Criminal Gods and Demon Devotees

Essays on the Guardians of Popular Hinduism

Edited by Alf Hiltebeitel

Subjects: Hindu Studies
Paperback : 9780887069826, 503 pages, September 1989
Hardcover : 9780887069819, 503 pages, October 1989

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Table of contents



Alf Hiltebeitel

1 Brahmans and Meat-Eating Gods

Madeleine Biardeau

2 Outcaste, Guardian, and Trickster: Notes on the Myth of Kattavarayan

David Dean Shulman

3 The Changing Face of Kattavarayan

Eveline Masilamani-Meyer

4 Tricking the Goddess: Cowherd Katamaraju and Goddess Ganga in the Telugu Folk Epic

Velcheru Narayana Rao

5 Night of the Growing Dead: A Cult of Virabhadra in Coastal Andhra

David M. Knipe

6 Bhairava's Royal Brahmanicide: The Problem of the Mahabrahmana

Elizabeth-Chalier Visuvalingam

7 New Data on the Kapalikas

David N. Lorenzen

8 Rapist or Bodyguard, Demon or Devotee? Images of Bhairo in the Mythology and Cult of Vaisno Devi

Kathleen M. Erndl

9 The Bir Babas of Banaras and the Deified Dead

Diane M. Coccari

10 The Capitulation of Mani: A Conversion Myth in the Cult of Khandoba

John M. Stanley

11 Between Ghost and God: A Folk Deity of the Deccan

G√ľnther D. Sontheimer

12 Draupadi's Two Guardians: The Buffalo King and the Muslim Devotee

Alf Hiltebeitel

13 Violent and Fanatical Devotion among the Nayanars: A Study in the Periya Puranam of Cekkilar

D. Dennis Hudson

14 From Robber Baron to Royal Servant of God? Gaining a Divine Body in South India

Joanne Punzo Waghorne

15 The Transgressive Sacrality of the Diksita: Sacrifice, Criminality and Bhakti in the Hindu Tradition

Sunthar Visuvalingam

Selected Bibliography




The Hindu sacred order is guarded by the very gods who violate it and the demons who oppose it. This book is a who's who of such transgressive figures, both familiar and unfamiliar, showing their place within the Hindu order that they violate. It is also a reflection of the serious scholarly debate over the nature and composition of this Hindu order.

The chapters range from pan-Hindu deities such as Bhairava and Virabhadra to guardian gods of specific regions and lineages and of different goddess cults. Chapters cover violent themes in SAaivite hagiography, the position of Brahmans in relation to cultic carnivorism, guardian heroes in folk epic, the deified dead, the royal mythology of a "criminal caste," and a wide-ranging overview of transgressive sacrality.

Alf Hiltebeitel is a Professor in the Department of Religion at George Washington University. He is the author of The Ritual of Battle: Krishna in the Mahabharata and The Cult of Draupadi.