The first book to offer a detailed framework, a fine-grained history, and an analytically nuanced understanding of one of the rarest branches of Hindu worship.
Hinduism, as is well known, has taken a multitude of shapes and forms. Some Hindu "little traditions" have remained obscure or understudied to this day due to their regional remoteness. One such offshoot is the influential cult of Mahasu, which has existed since medieval times in a part of the western Himalaya. The deity at the core of the cult takes the form of four primary Mahasus with territorial influence, installed in various far-flung temples. Their geographical center is the village of Hanol, and the larger territory is integrated into the Mahasu politico-religious system by a peripatetic deity with loyal followers across a considerable domain.
Mahasu remains influential in the region, its ritual practices having remained quite distinct despite social change. An anthropological survey was conducted in its terrain during British times, but Till Kingdom Come is the first book to offer a detailed framework, a fine-grained history, and an analytically nuanced understanding of one of the rarest branches of Hindu worship.
Lokesh Ohri is an anthropologist and activist who has worked for several years in the Himalaya. He was a doctoral fellow at the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Germany, and has worked on political rituals, heritage, and resource use in the mountains. He is currently working on an extensive documentation of the river Ganges from source to mouth.
"A fascinating piece of work. I have learned a lot and feel honoured, almost initiated, to have had such a knowledgeable guide to the Mahasus, their realm, and the devta ka kaam. " — John Keay, author of India: A History, Revised and Expanded Edition
"Mahasu Devta was—and in many respects still is—the most powerful local deity in the Western Himalayas. The history of his cult tells us a great deal about Himalayan culture and religion, about relations between Paharis, the colonial regime, and about how the hills have changed in the course of modernisation. " — William S. Sax, author of God of Justice: Ritual Healing and Social Justice in the Central Himalayas