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REVIEW OF WOMENS STUDIES

In Pursuit of the Virgin Whore: Writing Caste/Outcaste Histories


Priyadarshini Vijaisri

Literature on caste and gender oppression has developed sophisticated methods and theories but there is little effort to explore the interconnections of varied feminine experiences. The silence by the upper caste feminist movements on marginalised femininities reinforces the notion of the homogeneity of Indian femininity. The corpus of works on sacred prostitution also reflects this notion. This article focuses on the outcaste ritual women who either as priestesses of temples or as moving shrines continue to be central to the religious cultural order in villages across parts of southern India. The fundamental challenge in writing the history of the outcastes is to make a paradigmatic shift and move beyond the history of pathos that defines the research on them.

This paper is based on a study of the Mathangi/Sakti tradition in Andhra Pradesh and is part of a forthcoming book titled In Pursuit of the Virgin Whore. I am indebted to many colleagues and friends, especially Ganantha Obeyeskere, Suresh Sharma, T N Madan and Chinna Rao Yagati. Thanks to Anandhi for her continuing support. Priyadarshini Vijaisri (vijaisrip@gmail.com) is at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.
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he dalit feminist discourse and mainstream feminist discourse have both consistently treated outcaste women and caste Hindu women as exclusive categories. In the process the focus has rarely ever been on the interconnectedness of feminine experiences. For more than a decade this author has been exploring the experience of sacred prostitutes, intermittently, moving between the archives and the field. Outcaste women in religious traditions and their identity as single women offer a vantage point from where issues of sexuality, caste and religion in its complexity continue to bewilder scholars, throwing up conceptual and methodological challenges. Moving beyond the order and solitude of the archives, to the chaos and dynamism of the field with the accompanying frustrations has been extremely challenging. This study draws from the authors research experiences to explore, first, the possibilities of moving beyond the impasse, in terms of dialogue and epistemology. Second, the issue of concern is the problematic disjunction between activism and scholarship within the outcaste movement, its impact on the production of knowledge and the politics of emancipation. Third, there is the constraint of inadequate institutional resources and effective use of techniques of ethno history in the project of urgent ethnography to recover traditions on the brink of extinction. And finally, the need for a serious engagement with the politics of reform and the process of NGO isation in writing the histories of women and traditions displaced by modernist agendas and State interventions. The term outcaste as a conceptual category is deployed here instead of the other popular, political, legal categories like untouchables, dalits, or scheduled castes, etc. The deployed term is not simply used as a selfdefining category but as a critical discursive category. It does not essentially suggest the notion of the outcastes as being external to the caste structures, that occur in brahminical ideology and is prominently emphasised in colonial ethnography. It is meant to suggest a category that is counter positioned to the dominant mode of being, i e, that of the touchable. It also imputes an epistemic privilege to those at the boundaries of competing local structures and recognises their tenuous position. It also emphasises the outcaste as a mutating category, as against the dominant conception, and is crucial so far as there is scope for recognising the tension within that discursive category and can be validated, especially, given its idiomatic usages within the emic discursive practices.

The Powerful Outcaste Being


Despite the burgeoning field of gender and caste studies, one is struck by the almost exclusivist nature of these fields. While

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iterature on caste and gender oppression has developed sophistil cated methods and theories there is little effort to explore the interconnections of varied feminine experiences. Critiquing the hollowness of upper caste feminist scholarship, dalit feminists postulate a more encompassing feminist discourse encapsulated in the idea of triple alienation.1 The mainstream feminist movement in India could not ignore this challenge posed by dalit feminists. Interestingly, this silence on marginalised femininities by the upper caste feminist movements can be broadly seen as one of self-absolvation2 and of critical introspection.3 Therefore, quintessential Indian femininity has generally become synchronic with orthodox, textual and upper caste femininity. The corpus of works on sacred prostitution also reflects this notion. For instance, the ideological formulation of the private and public deployed by feminists, predicated on the ontological reality of the upper caste women, reinforces the notion of the homogeneity of Indian femininity. The debates are also largely influenced by western scholarship that looks for parallels to sisterhood/ womanhood in other cultures. And thus, in the Indian context is mapped a cultural construct that evolves beyond abstract notions a substantial notion of femininity redeemed from caste and family structures. The notion of strijati (signifies a generic caste of women as a distinct social category) is centred around the positioning of a specific category of temple women known as devadasis. The underlying paradoxical tension is in their being positioned in-between the renouncers and their non-procreative, ritualised and proactive erotic identity. However, the term jati as a construct far from signifying castelessness or being external to the structure is foregrounded in the conceptual order of the hierarchy. For instance strijati itself is classified into categories/jatis, with padmini, chankini, dakini, chitini all, alluding to particular feminine traits and cultural categories.4 Also the notion is not a supra structural construct and can be applicable to particular contexts and is inadequate to engage with the heterogeneous groups of ritual women, especially located in heterodox traditions, or outside or on the boundaries of the fourfold caste structure. It becomes extremely complex as the ideal of the feminine ritual specialist manifests across the villages of south India in varied forms. This work focuses on the outcaste ritual women who either as priestess attached to a particular temple or as moving shrines, are indispensable in the cultural sphere. While the temple women have lodged in popular memory, the outcaste ritual women despite the reform legislations continue to be central to the religious cultural order in villages across parts of southern India. The complex identity of the outcaste ritual woman remains invisible as ritual specialist, healer and priestess, ruptures multiple spaces and thus leads us to fuzzy, elusive ones that embody elements of negotiation and conflict. One of the incidents that struck me was of a conversation with the ex-jogatis (women dedicated to the goddess are known as jogatis in Karnataka and as joginis in Andhra Pradesh). One got a bleak sense of the psychological effects of the transgressive erotic identity on upper caste housewives, and its impact on the touchable private space. So also, the resignation or presumed stoic dignity of the upper caste housewife to the transgression of the intimate space has hardly received attention. Such

intersecting spaces may perhaps enable us to decode issues of feminine anxiety, conflict, negotiation, emotional dilemma and desire grounded in customary behaviours and beliefs. One of the village festivals proved to be an illustrative example. The Mathamma (goddess) is a village guardian goddess and caste deity (kula devata) of the Madigas. The outcaste female ritual specialist known as mathamma or mathangi, believed to possess miraculous abilities and dangerous powers and in the process becoming an intermediary, is at the centre of the ritual activity. She enables the community to engage in a dialogue with the goddess. What was striking was the feminine as well as the communal ritual circle that the goddess had in her command. The inversions of dominant models of interaction under play are perceptible. The pujari/mathamma (also used to refer to the priestess) of the temples in the villages of Nizamabad and Chittoor are outcaste and lower caste women who are entrusted with the management of the shrine and preside over its rituals. The pujari when possessed by the goddess was believed to have miraculous powers to prophesise, bless the devotees and offer them protection. Women from the Golla and Naidu communities (on the day that the author visited the temple) sought her guidance, pleaded with her to name a newborn baby, and asked for gynaecological advice. One can perceive a different religious principle at work here, which recognises the mysterious powers of the outcaste woman, the dangerous and benign power she recreates for the village community. Similarly, the colonial texts recapitulate a powerful imagery of the mathangi, the priestess who sips toddy and spits it out on the assembled touchable/untouchable devotees, and rubs her buttocks against the shoulders of the circle of the elders in a ritual. Another one, encountering the brahmin and demanding toddy from him sings in excitement about how she humbled them (Thurston and Rangachari 1909). What is interesting is the unfolding of the intimate ritual interdependence between the untouchable and touchable subjects, suggesting a need to engage in a deeper exploration of the communal and feminine experience, from the bottom up. In this context one needs to reconsider the issue of religious power in juxtaposition to caste power in unravelling the collective life of various touchable and untouchable communities. The legends of caste and outcastes laud the outcastes as a heroic caste (Virulu) and also indicate how fictive kinship ties between these castes were celebrated.5 It is a matter of concern that such cultural interconnectedness and the quest for varying principles orienting such cultural linkages are yet to gain attention.

Links to Historical Processes


Without critical exploration of the historical past, the politics of rehabilitation, recovery of the ritual and sexual identity and analysis of the implications of such traditions on outcaste structures become meaningless. Thus explication of their tradition, and its multiple empirically evident dimensions meant an investigation of the outcaste religious tradition in a historical context. Generally, works on outcaste sacred prostitution isolate them from their specific cultural and religious context, either during the analysis within the frame of domination and subordination. This disjunction from historical processes renders them un fathomable thus dismissing such customs as unconnected to
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tructural processes and at best as regional ritual idiosyncrasies s associated with the illiterate superstitious masses. However the descriptive accounts of outcaste sacred prostitution since the early 20th century rarely mentioned the agency of the female ritual specialists, astounded by dreadful and awe-inspiring ritual practices with no readily available conceptual basis for reflection. To cite an authoritative account of the early 20th century by Whitehead (1921), religious practices of the village holistically degrade the human personality and virtually constitute a world of midsummer madness. This world was devoid of morality, lofty ideals or even sanity. For, in the festivals held in honour of the village deities there are a wild orgiastic excitement and a sad amount of drunkardness and morality that is most degrading (ibid). It lacked grandeur and majestic or compassionate feelings but was founded on the widely believed notion of fear. The fundamental challenge in writing the history of the outcastes is in making a paradigmatic shift, in moving beyond the history of pathos that defines and orients the research on outcastes. The occasional unsettling instances and situations that a researcher on the field encounters have been rendered unintelligible by construing them as exceptional or occasional reversals without substantial or enduring significance as compared to those considered as more crucial in exploring caste cultures. It is in fact such continuous reversals and the resilient cultural practices that reveal the outcaste specialists in their powerful self that need to be reckoned as also the fuzzy zones. It is only by consciously affecting a shift from analytical frames that fetishise and freeze outcastes into immutable cultural constructs can one approximate complex reality which then leads us to the more crucial question of how outcaste communities continue to be indispensable for caste cultures. Such recognition would further lead us to probe the complex meanings surrounding the structure, the ordered spaces, the boundaries and the multivalent notions of pollution itself. However, to reconstruct the past of the outcaste necessitates a movement beyond the order and security of the archives to the uncertainty and chaos of the field. Today the challenges one encounters in such endeavours strikingly resonate with those voices, despite the inherent flaws, that choose the untrodden path of entering the field to record outcaste religious practices. Emma Rauschenbusch-Cloughs (1899) description points to the bewildering ambiguity that surfaces in recording their voices despite her confession of having been able to feel the heart-beat of the folk and their religious aspirations. Wilbur Elmores (1915) synthesis of the problems confronting such intellectual enterprise continues to be highly instructive to this day. As a non-native researcher curious to explore what she terms as nominal Hinduism, she makes mention of several practical factors that could be dissuading. First, this branch of nominal Hinduism lacks systematic teaching connected with village cults or worship. No interesting philosophy lies behind them. The illiterate people possess no religious literature parallel to that of the Vedas and whatever legends existed were ingrained in the memory of their Wandering Singers who attend the festivals and assist in the worship. Added to this was the practical impossibility of access to such information as it was jealously guarded and it was considered ritually offensive to print or transcribe them.
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Rauschenbusch-Clough notes that the mathangi who consented to be photographed incurred the displeasure of her followers. Second, there is the conscious reluctance of the educated castes, especially the brahmins, to acknowledge their pervasive influence and the relevance of village religious practices, albeit, their passive condolence. Third, she underlines the challenges of ethnographic techniques, entailing a protracted stay in the field, intimate contact with people, acute observation and a great deal of travelling in collecting data concerning the local village deities and myths. One of the insurmountable tasks faced by the nonnatives was their inability to fathom the world view of the folk. Fourth, the lack of a pontifical head and the chaotically communitarian character rendered it unattractive. The bloody rituals evoked a sense of repulsion. A further obstacle lies in the fact that even if a foreigner is inclined to do fieldwork and make personal investigations many of the rites and ceremonies are performed at such times and in such places that it is almost impossible to conduct satisfactory research, and some of the orgies are of such nature that, even if one had the opportunity, it would take strong nerves and some bravery to observe what is going on. The missionaries have relied extensively on field study and the communities experiences unlike other streams. Though the fragmentary nature of the information might seem frustrating, the descriptive accounts remain unprecedented in terms of scope and detail. Notwithstanding vast accounts of descriptive detail the excessively moralised and biased framework in which it got structured had a detrimental impact on later studies. Though occasional studies have sought to explore the emic model it is yet to supersede the 20th century colonial paradigm. These works provide invaluable glimpses into the ritual domain. Despite being episodic in nature, the inability to delve into the realm of ideas or consciousness of the actors led to the outright dismissal of the possible ability of the subject to comprehend their actions philosophically or attenuate any meaning to their actions. It was thus left to sociology and anthropology, disciplines equipped to deal with such cultures.

Uninspiring Research
The latter half of the 20th century has witnessed renewed interest in studies of outcastes and concomitantly their religious identity. It needs to be noted that despite the great prospects of field research Indian scholars have often produced passive and uninspiring work. Cultural studies on outcastes within the country reflected a poverty of methods and theory despite privileged access to the rich and variegated field data. This could be attributed to opacity of the immediate, little appreciation of the potential the traditions hold in evolving theory and even a subconscious contempt towards these traditions. The subjects have rarely been recognised as capable of reflection and have merely been treated as objects or data that could best fit into mechanically devised quantitative techniques. The discourse on outcastes is foregrounded around basic issues of cultural and religious identity, and formulated in terms of cultural conformity, as to how the various elements of dissent constituting the outcaste religious identity are not substantial enough or ephemeral to contest the dominant encompassing structure (Kees W Bolle 1983).6 At the same time influential

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studies have focused on the question of extreme powerlessness in everyday life, while suggesting the ritual domain as the only autonomous space (Pouline Kolenda 1981). The compensatory potential of religion and its uniqueness for the excluded and marginalised implied that it was eventually a religion of the oppressed. However, this autonomy is ruled out systematically through the introduction of the notion of continuum through indicators like segmentation of higher and lower castes, genealogical bridges, interfaces, replication of ritual roles, all the terms reinforcing legitimacy of caste ethos. C J Fuller (1988) emphatically terms it a double process of legitimisation. However, despite denial of streaks of dissent in outcaste traditions, scholars fail to adequately explain the reasons or historical causes for the absence or failure of oppressed, lowly communities to evolve ideologies that contest their own location. The oppressive ideology and the all-encompassing structure which it pervades remain unexplained. Interestingly, except rare attempts,7 studies on outcaste culture and religions have been largely based on Dumontian structural framework or the hegemonic Varna system, with necessary modifications to suit regional variations. Studies on outcastes reveal the limitations in existing paradigms towards understanding outcaste culture and religion. To a certain extent one can link it to the intellectual legacy of Louis Dumonts (1966) widely recognised monumental work.8 The Homo Hierarchicus disentangles in depth the caste structure as a quintessentially religious hierarchical structure. Drawing on brahminical sacred scriptures he outlines a magnificent superstructure and from the apex rarely finds values, processes, conflicts of significance at the bottom. The structure is fixed, categories are neat and processes are static. Unlike ideas, these are regarded as shallow. Within the holistic structure however, the untouchables are perceived as specialists in impurity and the superstructure rests to a great extent on their cooperation in maintaining purity. Dumont reinstated the notion of a religious structure, oriented to the welfare of the hierarchised constituent groups, with ensured subsistence to each according to his status (ibid). The issue of permanent impurity is not a major concern here as is the structure he seeks to salvage. Thus, divinity like the caste structure itself, Dumont argues, is a relation between rank opposites, rather than a cluster of contrasting attributes. Purity/impurity is a basic structuring principle of deities producing two models, one higher vegetarian and the other lower non-vegetarian/meat-eating deities. His pervasive influence in writings on outcaste religion is evident in the manner issues are framed. Religious ideology encompassing the locus of such power is frozen at the top. Thus parallel locales of power across this structure, and at the bottom are redundant. Those outside the structure are irrelevant. What is intriguing is that a principle of binary opposition explained in religious terms does not align on a common binding principle. The contiguous pair, for instance, the brahmin and kshatriya is positioned in opposition to the vaishyas given that the customs of pair are predicated on oppositional values. Logically, perhaps the contiguous pair of religious specialist with graded purity and impurity could have been a critical criterion to understand the notion of religious power,

which, in turn, could have led to the intense dynamic domain of contestation. In structural analysis, the relationship between the castes and outcastes is explained as fundamentally determined by negative emotionalism, like for instance, aversion driven by the religious notion of impurity and pollution. Consequently, any other emotional traits like anxiety, dormant fear or even communal conflict are seen as irrelevant in understanding structural relations. Contempt becomes a dominant behavioural attitude determining the interactional relation between pure and impure. Similarly, several other paradigms like Redfields (1955) great tradition and little tradition, or Srinivasans (1952) sanskritisation have sought to delineate the larger processes within the ideological framework of Hinduism. These models have been critiqued, often for their superficial observations on what is termed non-Sanskrit religion both basically explaining disjunction in terms of the thread of continuity with differing emphasis locating it in relation to caste ideology. Reacting to these trends, Kolenda (1981) calls for a deeper understanding of this domain suggesting the need to acknowledge it as a village religious system in itself along with sensitivity to the native world view. Generally, two broad trends can be discerned in the existing studies on outcaste religious traditions. First, the structural functional analysis that focuses on the relationship between the structure and religious practices and their functional significance for instance shamanism in resolving anxieties and powerlessness. The underlying idea is that these specific religious beliefs and practices encapsulate the religion of the oppressed and the rituals are compensation for lack of secular powers. However, these religious traditions are presumed to lack any philosophical basis or dignity of the higher gods that are ethnically and culturally distinct from those professing brahmanism. For instance, in her writings on the cult of the Bhangis of Khalapur village in northern India, Kolenda postulates this link. The religious distinction becomes intelligible in the context of their experience of powerlessness in everyday life, exclusion, or the lack of symbolic capital or incentives. What is interesting is the identification of this ritual domain as an autonomous space, with an empowering potential A supernatural powerfulness is given to Churas who are powerless in the empirical world. this to a certain extent may substitute religious status for social status. My own earlier work incidentally was based on specific ritual events with evidently rejuvenating potential for the outcaste communities in an otherwise oppressive social space (Vijaisri 2008). However such perspectives, evoking ideas of protestant sectarianism or transformation of personality and its capacity to bring about liminal states leave unexplained dimensions of overall structure (Paul Younger 1980). Deviating from this frame is the theoretical proposition, strongly influenced by Dumonts ideas, that untouchable religious traditions suggest a continuum with the dominant sanskritic tradition. Moffatt (1979) argues that,
harijan religion is characterised by deep, tacit consensus with higher religion. The variations that do exist are different from those previously proposed; that they must be evaluated in relation to the deep framework of cultural conformity and they do not imply a change in the collective consciousness at the bottom of the system.
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Fuller (1988), further elaborating Dumontian notion of ranked opposition between divinity, refines it by what he terms as relational divinity:
Relational divinity of village deities is largely replaced by substantial divinity for purely vegetarian sanskritic deities whose quality of highness is disassociated from a complementary lowliness. Thus sanskritic deities symbolise a brahmanical ideal wherein relationship with inferiors is denied, whereas the cult of deities mainly worshipped by low castes legitimises the caste system.

Priests, Washermen, Drummer


Post Dumont, critical interpretations on the status of religious specialists across vertical categories have pointed out the limitations of the earlier paradigms that impute absolute superiority to the brahmin priestly class, as an acme of purity. Similarly, the analogous position of the ritual specialists across castes is indicated by A M Hocart (1950) who much earlier formulated a model of ritual organisation. This model centred around the king and at the village level the jajmani (a caste transactional system based on village service system operating with the cultural notion of mutuality, reciprocity and privileges predicated upon interdependent relationships) identified the underlying similarity of the ritual identities of priests, washermen, drummer, all alike treated as priests both in their relationship to the patron or the principal sacrificer and their symbolic meaning and significance to the order and well-being of the village. Declan Quigley (2000) shows the connections of singular religious value binding priestly categories, as vessels of inauspiciousness in relation to ritual kingship or dominant castes.9 Raheja (1988) reiterates this religious equivalence of services provided by the pure and impure specialists in relation to the king or the cultivator and critiques Dumont and Pollock for their lack of appreciation of this religious dimension instead giving priority to the ideology of hierarchy, particularly to the opposition of pure and impure. Following this model Brubakers (1979) study in fact illustrates the crucial relevance of this paradigmatic shift. With a unique medley of priestly group at the bottom he proposes a critical framework locating the multiple religious specialists in an alternative classificatory scheme of castes, i e, the dualistic model of society in south India, an encompassing system of social definition and differentiation, interwoven with the jajmani system. Further the village system is perceived not only as an integrated system in itself but also as, sacred topocosm with the goddess (often the founding goddess) as its vital centre. Bolle captures a particular dimension of ritual practices the sacrifice in all its frenzy and power transforming the social space in which caste identities are suspended. Acknowledging the complexity of such practices he notes the analytical constraints in studying these traditions as the myths do provide insights into the casualty of certain ritual acts but the teleos or problem of purpose is commonly untouched. On the other hand, the tradition of descriptive studies sought to explore the religious tradition in differing geographical contexts (Trande Vetschera 1978). This continued to be a dominant trend in such studies, which was broadly based on field data and eclectic borrowing from various theoretical paradigms in anthropology. However there is substantial curiosity, about the practitioners,
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goddesses, and ritual specialists, healing rituals, mythology, bloody rituals, rites of possession and village cosmology. Conversely, dalit studies is oriented by rationalism and protestantism largely influenced by Bhimrao Ambedkar, a fierce modernist. Dalit identity or reclamation of the outcaste self was in such an ideological frame feasible or legitimate only through a trenchant reflection or uncompromising break with the past that was construed as holistically digressive. The past was seen as lacking any reason for celebration or even invocation, and providing a critique of religion that was perceived as a basis for an oppressive structural order. This further led to disassociation from religious traditions that in modernistic parlance were superstitious and irrational. Only religious traditions that had the potential for liberating outcastes like Buddhism, with its strong egalitarian and humanitarian ethos were deployed in struggles for identity. As a consequence the traditional forms of Hinduism were of little utility and in fact counter positioned to the outcaste reformists and political movements, which a neo identity in the making was zealously searching for. Thus, the corpus of studies that seek to reconstruct outcaste traditions are singularly flawed by the absolute denial of all cultural posts. Instead its focus has been on the periods where visible signs of rational action or organised movements could be traced. In turn such political and reformist movements had a stultifying effect on the outcastes traditions that had evolved locales of power, strategies of survival and manipulations especially in the religious domain. Construction of such histories occasionally harks back to the Buddhist legacy connecting it to the outcastes modernist discourses resulting in methodo logical and theoretical limitations. The contemporary efforts towards mobilising outcastes oriented by these influences have uncritically pursued reformist programmes and failed to grapple with the complexity of cultural identity. Thus when other avenues for claiming power or practices are conducive to articulate and envisage claims to power, alienation from earlier structures or values emerges with demystification and reinvention of tradition. Thus construction of womens subjectivity and feminine being is deeply founded on the existential dilemma of the male.10 Thus, the burgeoning studies have had to struggle with homogeneous constraining ideas, processes, thereby relegating inexplicable data as irrelevant to profound or fundamental issues. Moreover, though the Hindu or religious identity of the outcastes is a moot question, it remains to be reframed. My own work based on diachronic as also synchronic analysis, albeit, problematic for the proverbial leaps and gaps, seeks to locate the roots of ritual identity, the complex process of transfiguration of identities, of exclusion from the caste structure to reintegration in the parallel dualistic structure (right and left hand blocks) that had been effectively functioning since the 11th century in southern India.11 It is in this parallel structure, rather in this structural opposition, that the outcaste identity synchronises with the fluid, dynamic and competing communitarian identities of the region. It also unfolds the cultural alliances between touchables and untouchables, as it pervades the ritual domain, attaining meaning on the basis of their marked ritual identity, spectacular reversals and the crucial cultural diagnosis manifest in the form of ritual abuse, ritual charters and moments of recall (Beck, Appadurai,

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Gananatha, Neil Brimes). What is remarkable is the persistence of the parallel tradition in which the centrality of the outcastes is evident with a remarkable process of debrahminisation. It is in this context that the notion of religious conflict and religious power and indeed structural opposition between the brahmin and the outcaste unfolds. Perhaps, this repositioning of outcastes in the historical framework is a possible step ahead in understanding how communities survive, negotiate and manipulate without cultural dissipation in a regressive social space.

Urgent Ethnography: Prospects and Challenges


In what began as the search for the virgin whore, scouting around the villages, tresspassing the zealously guarded village space, I was eventually led to the intriguing ritual domain. It was not possible anymore to ignore the great number of outcaste male ritual specialists who like the outcaste ritual women were compelling. This meant the need to critically rethink existing formulations of caste as an overarching hegemonic structure, the pervasive parallel ritual traditions in which they embody exclusive authority to the virtual exclusion of the brahman, the basis of religious power and the religio-cultural notions of purity and impurity, given the fluidity and competing space in south India, in a historical context. The field unfolded various other compelling actors, the setting that defined and sustained these identities and the radically distinct principles at work. Further, it also provided a possibility to understand how subjects exercised their agency and manipulated their identity in an oppressive cultural space. Initially this meant an unconscious eclectic approach to weave in disparate threads in order to fill in gaps to make sense of what had been

generally regarded as lost in the wilderness of the irrevocable past. The action on the field continues to bewilder, throwing up challenges in terms of methodology and theory. This underlines the need to reconstruct a frame to explicate the complex identity of outcaste ritual specialists, identifying the traditional ritual circles that defied the dominant model in caste Hindu religious traditions. Further, the reconstituted framework needs to articulate the encompassing ritual power of the outcastes, the need for reconceptualising categories for analysing the behaviour that defy the logic of the textual or hegemonic Hindu caste order. Given the rapid disintegrations of the religions, traditions and castes transmuted by interventions of the State, and the reformist and castes movements there is an urgent need to recover the ritual identity of the outcastes. Urgent anthropology is yet to gain recognition in India so that customs that are on the brink of dissolution can be recovered and voices at the periphery can be resurrected and salvaged from intellectual oblivion. Axtell (1979) broadly outlines the goal of the ethno-historian as follows:
to interpret the past linked to the present in providing responsible answers to their urgent questions about their place in time and space, about their overcultural roots and realities. By providing an accurate narrative analysis of cultural change in the past ethno-historians help the present generations understand its own cultural origin and thereby to cope with the present without pandering to the popular demand for panacea or prostituting their scholarly ideas.

The ethno-historian has the crucial advantage of having access to field experience along with the conventional sources, to reconstruct a linkage between the past and the present, to sift the grossly exaggerated or distorted from reality and to minimise

SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH METHODS FESTIVAL


This is with reference to the advertisement that appeared in EPW Vol. XlV, No. 40 (2nd October 2010) announcing the Social Science Research Methods Festival, organized by Ambedkar University, Delhi from 11th to 31st December 2010. Applications are invited from young social science scholars (doctoral and postdoctoral researchers and early career faculty) in India and abroad. The Festival, comprising of a series of workshops and short courses, is geared towards: Conceptualizing social science research and preparing research proposals Learning specialized applications and methods of social science research Building skills related to writing for publication. Ambedkar University, Delhi is now likely to receive financial support for organizing the Festival. Therefore, for doctoral scholars and those in need of financial assistance (1) the course fee will be substantially waived, (2) accommodation will be provided for by the University, and (3) travel to Delhi may be re-imbursed. For details on how to apply, please visit: www.aud.ac.in. For clarifications and submission of application materials, write to researchcentre.aud@gmail.com. The last date for submission of application materials has been extended to 15th November. 68
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Ambedkar University, Delhi (AUD)

Bharat Ratna Dr. B.R.

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bias and distortion. One of the problems with writings on caste, especially outcastes has been their susceptibility to anachronism, which ethno-history provides possibilities of remedying. This assumes greater relevance given the paucity of historical sources in understanding the history of the folk. It further provides a framework for synchronic analysis to reconstruct cultural patterns and relationship in a diachronic narrative. As a historian with little orientation in anthropological methodology one relies a great deal on intuition and personal choices. Treading into the field often seeking refuge in E P Thompsons (1978) confession of feeling like an impostor who could be accused of sheer amateurism. My own research concern has determined methodology which has more or less been an eclectic dabbling in qualitative techniques refining them as the field threw up unanticipated challenges.12 It was a constant discomfort with histories that reproduced narratives of oppression and exploitation. Thus what began as a nascent attempt at guerrilla history gradually led to a methodology that could enable recovery of the outcaste history. Initially this meant brief visits to the field over a period of time as an observer, not too immersed in the setting, and relying on informal interviews.13 Responses on the field and access to subjects made possible a rigorous field experience (Robert Emerson 1981). As Herbert Blumer (1969) points out, for an analytical understanding of social action, observation of the process by which it is constituted or ordered is necessary. It was necessary to explore the process not only to collect reliable data but also to compare it with the earlier rich descriptions that could reveal the vital links as also possible changes, distortions or misconceptions that have persisted over the years. A more closer field observation was needed to understand the cultural setting, the festive celebrations, the pattern of rituals that were complexly ordered through the week. Thus visits to the field during festivals, meetings, and fairs over a period of time provided an opportunity to develop field relations, access to personal details and experiences and formal and informal interviews with institutional resource persons and the educated middle class.14 Simultaneously at another level it meant getting back to my traditional sources, the archives. Consequently, with increasing familiarity with the field and subjects it became possible to adopt the approach of being a participant observer. This has been most effective in gaining access to data and to a great extent in developing field relations which provided further possibilities of forging vital links between the community and the academia. It should be noted that field experience has a critical significance in moulding the framing of issues. The consequences of reciprocal relation between the historian and the subject have been an issue of major methodological concern. Conventional or classical formulation of fieldwork roles advocated passive, non-obtrusive presence and modes of participation in order to avoid changing or even creating the phenomenon under study. Given the dynamism of the field this passive approach has been subject to criticism and the historian is instead advised to become aware of ones effects on the field for by affecting it they often get to know better what it is that they are studying (ibid). The anxieties of the actors occasionally unfold in a convulsed social space that is experiencing a cultural dilemma as the State
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seeks to reconfigure the religious space in its quest to modernise. Several rituals and customs practised by the village communities are criminalised, especially the dedication of women to gods/ goddesses, ritual dancing and sacrifice. The village then makes a collective effort to protect its space and it is only by intruding that contentious space that the researcher is sensitised to how one is perceived and treated by others. Another dimension of reciprocity between the subject and the historian concerns the influence of the former on the latter who strives for historical objectivity. On entering the field a number of influences begin to affect the consciousness of the researcher. The village community and the respondents had to be convinced of the authors moral and professional credentials.15 Yet it introduces the historian to the cultural settings of the field while hinting at the problems that lay ahead.16 The location and personality of the researcher also poses another problem. For instance, the author rushed to a certain village after being privy to the information of a village festival being celebrated there not anticipating the palpable hostility that it provoked amongst the village heads and the community. The villagers were terrified by the presence of an outsider since they are ever ready to beat a retreat on mere suspicion of monitoring personnel. It was on these occasions that the mathangi was invited and sacrifices offered to the goddess. Both these performers had been criminalised by the state government in the 1980s.17 Being alerted about the presence of an outsider the mathamma who was to dance on the geregi rounds (taking the goddess in a process in the village) was cautioned and locked up in a nearby house. It took several hours to convince them and gain their consent to just watch the festival. One Madiga family offered shelter and I could not ask for more as the Madiga hamlet was the centre of all activity housing the Mathamma temple. As a participant observer the author was at the centre of the activity and the village community was conscious of the pres ence.18 My hosts were asked to dissuade me from witnessing the rituals that were highly contentious, and there were efforts to curtail my movements so that the mathamma and the villagers would not be unnerved. I was instructed not to take photographs (I readily agreed). Even my talking on the phone was looked upon with suspicion. The village heads or caste heads of the touchable communities got reports about my movements and my purpose of stay there. It took a while to reassure them. Eventually a relationship of trust and mutual respect developed. In retrospect, despite all efforts the author could not successfully convince the villagers to let her remain present during the ritual performed at the time of her first visit. But the efforts paid off as in the following years the villagers invited me to be part of the ritual celebrations.19

Exploring Own Cultures


It is pertinent to note that the experience of the researcher involved in exploring ones own cultures qualitatively differs from that of the non native or even those who do not share the cultural identity of the community under study. The researchers lack of prior acquaintance with the field or the subjects does not prevent the latter from eventually responding positively to those who share a broader cultural identity. While this provides an invaluable opportunity to empathise with the subject it also stimulates the

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latter to actively respond and reflect on their actions. Often information flows in from unexpected quarters with people offering to share, and confide about their personal experiences. They even volunteer to actively assist in introducing the researcher to other resource persons. This does affect the researchers cognitive abilities and research strategies given the interplay of emotions and overwhelming experiences (Glass and Frankeil 1968). One of the ways in which this could be overcome is by a twofold process of surrender and detachment. This two-fold method ensures a balance between the observed reality and the temporality of detached analysis. The researcher immerses herself in a social setting which is termed as surrendering the total involvement, suspension of received notionspertinence of everything, identification risk of being hurt (Emerson 1981). The field undeniably seduces the observer leading to a brief suspension of ones self-identity and displacement while entering into the dynamic world of action and process. During this period of total suspension or immersion the researcher gains consensual acceptance within the community and has access to intimate details that is the basis of reliable data. Detachment on the other hand is withdrawal from the inter phase of suspension in the field and in engaging temporally in a detached and intensive analysis (Bogdan 1973). It is here that the historical imagination gains profound significance by delving into the past to fill in gaps and theorise the observed facts. Writing such histories is not simply a mode of intellectual activity but also a quest towards emancipation, especially in postcolonial countries. It impinges on the consciousness and guides the political action in nations that are striving to reinvent their cultural space. Gary Okihiro (1981) writing on oral history notes:
the writing of ethnic historyneed neither be justified nor defended. The collective voice of the people once silenced has a right to be heard. Oral history is not only a tool or method for recovering history it is also a theory of history which maintains that the common folk and the dispossessed have a history and that history must be written.

we realise this ideological as well as radical proposition into action? Can we concede some space in the academia to the actor, at whatever level, without endangering disciplinary norms? This certainly implies setting up criteria for such dialogue, to establish its validity or even feasibility in howsoever a simplistic form and involving the people whose history the historian seeks to recover.

Ethical Issues
This also raises larger ethical issues other than the impact of such dialogue, its reflection on creative freedom or even the danger of engineering or fabricating data. The author can illustrate the way she attempted to organise such a crudely worked out, almost by default, dialogue.21 It involved scholars, practitioners and activists. It featured presentations, performances, documentary shows and opened up possibility of interacting with the ritual specialists invited from Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. It revealed the potential as well as the risks involved in such an endeavour. The author was pleasantly surprised by the response of the participants, the bain ollu (Madiga ritual specialists) whom she had met during the village festival. They undertook the responsibility of organising and showed great enthusiasm to participate in a forum that was alien to them and necessitated interaction (howsoever passively) with the educated folk and the sheer joy of being recognised as worthy of serious engagement.22 They expressed their point of views on several issues while being conscious of their own identity. They offered to write down the myths they had inherited and enacted in the village settings. Moreover, they volunteered to collect visual recordings of their ritual activities (given the absolute impossibility of access to such techniques to outsiders). This lead eventually to rediscovering palmyra leaves lying in the forgotten corners of their homes! The author has since received several letters with songs, sacred chants, parts of myths and even popular films on the goddess Renuka Yellamma. Some of them have undertaken to write the Yadava Purana, Jambava Purana, Gangamma Katha and have asked for assistance to publish them eventually. Throughout the preparation for the workshop one of the local NGOs demanded that the event be organised under their supervision and insisted their staff be involved to ensure that the beneficiaries are under control.23 The participants were pressurised to stay away from the event and cautioned to disassociate failing which they would have to face legal problems. The NGO raised objections to video recording of a village festival and demanded it be surrendered to them, as the organiser had not availed of their permission. However such NGOs regularly take European funders and others interested in the issues to the field assisting them in recording the jatras (village fair in honour of the goddess). Local administrative officials had to be consulted to reassure the participants that it meant no harm to them. Finally, the participants did reach Delhi despite assuring the NGO staff that they were not interested in the workshop and would stay away from it. As an organiser, the author tried to elicit support for the workshop and consulted senior colleagues and some organisations in order to negotiate with the NGO. It refused to respond and stood by its demands that the event be organised under its banner. The NGO insisted that it would have an informal orientation session with the participants prior to their Delhi visit.
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Yet one needs to exercise caution in the way the term oral is deployed in writing on these traditions. It needs to be noted that despite the vast majority of the outcastes being traditionally illi terate the existence of palmyra leaf texts, known as tathi granthalu, written by a select few and inherited by the families, is crucial.20 They not only render legitimacy to their sacred lore but validate the religious authority of those that claim religious legitimacy. Yet, with the lack of access and recognition of the prevalence of such texts, greater reliance is placed on the rituals and oral narratives. Perhaps oral history can move beyond the limitations of a discipline to invigorate the possibility of forging a link between the academy and the community. However this need not be limited to methodological issues or possible intellectual insights. Can the reciprocal interaction between the observed and observer be taken to another level of engagement, i e, to a possibility of institutionalising the dialogue between the actor and historian? This presumes a radical effort from the historian as laid out eloquently by Okihiro when he reminds that historians need to shed intellectual arrogance which presumes that s/he knows better than the historical actors themselves or the non-literate peoples have no conception of history (1981). And logically can

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Not surprisingly it insisted that the staff would escort them and an honorarium should be paid. The emergence of a new entity the beneficiary raises crucial issues pertaining to understanding of the freedom of subject and field research in the intensely politicised space. This raises the crucial issue of engaging with such field studies in the intensely politicised space with the emergence of the beneficiary. These NGOs and other state-sponsored organisers implementing state-initiated reforms24 turn out to be impediments that regulate or review field accounts or monitor the interaction of the observer and the subject. This infringement endangers the freedom of the researchers and also moulds the way the subjects perceive themselves along with the loss of their freedom. For instance the beneficiaries have gradually sought to disassociate with their identities and harmless rich cultural traditions to adopt the rhetoric of the NGOs. This is distressing, for often the responses are guided by artificial or ambiguous reorientation of their consciousness. Can we draw ethical and professional parameters to facilitate free conduct of research to overcome this new infringement on the field? Tactics of intimidation and harassment of the researcher and the subjects are obviously beset with adverse implications. The researchers strategies of research are denuded of rigour and there is a danger of loosing the freedom to engage with contentious issues. Any strategies of intervention towards mobilising such traditions are looked upon with strong disapproval especially if they fail to comply with the NGOs strategies designed to mobilise funding. The NGO intrusion into the cultural space has often meant reconstructing a vague past to salvage the victim, transformed into beneficiaries from their traditional identity and acclimatise them to newer processes of redefining their selves. For instance, in a meeting organised with ex-jogatis in Karnataka, the women explained how they were organised and sought to emancipate themselves and live with dignity (they participated in a literacy programme to also develop basic managerial skills). They also narrated what was believed to be their past. They were devadasis, temple women engaged in singing and dancing. Later some among the women simply lived like common prostitutes and were exploited. When asked who introduced them to the term devadasi, the women responded that it was a few government officials and project staff who had scouted the villages to identify the women. They were otherwise simply known as jogati, sule and basavi. The purpose of stating this is to underscore the role NGOs play in transforming the identities and how they construct the past which approximates historical reality. The above-mentioned is an illustrative case. They are oppressed by the burden of the mythical history which while striving to liberate them largely transfers the burden of cultural guilt to the
Notes
1 This dictum was invoked by one of the foremost dalit feminists Ruth Manorama. 2 The initial response was absolvation, instead of introspection, to emphasise the relative silence of the dalit middle and upper class educated women; and as looking forward to the dalit woman to provide a critical dimension to the feminist movement. See for instance, Viduyt Bhagats essay on dalit woman in P G Jogdand (ed.), Dalit Woman in India: Issues and Perspectives (Delhi: Gyan Publishers), 1995.

women and their communities. Thus the manoeuvring nature of change that is essentially passive and uncritical has little potential to reclaim the historical self. It is here that history and other social sciences become indispensable in the process of social change. For change is essentially perceived on the basis of a body of knowledge which provides explanation, facilitates rational action and promotes transformation. Through the accountability of the fieldworker/researcher, in situations of intense participation, the issue of sharing the purpose and frameworks of research with the subjects has generally been seen as an obligation that is ethically appropriate. It would well nigh be ridiculous to acknowledge propriety of such obtrusive interference by NGOs whose strategies of action and ideological orientation are determined by external agencies, policies and strategies of development. There is an inevitable need for academia to take note of this emerging trend of NGOisation that has increasingly sought to control not only communities but also the production of knowledge.25 When there is scope for a mutually beneficial relationship in terms of dispersal of knowledge/information at both levels the code of interaction is determined by idiosyncrasies of individuals or absence of any definite norms. The overt disapproval of freedom of movement and intervention in the field intimidates scholars and severely curtails the scope of intellectual activity. To undertake contentious research areas would put both the researchers and hosts/subjects into a risky situation with periods of victimisation and harassment.26 It also needs to be acknow ledged that NGOs continue to have a crucial role in transforming lives of communities and need historical knowledge to intervene in lives of people to pursue a charter for change. Given the intense changes that have occurred in the last decades there is a need to re-examine the modes of encountering newer disciplinary challenges. Otherwise, we may deny ourselves the opportunity to engage in critical self-introspection. However, the apparent disjuncture between scholarship and activism is a cause for concern as it immediately affects the marginalised communities. This is more important as the outcaste quest for justice and politics has recently undergone a distinct shift with the NGOs playing a central role. The galvanisation of outcaste rural masses by the NGOs and the crucial role they play in transforming the lives of outcastes, mediating between the State and the vast body of beneficiaries, cannot be overlooked in the lived space pointing to the inevitable need of engaging with them at the discursive level. Only a genuine dialogue emerging out of the scholarship, the organisation which supports such pursuit of knowledge and the masses would enable the recovery of history that would engender social change. Perhaps this will resuscitate the voice, which at the moment suffers due to the dismemberment of the voice, idea and action.
with the high Hindu textual tradition. 5 For more details see Jambava Purana and Kata maraju Katha. 6 Bolle captures the action in all its frenzy and power of ritual sacrifice to transform the social space during which caste identities are suspended. Acknowledging the complexity of such practices, he notes the analytical constraints in studying these traditions as the myths do provide insights into the casualty of certain ritual acts but the teleos or problem of purpose is commonly untouched,

3 Later realising the need for critical introspection, following the crisis in the feminist movement in the post-Mandal period, it was argued that, the impasse was a result of the historical legacy of the reformist and the nationalist movement. Susie Tharu and Tejaswini Niranjana, Problems for a Contemporary Theory of Gender in Nivedita Menon (ed.), Gender and Politics in India, OUP, 2001. 4 These feminine categories are interestingly engaged in the narratives and theatrical performances of the outcast specialists. They resonate

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see Kees W Bolle (1983); also see, M Moffet (1979); C J Fuller (1988); C Moloney, Religious Beliefs and Social Hierarchy in Tamil Nadu, India, American Ethnologist, 2, 1975, pp 169-92. 7 Brubaker especially, along with the missological tradition, delineates the vital role played by service castes, i e, barbers, washermen, grave diggers/ labourers and leatherworkers in the religious life of the village. This grouping is remarkably distinguished by their dual identity as specialists in impurity and ritual specialist of the village goddess. So also they are inextricably bound to the village economy and its religious life. They restore the order of the village and revitalise it periodically by propitiating the goddess. R Brubaker, Barbers, Washermen and Other Priests: Servants of the South Indian Village and Its Goddess, History of Religions, Vol No 19, No 2, November 1979, pp 128-52. Also see Don Haudelman, The Guises of the Goddess and the Transformation of the Male: Gangammas Visit to Tirupati and the Continuum of Gender in David Shulman (ed.), Syllables of the Sky: Studies in South Indian Civilisation (New Delhi: OUP), 1995. 8 Louis Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus: The Caste System and Its Implications (translated by Mark Sainsbury, Louis Dumont and Basia Gulati), (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966). 9 Declan Quigley, p 248. 10 The proliferating histories of the outcastes emphasising the political dimension to the neglect of cultural issues are an indicator of this cultural dilemma. 11 I am grateful to T N Madan for his critical comments which helped me to modify the framework to explore these issues. 12 However, there is a certain risk involved in such amateurish initiatives; for this could be looked upon with suspicion by both historians and anthropo logists as falling within an ambiguous disciplinary domain so loosely defined, for its charac teristic eclectic methodology and much determined by the personal choices of the ethno historian, given the lack of specialised training in such methodology. 13 The term Guerrilla History is to illustrate the link between historical knowledge and agenda of political change, History from the Bottom Up, Is to Raise Political Consciousness and to Promote Action as mentioned in Gary Y Okihiro (1981). Also see, Robert M Carmack Ethnohistory: A Review of Its Development, Definitions, Methods and Aims in Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol I, (1972), pp 227-46. 14 I am grateful to the former director of CSDS, Suresh Sharma, for making frequent visits to the field for two years possible. However, I had to personally mobilise funds for my later, frequent field visits, over a year. 15 For instance, to begin with as a woman/outsider it was exasperating to be pushed from one guest house/lodge to another. Apparently, in the social setting single women were not allowed access into hotels. It always entertained suspicion about the character of the woman. 16 While the village folk generally are worried about the presence of strangers or outsiders, whom they suspect as being government officials or TV reporters. Unanticipated entry resulted in chaos as most of them fled from the procession and there was a great deal of fear and anxiety. However, the villagers are used to these situations and have continued to manoeuvre their activities. 17 Mathamma is an outcaste priestess and integral to the Mathangi tradition. Women believed to possess exceptional powers are put through a ritual ceremony of intiation and are declared as representative of the goddess and function as priestess. They are distinct from the other dedicated women, i e, jogini, basavi or devadasi in their ritual practices. The custom is currently criminalised and it is e stimated that they comprise a huge proportion among the category of women dedicated to gods and goddess who, according to official statistics, constitute a population of about 42,000 in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the erstwhile Teluguspeaking regions of Madras presidency. They are p redominantly concentrated in Mahabubnagar, Nizamabad, Chittor and Nellore. They are central to the village jatra tradition and are feared and revered for their special religious powers. For details see also the reports of Andhra Pradesh Jogini Vyavastha Vyatereka Poraha Samithi, Hyderabad. 18 It was the proverbial village simplicity and generosity that made my rude intrusion possible. However, there was considerable pressure on the womenfolk of the community to restrain my movements and keep a check on contacts. 19 To my surprise the villages expressed my acceptance into their space overtime and expressed their kind gesture by formally organising a felicitation ceremony in front of the Mathamma temple at the end of the celebrations. 20 Only recently did the families reveal their possessions. The palymra leaf texts are expositions of caste legends, legends and magical chants and diagrams used in healing rituals. They are considered sacred and offered worship and indeed signify the ritual authority of the bards and healers. 21 A workshop was organised at the CSDS, Delhi in 2007 under the thematic of Recovering Outcaste Religious Traditions. Though largely funded by the centre, more funds had to be raised, given the range and nature of sessions, exhibition, etc. I am grateful to friends and well-wishers, especially Raja Sekhar Vundru, and particularly, Yagati Chinna Rao, who supported this largely suspicious and risky initiative. 22 Yet despite this enthusiasm, the limitations at this preliminary stage were limited. It did not lead to any substantial engagement at a discursive level. 23 All the participants were unrelated to the NGO but women in the community as ex-jogatis were its members. We had thought of inviting a Mathamma but eventually she opted out to avoid legal problems. 24 Given my personal experience in the field for about a decade, it can be noted to the danger of generalisation that, one of the impediments on the field is that the organisations are exceedingly suspicious about the outsiders be it researcher or reporters. Information is selectively provided after a great deal of persuasion. The attitude of the authorities determines the relationship with the women for they would be in jeopardy if seen interacting too much with outsiders. This is true across organisations headed by outcastes as well as touchables. 25 Given the programmes designed to fit within the agenda of the funders, be it state or non-State funding agencies, the cultural practices of the beneficiaries are simply relegated as traditional, oppressive and thus looked upon as practices that need to be disassociated with. For instance, Chindu that is a traditional dance of the outcastes, highly specialised and used in communal and religious celebrations, is looked upon with disapproval for it overtly leads to exploitation of women. However, no counter strategies are adopted to revive them as a communal art form. My interest in acquainting myself with the art form was something that incurred disapproval from the activists, for promoting an indecent and obnoxious practices or even acknowledging its significance. So are traditional forms of knowledge be it in the form of myths, healing, etc, that are seen as anti-modern and detrimental to the identity of communities. 26 Informal threats were issued and when consulted, the human rights organisations were advised to reconsider the proposal, as it would cause problems in the future especially if I intended to pursue my research. The participants were threatened that this was a trap for once they reached Delhi they would be arrested for their involvement in village sacrificial rituals. Beck, Appadurai, Gananatha and Neil Brimes (2001): Constructing the Colonial Encounter: Right and Left Hand Castes in Early Colonial South India, Cynthia Talbot, Precolonial India in Practice: Society, Religion and Identity in Medieval Andhra (Delhi: OUP). Blumer, Herbert (1969): Symbolic Interactionism: P erspective and Method Englewood Cliffs (NJ: Prentice-Hall), as cited in Robert Bogdan (1973), pp 302-08. Bogdan, Robert (1973): Paricipant Observation, Peabody Journal of Education, Vol 50, No 4, July, pp 302-08. Bolle, Kees W (1983): A World of Sacrifice, History of Religions, Vol 23, No 1, p 60. Brubaker, R (1979): Barbers, Washermen and Other Priests: Servants of the South Indian Village and Its Goddess, History of Religions, Vol 19, No 2, November, pp 128-52. Elmore, Wilbur Theodore (1915): Dravidian Gods in Modern Hinduism: A Study of the Local and Village Deities of Southern India (Lincoln, Nebrask: U niversity of Nebrask). Emerson, M Robert (1981): Observational Field Work in Annual Review of Sociology, Vol 7, pp 35178, p 334. Dumont, Louis (1966): Homo Hierarchicus: The Caste System and Its Implications (translated by Mark Sainsbury, Louis Dumont and Basia Gulati) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press). Fuller, C J (1988): The Hindu Pantheon and Legitimisation of Hierarchy, Man (NS) 23, pp 19-39; D eliege, Replication and Consensus: Untouchability, Caste and Ideology in India, Man, (NS), Vol 27, pp 155-73. Glass, John F and Harry H Frankeil (1968): The Influence of Subjects on the Reseacher: A Problem in Observing Social Interaction in The Pacific Socio logical Review, Vol 11, No 2 (Autumn), pp 75-80. Hocart, A M (1950): Caste: A Comparative Study (London: Methuen). Kolenda, Pouline (1981): Caste, Cult and Hierarchy: Essays on Culture of India (Delhi: Folklore Institute). Michael, Moffet (1979): Harijan Religion: Consensus at the Bottom of Caste, American Ethnologist, Vol 6, No 2. (1979): An Untouchable Community in South India: Structure and Consensus, Princeton Univer sity Press. Okihiro, Gary Y (1981): Oral History and the Writing of Ethnic History: A Reconnaissance into Method and Theory in The Oral History Review, Vol 9, p 28. Raheja, Gloria Goodwin (1988): India: Caste, Kinship and Dominance Reconsidered in Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol 17, pp 497-522, p 504. Rauschenbusch-Clough Emma (1899): While Sewing Sandals: Tales of Telugu Paraih Tribe, New York, p 70. Redfield, Robert (1955): The Social Organisation of Tradition, The Far Eastern Quarterly, Vol XV , No 1. Srinivasan, M N (1952): Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India, Clarendon Press O xford. Thurston Edgar and K Rangachari (1909): Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Vol 1V (Madras: Government Press). Thompson, E P (1978): Folklore, Anthropology and Social History in Indian Historical Review, Vol 111, No 2. Quigley, Declan (2000): The Killing of the King and Ordinary People, Journal of the Royal Anthro pology Institute, Vol 6, No 2, January. Vetschera, Trande (1978): The Pota Raja and Their Goddesses, Asian Folklore Studies, Vol 37, No 2. Vijaisri, Priyadarshini (2008): Untouchable during the Day and Touchable at Night: Sex and Pollution in a Hindu Regional Tradition in Raj Sekhar Basu and Sanjukta Das Gupta (ed.), Narratives of the Excluded: Caste Issues in Colonial India ( Kolkata: K P Bagchi and Company), pp 230-62. Whitehead, Henry (1921): The Village Gods of South India (Madras), pp 155-56. Younger, Paul (1980): A Temple Festival of Mariyamman, The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol 48, No 4, December, p 512.

REFERENCES
Axtell, James (1979): Ethno-History: An Historians Viewpoint in Ethnohistory, Vol 26, No 1, Winter, p 7.

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