Living Banaras

Hindu Religion in Cultural Context

Edited by Bradley R. Hertel & Cynthia Ann Humes

Subjects: Sociology Of Religion
Series: SUNY series in Hindu Studies
Paperback : 9780791413326, 320 pages, March 1993
Hardcover : 9780791413319, 320 pages, April 1993

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Table of contents




Bradley R. Hertel and Cynthia Ann Humes

1. Crossing the Water: Pilgrimage, Movement, and Environmental Scenography of the Ramlila of Ramnagar

Richard Schechner

2. Staring at Frames Till They Turn into Loops: An Excursion through Some Worlds of Tulsidas

Linda Hess

3. What's Taking Place: Neighborhood Ramlilas in Banaras

Thomas Parkhill

4. Hanuman and the Moral Physique of the Banarsi Wrestler

Joseph S. Alter

5. Religious Division and the Mythology of the Past

Mary Searle-Chatterjee

6. The Monastic Structure of Banarsi Dandi Sadhus

Dana W. Sawyer

7. The Goddess of the Vindhyas in Banaras

Cynthia Ann Humes

8. Lolark Kund: Sun and Shiva Worship in the City of Light

Ratnesh K. Pathak and Cynthia Ann Humes

9. Language Choice, Religion, and Identity in the Banarsi Community

Beth Simon


Cynthia Ann Humes

A. The Thirty-One-Day Program of the Ramnagar Ramlila

B. An Encapsulation of the Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas

C. Major Characters of the Ramayana

D. General Glossary





By focusing on contemporary popular religious traditions, the book represents a substantial contribution to the study of modern religious practices in Banaras, holy city of India. This book offers in-depth, ethnographic views of many contemporary popular religious practices that have, for the most part, received little attention by scholars. Topics covered include the Ramlila celebrations, devotion to Hanuman, and goddess worship, and the way that Banarsi Boli, the local dialect of Banaras, supports its users in their identification with the sacred city.

Bradley R. Hertel is Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Cynthia Ann Humes is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Claremont McKenna College.


"The book builds upon previous work about the importance of Banaras; it adds to our empirical understanding of society and culture in India; and it provides one of the best examples I have seen of fieldwork based research where different individual scholars, commenting from various perspectives, achieve a holistic, comprehensive result. " — Charles R. Brooks, John Jay College, City University of New York