Svetambar Jain tradition from the standpoint of the theoretical ideas sketched out earlier. I use the term interpretation deliberately. I wish to emphasize the fact that I have not attempted to write anything resembling a complete ethnography of either a religious way of life or of the way of life of a localized religious community. Instead, I have concentrated on a particular analytical problem and have pursued it wherever it has taken me.

The trail I followed led me to discussions of Jainism and Jain affairs with many individuals, to ritual performances, to texts and other writings, and to various temples and sacred centers. But there are important areas of Jain life to which it did not lead me, and which are therefore not treated—or are not fully treated—in this book. For example, lay and mendicant ascetic praxis is only touched upon.

In this respect the present study is a narrow one. I believe that my findings are certainly relevant to any general understanding of Jain life, but I do not present them as constituting such an understanding. The materials on which the book is based were obtained by means of observations of rituals and other aspects of Jain life, from formal and informal interviews, and also from a wide variety of writings. My use of written sources is, in fact, a good deal more extensive than is common in ethnographies.

It needs to be stressed that the conventional model of ethnographic research—participant observation and conversation—is not fully adequate in the case of the Jains. The level of edu-. Jain traditions have always been productive of written materials, and this includes not only texts in classical languages but currently many works in modern Indian languages and even English.

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The books I encountered in the homes of my respondents were often well thumbed, suggesting that they are indeed read. Anyone who would understand Jain life must read what Jains themselves read. My contact with written materials developed as a natural consequence of following the trail of my inquiry wherever it might lead.

In the course of my inquiries individuals would place books and other written materials in my hands as relevant to my questions, and in this sense my interest in literature emerged from the fieldwork situation itself. The writings in question included ritual manuals, texts designed to be recited or sung in rituals, published discourses of ascetics, and compilations of caste and clan histories. These materials, mostly written in Hindi, played a part in my investigation somewhat like that of passive "informants.

The book starts with an analysis of basic ritual roles.


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Chapter One utilizes a detailed account of a complex rite of worship as a way of introducing the Jain concept of what constitutes a proper object of worship. This rite tells a story, and the story it tells defines with special clarity what it means to be worthy of worship in the Jain sense. To be worthy of worship is to be an ascetic, and the Tirthankar's life—which is what the text of the rite is about—epitomizes ascetic values. The chapter then turns to an account of Jain cosmography, cosmology, and biology; here we see a world portrayed in which only the most radical asceticism makes intellectual and moral sense.

The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of living ascetics, that is, the monks and nuns who most directly exemplify Jainism's ascetic values. Chapter Two turns Chapter One around; now our concern is the role of the worshiper, as opposed to the object of worship. The chapter begins with an account of a ritual that illustrates the role of the worshiper; this leads to a discussion of the nature of Jain deities—as opposed to Tirthankars—and also to the metaphor of kingship, which emerges as a central feature of this Jain tradition.

A Tirthankar is someone who might have been a worldly king but who became an ascetic and spiritual king instead. A Jain layperson is someone who venerates. But because of the tradition's unrelenting commitment to ascetic values, this metaphor proves unstable. When the Tirthankars are worshiped there is an inherent and apparently unresolvable tension between otherworldly and worldly values, and worldly values must always give way in the end. Chapter Three narrows the book's focus to Jaipur and those Svetambar Jains who are associated with the ascetic lineage known as the Khartar Gacch.

The chapter introduces the cult of the Dadagurus. In this cult the dominant image of the relationship between worshiper and object of worship is redefined and given a somewhat different symbolic surround. It is certainly a form of worship that is attuned to Jainism's central values, for the objects of worship are Jain ascetics; but in this cult asceticism supports, instead of challenging, the worldly aspirations of devotees.

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I characterize this cult as a ritual subculture because, although the ritual patterns it employs are distinctively and recognizably Jain, it nonetheless differs in significant ways from the dominant ritual culture focused on worship of the Tirthankars. The Dadagurus not only serve as a connecting point between the worldly aspirations of lay worshipers and ascetic powers associated ultimately with the Tirthankars, but they also provide a link between religious values and the structure of the contemporary Jain community. The link is seen in the origin mythology of Jain clans, and this is the principal concern of Chapter Four.

The metaphor of kingship is again central; most of the Jains we see in Jaipur today are believed to be the descendants of warrior-kings who were tamed and vegetarianized by great ascetics of the past.

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Chapter Five places Jain ritual culture in a wider South Asian context. The focus of this chapter is on patterns of religious gifting, and we learn that from this standpoint Jain ritual culture is not truly distinctive. Although some Hindu ritual cultures exhibit striking differences from Jain patterns, at least one Hindu ritual culture seems very similar to that of the Jains. Among other things, this discovery raises serious questions about conventional methods used in classifying South Asian religions.

The materials surveyed suggest that, from the standpoint of ritual culture, there is no clear boundary between Jain and Hindu traditions. Instead, we are dealing with a series of logical permutations of the relationship between the roles of those who worship and those who are worshiped in South Asia. We begin with the namaskar mantra.