You are on page 1of 428

THE NEPAL HIMALAYA8

Edited by
J o h n T . H i t c h c o c k & R e x L. J o n e s

Translations o f French Articles


by
Harriet Leva Beegun

Aris and Phillips Ltd Warminster England


ISBN 0 85668 029 X

@ J o h n T. Hitchcock and Rex L. Jones, 1976.

AU rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any
information storage and retrieval system, without
permission in writing from the publisher.

Published by ARIS & PHILLIPS Ltd.,


Teddington House
Warrninster, Wiltshire
BA12 8PQ England.

Sole Distributor in the U.S.A. and Canada:


INTERNATIONAL SCHOLARLY BOOK SERVICES Inc.,
10300 S. W. Allen Boulevard
Beaverton, Oregon, 97005, U.S.A.

Printed in India
To the curers and healers of Nepal
CONTENTS

List o f Illustrations viii


Acknowledgements X

Note on Transliteration xi
Introduction John T. Hitchcock xii

I Spirit Possession and Society in Nepal Rex L. Jones


II Shamanism and Spirit Possession: The Definition Problem
Johan Reinhard

PART I
SPIRIT POSSESSION IN EASTERN NEPAL
111 Limbu Spirit Possession: a case study Shirley Kurz Jones
IV Limbu Spirit Possession and Shamanism Rex L. Jones
V Becoming a Limbu Priest: Ethnographic Notes
Philippe Sagan t
VI A Preliminary Report on the Puimbo and the Ngiarni:
The Sunuwar Shamans of Sabra Alain Foumier
V11 Shamanism among the Thulung Rai Nicholas A llen
VlII Some Observations on Sherpa Shamanism
Robert Paul

PART I1
SPIRIT POSSESSION IN WESTERN NEPAL
IX Notes on the jhzkri of Ath Hajar ParbatlDhaulagiri Himalaya
Wolf D. Michl 153
X Aspects of Bhujel Shamanism John T. Hitchcock 165
XI Ethnographic Observations of Gurung Shamanism in Lamjung District
Donald A. Messereschmidt 197
XI1 Preliminary Report on the god Mast: Marc Gahorieau 2 17
Xlll Spirit Possession in Far Western ~ & a l Walter F. Winkler 244
XIV Shamanism among the Raji of Southwest Nepal
Johan Reinhard 263
PART I11
SPIRIT POSSESSION IN NEPAL AND ADJACENT AREAS

XV Encounters with Intercessors in Nepal Corneille Jest


XVl Preliminary Notes on some jha?ri of the Muglan
A. W. Macdonald

PART N
SPIRIT POSSESSION AND THE LITERARY TRADITION

XVIl Reincarnation Reconsidered: or the Reincarnate Lama as Shaman


Barbam Aziz
XVIII Mahikila the Neo-Shaman: Master of the Ritual
William Stabelein
XIX Sorcery in the Nepalese Code of 1853 A. W. Macdonuld

Biographical Sketches of Contributors


Map
Bibliography
List o f I l l u s t r a t i o n s

A Thulung j G k r i r e s t i n g a f t e r the jalim f e s t i v a l


(NichoZas Allen)

A Limbu shaman (yeba) i n f u l l d r e s s costume


(Rex L. Jones)

A Limbu phedrmgma a t a dung dunge r i t u a l


(PhiZippe Sagant)

Limbu ywna ( m a s t e r and d i s c i p l e ) b e a t i n g t h e i r drums


d u r i n g t h e i n i t i a t i o n ceremony (Philippe Sagant)

A Sunuwar shaman d u r i n g a sgance (Alain Fournier)

A g r o u p o f y o u t h f u l Thulung j G k r i a t t h e cazya
festival (NichoZas A2 Zen)

B h u j e l Matwala Khas shamans b e i n g q u e s t i o n e d when


s p e a k i n g f o r Dakkin Devi (John T. Hitchcock)

Deo Ram - B h u j e l Kami shaman (John T. Hitchcock)

The d e a d c h i l d ' s f a m i l y u n d e r t h e f i s h n e t i n t h e
ceremony t o ' k i l l ' h i s s o u l (John T. Hitchcock)

Gurung shamans p e r f o r m i n g one of t h e f i n a l d a n c i n g


r i t e s o f t h e p o s t f u n e r a r y ceremony o f pai
(Donald Messerschmidt)

A Gurung k h e p r g ' s p o s t f u n e r a r y ceremony a t Ghan


Pokhara (Donald Messerschmidt)
Gurung lama r e c i t i n g t h e i n i t i a l r i t e s f o r t h e pai
ceremony o f t h e Ch& jdt (Donald Messerschmidt)

A d h k k ( l e f t ) and pujdri ( r i g h t ) o f t h e ka'zd siZa


Magfa a t Binzyak i n Western Nepal w e a r i n g c e r e -
monial d r e s s and h o l d i n g s i l v e r u t e n s i l s and
implements b e l o n g i n g t o , t h e god (Marc Gaborie(zu)

Shrine f o r worship of b& (assistant deities)


(Walter F. Winkler)
Two R a j i shaman i n i t i a t e s ' d a n c i n g ' through the f i r e 264
while possessed ( J o b Reinhard)
P e n e t r a t i n g Lhe tongue of a R a j i gurau w i t h a t i r s u l 285
a t t h e Bhuiyar pujd (Johm Reinhard)
The s u c k i n g o f a d i s e a s e - c a u s i n g o b j e c t by a R a j i 292
gUmU ( J o b Reinhapdl
~ M k r id a n c i n g around an o f f e r i n g of f l o w e r s and r i c e 293
p l a c e d i n t h e i r p a t h by t h e v i l l a g e r s o f P a n a o t i
(Corneil Ze J e s t )
Three jhEkrYi b e a t i n g t h e i r drums b e f o r e t h e r i t e o f 295
circumbulation (Cornei 2 ze J e s t )
' I am Mha'ka'ta', symbolised by t h e r e d and b l a c k h a t 342
donned i n e v e r y Mahakala r i t u a l where an enemy
e f f i g y i s decimated f W i 2 liam Stube t e i n )
Four f o o t h i g h image of Mah&Zla i n h i s demoniacal
a s p e c t surrounded by c r o s s t h r e a d s c a l l e d ' s k y '
(nam. m k h a ) having t h e c o l o u r s o f t h e rainbow
which e m i t l i g h t t o d i s p e l m a l i c i o u s f o r c e s
tW il Z h Stabe l e i n )
Acknowledgements

The e d i t o r s would l i k e t o e x p r e s s t h e i r a p p r e c i a t i o n t o t h e
following o r g a n i z a t i o n s and p e r s o n s f o r p e r m i t t i n g p u b l i c a t i o n of
English t r a n s l a t i o n of a r t i c l e s f i r s t appearing i n French:
1) C e n t r e de Documentation e t d e Recherches s u r L ' A s i e du S u d - e s t
e t l a Monde I n s u l i n d i e n , and M r . G . Condominas f o r p e r m i s s i o n t o
p u b l i s h a r e v i s e d t r a n s l a t i o n o f A l a i n F o u r n i e r ' s a r t i c l e , "Note
p r e l i m i n a i r e s u r l e Puimbo e t l a Ngiami l e s chamanes Sunuwar d e
S a b r a ' (ASEMI, v o l . I V , No. 1, 1 9 7 3 ) ; 2 ) t h e Musee d e 1'Homrne and
P r o f e s s o r J a c q u e s M i l l o t , Membre d e l l A c a d e m i e d e s S c i e n c e s ,
D i r e c t e u r d l O b j e t s e t Mondes, f o r p e r m i s s i o n t o p u b l i s h a n E n g l i s h
v e r s i o n o f M r . Marc G a b o r i e a u ' s a r t i c l e , ' N o t e p r e l i m i n a i r e s u r l e
d i e u MagSZi' ( O b j e t s e t Mondes, v o l . 9 , No. 1, 1 9 6 9 ) ; 3 ) S o c i e t e
A s i a t i q u e and t h e e d i t o r s o f J o u r n a l A s i a t i q u e f o r p e r m i s s i o n t o
p u b l i s h an E n g l i s h t r a n s l a t i o n o f P r o f e s s o r A.W. Macdonald's
a r t i c l e , ' Notes p r e l i m i n a i r e s s u r q u e l q u e s j z k r i du Muglzn
( J o m a2 A s i a t i q u e , 1962 ) ; and 4 ) t h e e d i t o r s o f L 'Home and
P r o f e s s o r A.W. Macdonald f o r p e r m i s s i o n t o p u b l i s h a n E n g l i s h
t r a n s l a t i o n o f h i s a r t i c l e , 'La S o r c e l l a i r e d a n s l e code N e p a l a i s '
(L'Home, v o l . 8 , NO. 1, 1 9 6 8 ) .

F o r t h e E n g l i s h t r a n s l a t i o n s o f t h e above f o u r a r t i c l e s and two


o t h e r a r t i c l e s by P h i l l i p e S a g a n t and C o r n e i l l e J e s t , w r i t t e n
e s p e c i a l l y f o r t h i s volume, we a r e i n d e b t e d t o M s . H a r r i e t Leva
Beegun of t h e Department o f F r e n c h , U n i v e r s i t y o f C a l i f o r n i a , Los
Angeles. F r e q u e n t l y i g n o r i n g h e r own work t o meet d e a d l i n e s , w e
f e e l t h a t M s . Beegun d i d an e x c e l l e n t j o b o f r e n d e r i n g i n t o E n g l i s h
o f t e n d i f f i c u l t and o b s c u r e p a s s a g e s and r e f e r e n c e s . S i n c e s h e i s
n e i t h e r t r a i n e d i n a n t h r o p o l o g y n o r i s s h e f a m i l i a r w i t h Nepal,
t h e e d i t o r s assume t h e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r any e r r o r s t h a t may have
been committed i n t h e t r a n s l a t i o n s .

We a r e e s p e c i a l l y g r a t e f u l t o M r s . Mari Walker f o r t h e many


h o u r s of t y p i n g t h a t went i n t o t h e p r e p a r a t i o n o f t h e m a n u s c r i p t .
To Augusta Molnar we owe t h a n k s f o r h e l p i n g w i t h t h e T i b e t a n t r a n s -
l i t e r a t i o n s , and t o M r . Tony A n t o n i e l l o and e s p e c i a l l y Mr. R o b e r t
C a r d i n a l l i w e owe t h a n k s for h e l p i n p r e p a r a t i o n of t h e b i b l i ~ ~ r a p h y .

John Hitchcock would l i k e t o t h a n k t h e G r a d u a t e School o f t h e


U n i v e r s i t y o f Wisconsin, Madison, f o r a summer r e s e a r c h g r a n t t h a t
made p o s s i b l e much o f h i s e d i t o r i a l work on t h e volume, and Rex
J o n e s e x p r e s s e s a p p r e c i a t i o n t o t h e S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y ofbNew York
Research F o u n d a t i o n f o r a Grant-in-Aid t h a t a s s i s t e d i n p r e p a r a t i o n
of t h e f i n a l m a n u s c r i p t .
Note o n Transliteration

I n e d i t i n g t h e volume w e a t t e m p t e d t o t r a n s c r i b e N e p a l i words
a c c o r d i n g t o t h e u s a g e of T u r n e r ' s A C o n p m t i u e and EtymoZogicaL
Dictionary of t h e flepazi Language (1965 e d i t i o n ) . For E n g l i s h
s p e l l i n g , w e used t h e new Random House d i c t i o n a r y . h s o m e cases,
t h i s l e d t o c h a n g e s i n s p e l l i n g p r e f e r r e d by t h e a u t h o r s . T u r n e r ,
f o r example, u s e s ' N e p Z l i ' when r e f e r r i n g t o t h e l a n g u a g e . We
f o l l o w e d t h i s u s a g e , though some o f o u r a u t h o r s d i d n o t . S i m i l a r l y ,
w e used t h e Random House s p e l l i n g f o r 'st5ance1, though many p r e -
ferred the anglicized 'seance'. W e used ' N e p a l i ' o r ' N e p a l i s '
t o r e f e r t o n a t i o n a l s and a l s o used ' N e p a l i ' a s an a d j e c t i v e .
( ' T h e r e were many N e p a l i s p r e s e n t ' ; ' i t ' s a N e p a l i c u s t o m ' ) . Gen-
e r a l l y , however, we u s e d N e p Z l i words w i t h o u t t h e a n g l i c i z e d p l u r a l .
( ' T h e r e were many Gurung p r e s e n t ' . In t h e c a s e o f a word l i k e
'Gurung' and o t h e r c a s t e , c l a n and p l a c e names, w e used t h e common
a n g l i c i z e d v e r s i o n w i t h o u t d i a c r i t i c a l marks: e . g . i n s t e a d o f
T u r n e r ' s ' ~ u r b ' ,w e u s e d 'Gurung'. For N e p a l i f e s t i v a l s , d e i t i e s
and months w e have u s e d T u r n e r ' s s p e l l i n g s w i t h d i a c r i t i c a l marks
b u t have n o t i t a l i c i z e d them. N e p a l i p r o p e r names have n o t been
w r i t t e n w i t h d i a c r i t i c a l marks. Where s p e c i f i c and c o n t e x t u a l l y
w e l l - d e f i n e d r e g i o n s a r e meant, w e have used c a p i t a l s : e . g . ' F a r
Western N e p a l ' . W e have c o n v e r t e d m e t e r s and c e n t i m e t e r s t o f e e t
and i n c h e s , t h i n k i n g t h a t t h e s e measurements would have more mean-
ing t o English-speaking readers.

Each i n d i v i d u a l a u t h o r ' s t r a n s l i t e r a t i o n o f T i b e t a n and T i b e t o -


Burman words was m a i n t a i n e d . Where p o s s i b l e , w e i n d i c a t e d the
' d i s t i n c t i o n from N e p Z l i words by u s e o f c a p i t a l l e t t e r s f o l l o w i n g
t h e word a s i t f i r s t a p p e a r e d , f o r example t h e Limbu word 'phedmrgna
( L ) ' , o r (phedangma, L ) .

With p r e v i o u s l y p u b l i s h e d a r t i c l e s i n French t h a t have been t r a n s


l a t e d f o r t h i s volume, w e have g e n e r a l l y a d h e r e d t o t h e o r i g i n a l
usage o f r e f e r e n c e s , w i t h one major e x c e p t i o n : a l l b i b l i o g r a p h i c a l
r e f e r e n c e s a r e i n c l u d e d i n a g e n e r a l b i b l i o g r a p h y a t t h e end of the
volume, and t h e c i t a t i o n s t y l e o f t h e American Anthropologist h a s
been f o l l o w e d , where o n l y t h e a u t h o r , d a t e , and page number a r e
c i t e d i n p a r e n t h e s e s i n t h e t e x t . W e hope t h a t t h e r e s u l t i n g compre-
hensive bibliographical reference t o the subject matter of t h e
volume w i l l be u s e f u l i n and o f i t s e l f .
INTRODUCTION

When Nepal f i r s t opened h e r b o r d e r s t o i n t e r n a t i o n a l r e s e a r c h


i n t h e e a r l y 1950s t h e s c h o l a r s who v i s i t e d t h e c o u n t r y c o u l d b e
numbered on o n e ' s f i n g e r s . S i n c e t h e n , and e s p e c i a l l y d u r i n g t h e
l a s t h a l f decade o r s o , t h e r e h a s b e e n a b u s t o f a c t i v i t y from
b o t h N e p a l i and f o r e i g n r e s e a r c h e r s . R e s u l t s c a n b e s e e n i n pub-
l i c a t i o n s i n h i s t o r y , government, economics, e d u c a t i o n , f i n e a r t s ,
l i n g u i s t i c s , a n t h r o p o l o g y and o t h e r a r e a s . Though t h e d a y s a r e
p a s t when a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s working i n t h e f i e l d had t o draw up a n
e t h n o l o g i c a l and l i n g u i s t i c map o f t h e r e g i o n i n which t h e y wished
t o work, i n f o r m a t i o n a b o u t many a s p e c t s o f N e p a l ' s s o c i e t y and c u l -
t u r e i s s t i l l s c a n t y . One o f t h e l e a s t known a s p e c t s , which i s
s u r p r i s i n g i n view o f i t s s i g n i f i c a n c e i n t h e l i v e s o f most N e p a l i s ,
i s t h e s u b j e c t o f t h i s volume.

The i d e a f o r t h i s *-mthology o r i g i n a t e d when t h e e d i t o r s r e a l i z e d


how many o f t h e i r own q u e s t i o n s a r i s i n g from an i n t e r e s t i n the sub-
j e c t c o u l d b e answered w i t h i n f o r m a t i o n p o s s e s s e d by c o l l e a g u e s who
had worked e i t h e r i n t h e i r g e n e r a l r e g i o n o r e l s e w h e r e i n Nepal.
Only a l i t t l e o f t h e m a t e r i a l was a v a i l a b l e i n p u b l i s h e d form and
some t h a t h a d a p p e a r e d i n f o r e i g n j o u r n a l s was d i f f i c u l t t o o b t a i n .
We b e l i e v e d a c o l l e c t i o n would b e of b e n e f i t t o t h e s e s c h o l a r s and
t h a t t r a n s l a t i o n o f a r t i c l e s i n t o E n g l i s h , N e p a l ' s s e c o n d academic
l a n g u a g e , would enhance i t s u s e f u l n e s s f o r N e p a l i r e s e a r c h e r s .

W e must a d m i t , a t t h e o u t s e t , an u n a v o i d a b l e f a i l u r e . Our i n t -
e n t i o n was t o make t h e volume f u l l y i n t e r n a t i o n a l and r e p r e s e n t a t i v e
o f a l l s c h o l a r s who had m a t e r i a l , p u b l i s h e d o r un-published; b u t s o
r a p i d l y d i d we r e a c h t h e l i m i t s o f a n e c o n o m i c a l l y f e a s i b l e p u b l i -
c a t i o n t h a t w e had t o s t o p i s s u i n g r e q u e s t s much e a r l i e r t h a n
intended. We a p o l o g i s e t o s c h o l a r s i n o u r own and o t h e r c o u n t r i e s
whom w e v e r y much wanted t o i n c l u d e b u t c o u l d n o t . Initially we
had hoped each e s s a y w o u l d ' p r o v i d e an e t h n o g r a p h i c a l s k e t c h o f t h e
complex e a c h a u t h o r knew and t o t h i s end we p r o v i d e d a t o p i c a l g u i d e ,
a k i n d o f Notes and Q u e r i e s , a s k l n g f o r d e t a i l s from a wide r a n g e
o f c o n t e x t s , i n c l u d i n g t h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l , e c o l o g i c a l and s o c i o -
cultural. R e a l i s i n g t h a t most a u t h o r s would have i n f o r m a t i o n i n
d e p t h on o n l y o n e o r a few f e a t u r e s o f t h e i r complex and m i g h t wish
t o p r e s e n t a sample of t h e i r a n a l y s i s , w e went on t o s u g g e s t a con-
t r i b u t i o n w i t h two s e c t i o n s : an e t h n o g r a p h i c s k e t c h and a n o p t i o n a l
a n a l y s i s of one t o p i c . T h i s programme t u r n e d o u t t o be unworkable.
The d i f f e r e n c e i n i n t e r e s t s and k i n d s of i n f o r m a t i o n a v a i l a b l e t o
each a u t h o r w a s t o o v a s t .
fl$-
We began by u s i n g the shamanism t o d e s c r i b e t h e k i n d o f phenom-
enon w e had i n mind, b u t soon r e a l i s e d t h a t w e were f a c i n g a con-
c e p t u a l problem and no agreement c o u l d be r e a c h e d among t h e
c o n t r i b u t o r s on t h e b a s i c d e f i n i t i o n . D e s p i t e t h i s d i f f i c u l t y , w e
f e l t t h e r e was s u f f i c i e n t agreement on t h e g e n e r a l n a t u r e of t h e
phenomenon t o p r o v i d e a theme f o r t h e book, u s i n g a l o o s e d e f i n i t i o n
o f shaman a s a p a r t t i m e s p e c i a l i s t who t h r o u g h t h e c o n t r o l l e d t r a n c e
o r s t a t e of p o s s e s s i o n i s a b l e t o d i v i n e t h e f u t u r e , diagnose
d i s e a s e and m i s f o r t u n e , and o t h e r w i s e b r i n g a i d t o h i s c l i e n t s . We
a s k e d e a c h c o n t r i b u t o r t o s e l e c t m a t e r i a l w i t h t h i s i n mind and a l s o
t o f o l l o w where p o s s i b l e t h e s u g g e s t e d o u t l i n e . A s e n v i s a g e d t h e
volume would have a f u n d a m e n t a l c o h e r e n c e and b e j u s t i f i e d by t h e
novelty of t h e information provided.

As the f i n a l contributions arrived we selected Spirit Possession


a s the t i t l e , b u t a s w i t h the e a r l i e r term, Shamanism, we i n t e n d i t
o n l y a s an a p p r o x i m a t i o n , a word p o i n t i n g t o a b r o a d a r e a o f ex-
p e r i e n c e r a t h e r t h a n a s t r i c t framework. I t has i t s shortcomings.
F o r example, i n g e n e r a l usage w e would n o t c a l l a r e i n c a r n a t e lama -
' s p i r i t - p o s s e s s e d ' , though when s p e c i a l l y d e f i n e d , a s by A z i z , and
J o n e s i n t h e i n i t i a l c o n t r i b u t i o n , we can a c c e p t t h e t e r m i n t h i s
s e n s e . Secondly, t h e r e a d e r w i l l n o t e t h a t i n t h e s u c c e e d i n g a r -
t i c l e by R e i n h a r d , t h e term i s i n a d e q u a t e t o encompass one of the
most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c shamanic s p i r i t u a l e x p e r i e n c e s : l e a v i n g t h e
body and t r a v e l l i n g t o o t h e r worlds. W e have r e t a i n e d i t d e s p i t e
t h e s e s h o r t c o m i n g s , b e c a u s e w e know o f n o b e t t e r t e r m t o b r i n g t o
mind t h e l a r g e r p o r t i o n o f t h e volume's most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s u b j e c t
matter.

B e s i d e s i t s u s e f u l n e s s t o s c h o l a r s who have worked i n Nepal o r


who p l a n t o i n t h e f u t u r e w e hope t h i s volume w i l l commend i t s e l f
t o tourist-visitors. Most f o r e i g n e r s who come t o Nepal r e a l i z e
t h a t i t s p e o p l e s a r e Hindu o r B u d d h i s t o r a s u b t l e m i x t u r e o f t h e
two. The c o l o u r f u l p u b l i c Hindu r i t e s of i t s monarchy - m a r r i a g e s ,
f u n e r a l s and c o r o n a t i o n s - have a t t r a c t e d world wide media coverage
and t h e r e i s a g e n e r a l awareness t h a t a m i n o r i t y o f N e p a l i s , e s -
p e c i a l l y t h e T i b e t - o r i e n t a t e d p o p u l a t i o n a l o n g i t s Northern b o r d e r s ,
a r e B u d d h i s t . But few a r e aware how many p e o p l e t h r o u g h o u t t h e
c o u n t r y p a r t i c i p a t e i n what might b e termed a ' t h i r d r e l i g i o n ' , a s
t h o r o u g h l y a p a r t of the f a b r i c o f t h e i r l i v e s a s Hinduism and
Buddhism, and j u s t a s i n t r i c a t e l y enmeshed w i t h t h e s e two.

Though B u d d h i s t and Hindu r e l i g i o u s o b s e r v a n c e s a r e performed


o p e n l y i n t h e s t r e e t s and a t t h e many p u b l i c temples and s h r i n e s ,
t h e r i t e s o f t h i s ' t h i r d r e l i g i o n ' a r e seldom o b s e r v e d by t h e
c a s u a l v i s i t o r . The o n l y h i n t o f t h e i r o c c u r r e n c e , a l m o s t always
f o r i n d i v i d u a l f a m i l i e s i n t h e i r homes b e h i n d c l o s e d d o o r s a t
n i g h t , may b e t h e sound o f a p e r s i s t e n t drum o r of c h a n t i n g a s one
w a l k s a f t e r d a r k a l o n g d e s e r t e d a l l e y s . N i g h t sounds such a s t h e s e
may b e t h e o n l y e v i d e n c e o f t h i s ' t h i r d r e l i g i o n ' t h a t t r e k k e r s
e n c o u n t e r i n t h e h i l l s , though t h e y may sometimes w i t n e s s a day-
t i m e r i t u a l - p e r h a p s a medium s e a t e d b e f o r e a l a r g e g a t h e r i n g a t o p
a s t o n e p e d e s t a l , o r a b e f e a t h e r e d shaman d a n c i n g t o h i s drum i n a
p r o c e s s i o n of clansmen t o t h e i r communal s h r i n e . I t i s hoped t h a t
t h i s volume, i n a s s e m b l i n g a g e n e r o u s p o r t i o n o f what i s known a t
p r e s e n t a b o u t s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n i n Nepal, w i l l e n r i c h an i n t e r e s t e d
v i s i t o r ' s s t a y w i t h a d e e p e r knowledge o f t h i s v i t a l a s p e c t o f
Nepal's r e l i g i o u s l i f e .

The phenomena o f t r a n c e and p o s s e s s i o n have a s e n s e o f immediacy,


o f everyday importance, h u t a p a r t of t h e i r f a s c i n a t i o n f o r t h e
o b s e r v e r is t h e knowledge o f how c e n t r a l t h e y have a l w a y s been i n
human e x p e r i e n c e . The c e n t r a l f e a t u r e - a b e l i e f t h a t we c a n e n t e r
i n t o a d i r e c t and v e r y p e r s o n a l communication w i t h a n o t h e r w o r l d -
was p r o b a b l y b o r n w i t h s e l f - c o n s c i o u s n e s s and t h e a b i l i t y t o t a l k .
B e f o r e t h e development o f l a n g u a g e , e s t i m a t e s v a r y between two
m i l l i o n and 75,000 y e a r s a g o , w e c a n imagine t h e e x i s t e n c e o f a
vague s e n s e o f s o m e t h i n g a t t h e e d g e o f a w a r e n e s s - o f something i n
t h e d r e a d e n c i r c l i n g d a r k n e s s o f n i g h t from which t e r r o r c o u l d
s p r i n g , o r o f s o m e t h i n g s e p a r a t e and beyond, p e r h a p s a s i n moments
when t h e w o r d l e s s protohuman c o n s c i o u s n e s s e x p e r i e n c e d o n e n e s s w i t h
a l l t h a t e n c i r c l e d it.

I n p r e l i n g u i s t i c e r a s t h e s e moments may have been symbolized and


s h a r e d t h r o u g h m i m e , music and d a n c e . Only s p e e c h , however, c o u l d
b r i n g about t h e f u l l e r sharing a s revealed i n these pages. In
view o f what w e f i n d i n Nepal and e l s e w h e r e , w h a t e v e r t h e manner i n
which t h e s e moments were f i r s t communicated, i t seems p r o b a b l e t h a t
two i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s must have been common and h a d , s i n g l y o r i n
c o m b i n a t i o n , become t r a d i t i o n a l i n v a r i o u s e a r l y p o p u l a t i o n s . One
i n t e r p r e t a t i o n t r a n s l a t e d t h e awesome s e n s e o f union a s a movement
o f t h e s o u l , o u t w a r d and upward t o i m m e r s e i t s e l f i n what l a y
beyond. I n t h e s e c o n d , union o c c u r r e d when what l a y beyond came
inward and p e n e t r a t e d t h e s o u l . R e a d e r s w i l l n o t i c e t h a t some
N e p a l i r e l i g i o u s s p e c i a l i s t s who c l a i m m y s t i c a l e x p e r i e n c e u s e
f l i g h t a s an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n b u t by f a r t h e g r e a t e s t number u s e
p o s s e s s i o n by s p i r i t s . Whether o r n o t t h e y a r e t r u e m y s t i c s i s a
q u e s t i o n t h a t w i l l t r o u b l e some r e a d e r s - a s i t h a s some c o n t r i b u -
tors. I t w i l l be n o t i c e d , however, t h a t t h e q u e s t i o n d o e s n o t
t r o u b l e most f o l l o w e r s o f t h e ' t h i r d r e l i g i o n ' . So l o n g a s t h e i r
r e l i g i o u s s p e c i a l i s t s c l a i m u n i o n and i n t e r p r e t i t a c c o r d i n g t o
community t r a d i t i o n , which g e n e r a l l y means a c c o r d i n g t o t h e two
e a r l y t r a d i t i o n s , they a r e accepted a s legitimate. But f o r t h e
' r e l i g i o n ' t o have c o n t i n u e d a s l o n g a s i t h a s , we s u s p e c t t h a t
more t h a n v e r b a l o r r i t u a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n l i n k s p r e s e n t and remote
past. I n e v e r y g e n e r a t i o n i t seems l i k e l y t h a t some s p e c i a l i s t s
share with t h e i r ancient progenitors the r e l i g i o n ' s mystic b a s i s
and o r i g i n .

xiv
Whether i n e a r l i e s t times one of t h e ways o f t r a n s l a t i n g t h e
m y s t i c a l e x p e r i e n c e d e v e l o p e d b e f o r e t h e o t h e r is, o f c o u r s e , a
moot q u e s t i o n . E l i a d e , a f o r e m o s t s t u d e n t o f a n c i e n t mysticism,
b e l i e v e s t h e e x p e r i e n c e was f i r s t c o n c e i v e d o f a s f l i g h t t o j o i n
a c e l e s t i a l b e i n g , an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n p r e s e r v e d and r e f l e c t e d i n
t h e w i d e s p r e a d u s e o f f e a t h e r s by p r e s e n t - d a y shamans. H e suggests
t h a t an a l t e r n a t i v e - p o s s e s s i o n of t h e s o u l by e m i s s a r y s p i r i t s -
came l a t e r and was a d e g e n e r a t e development. But a l t h o u g h w e p r e -
f e r t o think t h a t p l u r a l t r a d i t i o n s , uninvidiously distinguished,
were o r i g i n a t i n g contemporaneously i n v a r i o u s e a r l y human g r o u p s ,
we do n o t wish t o a r g u e the p r e f e r e n c e . Our s u g g e s t i o n i s t h a t t h e
o r i g i n s o f what w e e n c o u n t e r i n t h e s e e s s a y s were p r o b a b l y m y s t i c a l ,
and t r a d i t i o n s o f i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , whether o f f l i g h t o r p o s s e s s i o n ,
may w e l l go back t o t h e P l i o c e n e b u t no d o u b t were o l d when f i g u r e s
t h a t a p p e a r t o b e shamans were p a i n t e d on t h e w a l l s o f Upper
P l e i s t o c e n e caves.

M y s t i c a l e x p e r i e n c e s and o t h e r u n u s u a l s t a t e s o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s
have become s u b j e c t s o f a n enormously p o p u l a r l i t e r a t u r e , and many
books, l i k e t h i s o n e , d e s c r i b e examples from Asia. Within t h i s
s t e a d y s t r e a m o f r e p o r t s from around t h e w o r l d , S p i r i t Possession
i n t h e Nepal Himalayas i s d i r e c t e d t o a c a u t i o u s and c r i t i c a l
r e a d e r s h i p t h a t h a s a n i n t e r e s t i n such o c c u r r e n c e s b u t wonders
what t h e y may have o b s e r v e d had t h e y been p r e s e n t . Readers c a n
be r e a s o n a b l y c e r t a i n t h a t what t h e y might have o b s e r v e d would n o t
b e v e r y d i f f e r e n t from what t h e y r e a d h e r e . Accounts such a s t h e s e
a r e p a r t i c u l a r l y v a l u a b l e when a number of widely-read r e c e n t b o o k s ,
some o f them c l a i m i n g t o b e a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l a c c o u n t s , c o m p l e t e l y
b l u r t h e d i s t i n c t i o n between c a r e f u l r e p o r t i n g and n o v e l i s t i c
imagination.

Although t h e shamans and o t h e r r e l i g i o u s s p e c i a l i s t s e n c o u n t e r e d


i n t h e s e e s s a y s speak l i t t l e - k n o w n l a n g u a g e s and engage i n r i t e s
t h a t seem s t r a n g e , w e r e a l i z e on r e f l e c t i o n t h a t much o f what t h e y
d o i s n o t u n l i k e what i s found w i t h e a s e i n many w e s t e r n communi-
t i e s . A c e n t r a l r i t e i n a t l e a s t one C h r i s t i a n c h u r c h i s p o s s e s s -
i o n o f members by t h e Holy S p i r i t , and many p e r s o n s , i n and o u t o f
o r g a n i z e d r e l i g i o n , a r e w e l l known f o r s u p e r n a t u r a l powers o f hea-
l i n g and p r o g n o s t i c a t i o n . A s i m i l a r i t y we may f i n d more d i f f i c u l t
t o a p p r e c i a t e i s how c l o s e l y shamans r e s e m b l e p s y c h i a t r i s t s , and
w e may f i n d it even h a r d e r t o b e l i e v e t h a t t h e e s s a y s p r o v i d e mat-
e r i a l o f p r a c t i c a l i m p o r t f o r h e a l t h c a r e , whether i n t h e West o r
i n Nepal. F o r a l t h o u g h b o t h shamans and p s y c h i a t r i s t s a r e s u c c e s s -
f u l i n t r e a t i n g m e n t a l distress - and c a n a l s o h e l p i n t h e c u r e o f
many p h y s i o l o g i c a l a i l m e n t s - i t may seem a t r a v e s t y t o r e g a r d them
a s v e r y n e a r l y a l i k e . On a s c i e n t i f i c b a s i s no one knows e x a c t l y
why shamans a r e e f f e c t i v e , n o r i n t h e t r e a t m e n t o f m e n t a l i l l n e s s ,
whether t h e y merely remove symptoms o r b r i n g a b o u t d e e p e r and more
permanent p e r s o n a l i t y a d j u s t m e n t s . F o r t h i s r e a s o n t h e y a r e usu-
a l l y compared u n f a v o u r a b l y t o Western p s y c h i a t r i s t s whose t r e a t m e n t s
are presumed t o be s o l i d l y b a s e d on c o n t r o l l e d s c i e n t i f i c e x p e r i m e n t .
But t h i s i s a d u b i o u s c l a i m . I n r e g a r d t o i t , E. F u l l e r T o r r e y , a
p s y c h i a t r i s t who h a s s t u d i e d shamanic t r e a t m e n t , makes t h i s s t a t e -
ment:

The t e c h n i q u e s u s e d by Western p s y c h i a t r i s t s a r e on e x a c t l y
t h e same s c i e n t i f i c p l a n e ... I f one i s p r e s c i e n t i f i c
t h e n s o is the o t h e r . The o n l y e x c e p t i o n s t o t h i s a r e some
o f t h e p h y s i c a l t h e r a p i e s , i n p a r t i c u l a r some d r u g s and
shock t h e r a p y , which have been shown i n c o n t r o l l e d s t u d i e s
t o b e e f f e c t i v e i n p r o d u c i n g p s y c h i a t r i c change. None o f
t h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l t h e r a p i e s have been s o shown. In fact
e f f o r t s t o show t h i s - s o c a l l e d 'outcome s t u d i e s ' - have
been n o t o r i o u s l y n e g a t i v e ... (1972:9-10)

I t would seem t h a t w e must u n d e r s t a n d s u c c e s s f u l p s y c h o t h e r a p y ,


w h e t h e r by shamans o r p s y c h i a t r i s t s , a s an a r t . Once t h i s i s
a c c e p t e d t h e a p p a r e n t g u l f between shamans and t h e i r Western coun-
t e r p a r t s i s removed. A most i m p o r t a n t consequence i s t h a t shamans
become worthy o f s e r i o u s a t t e n t i o n . W e f i n d o u r s e l v e s a s k i n g what
can b e l e a r n e d from t h e methods o f shamans, and d e l v i n g f u r t h e r ,
what t h e i m p l i c a t i o n s a r e f o r Western p s y c h i a t r y and f o r improving
m e n t a l h e a l t h and m e d i c a l c a r e i n d e v e l o p i n g c o u n t r i e s l i k e Nepal
where shamanism p l a y s a major t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e .

Many o f t h e s e e s s a y s w i l l b e o f i n t e r e s t f o r t h e i n s i g h t s t h e y
p r o v i d e i n t o t h e shamanic a r t . P e o p l e t u r n t o shamans when t h e y
a r e ill o r a n x i o u s and t h r o u g h t h e i r m i n i s t r a t i o n s a r e g i v e n con-
f i d e n c e . Though f o c u s e d m a i n l y on t h e p s y c h e , shamanic t r e a t m e n t
has physiological effects. This is e s p e c i a l l y t r u e of bodily a i l -
ments t h a t o r i g i n a t e i n f e a r s and t e n s i o n s . But even i n c a s e s
w i t h o u t a l a r g e p s y c h i c component, and i n c a s e s where p h y s i o l o g i c a l
i l l n e s s i n t i m e w i l l cure i t s e l f , t h e treatment hastens recovery.
Where a n x i e t y i s t h e whole o r p r i m a r y f a c t o r , shamanic t r e a t m e n t
o f t e n h a s immediate h e l p f u l r e s u l t s .

I n a t t e m p t i n g t o u n d e r s t a n d t h e shamanic t r e a t m e n t T o r r e y (1972)
d i s c u s s e s f o u r a s p e c t s o f t h e r e l a t i o n between c l i e n t and curer.
H e n o t e s t h a t shamans d i s c u s s and i n t e r p r e t t h e i r c l i e n t s ' a i l m e n t s
w i t h i n a w o r l d view b o t h a c c e p t . I n Nepal, a s t h e s e e s s a y s i n d i -
c a t e , many forms o f a n x i e t y a r e r e l i e v e d by a t t r i b u t i n g problems
t o witchcraft. A t t r i b u t i o n s t o c h i l d h o o d trauma w i t h i n t h e f a m i l y
would be m e a n i n g l e s s . Both shamans and p s y c h i a t r i s t s a c h i e v e res-
u l t s by o r d e r i n g c l i e n t s ' e x p e r i e n c e i n a m e a n i n g f u l way, and a
way t h a t seems t o enhance t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f c o n t r o l . The e s s a y s
p r o v i d e d e t a i l e d examples o f what t h i s means f o r v a r i o u s N e p a l i
communities.

A s e c o n d f a c t o r T o r r e y m e n t i o n s i s t h e p e r s o n a l i t y o f t h e shaman.
What k i n d o f p e r s o n i s most e f f e c t i v e i n p s y c h o t h e r a p y ? Empathy i s
a p r i m e f a c t o r , and t h e s e e s s a y s would s u p p o r t a view o f t h e shaman
a s a p e r s o n a l i t y w i t h g r e a t s e n s i t i v i t y t o c l i e n t s ' needs. As a
s o u r c e o f this s e n s i t i v i t y t h e y s u g g e s t a p e r i o d o f y o u t h f u l and
d i s r u p t i v e p s y c h o l o g i c a l t e n s i o n , s u c c e s s f u l l y overcome by l e a r n i n g
the shaman's r o l e . They a l s o s u g g e s t t h a t a major component i s
acting ability. I t i s n o t o n l y t h a t shamans aseume t h e i d e n t i t y
of c h a r a c t e r s from t h e o t h e r world and i n this way make v i v i d t h e i r
c o n t r o l o f f t e c o n f u s i o n s and t e r r o r s , b u t a l s o - by t h e same em-
pathic g i f t - t h a t t h e y can a d j u s t t r e a t m e n t w i t h s e n s i t i v i t y and
i n s i g h t t o t h e i r c l i e n t s ' needs.

T o r r e y ' s t h i r d component i n c l u d e s a l l a s p e c t s o f t h e shaman's


a r t t h a t r a i s e a c l i e n t ' s e x p e c t a t i o n s and which s u p p o r t b e l i e f i n
the shaman's power. These e s s a y s r e v e a l many ways l e g i t i m a c y i s
achieved. I f w e were t o s e l e c t o n l y o n e , i t would be t h e shaman's
c o n n e c t i o n , s u p p o r t e d by t r a d i t i o n a l b e l i e f and h i g h l y s u g g e s t i v e
r i t u a l , w i t h a s o u r c e o f power and i n s i g h t beyond any t h a t t h e
c l i e n t can command o r even f u l l y u n d e r s t a n d .

As t h e f o u r t h component Torrey mentions an a r r a y o f t e c h n i q u e s


o f t h e r a p y , many of which w i l l be found i n t h e s e e s s a y s . To men-
t i o n o n l y a few, we f i n d t h e u s e o f s u g g e s t i v e symbolism i n a m u l e t s
and charms, music t h e r a p y , group t h e r a p y , and a c c e p t a b l e ways of
e x p r e s s i n g a g g r e s s i o n such a s l i v e s a c r i f i c e s . A f e a t u r e o f
N e p a l i shamanism d i s t i n g u i s h i n g i t from t r a d i t i o n a l c u r i n g i n many
o t h e r p a r t s of t h e world i s t h e r e l a t i v e l a c k o f d r u g use. For
the most p a r t c u r i n g i s e f f e c t e d s o l e l y by p s y c h o l o g i c a l means, by
t h e u s e of music, language, costuming and o t h e r symbols i n a d r a -
m a t i c group c o n t e x t .

There are two i m p l i c a t i o n s r e l e v a n t f o r t h e West a r i s i n g from


what t h e s e e s s a y s s u g g e s t . The comparative e f f e c t i v e n e s s of
shamans i n N e p a l i s o c i e t y , and o f p s y c h i a t r i c s o c i a l workers, psy-
c h o l o g i s t s and t h e o c c a s i o n a l g i f t e d housewife i n o u r own, l e n d s
s u p p o r t t o t h o s e who a r g u e t h a t s u c c e s s f u l t r e a t m e n t o f psycholo-
g i c a l ailments does n o t r e q u i r e a medical degree. In t h e l i g h t of
how i m p o r t a n t empathic i n s i g h t seems t o b e , o u r method o f s e l e c t i n g
psychiatrists - a method t h a t demands a m e d i c a l d e g r e e and hence
e x c l u d e s p e r s o n s who a r e n o t a t t r a c t e d by many o f t h e r e q u i r e d
d i s c i p l i n e s - i s p e r h a p s f a u l t y and rests on the q u e s t i o n a b l e a s s -
umption t h a t a n x i e t y ( t o t a k e an exainple) i s a ' d i s e a s e ' i n t h e
same s e n s e a s ' a m o e b i a s i s ' . Secondly, t h e n e c e s s i t y f o r c u r e r s
and c l i e n t s t o s h a r e a s s u m p t i o n s , v a l u e s and c o n c e p t s , and n o t
n e c e s s a r i l y any p a r t i c u l a r s e t of them, s u g g e s t s t h a t Western
p s y c h i a t r i s t s who a r e e f f e c t i v e on N e w Yorke's wealthy E a s t s i d e
w i l l need d i f f e r e n t t r a i n i n g , and p o s s i b l y even q d i f f e r e n t back-
ground, i f t h e y a r e t o b e e f f e c t i v e i n p r i s o n s l i k e A t t i c a .

The same k i n d of i m p l i c a t i o n l e a d s u s t o t h e q u e s t i o n of t h e
p r a c t i c a l i m p o r t o f t h e e s s a y s f o r m e d i c a l development i n Nepal.
One c l e a r l e s s o n would seem t o b e t h a t t h e r e can be no e a s y t r a n s -
f e r of Western p s y c h i a t r y . Each world view is t.oo d i f f e r e n t and
t o o deeply rooted i n i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of experience t h a t c a r r y
c o n v i c t i o n and e m o t i o n a l i m p a c t b e c a u s e t h e y have been l i v e d w i t h
s i n c e e a r l i e s t childhood. To b e most e f f e c t i v e , Western, o r
Western t r a i n e d p s y c h i a t r i s t s , must r e c o g n i z e t h e c u l t u r a l p l a c e
of t h e shamanic r o l e i n t r a d i t i o n a l N e p a l i s o c i e t y , a t t e s t e d t o
by t h e f a c t t h a t though a f f e c t e d , it h a s seldom been d i s p l a c e d by
t h e two g r e a t l i t e r a t e r e l i g i o u s t r a d i t i o n s . They must f u r t h e r
r e c o g n i z e t h a t i n l a r g e measure t h e e x p l a n a t i o n f o r t h e shaman's
c o n t i n u i n g i m p o r t a n c e h a s been due t o h i s s u c c e s s i n a l l e v i a t i n g
p s y c h i c i l l s . They must r e a l i z e shamans have something t o t e a c h
them.

But i s n o t shamanism a s e r i o u s b l o c k t o t r e a t m e n t where t h e


p r i m a r y s o u r c e o f i l l n e s s i s o r g a n i c ? I n Nepal a t p r e s e n t one
must a d m i t t h a t some who c o u l d and s h o u l d g o t o h o s p i t a l s depend
i n s t e a d on shamans, w i t h s e r i o u s o r f a t a l consequences. However,
e x p e r i e n c e e l s e w h e r e i n t h e w o r l d , w i t h t h e Navaho a s a n o t a b l e
example, s u g g e s t t h a t shamans have been a b l e t o h e l p i n t h e s p r e a d
o f m e d i c a l a i d . When t h e v a l u e o f t h e i r c o n t r i b u t i o n s a r e recog-
n i z e d , t h e y g e n e r a l l y have been r e a d y t o a c c e p t and r e c o g n i z e t h e i r
limitations. A f t e r learning t o recognize i l l n e s s e s requiring a
m e d i c a l d o c t o r o r h o s p i t a l i z a t i o n , t h e y have t a k e n an a c t i v e p a r t
i n g e t t i n g t h e i r c l i e n t s t o a v a i l themselves of such treatment.
And even i n c a s e s t h a t must b e t r e a t e d m e d i c a l l y , t h e y have a use-
f u l r o l e beyond t h a t o f r e f e r r a l . C l i e n t s may a c c e p t t h e w o r l d
view o f t h e d o c t o r who t e l l s them a f l y - b o r n e o r g a n i s m h a s c a u s e d
t h e i r t y p h o i d f e v e r . But i n a way c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f t r a d i t i o n a l
s o c i e t i e s i n t r a n s i t i o n , t h e y a l s o a r e l i k e l y t o have r e t a i n e d ,
r e g a r d l e s s o f i n c o n g r u i t i e s , t h e i r own o l d e r w o r l d view. To r e l i e v e
a n x i e t y t h e y may want t o c o n s u l t a shaman, t o f i n d o u t why t h a t
p a r t i c u l a r f l y l a n d e d on t h e i r f o o d , and t o be r e a s s u r e d t h a t t h e
w i t c h who s e n t i t h a s been b a n i s h e d .

The e s s a y s s u g g e s t o t h e r ways i n which shamans can p a r t i c i p a t e


i n m e d i c a l development. They, t o g e t h e r w i t h mediums, p r i e s t s and
lamas, a r e s p e c i a l i s t s i n t h e l o c a l i d e o l o g y . H e a l t h workers
a t t e m p t i n g t o i n t r o d u c e new i d e a s o f c a u s a t i o n - c a u s e s o f w a t e r -
b o r n e i l l n e s s f o r example - w i l l b e more e f f e c t i v e i f t h e y under-
s t a n d how l o c a l p e o p l e i n t e r p r e t t h e s e i l l n e s s e s . I n some i n s t a n c e s
shamans a r e p o l i t i c a l l y p r o m i n e n t and f o r t h i s r e a s o n a l o n e t h e i r
c o o p e r a t i o n i s needed. But even when t h e y a r e n o t - and i n Nepal
t h i s seems t o b e more t y p i c a l - t h e i r s u p p o r t i s v a l u a b l e b e c a u s e
o f t h e number and e x t e n t o f t h e i r c o n t a c t s . O f t e n t h e y have a
l a r g e c l i e n t e l e , i n c l u d i n g f a m i l i e s from o u t s i d e t h e i r immediate
neighbourhood and from a wide r a n g e of c a s t e s .

The a r r a n g e m e n t o f t h e e s s a y s i s p r i m a r i l y g e o g r a p h i c a l , moving
from e a s t t o w e s t . I n addition t o t h e geographical sections a r e
two o t h e r s , one c o n t a i n i n g two d e f i n i t i o n a l and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n a l
e s s a y s , the s e c o n d i n c l u d i n g a r t i c l e s d e a l i n g w i t h s p i r i t p o s s e s s -
ion i n the l i t e r a t e tradition.

x v i ii
I n the opening e s s a y , as a p r e l i m i n a r y t o a d i s c u s s i o n o f t h e
s o c i o l o g i c a l i m p l i c a t i o n s o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n and t o a r e f i n e m e n t
and e n l a r g e m e n t of Lewis' (1971) approach t o t h e t o p i c , J o n e s
draws on t h e e s s a y s i n t h i s volume t o s e t up a f o u r - f o l d c l a s s i f i -
c a t i o n o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n b a s e d on s t r u c t u r a l r e l a t i o n s o f t i m e
and space. H e goes on t o s u g g e s t how each o f t h e f o u r i s r e l a t e d
t o a d i f f e r e n t s o c i a l c o n t e x t . Reinhard is concerned w i t h p r o b l e m
i n v o l v e d i n d e f i n i n g t h e term shaman. Drawing on a wide r a n g e o f
s o u r c e s , h e a r r i v e s a t a c o n c e p t i o n t h a t seems l i k e l y t o p r o v e
e x t r e m e l y u s e f u l , i f n o t d e f i n i t i v e . Both t h e s e i n t r o d u c t o r y
e s s a y s owe something t o t h e work of o t h e r c o n t r i b u t o r s p r e s e n t e d
h e r e , and t h e y d e m o n s t r a t e t h e advances i n adequacy and sha;:pness
o f c o n c e p t u a l i z a t i o n t h a t such an a n t h o l o g y encourages. J o n e s '
a r t i c l e , i n a d d i t i o n , d e m o n s t r a t e s how such m a t e r i a l s t i m u l a t e s and
p r o v i d e s a b a s i s f o r t h e o r e t i c a l f o r m u l a t i o n . Both e s s a y s p r o v i d e
p o i n t s of v a n t a g e f o r a p p r o a c h i n g t h e o t h e r a r t i c l e s .

S e c t i o n 1 d e a l s w i t h s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n i n E a s t e r n Nepal. The
a r t i c l e by S h i r l e y Kurz J o n e s d e s c r i b e s i n i n t i m a t e d e t a i l t h e
e t h n o g r a p h e r ' s e x p e r i e n c e w i t h a Limbu woman who underwent a
series o f p o s s e s s i o n s by Yuma Sammang, a Limbu d i v i n i t y . The
a u t h o r i n d i c a t e s t h a t the Limbu woman f r e q u e n t l y used a s t a t e o f
p o s s e s s i o n t o ' m a n i p u l a t e b o t h t h e r e s e a r c h e r , who employed h e r as
a cook and h o u s e k e e p e r , and p u b l i c o p i n i o n , i n o r d e r t o r a i s e h e r
s o c i a l and economic s t a t u s i n the community. H e r p o s s e s s i o n w a s
t h o u g h t by mmy t o b e t h e f i r s t s t a g e i n t h e a c q u i s i t i o n o f sha-
manic power and, a s i s common, was o p e n l y and p u b l i c l y r e s i s t e d .
The a r t i c l e p l a c e s t h e n a t u r e o f p o s s e s s i o n and Limbu shamanism
w i t h i n the c o n t e x t o f day-to-day community a c t i v i t i e s and h e l p s
u s t o u n d e r s t a n d more c l e a r l y why p a r t i c u l a r p e o p l e are mre s u i t e d
t o t h e profession than others.

Rex J o n e s ' a r t i c l e o f f e r s an e t h n o g r a p h i c d e s c r i p t i o n o f Limbu


shamanism i n the a r e a o f Terhathum Bazaar, E a s t e r n Nepal. F i v e
d i f f e r e n t t y p e s o f Limbu shamans a r e found i n the a r e a , e a c h w i t h
a somewhat d i f f e r e n t r e l i g i o u s s p e c i a l i z a t i o n . The a u t h o r n o t e s
t h a t t h e d e f i n i t i o n of a shaman a s a ' c o n t r o l l e d e c s t a t i c ' i s t o o
r i g i d when a p p l i e d t o t h e a c t i v i t i e s o f Limbu shamans who s e r v e
t h e i r c l i e n t s b o t h a s d i v i n e r s and h e a l e r s through t h e power o f
p o s s e s s i o n and t h e t r a n c e , a s w e l l as p r i e s t s , who o f f e r s a c r i f i c e ,
p r a y e r , and p e r f o r m r i t u a l s w i t h o u t t h e a i d o f p e r s o n a l , s u p e r n a t -
u r a l power. I n t h i s way, Limbu shamans o p e r a t e b o t h i n t h e 'day-
t i m e ' and a t ' n i g h t ' . Their position a s r e l i g i o u s s p e c i a l i s t s ,
however, i s i n h e r i t e d . To become a Limbu shaman, one must f i r s t
have p e r s o n a l c o n t a c t w i t h a s p i r i t o r d e i t y i n the Limbu pantheon.
From J o n e s ' a c c o u n t we l e a r n t h a t Limbu shamans are s p e c i a l i s t s i11
t h e o r a l l i t e r a t u r e o f the Limbu and c a l l upon s p i r i t s and d e i t i e s
n o t found e l s e w h e r e i n Nepal. Furthermore, t h e y seldom r e f e r t o
themselves w i t h t h e t e r m j e k r i o r dhiimi.

Philippe Sagant provides a vivid description of t h e ' c a l l i n g '


of s e v e r a l Limbu shamans with whom he had c o n t a c t i n the M w a Khola
a r e a o f Northern Limbuan. Many o f t h e s e a c c o u n t s a r e g i v e n in the
shaman's own words w h i l e o t h e r s a r e based on o b s e r v a t i o n s made by
Sagant a t ceremonies such a s Nahangma, f o r t h e w e l f a r e o f the
Limbu household head, and a t t h e shaman's i n i t i a t i o n ceremonies.
I n t h e a r t i c l e , Sagant r e f e r s t o t h e Limbu r e l i g i o u s p r a c t i t i o n e r 4
a s ' p r i e s t s ' r a t h e r t h a n 'shamans', b u t it i s t h e view o f t h e
e d i t o r s t h a t h i s d e s c r i p t i o n o f p o s s e s s i o n and t r a n c e i s n o t i n -
compatible w i t h t h e use of t h e term 'shaman' .
He d i s t i n g u i s h e s between two t y p e s of Limbu shamans - t h e
phedangma and t h e b i j m i i . The former a r e s y m b o l i c a l l y a s s o c i a t e d
w i t h t h e ' u p p e r ' , ' f r o n t ' , and ' r i g h t ' , w h i l e t h e l a t t e r a r e a s s -
o c i a t e d w i t h the ' l o w e r ' , ' b a c k ' , and ' l e f t ' . T h i s symbolic c l a s -
s i f i c a t i o n adds t o t h e d a t a i n Rex J o n e s ' a r t i c l e where mythology
d e s c r i b e s t h e phedmgma a s o r i g i n a t i n g i n ' l i g h t n e s s ' and t h e
bij- (yeba o r yema) o r i g i n a t i n g i n ' d a r k n e s s ' . The former i s
a s s o c i a t e d w i t h 'good' w h i l e t h e l a t t e r is a s s o c i a t e d w i t h ' e v i l '

Of s p e c i a l importance i n t h i s a r t i c l e i s t h e d e t a i l e d d e s c r i p -
t i o n o f t h e i n i t i a t i o n of a n o t h e r Limbu shaman, t h e ywna, which
a p p e a r s t o be of more importance i n t h e a r e a where Sagant d i d h i s
f i e l d w o r k t h a n i n t h e Terhathum a r e a where t h e J o n e s e s worked.

I n h i s o r i g i n a l French m a n u s c r i p t , S a g a n t had i n c l u d e d o b s e r v a r
t i o n s on t h e psychology of L i d u ' p r i e s t s ' , some s t a t i s t i c a l d a t a ,
and a d e t a i l e d p r e s e n t a t i o n o f t h e ' t r a d i t i o n a l s t e p s ' t a k e n by
t h e ' p r i e s t ' d u r i n g h i s ' t r a n c e ' o r ' j o u r n e y ' i n t h e Nahangma
ritual. U n f o r t u n a t e l y t h e s e d a t a had t o be e l i m i n a t e d because of
l e n g t h , and i t i s hoped t h a t Sagant w i l l p u b l i s h them e l s e w h e r e i m
the future.

A l a i n F o u r n i e r ' s a r t i c l e d e s c r i b e s s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n and t h e
a c t i v i t i e s of shamans among t h e Sunuwar of t h e Tamba and Mauling
R i v e r s of E a s t e r n Nepal. H e s p e c i f i c a l l y d e s c r i b e s h i s experiench
i n t h e v i l l a g e of Sabra. According t o F o u r n i e r , t h e Sunuwar o f t h a t
a r e a c a l l upon two k i n d s of shamans, a puirnbo, which i s g e n e r a l l y
a male, and a n g i k , g e n e r a l l y a female. Although t h e s e two
shamans a r e e s p e c i a l l y h e l p f u l i n times o f i l l n e s s , which i s be-
l i e v e d t o be caused by v a r i o u s s p i r i t s and s u p e r n a t u r a l f o r c e s ,
t h e y a l s o perform s e a s o n a l , d o m e s t i c , and l i f e - c y c l e r i t u a l s . In
t h i s way, they a l s o s e r v e a s ' p r i e s t s ' , a s do Limbu shamans. Fur&
thermore, t h e Sunuwar shamans c a r r y t h i s a l i t t l e f a r t h e r i n t h a t
they w i l l n o t o f f e r blood s a c r i f i c e on t h e s e o c c a s i o n s . Instead,
they a r e a s s i s t e d by s p e c i a l i s t s who make t h e s a c r i f i c e s .

B e l i e f s and p r a c t i c e s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h Sunuwar shamanism and


p o s s e s s i o n b e a r a number of o t h e r resemblances t o t h e Limbu complvx:
f o r example, t h e r a n k i n g o f shamans a c c o r d i n g t o t h e powers of
h e l p i n g s p i r i t s , and t h e s p e c i a l i z e d f u n c t i o n s o f t h o s e shamans
who d e a l with m i s f o r t u n e s b e l i e v e d t o have been caused by s p i r i t s
of t h o s e who d i e by a c c i d e n t , v i o l e n c e , o r i n c h i l d b i r t h .
N i c h o l a s A l l e n d e s c r i b e s t h e shamanic complex a s h e o b s e r v e d .
i t among t h e Thulung Rai. He n o t e s t h a t t h e s h a r p d i s t i n c t i o n
o f t e n made between a ' p r i e s t ' and a 'shaman' i s p r o b l e m a t i c i n
terms o f h i s d a t a . A l l e n f e e l s t h a t t r i b a l ' p r i e s t s ' have more
i n common w i t h t h e c e n t r a l A s i a t i c t r a d i t i o n s t h a n do t h e N e p a l i
jha'kri and c o n t r a s t s t h e two i n terms of ' o r d e r ' and ' d i s o r d e r ' .
The t r i b a l p r i e s t d e a l s w i t h t h e ' o r d e r l y s u p e r n a t u r a l ' w h i l e t h e
j a k r i d e a l s w i t h t h e ' f o r c e s of d i s o r d e r t h a t a f f l i c t i n d i v i d u a l
households'. H e g o e s on t o s a y , however, t h a t t h e ' d i s t i n c t i o n s '
and ' f u n c t i o n s ' of t h e two a r e ' b l u r r e d ' and t h a t we s h o u l d n o t
f o c u s on any one a s p e c t of t h e s i t u a t i o n which might l e a d u s t o
' m u t i l a t e t h e t o t a l p i c t u r e ' . H e chooses t o f o c u s on t h e j)ldk&,
s i n c e he c l a i m s i t i s t h e jhi%i who t y p i c a l l y undergoes ' v o l u n -
t a r y p o s s e s s i o n ' or e c s t a s y . H e s t a t e s t h a t t h e Thulung Rai d i s -
t i n g u i s h s h a r p l y between t r i b a l p r i e s t s and jha'kri, p r e f e r r i n g t h e
t e r m Idem nokcha' o r 'bij-' f o r the f o r m e r . s u c h d i s t i n c t i o n s
a l s o a r e t y p i c a l o f t h e Limbu, Sunuwar, and Gurung, and h i s d e s -
c r i p t i o n s o f t h e shaman's a l t a r (th&), costume, and o t h e r p a r a -
p h e r n a l i a show them t o b e s i m i l a r t o t h o s e e l s e w h e r e i n Nepal,
e s p e c i a l l y among t h e Limbu.

R o b e r t P a u l draws a s h a r p d i s t i n c t i o n between Sherpa shamanism


and L a m a i s t i c Buddhism, n o t i n g t h a t t h e former i s on t h e d e c l i n e ,
H e c i t e s t h e c a s e s o f f o u r S h e r p a shamans who have g i v e n up t h e
practice. Two of them have become v i l l a g e lama and have d e v o t e d
t h e r e m a i n d e r o f t h e i r l i v e s t o the s t u d y o f t e x t s and p e r s o n a l
s a l v a t i o n . P a u l a l s o f e e l s t h a t S h e r p a shamanism h a s found i t s e l f
i n c o m p e t i t i o n w i t h N e p a l i shamans o f lower c a s t e s who have e m i -
g r a t e d i n t o t h e a r e a , which c o u p l e d w i t h t h e a c t i v i t i e s o f t h e
lama, h a s f u r t h e r c o n t r i b u t e d t o i t s d e c l i n e . I n t h e t o t a l con-
t e x t of Sherpa r e l i g i o u s t r a d i t i o n , P a u l b e l i e v e s t h a t shamanism
must be s e e n a s one s i d e o f s t r u c t u r a l dichotomy w i t h lamaism o r
o r t h o d o x Buddhism a s t h e o t h e r , r e p r e s e n t i n g t h e d i f f e r e n t p o l e s of
a continuum from e c s t a t i c t o f o r m a l , p e r s o n a l t o u n i v e r s a l , s e x u a l
t o a s c e t i c , t h i s - w o r l d l y t o o t h e r - w o r l d l y , and s o on.

A s a f u r t h e r n o t e , P a u l d e s c r i b e s t h e d e c l i n e o f shamanism i n
t e r m s o f t h e l a m a ' s o r i e n t a t i o n towards d e a t h and t h e c o n c e r n w i t h
r e b i r t h (karma). H e n o t e s t h a t i n Buddhism p e r s o n a l p e r f e c t i o n
must b e a t t a i n e d t h r o u g h a s u b m i s s i o n o f e g o i s t i c d r i v e s t o t r a n s -
c e n d e n t a l and e t e r n a l t r u t h s , which a r e e s p e c i a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t t o
i n d i v i d u a l s a t d e a t h . The s h a m a n i s t i c journey ' t o t h e l a n d o f the
d e a d ' i s t h e r e b y t r a n s f o r m e d and c o m p l e t e l y i n c o r p o r a t e d w i t h i n
the ' f o r m a l d o c t r i n e o f the T i b e t a n B u d d h i s t R e l i g i o n ' . (See
J o n e s 1 9 6 8 ) . I n t h i s manner, as i s e v i d e n t i n S t a b l e i n ' s a r t i c l e
on the M a h a g l a r i t u a l o f T a n t r i c Buddhism, t h e ' s p o n t a n e o u s ecs-
t a s y ' o f t h e shaman g i v e s way t o t h e ' f o r m a l i z e d r i t u a l ' o f t h e
lama, the p r i e s t , o r t h e v a j r a m a s t e r . T h i s theme o f ' r a t i o n a l i -
z a t i o n ' a l s o i s a p p a r e n t among t h e Gurung (see Messerschmidt i n
t h i s volume) and t o a lesser e x t e n t , e l s e w h e r e i n Nepal where
Hindu and B u d d h i s t d o c t r i n e s have begun t o r e p l a c e and i n c o r p o r a t e
i n d i g e n o u s r e l i g i o u s t r a d i t i o n s . T h e shaman, i f h e s u r v i v e s ,
becomes 'grounded' and h i s a c t i v i t i e s a r e r e l e g a t e d t o t h i s w o r l d l y
concern. P a u l sees t h e change as p a r t o f t h e o v e r a l l d i r e c t i o n of
h i story.

I n t h e s e c o n d s e c t i o n w e move t o C e n t r a l and Western Nepal, and


i n the o p e n i n g a r t i c l e Wolf D. Michl i n t r o d u c e s t h e j h d k r i , a t y p e
o f shaman v e r y c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f t h e more n o r t h e r l y sub-Himalayan
r e g i o n s o f C e n t r a l Nepal. The r o l e i s d e s c r i b e d a s found among a
p o p u l a t i o n p r e d o m i n a n t l y C h a n t e l and Kami, g r o u p s i n h a b i t i n g t h e
h i g h r i d g e s s o u t h o f D h a u l a g i r i . Although M i c h l ' s major i n f o r m a n t
w a s C h a n t e l , h e n o t e s t h a t shamans a r e drawn from b o t h g r o u p s and
s e r v e b o t h ; and t h a t among o t h e r f u n c t i o n s , t h e y s t r e n g t h e n t h e
community's p s y c h o l o g i c a l a d a p t a t i o n t o a v e r y d i f f i c u l t , storm-
a f f l i c t e d environment.

The C h a n t e l are l i g h t l y i n f l u e n c e d by Hinduism. Although t h e y


might employ a Brahman p r i e s t ( i n c o n t r a s t t o t h e Kami, who c a n n o t
b e c a u s e o f t h e i r u n t o u c h a b l e s t a t u s ) t h e y seldom do. Thus t h e
shaman i s a l m o s t u n c h a l l e n g e d a s t h e f o c a l r e l i g i o u s f i g u r e , and
this may e x p l a i n why one j z k r i , c o n t r a r y t o t h e u s u a l r u l e b o t h
i n t h i s r e g i o n and e l s e w h e r e i n Nepal, can l i v e e n t i r e l y on income
from h i s p r a c t i c e .

O t h e r f e a t u r e s o f t h e complex a r e u n u s u a l . Michl r e p o r t s t h e
e x i s t e n c e of a f e m a l e shaman ( j h Z K n i ) , a r a r e phenomenon; and
h e f i n d s t h a t e v e r y shaman l e a r n s h i s t e c h n i q u e s , i n c l u d i n g h i s
costume, d i r e c t l y from a d e i t y o r s p i r i t . Although j h z k r i e l s e -
where d o n o t a l l c l a i m t o have l e a r n e d from a human g u r u , most do
( a t l e a s t i n p a r t ) , s o t h a t what i s e x c e p t i o n a l i n o t h e r p l a c e s
i s h e r e t h e r u l e . Michl p o i n t s t o t h e i m p o r t a n t i n t e g r a t i n g r o l e
p l a y e d by t h e most r e s p e c t e d shaman, a C h a n t e l . By blaming prob-
l e m s on s p i r i t s he o f t e n i s a b l e t o d e p e r s o n a l i s e a c o n f l i c t and
i n t h i s way d e f u s e it.

I n my own e s s a y I p r e s e n t a s p e c t s o f a shamanic complex which


P a t r i c i a Hitchcock and myself e n c o u n t e r e d and f i l m e d i n 1961.
(Hitchcock and H i t c h c o c k : 1 9 6 6 a ) . Located i n t h e s o u t h western
f o o t h i l l s of t h e D h a u l a g i r i Range, i t now seems t o r e p r e s e n t one
of t h e ' h e a r t h a r e a s ' o r p o i n t s o f maximum i n t e n s i t y and c l i m a x
f o r t h e k i n d o f shamanism t h a t h a s a r e p e r t o i r e o f s t o r y - s o n g s
and which p i a c e s heavy emphasis on a s c e n s i o n a l symbolism, i n c l u -
d i n g a pole-climb i n i t i a t i o n . A s i s p o i n t e d o u t , it a l s o d u p l i c a t e s
w i t h remarkable s p e c i f i c i t y many o f t h e r i t u a l e l e m e n t s found i n
I n n e r A s i a among p e o p l e s s u c h a s t h e Tungus; and t h o u g g f i n d i
i t d i f f i c u l t t o b e l i e v e t h a t an a c t u a l t r a n c e s t a t e i s a n e c e s s a r y
e l e m e n t i n B h u j e l shamanism, t h e B h u j e l , l i k e t h e Tungus, i n t e r p r e t
t h e i r a c t i v i t i e s a s s o u l - j o u r n e y o r p o s s e s s i o n by an i n t r u s i v e
s p i r i t . Though w i t h o u t t h e same p o l i t i c a l importance a s t h e Ath
H a j a r P a r b a t shaman d e s c r i b e d b y M i c h l , t h e B h u j e l shaman draws
on h i s a r r a y o f t e c h n i q u e s t o p a r t i c i p a t e i n many o t h e r a s p e c t s
o f s o c i a l l i f e . B e s i d e s t h e f a m i l y , which i s t h e f o c u s f o r h i s
most c o n c e r t e d e f f o r t s , h e i s s i g n i f i c a n t f o r t h e l o c a l i z e d
l i n e a g e , t h e l o c a l c a s t e group and t h e c o r n u n i t y a s a whole.

The s e a n c e i s t h e p r i m a r y c o n t e x t f o r t h e B h u j e l shaman's
a c t i v i t i e s , and i n i l l u s t r a t i o n , I have s e l e c t e d p a r t s of an
a c t u a l sbance: a s o u l - k i l l i n g . Whatever a d d i t i o n a l f u n c t i o n s i t
may s e r v e , t h e Nine Witch Song s e r v e s t o s t r e n g t h e n c o n f i d e n c e i n
t h e shaman and t o v a l i d a t e h i s r o l e . The song reminds t h o s e who
g a t h e r f o r a s b a n c e t h a t t h e i r shaman's-cost-i.c,e i s the costume o f
t h e F i r s t Shaman, and by reminding them o f the p r i m a l agreement
between t h i s m y t h i c a l f i g u r e , who r e p r e s e n t s Good, and t h e Witch
S i s t e r , who r e p r e s e n t s E v i l , i t a s s u r e s them t h a t t h e i r shaman,
who now embodies t h e F i r s t Shaman, can draw on t h e agreement t o
b e n e f i t h i s p a t i e n t . I i n t e r p r e t t h e k i l l i n g o f a deceased
c h i l d ' s t r o u b l e s o m e s o u l a s a d u a l r i t e o f p a s s a g e , i n which t h e
c h i l d ' s s o u l p a s s e s from involvement i n f a m i l y l i f e t h r o u g h an
u n d i f f e r e n t i a t e d , womb-like s t a t e t o a b s o r p t i o n i n d e a t h ; and t h e
f a m i l y p a s s e s from e m o t i o n a l involvement w i t h t h e d e a d c h i l d
through a s i m i l a r u n d i f f e r e n t i a t e d s t a t e , t o a w i l l e d breaking of
i t s t i e s t o t h e dead i n f a n t .

I n a Gurung community s i t u a t e d i n t h e s o u t h e r n s l o p e s o f Anna-


p u r n a , Donald A. Messerschmidt d e s c r i b e s two r e l i g i o u s s p e c i a l i s t s ,
t h e p a j y u and t h e khepr.3. Both a r e r e c r u i t e d e x c l u s i v e l y from one
o f t h e two r a n k e d d i v i s i o n s i n t o which Gurung clans a r e grouped,
and b o t h a r e l o c i f o r i n f l u e n c e s from t h e t h r e e t r a d i t i o n s t h a t
comprise t h e complex r e l i g i o u s l i f e o f Gurung s o c i e t y , namely,
Hinduism, T i b e t a n Buddhism ( l a m a i s m ) , and a t r a d i t i o n a p p a r e n t l y
d e r i v i n g from p r e - B u d d h i s t Bon. Although b o t h s p e c i a l i s t s prog-
n o s t i c a t e and p e r f o r m c u r i n g r i t e s , t h e i r m o s t c h a r a c t e r i s t i c
c o n t r i b u t i o n i s made d u r i n g o b s e q u i e s when t h e y e n a b l e a d e p a r t e d
s o u l t o journey t o t h e v i l l a g e o f t h e gods.

W i t h t h e pdyu and k h e p r z we e n c o u n t e r a complex where t r a n c e


i s n o t a f e a t u r e . Nor d o e s e i t h e r s p e c i a l i s t embody s p i r i t s o r
s e n d h i s s o u l on a j o u r n e y . The p a j y u and k h e p r z u s e a d i f f e r e n t
t e c h n i q u e t o c o n t r o l s p i r i t s , most n o t a b l y d u r i n g p o s t - b u r i a l
r i t e s when t h e y b r i n g a d e p a r t e d s o u l back from t h e underworld
and f r e e it from demonic c a p t o r s .

A v a l u a b l e c o n t r i b u t i o n of t h i s e s s a y i s t h e h e i g h t e n e d aware-
n e s s i t b r i n g s o f f u r t h e r avenues o f r e s e a r c h . Among the most
i n t e r e s t i n g of t h e s e i s t h e h i s t o r i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e of t w o placesr
t h e a n c e s t r a l v i l l a g e of Khhol and t h e v i l l a g e o f Lupra, w i t h
which the k h e p r z a p p a r e n t l y h a s s i g n i f i c a n t c o n n e c t i o n s . The
e s s a y a l s o alerts u s t o t h e r e l i g i o u s e f f e c t s o f Nepal's increas-
i n g l y r a p i d modernization.

Marc G a b o r i e a u ' s e s s a y d e s c r i b e s h i s s t u d y o f a c u l t t h a t i s
w i d e s p r e a d i n Western Nepal and a d j a c e n t Kumaon. Its two major

xxiii
f e a t u r e s a r e a s h r i n e f o r t h e w o r s h i p o f a major d e i t y and s u b s i d -
i a r y d e i t i e s , and human o r a c l e s (dhiimi) who s p e a k f o r them. The
o r a c l e s a r e b e l i e v e d t o embody t h e god ( M a g t c i ) and a r e t r e a t e d
w i t h a l l t h e r e s p e c t due an avatiir. Through h i s o r a c l e s t h e god
i s s o u g h t f o r a d v i c e o f a l l k i n d s , b u t most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y he
i s v a l u e d a s an a r b i t r a t o r and a means f o r r e c t i f y i n g u n j u s t
decisions.

Gaborieau' s s t u d y i s o f s p e c i a l i n t e r e s t methodologically.
I n s t e a d o f c o n c e n t r a t i n g on a s i n g l e l o c a l i t y o r community and
s t u d y i n g t h e god, h i s o r a c l e s , t h e s h r i n e and i t s s o c i a l organ-
i z a t i o n i n t h i s l i m i t e d c o n t e x t , h e s t u d i e s t h e MagtE c u l t
t h r o u g h o u t a r e g i o n , s e e k i n g v a r i a t i o n s and c o n s t a n t thema.
Moreover, he b r i n g s t o t h e s t u d y n o t o n l y a knowledge o f N e p g l i
b u t of Kumaoni and S a n s k r i t , i n c l u d i n g t h e l i t e r a t u r e o f t h e l a t t e r .
Among t h e v a l u a b l e r e s u l t s o f t h i s k i n d o f s t u d y i s enhanced h i s -
t o r i c a l i n s i g h t i n a r e g i o n where h i s t o r i c a l d o c u m e n t a t i o n i s
s c a n t y and p e r c e p t i o n o f c o n t i n u i t i e s between e l e m e n t s i n t h e l o c a l
c u l t a n d e l e m e n t s i n t h e G r e a t T r a d i t i o n o f Hinduism a r e l i m i t e d .

The music o f a c a s t e (Damail who a r e m u s i c i a n s a s w e l l a s


t a i l o r s i s o f g r e a t i m p o r t a n c e i n t h e c u l t . F o r music p r o v i d e d
by t h e Damai i s t h e means by which t h e dhEimi s h e d s h i s o r d i n a r y
s e l f and becomes an embodiment o f a d e i t y . G a b o r i e a u n o t e s t h a t
t h e music v a r i e s a c c o r d i n g t o t h e d e i t y t o b e made m a n i f e s t .
G a b o r i e a u found t h a t some major s h r i n e s were f o c i f o r a geograph-
i c a l s c a t t e r i n g o f s u b s i d i a r y s h r i n e s . F o r t h e a d m i n i s t r a t i o n and
r i t u a l a c t i v i t i e s of each s h r i n e a h i e r a r c h i c a l s o c i a l organization
was p r e s e n t , w i t h t h e s t a t u s o f dhiimi a s one o f t h e e l e m e n t s . T h i s
h i e r a r c h i c a l o r g a n i z a t i o n - b o t h g e o g r a p h i c a l and s o c i a l - r e f l e c t s
and i s c o n g r u e n t , i n one d i r e c t i o n , w i t h c a s t e h i e r a r c h y i n t h e
community a n d , i n a n o t h e r d i r e c t i o n , w i t h s p i r i t h i e r a r c h y i n t h e
o t h e r world.

To d e p i c t t h e d&i complex i n F a r Western Nepal, W a l t e r F.


Winkler u t i l i z e s a p a n e l o f s i x s p i r i t mediums, o r o r a c l e s , h e
knew e s p e c i a l l y w e l l . Besides a female t h e group i n c l u d e d rep-
r e s e n t a t i v e s from f i v e d i f f e r e n t c a s t e g r o u p s , r a n g i n g i n s t a t u s
from p r i e s t l y Brahman t o a t a i l o r member o f t h e Untouchable
c a t e g o r y . Because o f t h e s i z e and v a r i e t y o f t h e p a n e l , h e c a n
s u g g e s t q u a l i f i c a t i o n s and s h a d i n g , or s t a t e g e n e r a l i z a t i o n s w i t h
a s s u r a n c e , as t h e c a s e may b e . The e s s a y complements G a b o r i e a u ' s r
where t h e p o i n t o f d e p a r t u r e i s a s i n g l e d e i t y and h i s c u l t .
W i n k l e r ' s f o c u s i s on the r o l e o f s p i r i t medium ( d h & ) . The
d i f f e r e n c e i n p e r s p e c t i v e is v a l u a b l e because it h i g h l i g h t s
s l i g h t l y d i f f e r e n t f e a t u r e s o f a v e r y s i m i l a r complex - a complex
s t r o n g l y i n f l u e n c e d by Hinduism whose c e n t r a l f e a t u r e i n b o t h
r e g i o n s i s a temple o r a c l e , a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a h i e r a r c h i c a l p a n t h e m
and s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n . W i n k l e r ' s i n t e r e s t s l e a d him t o d e p i c t i n
more d e t a i l t h e v a r i e t y of s o c i a l c o n t e x t s i n which t h e dhZmi
f u n c t i o n s . The two e s s a y s a l s o a r e g e o g r a p h i c a l l y complementary,
and t h e m o s t n o t a b l e d i f f e r e n c e emerging when p a n t h e o n s o f t h e
two r e g i o n s a r e compared, i s t h e widespread importance o f l i n e a g e
d e i t i e s (kuZ d e u t d ) i n t h e F a r West, a d i f f e r e n c e Winkler a t t r i b -
u t e s t o d i f f e r e n t h i s t o r i e s o f Hindu i m m i g r a t i o n . Winkler a l s o
found t h a t s u b s i d i a r y d e i t i e s ( c a l l e d iin-biin, c o r r e s p o n d i n g t o
t h e b d h m o f G a b o r i e a u ' s r e g i o n ) had a much more a c t i v e and
e s t a b l i s h e d r o l e , and gave t h e i r s p i r i t - m e d i u m s c o r r e s p o n d i n g
prominence.

When d i s c u s s i n g t h e s e s u b s i d i a r y d e i t i e s , Winkler r e v e a l s t h e y
have a most i n t e r e s t i n g f u n c t i o n i n c o n f l i c t s i t u a t i o n s . An
a g g r i e v e d p e r s o n makes a promise t o b e n e f i t an dn-biin i n some way,
and u s u a l l y makes t h e p r o m i s e i n t h e p r e s e n c e o f t h e d h h * who
r e p r e s e n t s t h e d e i t y . The p u r p o s e o f t h e promise i s t o p e r s u a d e
t h e En-bZn t o a f f l i c t an opponent, and s i n c e t h e d e i t y d o e s n o t
a f f l i c t the i n n o c e n t , t h i s custom, even though t h e promise i s made
i n s e c r e t , becomes an e f f e c t i v e way o f b r i n g i n g p r e s s u r e t o b e a r
on wrong-doers.

B e s i d e s a c t i n g i n t h i s s o c i a l c o n t e x t and a s a n o r a c l e i n t h e
s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n o f a temple, t h e dhZni i s a s k e d t o p e r f o r m i n
t h e home a s a c u r e r , o r t o u t i l i z e h i s a u r a o f godhead i n h e l p i n g
k e e p t h e p e a c e between r i v a l f a c t i o n s a t l a r g e f e s t i v a l g a t h e r i n g s .
Sometimes more t h a n one d&i i s a s k e d t o p e r f o r m i n a home and
Winkler remarks on the r i v a l r y t h i s s i t u a t i o n g e n e r a t e s .

The dhtimi who a c t i n t h e above s o c i a l c o n t e x t a l r e a d y have


a t t a i n e d r e c o g n i t i o n and l e g i t i m a c y . Winkler a l s o d i s c u s s e s t h e
k i n d o f s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n from which d&i a r i s e and i t i s o f
i n t e r e s t t h a t f o u r o f t h e s i x on h i s p a n e l come from backgrounds
of p e r s o n a l o r family unhappiness.

J o h a n R e i n h a r d ' s e s s a y d i s c u s s e s shamanism among a p r e v i o u s l y


nomadic g r o u p o f S o u t h e r n Nepal. Showing i n f l u e n c e from t h e i r
Tharu n e i g h b o u r s , t h e y c a l l t h e i r shamans g a m u . Q u i t e u n l i k e
t h e dh&i d e s c r i b e d by Winkler, t h e g a m u p a s s t h r o u g h no u n u s u a l
p s y c h i c e x p e r i e n c e a s a n i n d i c a t i o n o f their c a l l i n g and o v e r
e i g h t y p e r c e n t of a l l males a r e i n i t i a t e d , though o n l y a few
c o n t i n u e t o p r a c t i c e . An u n u s u a l f e a t u r e o f t h e complex i s t h e
way shamans f u n c t i o n a s p a r t o f a j d e n i - l i k e s y s t e m , r e c e i v i n g
a n n u a l payments from c l i e n t v i l l a g e s where t h e y p e r f o r m ceremonies
f o r t h e whole community. Because o f i t s a t t e n t i o n t o t h i s and
o t h e r economic d e t a i l s , i n c l u d i n g t h e way shamans m a n i p u l a t e t h e
s p i r i t world f o r t h e i r economic a d v a n t a g e , R e i n h a r d ' s e s s a y
p r e s e n t s a v e r y u s e f u l p i c t u r e o f shamanism i n r e l a t i o n t o p r a c -
t i t i o n e r s ' means o f l i v e l i h o o d .

Among t h e R a j i w e e n c o u n t e r o u r f i r s t d e s c r i p t i o n o f f i r e -
w a l k i n g t o show t h e power o f t u t e l a r y d e i t i e s , and o f b l o o d - l e t t i n g
by c u t t i n g t h e body and p i e r c i n g t h e tongue i n o r d e r t o a p p e a s e
them. The u s u a l s e a n c e , however, i s r e l a t i v e l y s i m p l e , and the
shaman wears no s p e c i a l a t t i r e . In these r e s p e c t s the Raji shamans
a r e not unlike shamans among the Magar of Central Nepal (see
Hitchcock and Hitchcock 1966b) .
Witch b e l i e f o f t e n i s a somewhat covert p a r t of Nepali l i f e , i n
p a r t because of l e g a l sanctions (see Macdonald's essay i n t h i s
volume). Nevertheless i s i s extremely pervasive and Reinhard's
essay, by depicting i t s c e n t r a l i t y i n one community undoubtedly
provides an i n d i c a t i o n of i t s r o l e i n many o t h e r s throughout the
country.

The Raji a r e being a f f e c t e d by the heavy emigration from t h e


h i l l s t o the low-lying T e r a i , a region r e c e n t l y made h a b i t a b l e by
malaria control. A s a r e s u l t they a r e i n c r e a s i n g l y influenced by
Hindu a g r i c u l t u r a l i s t s . Reinhard r e v e a l s how important an
a c c u l t u r a t i v e r o l e t h e R a j i shaman plays i n t h i s s i t u a t i o n .

In s e c t i o n I11 we include a r t i c l e s by C o r n e i l l e J e s t and


A.W. Macdonald, both of whom have done pioneer research i n Nepal
and r e l a t e d a r e a s . The a r t i c l e by Macdonald was t r a n s l a t e d from
t h e French and i s one of t h e f i r s t a r t i c l e s published on t h e
s u b j e c t matter of t h i s book. Although the d a t a comes from an area
outside Nepal, it d e a l s with t h e a c t i v i t i e s of t h e jhEkri i n
Nepali-speaking populations and i s t h e e a r l i e s t attempt t o d e l i n -
e a t e i n d e t a i l the r o l e of t h e jzkri i n Nepali r e l i g i o n . J e s t ' s
a r t i c l e complements many of the a r t i c l e s i n t h i s volume i n t h a t
he o f f e r s glimpses of various shamans (whom he p r e f e r s t o c a l l
' i n t e r c e s s o r s ' ) among a wide v a r i e t y of groups - t h e Lepcha of
Kalimpong, the Thakali and Magar of western Nepal, t h e Nepali
speakers of Chainpur-Bajhang i n western Nepal, and the Tibetans
of northwestern Nepal. J e s t ' s d a t a adds t o our knowledge of
s i m i l a r i t i e s and d i f f e r e n c e s i n possession, soul journey, and
exorcism i n widely s c a t t e r e d a r e a s of the Himalayas.

The f i n a l s e c t i o n d e a l s w i t h s p i r i t possession i n the l i t e r a t e


t r a d i t i o n , among Tibet-orientated peoples of Nepal and i n the
Nepali Code of Jang Bahadur Rana i n the 19th century. The f i r s t
a r t i c l e by Aziz describes t h e nature ,of s p i r i t possession among
reincarnate lama of Tibetan Buddhism. In the p a s t , according t o
Aziz, s p i r i t possession and shamanism i n Tibetan Buddhism received
only a cursory e ~ a m i n a t i o n ~ t h r o u gthe h study of s t a t e o r a c l e s and
the l i k e . They were t r e a t e d a s 'remnants' of an e a r l i e r shamanic
p r a c t i c e . She argues t h a t t h e r e i n c a r n a t e lama i s s p i r i t possessed
and can be considered a s a kind of shaman. I t might appear s t a r -
t l i n g t o scholars of Buddhism and Tibet t o see the r e i n c a r n a t e
lama described a s a 'shaman' o r be d e a l t with a s 'possessed by a
s p i r i t ' , but Aziz seems t o make a good case. C e r t a i n l y , few can
deny t h e s i m i l a r i t i e s between reincarnation and s p i r i t possession.
Both a r e forms of ' p o s s e s s i o n ' . A s Jones p o i n t s o u t i n h i s
introductory a r t i c l e , i t i s the duration of possession and con-
c e p t u a l i z a t i o n of the s p i r i t t h a t e n t e r s the body t h a t d i f f e r s .
The reincarnate lama i s 'possessed f o r l i f e ' s o t o speak, while
the shaman t y p i c a l l y undergoes p e r i o d i c possession with s t a t e d
purposes. The s p i r i t t h a t possesses a lama i s usually the s p i r i t
of a deceased member of the Tibetan community, while the s p i r i t
t h a t possesses a shaman v a r i e s considerably from nature s p i r i t s
of the f o r e s t s and t u t e l a r y d i v i n i t i e s , t o gods and goddesses who
may never have assumed corporeal form.

The paper by W i l l i a m Stablein might a t f i r s t seem out of place


i n a volume on s p i r i t possession and shamanism. Stablein i s ,
a f t e r a l l , discussing the a c t i v i t i e s of a p r i e s t of T a n t r i c
Buddhism, i n t h i s case t h e vajramaster of t h e MahZkZla pud. 'hro
j u s t i f i c a t i o n s can be given f o r i t s inclusion. F i r s t , Stablein
argues t h a t a vajramaster i s a descendant of the shaman. He i s a
shaman transmuted by generations of immersion i n a sophisticated,
highly l i t e r a t e r e l i g i o u s t r a d i t i o n . Second, and perhaps m o s t
p e r t i n e n t t o t h i s volume, the vajramaster and the Mahagla piijZ
help u s t o see more c l e a r l y what shamanism i s and what it i s not.
They do t h i s by o f f e r i n g a c o n t r a s t . By h i s s e n s i t i v e delineation
of the p w d symbolism, Stablein helps us t o comprehend how much of
the t o t a l c u l t u r e material t h e p w Z brings t o the presence of the
vajramaster - s o t h a t he may transform i t i n t o a s p i r i t u a l l y
b e n e f i c i e n t 'medicine' f o r the devotee. The shaman, too,
s a c r a l i z e s c e r t a i n substances. He transforms barley dough f i g u r e s ,
f o r example, i n t o o f f e r i n g s acceptable t o a d e i t y o r s p i r i t . But
even a t t h e i r most complex, one can hardly say t h a t the Nepali
shamanic r i t u a l s t r a n s f i g u r e a t o t a l way of l i f e . A shaman does
not c a l l upon a s p i r i t and a long l i n e of those who have served
t h a t s p i r i t . For the shaman a s p i r i t i s a means t o an end. The
shaman 'masters' the s p i r i t on behalf of h i s c l i e n t . For the
vajramaster the aim i s not mastery but union, and a s a corollary
the process of s p i r i t - a s s o c i a t i o n i s more reverent. This d i f f -
erence suggests another, which i s one of the most s i g n i f i c a n t
c o n t r a s t s between t h e shaman and the vajramaster. In shamanic
possession, the s p i r i t and the shaman remain separate. This
must be s o i f the shaman i s t o master the s p i r i t . In c o n t r a s t ,
the r e l a t i o n between the vajramaster and Mahikala i s one of apo-
t h e o s i s . The s p i r i t becomes the vajramaster, ' l i k e water flowing
i n t o water' More than any other author i n the volume, Stablein
has attempted t o learn another r e l i g i o n 'from the i n s i d e ' , by
d i r e c t l y experiencing it. He t e l l s us of the kind of i n s i g h t the
method of understanding helped him achieve.

The f i n a l a r t i c l e i n t h i s s e c t i o n and i n the volume i s a


t r a n s l a t i o n of A.W. Macdonald's a r t i c l e i n French, which was a
t r a n s l a t i o n and commentary on sorcery i n the Nepali Code of 1853.
The a r t i c l e i s a t r a n s l a t i o n of p a r t s of the Jang Bahadur Rana
Code of t h e 19th century t h a t d e a l s with sorcery, w i t c h c r a f t , and
the a c t i v i t i e s of shamans ( i n t h i s case jGkri o r dhiimi).
Macdonald notes t h a t i n the Code the two a r e t r e a t e d as one and
the same. Both a r e described as h e a l e r s who cure with the help
of personal supernatural powers.

xxvii
Most of the t r a n s l a t i o n d e a l s with the type . j F punishment given
t o those who wrongly accuse people of being ' s o r c e r e r s ' (boksa) o r
'witches' ( b o k s i l . Of e s p e c i a l i n t e r e s t i s the nature of the
proof required i n d e t e c t i n g witches. The Code seems t o i n d i c a t e
t h a t t h e only acceptable proof i n t h e d e t e c t i o n of witches i s f o r
the shaman (jhZkri/dhiimi) t o f i r s t brand the c l i e n t under a t t a c k
by a witch and cause him/her t o dance, which w i l l a l s o cause the
witch t o be branded and dance. I n such cases i t i s deemed
acceptable t o chase the witch from v i l l a g e t o v i l l a g e . A l l o t h e r
forms of w i t c h c r a f t accusations, e i t h e r by a shaman o r a non-
s p e c i a l i s t , a r e deemed t o be unacceptable, and the accusers a r e
s u b j e c t t o various punishments by f i n e , imprisonment o r e x i l e .
The Code a l s o contains some i n t e r e s t i n g d e t a i l s governing i n t e r -
c a s t e curing p r a c t i c e s a s well a s treatment of women by male
shamans. The a r t i c l e adds h i s t o r i c a l depth t o our e f f o r t s t o
understand the magico-religious phenomena discussed and shows
t h a t the government of Nepal has lang recognized the importance
of these phenomena i n t h e l i v e s of most Nepalis.

In f a i r n e s s t o our authors we must emphasize, a s we agreed t o


do, t h a t most essays a r e t o be regarded a s work i n progress, a s
s t i m u l i t o f u r t h e r research, and a s i n d i c a t i o n s of how much
information s t i l l remains t o be gathered.

John T . Hitchcock
~athmandu,Nepa Z
A p r i 2, 1975

xxvi i i
I
SPIRIT POSSESSION AND SOCIETY IN NEPAL

Definitions and Classifications

S p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n i n Nepal i s n o t u n i q u e . A n t h r o p o l o g i s t s and
o t h e r s have e n c o u n t e r e d it t h r o u g h o u t t h e world. T h i s p a p e r i s a
p r e l i m i n a r y a t t e m p t a t u n d e r s t a n d i n g some o f t h e s o c i o l o g i c a l
i m p l i c a t i o n s o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n w i t h i n t h e Nepal s e t t i n g ,
through a d e f i n i t i o n and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n b a s e d on t h e i n f o r m a t i o n
p r e s e n t e d i n t h e a r t i c l e s of t h i s volume. T h i s i s f o l l o w e d by an
a n a l y s i s of some p o s s i b l e f u n c t i o n s of s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n i n Nepal
and e l s e w h e r e i n t h e world.

S p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n can be d e f i n e d as an altered s t a t e of cons-


ciousness on the part of an individual as a r e s u l t of what i s
perceived or believed t o be the incorporation of an a l i e n f o m
with vita2 and s p i r i t u a l a t t r i b u t e s , e.g. the s p i r i t of a superc
h m form such as a witch, sorcerer, god, goddess; or other
rezigious d i v i n i t y . By t h i s d e f i n i t i o n o n l y t h e Gurung p r i e s t s ,
of a l l t h o s e d e s c r i b e d i n t h i s volume, a r e exempt from my i n i t i a l
c l a s s i f i c a t i o n o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n . Even t h e W r a p r i e s t o f
T i b e t a n Buddhism d e s c r i b e d by S t a b l e i n s h o u l d be i n c l u d e d h e r e
s i n c e h e t e m p o r a r i l y 'assumes' an ' a l t e r e d s t a t e of c o n s c i o u s n e s s '
t h r o u g h h i s i n c o r p o r a t i o n of a n ' a l i e n f o r m ' . H e i s d e s c r i b e d by
S t a b l e i n a s a ' l i v i n g metaphor' o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n .

I n t h e above d e f i n i t i o n w e a r e a b l e t o see t h e - tion-


_ _--
s h .i p _between _
--_- sp-sesgion as an a l t e r e d form z s s e s s
- -- --..I

and parapsychology o f western- European conci$tUalization..--


*-. **_
In me
,--dscribed --- p e o p l e as
-
a - s t a t e of a l t e r e d
c o n s c i o u s n e s s ' i n o u r e v e n d e w lives. What i s more. w e f r e u u e n t l v -
attrib o t h i s ' c o n s c i o i i ~ n e s s ' , in7!n3Tk r
-,o.kI-L

words, similar --emli attribut-


i n g c a u s a t i o n t o a s p i r i t and a t t r i b u t i n g misfortune and d i s e a s e
t o t h a t s p i r i t . For example, w e i n t h e United S t a t e s and Europe
might a t t r i b u t e t h e c a u s e of a n a u t o a c c i d e n t t o a drunken d r i v e r
who ' f e l l a s l e e p ' o r 'was daydreaming'. Is t h i s s o v a s t l y
d i f f e r e n t from someone a t t r i b u t i n g an a u t o a c c i d e n t t o a p e r s o n
whose ' c o n s c i o u s n e s s ' t e m p o r a r i l y l e f t him and was r e p l a c e d by a
' s p i r i t ' o r a d i f f e r e n t form o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s ? The d i f f e r e n c e
lies i n the f a c t t h a t w d e- I stress u s u a l l y , do n o t
.---. -
b e l i e v e i n ' s p i r i t s ' ~c ' g h o s t s o r aT-,Ii?9"a3 w e do n z t verkjalike
- --
o u r p e r c e p t i o n s of t h c world i n g b i s way. Among Americans and
-._ ---
Europeans t h e c o n c e p t s ' d r u n k e n e s s ' o r 'daydreaming' o r ' f a l l i n g
as lee^' a r e ' n a t u r a l ' phenomena w h i l e s p i r i t s a r e ' u n n a t u r a l ' o r
' s u p e r n a t u r a l ' phenomena. Yet we know a b o u t a s much a b o u t t h e s e
' s t a t e s o f c o n s c i o u s n e s a ' a s we do a b o u t s p i r i t s , which i s very
l i t t l e . What is ' d a y d r e a m i n g ' ? , What i s ' s l e e p ' ? What i s
' d r u n k ' ? Temporarily, w e must a c c e p t t h e i d e a t h a t t h e primary
d i f f e r e n c e between a p e r s o n a t t r i b u t i n g form and c a u s a t i o n t o a
' s p i r T T ~ s - ' o ~ ~ s Q ''7qaydreaming
~fo ' o r * s l e e -p ' o r -rdiiunkeness
i s a m a t t e r o f c o n c e p t u a l i z a t i o n and v e r b a l i z a t i o n . We c a n n o t
s c i e n t i f i c a l l y d i f f e r e n t i a t e ' n a t u r a l ' from ' s u p e r n a t u r a l ' o r
' ~ c r e d 'from ' p r o f a n e ' , o r ' o r d i n a r y ' f r o m ' e x t r a o r d i n a r y ' . The
differentiatiem a m a t t e r of language and metaphor.

I n a r e c e n t book e n t i t l e d , E c s t a t i c R e l i g i o n , I . M . Lewis d i s -
t - i n g u i s h e s between two t y p e s of s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n which he
d e s i g n a t e s a s ' p e r i p h e r a l ' and ' c e n t r a l ' p o s s e s s i o n . For Lewis
(1971:32), ' p e r i p h e r a l p o s s e s s i o n ' h a s t h e s o c i a l f u n c t i o n o f an
'oblique aggressive s t r a t e g y ' . The p o s s e s s e d i n d i v i d u a l i s a b l e
t o manipulate h i s s u p e r i o r s without openly questioning t h e i r
s u p e r i o r i t y . Lewis shows how t h i s t y p e of , o s s e s s i o n most o f t e n
a f f l i c t s .t~omenwho u s e it a s a way i n which t h e y manipulate men
and t h u s a c h i e v e a b a l a n c e o f power between men and women i n
s o c i e t i e s where women a r e d e n i e d p o s i t i o n s o f power and a u t h o r i t y .
P e r i p h e r a l p o s s e s s i o n i s n o t t h e e x c l u s i v e domain o f women, however,
and i s used by men a s w e l l , i n c i r c u m s t a n c e s where t h e y a r e unable
t o advance t o p o s i t i o n s o f power a s a r e s u l t o f economic o r o t h e r
h i s t o r i c conditions. ' C e n t r a l p o s s e s s i o n ' h a s t h e f u n c t i o n of
upholding and s u s t a i n i n g p u b l i c m o r a l i t y (Lewis 1971:34). Unlike
p e r i p h e r a l p o s s e s s i o n c u l t s , c e n t r a l p o s s e s s i o n c u l t s a r e openly
used t o uphold power and a u t h o r i t y r a t h e r t h a n s u b v e r t it. Lewis
f e e l s t h a t ' c e n t r a l p o s s e s s i o n ' p e r s i s t s mostly i n s m a l l s c a l e
s o c i e t i e s t h a t a r e c h a r a c t e r i z e d by r e l a t i v e l y f l u i d s o c i a l u n i t s
i n p a r t i c u l a r l y ' e x a c t i n g p h y s i c a l c o n d i t i o n s ' o r circumstances
o f p o l i t i c a l c o n q u e s t and submission t o a l i e n systems o f power.

I n making t h e d i s t i n c t i o n n o t e d above, Lewis (1971:28) i s


c a r e f u l t o p o i n t o u t t h a t he i s i n no way c l a i m i n g o r n e c e s s a r i l y
implying t h a t ' s p i r i t s a r e assumed t o have no e x i s t e n t i a l r e a l i t y ' .
He f e e l s t h a t ' f o r t h o s e who b e l i e v e i n them, m y s t i c a l powers a r e
r e a l i t i e s of b o t h t h o u g h t and e x p e r i e n c e ' . He (1971:29) p r e f e r s
t o a d o p t t h e s l o g a n ' L e t t h o s e who b e l i e v e i n s p i r i t s and p o s s e s s -
i o n speak f o r t h e m s e l v e s ' . Lewis simply c l a i m s t h a t s p i r i t
p o s s e s s i o n a l s o h a s s o c i o ~ o ~ i c af u-
lnctions i n addition t o its
supposed ' e x i s t e n t i a l r e a l i t y ' . I t i s on t h e l a t t e F B G T ' h e
f o c u s e s h i s a n a l y s i s . With t h e s e l a t t e r s t a t e m e n t s I am i n agree-
ment. My own c l a s s i f i c a t i o n and a n a l y s i s i n t h e f o l l o w i n g pages
h a s l i t t l e t o do w i t h a r g u i n g f o r o r a g a i n s t t h e v a l i d i t y o r
r e a l i t y o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n o r t h e c l a i m s t o which i t s b e l i e v e r s
uphold. I am merely a t t e m p t i n g t o p o i n t o u t some p o s s i b l e f u n c t i o n s
t h a t t h e s e b e l i e f s may have, o t h e r t h a n t h o s e claimed by t h e
believers.
Although I am i n basic agreement w i t h L e w i s ' claim that s p i r i t
p o s s e s s i o n h a s s o c i o l o g i c a l f u n c t i o n s , I do n o t a d h e r e f i r m l y to
h i s a r - a l y s i s n o r t o h l s two-fold c i a s s i f i c a t i o n . The p h r a s e
' p e r i p h e r a l p o s s e s s i o n ' , I f e e l , has m e r i t , and I b e l i e v e t h a t
Lewis' a n a l y s i s o f t h i s phenomena i s t h e b e s t p a r t o f h i s book.
I n the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n and a n a l y s i s t o f o l l o w I make u s e o f t h i s
p h r a s e w i t h l i t t l e change i n meaning. However, I am n o t i n
agreement w i t h Lewis' t r e a t m e n t o f c e n t r a l p o s s e s s i o n c u l t s and
e s p e c i a l l y i n h i s claims t h a t c e n t r a l possession functions t o
uphold p d b l i c m o r a l i t y i n s m a l l , f l u i d communities. The d a t a i n
t h e a r t i c l e s p r e s e n t e d i n this book d o n o t b e a r t h i s o u t . W e
f i n d ' c e n t r a l possession c u l t s ' i n such h i g h l y s t r a t i f i e d s o c i e t -
ies as I n d i a , Nepal a n d T i b e t and it is n o t always a s s o c i a t e d
w i t h p u b l i c m o r a l i t y , o r p o l i t i c a l r e a c t i o n s t o s o c i a l change.
My c l a s s i f i c a t i o n and a n a l y s i s a t t e m p t s t o elaborate on this
c l a s s i f i c a t i o n and p o i n t t o d i f f e r e n t f u n c t i o n s than t h o s e
p r e s e n t e d by Lewis. I t s h o u l d b e n o t e d , however, t h a t Lewis
(1971:36) h i m s e l f was i n no way 'wedded' t o t h e terns ' p e r i p h e r a l '
and ' c e n t r a l ' p o s s e s s i o n . H e r e c o g n i z e d e x p l i c i t l y a need f o r
f u r t h e r a n a l y s i s and r e s e a r c h .

Most of t h e a r t i c l e s i n t h i s volume d e a l s p e c i f i c a l l y w i t h
' c e n t r a l p o s s e s s i o n ' , t o u c h i n g o n l y o c c a s i o n a l l y upon c a s e s o f
' p e r i p h e r a l p o s s e s s i o n ' . The e x c e p t i o n is t h e b e g i n n i n g a r t i c l e
by S h i r l e y Kurz J o n e s , who d e s c r i b e s such a c a s e a s an i l l u s t r a -
t i o n of Lewis' h y p o t h e s i s t h a t p e r i p h e r a l p o s s e s s i o n f r e q u e n t l y
f u n c t i o n s as a form o f s o c i a l p r o t e s t i n r a i s i n g o n e ' s s t a t u s i n
t h e community o r a s an access t o d e n i e d p r e s t i g e , goods and t h e
like.

Four t y p e s o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n i n t h e Nepal Himalaya can be


d i s t i n g u i s h e d on t h e b a s i s o f t i m e and s p a c e . Borrowing Lewis'
t e r m ' p e r i p h e r a l p o s s e s s i o n ' t o d e f i n e the t y p e o f p o s s e s s i o n
t h a t i s n o t n e c e s s a r i l y d e f i n e d i n terms o f a p a r t i c u l a r time o r
p a r t i c u l a r s p a c e , I a m a b l e t o d i s t i n g u i s h this t y p e of p o s s e s s i o n
from t h r e e o t h e r t y p e s . I have chosen t h e t e r m s r e i n c a m a t e
p o s s e s s i o n , t u t e l a r y p o s s e s s i o n , and o r u l c u k r p o s s e s s i o n t o
d e s i g n a t e t h e s e t h r e e types. Reincarnate possession is o f t h e
t y p e d e s c r i b e d by A z i z . P o s s e s s i o n i s f o r l i f e and t h e r e f o r e i n
terms o f t h i s - w o r d l y a t t r i b u t e s i s ' t i m e l e s s ' . To p u t it simply,
t i m e i s u n d e s i g n a t e d . An i n d i v i d u a l r e i n c a r n a t e s the spirit o f a
d e c e a s e d i n d i v i d u a l and t h e n takes up r e s i d e n c e i n a m o n a s t e ~ - m
r e l i g i o u s c e n t r e . H e becomes, ae a result of h2s r e i n c a r n a t e
s t a t u s , a f o c u s o f power i n d i v i n a t i o n , r i t u a l , c u r i n g , h e a l i n g
and p r e d i c t i n g and a l l a y i n g m i s f o r t u n e . H e i s a f u l l - t i m e
religious practitioner, centred i n a religious i n s t i t u t i o n o r
d e s i g n a t e d ' s a c r e d ' space.' H e d i f f e r s from what w e might
normally c a l l a p r i e s t i n t h a t he achieves h i s p o s i t i o n p r i m a r i l y
as a r e s u l t o f h i s p o s s e s s i o n o r r e i n c a r n a t e s t a t u s and n o t through
h e r e d i t a r y s u c c e s s i o n o r s t u d y . Anyone, t h e o r e t i c a l l y , i n T i b e t a n
s o c i e t y can become a r e i n c a r n a t e lama.
Tutelary possession is just the opposite of reincarnate poss-
ession. Time is designated but space is not. An individual calls
upon a tutelary spirit during a seance or ritual to possess him
or take over his body for the duration of the ritual or ceremony.
The individual, however, is never relegated to an institution such
as a church, temple or monastery. His possession is periodic and
specific, but the place in which he conducts his activities as a
result of possession is sporadic and unspecified and is determined
solely by individual choice or s-ational demands. It might be
in someone's home, in a forest, or field, or at a cemetery or
place of burial. Most of the cases of possession described in
this volume are of this type. The Limbu pheclangma, the Sunuwar
puimbo, the Nepali jhbkri, ,area few examples. We have generally
labelled these individuals 'shamans', about which I will have more
to say later .l

Oracular possession is distinguished from reincarnate possess-


ion on the basis of time and from tutelary possession on the basis
of space. It is the direct opposite of peripheral possession in
that both time and space are designated. An individual becomes
possessed by a spirit, a god or goddess on designated occasions
such as a village ceremony, a curing seance or a ceremony of
divination. His possession invariably takes place in a designated
sacred space such as a temple, a church or a monastery. In this
volume the dhdmi of western Nepal, described by Gaborieau and
Winkler, best fits the description of oracular possession.2 The
dh& of the west generally becomes possessed in a village temple
or near a temple where he serves as an oracle medium for a god.
The god speaks through him on ceremonial occasions. Thus he again
resembles the priest, but he achieves his position through poss-
ession by the god and only secondarily through inheritance or
study.

Peripheral possession has been mentioned and its functions


analyzed in more detail by Lewis (1971). The occasion of possess-
ion is seemingly spontaneous. It might happen only once in a
lifetime or on a number of occasions, but the community is seldom
able to predict its occurrence, nor is the individual who becomes
possessed. It is uncontrollable. Furthermore, the place is
undesignated. It could happen anywhere and at any time. Time
and space are undesignated.

Here we might mention that the term shaman, in the literature,


is generally applied to an individual who resembles the priest
but who achieves his status primarily through 'possession',
.
'ecstasy' or the ' trance' Although Eliade has chosen to use the
word in defining an individual who is capable of 'soul journey'
or 'magical flight', empirically this is seldom, if ever, the
case. As noted by Lewis (1971) even Siberian Tungus shamans,
where we in anthropology borrowed the term, become possessed by
tutelary spirits. I think it useful to limit the term shaman to
individuals who e i t h e r become possessed by a t u t e l a r y s p i r i t
( ' c o n t r o l l e d possession') o r who a r e capable of 'magical f l i g h t '
o r 'soul journey through the trance. We a r e able t o d i s t i n g u i s h
the shaman from o t h e r kinds of r e l i g i o u s p r a c t i t i o n e r s on the
b a s i s of t i m e and space outlined above. Shamans d i f f e r primarily
from oracle mediums o r reincarnate lamas i n t h a t they a r e not con-
fined t o a sacred space o r an i n s t i t u t i o n such a s a temple o r
church. Although possession i s t h e source of power for a l l three
types, where and when possession occurs d i f f e r s considerably
s o c i o l o g i c a l l y . By using t h e dimensions of time and space i n
terms of my d e f i n i t i o n of s p i r i t possession, I am able t o make
c l e a r these d i s t i n c t i o n s .

S p i r i t possession a s a phenomenon can be diagrammed according


t o t h e dimension I have outlined.

Space
undesignated designated
undesignated Peripheral Reincarnate
Possession Possession
designated Tutelary Oracular
Possession Possession

Each category of possession i s d i f f e r e n t i a t e d from the other i n


the above diagram according t o t h e dimensions of time and space.
Peripheral possession i s defined a s possession where time and
space a r e both undesignated. Oracular possession is defined as
the d i r e c t opposite where both time and space a r e designated.
Reincarnate possession i s defined a s possession where time is
undesignated but space i s designated. Tutelary possession, o r
shamanism, i s defined a s possession where time is designated but
space i s not.

In t h i s somewhat s i m p l i s t i c c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , I f e e l t h a t I have
considerably improved on Lewis' d i s t i n c t i o n between ' p e r i p h e r a l '
and ' c e n t r a l possession' while a t the same time I have more
e f f e c t i v e l y distinguished the shaman from h i s r e l i g i o u s counter-
p a r t s , the o r a c l e medium, t h e p r i e s t o r t h e reincarnate lama.
Furthermore, we a r e b e t t e r able t o deal with the descriptions
given by the contributors of t h i s book. I t should be understood
t h a t the a r t i c l e s i n the volume do not necessarily follow t h e
d e f i n i t i o n s given or t h e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n . These were made a f t e r
reviewing the a r t i c l e s i n t h e i r e n t i r e t y . Many, such a s Aziz and
Stablein, have described and organized t h e i r material somewhat
d i f f e r e n t l y and have characterized oracle mediums and reincarnate
lamas a s 'shamans'. Indeed, they a r e ' l i k e shamans', but using
the above outlined c r i t e r i a we a r e able t o perceive important
differences. The reincarnate lama i s l i k e a shaman i n t h a t
'controlled possession' i s c e n t r a l t o t h e i r s t a t u s and power, but
they a r s d i f f e r e n t i n t h a t one i s p o s s e s s e d f o r l i f e and t h e o t h e r
is p o s s e s s e d on o c c a s i o n . The v a j r a m a s t e r , d e s c r i b e d by S t a b l e i n ,
i s ' l i k e a shaman' i n t h a t he i s a ' l i v i n g metaphor' of p o s s e s s i o n ,
b u t he d i f f e r s i n t h a t h i s 'possession' i s geared t o a s p e c i f i c
time, t h e MahSkSla r i t u a l , and a s a c r e d s p a c e , a t a temple o r
monastery.

On t h e b a s i s o f t h e d e f i n i t i o n and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n p r e s e n t e d ,
t h e v a r i o u s r e l i g i o u s p r a c t i t i o n e r s d e s c r i b e d i n t h i s volume can
be c l a s s i f i e d a c c o r d i n g l y .

Peripheral possession: t h e Limbu women a s d e s c r i b e d by


S h i r l e y Kurz J o n e s ; a l s o t h o s e who
have been ' s o r c e r i z e d ' , ' w i t c h e d ' o r
become ' i l l ' a s a r e s u l t of s p i r i t
p o s s e s s i o n , f r e q u e n t l y t h e shaman's
p a t i e n t , t h e c l i e n t o r a bystander a t
a seance.

Reincamate possession: t h e T i b e t a n r e i n c a r n a t e lama a s des-


c r i b e d by Aziz ( t u l k u ) o r touched upon
by Messerschmidt among t h e Gurung, and
P a u l among t h e Sherpa.

Tute Zary possession: t h e Limbu p hedangma, samba, y eba,


gem, mangba; t h e Sunuwar puirnbo o r
ngiami; t h e Thulung Rai j G k r i ; t h e
Magar, C h a n t e l and N e p a l i jhzkri; t h e
R a j i and Tharu gwau of s o u t h e r n Nepal.

Oracular possession: ' t h e N e p a l i && o f w e s t e r n Nepal; t h e


v a j r a m a s t e r of T i b e t a n ~ u d d h i s m ; . T i b e t a n
o r a c l e mediums; t h e S a t y a Hangma
a s c e t i c o f t h e Limbu.

Some Functions of S p i r i t Possession i n Nepal


The f o r e g o i n g d e f i n i t i o n and c l a s s i f i c a t i o n was made w i t h o u t
s p e c i f i c r e f e r e n c e t o t h e s o c i o l o g i c a l f u n c t i o n s o f s p i r i t poss-
e s s i o n . I n a s e n s e , t h e f o u r f o l d c l a s s i f i c a t i o n was s t r u c t u r a l
r a t h e r t h a n f u n c t i o n a l and simply d e l i n e a t e d r e l a t i o n s between
f o u r d i s t i n c t i v e t y p e s o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n a l o n g t h e dimensions
of s p a c e and t i m e . I w i l l now a t t e m p t t o d e s c r i b e some d i f f e r e n t
f u n c t i o n s of t h e s e f o u r t y p e s .

I n speaking of t h e s o c i a l f u n c t i o n s of human behaviour and i n -


s t i t u t i o n s , it i s u s e f u l t o adopt t h e d i s t i n c t i o n made by Merton
(1957) between ' m a n i f e s t ' and ' l a t e n t ' f u n c t i o n . M a n i f e s t f u n c t i o n
has t o do w i t h i n t e n t w h i l e l a t e n t f u n c t i o n i s f r e q u e n t l y u n i n t e n -
ded. I n o f t e n used l i n g u i s t i c and a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l terminology,
m a n i f e s t f u n c t i o n i s 'emic' w h i l e l a t e n t f u n c t i o n i s ' e t i c t -
To t h o s e who b e l i e v e i n s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n it p r o v i d e s a mani-
f e s t f u n c t i o n o r 'emic' e x p l a n a t i o n o f t h e c a u s e s and e f f e c t s o f
i l l n e s s and m i s f o r t u n e . Throughout Nepal, s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n i s
c i t e d a s a s o u r c e o f d i s c o n t e n t a s w e l l a s a means f o r r e s o l v i n g
d i s c o n t e n t . I l l n e s s and m i s f o r t u n e a r e a t t r i b u t e d t o a v a r i e t y
o f s u p e r n a t u r a l f o r c e s such a s a t t a c k s by w i t c h e s , s o r c e r e r s ,
f o r e s t d i v i n i t i e s , s p i r i t s of d e c e a s e d i n d i v i d u a l s and angry gods
o r g o d d e s s e s . P e o p l e f r e q u e n t l y r e c o g n i z e t h a t human n e g l e c t is
u s u a l l y a t t h e b a s i s f o r s u p e r n a t u r a l d i s c o n t e n t . For example,
t h e f a i l u r e t o p r o p i t i a t e household o r v i l l a g e gods and g o d d e s s e s
i s f r e q u e n t l y c i t e d a s t h e s o u r c e of t h e i r a n g e r , o r a s among t h e
Limbu, human envy and j e a l o u s y l e a v e s t h e i n d i v i d u a l o r f a m i l y
open t o a t t a c k s by w i t c h e s o r e v i l s p i r i t s . Through human f a i l u r e
and n e g l e c t s u p e r n a t u r a l f o r c e s a r e u n l e a s h e d and b r i n g c h a o s ,
d i s o r d e r and d i s a s t e r . These f o r c e q a r e combated, h e l d i n check
o r d e f e a t e d by i n d i v i d u a l s who a r e c a p a b l e of ' s e e i n g ' and iden-
t i f y i n g them. Such i n d i v i d u a l s r e c e i v e their power p r i m a r i l y
through s u c c e s s f u l encounters with s u p e r n a t u r a l f o r c e s i n t h e
p a s t . F r e q u e n t l y , t h e s e e n c o u n t e r s were v i o l e n t as i n t h e i n i t i a l
p o s s e s s i o n o f t h e jha'kri (see Hitchcock, S a g a n t , MacDonald, Michl
and A l l e n ) . I n v a r i a b l y , t h e c o n t a c t i s l o a d e d w i t h d a n g e r . The
e v e n t u a l c o n t r o l o f t h i s c o n t a c t imbues t h e i n d i v i d u a l w i t h power
t o diagnose, c u r e i l l n e s s and r e c t i f y misfortunes t h a t a r e caused
by s i m i l a r e n c o u n t e r s . They become ' l i v i n g m e t a p h o r s ' , t h r o u g h
c o n t r o l l e d s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n , o r c o n t a c t w i t h s u p e r n a t u r a l power.

The system of c a u s e , e f f e c t and c u r e , i s t h u s a c i r c u l a r and


e n c l o s e d system o f knowledge. The c a u s e i s a s p i r i t , t h e e f f e c t
i s s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n , and t h e c u r e i s c o n t r o l l e d s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n
T h i s system o f knowledge p r o v i d e s t h e m a n i f e s t f u n c t i o n of explan-
a t i o n and c o n t r o l i n t h e f a c e of d i s o r d e r , chaos and i n e x p l i c a b l e
c i r c u m s t a n c e s . The s o c i a l f u n c t i o n h e r e d e s c r i b e d i s a d a p t i v e ,
o r a s d e s c r i b e d by S p i r o (1966:120), it ( s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n ) i s t h e
b a s i s o f ' s o c i a l s t a b i l i t y ' i n p o t e n t i a l l y u n s t a b l e and d i s r u p t i v e
s o c i a l circumstances. I t has t h e s i m i l a r function t h a t witchcraft
b e l i e f s , a s d e s c r i b e d by E v a n s - P r i t c h a r d (1937:63-831, have f o r
many A f r i c a n s o c i e t i e s . I t f u n c t i o n s t o ' e x p l a i n u n f o r t u n a t e
e v e n t s ' and t h u s s t a b i l i z e s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s where d o u b t s e r v e s
t o d i s r u p t them.

The system a l s o seems t o have o t h e r f u n c t i o n s t h a t a r e n o t


n e a r l y s o a p p a r e n t . A s p o i n t e d o u t by L e w i s (1971) and Kurz ( i n
t h i s volume), p e r i p h e r a l s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n p r o v i d e s a means f o r
s t a t u s achievement t h a t i s o t h e r w i s e i n a c c e s s i b l e t o many p e o p l e ,
e s p e c i a l l y women. I n o t h e r words, t h e system o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n
n o t o n l y f u n c t i o n s a s a system o f e x p l a n a t i o n f o r m i s f o r t u n e and
d i s a s t e r , b u t i t a l s o f u n c t i o n s a s a means by which i n d i v i d u a l s
a r e c a p a b l e o f a c h i e v i n g s o c i a l p o s i t i o n s and r e s p e c t o t h e r w i s e
d e n i e d them. I f e e l t h a t t h e s e l a t t e r , l a t e n t f u n c t i o n s a r e
r e l a t e d t o t h e o v e r a l l s o c i o l o g y of Nepal.
Throughout Nepal t h e c a s t e system and e t h n i c pluralism operates
t o deny many individuals s e l f - r e s p e c t and p r e s t i g e i n t h e v i l l a g e
s e t t i n g . This i s e s p e c i a l l y t h e case w i t h lower c a s t e s such a s
metalworkers, t a i l o r s o r l e a t h e m o r k e r s . Frequently, these c a s t e s
provide t h e v i l l a g e shaman o r r e l i g i o u s s p e c i a l i s t who combats
disease and misfortune through c o n t r o l l e d s p i r i t possession. I n
t h i s way t h e avenue i s open f o r such people t o c r o s s c a s t e boun-
d a r i e s and gain s e l f - r e s p e c t and p r e s t i g e . S p i r i t possession i n
a l l i t s forms i s not l i m i t e d t o any p a r t i c u l a r c l a s s o r c a s t e .
I t i s a s o c i o l o g i c a l l y 'open' system. This i s not t o say t h a t it
occurs with t h e same frequency among a l l c l a s s e s and a l l c a s t e s ,
but simply t h a t i t i s open t o a l l . I t i s a recognized and f r e -
quently i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d means f o r s o c i a l advancement.

In t h i s fashion, the b e l i e f s and i n s t i t u t i o n s surrounding


s p i r i t possession f u l f i l t h e function, a s noted by Spiro (1966:121)
of providing ' a c u l t u r a l l y approved means f o r the r e s o l u t i o n of
inner c o n f l i c t (between personal d e s i r e s and c u l t u r a l norms) . . . I
Within the Nepal c a s t e system many people a r e denied access t o
goods, wealth and p r e s t i g e a s a r e s u l t of c u l t u r a l l y prescribed
norms. The i n s t i t u t i o n of s p i r i t possession within d i f f e r e n t
contexts serves a s a means f o r t h e s a t i s f a c t i o n of personal wants
and d e s i r e s . Thus on one l e v e l it provides an explanation f o r
s o c i a l d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n and on another it channels it according t o
prescribed norms.

I t i s my contention t h a t these l a t t e r more l a t e n t functions of


s p i r i t possession can be c o r r e l a t e d t o t h e four types of possess-
ion I have outlined above. I w i l l now o f f e r suggestions along
these l i n e s , keeping i n mind t h a t t h e data a r e s t i l l inadequate
f o r a thorough treatment of t h i s hypothesis.

I suggest t h a t s p i r i t possession i n general occurs more frequ-


e n t l y among those c a t e g o r i e s of people who a r e denied s o c i a l
s t a t u s e s and t r a d i t i o n a l means f o r s o c i a l advancement i n Nepal
s o c i e t y . This i s e s p e c i a l l y t h e case with women i n Nepal, who
more frequently than any other s o c i a l category, f i n d themselves
relegated t o i n f e r i o r p o s i t i o n s i n s o c i e t y w i t h l i t t l e or no hope
of s o c i a l and i n s t i t u t i o n a l advancement. Women of lower c a s t e s
and t r i b e s would by d e f i n i t i o n be i n r e l a t i v e l y i n f e r i o r s o c i a l
p o s i t i o n s t o women of higher c a s t e s who, through marriage and
education, a r e i n p o s i t i o n s of r e s p e c t . Unmarried women, widows
and women i n s e r v a n t s ' p o s i t i o n s a r e more l i k e l y t o become
possessed by s p i r i t s than married women with c h i l d r e n , a family
and a successful marriage. S p i r i t possession, a s pointed out by
Lewis (1971), provides an 'oblique aggressive s t r a t e g y ' t o such
s o c i a l l y deprived c a t e g o r i e s of people.

Similarly, men of lower c a s t e s , o r men without lands, t i t l e s


o r p o s i t i o n s of a u t h o r i t y seem more i n c l i n e d t o s p i r i t possession
than those of higher c a s t e s , with wealth and s o c i a l p o s i t i o n (see
e s p e c i a l l y Winkler i n t h i s volume). S p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n a g a i n
p r o v i d e s a n approved means f o r ' s o c i a l p r o t e s t ' .

Peripheral s p i r i t possession, o r 'uncontrolled s p i r i t possess-


i o n ' , i s f u n c t i o n a l l y s u i t e d t o s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n s i n which p e o p l e
a r e d e n i e d a n a c c e s s t o t h e s t a t u s and i n s t i t u t i o n a l h i e r a r c h y .
Indeed a l l s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n i n Nepal seems t o b e g i n i n t h i s
f a s h i o n , a s a n ' u n c o n t r o l l a b l e ' i l l n e s s b r o u g h t on by d i r e c t
s p i r i t u a l a t t a c k . Only i n i t s l a t e r s t a g e s d o e s it become 'con-
t r o l l e d ' t h r o u g h t h e achievement o f a s t a t u s p o s i t i o n such a s
t h a t o f v i l l a g e shaman o r c u r e r , temple o r a c l e medium o r r e i n c a r -
n a t e d lama. One would e x p e c t t h o s e s u b j e c t t o s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n
i n i t s i n i t i a l s t a g e s t o be most f r e q u e n t l y t h o s e w i t h o u t w e a l t h ,
position o r i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d support f o r suffering, i n short,
t h o s e on t h e p e r i p h e r y of s o c i e t y - t h e l a n d l e s s , t h e widowed,
t h e u n m a r r i e d , t h e second and t h i r d b o r n s o n s who a r e t e m p o r a r i l y
o r p e r m a n e n t l y d e n i e d i n h e r i t a n c e , and t h o s e o f lower c a s t e s o r
tribes.

Most c a s e s of s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n i n t h i s volume d e a l n o t w i t h
'peripheral' s p i r i t p s s e s s i o n but 'controlled' s p i r i t possession.
I s u g g e s t t h a t t h e l a t t e r i s n o t s o much a q u a l i t a t i v e l y d i f f e r e n t
t y p e of p o s s e s s i o n a s i t i s a n end p r o d u c t o f a l e n g t h y p r o c e s s
o f s o c i a l advancement. I t i s f u n c t i o n a l l y r e l a t e d t o t h e s t a t u s e s
and i n s t i t u t i o n s a v a i l a b l e t o t h e d i s i n h e r i t e d .

R e i n c a r n a t e p o s s e s s i o n i s p e c u l i a r l y a d a p t e d t o T i b e t a n Buddhist
s o c i e t y (see Aziz and S t a b l e i n i n t h i s v o l u m e ) . I n such a s o c i e t y
m o n a s t i c i n s t i t u t i o n s are t h e p r i m a r y means o f s t a t u s achievement.
I n f a c t , i t i s f r e q u e n t l y t h e o n l y means.

P e o p l e s o f Nepal and T i b e t who f i n d t h e m s e l v e s l a n d l e s s o r


w i t h o u t i n h e r i t e d w e a l t h f r e q u e n t l : ~ t u r n t o e i t h e r one o f t w o
avenues o f s o c i a l advancement, t r a d e o r t h e monastery. The mona-
s t e r y e s p e c i a l l y s e r v e s t h e Yunction of a ' r e t r e a t ' f o r s o c i a l l y
and e c o n o m i c a l l y d e p r i v e d i n d i v i d u a l s . The r e i n c a r n a t e d lama i s
t h e epitome o f such d e p r i v a t i o n , and i t seems no a c c i d e n t t h a t
even t h e p o o r e s t T i b e t a n i s c a p a b l e o f r e c e i v i n g such a r e i n c a r n a t e
s t a t u s . I t i s t h e T i b e t a n way o f moving from ' r a g s t o r i c h e s ' .

F u r t h e r m o r e , wherever t h e s e m o n a s t i c i n s t i t u t i o n s b e g i n t o
r e p l a c e i n d i g e n o u s s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e s , s u c h a s among t h e Sherpa o r
Gurung, we a l s o f i n d a d e c r e a s i n g emphasis on t h e p r e s t i g e o f t h e
shaman o r t h e i n d i v i d u a l i z e d , c h a r i s m a t i c and s p o n t a n e o u s c u r e r ,
d i v i n e r o r h e a l e r . R e i n c a r n a t e p o s s e s s i o n seems e s p e c i a l l y
a d a p t i v e t o s i t u a t i o n s , s u c h a s T i b e t a n B u d d h i s t s o c i e t y , where
i n d i v i d u a l achievement i s submerged i n t o i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d
achievement. S t a t u s i n s o c i e t y i s b e s t g a i n e d t h r o u g h t h e mona-
s t e r y , and s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n i s a l t e r e d and i n c o r p o r a t e d i n t o t h e
monastic s e t t i n g .
T u t e l a r y p o s s e s s i o n i s f u n c t i o n a l l y r e l a t e d t o s i t u a t i o n s where
i n s t i t u t i o n s other t h a n t h e f a m i l y o r e x t e n d e d k i n g r o u p a r e a b s e n t .
I t p r o v i d e s a means f o r s t a t u s achievement i n t h e a b s e n c e o f
complex i n s t i t u t i o r ~ sl i k e t h e monastery o r t e m p l e . I t is e s p e c i a l l y
a d a p t i v e t o t h e i s o l a t e d v i l l a g e s e t t i n g s o f Nepal among T i b e t o -
Burman t r i b a l g r o u p s o r i n a r e a s where t h e c o m p l e x i t i e s o f Brah-
m a n i c a l Hinduism and T i b e t a n Buddhism have n o t i n t r u d e d beyond t h e
i d e o l o g i c a l l e v e l and where t h e v i l l a g e t e m p l e and i t s a t t e n d a n t s
g i v e way t o t e m p o r a r y , unkept s h r i n e s . I n such a r e a s t h e shaman
through c o n t r o l l e d s p i r i t possession p l a y s a primary r o l e i n t h e
r e l i g i o n o f t h e community, and t h e s o c i a l p o s i t i o n o f t h e shaman
i s s e c o n d a r y t o none (see Hitchcock i n t h i s v o l u m e ) . Thus
t u t e l a r y p o s s e s s i o n i n Nepal i s found more o f t e n o u t s i d e t h e
d e n s e l y p o p u l a t e d a r e a s , t h e b a z a a r s , t h e towns o r t h e c i t i e s o f
t h e Kathmandu v a l l e y (see H i t c h c o c k , MacDonald, Michl, A l l e n ,
F o u r n i e r , P a u l , J o n e s and S a g a n t i n t h i s v o l u m e ) .

O r a c u l a r p o s s e s s i o n i s p e c u l i a r l y a d a p t e d t o s o c i e t i e s such a s
t h o s e o f Brahmanical Hinduism. I t i s more p r e v a l e n t i n w e s t e r n
Nepal t h a n t h e e a s t and i n t h e s o u t h t h a n i n t h e n o r t h (see
Winkler and Gaborieau i n t h i s volume). I n t h e Kathmandu v a l l e y
i t f i n d s i t s e l f i n sharp competition with t h e monastic influences
o f Buddhism, b u t i t by n o means t a k e s second p l a c e . I t provides
a means f o r s o c i a l advancement i n t h e temple s e t t i n g . S o c i a l l y
and e c o n o m i c a l l y d e p r i v e d i n d i v i d u a l s can a c h i e v e s t a t u s a s an
o r a c l e medium w i t h i n t h e c o n f i n e s o f a caste s o c i e t y t h a t i s
h i e r a r c h i c a l l y arranged. Oracular possession is adaptive t o
complex s o c i e t i e s where s t a t u s p o s i t i o n s a r e h e r e d i t a r y and r i g i d l y
defined. I n t h i s s e n s e , t h i s t y p e o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n i n Hindu
Nepal b e a r s a c l o s e r e l a t i o n s h i p t o t h e o r a c l e s o f t h e c l a s s i c a l
s l a v e s o c i e t i e s o f Greece a n d Rome where women and s l a v e s were
d e n i e d t r a d i t i o n a l p o s i t i o n s o f a u t h o r i t y and power i n t h e s o c i e t y
a t l a r g e b u t c o u l d a c h i e v e them t h r o u g h t h e o r a c l e .

I n t h i s s h o r t p a p e r I have n o t a t t e m p t e d t o answer t h e q u e s t i o n
'why d o e s s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n e x i s t ? ' I have q u i t e s i m p l y a t t e m p t e d
t o o f f e r s o m e r e a s o n s a s t o why it p e r s i s t s and how it i s a d a p t i v e
w i t h i n t h e complex s o c i e t y o f Nepal. I have s u g g e s t e d t h a t f o u r
t y p e s o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n c a n be d i s c e r n e d a l o n g t h e s t r u c t u r a l
d i m e n s i o n s o f t i m e and s p a c e and t h a t t h e s e f o u r t y p e s a p p e a r t o
s e r v e a two-fold f u n c t i o n . On t h e one hand t h e b e l i e f i n s p i r i t
p o s s e s s i o n p r o v i d e s a n s w e r s and e x p l a n a t i o n s f o r u n f o r t u n a t e e v e n t s ,
d i s a s t e r s a n d m i s f o r t u n e s b r o u g h t a b o u t by d i s e a s e , p e s t i l e n c e ,
p o v e r t y and s o c i a l c o n f l i c t . On t h e o t h e r hand it f u n c t i o n s a s a
means f o r t h e r e s o l u t i o n o f t h e s e u n f o r t u n a t e e v e n t s due t o t h e
a c c i d e n t o f b i r t h and a d e n i a l o f s t a t u s .

The f o u r t y p e s o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n t h a t I have o u t l i n e d above


on t h e b a s i s o f s t r u c t u r a l r e l a t i o n s o f t i m e and s p a c e seem t o
have f u n c t i o n a l meanings a s w e l l . Each i s a d a p t i v e t o t h e
c u l t u r a l c o m p l e x i t i e s o f Nepal where w e f i n d a m e e t i n g ground of
i n d i g e n o u s t r i b a l s , Hindu c a s t e s a n d T i b e t a n B u d d h i s t s . I n this
c u l t u r a l and s o c i a l c o m p l e x i t y t h o s e who a r e d e n i e d p r e s t i g e ,
s o c i a l p o s i t i o n , w e a l t h , a u t h o r i t y and power u n c o n s c i o u s l y t u r n
t o o b l i q u e f o r m s o f s o c i a l p r o t e s t and s t a t u s achievement t h r o u g h
s p i r i t possession.

Rex L. Jones

1. Joh?.n R e i n h a r d ( i n t h i s volume) d e a l s w i t h some o f t h e


d e f i n i t i o n a l problems o f t h e terms 'shaman' and 'shamanism'
I d o n o t t h i n k my c l a s s i f i c a t i o n and a n a l y s i s h e r e d e t r a c t s
from t h e p o i n t s h e makes.

2. I t should be noted t h a t t h e t e r m d k i i n t h e e a s t o f Nepal


i s used d i f f e r e n t l y t h a n i n t h e w e s t . I n t h e e a s t a dh%
becomes p o s s e s s e d and a i d e d by a t u t e l a r y s p i r i t b u t i s n o t
a s s i g n e d t o a temple o r p a r t i c u l a r s h r i n e . H e f u n c t i o n s
much l i k e a j z k r i . I n d e e d , t h e two terms i n t h e a r e a
where I worked (dhiimi/j)2QZkri)were o c c a s i o n a l l y used i n t e r -
changeably.

3. R e i n h a r d ( i n t h i s volume) c o n c l u d e s w i t h a s i m i l a r p o i n t o f
view from a d i f f e r e n t a n a l y t i c a l framework.
SHAMANISM AND SPIRIT POSSESSION -
THE DEFINITION PROBLEM

The r e a d e r i n examining t h e way t h e word shaman i s used i n


c o n t ~ i b u t i o n st o t h i s volume w i l l soon become aware t h a t t h e r e i s
c o n s i d e r a b l e v a r i a t i o n i n meanings a t t r i b u t e d t o t h e term. T h i s
i s t o b e expected, a s it simply reflects t h e g e n e r a l confusion i n
t h e l i t e r a t u r e r e g a r d i n g what i s , and i s n o t , c o n s i d e r e d t o be
shamanism. I n t h e f o l l o w i n g remarks I c a n o n l y b r i e f l y t o u c h on
a few o f t h e many i n t e r e s t i n g a s p e c t s of shamanism and problems
which a r i s e i n t r y i n g t o d e f i n e t h i s phenomenon. N o n e t h e l e s s , i t
i s hoped t h a t t h i s p a p e r w i l l h e l p i n i n c r e a s i n g awareness of some
o f t h e i s s u e s i n v o l v e d , s o t h a t m i s u n d e r s t a n d i n g s may b e a v o i d e d
i n the future. 1

D e f i n i n g words i s c e r t a i n l y one o f the most t h a n k l ? s s t a s k s i n


s c i e n c e . A few always w i l l d i s a g r e e o r f i n d t h e d e f i ~ i t i o ni n
some way w a n t i n g . Indeed my p e r s o n a l i n c l i n a t i o n i s t o a g r e e w i t h
Popper (Magee 1973:49; c f . a l s o T u r n e r 1964:324) t h a t i n many
c a s e s d e b a t e s o v e r t h e meanings o f terms s t a n d i n t h e way o f ,
r a t h e r t h a n a s s i s t , t h e growth of s c i e n c e . Numerous words have
proven e f f e c t i v e i n s p i t e o f t h e i r ambiguity (e.g. energy) .
However, on some o c c a s i o n s c l a r i f i c a t i o n o f a t e r m a p p e a r s b o t h
o f c o n s i d e r a b l e v a l u e i n a d v a n c i n g development i n t h e o r y and
n e c e s s a r y i n a v o i d i n g c o n f u s i o n among s c h o l a r s working i n t h e s?.me,
o r s i m i l a r , f i e l d s . Some g o s o f a r a s t o b e l i e v e t h a t s c i e n c e is
t h e a r t o f d e f i n i n g terms.

Whatever t h e c a s e may be, c l e a r l y d e f i n e d t e r m s o b v i o u s l y a l l o w


improved communication and c o m p a r a b i l i t y . Although I w i l l n o t
d e a l i n d e t a i l with formal r u l e s of d e f i n i t i o n here - indeed f o r
p r a c t i c a l r e a s o n s I w i l l even l a t e r f a i l t o f o l l o w t h e s e r u l e s t o
t h e l e t t e r - some p o i n t s s h o u l d b e mentioned. I f possible, t o
a v o i d c o n f u s i o n , a new d e f i n i t i o n s h o u l d n o t b e t o o d i s s i m i l a r t o
one a l r e a d y a t t r i b u t e d t o t h e t e r m i n p o p u l a r and s c i e n t i f i c
literature. I t s h o u l d b e a p p l i e d w i t h c o n s i s t e n c y and p r e c i s i o n
t o t h e word s o t h a t o t h e r s c a n d e c i d e i f t h e phenomenon t h e y a r e
examining s h o u l d b e d e s i g n a t e d by t h e term. The d e f i n i t i o n i d e a l l y
s h o u l d c o n t a i n unambiguous words r e q u i r i n g no f u r t h e r e x p l i c a t i o n
and c o n t a i n a l l , and o n l y , t h o s e e l e m e n t s c o n s i d e r e d t o b e e s s e n -
t i a l t o t h e phenomenon. The t e r m s h o u l d n o t b e d e f i n e d s o p r e c i s -
e l y t h a t it a p p l i e s o n l y t o t h e s p e c i f i c c o n t e x t w i t h i n which it
o r i g i n a t e s ; f o r t h e n it c a n n o t b e a p p l i e d t o similar phenomena
elsewhere.

Now o f t e n i n d e f i n i t i o n s no a t t e m p t i s made t o a r r i v e a t the


t r u e e s s e n c e of t h e phenomenon b e i n g d e f i n e d , b u t r a t h e r t o est-
a b l i s h a c o n v e n t i o n g o v e r n i n g t h e u s e o f s i g n s (Opp 1970:96).
With some t e r m s t h e d e b a t e i s s i m p l y concerned w i t h what conven-
t i o n s h o u l d be a c c e p t e d , t h e o r i g i n a l u s e of t h e term o r e s s e n c e
of t h e phenomenon b e i n g i g n o r e d . Indeed t h e r e is d i f f i c u l t y i n
e v e r a r r i v i n g a t t h e e s s e n c e of a phenomenon, e s p e c i a l l y i f t h i s
i n v o l v e s h i s t o r i c a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n and a s s o c i a t i n g t h e e s s e n c e
w i t h t h e term b e i n g d e f i n e d . I t is precisely t h i s issue t h a t lies
a t t h e r o o t of t h e problem i n d e f i n i n g shamanism, a s w e s h a l l soon
see.

I n some o f t h e g e n e r a l d i c t i o n a r i e s and a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l t e x t -
books, t h e t e r m 'shaman' i s d e f i n e d s o g e n e r a l l y t h a t no e l e m e n t s
d i f f e r e n t i a t e i t from words r e f e r r i n g t o many o t h e r r e l i g i o u s
p r a c t i t i o n e r s . F o r example i n The Random House Dictwnaqf of the
English Language ( S t e i n 1973:1310) 'shaman' i s d e f i n e d a s ' a
medicine man; one a c t i n g a s b o t h p r i e s t a n a ~ - ~ I I O ' O W ~ S
w i t h t h e s u p e r n a g g r a l ' . 2 Keesing (1958:431) i n a g e n e r a l a n t h r o -
pology t e x t b o o k , d e f i n e s ' shaman ' a s ' an i n d i v i d u a l r e l i g i o u s
expert'. The term i s used i n t h e s e , and numerous o t h e r s o u r c e s
( e . g . Jacobs 1964:64; Gove 1971:2086) i n such a g e n e r a l and vague
way t h a t i t s e r v e s l i t t l e s c i e n t i f i c p u r p o s e .

Although by no means t h e f i r s t t o d e a l d i r e c t l y w i t h t h e prob-


lem o f d e f i n i n g shamanism, it i s t o t h e l a s t i n g c r e d i t o f E l i a d e
(1964) t h a t i n h i s monumental work on shamanism, he o r g a n i z e d and
summarized d i s p a r a t e s o u r c e s o f i n f o r m a t i o n on s h a m a n i s t i c . pheno-
mena t h r o u g h o u t t h e world and d i v o r c e d t h e u s e of t h e word
'shaman' from t h e v e r y g e n e r a l c o n n o t a t i o n it had r e c e i v e d i n
p o p u l a r works. E l i a d e (1964:5) came p e r h a p s c l o s e s t t o a s t a t e -
ment o f what h e c o n s i d e r s t h e minimal e l e m e n t s n e c e s s a r y i n a
d e f i n i t i o n of 'shaman' when h e s t a t e d ' t h e shaman s p e c i a l i z e s i n
a t r a n c e d u r i n g which h i s s o u l i s b e l i e v e d t o l e a v e h i s body and
a s c e n d t o t h e sky o r descend t o t h e underworld!'. It is t h i s
d e f i n i t i o n , o r one s i m i l a r i n form, which h a s come t o be used by
numerous s c h o l a r s , and t h i s may be l a r g e l y a t t r i b u t e d t o t h e
i n f l u e n c e of E l i a d e ( v i z . Vajda 1964; Dumont and Pocock 1959 b;
Hof man 1967 :108) .

However, when w e examine o t h e r d e f i n i t i o n s which have appeared


i n a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l works, w e f r e q u e n t l y e n c o u n t e r q u i t e d i f f e r e n t
v i e w p o i n t s . I n Notes and Queries i n Anthropology (1951: 181) a
b a s i c f i e l d w o r k manual i n a n t h r o p o l o g y , w e f i n d t h i s d e f i n i t i o n :
'The c o n d i t i o n o f p o s s e s s i o n i s t y p i c a l of t h e medicinemen of t h e
S i b e r i a n a r c t i c r e g i o n , who a r e c a l l e d shamans. The term h a s been
a p p l i e d g e n e r a l l y f o r s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n of p r i e s t s , and t h e mani-
f e s t a t i o n s have come t o be c a l l e d shamanism'. F i r t h , i n ' A
Dictionary of Social Sciences (1964:638) s t a t e s : 'The most g e n e r a l
usage o f shaman d e n a t e s g s p e c i a l i s t i n h e a l i n g , d i v i n a t i o n and
a l l i e d s o c i a l f u n c t i o n s , a l l e g ~ 8 1 pby k e e h t q i l e s of s p i r i t poss-
e s s i o n and spirrt control'. I n a recent book on shamanism and
s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n , Lewis (1971:51) d e f i n e s a shaman a s ' a person
of e i t h e r s e x who h a s mastered s p i r i t s a& wno -0-- ___.--I .I -
duce them i r t C e - h i s ~ W .60dltL.R .WmeroUS .ofi-er a u t h o r s c o u l d be
c i t e d u s i n g s i m i l a r d e f i x i i t i o n s (Winick 1956:481; Rahmann 1959:
751; B e a t t i e and Middleton 1 9 6 9 : x v i i ) . S i n c e E l i a d e (1964:499)
e x p l i c i t l y r u l e s o u t s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n a s a n e s s e n t i a l element i n
t h e d e f i n i t i o n of 'shaman', why i s t h e r e t h i s d i s c r e p a n c y ?

The term 'shaman' o r i g i n a t e d among t h e Tungus, and it was a f t e r


s t u d y i n g shamanism and comparing it w i t h s i m i l a r phenomena i n
North Asia t h a t E l i a d e (and o t h e r s b e f o r e him, e . g . O e s t e r r e i c h
(1921:305-9)) came t o t h e c o n c l u s i o n t h a t s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n does
n o t c h a r a c t e r i z e t r u e shamanism. However, i n h i s c l a s s i c s t u d y
of shamanism among t h e Tungus, Shirokogoroff (1935:269) gave a
q u i t e e x p l i c i t d e f i n i t i o n o f t h e word 'shaman'. ' I n a l l Tungus
languages t h i s term r e f e r s t o p e r s o n s o f b o t h s e x e s who have
mastered s p i r i t s , who a t t h e i r w i l l can i n t r o d u c e . t h e s e s p i r i t s
i n t o themselves and u s e t h e i r power o v e r t h e s p i r i t s i n t h e i r own
i n t e r e s t s , p a r t i c u l a r l y h e l p i n g o t h e r p e o p l e , who s u f f e r from t h e
spirits ...I He went on (1935:271-274) t o l i s t formal c h a r a c t e r -
i s t i c s of Tungus shamanism, none o f which mention t h e shaman's
a b i l i t y t o u n d e r t a k e a s o u l journey. Again, why does t h e d i s c r e -
pancy between t h i s d e f i n i t i o n and E l i a d e ' s e x i s t ? T h i s is due t o
E l i a d e ' s ' h i s t o r i c a l ' i n t e r p r e t a t i o n which i s supposed t o show
t h a t t h e s o u l journey a s p e c t i n p r i o r t i m e s was o f primary impor-
t a n c e among t h e Tungus and s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n was a l a t e r develop-
ment.

But h e r e we begin t o see problems i n u s i n g ' h i s t o r i c a l ' i n t e r -


p r e t a t i o n s a s a b a s i s f o r a r r i v i n g a t t h e t r u e e s s e n c e of a
phenomenon, l e t a l o n e f o r t h e a s s o c i a t i o n o f t h i s e s s e n c e w i t h a
p a r t i c u l a r word. For t h i s i s an e n t e r p r i s e f r a u g h t w i t h d i f f i c -
u l t i e s , a s any l i n g u i s t w i l l v e r i f y , even assuming w r i t t e n
s o u r c e s a r e a v a i l a b l e . The s i t u a t i o n i s , i n b r i e f , t h a t t h e r e i s
a Tungus word, i t s u l t i m a t e o r i g i n and meaning u n c e r t a i n , assoc-
i a t e d w i t h a Tungus phenomenon, i t s u l t i m a t e o r i g i n and o r i g i n a l
form u n c e r t a i n .

I n h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n E l i a d e a p p e a r s t o have used two u n c e r t -


a i n t i e s t o make a c e r t a i n t y : t h a t t h e term 'shaman' was
a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a d i s t i n c t i v e complex i n v o l v i n g s o u l journey. It
must be s t r e s s e d h e r e t h a t t h i s d o e s n o t mean t h a t h i s i n t e r p r e t -
a t i o n i s wrong, a l t h o u g h t h e e v i d e n c e s u g g e s t s t h a t it i s j u s t a s
l i k e l y t h e word 'shaman' was a s s o c i z t e d w i t h s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n a s
i t is t h a t it was a s s o c i a t e d w i t h s o u l journey ( v i z . Shirokogoroff
1935:268-271; c f . E l i a d e 1964:495-496). I t d o e s mean t h a t the
f a c t u a l evidence s u p p o r t i n g t h e a s s o c i a t i o n o f s o u l journey -
d i v o r c e d from s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n - w i t h t h e t e r m 'shaman' i s a s
y e t unconvincing.

Without going i n t o d e t a i l c o n c e r n i n g E l i a d e ' s g e n e r a l approach


t o t h e s t n d y of r e l i g i o u s phenomena, h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f
shamanism a p p e a r s t o have been i n f l u e n c e d by h i s b e l i e f t h a t t h e
c o n c e p t of a supreme h e a v e n l y d e i t y e x i s t e d i n p r i o r t i m e s among
t r i b e s i n A s i a , hence, n e c e s s i t a t i n g a s o u l journey t o t h e s k y and
l a t e r g i v i n g way t o t h e c o n c e p t o f more mundane d e i t i e s which came
down t o man, e . g . i n s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n . ( E l i a d e 1964:505-506).
I t would f o l l o w l o g i c a l l y from t h i s t h a t s o u l journey preceded
s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n , and h e r e i n l i e s t h e r e a s o n f o r t h e s u b - t i t l e
o f h i s work, 'Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy '. But t h e e v i d e n c e
f o r t h e s t a r t i n g p o i n t o f s u c h r e a s o n i n g , namely t h e a r c h a i c
r e l i g i o u s i d e o l o g y c e n t r e d on f a i t h i n a supreme heavenly b e i n g ,
i s c e r t a i n l y n o t more t h a n a n h y p o t h e s i s b a s e d upon an i n t e r p r e t -
a t i o n o f t h e few f a c t s a v a i l a b l e t o u s a b o u t t h e b e l i e f s o f p r e -
h i s t o r i c man (see a l s o Lewis 1 9 7 1 : 5 0 ) . I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o n o t e
t h a t E l i a d e b a s e s h i s i n f e r e n c e s a b o u t c h r o n o l o g i c a l age a t l e a s t
p a r t l y on such q u e s t i o n a b l e c r i t e r i a a s q u a n t i t y and u n i v e r s a l i t y ,
e . g . t h e more c u l t u r e s found t h r o u g h o u t t h e world p o s s e s s i n g a
t r a i t , t h e o l d e r it must be.

Numerous s c h o l a r s have p o i n t e d o u t t h a t t h e i n f l u e n c e of
Western c u l t u r e w i t h i t s supreme d e i t y c o n c e p t h a s i n f l u e n c e d
t r i b e s p r i o r t o , o r d u r i n g , t h e p e r i o d s i n which t h e y were o b s e r -
ved by W e s t e r n e r s even i n c a s e s where d i r e c t c o n t a c t was f a i l i n g .
For t h i s r e a s o n , among o t h e r s , it seems e x t r e m e l y d i f f i c u l t t o
s t a t e w i t h any c e r t a i n t y what t r i b a l b e l i e f s a c t u a l l y were i n
prehistoric t i m e s .

I n view of t h e above, i f a d i s t i n c t complex i n v o l v i n g s o u l


journey - b u t n o t s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n - e x i s t s i n A s i a (and some
a u t h o r s d o u b t t h i s , see L e w i s l971:50-51; F i n d e i s e n 1960:213), it
would s e e m u n f o r t u n a t e t h a t t h e word 'shamanism' was used t o
d e n o t e i t . 4 One s c h o l a r (Schrbder 1955: 862) h a s even adopted t h e
i n t e r e s t i n g view t h a t s o u l j o u r n e y and p o s s e s s i o n a r e n o t c o n t r a -
s t i n g , b u t r a t h e r a r e two a s p e c t s o f t h e same r e a l i t y .

I n o r d e r t o a v o i d f u r t h e r c o n f u s i o n i n d e f i n i n g t h e term, w e
might wonder why t h e two phenomenon c a n n o t be u n i t e d i n a s i n g l e
d e f i n i t i o n . One c o u l d t h e n speak o f a ' s o u l journey shamanism'
and a ' p o s s e s s i o n shamanism' (see Haekel 1971:131). Furthermore,
a l t h o u g h s o u l journey was c o n s i d e r e d s e c o n d a r y , i t d i d o c c u r a l o n g
w i t h p o s s e s s i o n among t h e Tungus ( E l i a d e 1964:500), and d o e s s o
among many o t h e r t r i b e s a l s o ( L e w i s 1971:51). Indeed, s e v e r a l
s c h o l a r s have w r i t t e n i n such a way t h a t t h e two a s p e c t s can be
subsumed i n one d e f i n i t i o n ( e . g . S t i g l m a y r 1957:163; H i r s c h b e r g
1965:384; Haekel 1971:131).
I t m i g h t be b e s t a t t h i s p o i n t t o p o s e a p o s s i b l e d e f i n i t i o n
oE t h e word 'shaman' and t h e n s p e c i f y p r e c i s e l y how t h i s d e f i n i t i o n
was d e v e l o p e d . Such a p r o c e s s w i l l s h e d l i g h t on some o f t h e
problems i n v o l v e d i n d e f i n i n g t h e t e r m .

A sharmn i s a person who a t h i s w i l l can e n t e r i n t o aa


7
Y L V
&
,
-
f i n which he e i t h e r has h i s soul undertake
,LC .-.
a journey t o the s p i r i t world o r he becomes possessed by a s p i r i t )
i n order t o m k e contact with t h e s p i r i t world on behalf o f
members of h i s conmncnity. The n e u t r a l t e r m ' p e r s o n ' i s used t o
i n d i c a t e t h a t a shaman may be o f e i t h e r s e x . The p h r a s e ' a t h i s
w i l l ' s e r v e s t o d i f f e r e n t i a t e a shaman from a s i m p l e medium o r a
p e r s o n who may become p o s s e s s e d i n v a r i o u s s i t u a t i o n s b u t who
d o e s n o t have t h e a b i l i t y t o d o t h i s whenever he s o d e s i r e s o r
who r e q u i r e s t h e a s s i s t a n c e o f o t h e r s i n o r d e r t o become p o s s e s s e d .
T h i s i s b a s i c a l l y what S h i r o k o g o r o f f (1935:271) means when h e
s p e a k s o f t h e shaman a s a ' m a s t e r of s p i r i t s ' . He voluntarily is
a b l e t o become p o s s e s s e d ( c f . Lewis 1971:51) o r u n d e r t a k e a s o u l
j o u r n e y . H u l t k r a n t z (1973) f e e l s t h a t it s h o u l d be emphasized i n
a d e f i n i t i o n t h a t t h e shaman a t t a i n s e c s t a s y w i t h t h e h e l p o f a
g u a r d i a n s p i r i t . C e r t a i n l y s o f a r a s I am aware t h i s i s a l w a y s
t h e case, b u t it does n o t appear e s s e n t i a l t o t h e d e f i n i t i o n
because i f a person a t t a i n e d e c s t a s y w i t h o u t t h e h e l p o f a
g u a r d i a n s p i r i t and f u l f i l l e d o t h e r a s p e c t s o f t h e d e f i n i t i o n , i n
my e y e s a t l e a s t , h e would s t i l l l o g i c a l l y have t o b e c o n s i d e r e d
a shaman.

Many shamanism e x p e r t s w i l l b e annoyed a t t h e f a c t t h a t t h e


word ' e c s t a s y ' d o e s n o t a p p e a r i n t h e d e f i n i t i o n , b e c a u s e f o r them
t h a t i s p r e c i s e l y what t h e shaman i s - a n e c s t a t i c par excezzence.
I p e r s o n a l l y would f i n d t h i s s a t i s f a c t o r y w e r e it n o t f o r t h e
ambiguity of t h e t e r m . E c s t a s y i m p l i e s i n t h e minds o f many
' r a p t u r o u s d e l i g h t ' o r ' a n overpowering emotion' ( S t e i n 1973:452).
E l l a d e h i m s e l f - s e e m s t o o s c i l l a t e between a p p l y i n g t h e t e r m
g e n e r a l l y t o dreams and t r a n c e s (1964:13) and a s d e n o t i n g e x c l u -
s i v e l y t h e a s p e c t o f s o u l j o u r n e y a n d n o t p o s s e s s i o n (1961:155).
(See a l s o P a u l s o n 1 9 6 4 : 1 3 7 ) .

I n numerous c a s e s t h a t I have o b s e r v e d t h e shaman c o u l d h a r d l y


be s a i d t o be i n ' r a p t u r o u s d e l i g h t ' a l t h o u g h c e r t a i n l y i n a
h i g h l y e m o t i o n a l s t a t e . F u r t h e r m o r e t h e r e a p p a r e n t l y a r e shamans
who e x h i b i t few e m o t i o n s w h i l e i n a t r a n c e (Harper 1 9 5 7 ) . Thus I
have d e c i d e d t o u s e t h e more n e u t r a l t e r m ' t r a n c e ' , f o r what w e
a r e r e a l l y t r y i n g t o e s t a b l i s h i s t h a t t h e shaman i s i n an
u n u s u a l p s y c h i c s t a t e which i n d i c a t e s t o members o f h i s s o c i e t y
t h a t he i s n o l o n g e r o p e r a t i n g i n t h e o r d i n a r y c o n s c i o u s n e s s of
day t o d a y l i v i n g . O b v i o u s l y f o r t h o s e , s u c h a s F i n d e i s e n (1957:
238) and F i r t h (1964:639), who d e f i n e e c s t a s y e s s e n t i a l l y a s a
t r a n c e t h i s s h o u l d p r e s e n t n o problem.5
The p l a c i n g of t h e s o u l journey and p o s s e s s i o n a s p e c t s w i t h i n
t h e d e f i n i t i o n may n o t b e e x a c t l y a c c o r d i n g t o formal d e f i n i t i o n
r u l e s , b u t it is p ~ a c t i c a l l yn e c e s s a r y t o e n s u r e t h a t no ambiguity
i s i n v o l v e d i n e x a c t l y what a r e t h e e s s e n t i a l e v e n t s t a k i n g p l a c e
i n t h e t r a n c e a s it r e l a t e s t o shamanism. T h i s i s f o r m e one o f
t h e most d i f f i c u l t a r e a s o f t h e d e f i n i t i o n , because it f o l l o w s
t h a t a p e r s o n who i n a t r a n c e s i m p l y s p e a k s t o the s p i r i t s i s n o t
t o be d e f i n e d a s a shaman. I draw t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n , n o t because
I do n o t see t h e m e r i t s i n v o l v e d i n d e s i g n a t i n g such p e o-p l e as
-

becaus i t would v i o l a t e t h e u s e o f t h e term by-k


piqn~,
,.seem nq%o aut%&t~& mp y u n u s u a l p s y c h i c s t a t e . However ,I
it a p p e a r s n e c e s s a r y t o r e t a i n i t i n t h e d e f i n i t i o n , because i f

1'
p e o p l e b e l i e v e d t h a t a p e r s o n ' s s o u l c o u l d journey w h i l e he
remained i n a p e r f e c t l y normal s t a t e - and he o t h e r w i s e f u l f i l l e d
) r e q u i r e m e n t s o f t h e d e f i n i t i o n - s t i l l i t would be d i f f i c u l t t o
c o n s i d e r such a p e r s o n a shaman. Nor would this conform t o
d e f i n i t i o n s o f shamanism among t h e Tungus. 'Shamanism' a p p e a r s
t o be c l e a r l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a non-ordinary p s y c h i c s t a t e and
. t h i s s h o u l d , t h e r e f o r e , be s t a t e d i n t h e d e f i n i t i o n . A'

The p h r a s e ' s p i r i t w o r l d ' i s used a s s a n e u t r a l term because


t h e s o u l journey may i n v o l v e e i t h e r a s c e n s i o n t o t h e heavens,
d e s c e n t t o t h e underworld o r a ' h o r i z o n t a l ' voyage t o s p i r i t s
l i v i n g i n o u r own world.

' P o s s e s s i o n ' i s a term which, on i t s own, i s ambiguous because,


a s i d e from v o l u n t a r y s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n , i t may r e f e r t o m a l e v o l e n t
s p i r i t s i n t r u d i n g i n t o a p e r s o n ' s body and c a u s i n g i l l n e s s .
Clements (1932:189) h a s , however, made a clear d i s t i n c t i o n between
s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n and s p i r i t i n t r u s i o n i n which o n l y t h e l a t t e r
term r e f e r s t o m a l e v o l e n t p o s s e s s i o n ( c f . Walker 1972:3; Lewis
1971:54). I n any e v e n t , w i t h i n t h e c o n t e x t of t h e 2 e f i n i t i o n I
t h i n k t h a t no s e r i o u s a m b i g u i t y a r i s e s .

The p h r a s e ' t o make c o n t a c t w i t h ' is employed because o f i t s


n e u t r a l i t y with r e g a r d t o t h e p u r p o s e o f t h e shaman's s o u l j o u r -
ney o r p o s s e s s i o n . Normally, however, t h i s i s t o c r e a t e r a p p o r t
w i t h t h e s p i r i t s (Nioradze 1925:90) .
F i n a l l y dhe s o c i a l a s p e c t o f shamanism h a s been i n c l u d e d
because it seems an e s s e n t i a l a s p e c t o f what w e mean when w e
r e f e r t o shamanism, and it h a s a l s o been s t r e s s e d by S h i r o k o g o r o f f
(1935:273) add numerous o t h e r s c h o l a r s (e.g. S t i g l m a y r 1957:163;
Hultkrantz 1973).

I n r e v i e w i n g p o i n t s r a i s e d p r e v i o u s l y a b o u t d e f i n i n g a phenom-
enon and a p p l y i n g t h e s e t o t h e d e f i n i t i o n I have g i v e n , I t h i n k
t h a t it h o l d s up f a i r l y w e l l . I t does n o t appear t o include
r e d u n d a n t e l e m e n t s o r e l e m e n t s u n e s s e n t i a l t o t h e phenomenon y e t
d o e s i n c l u d e t h o s e w i t h o u t which a p e r s o n c o u l d n o t be c o n s i d e r e d
a shaman. F o r example, if a p e r s o n f u l f i l l e d a l l a s p e c t s e x c e p t
t h e s o c i a l one, I would n o t c o n s i d e r him a shaman, because t h e
shaman i s most d e f i n i t e l y a s o c i a l f u n c t i o n a r y . The d e f i n i t i o n
d o e s n o t r a d i c a l l y d e p a r t from p r e v i o u s d e f i n i t i o n s and h a s t h e
advantage o f i n c o r p o r a t i n g two opposing v i e w p o i n t s , t h e r e b y
a v o i d i n g t h e c o n f u s i ~ na r i s i n g i f o n l y one o f t h e s e was found t o
be a c c e p t a b l e . I t i s p r e c i s e enough t o be of use i n comparative
s t u d i e s , and c o r r e s p o n d s t o t h e o r i g i n a l u s e of t h e term among
t h e Tungus. Above a l l it would seem t o p a s s t h e c r u c i a l t e s t of
b e i n g a b l e t o a i d a p e r s o n i n h i s d e c i s i o n a s t o whether o r n o t
t h e phenomenon he i s s t u d y i n g s h o u l d be l a b e l l e d a s s h a m a n i s t i c .

The d e f i n i t i o n i s f u n c t i o n a l l y o r i e n t e d and a s such i s opposed


t o a d e f i n i t i o n i n v o l v i n g e l e m e n t s of a d i s t i n c t i v e complex, e . g .
a formal i n i t i a t i o n , p a r t i c u l a r a t t i r e and i n s t r u m e n t s , o r t h e
mythology c o n c e r n i n g a f i r s t shaman, such a s some a u t h o r s (e.g.
Vajda 1964) would l i k e t o s e e i n r e f e r e n c e t o t h e s o u l journey
complex o f S i b e r i a . Although i t would undoubtedly be of consid-
e r a b l e v a l u e t o e s t a b l i s h such a complex, a s i t would p r o v i d e
s c h o l a r s w i t h a model f o r examining o t h e r m a t e r i a l , t h e r e a s o n s
f o r n o t i n c l u d i n g such e l e m e n t s i n t h e proposed d e f i n i t i o n should
be obvious i n view of t h e arguments and t h e d e f i n i t i o n g u i d e l i n e s
s t a t e d above.

The a l t e r n a t i v e t o a d e f i n i t i o n s i m i l a r , i f n o t t h e same, a s
t h e one o u t l i n e d above, i s a c o n t i n u a t i o n o f opposing s c h o o l s of
thought with r e s u l t i n g confusion f o r those n o t well versed i n t h e
i s s u e s i n v o l v e d . Hence a l t h o u g h t h e d e f i n i t i o n I have p r e s e n t e d
i s o n l y one p o s s i b l e way of d e a l i n g w i t h t h i s complex d e f i n i t i o n
problem, i t s a c c e p t a n c e h o p e f u l l y would s h i f t a t t e n t i o n away from
arguments concerning g e n e r a l i t i e s , s o t h a t e n e r g i e s may be more
f r u i t f u l l y employed i n a c l o s e r examination and a n a l y s i s o f t h e
q u i t e s u b s t a n t i v e d i f f e r e n c e s t h c t o c c u r within what we have come
t o c a l l shamanism.

Johan Reinhard
1. I would l i k e t o t h a n k t h e Wenner-Gren Foundation f o r s u p p o r t
r e c e i v e d d u r i n g t h e p e r i o d i n which this p a p e r was w r i t t e n .
Many o f the i d e a s p r e s e n t e d i n t h i s p a p e r e v o l v e d d u r i n g
s t i m u l a t i n g c o n v e r s a t i o n s w i t h John Hitchcock, Andras Hbfer,
Ake H u l t k r a n t z , and E n g e l b e r t S t i g l m a y r . I would l i k e t o
e x p r e s s my a p p r e c i a t i o n t o t h e s e s c h o l a r s f o r s h a r i n g their
o p i n i o n s w i t h me. However, it s h o u l d be s t r e s s e d t h a t t h e y
do n o t a l l a g r e e w i t h t h e c o n c l u s i o n s s e t f o r t h h e r e .
I might add t h a t I by no means c o n s i d e r myself a shamanism
e x p e r t i n t h e s e n s e o f h a v i n g worked w i t h t h e l i t e r a l l y
thousands of sources d e a l i n g with t h e s u b j e c t (although I
have r e a d s e v e r a l hundred o f which o n l y a few c o u l d be men-
tioned here) . I take the, perhaps, h e r e t i c a l v i e w a
r,
p e r s o n c a n p e r c e i v e basic i s s u e s W v m d in = - A

w m P e i n g s t e e p e d i n t_h-all a s long as he i s
;easonably a s s u r e d t h a t this sample i n c l u d e s t h e v a r i a n t
viewpoints.

2. Some d i c t i o n a r i e s ( e . g . S t e i n 1973:1310) d e f i n e shamanism a s


a r e l i g i o n of norbhern A s i a . Such a view i s c e r t a i n l y wrong,
a t l e a s t i f one a c c e p t s t h e u s u a l d e f i n i t i o n o f r e l i g i o n
(e. g. M a l e f i j i t 1968: 1 2 ) . Shamanism i s o n l y a p a r t of r e l -
--
i g i o n , a s t h e r e a r e always some r 5 T i g i o u s - a C ~ w h i c h
m a m a n d o e s n o t have a p a r t , r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s unasso-
c i a t e d w i t h shamanism, o t h e r r e l i g i o u s p r a c t i t i o n e r s , etc.
F o r f u r t h e r remarks i n t h i s r e g a r d see S h i r o k o g o r o f f (1935:
276) and S t i g l m a y r ( 1 9 6 2 ) .

3. Two f u r t h e r r e a s o n s f o r q u e s t i o n i n g t h e e v i d e n c e even from


r e c e n t t i m e s r e g a r d i n g t h e number of c u l t u r e s w i t h b e l i e f s
i n a supreme d e i t y r e l a t e t o problems of e l i c i t a t i o n , t r a n s -
l a t i o n and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f n a t i v e c a t e g o r i e s by Westerners
and the s o - c a l l e d G a l t o n ' s problem, where t h e g e n e r a l problem
o f t h e independence of d i f f e r e n t c u l t u r e s i s r a i s e d , a s i d e
from Western i n f l u e n c e s . ( P e l t o 1970:296-299).

. I t s h o u l d be n o t e d h e r e t h a t E l i a d e h a s r e p l i e d t o t h o s e who
c r i t i c i z e d him f o r denying t h a t p o s s e s s i o n i s an e l e m e n t o f
shamanism. However, r a t h e r t h a n re-examining t h e r e l a t i o n -
s h i p o f t h e word 'shaman' w i t h t h e phenomena o f s o u l journey
and p o s s e s s i o n a s found among t h e Tungus, he chose i n s t e a d
t o a r g u e t h e c a s e l a r g e l y on t h e b a s i s b h a t s o u l journey
must have o c c u r r e d p r i o r t o p o s s e s s i o n (Eliade 1961:155; c f .
E l i a d e 1964:507, n . 3 4 ) . Presumably he f e e l s it would add
w e i g h t t o h i s argument t h a t s o u l journey a l s o appeared p r i o r
t o p o s s e s s i o n among t h e Tungus, a l t h o u g h it i s a t l e a s t
p o s s i b l e t h a t t h e s o u l journey complex c o u l d have been
'borrowed' from o t h e r t r i b e s a f t e r p o s s e s s i o n o r f o r t h a t
matter t h a t t h e combination of s o u l journey and p o s s e s s i o n
c o u l d have been borrowed i n whole ( v i z . Shirokogorof f 1935:
276-287; c f . however, E l i a d e 1964:498-502). To e l a b o r a t e
E l i a d e ' s a r g u m e n t s and r e a s o n s why I f i n d them u n p e r s u a s i v e
would r e q u i r e c o n s i d e r a b l y e x p a n d i n g t h e p r e s e n t p a p e r
without c o n t r i b u t i n g t o t h e i s s u e s being r a i s e d h e r e . For
even i f h i s a r g u m e n t s were c o n v i n c i n g r e g a r d i n g b o t h s o u l
j o u r n e y a s b e i n g p r i o r t o p o s s e s s i o n i n g e n e r a l and i t s b e i n g
p r i o r t o p o s s e s s i o n among t h e Tungus, t h e y s t i l l would have
l i t t l e t o d o w i t h t h e problem o f t h e a p p r o p r i a t e n e s s o f
a p p l y i n g t h e t e r m ' shamanism' t o e i t h e r o f t h e s e phenomena.
H e a l s o a r g u e s (1961:155) t h a t p o s s e s s i o n seems t o be a
s e c o n d a r y phenomenon i n r e g i o n s where 'shamanism' ( r e a d
' s o u l journey c o m p l e x ' ) o c c u r s ; a n o t h e r argument o f l i t t l e
i m p o r t a n c e i f t h e term 'shaman' was found p r i m a r i l y a s s o c i a -
t e d w i t h p o s s e s s i o n among the Tungus. To summarize: t h e
arguments f o r a d i s t i n c t i v e s o u l j o u r n e y complex i n A s i a a r e
a t times p e r s u a s i v e ; t h e a r g u m e n t s t h a t t h e t e r m 'shamanism'
s h o u l d b e a p p l i e d t o t h i s complex a r e n o t .

I n c o n v e r s a t i o n w i t h John Hitchcock (bhich took p l a c e a f t e r


t h i s a r t i c l e was w r i t t e n ) , i t became c l e a r t h a t t h e word
' t r a n c e ' i s n o t a s a t i s f a c t o r y t e r m i n some c a s e s t o d e n o t e
t h e s t a t e t h a t some shamans a r e i n a t t h e t i m e t h e y a r e
p o s s e s s e d o r have t h e i r s o u l s u n d e r t a k e a j o u r n e y t o t h e
s p i r i t world. 'Trance' i s frequently defined a s a 'half-
c o n s c i o u s s t a t e ' ( S t e i n 1 9 7 3 : 1 5 0 3 ) , w h i l e what w e a r e r e a l l y
t r y i n g t o e s t a b l i s h i s t h a t t h e shaman i s i n a n o n - o r d i n a r y
p s y c h i c s t a t e , which i n some c a s e s means n o t a l o s s o f
consciousness b u t r a t h e r an a l t e r e d s t a t e of consciousness.
( T h e d r o b l e m o f f a k i n g i s n o t o f s i g n i f i c a n c e he=,- bec_a_use
t h e d e f i n i t i o n a r i s e s -.o u m-me --- snaman
-- -
says h e d o e s
a ~ a c c @ t a n c e o f t h i s by -members o-- f -h- i-s --s o c- - i e t y r--a t h e r t h a n
A

what m i g h t hi- r e a l i t y be t a k i n g p l a c e ) . T h e r e f o r e , pe;hzps


t h v - l i ~ - ,Cite ' s h o u l d be s u b s t i t u t e d
for 'trance'. Any more s p e c i f i c p h r a s e o r t e r m would seem
t o p r e s e n t d i f f i c u l t i e s f o r t h e d e f i n i t i o n , and i n a n y e v e n t
t h e p h r a s e i s more p r e c i s e l y d e l i n e a t e d by t h e r e m a i n d e r o f
bhe s e n t e n c e .
One p o s s i b l e s o l u t i o n t o t h i s problem m i g h t b e t o d e l e t e t h e
p h r a s e ' i n t o a t r a n c e ' e n t i r e l y . I t m i g h t be viewed a s
b e i n g r e d u n d a n t , f o r s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n and s o u l j o u r n e y
would seem t o a u t o m a t i c a l l y imply a n u n u s u a l p s y c h i c s t a t e .
However, i t a p p e a r s n e c e s s a r y t o r e t a i n i t , o r some s i m i l a r
p h r a s e , i n t h e d e f i n i t i o n , b e c a u s e , even i f p e o p l e e x i s t e d
who b e l i e v e d a p e r s o n ' s s o u l c o u l d j o u r n e y w h i l e he remained
i n a p e r f e c t l y normal s t a t e - and h e o t h e r w i s e f u l f i l l e d
r e q u i r e m e n t s o f t h e d e f i n i t i o n - i t would s t i l l be d i f f i c u l t
t o c o n s i d e r s u c h a p e r s o n a shaman. T h i s would n e i t h e r
conform t o d e f i n i t i o n s o f shamanism found i n major works i n
t h e f i e l d n o r conform t o shamanism among t h e Tungus.
'Shamanism' a p p e a r s t o b e c l e a r l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a non-
o r d i n a r y p s y c h i c s t a t e , and t h i s s h o u l d , t h e r e f o r e , be
s t a t e d i n some way i n t h e d e f i n i t i o n .
20
III
W M B U SPIRIT POSSESSION - A CASE STUDY

The i n t e r a c t i v e n a t u r e o f a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l f i e l d w o r k i s o f t e n
i g n o r e d i n a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l l i t e r a t u r e and by a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s who
view t h e i r r o l e a s o n e o f s i m p l e d a t a c o l l e c t i o n . The e n t r a n c e
of t h e a n t h r o p o l o g i s t i n t o a c l o s e l y - k n i t r u r a l community i s , i n
i t s e l f , a n e v e n t which i n f l u e n c e s members o f t h e community.

The a n t h r o p o l o g i s t i n t e r a c t s d a i l y w i t h t h e p e o p l e i n t h e
community. H e o r s h e becomes a member o f t h e community and i s
a s s i g n e d a s t a t u s by e a c h member o f t h e community. Interaction
' t a k e s p l a c e o n t h e b a s i s o f t h e community's s y s t e m o f s t a t u s and
r o l e s . Most e t h n o g r a p h i c d a t a i s c o n d i t i o n e d by t h i s f a c t .

I w i l l i l l u s t r a t e my p o i n t w i t h a n e x a m i n a t i o n o f a s i t u a t i o n
t h a t o c c u r r e d d u r i n g f i e l d w o r k i n 1967-1969 among t h e Limbu n e a r
Tehrathum b a z a a r i n t h e e a s t e r n h i l l s o f Nepal. These e v e n t s w i l l
i l l u s t r a t e t h e i n f l u e n c e t h e f i e l d w o r k e r had on one i n d i v i d u a l -
a Limbu woman employed a s a cook a n d h o u s e k e e p e r . Although t h e
employment p r o v i d e d h e r w i t h a n a l t e r n a t i v e means o f income and
some p e r s o n a l g l o r i f i c a t i o n t h r o u g h h e r a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h t h e
w e s t e r n ' s a h i b s ' , t h e new s t a t u s was i n t e r p r e t e d by h e r a s o n e o f
a s e r v a n t . During t h e p e r i o d o f employment, t h e cook was r e p e a t -
e d l y p o s s e s s e d by a Limbu d e i t y . T h i s p o s s e s s i o n c a n be i n t e r -
preted, a t l e a s t i n p a r t , a s a c u l t u r a l l y prescribed response t o
the pressures she f e l t i n a master-servant r e l a t i o n s h i p . Others
involved responded i n a s i m i l a r f a s h i o n through t h e i r changing
i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of t h e reasons f o r possession.

A p o i n t made by I . M . L e w i s i s u s e f u l i n i n t e r p r e t i n g t h e d a t a
which f o l l o w . I n h i s r e c e n t book, Ecstatic Religion (1971) ,
L e w i s d i s t i n g u i s h e d between two t y p e s o f p o s s e s s i o n : peripheral
p o s s e s s i o n , which o c c u r s most f r e q u e n t l y t o i n d i v i d u a l s o f low
s t a t u s ; and c e n t r a l p o s s e s s i o n , which p r i m a r i l y o c c u r s among
higher-status individuals. L e w i s hypothesized t h a t peripheral
p o s s e s s i o n p r o v i d e s a means by which i n d i v i d u a l s o f low s t a t u s
c a n g a i n a c c e s s t o goods and r e w a r d s which t h e y a r e o r d i n a r i l y
d e n i e d . A s L e w i s m a i n t a i n s (1971:117): 'Those men and women who
e x p e r i e n c e t h e s e a f f l i c t i o n s do s o r e g u l a r l y i n s i t u a t i o n s of
stress and c o n f l i c t w i t h t h e i r s u p e r i o r s , a n d , i n t h e a t t e n t i o n
and r e s p e c t which t h e y t e m p o r a r i l y a t t r a c t , i n f l u e n c e t h e i r
m a s t e r s . Thus a d v e r s i t y i s t u r n e d t o a d v a n t a g e , and s p i r i t
p o s s e s s i o n o f t h i s t y p e can be s e e n t o r e p r e s e n t an
egy of a t t a c k ' .

Upon a r r i v i n g i n Tehrathum my husband and I c o n t a c t e d a l o c a l l y -


i n f l u e n t i a l Limbu, who provided u s w i t h a house and l o c a t e d h Limbu
woman t o be our cook and housekel?per. I w i l l c a l l h e r Kanchi.
Although we had i n i t i a l l y planneu a b r i e f s t a y i n t h e Tehrathum
a r e a , we decided a f t e r a few months t o make i t o u r permanent
i n v e s t i g a t i o n s i t e . One of t h e b a s i c r e a s o n s f o r t h i s d e c i s i o n
was t h e high d e g r e e o f r a p p o r t w e e s t a b l i s h e d w i t h t h e Limbu o f
t h e surrounding v i l l a g e s . The e a s e w i t h which we e n t e r e d the Limbu
community was made p o s s i b l e l a r g e l y because o f o u r r e l a t i o n s h i p
w i t h Kanchi, who f o r many months was n o t o n l y o u r c h i e f i n f o r m a n t
b u t provided u s w i t h an i n t r o d u c t i o n t o t h e nearby Limbu, almost
a l l of whom were r e l a t e d t o h e r i n one way o r a n o t h e r , e i t h e r
through d e s c e n t o r by m a r r i a g e .

Kanchi's i n f l u e n c e on o u r fieldwork f o r t h e f i r s t s i x months


was p e r v a s i v e . We became extremely involved i n h e r p e r s o n a l l i f e ,
and i n a d d i t i o n t o a l l she could t e l l us o r l e a d u s t o , s h e h e r s e l f
became a c h i e f f o c u s of o b s e r v a t i o n . S h o r t l y a f t e r we s e t t l e d i n
Tehrathum, s h e became p o s s e s s e d by a Limbu d e i t y , Yuma Sammang.
Her p o s s e s s i o n s e t o f f a s e r i e s o f e v e n t s t h a t were i n t e r p r e t e d
by t h e community a s a ' c a l l ' t o become a female shaman, o r a
ywna. 2

Kanchi was t h e n l i v i n g i n t h e homestead o f h e r husband, who had


l e f t Tehrathum f o r Assam s i x y e a r s e a r l i e r , l a r g e l y due t o a l o v e
a f f a i r w i t h h i s e l d e r b r o t h e r ' s w i f e . Most of h e r husband's c l o s e
male k i n were a l s o l i v i n g i n Assam, and a s a r e s u l t Kanchi l i v e d
a l o n e w i t h h e r two c h i l d r e n . She s h a r e d many household and farm
r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s w i t h two o t h e r women who had married i n t o t h e
p a t r i l i n e a g e and who l i v e d i n an a d j a c e n t house. T h e i r household
was a l s o w i t h o u t men. One woman was widowed, and t h e o t h e r ' s
husband was i n government s e r v i c e i n Ilam. Both households were
extremely p o o r . Kanchi's p o v e r t y was made e v i d e n t by t h e simple
f a c t t h a t she became our cook, a p o s i t i o n n o t o r d i n a r i l y t a k e n
e x c e p t by t h e p o a r e s t of Limbu. Kanchi was f u r t h e r handicapped
because she was an orphan, r a i s e d by h e r m o t h e r ' s b r o t h e r , and
t h e r e f o r e d i d n o t have t h e o p t i o n t o r e t u r n t o h e r n a t a l community,
which i s t h e u s u a l course of a c t i o n t a k e n by Limbu women i n h e r
circumstance. I n a d d i t i o n t o h e r p o v e r t y , h e r c h i l d r e n seemed t o
be s u f f e r i n g from an i n a d e q u a t e d i e t , afid s h e complained t h a t s h e
had been f o r c e d t o s e l l a l l h e r v a l u a b l e s t o pay f o r i l l n e s s e s i n
t h e family.

Although h e r p o s i t i o n a s o u r cook gave h e r m a t e r i a l rewards,


she was f o r c e d t o do work s h e b a s i c a l l y considered degrading. She
I11
LIMBU SPIRIT POSSESSION - A CASE STUDY

The i n t e r a c t i v e n a t u r e o f a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l f i e l d w o r k i s o f t e n
i g n o r e d i n a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l l i t e r a t u r e and by a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s who
view t h e i r r o l e a s o n e o f s i m p l e d a t a c o l l e c t i o n . The e n t r a n c e
o f t h e a n t h r o p o l o g i s t i n t o a c l o s e l y - k n i t r u r a l community i s , i n
i t s e l f , a n e v e n t which i n f l u e n c e s members o f t h e community.

The a n t h r o p o l o g i s t i n t e r a c t s d a i l y w i t h t h e p e o p l e i n t h e
commimity. H e o r s h e becomes a member o f t h e community and i s
a s s i g n e d a s t a t u s by e a c h member o f t h e community. Interaction
' t a k e s p l a c e o n t h e b a s i s o f t h e community's s y s t e m o f s t a t u s and
r o l e s . Most e t h n o g r a p h i c d a t a is c o n d i t i o n e d by t h i s f a c t .

I w i l l i l l u s t r a t e my p o i n t w i t h a n e x a m i n a t i o n o f a s i t u a t i o n
t h a t o c c u r r e d d u r i n g f i e l d w o r k i n 1967-1969 among t h e Limbu n e a r
Tehrathum b a z a a r i n t h e e a s t e r n h i l l s o f Nepal. These e v e n t s w i l l
i l l u s t r a t e t h e i n f l u e n c e t h e f i e l d w o r k e r had on one i n d i v i d u a l -
a Linlbu woman employed a s a cook and h o u s e k e e p e r . Although t h e
employment p r o v i d e d h e r w i t h a n a l t e r n a t i v e means o f income and
some p e r s o n a l g l o r i f i c a t i o n t h r o u g h h e r a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h t h e
w e s t e r n ' s a h i b s ' , t h e new s t a t u s was i n t e r p r e t e d by h e r a s one o f
a s e r v a n t . During t h e p e r i o d o f employment, t h e cook was r e p e a t -
e d l y p o s s e s s e d by a Limbu d e i t y . T h i s p o s s e s s i o n c a n be i n t e r -
preted, a t l e a s t i n p a r t , a s a c u l t u r a l l y prescribed response t o
t h e pressures she f e l t i n a master-servant r e l a t i o n s h i p . Others
i n v o l v e d r e s p o n d e d i n a similar f a s h i o n t h r o u g h t h e i r c h a n g i n g
i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of t h e reasons f o r possession.

A p o i n t made by I . M . L e w i s i s u s e f u l i n i n t e r p r e t i n g t h e d a t a
which f o l l o w . I n h i s r e c e n t book, Ecstatic Religion (1971) ,
L e w i s d i s t i n g u i s h e d between two t y p e s o f p o s s e s s i o n : peripheral
p o s s e s s i o n , which o c c u r s most f r e q u e n t l y t o i n d i v i d u a l s o f low
s t a t u s ; and c e n t r a l p o s s e s s i o n , which p r i m a r i l y o c c u r s among
higher-status individuals. Lewis hypothesized t h a t peripheral
p o s s e s s i o n p r o v i d e s a means by which i n d i v i d u a l s o f low s t a t u s
can g a i n a c c e s s t o goods and r e w a r d s which t h e y a r e o r d i n a r i l y
d e n i e d . A s L e w i s m a i n t a i n s ( 1 9 7 1 : 1 1 7 ) : 'Those men and women who
e x p e r i e n c e t h e s e a f f l i c t i o n s do s o r e g u l a r l y i n s i t u a t i o n s o f
stress and c o n f l i c t w i t h t h e i r s u p e r i o r s , a n d , i n t h e a t t e n t i o n
and r e s p e c t which t h e y t e m p o r a r i l y a t t r a c t , i n f l u e n c e t h e i r
m a s t e r s . Thus a d v e r s i t y i s t u r n e d t o a d v a n t a g e , and s p i r i t
p o s s e s s i o n of t h i s t y p e can be seen t o r e p r e s e n t an o b l i q u e s t r a t -
egy of a t t a c k ' .

Kanchi 'sl possession

Upon a r r i v i n g i n Tehrathum my husband and I c o n t a c t e d a l o c a l l y -


i n f l u e n t i a l Limbu, who provided us w i t h a house and l o c a t e d a Limbu
woman t o be our cook and housekeeper. I w i l l c a l l h e r Kanchi.
Although w e had i n i t i a l l y p l a n n e a a b r i e f s t a y i n t h e Tehrathum
a r e a , we decided a f t e r a few months t o make it our permanent
i n v e s t i g a t i o n s i t e . One of t h e b a s i c r e a s o n s f o r t h i s d e c i s i o n
was t h e high d e g r e e of r a p p o r t we e s t a b l i s h e d w i t h t h e Limbu o f
t h e surrounding v i l l a g e s . The e a s e with which we e n t e r e d the Limbu
community was made p o s s i b l e l a r g e l y because of o u r r e l a t i o n s h i p
w i t h Kanchi, who f o r many months was n o t o n l y o u r c h i e f informant
b u t provided u s w i t h a n i n t r o d u c t i o n t o t h e nearby Limbu, almost
a l l of whom were r e l a t e d t o h e r i n one way o r a n o t h e r , e i t h e r
through d e s c e n t o r by marriage.

Kanchi's i n f l u e n c e on o u r f i e l d w o r k f o r t h e f i r s t s i x manths
was p e r v a s i v e . W e became extremely involved i n h e r p e r s o n a l l i f e ,
and i n a d d i t i o n t o a l l she could t e l l us o r l e a d u s t o , s h e h e r s e l f
became a c h i e f f o c u s of o b s e r v a t i o n . S h o r t l y a f t e r we s e t t l e d i n
Tehrathum, s h e became p o s s e s s e d by a Limbu d e i t y , Yuma Sammang.
Her p o s s e s s i o n set o f f a s e r i e s o f e v e n t s t h a t were i n t e r p r e t e d
by t h e community a s a ' c a l l ' t o become a female shaman, o r a
ywna. 2

Kanchi was t h e n l i v i n g i n t h e homestead o f h e r husband, who had


l e f t Tehrathum f o r Assam s i x y e a r s e a r l i e r , l a r g e l y due t o a l o v e
a f f a i r w i t h h i s e l d e r b r o t h e r ' s w i f e . Most of h e r husband's c l o s e
male k i n were a l s o l i v i n g i n A s s a m , and a s a r e s u l t Kanchi l i v e d
a l o n e w i t h h e r two c h i l d r e n . She s h a r e d many household and farm
r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s w i t h two o t h e r women who had married i n t o t h e
p a t r i l i n e a g e and who l i v e d i n an a d j a c e n t house. T h e i r household
was a l s o w i t h o u t men. One woman was widowed, and t h e o t h e r ' s
husband was i n government s e r v i c e i n Ilam. Both households were
extremely p o o r . Kanchi's p o v e r t y was made e v i d e n t by t h e simple
f a c t t h a t she became our cook, a p o s i t i o n n o t o r d i n a r i l y t a k e n
e x c e p t by t h e p o a r e s t of Limbu. Kanchi was f u r t h e r handicapped
because s h e was an orphan, r a i s e d by h e r m o t h e r ' s b r o t h e r , and
t h e r e f o r e d i d n o t have t h e o p t i o n t o r e t u r n t o h e r n a t a l community,
which i s t h e u s u a l course of a c t i o n t a k e n by Limbu women i n h e r
circumstance. I n a d d i t i o n t o h e r poverty, h e r c h i l d r e n seemed t o
be s u f f e r i n g from an i n a d e q u a t e d i e t , afid s h e complained t h a t s h e
had been f o r c e d t o s e l l a l l h e r v a l u a b l e s t o pay f o r i l l n e s s e s i n
t h e family.

Although h e r p o s i t i o n a s o u r cook gave h e r m a t e r i a l rewards,


s h e was f o r c e d t o do work she b a s i c a l l y considered degrading. She
f r e q u e n t l y e x p r e s s e d h e r d i s t a s t e a t d o i n g ' s e r v a n t ' s work', and
o n c e s a i d i t made h e r f e e l l i k e a ' N e w a r i ' , a n o t h e r e t h n i c g r o u p
i n t h e a r e a amongst whom it is common f o r l o w e r - c l a s s women t o
work as s e r v a n t s . I n a d d i t i o n , h e r work was made more d i f f i c u l t
b e c a u s e s h e had t o cope w i t h o u r s t a n d a r d s o f c l e a n l i n e s s , as w e l l
as o t h e r c u l t u r a l l y c o n d i t i o n e d w a n t s a n d d e s i r e s .

W e f i r s t l e a r n e d o f h e r p o s s e s s i o n a b o u t two months a f t e r s h e
began work f o r u s . It began i n t h e morning, s h o r t l y a f t e r s h e
began h e r d a y ' s work. She had seemed d i s t r a c t e d and a r g u m e n t a t i v e
a l l morning, a s k i n g f o r a l o a n o f two months' pay, which w e r e f u s e d .
She t h e n went t o g e t water and t o o k more t h a n t h e u s u a l t i m e .
F i n a l l y , a r e l a t i o n of h e r s , w i t h whom I had d a i l y c o n t a c t , came
t o t e l l m e t h a t Kanchi was 'ill' and had been found ' s h a k i n g ' i n
h e r house. The woman a s k e d m e i f I knew what w a s wrong w i t h h e r .
I t o l d h e r t h a t I d i d n ' t and went immediately t o K a n c h i ' s house.
T h e r e were s e v e r a l women o u t s i d e h e r house, who a g a i n a s k e d m e i f
I knew whqt was wrong w i t h Kanchi. I went i n s i d e h e r house w i t h
o n e o f t h e women who l i v e d n e x t t o h e r . I found h e r u p s t a i r s i n
f r o n t o f a small a l t a r s h e had c o n s t r u c t e d . I t c o n s i s t e d o f a
c l e a n e d s p a c e on t h e f l o o r , a b o u t one f o o t s q u a r e , upon which
were a r r a n g e d a p i l e of h o t c o a l s , two b r a s s d i s h e s c o n t a i n i n g
b u r n i n g o i l , and two b r a n c h e s o f a p l a n t ( t i t o p a ' t i ) , 3 which I
l a t e r l e a r n e d h a d m y s t i c a l c l e a n s i n g p r o p e r t i e s and which i s u s e d
b y Limbus t o r i t u a l l y c l e a n s e t h e m s e l v e s a f t e r a f u n e r a l . Kanchi
w a s s i t t i n g on t h e f l o o r , s h a k i n g v i o l e n t l y and c h a n t i n g rhythm-
i c a l l y , m o s t l y i n Limbu, which I d i d n o t u n d e r s t a n d s u f f i c i e n t l y
t o i n t e r p r e t . A t s e v e r a l p o i n t s , s h e burned some o f t h e l e a v e s
of t h e p l a n t on t h e p i l e o f c o a l s . A f t e r h a l f an h o u r , Kanchi
s t o p p e d s h a k i n g and s a i d , 'Enough!' ( i n NepZli) and t h e n t u r n e d
a r o u n d , a s k i n g , 'Where, where do I s i t ? Why?', t o which t h e
woman w i t h m e answered, 'Yuma Sammang'. I t h e n went o u t s i d e w i t h
t h e woman and Kanchi resumed h e r c h a n t i n g . A f t e r a n o t h e r f i f t e e n
m i n u t e s Kanchi j o i n e d u s , s e e m i n g l y i n good s p i r i t s . She b r o u g h t
o u t a b o t t l e of home brew l i q u o r (raksi) and gave some t o t h e f o u r
o r f i v e women who had g a t h e r e d a r o u n d h e r house. F i n a l l y , w e
r e t u r n e d t o my house. On t h e way home Kanchi seemed t o bounce
a l o n g , remarking t h a t h e r f e e t h u r t . A s t h e day p a s s e d Kanchi was
a r g u m e n t a t i v e and f o r g e t f u l of t h e e a r l y morning e v e n t s . She d i d ,
however, remember b e i n g ' s i c k ' and complained of h e r f e e t h u r t i n g
and o f being c o l d .

S e v e r a l d a y s a f t e r t h e i n c i d e n t , Kanchi and I had a c o a v e r s a -


t i o n d u r i n g which s h e d e s c r i b e d h e r p o s s e s s i o n by Yuma Sammang, a
Limbu h i g h goddess (see J o n e s i n t h i s volume). I a s k e d h e r i f
Yuma Sammang came t o h e r b e c a u s e s h e had s i n n e d . She r e p l i e d , ' I
am good, b u t once i n a w h i l e I g e t a l i t t l e c r a z y (bahuZd).' She
s a i d Y u m a Sammang comes upon h e r s h o u l d e r s and upper body; s h e i s
a l l around h e r ; and s h e t a l k s t o h e r . She s h i v e r s . Yuma Sarmnang
a s k s h e r , 'Why have you e a t e n p o l l u t e d f o o d ( j u t h o ) ? '
The n e x t i n c i d e n c e o f h e r p o s s e s s i o n o f which w e were aware
o c c u r r e d one week l a t e r . She a r r i v e d a t o u r house a t s i x a.m.
She was v i s i b l y s h a k e n , and upon q u e s t i o n i n g , s a i d t h a t s h e had
been p o s s e s s e d a l l n i g h t l o n g t h e p r e v i o u s n i g h t . She a t t e m p t e d
t o p e r f o r m some s i m p l e household t a s k s and complained o f b e i n g
v e r y c o l d . H e r n i n e y e a r o l d d a u g h t e r came o v e r t o wash t h e
d i s h e s , a l t h o u g h Kanchi u s u a l l y d i d them h e r s e l f . Soon a f t e r ,
Kanchi r a n o u t o f t h e house, c a r r y i n g a b o t t l e o f o i l . She r a n
t o h e r house, f o l l o w e d by h e r n e x t d o o r n e i g h b o u r . On t h i s
o c c a s i o n , I saw h e r p a r t i a l l y c o n s t r u c t a n a l t a r s i m i l a r t o t h e
one s h e had s e t up on t h e p r e v i o u s o c c a s i o n . Upon a r r i v a l a t h e r
house, Kanchi p i c k e d up a b r a s s v a s e , and bounded o u t o f h e r house
towards t h e l o c a l w a t e r f o u n t a i n . H e r neighbour t o l d me t h a t s h e
had gone t o g e t some p u r e w a t e r s o t h a t s h e c o u l d l i p n u (smear t h e
f l o o r w i t h cowdung) where t h e a l t a r would b e . Kanchi came back
w i t h t h e w a t e r and p u t i t i n s i d e t h e house. I n a moment, s h e
a g a i n came o u t o f h e r house and went bounding up t h e t r a i l towards
t h e b a z a a r . She came back c a r r y i n g some t i t o pa'ti i n one hand and
a n u n i d e n t i f i e d p l a n t i n t h e o t h e r , e n t e r e d h e r house, and went
u p s t a i r s . S h o r t l y t h e r e a f t e r , I f o l l o w e d h e r , accompanied by h e r
n e i g h b o u r , and watched h e r a s s h e s e t o u t t h e bowls o f o i l , lit
them and p u t t i t o p d t i o n t o t h e b u r n i n g c o a l s . The r e s t of t h e
s e s s i o n l a s t e d approximately f o r t y - f i v e minutes. I t consisted
p r i m a r i l y of c h a n t i n g and s h a k i n g a s p r e v i o u s l y d e s c r i b e d . A t t h e
end o f t h i s p e r i o d , Kanchi s a i d , ' F i n i s h e d ! ' and r o l l e d o v e r . We
a l l went d o w n s t a i r s , and a s on t h e p r e v i o u s o c c a s i o n , s h e s h a r e d
a b o t t l e of homemade l i q u o r w i t h t h e women who had g a t h e r e d a t h e r
house.

W e r e t u r n e d home, and i n a c o n v e r s a t i o n between Kanchi and


m y s e l f , s h e d e s c r i b e d t h e e v e n t s o f t h e morning and t h e p r e v i o u s
e v e n i n g . She s a i d t h a t l a s t n i g h t s h e had gone t o a nearby house
(where s h e o f t e n s t o p p e d t o d r i n k l i q u o r ) and t h e r e met a shaman
(phedangma). They l e f t t o g e t h e r and went t o K a n c h i ' s house where
t h e y were b o t h p o s s e s s e d by Yuma Sammang. I n r e s p o n s e t o a
q u e s t i o n t h a t I a s k e d , Kanchi s a i d t h a t s h e remembered e v e r y t h i n g
t h a t h a p ~ e n e dd u r i n g t h e n i g h t and d u r i n g t h e p o s s e s s i o n p r e v i o u s l y
described. She c l a i m e d t h a t when s h e walked w h i l e p o s s e s s e d h e r
f e e t d i d n o t t o u c h t h e ground. A t t h i s t i m e s h e i n t e r p r e t e d h e r
p o s s e s s i o n a s a n i n d i c a t i o n t h a t s h e would 'become a ywUI1. She
d e s c r i b e d t h e a l t a r s h e Had made and s a i d t h a t Yuma Sammang e a t s
t i t o p d t i . Kanchi s a i d t h a t when s h e e a t s j ~ t h of o o d h e r s e l f s h e
must al-so e a t t i t o pa'ti. A t one p o i n t d u r i n g t h e c o n v e r s a t i o n a n
o l d Limbu woman wandered i n and remarked t h a t Kanchi was p o o r and
had no mother o r f a t h e r . She s a i d t h a t when Kanchi had s t a r t e d
t o shake t h e n i g h t b e f o r e , s h e had t a k e n h e r t o h e r house where
they s t a y e d u n t i l n e a r l y midnight.

Throughout t h i s p e r i o d , we were e x t r e m e l y s o l i c i t o u s o f Kanchi.


I n t h e b e g i n n i n g , - s h e was i n good s p i r i t s a b o u t t h e p o s s e s s i o n s ,
and we s p e n t h o u r s d i s c u s s i n g them w i t h h e r . H e r ' c a l l ' became
t h e f o c u s o f o u r i n t e r a c t i o n w i t h h e r , making h e r somewhat of a
c e l e b r i t y , n o t o n l y w i t h u s , b u t a l s o w i t h t h e neighbouring Limbu.
A s t h e p o s s e s s i o n s i n c r e a s e d i n i n t e n s i t y and number, we r e q u i r e d
less work o f h e r , because s h e appeared p h y s i c a l l y and e m o t i o n a l l y
d r a i n e d . We a l s o gave h e r e x t r a food and o t h e r g i f t s , and took
more r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s r e g a r d i n g h e r c h i l d r e n .

G r a d u a l l y , a f t e r about t h r e e weeks, h e r p o s s e s s i o n s b e ~ a m el e s s
f r e q u e n t . She became more c a r e f u l i n a v o i d i n g p o l l u t i o n f j u t h o ) ,
t r y i n g t o e a t and d r i n k o n l y what s h e o r h e r c l o s e f a m i l y cooked.
She p a r t i c u l a r l y avoided food a t f u n e r a l ceremonies, s a y i n g t h i s
would make h e r ' s h a k e ' . Over t h e n e x t f o u r months, Kanchi became
p o s s e s s e d a t l e a s t t h r e e t i m e s t h a t I knew a b o u t , and p o s s i b l y
o t h e r times t h a t I d i d n o t . The c o n c l u s i o n o f t h e e p i s o d e , f o r
u s a t l e a s t , c o i n c i d e d w i t h h e r husband's r e t u r n from Assam.
A f t e r much i n d e c i s i o n , Kanchi and h e r two c h i l d r e n went back t o
Assam w i t h him. Before s h e l e f t , s h e gave a s a c r i f i c e t o Yuma
Sammang o f two p i g s we had g i v e n h e r . She claimed t h a t t h e s a c -
r i f i c e was n e c e s s a r y i n o r d e r t o p a c i f y t h e angry goddess and
prevent f u r t h e r possessions. She began t o r e - i n t e r p r e t h e r 'ill-
n e s s ' a s t h e r e s u l t of f a u l t y r i t u a l b e h a v i o u r , r a t h e r t h a n a
shamanic summons. A consensus of s u p p o r t came from t h e Limbu
community, many of whom noted i n r e t r o s p e c t t h a t h e r b r o t h e r - i n -
law had a l s o been p o s s e s s e d by Yuma Sammang i n t h e p a s t . They
began t o a t t r i b u t e b o t h i l l n e s s e s t o improper performance of
household r i t u a l s .

Some Comparative D a b

Kanchi's p o s s e s s i o n , a l t h o u g h somewhat d i f f e r e n t and o c c u r r i n g


under unusual c i r c u m s t a n c e s , was n o t unique among t h e Limbu. The
following case i s a f u r t h e r i n d i c a t i o n t h a t s p i r i t possession
among t h e Limbu of low s t a t u s f u n c t i o n s a s an ' o b l i q u e s t r a t e g y
of a t t a c k ' .

S h o r t l y b e f o r e we l e f t Tehrathum, a n o t h e r Limbu woman became


p o s s e s s e d , n o t by t h e s p i r i t o f a d e i t y , b u t by t h e s p i r i t of h e r
r e c e n t l y deceased mother-in-law. Sahili, as I w i l l c a l l t h i s
woman, l i v e d n e a r u s and worked c a r r y i n g water and washing d i s h e s
f o r s e v e r a l r e s i d e n t s of t h e b a z a a r . S a h i l i ' s husband, S a h i l a ,
was a shaman b u t g e n e r a l l y r e g a r d e d a s i n e f f i c i e n t and u n r e l i a b l e .
He drank much of t h e t i m e , which a l s o hampered h i s work and
reputation.

One month b e f o r e S a h i l i was p o s s e s s e d , S a h i l a ' s mother and h i s


s i s t e r ' s d a u g h t e r had been k i l l e d i n a l a n d s l i d e on t h e f i r s t day
of t h e ~ a s a if e s t i v a l . I t had been r a i n i n g h e a v i l y f o r t h r e e
d a y s , and on t h e t h i r d n i g h t , t h e f a m i l y went t o bed w i t h o u t
f i n i s h i n g t h e i r r i c e and meat (it was found unharmed i n t h e
r u b b l e ) . That n i g h t a l a n d s l i d e covered t h e house, k i l l i n g t h e
o l d woman and h e r g r a n d d a u g h t e r . H e r y o u n g e s t son, who was a l s o
i n t h e house, e s c a p e d . S i n c e t h e v i c t i m s o f a c c i d e n t a l d e a t h
become e v i l s p i r i t s (sogh-) a c c o r d i n g t o Limbu b e l i e f ( J o n e s 1 9 7 4 b ) ,
s p e c i a l ceremonies had t o be conducted t o t r y and ' k i l l ' t h e s p i r i t s
t o p r e v e n t them from harming t h e i r remaining k i n .

The month f o l l o w i n g t h e d e a t h s was a v e r y d i f f i c u l t p e r i o d f o r


t h e f a m i l y . The mother o f t h e dead g i r l , t h e o l d woman's e l d e s t
d a u g h t e r , s p e n t much o f h e r t i m e wandering i n t o t h e b a z a a r ,
d r i n k i n g h e a v i l y . S a h i l a , who was normally u n r e l i a b l e , w a s
i n c a p a b l e o f working. The younger s o n , who had e s c a p e d from t h e
f a l l e n house, s p e n t s e v e r a l weeks r e c u p e r a t i n g , a s he had been
s l i g h t l y i n j u r e d and b a d l y shocked. Thus S a h i l i was p l a c e d i n
t h e p o s i t i o n o f h o l d i n g t h e household t o g e t h e r .

Following t h e a c c i d e n t a l d e a t h s , t h e o l d e s t d a u g h t e r took h e r
dead m o t h e r ' s s i l v e r b r a c e l e t s and g o l d nose p i n and s o l d them
f o r s i x t y r u p e e s . According t o s e v e r a l Limbu women i n t h e a r e a ,
s h e t h e n used t h e money ' d r i n k i n g and buying beer f o r h e r boy-
f r i e n d s ' . P r e v i o u s t o t h e a c c i d e n t , s h e had m a i n t a i n e d a repu-
t a t i o n of promiscuous b e h a v i o u r , whether o r n o t s h e l i v e d up t o
it.

S a h i l i ' s p o s s e s s i o n by t h e dead mother-in-law's s p i r i t came t o


o u r a t t e . n t i o n one month a f t e r t h e l a n d s l i d e . She became p o s s e s s e d
d u r i n g t h e day a n d r a n screaming through the b a z a a r and i n t o
s e v e r a l houses. H e r husband and s i s t e r - i n - l a w r a n a f t e r h e r and
took h e r back t o t h e i r home, b e a t i n g h e r w i t h a mass o f n e t t l e s .
According t o t h e Limbu women who were w i t h m e when t h i s i n c i d e n t
o c c u r r e d , s h e had ' s h a k e n ' e a c h e v e n i n g f o r t h e p r e v i o u s f i v e
days .
By p o s s e s s i n g h e r daughter-in-law, t h e o l d women's s p i r i t
e x p r e s s e d h e r a n g e r , s a y i n g , 'Give m e my b r a c e l e t s ! Give m e my
n o s e r i n g ! My o l d e s t d a u g h t e r cooked r i c e and meat. Give it t o
me!' (Speaking o f t h e u n e a t e n Dasail f o o d ) .

A s w e l e f t t h e h i l l s soon a f t e r t h i s i n c i d e n t , w e were u n a b l e
t o see i t s c o n c l u s i o n . I n f o r m a n t s c l a i m e d t h a t a s p e c i a l ceremony
would o c c u r t o r e c a p t u r e and p l a c a t e t h e o l d woman's s p i r i t .
However, a s a r e s u l t o f h e r p o s s e s s i o n and t h e words o f t h e s p i r i t ,
h e r husband and s i s t e r - i n - l a w were f o r c e d t o c u r t a i l t h e i r own
i r r e s p o n s i b l e b e h a v i o u r and r e l i e v e S a h i l i o f t h e s o l e burden o f
c a r i n g f o r a much d i s t r a u g h t household.

Cone Zusion

I n l i n e w i t h L e w i s ' h y p o t h e s i s , b o t h K a n c h i ' s and S a h i l i ' s


p o s s e s s i o n c a n b e u n d e r s t o o d a s a means t h r o u g h which t h e s e two
women were a b l e t o g a i n a c c e s s t o d e n i e d goods and rewards.
S a_..._.-
h i l-... -
i _.-was.- a. b l e t o e x p r e s s h e r d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n w i t h t h e behaviour
o f h e r s i s t e m - l a w and~.lush&.and..*-ms re-ved -----
ormGch
.....----- ...-.
a d d i t i o n a l work r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . No doubt her p o s i t i o n , b e f o r e t h e
p o s s e s s i o n , had been a g g r a v a t e d - b y t h e f a c t t h a t she had been
assuming an a d d i t i o n a l work l o a d .

Before we came t o Limbuan, K a n c h i ' s p o s i t i o n i n Limbu s o c i e t y


was c e r t a i n l y d i s a d v a n t a s- e d . Our e n t r a n c e i n t o t h e scene s e r v e d
t o emphasize t h i s d e p r i v a t i o n-- through -h e r dsSmm% ----- , , -----
m e ,
A d c r e a t e d a d d i t i o n a l s- t- r--.
e s -s and c o n f l i c t f o r h e r . Her p o s s e s s -
i o n p r o v i d e d a - s i t u a t i o n i n which she c o u l d improve h e r ' s t a t u s ,
sd - r , and a v o i d unpTGSaXf ~ O r k r e S p ~ ~ i 2

ilities.
--
Furthermore, both i n s t a n c e s had an a d d i t i o n a l a s p e c t i n common.
Both i n d i v i d u a l s were women, and a s such of inferiarw j n
terms o f Limbu s o c i e t y . They used t h e i r s t a t e of p o s s e s s i o - n,
r z g a r d l e s s o f i t s i n t e r p r _e t a t i o n by t h e
-__.-.--- ----i r f r i e n d ~ _ x d a L L u e ses_and
,-il a s an ' o b l i q u e s t r a t e g y--.-.-o
-
f a
h 5 l d p 6 s i T T u ~ a T _a-. ~ ~ ~ y ~I no ~~a en cmhs . c a s e i t w a s
t t a c k ' , a g a i n
'------ s t t h o s e who
-- - - -

h
ts
;- i n S a h i l i ' s c a s e i t *s h e r husband and
s i s t e r - i n - l a w , and a l t h o u g h t h e former c a s e was i n f l u e n c e d by
t h e e n t r a n c e of t h e f i e l d w o r k e r i n t o t h e community, it had much
i n common w i t h t h e l a t t e r , which a-s t o be a c u l t u r a l l y
p r e s c r i b e d response t o s o c i a l D r e s s u r e .

Such c a s e s o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n a r e n o t unusual i n Nepal,


although d e t a i l e d r e p o r t s a r e lacking, e s p e c i a l l y r e p o r t s t h a t
d e s c r i b e t h e s t a t u s and r o l e of t h e i n d i v i d u a l p o s s e s s e d . There
a r e i n d i c a t i o n s , however, t h a t women e s p e c i a l l y a r e s u b j e c t t o
such a t t a c k s more f r e q u e n t l y t h a n men. T h i s t o p i c d e s e r v e s more
s e r i o u s a t t e n t i o n i n f u t u r e s t u d i e s o f s p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n i n Nepal.

Shir Zey Kurz Jones

1. K&chi i s t h e NepZli k i n s h i p term f o r youngest s i s t e r . I t


i s used a s a pseudonym i n t h i s paper t o p r o t e c t t h e woman's
real identity.

2. See S a g a n t ' s a r t i c l e i n t h i s volume f o r a d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e


i n i t i a t i o n of t h e y m .

3. Tito @ti means l i t e r a l l y ' b i t t e r p l a n t ' ; a c c o r d i n g t o


Turner (1931:283), Artemisia v u l g a r i s .
IV
LIMBU SPIRIT POSSESSION AND SHAMANISM

Introduction
Limbu shamanism1 rests on a f i r m b e l i e f t h a t p e o p l e ' s l i v e s a r e
i n t i m a t e l y l i n k e d t o a world o f s u p e r n a t u r a l b e i n g s . T h a t world
c o n s i s t s o f numerous gods, g o d d e s s e s , g h o s t s o f the dead, and
s p i r i t s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a n i m a l s , p l a n t s , t h e f o r e s t , t h e home and
o t h e r a n i m a t e and i n a n i m a t e o b j e c t s o f n a t u r e . Not e v e r y Limbu
b e l i e v e s t h e same way o r i n t h e same t h i n g s , n o r a s i n most c u l -
t u r e s , d o e s e v e r y Limbu b e l i e v e i n s u p e r n a t u r a l f o r c e s w i t h t h e
same i n t e n s i t y . I e n c o u n t e r e d many Limbus who were confirmed
agnostics, while o t h e r s could be c l a s s i f i e d a s ' t r u e b e l i e v e r s ' .
I n g e n e r a l , most Limbus a c c e p t e d t h e i d e a t h a t d i s e a s e , m i s f o r t u n e ,
c r o p - f a i l u r e , d e a t h and o t h e r u n e x p l a i n a b l e e v e n t s had s u p e r n a t u r a l
c a u s e s . I n o r d e r t o u n d e r s t a n d t h e s e c a u s e s and t o r e c t i f y un-
f o r t u n a t e c i r c u m s t a n c e s , t h e y c a l l e d on a series o f r e l i g i o u s
p r a c t i t i o n e r s which w e i n a n t h r o p o l o g y c a l l shamans.

A shaman c a n be d e f i n e d as a p a r t - t i m e r e l i g i o u s p r a c t i t i o n e r
who, t h r o u g h a c o n t r o l l e d s t a t e o f ' e c s t a s y ' , ' t r a n c e t o r
' p o s s e s s i o n ' , i s a b l e t o g a i n i n t i m a t e knowledge of s u p e r n a t u r a l
b e i n g s , t h e i r w h e r e a b o u t s , t h e i r mannerisms, t h e i r d e s i r e s ,
d i s l i k e s , needs and r e q u i r e m e n t s . H e is a s p e c i a l i s t i n t h e
human ' s o u l t and t h e r e f o r e f u l f i l s t h e f u n c t i o n o f a d o c t o r , a
p s y c h i a t r i s t and p r i e s t i n s o c i e t i e s t h a t d o n o t d i f f e r e n t i a t e
between such r e l i g i o u s o r m e d i c a l s p e c i a l i s t s . Shamans a r e
g e n e r a l l y d i s t i n g u i s h e d from p r i e s t s by t h e f o l l o w i n g a t t r i b u t e s :
1) shamans a r e p a r t - t i m e p r o f e s s i o n a l s and seldom make t h e i r
l i v i n g s o l e l y through t h e i r r e l i g i o u s occupation, a s does a
p r i e s t ; 2 ) shamans do n o t i n h e r i t t h e i r s t a t u s o r s u c c e e d t o it,
b u t a c q u i r e i t by d i v i n e i n t e r v e n t i o n , which g e n e r a l l y o c c u r s i n
adolescence a s a r e s u l t of t h e t r a n c e o r a s t a t e of possession.
The p r i e s t , on t h e o t h e r hand, l a c k s t h e psychodrama o f t h e
shaman and g e n e r a l l y a c q u i r e s h i s p o s i t i o n t h r o u g h i n h e r i t a n c e ,
s t u d y o r o t h e r c h a n n e l s o f s u c c e s s i o n ; 3 ) shamans a r e p r i m a r i l y
c u r e r s and h e a l e r s , w h i l e p r i e s t s seldom d i a g n o s e d i s e a s e and
m i s f o r t u n e b u t i n s t e a d l i m i t t h e i r a c t i v i t i e s t o p r a y e r , worship
and r e l i g i o u s o f f e r i n g s t o s u p e r n a t u r a l b e i n g s ; 4 ) shamans gener-
a l l y shy away from s e t r i t u a l s having t o do w i t h t h e l i f e - c y c l e ,
p l a n t i n g , h a r v e s t i . n g o r temple w o r s h i p , w h i l e t h e s e a r e t h e s t o c k
i n t r a d e o f a p r i e s t i and f i n a l l y , 5 ) shamans a r e c o n t r o l l e d
e c s t a t i c s who assume a t r a n c e o r become p o s s e o s e d , and i n t h a t
s t a t e t h e y s e r v e as mediums t h r o u g h which s u p e r n a t u r a l b e i n g s
make known t h e i r w i s h e s and d i s p l a y , o f t e n d r a m a t i c a l l y , t h e i r
power.

A s w i t h many c o n c e p t s i n a n t h r o p o l o g y , t h e d e f i n i t i o n s become
b l u r r e d i n e m p i r i c a l s i t u a t i o n s . Limbu r e l i g i o u s p r a c t i t i o n e r s
most c e r t a i n l y can b e i d e n t i f i e d a s shamans, b u t t h e y a l s o t a k e
on r o l e s t h a t a r e more t r a d i t i o n a l l y i d e n t i f i e d w i t h p r i e s t s , a s
w i l l become e v i d e n t i n t h e p a g e s t o f o l l o w .

The Kinds of Limbu Shamzns

Limbus o f t h e Terhathum a r e a r e c o g n i z e f i v e d i f f e r e n t k i n d s o f
shamans whose names a r e y e b a , yema , samba, p h e d a n m , and m n g b a . 2
The d i f f e r e n c e s a r e o f t e n d i f f i c u l t f o r a non-Limbu t o u n d e r s t a n d ,
j u s t a s it would b e d i f f i c u l t f o r a Limbu t o u n d e r s t a n d t h e
r e l i g i o u s d i f f e r e n c e s between a ' p r e a c h e r ' , a ' p r i e s t ' , a
' r e v e r e n d ' , a ' m i n i s t e r ' , e t c . , i n o u r s o c i e t y . Sometimes t h e
d i s t i n c t i o n s are minute and u n i m p o r t a n t , even t o t h e i n i t i a t e d .
A l l p e r f o r m a t weddings, f u n e r a l s , wakes, h a r v e s t r i t e s and
p e r i o d i c r i t u a l s f o r t h e w e l f a r e o f h o u s e h o l d s . Which o n e w i l l
b e c a l l e d upon i s a m a t t e r o f i n d i v i d u a l c h o i c e and a v a i l a b i l i t y .
I n s h o r t , a l l serve a s ' p r i e s t s ' i n t h a t t h e y are c a p a b l e o f
p e r f o r m i n g s e t Limbu r i t u a l s .

The d i f f e r e n c e s are more pronounced when it comes t o t h e


d i a g n o s i s and c u r e o f d i s e a s e and t h e p r e v e n t i o n o f m i s f o r t u n e s
and o t h e r calamities t h a t have s u p e r n a t u r a l c a u s e s . F o r example,
t h e y e b a and yema a r e s p e c i a l i s t s i n d i s e a s e s which a r e t h o u g h t
t o have t h e i r o r i g i n i n t h e s p i r i t , Nahen - t h e s p i r i t o f envy
and j e a l o u s y . Many Limbu f e e l t h e y a r e more e f f e c t i v e i n c o n t r o l -
l i n g t h e e v i l a c t i o n s o f witches, such a s t h e witches' d e s i r e t o
suck b l o o d , which t h e yeba d r i n k s d u r i n g t h e Nahen ceremony.
Frequently, t h e y a r e r e f e r r e d t o a s witches (boksa/boksil i n
N e ~ Z l i . ~The o n l y d i s t i n c t i o n made between a yeba and ye" is i n
terms o f s e x - t h e y e b a i s a male w h i l e the y e m i s female. The
samba i s a s p e c i a l i s t i n t h e o r a l l i t e r a t u r e and mythology of t h e
Limbu, c o l l e c t i v e l y c a l l e d t h e mundhwn. Many b e l i e v e h i s power
i s i n t h e ' w o r d ' , s o t o s p e a k , and i n h i s a b i l i t y t o r e c i t e t h e
p r o p e r myth or m t m ( N ) t h a t i s needed i n p a c i f y i n g any a n g r y
s p i r i t , god or goddess. A good samba s h o u l d know t h e e n t i r e
mundhwn by h e a r t , which a s most Limbu w i l l p o i n t o u t , may t a k e a
l i f e t i m e o f s t u d y . N e v e r t h e l e s s , t h e sanba s h o u l d make t h i s h i s
g o a l a s a shaman. The phedangma d o e s n o t seem t o have a s p e c i a l -
i z e d f u n c t i o n , a t l e a s t none which I c o u l d d e t e c t t h r o u g h f r e q u e n t
o b s e r v a t i o n and q u e s t i o n i n g b o t h o f laymen and s p e c i a l i s t s . H e i s
a ' jack-of-all-trades' shaman.l The m g b a i s a s p e c i a l i s t i n
d e a l i n g w i t h t h e s p i r i t s o f p e o p l e who have d i e d by v i o l e n c e
(soghdl (L) , women who d i e d i n c h i l d b i r t h ( s u g u t ) (L) , and s t i l l -
b i r t h s ( s u s i k ) ( L ) . I n f a c t , many i n f o r m a n t s i n s i s t e d t h i s was
h i s s o l e f u n c t i o n a s a shaman and t h a t he w a s i n c a p a b l e of p e r f o r -
ming any o t h e r r i t u a l , d i a g n o s i s , o r c u r e . I was a b l e t o w i t n e s s
t h e a c t i o n s o f a mngba o n l y o n c e , and t h i s was a t a ceremony f o r
c a p t u r i n g ( ' k i l l i n g ' ) t h e s p i r i t s o f two p e o p l e who had d i e d i n a
l a n d ~ l i d e . ~H e might w e l l perform o t h e r r i t u a l s o f which I am un-
aware. S e v e r a l Limbus informed m e t h a t t h e mngba was o r i g i n a l l y
a R a i shaman, and o n l y r e c e n t l y came t o Limbuan. I found no o t h e r
r e f e r e n c e t o t h e mngba i n any o f t h e l i t e r a t u r e on t h e Limbu,
whereas o n e o r a l l t h e o t h e r Limbu shamans a r e mentioned by a num-
b e r of o b s e r v e r s . (Caplan 1970; Chemjong 1967; S a g a n t 1969; Hooker
1954; MacDonald 1962; Northey and M o r r i s 1928; and Hodgson manus-
c r i p t s , Vol. 7 4 ) . T h i s might i n d i c a t e t h a t he i s a r e c e n t f i g u r e
t o Limbu r e l i g i o n , and q u i t e p o s s i b l y c o n f i n e d t o t h e a r e a where I
d i d my f i e l d w o r k .

Limbus a l s o speak o f t h e d i s t i n c t m d h w n o f e a c h of t h e above


shamans, i n d i c a t i n g t h a t t h e y a r e a s s o c i a t e d w i t h d i f f e r e n t o r a l
t r a d i t i o n s and have a s e p a r a t e h i s t o r y . A t l e a s t two Limbu, one
a shaman (yeba), t o l d m e t h a t t h e shamans a r e r a n k e d j u s t a s t h e
c h i l d r e n o f a f a m i l y a r e r a n k e d . They a r e r e f e r r e d t o ( u s i n g
Nephli terms) a s jetha ( o l d e s t ) , rniizz (second o l d e s t ) , sdzzd
( t h i r d o l d e s t ) , and k8ncha' ( y o u n g e s t ) . The phedangma i s jetha;
t h e samba i s mifZla; t h e yeba i s sa'Zld; and t h e mcmgba i s kdnch5.
T h i s o r d e r o f r a n k i n g i n d i c a t e s t h a t t h e phedangma i s c o n s i d e r e d
t o b e t h e o l d e s t w h i l e t h e mngba i s t h e y o u n g e s t , a b e l i e f t h a t
f i n d s s u p p o r t i n o t h e r Limbu shamanic t r a d i t i o n s .

A myth r e l a t e d t o m e by a knowledgable o l d man n e a r Terhathum


Bazaar, Nar B i r T u b a h a n g p h e , d e t a i l s t h e o r i g i n s o f t h e f i r s t
shamans. According t o t h i s myth, t h e f i r s t shaman was t h e phed-
ungma. H e had two names - Sing-dong-ding PekwZing (L) and Sege-
phungwa (L). The l a t t e r i s t h e name o f a n u n i d e n t i f i e d s p e c i e s
o f p l a n t w i t h w h i t e f l o w e r s t h a t blossoms on t h e h i g h r i d g e s of
Limbuan. The f i r s t phedangma descended from t h e sky. He was sent
by Tagera Ning-waphuma, t h e c r e a t o r god, who i s i d e n t i f i e d on
e a r t h a s Yuma Sammang, t h e 'Grandmother S p i r i t ' . H e appeared i n
t h e r a y s o f t h e s u n and descended t o t h e e a r t h where h e l a n d e d i n
a g r e a t body o f w a t e r , a l a k e i d e n t i f i e d a s t h e God, Warokrnh, o r
the s p i r i t o f t h e w a t e r p l a c e s , l a k e s , streams, and w a t e r f a l l s . H e
l a n d e d i n a r e d p a r t o f t h e l a k e and swam a s h o r e where h e wandered
t h e e a r t h , l e a r n i n g t h e mundhwn, which d e t a i l s t h e c r e a t i o n of t h e
u n i v e r s e , t h e o r i g i n s o f men and a n i m a l s , and t h e f i r s t customs
and laws. A f t e r l e a r n i n g t h e m d h w n , h e became a samba, t h e sha-
man who i s t o d a y i d e n t i f i e d as a m y t h o l o g i c a l s p e c i a l i s t . In the
c o u r s e of h i s l e a r n i n g , h e was a l s o g i v e n t h e powers t o d i a g n o s e
d i s e a s e and c u r e t h e s i c k , t h r o u g h d i v i n a t i o n , s a c r i f i c e , and r i t -
u a l s t o t h e gods a n d s p i r i t s o f n a t u r e .

I n c o n t r a s t , t h e f i r s t yeba a p p e a r e d i n t h e g r e e n v o i d o f
d a r k n e s ~ . ~H i s mane was Pokthimba, which is a l s o t h e name of an
u n i d e n t i f i e d s p e c i e s of b i r d . The f i r s t yebu w a s t a u g h t t h e
mwtdhm of t h e Nahen, t h e s p i r i t of envy and j e a l o u s y , and g i v e n
t h e powers t o c u r e men who s u f f e r from h e r a t t a c k s . His o r i g i n
and power a r e unequivocably i d e n t i f i e d w i t h t h e e v i l i n n a t u r e .
H e i s c o n s i d e r e d by many Limbu t o b e t h e most powerful o f shamans.
H i s t u t e l a r y d e i t y i s Y e j u l i , t h e s p i r i t of w i t c h c r a f t , and a s
n o t e d e a r l i e r , b o t h t h e yeba and y e w a r e sometimes r e f e r r e d t o
a s w i t c h e s . Because o f h i s powers o f e v i l , many Limbu a r e o f t h e
o p i n i o n t h a t he s h o u l d n o t perform pGd (N) t o t h e o t h e r gods and
g o d d e s s e s o f t h e Limbu pantheon. When I p o i n t e d o u t t o i n f o r m a n t s
t h a t t h e yeba f r e q u e n t l y o f f i c i a t e d a t f u n e r a l s , h a r v e s t r i t u a l s ,
and s a c r i f i c e s t o Yuma Sammang, t h e y i n s i s t e d t h a t h e s h o u l d n o t
p e r f o r m t h e s e ceremonies i n h i s c a p a c i t y a s a yeba. When he per-
forms s u c h r i t u a l s , h e s h o u l d n o t c a l l upon h i s t u t e l a r y d e i t y , .
b e c a u s e t o d o s o would b r i n g harm t o t h o s e who w i t n e s s e d t h e per-
formance.

As s t a t e d e a r l i e r , t h e m g b a is b e l i e v e d o r i g i n a l l y t o have
been a Rai shaman, and I was u n a b l e t o c o l l e c t a myth t h a t d e t a i l e d
h i s o r i g i n . H e i s , however, i d e n t i f i e d c l o s e l y w i t h t h e f o r c e s
t h a t a i d t h e yeba and yema - t h e f o r c e s o f d a r k n e s s and e v i l . H e
i s a l s o sometimes r e f e r r e d t o a s a w i t c h b e c a u s e o f h i s powers
o v e r t h e s p i r i t s of t h o s e who d i e by v i o l e n c e .

The m y t h o l o g i c a l o r i g i n s o f t h e f i r s t shamans a g r e e w i t h t h e
f o l k c o n c e p t i o n o f t h e i r r a n k i n g as jetha', ma'zk, e t c . The phe-
dmrgrra is c o n s i d e r e d t o b e f i r s t i n t h e o r d e r o f c r e a t i o n f o l l o w e d
by t h e a d , who f i n a l l y l e a r n s t h e d e t a i l s o f t h e mundhwn, from
which h e r e c e i v e s h i s power. The geba and yem a p p e a r much l a t e r ,
presumably a f t e r t h e c r e a t i o n o f t h e f o r c e s o f envy and j e a l o u s y ,
which i n Limbuan a r e t h o u g h t t o be t h e s o u r c e o f e v i l i t s e l f . To
t h e Limbu, e v i l i s synonymous w i t h t h e s e f o r c e s , which c h a r a c t e r -
i s e n o t o n l y t h e s p i r i t s o f d a r k n e s s such as Nahen, w i t c h e s , and
t h e f o r e s t s p i r i t s , Tamphungma, b u t t h e bad s i d e of a l l s u p e r n a t -
u r a l b e i n g s . Any god o r goddess i s t h o u g h t t o r e p r e s e n t danger t o
t h e l i v i n g i f n o t p a c i f i e d w i t h s a c r i f i c e and f r e q u e n t o f f e r i n g s ,
which i n d i c a t e s t h a t t h e u l t i m a t e s o u r c e o f e v i l i s g r e e d . The
r a n k i n g and m y t h o l o g i c a l o r i g i n s o f t h e Limbu shamans symbolize
t h e c o n t r a s t i n g f o r c e s o f good and e v i l i n t h e u n i v e r s e , and p i n -
p o i n t t h e s e same f o r c e s a t work i n t h e b e h a v i o u r p a t t e r n s o f men.
When Tagera Ningwaphuma c r e a t e d t h e u n i v e r s e , e s p e c i a l l y mankind,
h e u n l e a s h e d b o t h good and e v i l , b u t i n t h e c r e a t i o n o f shamans
he gave man t h e powers w i t h which t o h a r n e s s t h e s e f o r c e s and
m a i n t a i n a b a l a n c e between them. The a c t i v i t i e s o f shamans sym-
b o l i z e b o t h t h e f a l l i b i l i t i e s and f a i l u r e s o f men, a s w e l l a s
t h e i r desire t o overcome t h e s e shortcomings and r e a c h omnipotence,
w i t h a l i f e f r e e from d i s e a s e , m i s f o r t u n e , and d e a t h .
The d i f f e r e n c e s between Limbu shamans a r e a l s o d e f i n e d i n t h e i r
r e s p e c t i v e costumes and shamanic p a r a p h e r n a l i a . Both t h e yeba and
yema wear a costume c o n s i s t i n g o f a s k i r t (j-) ( L ) , f e a t h e r head-
d r e s s (wdsdng) ( L ) , cowrie s h e l l b a n d o l i e r s (Epla'k) ( L ) , and g a r -
l a n d s of acorn s e e d s , rub-kga ( N ) beads, b e l l s , and t h e l i k e . They
f r e q u e n t l y wear a l e a t h e r o r canvas b e l t f p e t i ) ( N ) on which a r e
s t r u n g a s e r i e s of b e l l s . The yeba and yema do n o t use t h e t r a d -
i t i o n a l shamanic drum found throughout Nepal, b u t i n s t e a d d u r i n g
a s t a t e of t r a n c e o r p o s s e s s i o n t h e y b e a t a b r a s s p l a t e ( t h E l ) . (N).

I n c o n t r a s t , t h e g a r b o f t h e phedangm and samba i s much l e s s


d r a m a t i c . Noticeably a b s e n t a r e t h e f e a t h e r h e a d d r e s s and cowrie
s h e l l b a n d o l i e r s . Only on r a r e o c c a s i o n s , depending, I am t o l d ,
on t h e t e a c h i n g s of o n e ' s guru, d i d I s e e a pheciizngma o r samba
wear t h e shaman's s k i r t (jdrrE). The key i n s t r u m e n t i n t h e r i t u a l
a c t i v i t i e s o f t h e pheciizngma and samba i s t h e two-headed drum, t h e
@ y ~ r i r o , ( N ) and b o t h wear g a r l a n d s o f rudra'kga beads and b e l l s i n
c u r i n g ceremonies. I t i s i m p o r t a n t t o n o t e t h a t shamans of a l l
t y p e s seldom use t h e drum o r t h e b r a s s p l a t e i n l i f e - c y c l e r i t u a l s -
b i r t h , m a r r i a g e , and d e a t h - o r h a r v e s t r i t u a l s . T h e i r a c t i v i t i e s
d u r i n g such r i t e s p a r a l l e l t h o s e o f a p r i e s t , w h i l e t h e i r powers
a s shamans a r e used a s a means f o r summoning s p i r i t s and t u t e l a r y
d e i t i e s , a s w e l l a s m a i n t a i n i n g power o v e r t h e s e s u p e r n a t u r a l b e i n g s .
These powers a r e u n d e s i r a b l e when making o f f e r i n g s t o gods and
goddesses who a r e n e i t h e r angry n o r d i s p l e a s e d . The mangba u s e s
both t h e drum and t h e b r a s s p l a t e , b u t does n o t wear t h e f e a t h e r
h e a d d r e s s , s k i r t o r cowrie s h e l l b a n d o l i e r .

The costume and i n s t r u m e n t s of t h e Limbu shamans i n d i c a t e a


d i f f u s i o n of S i b e r i a n shamanic p r a c t i c e s and resemble t h o s e o f
o t h e r groups i n Nepal. T h i s i s e s p e c i a l l y e v i d e n t i n t h e g a r b of
t h e yeba. During t h e c o u r s e o f my f i e l d w o r k , I a t t e m p t e d t o pur-
chase a f u l l costume o f t h e yeba and yema. One Limbu i n f o r m a n t
took me t o a Tamang shaman (bon-po) who owned such a costume. He
was an o l d man o f about s e v e n t y and no l o n g e r p r a c t i s i n g h i s a r t .
The h e a d d r e s s was a l m o s t i d e n t i c a l t o t h e one I e v e n t u a l l y pur-
chased from a yeba i n Chathar p r o v i n c e of Limbuan, w i t h t h e excep-
t i o n t h a t t h e Tamang h e a d d r e s s ( c a l l e d by t h e same name, wtisiing)
c o n s i s t e d of peacock f e a t h e r s , w h i l e t h e y e b a ' s h e a d d r e s s i n c l u d e d
t h e f e a t h e r s of a number of o t h e r s p e c i e s o f b i r d s . Both head-
d r e s s e d d i s p l a y e d a headband d e c o r a t e d w i t h cowrie s h e l l s i n which
t h e f e a t h e r ; were sewn. During my s e a r c h , I a l s o encountered a
female shaman (yema) who owned a s i m i l a r h e a d d r e s s b u t r e f u s e d t o
p a r t w i t h it. The t y p e of h e a d d r e s s under d i s c u s s i o n c l o s e l y r e -
sembles t h o s e of t h e j h z k r i found e l s e w h e r e i n Nepal.'

The yeba who f i n a l l y p a r t e d w i t h h i s h e a d d r e s s t o l d m e t h a t t h e


k i n d s of f e a t h e r s used were n o t of extreme importance, a l t h o u g h t h e
w i l d s p e c i e s of b i r d s were p r e f e r r e d t o domestic f o w l s . The f e a t h e r e d
h e a d d r e s s o f t h e yeba i s symbolic o f c e l e s t i a l f l i g h t , c h a r a c t e r -
i s t i c o f c l a s s i c I n n e r Asian shamanism, which e x p l a i n s t h e p r e f e r -
ence f o r f e a t h e r s of wild b i r d s , e s p e c i a l l y wild b i r d s o f t h e high
Himalaya.

O t h e r i n s t r u m e n t s o f t h e Limbu s h a r p n s p a r a l l e l t h e I n n e r Asian
t r a d i t i o n . The two- headed drum (qhybnm) , o v a l , o r o c c a s i o n a l l y
diamond o r t r i a n g u l a r s h a p e d , r e s e m b l e s many o f t h e drums used by
S i b e r i a n shamans. Although t h e h i d e s o f g o a t s and w a t e r b u f f a l o
a r e o c c a s i o n a l l y used i n making drumheads, t h e most p r e f e r r e d s k i n s
a r e o f d e e r and e l k . A s n o t e d by E l i a d e (1964:173-74), t h e d e e r
and h o r s e s y m b o l i z e t h e s w i f t n e s s and s p e e d o f superhuman f l i g h t
d u r i n g t h e t r a n c e . Drum h e a d s a r e o c c a s i o n a l l y p a i n t e d w i t h
d r a w i n g s o f t h e sun and moon, which are symbolic o f t h e shaman's
c e l e s t i a l o r i g i n and f l i g h t d u r i n g t h e t r a n c e . S i m i l a r m o t i f s a r e
f r e q u e n t l y c a r v e d w i t h images r e p r e s e n t i n g h e l p i n g s p i r i t s o r Limbu
d e i t i e s , i n c l u d i n g t h e Limbu h i g h g o d d e s s Yuma Sammang, t h e e a r t h l y
c o u n t e r p a r t o f T a g e r a Ningwaphuma, t h e c r e a t o r . I have s e e n a num-
b e r o f s p e c i e s o f a n i m a l s c a r v e d on drum h a n d l e s - b i r d s , e l k , d e e r ,
and s n a k e s a r e t h e most f r e q u e n t - s i m i l a r t o t h e d e c o r a t i o n s o f
Tungus shamans ( E l i a d e 1964:172). Most o f t h e s e a n i m a l s a r e sym-
b o l i c of h i s journeys through t h e sky d u r i n g a s t a t e of e c s t a s y .
Also, f r e q u e n t r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s o f t h e 'cosmic t r e e ' a r e e i t h e r
p a i n t e d on t h e drum head o r c a r v e d i n t h e h a n d l e . Such symbolism
a g a i n draws a t t e n t i o n t o c l a s s i c I n n e r Asian shamanism.

Drums a r e u s e d by Limbu shamans t o a c h i e v e a s t a t e o f e c s t a s y


and c o n t r o l h e l p i n g s p i r i t s a s w e l l a s t o g a i n power o v e r t h o s e
t h a t do harm t o t h e l i v i n g , s u c h as Nahen o r t h e s p i r i t s o f t h o s e
who d i e d by v i o l e n c e . Although t h e yeba d o e s n o t u s e t h e shaman's
drum d u r i n g a sGance, p r e f e r r i n g t h e b r a s s p l a t e , i n t h e Nahen
ceremony, h e c o n s t r u c t s a n a l t a r which h o l d s a l a r g e double-headed
Limbu d a n c e drum (cha'ubrmgl (L). 0 A s t h e s p i r i t a p p r o a c h e s , i t
b e a t s t h i s drum t o s i g n i f y i t s a r r i v a l . During a ceremony t o cap-
t u r e t h e s p i r i t s o f two p e r s o n s who d i e d i n a l a n d s l i d e , t h e m g b a
used t h e d h y d ~ r r a, s w e l l a s t h e b r a s s p l a t e t o e n t i c e t h e s p i r i t s
i n t o a h o l e where h e ' k i l l e d ' them. On numerous o c c a s i o n s when I
w i t n e s s e d c u r e s by b o t h Limbu and non-Limbu shamans, t h e drum was
t h e p r i n c i p a l a i d i n c o n t r o l l i n g h e l p i n g s p i r i t s and p a c i f y i n g
a n g r y o n e s . Again t h e s i m i l a r i t y t o I n n e r Asian shamanic p r a c t i c e s
is evident.

The S h a m ' s A l t a r

The most c o n s p i c u o u s I n n e r Asian t r a i t s t h a t a p p e a r i n Limbu


shamanism have t o do w i t h t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n and symbolism o f t h e
shaman's a l t a r . The t y p e o f a l t a r v a r i e s w i t h t h e shaman and t h e
o c c a s i o n , b u t a number o f e l e m e n t s remain c o n s t a n t . Invariably,
i n sGances t h a t have t o do w i t h t h e c o n t r o l o f e v i l s p i r i t s - Nahen,
soghli, sugut, s u s i k - o r w i t c h e s , t h e shaman (whether it be t h e
yeba, phedangmr, samba, o r mangba) c o n s t r u c t s an e a r t h e n mound
i n t h e c e n t r e o f which a r e two c r i s s - c r o s s i n g bamboo p o l e s , h e l d
t o g e t h e r by a l a d d e r w i t h seven, o r o c c a s i o n a l l y t h r e e , rungs made
of s t r i p s o f bamboo. During such s e a n c e s , t h e shaman's s o u l (sam
samma) ( L ) i s b e l i e v e d t o ascend t h i s l a d d e r and seek o u t s p i r i t s
t h a t a r e t o b e summoned t o h i s a i d . The yeba and m g b a whom I
q u e s t i o n e d were emphatic on t h i s p o i n t , b u t one samba was vague
i n response t o my q u e s t i o n s a s t o i t s p u r p o s e s . He claimed a t one
p o i n t t h a t o n l y h i s 'words' t r a v e l l e d s i n c e any f o o l could s e e
t h a t he never l e f t t h e ground.

I t h i n k my c o n f u s i o n a r i s e s from an i n a b i l i t y t o g r a s p t h e com-
p l e x i t i e s of Limbu b e l i e f s concerning t h e ' s o u l ' (sam samma). I
was t o l d by a number o f Limbu t h a t a person p o s s e s s e s seven (one
person i n s i s t e d t h a t it was e i g h t ) ' s o u l s ' o r ' v i t a l e s s e n c e s ' .
The l i f e of an i n d i v i d u a l i s i d e n t i f i e d w i t h h i s b r e a t h , which i s
t h e p a r t of him t h a t l e a v e s cis body a t d e a t h . Limbu, however,
b e l i e v e t h a t an i n d i v i d u a l h a s o t h e r ' s o u l s ' . Each o f t h e f i v e
s e n s e s - s m e l l , t a s t e , t o u c h , s i g h t and h e a r i n g - a r e c o n s i d e r e d
t o be s e p a r a t e ' s o u l s ' , a l l o f which d i s a p p e a r w i t h t h e decaying
of t h e body a f t e r d e a t h . Another p a r t of t h e i n d i v i d u a l ( s e v e n t h
s o u l ) i s t h a t p a r t of u s we l e a v e i n d i f f e r e n t p l a c e s - o u r i m -
p r e s s i o n s on t h e world, s o t o speak. For example, I was t o l d t h a t
I had l e f t a ' s o u l ' i n America, one i n London, one i n I n d i a , and
would l e a v e one i n Nepal when I l e f t . The one i n d i v i d u a l who i n -
s i s t e d t h a t we have e i g h t s o u l s claimed t h a t we a l s o have a p a r t
o f u s t h a t e x p e r i e n c e s r e b i r t h i n d i f f e r e n t l i v e s . To t h i s s o u l
i s a t t a c h e d o n e ' s karma o r ' f a t e ' . Perhaps t h i s element i s a
S a n s k r i t i c innovation. I was unable t o d e t e r m i n e how widespread
t h i s b e l i e f i s . None of t h o s e p r e s e n t d u r i n g t h i s d i s c u s s i o n
would deny t h e man's c l a i m , a l t h o u g h most shrugged t h e i r s h o u l d e r s
and s a i d , 'Who knows?' ( k m n i ? ) ( N ) . When I q u e s t i o n e d o t h e r s on
t h i s p o i n t , t h e y would u s u a l l y claim t h a t a person had seven s o u l s .
Many, however, would p l e a d ignorance o f t h e whole t h i n g .

On r e f l e c t i o n , I t h i n k t h a t what i s b e l i e v e d t o ' t r a v e l ' d u r i n g


t h e shaman's t r a n c e i s t h e s e v e n t h ' s o u l ' , o r t h e p a r t of him t h a t
i s l e f t wherever he v i s i t s . T h i s would e x p l a i n t h e i n s i s t e n c e on
t h e p a r t of some shamans t h a t t h e i r s o u l ' t r a v e l s ' d u r i n g t r a n c e ,
a s w e l l a s t h e n o t i o n of t h e one who i n s i s t e d t h a t 'any f o o l c o u l d
s e e he never l e f t t h e g r o u n d ' . P a r t o f him t r a v e l s , b u t h i s body,
coinplete w i t h t h e b r e a t h and t h e f i v e s e n s e s , remains grounded.

There i s l i t t l e doubt t h a t Limbu shamans b e l i e v e t h a t a p a r t o f


them t r a v e l s d u r i n g t r a n c e . T h i s i s s u b s t a n t i a t e d by Sagant
(1969:116-117) who d i d r e s e a r c h i n n o r t h e r n Limbuan. According t o
him, a t t h e d e a t h of an i n d i v i d u a l , t h e shaman accompanies t h e
d e c e a s e d ' s s o u l t o l a n d of t h e dead, and he i s a l s o c a p a b l e of r e -
t r i e v i n g t h e wandering s o u l s of i n d i v i d u a l s who become ill and l o s e
t h e i r s o u l , o r whose s o u l s s t r a y from t h e body d u r i n g dreams
(Sagant 1969:118). Sagant goes i n t o d e t a i l a s t o j u s t how t h e
shaman's s o u l t r a v e l s , b u t h e d o e s n o t i n d i c a t e a Limbu b e l i e f i n
seven s o u l s .

The shaman's a l t a r , mentioned above, s e r v e s a s a k i n d o f ' l a u n -


c h i n g p a d ' f o r t h e shaman's t r a v e l s d u r i n g t r a n c e . The s i m i l a r i t i e s
t o c l a s s i c I n n e r Asian shamanism a r e a g a i n e v i d e n t . U n l i k e many
p a r t s o f 1 n n k A s i a , Limbu shamans d o n o t p h y s i c a l l y ascend a l a d -
d e r ( e x c e p t d u r i n g i n i t i a t i o n , see S a g a n t i n t h i s volume) n o r d o
t h e y c l i m b trees d u r i n g s & a n c e s . They u s u a l l y remain s e a t e d i n
f r o n t of t h e a l t a r when summoning t h e s p i r i t s , b u t s p o r a d i c a l l y ,
d u r i n g s 6 a n c e s t h a t I have w i t n e s s e d , t h e y dance around t h e a l t a r ,
o c c a s i o n a l l y becoming s o e x c i t e d t h a t t h e y l e a p and s p r i n g a b o u t ,
s h o u t i n g and a r g u i n g w i t h t h e s p i r i t s . A t one s e a n c e I w i t n e s s e d ,
a samba l e a p e d up t o t h e , a l t a r and s e i z e d a d o g ' s s k u l l w i t h h i s
mouth and began t o r u n around on hands and knees, g r o w l i n g a t
everyone. H e crawled r a p i d l y around t h e c o u r t y a r d and i n and o u t
o f t h e house, s t a r t l i n g everyone p r e s e n t . Even t h e dogs i n t h e
a r e a began t o howl and b a r k a t him adding t o t h e g e n e r k upr.3ar.
H e f i n a l l y paused i n f r o n t of t h e p r e g n a n t woman f o r whom t h
ceremony was a r r a n g e d and who had p r e v i o u s l y had two s t i l l b i t h s .
With t h e d o g ' s s k u l l i n h i s mouth, he began s n i f f i n g a t h e r c r o t c h ,
i n s e a r c h of t h e s p i r i t s o f h e r former s t i l l b i r t h s ( s u s i k ) ( L ) .
He had a p p a r e n t l y assumed t h e s h a p e o f a dog i n o r d e r t o c a p t u r e
t h e s e dangerous s p i r i t s . During t h e same s e a n c e , h e was a s s i s t e d
by a f e l l o w shaman, a phedmrgma, who became s o e x c i t e d a t one
s t a g e o f h i s e c s t a s y t h a t he a l m o s t f e l l o f f t h e back porch o f t h e
house and i n t o a r a v i n e below. He was c a u g h r , w i t h one f o o t dan-
g l i n g , by a s p e c t a t o r , and n e v e r missed a b e a t .

The a l t a r v a r i e s from one shaman t o t h e n e x t . While v i s i t i n g


C h a t h a r p r o v i n c e i n s e a r c h of a shaman's g a r b , I e n c o u n t e r e d a
yeba who c o n s t r u c t e d a n e l a b o r a t e a l t a r h e used i n t h e d i a g n o s i s
and c u r e of d i s e a s e s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h Nahen and w i t c h c r a f t . H e
d i d t h i s a t my r e q u e s t , s i n c e I was u n a b l e t o w i t n e s s such a
s e a n c e d u r i n g my f i e l d w o r k , a l t h o u g h t h e i m p o r t a n t d e t a i l s had
been e x p l a i n e d t o m e by a number o f Limbu i n f o r m a n t s . The e s s e n -
t i a l f e a t u r e s of t h e a l t a r were s i m i l a r t o o t h e r s t h a t I had s e e n
c o n s t r u c t e d i n ceremonies d e a l i n g w i t h t h e s p i r i t s of p e o p l e who
d i e d by v i o l e n c e o r women who were i n d a n g e r of t h e s p i r i t s o f
pregnancy. Two c r i s s - c r o s s e d bamboo p o l e s were e r e c t e d on a small
e a r t h e n p l a t f o r m and h e l d t o g e t h e r by a badnboo l a d d e r w i t h seven
s t e p s . The a l t a r was a b o u t t w e l v e t o f i f t e e n f e e t i n h e i g h t and
c a l l e d y e b m g s i n g ( L ) . According t o t h e y e b a , t h e s t e p s symbol-
i z e d t h e ' e v i l s of e x i s t e n c e ' w i t h which he was c a p a b l e o f com-
m u n i c a t i o n d u r i n g t r a n c e . He used t h e ~ e p a l terms i ~ 2 4 ~ 7 %(gener-
a t i o n ) o r tala ( l e v e l s ) i n d e s c r i b i n g them t o m e . During t h e
t r a n c e , h i s ' s o u l ' would journey up t h i s l a d d e r symbolizing h i s
journey t h r o u g h seven c e l e s t i a l r e a l m s i n h a b i t e d by s u p e r n a t u r a l
b e i n g s . A t t h e b a s e o f t h e a l t a r , he c o n s t r u c t e d a s m a l l ' f e n c e '
o f bamboo, a b o u t t h r e e t o f i v e i n c h e s h i g h and a b o u t two f e e t l o n g ,
extending a t a r i g h t angle t o t h e a l t a r . This fence consisted of
seven x ' s made of bamboo s t r i p s . The f e n c e was c a l l e d kemc-yong-
smg ( L ) and symbolized t h e l a n d of t h e dead. The y e b a ' s s o u l
was b e l i e v e d t o t r a v e l t o t h i s realm d u r i n g t r a n c e , i f need he, t o
r e l e a s e t h e s p i r i t s of t h o s e who l o s t t h e i r ' s o u l ' d u r i n g i l l n e s s ,
s l e e p , o r a t t a c k s by s p i r i t s o f t h e dead. According t o t h e yeba,
t h e s p i r i t Nahen (envy, j e a l o u s y ) o r a w i t c h might be t h e cause of
such ' l o s s of s o u l ' , s i n c e t h e y would e n t i c e t h e l i v i n g p e r s o n ' s
s o u l t o seek r e u n i o n w i t h loved o n e s who had d i e d . H i s d u t y a s a
Yeba o f t e n r e q u i r e d him t o r e l e a s e (chuta'mu) ( N ) such wandering
s o u l s and t o p r o t e c t (bachiiwru) ( N ) them from Nahen and witcties,
(boksa/boksi) .
The y e b a ' s a l t a r was d e c o r a t e d e l a b o r a t e l y w i t h o t h e r f e t i s h e s
and shamanic equipment. A t t h e b a s e , i n t h e c e n t r e o f t h e a l t a r ,
he p l a c e d a v a s e o f f l o w e r s and a d i s h of r i c e a s o f f e r i n g s t o
t h e s p i r i t s . Adjacent t o t h e s e o f f e r i n g s a sword was s t u c k i n t o
t h e mound, presumably used i n b a t t l e s w i t h w i t c h e s and o t h e r s u p e r -
natural forces. I n back of t h e a l t a r , about two f e e t from t h e
ground, he a t t a c h e d a l a r g e doubleheaded drum (chZubrung) (L),
which t h e s p i r i t s would u s e i n s i g n a l i n g t h e i r p r e s e n c e . The
yeba claimed h e c o u l d i d e n t i f y them by name a s a r e s u l t o f t h e
drum b e a t . J u s t above t h e drum, a l s o a t t a c h e d t o t h e back of t h e
a l t a r , was a l a r g e c a r r y i n g b a s k e t ( t h w t s e ) (N) used by Nepali
women f o r t r a n s p o r t i n g g r a i n . The y e b a ' s t u t e l a r y s p i r i t ( y e j u l e )
(L) c a r r i e s t h e y e b a ' s s o u l i n t h i s b a s k e t on h i s p e r i l o u s jour-
neys t o t h e sky o r t o t h e underworld. A t t h e same h e i g h t b u t i n
f r o n t of t h e a l t a r , he a t t a c h e d two b o t t l e s , which he claimed would
be f i l l e d w i t h l i q u o r and b e e r a s an o f f e r i n g t o t h e s p i r i t s t h a t
he would summon. Adjacent t o t h e s e b o t t l e s , he a t t a c h e d a bundle
of b i r d f e a t h e r s which he c a l l e d ( n i s h m ) ( N ) o r ' b a n n e r ' . These
symbolized t h e s u p e r n a t u r a l b e i n g s which he would e n c o u n t e r d u r i n g
t h e s6ance.

A s a f i n a l t o u c h , t h e yeba d i s p l a y e d h i s p e r s o n a l f e t i s h e s ,
some of which he a s s o c i a t e d w i t h powers r e v e a l e d t o him i n former
t r a n c e s . Among t h e s e were a conch s h e l l and a horn o f an a n t e l o p e ,
which he used t o c o n t r o l e v i l s p i r i t s , e s p e c i a l l y t h e f o r e s t s p i r i t ,
Tamphungma. He a l s o d i s p l a y e d a snake bone n e c k a l c e (ma'ld) ( N ) ,
used a g a i n s t w i t c h e s , and a n o t h e r made o f h o r n e t s ' heads.

On f i n i s h i n g t h e a l t a r , t h e yeba donned h i s costume c o n s i s t i n g


of t h e f e a t h e r e d headdresg (wiisEng), t h e cowrie s h e l l b a n d o l i e f
(Epla'k), t h e s k i r t (jiimii), and t h e w a i s t band of b e l l s , each o f
which symbolized t h e power of a d i f f e r e n t d e i t y .

During t h e Nahen ceremony, which l a s t s sometimes two t o t h r e e


d a y s , t h e yeba e n t e r s i n t o t r a n c e a number of t i m e s . He c h a n t s
t h e mm&m o f t h e Nahen, he dances around t h e a l t a r , and performs
o t h e r a c t s t h a t a r e designed t o e n t e r t a i n h i s a u d i e n c e , a s w e l l
a s t o c r e a t e an a u r a of s u p e r n a t u r a l power. The most s p e c t a c u l a r
of h i s a c t i o n s d u r i n g t h i s performance i s t h e d r i n k i n g of blood,
which according t o a number of informants, he m a g i c a l l y produces
d u t of t h e a i r . T h i s a c t i e what i d e n t i f i e s him as a w i t c h , a s
w e l l a s m i r a c l e p e r f o r m e r , and i n s p i r e s c b n f i d e n c e , a d m i r a t i o n ,
and even f e a r i n h i s a u d i e n c e . I t i s u n l i k e l y t h a t t h i s p e r f o r -
mance h a s e s t a b l i s h e d h i s r e p u t a t i o n as one o f t h e most powerful
o f Limbu shamans. A s t h e Limbu s a y , 'When j e a l o u e y a p p e a r s , o n e
needs p yeba' .
Other shamans' a l t a r s are n o t n e a r l y a 8 e l a b o r a t e . One t h a t I
saw c o n s t r u c t e d by a samba f o r t h e purpoee of e n s u r i n g a c h i l d -
b i r t h f r e e from t h e d a n g e r s of susik, was much smaller. I t w a s
o n l y a b o u t t h r e e f e e t h i g h , and t h e l a d d e r c o n s i s t e d o f three
r a t h e r t h a n s e v e n r u n g s . The f e n c e a t t h e b a s e was a b o u t t w o
i n c h e s h i g h and e x t e n d e d i n a semi-circle around t h e b a s e o f t h e
mound. I t was open a t t h e f r o n t , where t h e 8caba s a t w h i l e chan-
t i n g t h e mundhwn. A t t h e b a s e , h e had p l a n t e d a c l u b , as w e l l a s
a sword, and an o f f e r i n g o f f l o w e r s and rice were i n t h e c e n t r e ,
a s i n t h e y e b a ' s a l t a r . The a l t a r d i d n o t d i s p l a y a drum o r a
basket, a s d i d t h e y e b a ' s . A t t h e beginning of t h i s p a r t i c u l a r
ceremony, t h e samba opened a bag o f f e t i s h e g which he p l a c e d around
t h e a l t a r . Among t h e s e was a long bone a b o u t f i v e i n c h e s i n l e n g t h ,
c a l l e d s u s i k , which t h e samba claimed was human. O t h e r i t e m s i n -
c l u d e d a t i g e r ' s t o o t h , t h e upper jaw o f a r o d e n t , a d o g ' s head
on a s t i c k , wrapped i n c l o t h , and a l a r g e b u n d l e of brown r a g s which
he l a t e r soaked i n o i l and l i g h t e d . T h i s was used t o ' k i l l ' t h e
susik a f t e r h a v i n g e n t i c e d them i n t o a h o l e nearby. H e a l s o dec-
o r a t e d t h e a l t a r w i t h a series o f b i r d s ' f e a t h e r s , a s d i d t h e yeba.

A t h i r d a l t a r t h a t I s a w c o n s t r u c t e d resembled t h e ueba's a l t a r .
T h i s w a s e r e c t e d by a mcmgba f o r t h e p u r p o s e o f k i l l i n g t h e s p i r i t s
o f two i n d i v i d u a l s who had d i e d i n a l a n d s l i d e . It was a p p r o x i -
m a t e l y t h e same h e i g h t as t h e y e b a ' s and d i f f e r e d i n that no drum
o r b a s k e t was a t t a c h e d t o t h e a l t a r .

The a l t a r s d e s c r i b e d above show d e f i n i t e i n f l u e n c e s o f I n n e r


Asian shamanism. The a l t a r i t s e l f i s symbolic o f t h e 'cosmic
t r e e ' t h a t i s s o much a p a r t of t h i s c l a s s i c shamanic t r a d i t i o n .
The u s e o f b i r d s ' f e a t h e r s and t h e . l a d d e r a r e symbolic o f classic
shamanic f l i g h t , and t h e a b i l i t y o f t h e shaman's s o u l t o t r a v e l
d u r i n g a s t a t e o f c o n t r o l l e d t r a n c e a r e e v i d e n t i n t h e symbols o f
t h e l a n d o f t h e dead a t t h e b a s e o f t h e a l t a r and t h e l a d d e r .

Limbu shamlns do n o t always c o n s t r u c t s u c h a l t a r s . T h e i r con-


s t r u c t i o n i s s i t u a t i o n s p e c i f i c - p r i m a r i l y having t o do with
seances f o r t h e protection of t h e l i v i n g a g a i n s t e v i l s p i r i t s ,
e s p e c i a l l y Nahen, s u s i k , soghii, sugut, a l l of whom a r e a s s o c i a t e d
i n one'fashion o r another with greed.

I n t h e same way, t h e Limbu shaman's t r a n c e o r s t a t e o f e c s t a s y


is s i t u a t i o n specific. It is only i n s i t u a t i o n s t h a t involve
i l l n e s s o r imminent m i s f o r t u n e t o t h e l i v i n g t h a t t h e Limbu shaman
e n t e r s i n t o t r a n c e . He does n o t always c o n s t r u c t an e l a b o r a t e
a l t a r b u t may simply simul'ate a s m a l l a l t a r w i t h i n t h e home. He
seldom g o e s i n t o a t r a n c e i n making o f f e r i n g s t o household gods o r
d u r i n g l i f e - c y c l e ceremonies. H i s trance, a s Eliade describes it,
i s r e l a t e d t o t h e d a n g e r s t h a t b e f a l l t h e human s o u l .

The t r a n c e , f e i g n e d o r g e n u i n e , i s t h e Limbu shamsn's primary


means o f c o n t a c t w i t h s u p e r n a t u r a l b e i n g s . H i s shamanic p a r a p h e r -
n a l i a a r e t h e t o o l s t h a t a i d him i n a c h i e v i n g t h i s s t a t e a s w e l l
a s i n m a n i p u l a t i n g t h e f o r c e s he e n c o u n t e r s w h i l e i n t r a n c e . The
costume, t h e drum, t h e b r a s s p l a t e , t h e a l t a r , and a k i t of 'med-
i c i n e s ' o r f e t i s h e s a r e t h e i t e m s t h a t g i v e him power and p r o t e c t
him from t h e d a n g e r s t h a t a r e e v e r p r e s e n t d u r i n g h i s e c s t a t i c
state.

Limbu shamans do n o t , t o my knowledge, make u s e of d r u g s o r


a i d s o t h e r t h a n t h o s e d e s c r i b e d i n a c h i e v i n g a s t a t e of e c s t a s y ,
n o r do t h e y u s e h e r b s o r o t h e r d r u g s i n c u r i n g t h e s i c k . F r e q u e n t l y ,
t h e y make f e t i s h e s by u s i n g s p e c i a l p l a n t s from t h e j u n g l e , which
t h e y g i v e t o t h e s i c k t o wear, b u t I have n o t s e e n one Limbu shaman
p r e s c r i b e a n ' o r a l ' medicine o f any k i n d . I l l n e s s , misfortune,
a c c i d e n t s , c r o p f a i l u r e , t h e d e a t h o f a kinsman, o r t h e d e a t h o f
a domestic a n i m a l , are a l l b e l i e v e d t o have s u p e r n a t u r a l o r i g i n s .
I f unable t o l e a r n t h e s p e c i f i c s p i r i t o r d e i t y responsible, t h e
Limbu w i l l s a y it i s t h e ' w i l l of God' (Tagera Ningwaphuma).
'Who knows t h e w i l l of God? Not even a shaman knows it!'

The Supernatura Z World

Limbu of t h e Terhathum area worship a nymber o f d e i t i e s t a k e n


from t h e Hindu pantheon, such as MahZdeo ( S i v a ) , DurgZ ( K Z l i ) , and
V i g w u BhagZuti. They a l s o s h a r e a b e l i e f w i t h Hindu immigrants
i n a v a r i e t y of l o c a l d e i t i e s such a s Singha B a h i n i , a l i o n goddess
t h a t i s b e l i e v e d t o have clawed h e r way o u t of t h e e a r t h n e a r t h e
Terhathum Bazaar. Many of t h e d e i t i e s o f t h e Limbu pantheon a r e
i d e n t i f i e d w i t h t h o s e o f t h e p o p u l a r o r a l l i t e r a t u r e of Hinduism.
Tagera Ningwaphuma, t h e Limbu c r e a t o r , who i s d e f i n e d a s t h e 'mind
o f knowledge' (Chemjong 1967:22) i s a l s o r e f e r r e d t o a s BhagavZn
when s p e a k i n g i n NepZli. I have a l s o h e a r d him i d e n t i f i e d on one
o c c a s i o n a s V i s N u BhagZuti, because o f h i s powers o f c r e a t i o n .

The most i m p o r t a n t d e i t y i s Tagera Hingwaphuma, t h e c r e a t o r ,


who i s worshipped i n h i s e a r t h l y form a s t h e goddess, Yuma Sammang.
According t o t h e mundhwn of c r e a t i o n , Tagera Ningwaphuma j u s t
'existed'. He i s sometimes r e f e r r e d t o as t h e ' s e l f - e x i s t i n g o n e 4
(Chemjong 1967:27). He. c r e a t e d t h e l i g h t , t h e w a t e r , t h e a i r and
t h e e a r t h w i t h h i s d i v i n e knowledge and power. He a l s o c r e a t e d
a l l t h e o t h e r d e i t i e s and s p i r i t s , i n c l u d i n g t h e f i r s t shamans.
T h e r e a f t e r , Tagera Ningwaphuma f a d e s i n t o t h e background. Limbus
c a l l t o him o n l y i n t i m e s o f e x a s p e r a t i o n , o r a t t i m e s when t h i n g s
happen which have no conceivable e x p l a n a t i o n . For example, d u r i n g
an extremely v i o l e n t thunderstorm w i t h heavy wind and r a i n , our
cook would o f t e n c r y o u t i n anguish, 'BhagalM'n, krrsto ho!' (N)
o r , 'God, what i s happening?'. However, he i s never worshipped
o r given o f f e r i n g s under t h i s name. Such r i t u a l s a r e reeerved f o r
Yuma Sammang.

Yuma Sammang seems t o be a n i m p o r t a t i o n from T i b e t , p r i o r to


t h e i n t r o d u c t i o n of Buddhism t o t h a t country. According t o Chem-
jong (1967:Part I1 21-27), a T i b e t a n p r i n c e by t h e name of Uba
Hang invaded Limbuan i n t h e 9 t h c e n t u r y , b r i n g i n g t h e c u l t of
Yuma Samnang w i t h him. Chemjong goes on t o s t a t e t h a t Uba Hang
was under t h e p o s s e s s i o n of this goddess who, through him,
o r d e r e d h e r s u b j e c t s t o make p e r i o d i c o f f e r i n g s of f r u i t s and
f l o w e r s , b u t n o t animal s a c r i f i c e . Whatever it was i n t h o s e days,
today Yuma Sammang demands a blood s a c r i f i c e , u s u a l l y a p i g .

Other t r a d i t i o n s p o i n t towards T i b e t a s t h e s o u r c e o f Yuma


Sammang worship. I n one legend, Limbuan was b e l i e v e d t o have been
peopled by t e n b r o t h e r s , f i v e of whom came from T i b e t and f i v e
from I n d i a . Limbu c l a n s a r e d i v i d e d i n t o two groups, each t r a c i n g
i t s o r i g i n t o T i b e t o r I n d i a . Whatever t h e a u t h e n t i c i t y of t h e
Chemjong a c c o u n t , i t i s h i g h l y l i k e l y t h a t much of Limbu b e l i e f
and r i t u a l came from T i b e t , e i t h e r through conquest o r immigration
of e x i l e d poeples. I have a l r e a d y p o i n t e d o u t some of t h e unmis-
t a k a b l e s i m i l a r i t i e s between Limbu and I n n e r Asian shamanism.

Yuma Samrnang h a s a male c o u n t e r p a r t , Theba Samnang, o r t h e


' G r a n d f a t h e r S p i r i t ' . According t o Chemjong (1967:97), Theba
Sammang was t h e d i v i n e a n c e s t o r of a Limbu king, Whose a n c e s t o r s
immigrated t o Limbuan from China. They were worshippers o f Yuma
Sammang. Legend h a s it t h a t t h e Limbu had t o t a l l y f o r g o t t e n t h e i r
o r i g i n s , c o n t e n t i n t h e worship o f Yuma Sammang, u n t i l one day an
o l d man appeared t o them and pronounced t h a t he was t h e i r a n c e s t o r
and a g r e a t hero i n h i s time. H e 3ppeared while t h e y were hunt-
i n g , becoming e n t a n g l e d i n t h e i r t r a p s and s n a r e s . On l e a r n i n g
t h a t he was Theba Sammang, t h e y became overjoyed and began t o
worship him a s he i n s t r u c t e d . H i s worship demands an a l t a r w i t h
a sword, bow and arrows, a s h i e l d and a r e d f l a g . Two c u l t u r e
h e r o e s of Limbuan became famous s o l d i e r s a s a r e s u l t of t h e i r
d e v o t i o n t o Theba Sammang, and he js f r e q u e n t l y regarded a s t h e
god of war. One Limbu shaman, a f t e r c h a n t i n g t h e d m to
Theba Sammang, t o l d me t h a t it was d i f f i c u l t t o p l a c a t e h* bec-
a u s e he was s o f i e r c e . He spoke more o u t o f a d m i r a t i o n than f e a r .

A h o s t of minor d e i t i e s a r e worshipped i n a d d i t i o n t o t h o s e
mentioned above. Misik Sammang, t h e god of f i r e , H i m Sammang, t h e
household god, and Okwanama Sammang, t h e god of t h e underworld,
a r e among t h e many. Okwanama i s b e l i e v e d t o be l o c a t e d i n t h e
c e n t r e o f t h e world and i s p a i d t r i b u t e each time a new house i s
b u i l t . The c e n t r e p o s t of t h e Limbu house i s thought t o be
connected t o the c e n t r e of t h e world through t h i s r i t e , and each
y e a r a Limbu household ehould met a s i d e a day o f r i t u a l t o t h i s
god -
Nahen i s t h e god of j e a l o u s y and envy o r , a s d e s c r i b e d by
Chemjong, ' t h e god of a m b i t i o n ' . He i s b e l i e v e d t o be an e v i l
s p i r i t o n l y when he l a n o t p l a c a t e d w i t h a s a c r i f i c e e v e r y t h r e e
years. I f a household f a i l s t o do s o , t h e y may e n c o u n t e r h i s
wrath and become greedy. Greed w i l l t h e n b r i n g m i s f o r t u n e t o
t h a t household i n t h e form o f i l l n e s s o r d e a t h .

A v e r y i m p o r t a n t d e i t y i s Tamphungma, t h e f o r e s t s p i r i t , who
is b e l i e v e d t o be a s o u r c e of e v i l . A s p o i n t e d o u t by Sagant
(19691, more i l l n e s s and bad luck is a t t r i b u t e d t o t h i s s p i r i t
t h a n any o t h e r Limbu d i v i n i t y . She i s c a l l e d t h e ban deutd i n
Nepali. Tamphungma l i v e s on t h e o u t s k i r t s of homesteads, on t h e
edge of f o r e s t s , and a l o n g t r a i l s . She h a s power o v e r numerous
n a t u r e d i v i n i t i e s , which s h e u s e s t o harm p e o p l e who f a i l t o p l a c -
a t e h e r demands w i t h f r e q u e n t o f f e r i n g s . She should be worshipped
on a l l o t h e r r i t u a l o c c a s i o n s o r s h e w i l l become angry and harm
t h o s e who f o r g e t h e r . I n a d d i t i o n , each household should s e t
a s i d e a s p e c i a l time once a y e a r t o worship h e r a l o n e . T h i s is
u s u a l l y done on t h e edge o f t h e f o r e s t o r i n t h e f i e l d s , and
a l t h o u g h a shaman should perform t h e r i t u a l and make t h e s a c r i f i c e
of a chicken o r o t h e r animal, t h e household head i s a l s o a b l e t o
perform t h i s ceremony, a s happened on t h e o c c a s i o n t h a t I w i t -
nessed i t . According t o Sagant (1969:115), Tamphungma i s h e l d
r e s p o n s i b l e f o r a c c i d e n t s and f a l l s , b u t where I d i d f i e l d w o r k ,
such m i s f o r t u n e s , i f r e s u l t i n g i n d e a t h , were i n v a r i a b l e a t t r i b -
u t e d t o sogha, t h e s p i r i t s of t h o s e who d i e by v i o l e n c e .

Sogha, sugut and sueik have been mentioned b e f o r e . There a r e


numerous s p i r i t s o f t h i s s o r t i n h a b i t i n g v i l l a g e s throughout
Limbuan. Every p e r s o n who d i e d by v i o l e n c e , e v e r y woman who d i e d
i n c h i l d b i r t h , and e v e r y s t i l l b i r t h r e s u l t e d i n t h e i n c r e a s e of
t h e s d s p i r i t s . They must be p e r i o d i c a l l y p l a c a t e d , e s p e c i a l l y a t
c r i t i c a l times such a s pregnanay o r when t a k i n g a n extended jour-
ney where such a c c i d e n t s have been known t o o c c u r . Although
shamans r e f e r t o t h e s e a n c e s t h a t a r e d e s i g n e d t o c a p t u r e t h e s e
s p i r i t s and r e n d e r them h a r m l e s s a s ' r i t u a l s t o k i l l t h e s p i r i t s '
t h e y do n o t i n f a c t ' k i l l ' them. A s one shaman r h e t o r i c a l l y
r e p l i e d when I asked him how he ' k i l l e d ' them, ' S a h i b , how can
you k i l l a s p i r i t ? ' . I n o t h e r words, s p i r i t s a r e i n d e s t r u c t i b l e ,
and t h e use o f t h e word i n t h i s c o n t e x t i s o n l y a metaphor.

Such s p i r i t s r e s i d e n e a r t h e s p o t s where t h e y o r i g i n a l l y d i e d
i n human form. They a r e f o r e v e r a t t e m p t i n g t o ' c a u s e o t h e r people
t o d i e i n t h e same f a s h i o n . L i m ~ ub e l i e v e t h e y can be c o n t r o l l e d
by shamans such a s t h e m n g b a , who have s p e c i a l knowledge of
t h e i r whereabouts and t h e powers t o c a p t u r e them.9 One o l d man
t o l d me t h a t t h e y can o n l y be h e l d i n c a p t i v i t y f o r t h r e e y e a r s ,
and t h e n t h e ceremony must b e performed a g a i n . The r e s p o n s i b i l i t y
f o r i t s performance l i e s w i t h t h e c l o s e s t l i v i n g r e l a t i v e s , who
a r e a l s o i n t h e g r e a t e ~ tdanger o f b e i n g harmed by t h e s e s p i r i t s .
Should a shaman n o t perform t h e ceremony p r o p e r l y , o r s h o u l d h e
f a i l t o c a p t u r e them, t h e y w i l l c o n t i n u e t o p l a g u e t h e l i v i n g .
They can be r e c o g n i z e d by t h e i r a c t i v i t i e s around t h e household,
s u c h a s broken p o t s , s t r a n g e n o i e e s a t n i g h t o r o t h e r u n e x p l a i n -
a b l e e v e n t s . They have many o f t h e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of p o l t e r g e i s t
i n o u r s o c i e t y . They do n o t go t o t h e l a n d of the dead b u t remain
t o f o r e v e r c r e a t e uncomfortable a n d d i s a s t r o u s s i t u a t i o n s f o r t h e
living.

Because o f t h e n a t u r e o f t h e s e s p i r i t s , f u n e r a l s of t h o s e who
have d i e d a t t h e i r hand are i n e x a c t r e v e r s e t o a normal f u n e r a l .
The b o d i e s a r e n o t b u r i e d i n Limbu cemeteries, b u t a r e b u r i e d i n
t h e j u n g l e , away from t h e a c t i v i t i e s o f everyday l i f e . They are
b u r i e d a s r a p i d l y a s p o s s i b l e . The o r i f i c e s of t h e body a r e
c l o s e d o f f , and t h e body i s b u r i e d f a c e down, a s opposed t o a
normal, face-up b u r i a l . A f t e r t h e b u r i a l , which i s s u p e r v i s e d by
a mangba, t h e p a r t i c i p a n t s a r e c l e a n s e d and p r o t e c t e d by c h a r c o a l
smeared on t h e f o r e h e a d . On r e t u r n i n g from t h e b u r i a l a r e a , a
mock b a t t l e e n s u e s among t h e p a r t i c i p a n t s , symbolizing t h e d e s t -
r u c t i v e f o r c e s t h a t a r e a t hand. The mangba t h e n sets up h i s
a l t a r a n d , a f t e r h a v i n g gone i n t o a t r a n c e , l o c a t e s and c a p t u r e s
t h e s p i r i t s , which a r e p l a c e d i n a h o l e and ' k i l l e d ' by f i r e . No
wake f o l l o w s t h e b u r i a l , n o r are t h e names of t h o s e who d i e d men-
t i o n e d . Only t h r e e y e a r s l a t e r w i l l t h e y be remembered, p r o v i d i n g
t h e shaman h a s done h i s work t o p e r f e c t i o n , when t h e y w i l l a g a i n
be s o u g h t o u t and ' k i l l e d ' .

I n c o n t r a s t , t h o s e who d i e normal d e a t h s a r e g i v e n a p r o p e r
b u r i a l and a f e a s t ( b h a r k h i ) (L) s h o r t l y a f t e r t h e f u n e r a l . A t
t h i s f e a s t , which s h o u l d t a k e p l a c e t h r e e d a y s a f t e r d e a t h f o r a
woman and f o u r d a y s a f t e r d e a t h f o r a man, t h e d e c e a s e d ' s s o u l i s
s e n t on i t s journey t o t h e underworld. The s o u l must journey t o
i t s d e s t i n a t i o n v i a a l o n g , p e r i l o u s r o a d , a t t h e end o f which i s
a l a d d e r t h a t l e a d s t o t h e demon who g u a r d s t h e underworld
(YemorBj). The s o u l of t h e dead i s o c c a s i o n a l l y accompanied by
t h e shaman, e s p e c i a l l y i f t h e r e a r e i n d i c a t i o n s t h a t i t h a s n o t
t a k e n t h e journey, b u t r e m a i n s t o p e s t e r t h e l i v i n g . YemorSj i s
d e s c r i b e d a s a h o r r i b l e c r e a t u r e who ' e a t s ' men and l i v e s on d e a t h
H e h a s a s p o t where he s t o r e s t h e heads o f dead p e o p l e he h a s
e a t e n . One woman t o l d me t h a t he e a t s e v e r y t h i n g - h o u s e s , t o o l s ,
a n i m a l s and men. H e i s a f i e r y , s t r i n g y - h a i r e d , f i e r c e c r e a t u r e ,
w i t h o u t e y e s . One Limbu t o l d m e he was t o o h o r r i b l e t o imagine
and c o u l d n o t p o s s i b l y d e s c r i b e him. O t h e r s claimed t h e y d i d n o t
know what h e looked l i k e , s i n c e t h e y had n e v e r s e e n him. Many
Limbu d o n o t b e l i e v e h e e x i s t s a t a l l , and a r e c o n t e n t t o t h i n k
t h a t t h e s o u l merely g o e s t o a p l a c e of p e a c e after d e a t h .
Because o f hind11 i n f l u e n c e s , a few Limbu b e l i e v e t h e s o u l i s
r e b o r n a c c o r d i n g t o t h e laws of ka~m,b u t t h e p e o p l e t h a t I knew
b e s t d i d n o t r u l e o u t t h e i d e a of a l a n d of t h e dead, even i f
t h e y a c c e p t e d t h e n o t i o n o f karma. A s n o t e d e a r l i e r , t h e g e n e r a l
Limbu c o n c e p t i o n is t h a t a p e r s o n p o s s e s s e s seven o r e i g h t ' s o u l s '
The i d e a of r e b i r t h i s e a s i l y i n c o r p o r a t e d i n t o t h e Limbu view of
l i f e a f t e r d e a t h . G e n e r a l l y , t h e y a c c e p t t h e n o t i o n t h a t a per-
s o n ' s f a t e i s w r i t t e n on t h e f o r e h e a d a t b i r t h . I have f r e q u e n t l y
h e a r d p e o p l e s i g h a p a t h e t i c a l l y i n t i m e s of extreme h a r d s h i p t h a t
a p e r s o n ' s f a t e was determined a t b i r t h and n o t h i n g c o u l d be done
a b o u t it.

Limbu c o n c e p t s of l i f e a f t e r d e a t h and t h e world o f s u p e r n a t u r a l


b e i n g s i s n o t a c o h e r e n t s e t of l o g i c a l p r i n c i p l e s . Viewpoints
v a r y from one i n d i v i d u a l t o t h e n e x t , and it is common t o f i n d
c o n t r a d i c t o r y viewpoints h e l d by t h e same i n d i v i d u a l . A s a g e n e r a l
r u l e , t h e Limbu b e l i e v e i n a l i f e a f t e r d e a t h and a p l a c e where t h e
s o u l s of t h e dead r e s i d e . The l a n d of t h e dead i s n o t n e c e s s a r i l y
a h o r r i b l e p l a c e , b a r r i n g e n c o u n t e r s w i t h Yemoraj. I t i s n o t
t h o u g h t t o b e a p l a c e of e t e r n a l s u f f e r i n g f o r o n e ' s t r a n s g r e s s i o n s
on e a r t h . S u f f e r i n g i s a p a r t of t h i s l i f e , and t h o s e who s u f f e r
a f t e r d e a t h a r e t h e ones who r e f u s e t o l e a v e t h i s world, such a s
t h e s p i r i t s of p e o p l e who d i e d by v i o l e n c e , e s p e c i a l l y s u i c i d e o r
i n childbirth. I n f a c t , t h e r e seems t o be an i d e a t h a t p e o p l e who
a r e k i l l e d by a c c i d e n t a r e somehow r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e i r own d e a t h s
i n t h e same way t h a t a v i c t i m of s u i c i d e i s u l t i m a t e l y r e s p o n s i b l e
f o r h i s own d e a t h . The r o l e of t h e shaman i n t h i s scheme of
t h i n g s i s t o p r o t e c t t h e l i v i n g a g a i n s t s u p e r n a t u r a l f o r c e s through
o f f e r i n g s t o gods and goddesses and i n h i s r o l e a s m e d i a t o r between
humans and s p i r i t s .

Witchcraft and Sorcery

Other s o u r c e s of d i s e a s e , m i s f o r t u n e and d e a t h a r e l i v i n g
human b e i n g s who p o s s e s s i n n a t e s u p e r n a t u r a l powers, and, because
of g r e e d , u s e t h e s e powers a g a i n s t t h e i r f e l l o w man. The w i t c h
(boksa/boksi) may b e . e i t h e r male o r female and may assume t h e
shape of an animal, e s p e c i a l l y a c a t , and genera1l.y a t t a c k s a t
night.

I am u n c e r t a i n a s t o how a w i t c h i s i d e n t i f i e d , b u t two w i t c h e s ,
both o l d and widowed, were b e l i e v e d t o r e s i d e i n Terhathum Bazaar.
One was an o l d Brahman woman a b o u t s e v e n t y - f i v e , who was t h e o n l y
f u l l - t i m e beggar i n t h e a r e a . The o t h e r was a l s o a n o l d widowed
woman, b u t I never l e a r n e d h e r i d e n t i t y . Limbu a r e e x t r e m e l y
r e l u c t a n t t o d i s c u s s t h e i d e n t i t y of w i t c h e s , f o r f e a r t h e y w i l l
h e a r t h e c o n v e r s a t i o n and become angry: They a r e n o t s o a f r a i d
t o d i s c u s s w i t c h e s i n g e n e r a l , o r t h e i r h a b i t s and behaviour
p a t t e r n s , b u t t h e y do n o t l i k e t o i d e n t i f y them w i t h s i n g l e
i n d i v i d u a l s . I was t o l d t h a t w i t c h e s were more p l e n t i f u l e l s e -
where i n Limbuan t h a n i n t h e Bazaar a r e a . T h i s was a t t r i b u t e d to
t h e l a r g e number of shamans i n t h e a r e a , who had t h e powers t o
keep them a t bay.

Our most d e t a i l e d i n f o r m a t i o n on w i t c h e s came t o u s a s a r e s u l t


of an i n c i d e n t w i t h a dog we owned. My wife and I had picked up
a pup a t t h e very beginning of o u r fieldwork. We had f o o l i s h l y
(by Limbu s t a n d a r d s ) g i v e n f i v e rupees f o r t h e pup, because it was
t h e b e s t of a l i t t e r of h a l f - s t a r v e d dogs. We f e d hFm w e l l , and
t h e pup was t h e s u b j e c t of e n d l e s s c o n v e r s a t i o n . Most r e f u s e d t o
b e l i e v e it was a h i l l dog, and claimed we brought it from America
because of i t s s h i n y c o a t and g e n e r a l good h e a l t h . We would a l s o
pamper t h e pup beyond normal s t a n d a r d s and g e t very u p s e t when
v i s i t o r s kicked t h e dog, a s N e p a l i s a r e i n c l i n e d t o do when dogs
g e t too 'friendly'. Before long, a g e n e r a l d i s l i k e f o r t h e dog
had s e t i n among many people who f e l t t h e dog was t o o well-fed
and pampered.

The dog e v e n t u a l l y c o n t r a c t e d d i s t e m p e r , and l o s t c o n t r o l of


i t s h i n d l e g s . R e l u c t a n t l y , we p u t i t t o d e a t h . We t h e n l e a r n e d
t h a t many b e l i e v e d t h e dog was witched by an o l d woman i n t h e
Bazaar, who was envious of t h e good c a r e and t h e food it w a s ' f e d .
She was a d a i l y v i s i t o r t o o u r house, begging f o r food and money.
One informant claimed t h a t s h e caused t h e dog t o become ill o u t of
jealousy.

The same w i t c h was a l s o thought t o be t h e cause of f r e q u e n t


back-aches of a woman o f t h e t a i l o r c a s t e who l i v e d nearby. The
witched woman was t h e wife of a p r a c t i s i n g shaman, who attempted
t o c u r e h e r a number of times w i t h o u t s u c c e s s . She e v e n t u a l l y
c a l l e d i n a Tamang jzkri, who had a r e p u t a t i o n of g r e a t s k i l l i n
d e a l i n g w i t h w i t c h e s . She was s t i l l n o t cured on our d e p a r t u r e ,
a l t h o u g h s h e claimed t o be f e e l i n g much b e t t e r .

Witches u s u a l l y a t t a c k people on t h e t r a i l s a t n i g h t when t h e y


a r e a l o n e . Female w i t c h e s envelop t h e i r v i c t i m s i n a l a r g e s&i
(N) and smother them t o d e a t h , o r cause them t o f a l l o r g e t h i t
by l a n d s l i d e s . Witches can a l s o e n t e r p e o p l e ' s houses a t n i g h t
and cause them t o become ill by i n j e c t i n g s u b s t a n c e s i n t o t h e i r
b o d i e s , o r smothering them i n t h e i r s l e e p .

Only shamans have t h e power t o c o n t r o l w i t c h e s , e s p e c i a l l y t h e


yeba, whose t u t e l a r y d e i t y i s a witch ( Y e j u l i ) . Shamans cannot
' k i l l ' w i t c h e s b u t , through r i t u a l and t h e h e l p of t h e t u t e l a r y
s p i r i t , t h e y can r e n d e r t h e work of w i t c h e s harmless. They a r e
a b l e t o remove t h e s u b s t a n c e s t h a t w i t c h e s i n j e c t i n t o p e o p l e ' s
b o d i e s t o cause i l l n e s s . They a r e a l s o c a p a b l e of r e t r i e v i n g
' s o u l s ' t h a t have been s t o l e n by w i t c h e s . T h i s i s b e l i e v e d t o
happen f r e q u e n t l y while dreaming, when o n e ' s ' s o u l ' wanders
around.
Shamans a l s o have t h e power t o k i l l e a c h o t h e r , and I was t o l d
t h a t i n the o l d d a y s t h i s happened f r e q u e n t l y . S h m a n s are
f r e q u e n t l y v e r y j e a l o u s of e a c h o t h e r ' s powers, and when t h e y a r e
i n t h e company of one a n o t h e r , e s p e c i a l l y i f t h e y a r e s t r a n g e r s ,
t h e y become r e l u c t a n t t o d i s c u s s t h e i r t r a d e f o r f e a r t h e o t h e r
w i l l l e a r n o n e ' s secrets. I f t h i s s h o u l d happen, a shaman c o u l d
s e n d a n ' a r r o w ' i n t o t h e o t h e r shaman's body, a t a most v u l n e r -
a b l e s p o t , and k i l l him. H e would presumably l e a r n t h i s ' s p o t '
by d i s c o v e r i n g t h e l i m i t s of t h e shaman's power.

Divination and M i n g
Limbu shamans d i v i n e i n a number o f ways. The t e c h n i q u e s t h e y
u s e a r e r e l a t e d t o t h e d i f f e r e n t s i t u a t i o n s o f i l l n e s s and m i s -
f o r t u n e . The most f r e q u e n t t e c h n i q u e u s e d f o r minor a c h e s a n d
p a i n s i s rice d i v i n a t i o n . The p a t i e n t o r c l i e n t p r e s e n t s t h e
shaman w i t h a c o i n , which h e p l a c e s i n a b r a s s p l a t e . H e t h e n
t a k e s a h a n d f u l o f r i c e , c o v e r s t h e c o i n , and s e p a r a t e s t h e r i c e
i n t o s i x small p i l e s . I was t o l d t h a t f o u r o f t h e s e r e p r e s e n t e d
t h e d i r e c t i o n s and two o f them Limbu d e i t i e s . I n one c a s e , t h e
shaman t o l d m e t h a t two o f t h e p i l e s symbolized Yuma and Theba
Sammang. The shaman t h e c o u n t s t h e g r a i n s o f r i c e i n e a c h p i l e -
even numbers s i g n i f y i n g one t h i n g and odd numbers a n o t h e r . I n
t h i s way, h e i s a b l e t o d e t e r m i n e t h e s e v e r i t y o f t h e i l l n e s s ,
i t s c a u s e , t h e d i r e c t i o n from which it came, and t h e c o u r s e o f
a c t i o n t o be taken.

A second form of d i v i n a t i o n , u s e d i n cases of extreme i l l n e s s ,


r e q u i r e s the shaman t o t a k e a r t i c l e s o f c l o t h i n g from t h e p a t i e n t
and p l a c e them a t an a l t a r e r e c t e d f o r Yuma Sammang o r o t h e r
Limbu d e i t i e s . The shaman t h e n c h a n t s t h e mundhwn and g o e s i n t o
a t r a n c e . H e l e a r n s t h e n a t u r e of t h e i l l n e s s by d i v i n a t i o n i n
t h e p r e s e n c e of t h e c l o t h e s and s e e k s h e l p from h i s t u t e l a r y
s p i r i t . The d e t a i l s o f t h i s form o f d i v i n a t i o n were n e v e r
e x p l a i n e d t o m e , b u t i t i s u s e d i n most major s e a n c e s where t h e
shaman c o n s t r u c t s a n a l t a r and g o e s i n t o a t r a n c e .

O c c a s i o n a l l y shamans w i l l t a k e t h e p u l s e o f a p a t i e n t and
d e t e r m i n e t h e i l l n e s s . A t a wedding I a t t e n d e d , one o f t h e g u e s t s
f a i n t e d . Two shamans were p r e s e n t . One h e l d t h e p a t i e n t and t o o k
h i s p u l s e b e a t . A f t e r a few moments, h e d e c l a r e d t h a t t h e man had
been a t t a c k e d by Tamphungma, t h e j u n g l e s p i r i t . H e c h a n t e d a few
mntm t o t h i s s p i r i t , and g r a d u a l l y t h e p a t i e n t r e v i v e d . H e t o l d
m e t h i s would n o t f r e e t h e man from t h e g r a s p o f Tamphungma, b u t
was o n l y a temporary measure. On r e t u r n i n g home, t h e man would
have t o c a l l i n a shaman who would p e r f o r m a p G d t o Tamphungma
on h i s b e h a l f .

A s s t a t e d e a r l i e r , a l l i l l n e s s and m i s f o r t u n e a r e t h o u g h t t o
have s u p e r n a t u r a l c a u s e s . I n extreme cases, t h e d i v i n a t i o n a n d
c u r e r e q u i r e e l a b o r a t e p r e p a r a t i o n s on t h e p a r t of t h e 64- and
are e x p e n s i v e f o r t h e p a t i e n t . The p a t i e n t and h i s f a m i l y m u e t
f e e d t h e shamarl w h i l e h e i s i n a t t e n d a n c e . They s h o u l d a l s o
s u p p l y him w i t h l i b e r a l q u a n t i t i e e o f b e e r , liquor and tobacco.
The payment o f t h e shaman f o l l o w s t h e c u r e . I was t o l d t h a t
u n s u c c e s e f u l c u r e s r e q u i r e no payment, b u t t h a t a s u c c e s s f u l c u r e
would sometimes r e q u i r e as much a s t w e n t y or t h i r t y r u p e e s . The
amount would b e d e t e r m i n e d a c c o r d i n g t o t h e t i m e t h e shaman s p e n t
with t h e p a t i e n t . Sometimes payment i s i n c a s h , b u t more f r e q u -
e n t l y , i t c o n s i s t s o f goods s u c h as c l o t h i n g o r g r a i n .

The Acquisition of Shrunznic Power


One becomes a shaman a s a r e s u l t o f p o s s e s s i o n by a d e i t y . The
most f r e q u e n t p o s s e s s i o n seems t o i n v o l v e Yuma Sammang. A t f i r s t ,
p o s s e s s i o n i s i n v o l u n t a r y , and t h e v i c t i m s e e k s a c u r e by c o n s u l t -
i n g a shaman, who w i l l a t t e m p t t o p a c i f y t h e d e i t y w i t h o f f e r i n g s .
Should h e b e u n s u c c e s s f u l , t h e v i c t i m may t a k e t h i s a s a s i g n t h a t
h e i s t o l e a r n t h e a r t of shamanism i n o r d e r t o e v e n t u a l l y c o n t r o l
h i s possession.

Many t i m e s , t h e s t a t e o f i n v o l u n t a r y p o s s e s s i o n c o n t i n u e s f o r
y e a r s , o r i n r a r e cases, t h r o u g h o u t o n e ' s l i f e , w i t h o u t t h e v i c t i m
becoming a shaman. Simple p o s s e s s i o n by a d e i t y i s n o t t h e o n l y
s i g n t h a t one i s t o become a shaman. One must a c q u i r e a t e a c h e r ,
o r r a t h e r , more a c c u r a t e l y , t h e t e a c h e r must d i s c o v e r t h e p a t i e n t
and l e a r n t h e w i l l of t h e d e i t y . Limbu i n s i s t t h i s knowledge
comes t o t h e t e a c h e r a s a r e s u l t o f t h e d e i t y ' s own w i s h e s , n o t
the patient's or the teacher's. The t e a c h e r might l e a r n t h i s i n
a dream, o r i n a s t a t e o f t r a n c e , o r t h r o u g h some o t h e r d i v i n e
omen. H e t h e n p a y s t h e v i c t i m a v i s i t , i n f o r m i n g him o f t h e
w i s h e s o f t h e d e i t y . The t e a c h e r , who i s h i m s e l f a p r a c t i s i n g
shaman, t h e n b e g i n s t o t e a c h t h e p a t i e n t t h e d m and t h e
t e c h n i q u e s of h i s a r t , which i n c l u d e d i v i n a t i o n , t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n
o f a n a l t a r , and how t o make and u s e t h e shamanic p a r a p h e r n a l i a -
t h e costume, t h e drum and t h e v a r i o u s f e t i s h e s .

I n v a r i a b l y , t h e p a t i e n t r e j e c t s t h e c a l l t o become a shaman.
Few d e s i r e t o become shamans b u t , a t l e a s t c o n s c i o u s l y , would
r a t h e r b e c u r e d o f t h e i r p o s s e s s i o n t h a n t o t a k e on a t r a d e which
r e q u i r e s much t i m e and e f f o r t and few rewards. I never m e t a
w e a l t h y Limbu shaman. The p r a c t i s i n g shaman i s f r e q u e n t l y t a x e d
b o t h p h y s i c a l l y and m e n t a l l y . During major f e s t i v a l s , s u c h a s
D a s a l , h e i s i n g r e a t demand and o f t e n goes d a y s w i t h o u t s l e e p .
F r e q u e n t l y , h i s own f a m i l y i s n e g l e c t e d , a s w e l l a s h i s f i e l d s .
The r e m u n e r a t i o n f o r h i s s e r v i c e s seldom e q u a l s t h e l o s s e s t h a t
he s u f f e r s a s a r e s u l t o f n e g l e c t i n g h i s own a g r i c u l t u r a l work.
F u r t h e r m o r e , most o f t h e shamans I m e t had l a r g e f a m i l i e s . One
shaman had e i g h t c h i l d r e n . The v a l u e o f a l a r g e f a m i l y i s g r e a t ,
o n c e t h e c h i l d r e n have r e a c h e d t h e a g e where t h e y a r e a b l e t o h e l p
i n t h e f i e l d s , b u t w h i l e t h e y a r e young, t h e y o n l y r e p r e s e n t more
mouths t o f e e d .
S p i r i t p o s s e s s i o n i n d i c a t i n g t h e c a l l t o shamanic a p p r e n t i c e -
s h i p u s u a l l y o c c u r s a t a n e a r l y age. One shaman, a yeba, was
f i r s t p o s s e s s e d a t age e i g h t by t h e s p i r i t Samdongm3 Y e j u l i , a
household s p i r i t of h i s m o t h e r ' s b r o t h e r . H i s family c a l l e d a
shaman on a number of o c c a s i o n s , w i t h t h e i n t e n t i o n of c u r i n g t h e
boy, w i t h o u t s u c c e s s . F i n a l l y , a yeba from Panchthar d i s t r i c t
l e a r n e d of h i s p l i g h t and v i s i t e d t h e boy, t e l l i n g him t h a t he
was t o become a yeba. He t a u g h t him t h e munclhwn of Nahen and how
t o c o n t r o l t h e Y e j u l i s p i r i t . The yeba t o l d me t h a t a t f i r s t he
r e j e c t e d t h e i d e a , b u t a f t e r much coaxing from h i s gum, he
d e c i d e d t h a t he would become an a p p r e n t i c e . H i s a p p r e n t i c e s h i p
was s h o r t , n o t l a s t i n g more t h a n two y e a r s . He t h e n began t o c a l l
t h e s p i r i t a t w i l l and have s u c c e s s i n c u r i n g p e o p l e who became
ill a s a r e s u l t o f Nahen o r by w i t c h e s . O c c a s i o n a l l y , however,
even t o d a y , he h a s d i f f i c u l t y i n c o n t r o l l i n g Y e j u l i , and some-
t i m e s t h e d e i t y 'comes on him' w i t h o u t b e i n g summoned. While
v i s i t i n g my home, he became p o s s e s s e d , and f e l l i n t o a t r a n c e f o r
a p e r i o d o f two o r t h r e e h o u r s . T h i s shaman a l s o s e r v e d i n t h e
B r i t i s h Gurkhas from 1943 t o 1951. During t h a t p e r i o d , he seldom
p r a c t i s e d a s a shaman, b u t on h i s d i s c h a r g e he a g a i n took up t h e
art.

Another shaman, a samba, was f i r s t p o s s e s s e d a t s i x t e e n by a


household s p i r i t of h i s m o t h e r ' s b r o t h e r ' s l i n e a g e . H i s guru
came s h o r t l y a f t e r and began t o t e a c h him t h e mundhwn. He t a u g h t
him how t o do p e d t o t h e v a r i o u s d e i t i e s of t h e Limbu pantheon
and how t o c o n t r o l h i s p o s s e s s i o n . He a l s o t a u g h t him d i v i n a t i o n ,
and v a r i o u s ways of c u r i n g i l l n e s s e s t h r o u g h t h e u s e o f ' m e d i c i n e s '
and c h a n t s . The samba claimed t h a t he d i d n o t r e j e c t h i s f a t e ,
b u t welcomed it a l t h o u g h he was somewhat f r i g h t e n e d a t f i r s t .
T h i s p a r t i c u l a r shaman was e x t r e m e l y proud o f h i s powers, and
f r e q u e n t l y b o a s t e d of h i s c u r e s t o me. He a l s o amused himself a t
my expense on a number of o c c a s i o n s , e s p e c i a l l y when I would
q u e s t i o n h i m - a b o u t h i s c r a f t . Towards t h e end of my f i e l d w o r k ,
de became c l o s e f r i e n d s , however, and he would t e a s e me l e s s and
l e s s . I p l e a d e d w i t h him a number of t i m e s , e a r l y i n my f i e l d -
work, t o t e a c h me t h e a r t s o f shamanism. He laughed a good d e a l
a t t h i s , because a c c o r d i n g t o him, I c o u l d n e v e r become a shaman
u n l e s s t h e ' d e i t y ' came t o me. He a l s o joked a b o u t an o l d man
nearby, named Nar B i r Tumbahangphe, who knew a g r e a t d e a l a b o u t
shamans and t h e i r work, i n s i n u a t i n g t h a t t h e o l d man wanted t o
become a shaman b u t had n e v e r r e c e i v e d t h e c a l l . Much o f my
i n f o r m a t i o n on shamanism came from t h i s o l d man, and t h e samba
would o f t e n c h a l l e n g e h i s knowledge, c l a i m i n g t h a t he c o u l d n o t
p o s s i b l y know what h e was t a l k i n g a b o u t , s i n c e t h e d e i t y had
never come t o him.
The c a l l d o e s n o t always come a t an e a r l y a g e . Our cook, a
woman o f t h i r t y y e a r s w i t h two c h i l d r e n , became p o s s e s s e d by Yum
Sammang a t t h e t i m e of o u r f i e l d w o r k . H e r c a s e i s somewhat com-
p l e x , and i s d e s c r i b e d i n more d e t a i l i n t h i s volume by S h i r l e y
Kurz J o n e s . She was touched by Yuma Sammang on some f i v e o r s i x
o c c a s i o n s w h i l e working f o r u s . A number o f shamans i n t h e a r e a
began t o encourage h e r t o t a k e up an a p p r e n t i c e s h i p , which she
strongly resisted. She c l a i m e d t h a t t h e p r a c t i c e of shamanism
would r e q u i r e t o o much o f h e r t i m e and would b e t o o much of a
p h y s i c a l and mental s t r a i n . She l e f t Limbuan d u r i n g o u r f i e l d -
work, s h o r t l y a f t e r h e r p o s s e s s i o n , and went t o Assam t o l i v e
w i t h h e r husband, who had bought some l a n d t h e r e . She had n o t
t a k e n up an a p p r e n t i c e s h i p a t t h e t i m e of h e r d e p a r t u r e . Whether
o r n o t s h e f i n a l l y gave i n t o t h e demands o f Yuma Sammang i s
unknown.

Yuma Sammang i s f r e q u e n t l y t h e goddess t h a t p o s s e s s e s a n i n d i v -


i d u a l and f o r c e s him o r h e r t o become a shaman, b u t i t may ' a l s o be
a s p i r i t o f o n e ' s mother' s b r o t h e r ' s p a t r i l i n e a g e , o r t h e house-
h o l d d e i t y o f o n e ' s m o t h e r ' s b r o t h e r , which a r e b e l i e v e d t o be
female d e i t i e s a s w e l l . I t may a l s o b e t h e s p i r i t of o n e ' s mat-
e r n a l g r a n d f a t h e r o r grandmother. There is a widespread i d e a
t h a t t h e t u t e l a r y s p i r i t s o f Limbu shamans a r e ' i n h e r i t e d ' i n t h e
m a t r i l i n e and a r e feminine.

Being c a l l e d by a s p i r i t , through p o s s e s s i o n , d o e s n o t always


mean t h a t t h e i n d i v i d u a l w i l l become a shaman. One man who l i v e d
n e a r o u r home would o c c a s i o n a l l y become p o s s e s s e d by t h e s p i r i t
o f h i s m a t e r n a l g r a n d f a t h e r , b u t he d i d n o t become a shaman. I
was t o l d t h a t a guru n e v e r came t o him and he n e v e r l e a r n e d t h e
a r t . I t w a s emphasized t h a t , i f t h e guru d i d n o t t a k e up t h e
i n d i v i d u a l a s an a p p r e n t i c e , t h e i n d i v i d u a l c o u l d n e v e r l e a r n t o
control h i s helping s p i r i t .

The guru i s e s s e n t i a l t o t h e p r a c t i c e o f Limbu shamanism. H e


i s t h e one who h a s l e a r n e d t o c o n t r o l h i s p o s s e s s i o n . He t e a c h e s
t h i s a r t t o h i s a p p r e n t i c e and i n s t i l l s i n him t h e c o n f i d e n c e
t h a t i s needed i n d e a l i n g w i t h s u p e r n a t u r a l powers. I n t h i s way,
t h e g u r u a l s o t e a c h e s h i s a p p r e n t i c e t h e c a u s e s of i l l n e s s , t h e
ways t o d i a g n o s e , d i v i n a t i o n a n d t h e means o f c u r i n g . Without a
g w u , a p e r s o n p o s s e s s e d i s merely a p e r s o n t h a t i s ill.

Limbu shamanism i s n o t j u s t a m a t t e r o f t e a c h i n g and l e a r n i n g


t h e p r o c e d u r e s . Without t h e c a l l t h r o u g h p o s s e s s i o n by a s p i r i t ,
a p e r s o n can n e v e r become a shaman, r e g a r d l e s s o f how much he
l e a r n s a b o u t d i v i n a t i o n and c u r i n g r i t u a l s . P o s s e s s i o n and
teaching a r e both e s s e n t i a l t o t h e profession.

Limbu shamans become t h e k i n d of shaman t h a t was t h e l o t o f


t h e i r guru. I f t h e guru was a y e b a , t h e a p p r e n t i c e becomes a
yeba. I t i s t h o u g h t t o be a c o n t r a d i c t i o n i n terms f o r a samba
t o l e a r n from a phedangma o r vice-versa. Although t h e s p i r i t i s
believed t o be a s s o c i a t e d with t h e m a t r i l i n e i n many c a s e s , , i t was
emphasized t o me t h a t the guru should never be a kinsman, e i t h e r
by descent o r marriage. I t i s p r e f e r a b l e t o have a guru who i s a
s t r a n g e r t o the apprentice and who p r a c t i c e s i n a d i f f e r e n t area
of Limbuan. This most l i k e l y has t o do with a c o n f l i c t of i n t e r -
e s t s ; but it might a l s o a r i s e o u t of t h e f e a r of each o t h e r ' s power.
I f the guru and apprentice a r e unrelated and l i v e i n s e p a r a t e loc-
a l i t i e s , they a r e l e s s l i k e l y t o become jealous of each o t h e r ' s
power and l e s s l i k e l y t o ' k i l l ' one another through sorcery.

The Limbu Shaman as Priest

Limbu shamans a r e c a l l e d upon t o o f f i c i a t e a t a number of house-


hold r i t u a l s and l i f e - c y c l e ceremonies, i n a d d i t i o n t o t h e i r a c t i v -
i t i e s a s psychopomps. On these occasions, they do not c a l l upon
t h e i r t u t e l a r y d e i t i e s , nor do they go i n t o a t r a n c e .
f

They a r e asked by i n d i v i d u a l Limbu t o make o f f e r i n g s t o house-


hold gods on s e v e r a l occasions. I t i s customary f o r the head of
t h e household t o perform a harvest ceremony once a year, a s an o f f -
e r i n g t o the d e i t i e s responsible f o r a good crop. On these occasions
the shaman makes o f f e r i n g s t o t h e household gods, Yuma and Theba
Sammang, and Tamphungma, otherwise they might be offended and bring
harm t o t h e i n d i v i d u a l s of t h e household. Today, such r i t u a l s a r e
performed during the Dasai f e s t i v a l and may involve the s a c r i f i c e
of a goat o r water b u f f a l o t o t h e Hindu goddess DurgS, a s well a s
t o t h e Limbu d e i t i e s .

Shamans a l s o o f f i c i a t e a t weddings. They chant t h e rmuzdhwn and


s a c r i f i c e a hen and cock, and t h e f u t u r e of t h e marriage i s fore-
t o l d through d i v i n a t i o n of t h e blood of t h e s a c r i f i c e . They a l s o
i n s t r u c t t h e couple i n t h e i r d u t i e s i n marriage.

A t f u n e r a l s , shamans a r e c a l l e d t o 'purchase' t h e b u r i a l p l o t
from a s p i r i t t h a t r e s i d e s a t t h e cemetery, and a t wakes they c a l l
upon the s p i r i t s of the dead t o accept t h e o f f e r i n g s of the l i v i n g .
Frequently, a t wakes, two o r t h r e e shamans w i l l make t h e o f f e r i n g s
t o t h e deceased's s p i r i t . They a l s o ask t h e guests and kinsmen t o
observe the end of t h e p o l l u t i o n period ' t h a t has been observed by
t h e deceased's c l o s e s t kinsmen. They i n s t r u c t t h e s p i r i t through
chants t o depart from t h i i world and make h i s journey t o the land
of the dead. They do not go i n t o t r a n c e on t h i s occasion, but i f
t h e r e a r e i n d i c a t i o n s t h a t the s p i r i t of t h e deceased has not l e f t
h i s e a r t h l y place of residence, they might be c a l l e d upon t o go
i n t o a trance and accompany him on h i s journey.

On numerous o t h e r minor occasions, shamans a r e c a l l e d upon t o


perform household r i t u a l s . I f a Limbu decides t o k i l l a p i g , a
shaman i s c a l l e d i n t o do t h e k i l l i n g and t o o f f e r a s a c r i f i c e t o
Yuma Sammang. They a l s o perform r i t u a l s f o r the welfare of t h e
head o f t h e household, called nahangm a n d mngetura. (See Sagant
i n t h i s v o l u m e ) . T h i s s h o u l d b e done a t least once a year, b u t ,
a s i s t h e case w i t h s o many o t h e r Limbu r e l i g i o u s rites, it is f r e -
q u e n t l y combined w i t h o t h e r household r i t u a l s b e c a u s e of the expense
involved .
The ceremony of Tongshing, performed e v e r y t h r e e y e a r s , i s con-
s i d e r a b l y more c o m p l i c a t e d . F r e q u e n t l y , two o r more h o u s e h o l d s ,
r e l a t e d p a t r i l i n e a l l y , pool t h e i r r e s o u r c e s t o pay t h e shamans t o
c o n d u c t t h i s r i t e . Tongshing i s a r i t u a l i n honour 6f t h e dead
a n c e s t o r s o f t h e f a m i l i e s i n v o l v e d . I t l a s t s f o r two o r t h r e e d a y s ,
and t o b e performed p r o p e r l y , two o r t h r e e shamans are needed. The
shamans c o n s t r u c t an a l t a r i n t h e c o u r t y a r d , w i t h t h e v a r i o u s o f f -
e r i n g s made t o t h e i m p o r t a n t Limbu gods and g o d d e s s e s . I n a d d i t i o n ,
a s m a l l a l t a r s y m b o l i z i n g t h e c o n n e c t i o n of t h e l i v i n g t o t h e dead
i s p r e p a r e d by t h e shaman i n c h a r g e . The l i n k between the l i v i n g
a n d t h e dead a n c e s t o r s i s symbolized by a t h r e a d c o n n e c t i n g two
p a r t s o f t h e a l t a r . A f t e r c h a n t i n g t h e mundhwn f o r two or t h r e e
c o n s e c u t i v e d a y s , the shaman makes an o f f e r i n g of food, beer, l i q u o r
and o t h e r goods t o t h e a n c e s t o r s and c u t s t h e t h r e a d , thoreby s e v e r -
i n g a l l t i e s between t h e l i v i n g and t h e dead.

Although s a c r i f i c e s a r e made t o t h e j u n g l e d i v i n i t i e s , e s p e c i a l l y
Tampungma, on even t h e most minor o f r i t u a l o c c a s i o n s , t h e y s h o u l d
b e p a c i f i e d w i t h a s p e c i a l ceremody once a y e a r . On t h i s o c c a s i o n
a shaman i s c a l l e d i n by t h e head o f t h e household. H e c o n s t r u c t s
a s p e c i a l a l t a r i n t h e j u n g l e o r i n a f i e l d n e a r t h e homestead,
c o n s i s t i n g o f a small p l a t f o r m and o f f e r i n g s o f r i c e , w a t e r , and
b e e r . H e seats h i m s e l f i n f r o n t o f t h e a l t a r a n d c h a n t s t h e mndhum.
The ceremony i s c o n c l u d e d w i t h a s a c r i f i c e o f a c h i c k e n t o Tampungma
( S a g a n t 1969) .
On t h e numerous o c c a s i o n s such a s t h o s e d e s c r i b e d above, t h e
Limbu shaman s e r v e s h i s p e o p l e a s a p r i e s t , as w e l l as d i v i n e r ,
h e a l e r , and s p i r i t medium. During s u c h r i t e s , h i s a b i l i t i e s t o
assume a t r a n c e and t o m a k e ' c o n t a c t w i t h t h e s u p e r n a t u r a l a r e n o t
n e a r l y s o i m p o r t a n t a s are h i s a b i l i t i e s t o recite t h e mund)lwn and
t o make o f f e r i n g s t o t h e h o s t o f d e i t i e s i n t h e L i h u pantheon.
I n d e e d , on most o f t h e s e o c c a s i o n s , h e d o e s n o t g o i n t o t r a n c e o r
c a l l upon h i s t u t e l a r y s p i r i t h e l p e r . I n s t e a d , h i s knowledge of
myth and r i t u a l f a r outweigh h i s m a g i c a l powers, and t h e psycho-
pomp becomes a p e t i t i o n e r .

The Relationship of Lirnbu to nonLLirnbu Shamuns


Today, Limbuan i s a m u l t i - e t h n i c community, and Limbu a r e i n t h e
m i n o r i t y i n terms of p o p u l a t i o n . I n many a r e a s , s u c h a s Ilam,
Limbu number l e s s t h a n t e n p e r c e n t of t h e p o p u l a t i o n (Caplan 1 9 7 0 ) .

The m a j o r i t y are h i g h c a s t e Hindus, e s p e c i a l l y Brahman and


C h e t r i , who have immigrated i n t o t h e a r e a i n t h e p a s t two hundred
y e a r s s i n c e t h e c o n q u e s t s o f P r i t h v i Narayan Shah. A s w i t h o t h e r
a s p e c t s o f Limbu c u l t u r e , Limbu r e l i g i o n h a s a l s o undergone con-
s i d e r a b l e m o d i f i c a t i o n i n r e s p o n s e t o t h i s i m m i g r a t i o n . lo

More f r e q u e n t l y i n t h e f a r e a s t e r n h i l l s , t h e NepZli term dhEmi,


and less f r e q u e n t l y , b i j m Z o r de&ri, a r e u s e d i n i d e n t i f y i n g non-
Limbu shamans.'' I have h e a r d t h e t e r m jMkri used o n l y i n r e f e r r i n g
t o Tamang o r B h o t i a shamans, who, w i t h c e r t a i n e x c e p t i o n s , assume
t h e f u l l d r e s s costume o f t h e f e a t h e r h e a d d r e s s , b e l l s , and s k i r t .
The dhEmi i s c o n t e n t t o make u s e o f t h e drum and n e c k l a c e s o f b e l l s
and b e a d s i n h i s s e a n c e s . The t e r m s dhiimi and j h z k r i seem t o b e
juxtaposed along t h e s e l i n e s .

The d i f f e r e n c e s between Limbu shamans p a r a l l e l t h e d i f f e r e n c e s


between t h e jMkri and dhZimi.12 I t i s as though t h e s e s e p a r a t e
t r a d i t i o n s , a t l e a s t i n t e r m s o f costume and drama, were i n c o r p o r -
a t e d i n t o Limbu shamanic p r a c t i c e s . I t might w e l l b e t h a t t h e
yeba and yema are l i n k e d t o t h e j h z k r i t r a d i t i o n , w h i l e t h e phe-
dmzgma and samba have borrowed h e a v i l y from t h e more Hinduized
dhiimi .
B e f o r e judgements a r e made, however, one s h o u l d k e e p i n mind
t h a t c u l t u r a l borrowing i s n o t a one-way p r o c e s s . T h i s was b r o u g h t
home t o m e d u r i n g a s h o r t t r i p t o T a p l e j u n g Bazaar. On t h e way, I
came upon two non-Limbu shamans, one a f e m a l e and one a male, who
c l a i m e d Yuma Sammang a s t h e i r t u t e l a r y d i v i n i t y . The male shaman
was a Brahman and t h e f e m a l e o f t h e Sunuwar j Z t . They i n v i t e d m e
t o t h e Brahman's home t o w i t n e s s a ' p a ' C ' t o Yuma Sammang. Both
were d r e s s e d u p i n t h e s h a m a n ' s s k i r t and wore s e v e r a l n e c k l a c e s o f
b e l l s and mdriikga b e a d s . Each had a shaman's two-headed drum
p a i n t e d w i t h symbols o f t h e moon, s u n , a n d . t h e t r i d e n t . They w e r e
l e a d i n g a p r o c e s s i o n o f a b o u t a dozen p e o p l e , most of whom were t h e
members o f t h e Brahman's f a m i l y . A s w e approached t h e i r h o u s e , t h e
f e m a l e shaman s t o p p e d f o r a s h o r t w h i l e t o pay homage t o t h e j u n g l e
d i v i n i t y Tampungma by d a n c i n g and p l a y i n g t h e d r u m . A t t h e Brahman's
h o u s e , b o t h went i n t o a t r a n c e i n f r o n t of a s p e c i a l a l t a r , d e v o t e d
t o Yuma Sammang. They t o l d m e t h a t t h e i r guru was a Limbu, and f o r
t h i s r e a s o n t h e y worshipped Limbu d i v i n i t i e s . I t h o u g h t t h e c a s e
was u n u s u a l , b u t my Limbu i n f o r m a n t s w e r e n o t a t a l l s u r p r i s e d . I
w a s t o l d t h a t a shaman w i l l assume t h e r a c t i c e s o f h i s g u r u no
m a t t e r what t h e c a s t e o r e t h n i c group. 15

R e g a r d l e s s of e t h n i c a f f i l i a t i o n , a l l shamans i n Limbuan a r e
aware o f t h e p r a c t i c e s o f o n e a n o t h e r . I t h i n k t h e r e h a s been a
m u t u a l borrowing o f i d e a s , dress, and o t h e r p a r a p h e r n a l i a f o r many
years.

B a s i c d i f f e r e n c e s a r e s t i l l a p p a r e n t . Non-Limbu shamans d o n o t
s e r v e a s p r i e s t s . They d o n o t o f f i c i a t e a t h a r v e s t r i t u a l s o r l i f e -
c y c l e ceremonies. I n s t e a d , t h e y a r e almost e x c l u s i v e l y concerned
w i t h t h e d i a g n o s i s of d i s e a s e and m i s f o r t u n e due t o e v i l s p i r i t s ,
w i t c h e s , and t h e l i k e .

Limbu shamans, on the o t h e r hand, l e a r n n o t only the a r t s and


s k i l l s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h magical c u r i n g and h e a l i n g b u t t h e s a c r e d
Limbu o r a l t r a d i t i o n s of t h e mundhm, sometimes c a l l e d t h e Ljmbu
'Vedas'. I n this way, t h e Limbu shaman m a i n t a i n s a p r a c t i c e t h a t
i s p e c u l i a r l y Limbu and q u i t e d i s t i n c t from t h e i r non-Limbu coun-
terparts.

There a r e a l s o d i f f e r e n c e s between Limbu and nan-LFmbu shamans


i n terms o f t h e t r a n c e . A s n o t e d e a r l i e r , many Limbu shamans be-
l i e v e t h a t t h e y a r e c a p a b l e o f magical f l i g h t d u r i n g t h e t r a n c e .
Non-Limbu shamans a r e f r e q u e n t l y grounded. The d k h 6 i n p a r t i c u l a r
o b t a i n s h i s power p r i m a r i l y through p o s s e s s i o n , g e n e r a l l y by a
f a m i l i a r s p i r i t o r d i v i n i t y t h a t ' s i t s on t h e i r s h o u l d e r ' and
s p e a k s t o t h e audience d u r i n g a s6ance. I t would seem t h a t t h e
non-Limbu shamans r e f l e c t a theme I a t t e m p t e d t o develop i n an
e a r l i e r paper (Jones 1 9 6 8 ) , i n t h a t they do n o t t r a v e l d u r i n g t h e
t r a n c e because t h e c o n c e p t s of t h e s o u l and l i f e a f t e r d e a t h a r e
transformed i n t h e Buddhist and Hindu t r a d i t i o n s a s a r e s u l t o f
t h e b e l i e f i n k a r m a n d t h e t r a n s m i g r a t i o n of s o u l s . Limbu c o n c e p t s
o f t h e s o u l and l i f e a f - e r d e a t h have been o n l y s l i g h t l y modified
i n t h i s r e g a r d , and t h e shaman m a i n t a i n s t h e c l a s s i c I n n e r Asian
psychodrama o f magical f l i g h t t o t h e l a n d of t h e dead o r t o r e t r i e v e
wandering s o u l s .

Limbu shamanism is n e v e r t h e l e s s much d i f f e r e n t from t h e ' c l a s s i c '


shamanism d e s c r i b e d by E l i a d e (1964). Limbu shamans a r e something
more t h a n e c s t a t i c s , psychopomps, o r s p e c i a l i s t s o f t h e human s o u l .
They s e r v e t h e i r people a s p r i e s t s on numerous o c c a s i o n s t h a t do
n o t r e q u i r e t h e i r s k i l l s a s mediums o r a s d i a g n o s t i c i a n s of m i s -
fortune. I n t h i s way, t h e ' c l a s s i c ' s h a m a n i s t i c t r a d i t i o n as des-
c r i b e d by E l i a d e h a s been modified, a l t e r e d , and adapted t o Limbu
needs and Limbu h i s t o r y . Much o f t h i s shamanic t r a d i t i o n may have
been i n f l u e n c e d by Hindu c o n t a c t s , b u t I s u s p e c t t h a t d i f f u s i o n a r y
e x p l a n a t i o n s a l o n e cannot h e l p o u r understanding o f t h e meanings
a t t a c h e d t o it. I t i s p r o b a b l e t h a t shamanism, a s d e f i n e d by
E l i a d e , never e x i s t e d i n r e a l i t y b u t i s merely a s a b s t r a c t i o n of
t h e comparative a n a l y s t . A deeper understanding may l e a d u s t o
e x p l a n a t i o n s of v a r i a t i o n s i n t h e shamanic complex r a t h e r t h a n
a t t e m p t s t o e x p l a i n i t s s i m i l a r i t i e s . T h i s i I t h i n k , i s where we,
a s a n t h r o p o l o g i s t s , have much t o o f f e r t h e c o n p a r a t i v e s t u d y o f
r e l i g i o n . Through o u r e t h n o g r a p h i c documentation of t h e s e d i f f e r -
e n t c o n t e x t s , we might do something o t h e r t h a n p a r r o t pre-conceived
and o f t e n s i m p l i s t i c n o t i o n s o f what a shaman i s and does.

Rex L. Joma
1. I n a s l i g h t l y d i f f e r e n t v e r s i o n t h i s p a p e r was p r e s e n t e d a t
t h e Nepal Symposium a t t h e S c h o o l of O r i e n t a l and A f r i c a n
S t u d i e s , U n i v e r s i t y o f London, i n t h e summer o f 1973. The
symposium w a s c h a i r e d by P r o f e s s o r C. von FGrer-Haimendorf.
The o r i g i n a l t i t l e was ' A S h o r t D i s c u s s i o n of Limbu Shamanism'
I would l i k e t o t h a n k t h e p a r t i c i p a n t s o f t h a t symposium f o r
t h e i r criticisms, comments, a n d s t i m u l a t i n g d i s c u s s i o n s on
t h i s a n d o t h e r e t h n o g r a p h i c t o p i c s i n Nepal.

The f i e l d w o r k o n which most o f t h e m a t e r i a l i s b a s e d was con-


d u c t e d from November 1967 t o J a n u a r y 1969, i n E a s t e r n Nepal,
m o s t l y a r o u n d t h e a r e a of Terhathum B a z a a r .

I wish t o t h a n k t h e R e s e a r c h F o u n d a t i o n of t h e S t a t e Univer-
s i t y of Stony Brook f o r a Summer G r a n t i n Aid which made
t h e completion of t h i s paper possible.

2. The t e r m s 'yema' and 'yebat a r e Limbu d i a l e c t u a l v a r i a n t s o f


t h e terms 'yamat and 'yaba ' mentioned by S a g a n t i n h i s a r t i c l e
i n t h i s volume.

I n a d d i t i o n t o t h e t y p e s o f shamans d e s c r i b e d i n t h i s p a p e r ,
Terhathum Limbu a l s o r e c o g n i z e t h e y m , d e s c r i b e d i n d e t a i l
by S a g a n t i n h i s a r t i c l e . During my f i e l d w o r k , I n e v e r en-
c o u n t e r e d a p r a c t i c i n g ywna. Our cook (see S h i r l e y Kurz i n
t h i s v o l u m e ) , who became p o s s e s s e d on a number o f o c c a s i o n s ,
w a s o f t e n d e s c r i b e d a s ' o n h e r way t o becoming a ywna', b u t
t h e d i s t i n c t i o n s between a y m and yema/yeba were n e v e r made
c l e a r t o me. I d i d not encounter t h e o t h e r r e l i g i o u s specia-
l i s t s mentioned by S a g a n t .

3. See Macdonald's a r t i c l e ' S o r c e r y i n t h e N e p a l i Code o f 1853'


i n t h i s volume f o r c o d i f i e d r u l e s g o v e r n i n g t h e a c t i v i t i e s
o f w i t c h e s and s o r c e r e r s .

4. S a g a n t ' s a r t i c l e i n t h i s volume s u b s t a n t i a t e s much o f t h e i n -


f o r m a t i o n I have on t h e p h e d c m p . H e emphasized t h a t t h e
phedangma i s always a male, and my i n f o r m a t i o n a g r e e s . The
same a p p l i e s t o t h e samba. A s f a r a s I c o u l d d e t e r m i n e , a
f e m a l e c o u l d o n l y become a y e m r o r ywnu. S a g a n t f u r t h e r
c l a i m s t h a t o n l y t h e phedangma i s c a p a b l e o f p e r f o r m i n g t h e
Nahangma r i t u a l f o r t h e w e l f a r e o f t h e head o f t h e h o u s e h o l d .
I w i t n e s s e d s u c h a ceremony t h a t was p e r f o r m e d by a samba.
Perhaps t h i s s i t u a t i o n d i f f e r s i n t h e a r e a I d i d fieldwork,
o r , p e r h a p s t h e d i s t i n c t i o n between t h e samba and phedangma
i s r e l a t i v e l y u n i m p o r t a n t . S a g a n t , I t h i n k , i s more e m p h a t i c
i n c l a i m i n g t h a t t h e bijuwZ (yeba, yema, mangba) s h o u l d n o t
p e r f o r m t h i s ceremony. I n t h i s c a s e , my d a t a c o n c u r .

5. See my a r t i c l e ( J o n e s 1974b) which d e s c r i b e s t h e ceremony f o r


capturing these s p i r i t s .
In S a g a n t ' s a r t i c l e i n t h i s volume, he c o n t r a s t s t h e ~ e b a
and phedangm i n terms o f ' l e f t ' and ' r i g h t ' , 'back' and
' f r o n t ' , and ' l o w e r ' and ' u p p e r ' .

See e s p e c i a l l y Hitchcock (1967, 1974) and o t h e r s i n t h i s


volume.

Note t h e s i m i l a r i t i e s t o t h e d e s c r i p t i o n of t h e Sunuwar
puirnbo's a l t a r a s d e s c r i b e d by F o u r n i e r i n t h i s volume.

Sagant ( i n t h i s volume) i n d i c a t e s t h a t t h e yaba o f t h e n o r t h


a l s o h a s t h e s e powers. I was t o l d by i n f o r m a n t s t h a t t h e
yeba (yaba) c o u l d perform t h e s e r i t u a l s b u t t h a t t h e mmrgba
would always be c a l l e d f i r s t i f a v a i l a b l e .

See my a r t i c l e (1974a) f o r an a n a l y s i s o f Hindu i n f l u e n c e s on


Limbu r e l i g i o n and o t h e r s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s .

Macdonald (1962:f41) n o t e s t h a t i n t h e D a r j e e l i n g a r e a Limbu


shamans were r e f e r r e d t o a s bijuwa', u s u a l l y t r a n s l a t e d a s
'sorcerer, witch'. Sagant ( i n t h i s volume) g l o s s e s t h e Limbu
terms 'yaba' and ' y a m ' w i t h t h e NepZli term 'Eijw-' . I n
t h e Terhathum a r e a t h e yeba, yema, and mangba were f r e q u e n t l y
c a l l e d 'bijuwa", b u t t h i s term was never a p p l i e d t o t h e
phedangma. ~ o s Limbu t i n Terhathum use t h e terms b i j m - and
jzkri i n t e r c h a n g e a b l y i n d e s c r i b i n g Tamang o r Bhotia shamans

Macdonald ( i n t h i s volume s e e ' S o r c e r y and t h e Nepali Code of


1853' 1 c l a i m s t h a t t h e d i s t i n c t i o n s between j a k r i and dh%i
a r e n e v e r made c l e a r i n t h e l i t e r a t u r e . The d i s t i n c t i o n I
am making i n t h i s p a p e r is one t h a t my Limbu i n f o r m a n t s made,
and I do n o t c l a i m i t i s s i m i l a r elsewhere i n Nepal.

See Macdonald (1962) where he n o t e s t h a t t h e iha'kri t r a d i t i o n


o v e r l a p s c a s t e d i s t i n c t i o n s , b o t h i n t h e a p p r e n t i c e s h i p and
i n p r a c t i c e s of c u r i n g and h e a l i n g . O t h e r s , w r i t i n g i n t h i s
volume and e l s e w h e r e ( s e e f o r example Hitchcock 19671, have
observed a s i m i l a r p r a c t i c e .
v
BECOMING A LIMBU PRIEST - ETHNOGRAPHIC NOTES

Introduction

The Limbu i n Nepal number a p p r o x i m a t e l y 1 5 0 , 0 0 0 p e o p l e . They


have s e t t l e d i n t h e h i l l s o f t h e e x t r e m e e a s t e r n p o r t i o n o f t h e
c o u n t r y , i n t h e b a s i n o f t h e ~ a r & a r r i v e r , a t a l t i t u d e s between
1650 a n d 6600 f e e t . B e f o r e t h e Gurkha c o n q u e s t , t h e r e seem t o
have been few f o r e i g n e r s among them, a t l e a s t i n t h e n o r t h e r n p a r t
o f t h e i r t e r r i t o r y . A f t e r the c o n q u e s t i n t h e 1 8 t h c e n t u r y , i m m i -
g r a n t s of a l l c a s t e s continued t o flow i n , transforming t h e a g r i -
c u l t u r a l l a n d s c a p e . New t e c h n i q u e s o f c u l t i v a t i o n m o d i f i e d t h e
t r a d i t i o n a l economic l i f e . l

These socio-economic phenomena combine w i t h c u l t u r a l c h a n g e s .


A c o n c e r t e d e f f o r t h a s b e e n u n d e r t a k e n by t h e c e n t r a l a u t h o r i t y
i n Kathmandu t o d e v e l o p what m i g h t b e c a l l e d ' N e p a l i z a t i o n ' , con-
c e i v e d on t h e b a s i s o f l a n g u a g e ( N e p Z l i ) , c u l t u r e ( H i n d u ) , admin-
i s t r a t i v e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n , t e c h n o l o g i c a l p r o g r e s s , and new p o l i t i c a l
priorities. 'Nepalization' has p a r t i c u l a r l y a f f e c t e d t h e well-to-
do m i n o r i t y . The s m a l l f a r m e r s , however, a r e more r e t i c e n t . They
remain a t t a c h e d t o t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l l a n g u a g e . I n many c a s e s t h e y
d o n o t u n d e r s t a n d t h e c h a n g e s which a r e f a r from b e i n g f a v o y r a b l e
t o them, and t h e y f e a r t h e Nepali a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . They d o n o t y e t
have a p o l i t i c a l a w a r e n e s s b u t t a k e r e f u g e i n a d e s p e r a t e a t t e m p t
t o preserve t h e i r ethnic identity. I n t h i s r e s p e c t , t h e Limbu
masses r e m a i n c l o s e l y a t t a c h e d t o t h e i r own p a r t i c u l a r r e l i g i o n .

I have u n d e r t a k e n t w o t r i p s t o e a s t e r n Nepal. The f i r s t , from


August 1966 t o J u l y 1967. The s e c o n d from September 1969 t o J u n e
1971.2 Both t h e s e t r i p s t o o k p l a c e p r i m a r i l y i n t h e Mewa Khola
Valley, n o r t h of t h e small c i t y of Taplejung. This v a l l e y has
approximately 15,000 i n h a b i t a n t s .

P r o p o r t i o n a t e l y , a q u a r t e r o f t h e p o p u l a t i o n c o n s i s t s o f Indo-
N e p a l i c a s t e s , ( e s p e c i a l l y C h e t r i , Brahman, S a m n y a s i ) ; one q u a r t e r
i s o f s p e a k e r s o f T i b e t a n d i a l e c t s (Sherpa and B h o t i a ) ; o n e h a l f
i s Limbu. My i n v e s t i g a t i o n was c o n c e r n e d p r i m a r i l y w i t h s o c i a l ,
p o l i t i c a l and economic f a c t o r s . I o n l y t o u c h e d upon some p a r t i c u -
l a r a s p e c t s o f Limbu r e l i g i o n . I know t h a t my m a t e r i a l i s l i m i t e d
a n d r a i s e s more q u e s t i o n s t h a n i t a n s w e r s , b u t I am p r e s e n t i n g i t
j u s t a s I g a t h e r e d it, i n hopes t h a t it w i l l c o m p l e t e , i n one way
o r a n o t h e r , t h e i n f o r m a t i o n t h a t J o n e s and Kurz g a t h e r e d a l i t t l e
f a r t h e r s o u t h , i n t h e r e g i o n of Terhathum. I have d e l i b e r a t e l y
a v o i d e d as much as p o s s i b l e any a n a l y s i s o r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n .

Various t y p e s o f p r i e s t s

The L i m u a r e n e i t h e r Hindu n o r B u d d h i s t , even though numerous


s y n c r e t i c e l e m e n t s a p p e a r i n t h e i r b e l i e f s . They have a r e l i g i o n
which i s p e c u l i a r t o them, a t r a d i t i o n a l r e l i g i o n ' w i t h o u t a
name', t h a t might f o r m e r l y have been termed ' a n i m i s t i c ' . I t has
i t s own mythology, i t s own p a n t h e o n o f gods and g o d d e s s e s , and
i t s own g r o u p o f p r i e s t s .

The two p r i n c i p a l c a t e g o r i e s o f Limbu p r i e s t s a r e the phedangma


and t h e bijuw-. I n t h e f i e l d , t h e d i s t i n c t i o n between them i s n o t
a p p a r e n t , and i n c e r t a i n c i r c u m s t a n c e s t h e f u n c t i o n s o f t h e two
p r i e s t s c o i n c i d e . But e v e n more, t h e d i f f e r e n c e s between them
seem d i f f i c u l t t o d e f i n e i n t h e framework o f o u r w e s t e r n c o n c e p t s .
I n a n o t h e r a r t i c l e ( S a g a n t 1973b:52) I have a t t e m p t e d a n i n i t i a l
e x p l a n a t i o : ~which u s e s t h e Limbu c u l t u r a l c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s .

The phedangma c o u l d b e c o n s i d e r e d a ' t r i b a l p r i e s t ' . I t i s he


who i s c a l l e d upon t o remove i m p u r i t y a t b i r t h , when t h e c h i l d i s
p u t i n t h e c r a d l e (yangdang pokma) (L) . He a l s o o f f i c i a t e s a t
m a r r i a g e s 3 a n d accompanies t h e s o u l s o f t h e d e a d t o t h e o t h e r
w o r l d (sam s a d ( L ) . He p r o p i t i a t e s n a t u r e s p i r i t s a t t h e t i m e
o f t h e f i r s t t i l l i n g (yoba t m a ) (L) and c o n s e c r a t e s t h e s e e d
( y w m g ) ( L ) . Sometimes h e d r i v e s away h a i l and makes o f f e r i n g s
o f t h e f i r s t f r u i t s of t h e h a r v e s t ( t h i sok, thok sok) (I,). H e
i s f r e q u e n t l y c a l l e d upon t o k i l l t h e p i g and t o o f f e r it e i t h e r
t o Yuma o r t o p a r t i c u l a r d i v i n i t i e s such a s Kemba, Paunglung, Kebo,
etc ... H e a l s o conducts r i t u a l s a s s o c i a t e d with t h e heads o f t h e
f a m i l y (Nahanqma) o r w i t h s o c i a l g r o u p s (Hangenna, T o n g g i n g ) . H e
p r o p i t i a t e s t h e d e a d a n c e s t o r s (Lumaeppa, Thamang), a s w e l l a s t h e
h o u s e h o l d g o d s (Yuma and Okwanama). H e a c t s a s a n i n t e r m e d i a r y
between men and t h e m a s t e r s o f n a t u r e (Tampungma, Toksongba, Nar-
okma, e t c ... ). H e a s s u r e s t h e p r o t e c t i o n o f p r e g n a n t women and
i s o f t e n c a l l e d upon t o t a k e care o f t h e s i c k . With t h e p o l i t i c a l
c h i e f s (subba) h e s h a r e s c e r t a i n r e l i g i o u s r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s i n v o l -
v i n g t h e ' c l a n segments', n a t u r a l c a l a m i t i e s , epidemics, and t h e
l i k e . A t t h e t i m e o f c e r t a i n c e r e m o n i e s , he can f a l l i n t o a t r a n c e
and become p o s s e s s e d , ( f o r example, by t h e s p i r i t o f a d e c e a s e d ,
a t t h e t i m e o f t h e sam s m ( L ) r i t u a l ) . On o t h e r o c c a s i o r ~ sone
o f h i s s o u l s ( s m ) i s c a l l e d upon t o t r a v e l i n t h e ' o t h e r w o r l d '

H e h a s s p e c i a l g e a r ( d i v e r s e n e c k l a c e s , sometimes a t u r b a n ,
e t c . . . . ) b u t he d o e s n o t p o s s e s s a r o b e o r a h a r n e s s of hand b e l l s .
The i n s t r u m e n t he u s e s most o f t e n i s t h e b e l l . F i n a l l y , i n t h e
area o f c u l t u r a l c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s , h e i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h e c a t e -
g o r i e s o f t h e u p p e r p a r t ( t h o ) , (L) t h e f r o n t o r p r i m o g e n i t i v e
(tagcvuz) (L) , and t h e r i g h t .
Very c l o s e l y r e s e m b l i n g t h e phedangma, i f n o t p e r h a p s i d e n t i c a l
t o him, i s t h e c a t e g o r y of samba p r i e s t s (Chemjong 1967:21).

The b + j w - ' s f u n c t i o n s complement t h o s e o f t h e pheda-. He


k i l l s t h e f i r e s p i r i t (mi Sam Sepma) (L) t h a t may come t o d e s t r o y
a house. H e k i l l s t h e s p i r i t of e v i l d e a t h (sugut, aogha, w j i k ,
sassik, etc .. . ) t h a t t h r e a t e n s t h e community. H e a v e r t s jealousy
(Nahen). H e a l s o c o n d u c t s t h e ceremonies t h a t must b e performed
a f t e r a case of i n c e s t (Zwzgdhw~gk a i polema) (L). such ceremonies
s e r v e t o r e s t o r e an o r d e r t h a t h a s been u p s e t and m a n i f e s t e d i n
everyday l i f e b y t h e f u r y of n a t u r a l f o r c e s such a s wind, r a i n ,
h a i l , l i g h t n i n g , o r e a r t h q u a k e s . ,He i n t e r c e d e s , on b e h a l f o f t h e
v i l l a g e r s , w i t h h i s m a s t e r s p i r i t s , e s p e c i a l l y t h e buzzard and t h e
w i l d c a t , famous s o r c e r e r s whose c o o p e r a t i o n he can a s s u r e . On t h e s e
o c c a s i o n s , he e x p e r i e n c e s p o s s e s s i o n and t r a n c e s . H e a l s o can a c t
a s a medium. A s i n t h e c a s e of t h e phedangma, one o f h i s s o u l s i s
a b l e t o t r a v e l i n t h e & h e r world. H i s m a t e r i a l s u p p o r t i s t h e
bamboo p o l e , e r e c t e d i n t h e i n n e r c o u r t y a r d of t h e house where he
officiates. H e i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h e c a t e g o r i e s o f t h e lower
p a r t ( y o ) , (L) t h e back (egang) (L) and t h e l e f t . He p o s s e s s e s
a g e a r d i f f e r e n t from t h a t of t h e p h e d a n p , and more complete,
c o n s i s t i n g p r i m a r i l y o f a long r e d and w h i t e r o b e , a h e a d d r e s s made
of f e a t h e r s , and a h a r n e s s o f hand b e l l s and s m a l l g l o b u l a r b e l l s .
H i s i n s t r u m e n t i s t h e b r a s s gong t h a t he b e a t s w i t h a f l a t b a t o n .
I n Limbu, t h e b i j - a r e c a l l e d yaba o r y a m , depending on whether
it i s a q u e s t i o n o f a man o r a woman.

The phedangma and b i j m - a r e t h e most i m p o r t a n t p r i e s t s o f t h e


community. There a r e , however, o t h e r c a t e g o r i e s o f r e l i g i o u s
practitioners.

The o n g s h i ( r a t h e r r a r e i n t h e Mewa Khola) many t i m e s d u p l i c a t e s


t h e f u n c t i o n s o f t h e phedangma and samba. They a r e sometimes com-
p a r e d t o t h e 'lamas who r e t i r e t o a g r o t t o ' . They e x p e r i e n c e poss-
e s s i o n and t r a n c e s , a s w e l l a s t h e ' j o u r n e y s o f t h e s o u l ' , b u t by
a n o t h e r p a t h which is ' u n d e r g r o u n d ' . The p r i n c i p a l i n s t r u m e n t used
by t h e o n g s h i I knew i n Lebang was t h e s m a l l c y m b a l ( j y m t o ) .

I n a d d i t i o n , t h e r e are o t h e r r e l i g i o u s f u n c t i o n a r i e s c a l l e d
mangpa o r mang t u k p a , ' t h o s e who s u f f e r by t h e s p i r i t s ' , who a r e
a l s o s u b j e c t t o t r a n c e and p o s s e s s i o n . Among them, i n t h e Mewa
Khola, are t h e laymen c a l l e d kukusing, e s p e c i a l l y women, who seem
t o c o r r e s p o n d t o t h e N e p a l i b o k s i . O t h e r s become p o s s e s s e d by t h e
s p i r i t , Yuma. The p r i n c i p a l i n s t r u m e n t i s t h e drum (@hy2i?im) of
t h e jmkri. They wear a l o n g r e d and w h i t e robe, a t u r b a n resem-
b l i n g t h e r o y a l crown of Y u m a , and a h a r n e s s o f hand b e l l s analogous
t o t h o s e o f t h e b i j m - and t h e jGkrYi.

There are o t h e r t y p e s o f r e l i g i o u s p r a c t i t i o n e r s who w i l l o n l y


b e mentioned h e r e .
1. The baiddang ( ' d o c t o r s ' I 4 a r e o f t e n phedangrm who, i n a d d i t i o n
t o t h e i r o t h e r f u n c t i o n s , t a k e c a r e o f t h e s i c k by a d m i n i s -
t e r i n g a c e r t a i n t y p e o f ' m e d i c a t i o n ' t h e y have a t t h e i r d i s -
p o s a 1.

2. The satihangma ( ' a s c e t i c s ' ) a r e l i k e n e d t o t h e sadhu by many


Limbu. They p e r f o r m i n s q u a r e t e m p l e s t r u c t u r e s and p l a y a
bowed s t r i n g i n s t r u m e n t . They r e p o r t e d l y t a k e h a s h h i s h .

The signs of the vocation

The f o l l o w i n g a c c o u n t by Muktuba, t h e phedangm o f Libang, d e s -


c r i b e s i n h i s own words how he came t o h i s v o c a t i o n .

'When I was s m a l l , I was s i c k one d a y from h a v i n g e a t e n


pork. I l i k e i t though; I t h i n k it i s t h e b e s t meat b u t
I am n o t a l l o w e d t o e a t i t . My f a t h e r a n d my g r a n d -
f a t h e r were b o t h g r e a t phedangm. When t h e y saw t h a t
pork made m e ill, t h e y s a i d t h a t i t was b e c a u s e o f t h e
dentd. They t o 4 d m e n o t t o e a t i t anymore. But I d i d
n o t have any yon (!worka: u n c o n t r o l l e d t r a n c e ) , I was
m e r e l y s i c k . A t n i g h t when I had t o go o u t t o p i s s , I
had a t e r r i b l e f e a r . I opened my e y e s wide i n t h e d a r k .
Are t h e dentd t h e r e ? Are t h e y l y i n g i n w a i t f o r me? I
p i s s e d a s q u i c k l y a s I c o u l d and I r a n back p o s t - h a s t e
t o t h e house.

' I n t h e same way, I q u i c k l y gave up t h e p l e a s u r e o f


e a t i n g a t someone e l s e ' s h o u s e . I f I swallow something
t h a t was n o t cooked a t my h o u s e , t h e dent5 become a n g r y
and I g e t s i c k . L i k e w i s e , i f r e l a t i v e s b r i n g m e a
phudong (see Chemjong 1961:49) I c a n ' t t o u c h it. S t i l l
t o d a y , I am c a l l e d t o h o u s e s t o c a r e f o r p e o p l e , t o do
t h e r i t u a l s o f phak t o k , Zarniba, p h a h a . The p e o p l e ,
t h e y s e r v e m e meat, t h e y o f f e r m e a l c o h o l , t h e y b r i n g
m e a tongba o f b e e r . They s a y , ' E a t , why d o n ' t you
eat?' Sometimes, t o p l e a s e them, I t a k e a l i t t l e .
But i m m e d i a t e l y a f t e r w a r d s , I vomit e v e r y t h i n g , I have
a headache, I f e e l o u t o f s o r t s . I t ' s always t h e
same t h i n g f o r t h o s e who a r e l i k e m e and f o r me m y s e l f ,
w e must do t h e Manguenna r i t u a l , a p p e a s e t h e d i v i n i t i e s
o f t h e body, Kemba and Payunlung, and o f f e r i n c e n s e t o
Yurna. Above a l l , w e must do t h e wahapma ( t h a t i s , p u r i f y )
w i t h w a t e r and w i l d l a v e n d e r l e a v e s ( t i t e p z t i nZmyoba)
(L).5 A f t e r a moment, t h e (uncontrolled trance) is
o v e r . You f e e l b e t t e r . The dentd a r e a p p e a s e d . - But
e a c h t i m e t h a t y o u ' r e impure, it s t a r t s a g a i n .

' A t n i g h t when I s l e p t , I would g e t up and walk around.


But I d i d n ' t know i t . I t w a s my p a r e n t s who t o l d m e
i n t h e morning. 'What happened t o you?' t h e y asked. 'You
g o t up, and you l e f t . W e t a l k e d t o you, b u t you didn't
h e a r . W e p u t you back t o bed and you s a i d n o t h i n g to
us.' I d i d n ' t know why a l l t h i s happened. My grand-
f a t h e r and my f a t h e r knew. I t was t h e deritd having fun.

'They a l s o u s e d t o s a y , ' T h i s c h i l d s p e a k s a l o n e ' . I


w a s on t h e v e r a n d a , my p a r e n t s were i n t h e house. I
t a l k e d , I t a l k e d , I t a l k e d . My p a r e n t s t h o u g h t someone
had a r r i v e d . My mother went o u t . There was no one.
She a s k e d : 'Who a r e you t a l k i n g t o ? ' She went i n s i d e
and said t o my f a t h e r : ' H e t a l k s alone. Who can he
be t a l k i n g t o ? ' my f a t h e r grumbled. H e repeated:
' W h a t ' s h e s a y i n g , w h a t ' s h e done?' When I t a l k e d l i k e
t h a t , f r i e n d s my a g e d i d n ' t u n d e r s t a n d a n y t h i n g I s a i d .
I t was a n o t h e r l a n g u a g e . Besides, they d i d n ' t play
much w i t h m e . And I d i d n ' t have much o f a d e s i r e t o
p l a y w i t h them. I was f i n e , a l o n e i n my c o r n e r .

' I remember, I must have been 1 2 o r 1 3 a t t h e t i m e , it


w a s a t t h e t i m e o f t h e r i c e h a r v e s t . There was a b i g
s t a c k ( o f c o r n ? ) i n t h e f i e l d o f Bongrong. One n i g h t ,
l i k e a l l t h e k i d s , I was g o i n g t o l i e t h e r e . It f e e l s
good i n t h e s t r a w . A t n i g h t I woke up, I f e l t s t r a n g e .
Then s u d d e n l y , I had a c o l d f e e l i n g a t t h e t o p o f my
h e a d , a t t h e p l a c e o f t h e Gupi ( N ) . T h i s cool wind
t h a t h i t me was a t r i c k o f Tampungma, t h e m a s t e r s p i r i t
of t h e f o r e s t .

' L a t e r my nya ( f a t h e r ' s s i s t e r ) d i e d . I was 14. I went


t o t h e f u n e r a l a t T a k s o n g ' s house, and I h e l p e d c a r r y
t h e s t r e t c h e r t o t h e cemetery. A f t e r t h a t , I was s i c k
f o r t h r e e months on e n d . My e n t i r e body h u r t a s i f I
had been b e a t e n w i t h a s t i c k . I had a headache. Every
n i g h t I had a h i g h f e v e r . To c u r e m e , my f a t h e r p u r i f i e d
me w i t h w a t e r and l e a v e s o f titepdti ( N ) and sansing (L).
T h a t w a s n ' t enough s o he performed t h e r i t u a l o f Nahangma.
And h e t o l d m e t h a t i n t h e f u t u r e , I must n o t c a r r y t h e
d e a d , t h a t I must l e t o t h e r s do i t . Today I s t i l l d o n ' t
know why t h a t happened t o me. A t t h e s l i g h t e s t s i g n o f
i m p u r i t y , t h i n g s g o wrong. But a t t h a t t i m e I d i d n ' t
know it. No o n e t o l d m e a n y t h i n g .

'From t h a t t i m e o n , a l o t o f t h i n g s began t o happen t h a t


I d i d n ' t understand a t a l l . One e v e n i n g , I was r e t u r n i n g
from a wedding a t Kurungden. I came by t h e lower road,
t h e one t h a t g o e s by Namyobe's. I n f r o n t o f me I h e a r ,
' F h i n g , c h i n g , c h i n g , c h i n g ' . The t r e e s began making
noise. I w a s panicky b u t I continued on. Before me,
on t h e r o a d , a l a r g e bamboo c o m p l e t e l y b e n t o v e r and
n e a r l y b l o c k e d my p a t h . I c r a w l e d u n d e r i t and p a s s e d
Then two o t h e r bamboos bagan bending o v e r r i g h t i n f r o n t
o f m e and once a g a i n I had t o c r a w l p a s t . A l l t h e trees
were i n a t r a n c e from M u l e ' s house t o Namyobe's. And I
c r a w l e d , c r a w l e d , c r a w l e d i n o r d e r t o g e t p a s t . When I
a r r i v e d home, I went t o bed, e x h a u s t e d . The f o l l o w i n g
morning I r a n t o t h e p l a c e where t h e f i r s t bamboo had
b e n t down. Nothing. T h e r e was n o t h i n g . A l l t h e bamboos
were p e r f e c t l y s t r a i g h t . T h a t a g a i n was Tampungrna's t r i c k .
I t ' s n o t t h a t s h e i s a n g r y , no, s h e i s j u s t h a v i n g f u n .
She d o e s t h i n g s l i k e t h a t t o t h o s e who w i l l become p r i e s t s .
She c o u l d have s t o l e n my s o u l , made m e s i c k ; no, s h e j u s t
had a good t i m e . Today, s h e d o e s n ' t g i v e a damn a b o u t
t h e o l d o n e s . She d o e s i t t o t h e young. Only t h e young
ones i n t e r e s t her.

'When I was a b o u t 1 6 , I went t o Sikkim f o r t h e f i r s t t i m e .


There were s e v e n of u s . We were c a r r y i n g p o t a t o e s . The
r o a d w a s s t e e p . W e a r r i v e a t a cauta'm ( N ) . W e p u t down
t h e b a s k e t s , w e s a t down t o c a t c h o u r b r e a t h . We rolled
a c i g a r e t and began t a l k i n g . Near t h e cauta'ra and a
l i t t l e f a r t h e r down t h e h i l l was a s m a l l mountain s t r e a m
t h a t c r o s s e d t h e p a t h w e had j u s t c l i m b e d and c o n t i n u e d
flowing i n t o t h e jungle. From where I was s i t t i n g , I
saw an o l d woman a r r i v e . She w a s c a r r y i n g a s m a l l b a s k e t
and had a s i c k l e i n h e r hand. I was w a t c h i n g h e r when a l l
o f t h e sudden s h e d i s a p p e a r e d by t h e s t r e a m . I t u r n e d
t o w a r d s my f r i e n d s and s a i d , 'Did you s e e how t h a t o l d
lady disappeared?' They l o o k e d s u r p r i s e d . They h a d n ' t
s e e n a n y t h i n g . And y e t w e w e r e a l l s i t t i n g t h e same
way, f a c i n g t h e wind t o c o o l o f f . I t h o u g h t t h e y had
s e e n h e r a s I had. But no, it was Tampungma a g a i n .

' T h i n g s l i k e t h a t happened t o m e s o many t i m e s ! One


n i g h t i n Sikkim I had a s k e d t o spend t h e n i g h t i n a
house by the r o a d . I s l e p t i n the s h e l t e r of the grain-
p o l i s h i n g machine f d h i k i l ( N ) . The house was s u r r o u n d e d
by a small w a l l o f d r y s t o n e s . A t n i g h t I awoke t o t h i s
n o i s e ' (he r a t t l e d t h e l i d of t h e t e a p o t ' . 'I pulled
o u t my khukuri ( N ) from b e n e a t h my p i l l o w . Crouching,
I walked a l o n g t h e w a l l . I a r r i v e d a t t h e p l a c e from
where t h e n o i s e came: n o t h i n g . So I r e t u r n e d t o where
I w a s s l e e p i n g and I q u i c k l y s a i d : 'Tampungma, I know
i t ' s you. Go y o u r way, I ' l l go m i n e ' . A t such t i m e s ,
i f you have achetd ( N ) ( g r a i n s o f r i c e t o o f f e r ) you
must throw some around. I f you d o n ' t have any, i t ' s
s u f f i c i e n t t o r e c i t e . I wondered what would happen.
The f o l l o w i n g d a y I w a s a s k e d t o work i n t h e cardamon
f i e l d s o f t h e same house. So I s t a y e d t h e r e . Three
n i g h t s l a t e r I w a s s l e e p i n g on t h e v e r a n d a when I
s u d d e n l y f e l t I was b e i n g s t r a n g l e d . I managed t o
g e t up, I vomited, b u t t h e r e w a s no o n e . I n s i d e t h e
house, my b o s s had c e r t a i n l y h e a r d something b u t he was
a f r a i d and s a i d n o t h i n g . I n t h e morning he q u e s t i o n e d
me. 'What happened l a s t n i g h t ? Why a l l t h a t n o i s e ?
Did you l o s e your b r e a t h ( s a s ) (N)? I had t h e f e e l i n g
someone w a s choking y o u ' . I s a i d nothing. But f i v e
d a y s l a t e r , Kapoba ( a d i v i n i t y of t h e siuk o f Yuma)
a t t a c k e d t h e o l d man. H e had p a i n i n h i s e a r s and
t h r o a t , everywhere. H e d i e d w i t h i n two d a y s . S i n c e
t h e t i m e t h a t Tampungma had s i g n a l l e d m e from behind
t h e w a l l , I knew t h a t t h e d e n e had i t i n f o r t h a t
house. I knew what was g o i n g t o happen. She had
warned m e twice.

'When I was a k i d , I d i d n ' t have t r a n c e s b u t t h e


d e n t 6 p l a y e d t r i c k s on m e . Not a l l t h e d e n M ; e x p e c i a l l y
Tampungma. Never Shenga; sometimes Koccoma. Toksongba,
y e s , a l i t t l e . But it was mainly Tampungma. I t a l l
began when I was a b o u t 16 o r 1 7 . I d i d n ' t see Toksongba
b u t I h e a r d h e r . F o r example, a t n i g h t , y o u ' r e i n bed
and h e a r someone w h i s t l e v e r y l o u d l y . You g e t up, t a k e
o u t y o u r k h u k w i , b u t t h e r e ' s no one. Then you under-
s t a n d . You s i t c r o s s - l e g g e d and a p p e a s e Toksongba by
t h r o w i n g h e r a few g r a i n s of rice. 'Toksongba', you
s a y , ' d o n ' t b e a n g r y , be on you way, e t c ...' Why t h e
k h u k u r i ? Because w i t h t h e k h u k u r i one can d r i v e away
t h e sogha i f i t i s t h e y who a r e a t t a c k i n g . I o f t e n
h e a r d Toksongba. A t n i g h t s h e would come down t h e
s t r e a m s a n d s h o u t , 'hoo hoo!' A t these t i m e s , i t ' s a
good i d e a f o r t h e v i l l a g e r s t o l o c k t h e m s e l v e s up a t
home. When s h e makes t h e s e sounds, i t ' s because s h e ' s
warning u s t h a t someone i n t h e v i l l a g e w i l l d i e . A s
f o r h e a r i n g h e r , I r e a l l y h e a r d h e r . And e a c h t i m e
I announced t h a t , someone would become s i c k . But a s
f o r s e e i n g h e r , I n e v e r saw h e r , whereas Tampungma, I
s a w h e r o f t e n . But i t s u f f i c e d t o c l o s e my e y e s and
when I opened them a g a i n , s h e had d i s a p p e a r e d .

'Dreams, a t t h a t t i m e , I had a l o t o f them. But I


have f o r g o t t e n them. Oh y e s : F o r example, I dreamed
t h a t I was d a n c i n g (dhdn nac) ; I was w i t h boys and
g i r l s , and I s a n g w i t h a v e r y p r e t t y g i r l ( a p a r t i a l l y
i m p r o v i s e d t r a d i t i o n a l l o v e song accompanying y o u t h
d a n c e s ) . O r e l s e I dreamed t h a t I was i n bed w i t h a
woman a n d t h a t w e made l o v e . I awoke; no one, no
woman n e x t t o m e . But I knew t h a t a woman had been
t h e r e b e c a u s e I was w e t . These dreams a b o u t g i r l s
can have t h r e e p o s s i b l e meanings. E i t h e r one of your
c l o s e r e l a t i v e s i s g o i n g t o d i e , o r else t h e r e w i l l b e
a f l u epidemic, o r e l s e i t ' s t h e m a s t e r - s p i r i t o f t h e
bij- who was w i t h you. MY p a t h is n o t t h a t of t h e
bijuwa'. And t h a t t y p e o f dream, I d i d n ' t have it v e r y
o f t e n ; a b o u t e i g h t times p e r h a p s . T a l e i s a bijuwd and
he t o l d m e t h a t happened o f t e n t o him. However, i n my
c a s e , i t r e a l l y was t h e m a s t e r - s p i r i t of t h e b i j m d who
was h a v i n g f u n w i t h m e b e c a u s e a f t e r w a r d s , i n t h e v i l l a g e ,
I p a i d a t t e n t i o n , n e i t h e r dying r e l a t i v e s nor t h e f l u .

'When t h e y a r e men, t h e bijuwd's m a s t e r s p i r i t i s a woman.


And when t h e y a r e women i t ' s t h e o p p o s i t e . he b i j u w d
s h o u l d n o t marry. I f he g o e s t o b e d w i t h a woman, h i s
m a s t e r - s p i r i t , a woman, becomes f u r i o u s . She i s j e a l o u s .
She g i v e s him t r a n c e s ; you s h o u l d see them. I f he begins
d a n c i n g , it i s s h e who makes him d a n c e . It's a s i f I
went w i t h a n o t h e r woman a n d my w i f e knew it.

' T a l e , w e were t h e same a g e and w e o f t e n went t o d a n c e s


t o g e t h e r ( t h e y o u t h d a n c e s ) . A f t e r h e had sung a l l n i g h t
w i t h a p r e t t y g i r l , you s h o u l d see what happened t o him
next. H e jumped up and down. They s a i d , 'Yepme thmgma
Ze l u p t o , n a h e t o ' (L), ' h i s g u r u b e a t him, s h e i s j e a l o u s . '
Nahito: i t ' s Nahen, i t ' s t h e same t h i n g ( d e i f i e d j e a l o u s y ) .

' I n t h e s e c a s e s , t o a p p e a s e h e r , you must do a d a r n l o n g


ritual. You t a k e t h e p a t h o f Nahangma. You a r r i v e a t t h e
C r o s s r o a d s of Three P a t h s ( s m Zamdoma) (L) . Then you
accompany y o u r o f f e r i n g a s f a r a s t h e v i l l a g e o f your
m a s t e r - s p i r i t fyepme thungma pangphe). ~ t ' tsh e same
thing f o r the yma. I t c a n b e a man o r a woman. It is
o n l y f o r t h e p h e d a n g m and t h e o n g s h i t h a t i t ' s d i f f e r e n t .
woman phedcmgma o r o n g s h i d o n ' t e x i s t . W e p h e d a n g m and
o n g s h i , w e c a n d a n c e , marry, make l o v e a s much a s w e want.
Our g u r u d o e s n ' t become a n g r y . They o n l y become a n g r y
when w e ' r e impure, W e phedangma, when w e have a s e x
dream, w e h a v e ' t o do a r i t u a l . But i t ' s a s m a l l r i t u a l ,
t o get purified. It's not a t a l l l i k e the r i t u a l the
b i j m - d o e s t o a p p e a s e h i s mistress.

' T h e r e ' s a n o t h e r dream t h a t comes back t o m e . I o f t e n had


it i n t h e p a s t . I would c l i m b up a p a t h a n d emerge always
a t t h e same s p o t : b e f o r e a l a r g e r o c k t h a t b l o c k e d t h e
road. I t w a s hollow u n d e r n e a t h . I went i n on a l l f o u r s
and c r a w l e d a l o n g . But a t t h e e n d , it was c l o s e d o f f by
a rough p a r t o f t h e r o c k . So I r e t r a c e d my s t e p s and
came back down.

' S i n c e I had been s i c k a n d had t h e Nahangma r i t u a l , my


p a r e n t s knew t h a t a l l t h e s e t h i n g s were s i g n s . But I
d i d n ' t know i t . I o n l y l e a r n e d it l a t e r . They t o l d m e
nothing. But my f a t h e r , when he s a c r i f i c e d t o Nahangma
t o c u r e m e , had performed d i v i n a t i o n ; he had l e f t on t h e
Dahayma's p a t h . . H e had r e a c h e d t h e co-lung (L) i n t h e
E a s t ( m y t h i c a l r e s i d e n c e o f Nahangma). H e had t a k e n t h e
p a t h o f t h e phedcmgma, t o t h e r i g h t , and h e had seen o u r
t h r e e l i v e s . T h e r e were two l a r g e f l o w e r s , my grand-
f a t h e r ' s a n d my f a t h e r ' s . And n e x t t o them, a s m a l l s p r o u t
t h a t was I . Then he u n d e r s t o o d t h a t i f t h e s m a l l s p r o u t
grew, t h e two f l o w e r s would d i e ; t h a t is, t h e day I would
become a p h e d a n g m , h e and my g r a n d f a t h e r would d i s a p p e a r .
So t h a t d a y , h e and my g r a n d f a t h e r d e c i d e d t h a t t h e y would
have t o p o s t p o n e t h e t i m e t h a t I would become a phedcMgma
s o t h a t t h e y c o u l d l i v e . And t h i s same d a y , w h i l e doing
t h e r i t u a l of Nahangma, my f a t h e r b l o c k e d my p a t h ( l a m
sakm) (L) t o t h e ' o t h e r world'. He d i d t h i s t o prevent
me from becoming a phedangma.

' I t was t h e r e f o r e r a t h e r l a t e t h a t I became a phedangma.


A l l a t once t h i n g s happened. One e v e n i n g , my f a t h e r came
home and announced t h a t he was t o Go t o Tangemba's hcuse
t o do a mwrdhwn ( r e c i t a t i o n o f a Limbu myth). He s t o p p e d
b e f o r e m e and t o l d m e t o g o t o t h e f i e l d s o f Tengma t o
c l o s e t h e i r r i g a t i o n c a n a l s of t h e r i c e f i e l d s . I a t e
and a f t e r d i n n e r I l e f t . I began work i n t h e f i e l d s .
With s t o n e s , l e a v e s a n d e a r t h I c l o s e d a c a n a l a t t h e
bottom and t h e n above and t h e n a g a i n above. I r a i s e d my
head and what d i d I see by t h e o p p o s i t e house, a b o u t 100
f e e t away? A man, s t o o p e d o v e r l i k e I was and d o i n g t h e
same work. I couldn't see w e l l . Night began t o f a l l .
I t h o u g h t t h a t it was Taksong S a i l a s i n c e h i s f i e l d s were
next t o ours. I s e t t o work a g a i n . I r a i s e d my head and
t h i s t i m e I w a s s u r e , it w a s n ' t Taksong. I looked c l o s e l y .
I had t h e i m p r e s s i o n it was my f a t h e r . I s a i d t o myself,
t h a t ' s n o t p o s s i b l e , my f a t h e r i s doing t h e mwzdhm a t
Tanyemba's. That c a n ' t be he. I looked a g a i n . This t i m e ,
no d o u b t , i t was my f a t h e r , I was s u r e . I s a i d r ~ t h i n g .
I began working a g a i n , I worked a s f a s t a s I c o u l d . I was
afraid. I r e t u r n e d home, b u t my f a t h e r was n o t y e t t h e r e .
I went t o bed. The n e x t morning, he r e t u r n e d from Tany-
emba's house. I g o t up immediately and asked him i f he
had come t o t h e f i e l d s t h e p r e v i o u s e v e n i n g - And I ex-
p l a i n e d i t a l l t o him. H e d i d n o t answer me. I s t a r t e d
my s t o r y a g a i n . I a s k e d a g a i n i f it was he. He still
d i d n ' t answer. T h a t t i m e I u n d e r s t o o d . I t was t h e s i g n
t h a t h e w a s g o i n g t o d i e . T h a t e v e n i n g he performed t h e
r i t u a l t o t h e p l a n e t s , t o Tongsing, t o Nahangma, t o
Manguenna, e t c . ... T h a t happened i n September. On
F e b r u a r y 2 h e w a s dead. On March 5, my g r a n d f a t h e r was
dead. Then i n t h e e n t i r e v a l l e y , a f t e r t h e f u n e r a l , t h e y
came t o g e t m e : Mails Subba, Modemba, Baedar, K a p b a and
o t h e r s . They s a i d , 'Your f a t h e r i s dead. Your g r a n d f a t h e r
i s dead. Who w i l l do t h e r i t u a l now i n t h e v i l l a g e ? I t
must b e y o u . ' ' ~ u It c a n ' t , ' I answered. ' I d o n ' t know
a n y t h i n g , I d i d n ' t l e a r n a n y t h i n g ; I have n e v e r done a
ritual.' 'What s h o u l d w e do?' t h e y s a i d . 'It's t i m e for
you t o g e t s t a r t e d ! ' 'There a r e o t h e r phedangmz i n t h e
v i l l a g e , ' I s a i d , ' g o f i n d them!' ' N O , ' t h e y answered,
' I t must be you! ' They f i n a l l y convinced m e . Then t h e
mundhwn came very q u i c k l y . The o t h e r s had been phedangma
f o r a long time. I had j u s t s t a r t e d and I soon s u r p a s s e d
them. I t was a s i f t h e mundhwn had come a l l by i t s e l f .

' L a t e r when I became a phedangma I had t h e same dream a s


b e f o r e , t h e one about t h e rock and t h e p a t h . A s b e f o r e ,
I crawled through t h e r o c k . But a t t h e end t h e way was
f r e e . And I c o u l d c o n t i n u e c l i m b i n g t h e road . . . I

Violence as t h e s i g n a n d power of t h e p r i e s t s

The s i g n s of Muktuba's c a l l i n g , a s i d e from h i s i l l n e s s , a r e n o t


dramatic. I n h i s c a s e , t h e f a m i l y ' s i n f l u e n c e and s o c i a l p r e s s u r e
were determining f a c t o r s . They were p a r t i c u l a r l y s i g n i f i c a n t f o r
t h i s a d o l e s c e n t g i f t e d w i t h unusual s e n s i t i v i t y and a v e r y v i v i d
imagination. Besides, Muktuba wanted t o become a phedangma. To
t h i s t y p e o f p r i e s t , by f a r t h e most common, i n p a r t i c u l a r among
t h e phedangma, t h e Limbu g i v e t h e name thapmura, t h o s e whose
c a l l i n g i s m a n i f e s t e d w i t h o u t much v i o l e n c e . I do n o t imply t h a t
v i o l e n c e i s t o t a l l y a b s e n t i n Muktuba's c a s e . I t a p p e a r s f o r
example i n t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p between h i s f a t h e r ' s d e a t h and h i s
r o l e a s a phedangma.

But it remains unconscious and r e p r e s s e d . T h i s t y p e of voca-


t i o n i s c o n s i d e r e d synonymous w i t h a lukewarm c h o i c e on t h e p a r t
of t h e s p i r i t s . I n Libang t h e most t y p i c a l p r i e s t i n t h i s r e s p e c t
i s one of Muktuba's p a t e r n a l u n c l e s , Kancha phedcmgma. He was a
k i n d o l d man w i t h t h r e e s m a l l s o n s . I n h i s c a s e , t h e c o n t a c t w i t h
s p i r i t s a t t h e t i m e of h i s a d o l e s c e n c e was q u i t e minimal. A s a
youth, he s u b m i t t e d t o t h e t e a c h i n g of a m a s t e r . A good worker,
he l a b o r i o u s l y l e a r n e d t h e myths and r i t u a l s . He s p e n t e i g h t o r
n i n e y e a r s doing i t , whereas o t h e r s proceed much more q u i c k l y .
H i s power a s a p r i e s t came from a s i n g l e m y t h i c a l v e r b . But he
could never have become a ' g r e a t p r i e s t ' , one o f t h o s e who f l y ,
who know t h e myth w i t h o u t l e a r n i n g i t , and f o r e s e e t h e d e s t i n y of
each person w i t h c o n s t a n t i n f a l l i b i l i t y .

For t h e l a t t e r p r i e s t s , t h e Limbu r e s e r v e t h e name o f muke,


'powerful'. T h e i r power i s l i n k e d t o v l o l e n c e a s a s i g n of t h e i r
vocation. This violence i s manifested i n uncontrollable t r a n c e s ,
s e r i o u s i l l n e s s e s , sudden p o s s e s s i o n s , b r u t a l behaviour i n t h e
c a s e of i m p u r i t y , and l o s s of c o n s c i o u s n e s s . M u l t i p l e and r e p e a t -
e d s u f f e r i n g s a r e t h e mark o f a p r i v i l e g e d c h o i c e by t h e s p i r i t s .
T h i s t y p e of p r i e s t g e n e r a l l y meets h i s s u f f e r i n g w i t h r e s i s t a n c e
and o f t e n e x p e r i e n c e s a p r e c o c i o u s v o c a t i o n . I t i s s a i d t h a t t h e
c a l l i n g may become a p p a r e n t a t b i r t h . For example, t h e u m b i l i c a l
c o r d wrapped around a c h i l d ' s neck i s t a k e n a s a s i g n t h a t he w i l l
occupants with h i s s a b r e i n h i s hand. Then, h i d i n g behind
t h e door, he would watch f o r t h e i r r e t u r n .

' I n t h e months t h a t followed, he c o u l d no l o n g e r t o l e r a t e


anyone. He always wanted t o be a l o n e . He t e r r o r i z e d h i s
whole household, h i s f a t h e r , mother, s i s t e r s , a l l f l e d
from t h e house. When he was a l o n e , he o f f e r e d i n c e n s e t o
Yuma. Once f o r a p e r i o d of two weeks he f o r b a d e everyone
from e n t e r i n g t h e house. H i s r e l a t i v e s moved i n t o a
n e i g h b o u r ' s house. They s e n t him a phedmrgmcr. From t h e
yard t h e phedangma shouted: 'You need someone t o show you
t h e way ( l a m ) ! L e t m e i n ! ' ' I need no o n e ' , he howled.
The myth (mundhwn) comes by i t s e l f ! ' And t h i s t i m e , he
s e n t him away. During t h i s t i m e , he had t e r r i b l y v i o l e n t
t r a n c e s . L a t e r , when he had become a phedangma, t h e
t r a n c e s became l e s s v i o l e n t . Now t h a t he i s o l d , t h e y
have d i s a p p e a r e d . '

The r e t r e a t i n t h e forest

This r e t r e a t t o t h e f o r e s t t h a t we b r i e f l y mentioned i n t h e
c a s e o f T a t e , t h e phedungm of Syamba, i s a theme t h a t f r e q u e n t l y
recurs i n accounts describing t h e f i r s t s t a g e s of a vocation.
The f o l l o w i n g i s a n o t h e r r e p o r t made by a layman i n Libang. I t
concerns t h e ' f l i g h t t o t h e f o r e s t ' of a bijuwz o f Signenem of
t h e Pembasong c l a n . The b i j m z was named Dhan Rup. He h a s been
dead f o r about t e n y e a r s .

. . . I When he was a s m a l l boy, h e was c o n s i d e r e d s t r a n g e .


They s a i d , ' h e speaks a n o t h e r language.' No one under-
s t o o d him. H e - l i k e d t o be a l o n e . A t e i g h t o r n i n e , he
had only t o h e a r t h e b i j - ' s hand b e l l s and he c o u l d
no l o n g e r c o n t r o l h i m s e l f . A t t h e s i g h t of t h e i r f e a t h e r s
he would f a l l i n t o a t r a n c e . A t t h e age of 10 o r 1 2 , he
was s i c k f o r a long time ... When he reached a d o l e s c e n c e
he would o f t e n devour a n y t h i n g he happened t o f i n d : h e r b s ,
s t o n e s , wood, even excrement. When he h e a r d t h e sounds of
t h e ban j h z k r i ( s e e Macdonald 1962: 122-125 and Hitchcock
i n t h i s volume) drums coming from t h e f o r e s t , he would go
o f f a l o n e a t n i g h t i n t o t h e f o r e s t t o f o l l o w t h e sounds.
He would t a k e a s t i c k w i t h which he h i t t h e ground w h i l e
walking. He would l e a v e f o r t h e e n t i r e n i g h t . When he
r e t u r n e d , he would b e a t a b r a s s p l a t e and dance i n a
t r a n c e . O r e l s e he would remain p r o s t r a t e i n a s t u p o r .
He d i s a p p e a r e d , 4 o r 5 t i m e s , and s t a y e d away f o r a day
o r two. H i s m o t h e r ' s b r o t h e r was a bij-. H i s father
was a phedangm, a g r e a t phedungma. I t was t h e y who went
t o look f o r him and b r i n g back h i s s o u l .
' I t was l a t e r , t o w a r d s 1 7 , t h a t he f l e d f o r g o d l t o t h e
f o r e s t . H i s f a t h e r and h i s m o t h e r ' s b r o t h e r c o u l d d o
n o t h i n g f o r him. They c a l l e d upon o t h e r p r i e s t s o f t h e
v i l l a g e . The e n t i r e h a m l e t g a t h e r e d a t h i s house. The
phedangma c o n s u l t e d w i t h e a c h o t h e r . With b e e r , a n e g g ,
cabong (mixed c e r e a l g r a i n s o f f e r e d t o t h e s p i r i t s ) , t h e y
invoked a l l t h e f o r e s t m a s t e r s t o h e l p them f i n d t h e boy
by i n d i c a t i n g t h e e x a c t s p o t h e c o u l d be found i n t h e
f o r e s t . They i n t e r c e d e d w i t h Tampungma, m a s t e r o f t h e
f o r e s t ; Toksongba, master of t h e mountain r i d g e s ; Shenga,
master o f t h e v a l l e y f l o o r s ; Warokma, m a s t e r o f t h e
w a t e r s ; Koccoma, t h e b i t c h ( d o g ) , a s w e l l a s o t h e r d e n t b .
Then t h e phedgngma l e f t t o l o o k f o r h i s s o u l , and t h e
e n t i r e v i l l a g e participated i n the search.

' I t was v e r y d i f f i c u l t t o f i n d him. L a t e r he h i m s e l f t o l d


how h e was f r i g h t e n e d by t h e men who approached him. He
saw them w i t h enormous h e a d s , enormous e y e s , making h e l l i s h
noises. H e ran t o hide. H e burrowed i n t h e most inpene-
t r a b l e t h i c k e t s . He f o l l o w e d h i s m a s t e r s , t h e ban j h8m
who l e d him f a r t h e r and f a r t h e r i n t o t h e j u n g l e t o h i d e .
He was f i n a l l y found l y i n g p r o s t r a t e . But when t h e y t r i e d
t o s e i z e him, he s t r u g g l e d f u r i o u s l y . H e b i t them, he
t r i e d t o f l e e . They grabbed him by t h e w r i s t s and t o o k
him by f o r c e . H e t o o k a c o p p e r p l a t e and danced i n a
t r a n c e w h i l e b e a t i n g on i t . Once a g a i n , he was c o m p l e t e l y
p r o s t r a t e a s i f he were bound hand and f o o t , and h e s a i d ,
'Oh my g o a t s : Oh my young b u f f a l o ! Oh my f a t h e r ! Oh my
mother! L e t m e go home! L e t m e go back t o t h e f o r e s t !
Here I am n o t a t home ! Why have you b r o u g h t m e h e r e ? '
F o r f i v e d a y s i n a row t h e p r i e s t s took t u r n s d o i n g the
m n g pokma r i t u a l s w i t h o u t i n t e r r u p t i o n . A f t e r f i v e d a y s
a phedangma r e s t o r e d h i s s o u l t o him by blowing i n t o h i s
e a r s . H e was c u r e d . H e s l o w l y r e g a i n e d h i s normal s t a t e .
H i s f e a r o f men d i s a p p e a r e d .

' A s soon a s h e had e n t e r e d t h e f o r e s t he had thrown away


h i s c l o t h e s . H e l i v e d t h e r e c o m p l e t e l y naked. The ban
j h z k r i had a human a p p e a r a n c e . They took good c a r e o f him.
B e t t e r t h a n a f a t h e r o r mother. They t a u g h t him t o d a n c e ,
t o r e c i t e . They gave him cooked tonajek on t h e backs o f
t h e i r hands.

'The ban j%krC a r e t h e guru o f t h e j h z k r i . But sometimes


t h e y a l s o a t t r a c t ~ i h phedangm
u and bij- into the
f o r e s t . Laymen can h e a r them b u t c a n n o t see them. In
Limbu, t h e ban j G k r i a r e c a l l e d Tampungma, Toksongba,
and s o f o r t h .

' I f t h e y had n o t gone t o look f o r him he would n o t have


come back on h i s own; h e would have d i e d . A g r e a t phedangma
must l o o k f o r him o r e l s e t h e y w i l l f i n d n o t h i n g . Some-
t i m e s it takes a week t o f i n d t h e p e r s o n who h a s f l e d .
Sometimes i t t a k e s s i x months, o r more. The l o n g e r one
s t a y s i n t h e f o r e s t , t h e more h e s t r u g g l e s when t h e y come
f o r him.

' I n a l l t h e v a l l e y I have known two p r i e s t s who s t a y e d


f o r a long t i m e i n t h e f o r e s t l i k e t h a t . Dhan Rup, a b o u t
whom I j u s t s p o k e , and Phojongma, who l i v e s above Nalbu.
What h a s become o f him? He u s e d t o jump l i k e t h i s when
he was i n a t r a n c e ! '

T h i s theme of t h e f l i g h t i n t o t h e f o r e s t p o s e s p a r t i c u l a r
q u e s t i o n s I am p r e s e n t l y u n a b l e t o anqwer. The Limbu who mention
it a l w a y s i n s i s t on t h e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y o f t h e ban j h d k r i , t h e
m a s t e r s p i r i t s o f t h e N e p a l i jzkri. Only l a t e r do t h e y e x p l a i n
t h a t t h e Limbu e q u i v a l e n t s o f t h e ban j G k r i a r e t h e s p i r i t s o f
Tampungma, Toksongba, e t c . ... Furthermore, t h e informants o f t e n
c o n t r a d i c t e a c h o t h e r . Some o f them deny t h e f a c t t h a t a Limbu
phedungmz c a n be a t t r a c t e d by ban j h z k r i and r e t r s a t t o t h e
f o r e s t . O t h e r s u b s c r i b e t o t h i s p o s s i b i l i t y b u t make a d i s t i n c -
t i o n between t h e f a t e o f t h e Limbu p r i e s t s and t h a t o f t h e N e p a l i
h i . The f o r m e r , ' c a n , i f n e e d b e , come back t h e m s e l v e s ' .
T h a t would n e v e r b e p o s s i b l e f o r t h e l a t t e r , who 'must always be
c a l l e d b a c k ' o r e l s e t h e y might d i e . F i n a l l y , t h e ' f l i g h t t o t h e
f o r e s t ' i s n o t a n i n d i s p e n s i b l e s t e p i n t h e v o c a t i o n of a Limbu
p r i e s t . N e i t h e r Huktusa, t h e phedangma n o r Kapoba, t h e ~ W M t, o
mention o n l y t h e most h i g h l y r e g a r d e d p r i e s t s o f Libang, under-
went s u c h an e x p e r i e n c e .

Heredity and t h e Vocation


The i n f l u e n c e o f t h e f a m i l y g r o u p seems t o p l a y an i m p o r t a n t
r o l e i n t h e a p p e a r a n c e o f new v o c a t i o n s . The same f a m i l y o f t e n
i n c l u d e s e v e r a l p r i e s t s i n i t s r a n k s . From g e n e r a t i o n t o g e n e r -
a t i o n t h e v o c a t i o n s a r e renewed. The f a m i l y l i n e o f Muktuba, t h e
phedangma o f Libang, i s t y p i c a l i n t h i s r e s p e c t ; it seems t o b e a
n u r s e r y f o r p r i e s t s . The g r a n d f a t h e r was a t once a v e r y renowned
phedangma, a p a r t i c u l a r l y f e a r e d s o r c e r e r and a ' d o c t o r '
(baiddang). I n t h e f o l l o w i n g g e n e r a t i o n , t h e f a t h e r and t h e
f a t h e r ' s younger b r o t h e r s were p h e d a n p . A s i s t e r became a
bijuai. Only t h e y o u n g e s t b r o t h e r remained a layman. In the
n e x t g e n e r a t i o n o u t of f o u r t e e n d e s c e n d a n t s two became p h e d u n g m
Muktuba and an immigrant c o u s i n , who t o d a y l i v e s i n Assam, and
two b i j w l l i r i , t h e two younger s i s t e r s o f Muktuba.

T h i s i s n o t an i s o l a t e d example. The f a t h e r o f t h e ongshi,


Netang, was h i m s e l f a n o n g s h i ; t h e f a t h e r o f t h e bijuwli, Lungwaba
was h i m s e l f a phedangmu; h i s m o t h e r ' s b r o t h e r was a bijuwd. The
same p a t t e r n i s found i n t h e c a s e o f Dhan Rup, t h e b i j u ~ whose
' f l i g h t t o t h e f o r e s t ' w e d i s c u s s e d . The b r o t h e r o f Kuposa's
mother was a l s o a p r i e s t o f Yuma; and t h e b r o t h e r of t h e bij-
o f Tempe's mother was a b i j m - . I n t h e v i l l a g e s o f Syamba and
Dunwa, two of t h e phedangma have f a t h e r s h o l d i n g t h i s same
function. I n Libang, i t i s r a r e t o f i n d p r i e s t s who do n o t have
a t l e a s t one r e l i g i o u s p r a c t i t i o n e r i n t h e i r a n c e s t r y . T h i s would
be t h e c a s e o f Yakoba and Take, b o t h b i j m - . But t h e s e examples
a r e perhaps n o t convincing f o r they lack conclusive evidence
beyond t h e second g e n e r a t i o n .

Observation of t h e s e f a c t s l e a d s u s t o e s t a b l i s h a p o s s i b l e
l i n k between h e r e d i t y and p r i e s t h o o d . However, t h e f a c t s a r e
d i v e r s e l y i n t e r p r e t e d by t h e v a r i o u s i n f o r m a n t s .

P a t r i l i n e a l a f f i l i a t i o n is recognized i n t h e case of t h e
phedangm. But i t i s n o t c o n c l u s i v e , t h e y s a y , a s a r e l i g i o u s
phenomenon. Only m a t r i l i n e a l a f f i l i a t i o n would b e . I t i s on t h e
s i d e o f t h e maternal a n c e s t o r s t h a t r e l i g i o u s h e r e d i t y i s sought.
Tungwabe, Dhan Rup and t h e bijuwa' o f Tempe a r e a l l bijuwd b e c a u s e
t h e i r m o t h e r ' s b r o t h e r was. I t i s t h e same i n t h e c a s e o f Kapoba,
p r i e s t o f Yuma. I n Muktuba's f a m i l y l i n e , t h e f a c t t h a t t h e
g r a n d f a t h e r was a p h e h n g m a i s e x p l a i n e d by g o i n g back s t i l l
f u r t h e r t o a maternal ancestor.

T h i s f i l i a t i o n may s k i p g e n e r a t i o n s . Muktuba e x p l a i n s t h i s
r e l i g i o u s phenomenon by a comparison w i t h t h e c o l o u r o f t h e b i t c h -
dog's fur: 'My b i t c h h a s r e d f u r , s h e h a s b l a c k p u p p i e s ...'

R e l i g i o u s f i l i a t i o n e x i s t s o n l y w i t h i n t h e l i m i t e d framework
of each category of p r i e s t s . A b i j w d cannot give b i r t h t o a
phedangma, a n d v i c e v e r s a . The f a t h e r o f t h e bijuwti Lungwasa was
a phedmrgma. T h i s f a c t i s n o t s i g n i f i c a n t o n t h e r e l i g i o u s l e v e l .
However, h i s m o t h e r ' s b r o t h e r was h i m s e l f a b i j w d , and it i s by
t h e l a t t e r t h a t Lungwasa's v o c a t i o n i s e x p l a i n e d .

This f i l i a t i o n i s expressed i n t h e r i t u a l s . I was t o l d t h a t


a t t h e t i m e o f a b i j u w l i ' s ' i n i t i a t i o n ceremony', t h e v i l l a g e i s
assembled. The v i l l a g e r s approach t h e new b i j w d who d a n c e s , and
they say: 'Where do you come from? You a r e n ' t a r e a l b i j m - i f
you c a n ' t t e l l u s where you come from!' They p r e t e n d t o b e a t him.
'You don' t p l e a s e u s ! ' , t h e y r e p e a t . 'We don' t l i k e you! ' Then
t h e b i j m - who d a n c e s g i v e s t h e name o f a m a t e r n a l a n c e s t o r who
was h i m s e l f a b i j w t i . Everyone a s k s , ' I s it t r u e t h a t you came
t h i s way?' The bijuwd r e a f f i r m s h i s f i l i a t i o n and g i v e s e x p l a n -
a t i o n s . The e n t i r e assembly r e s p o n d s i n c h o r u s : ' T h a t i s good!
You a r e r e a l l y a b i j w d ! You w i l l p r e d i c t t h e f u t u r e f o r u s .
You w i l l t e l l u s who w i l l become s i c k ; who w i l l d i e a v i o l e n t
d e a t h ; which women w i l l d i e i n c h i l d b i r t h . ' The new bijuwZ b e g i n s
h i s prophesies. To e a c h p e r s o n who a s k s what h i s d e s t i n y h o l d s ,
he g i v e s a n e x p l a n a t i o n . Then everyone i s happy. I f t h e b i j m -
c a n n o t i n d i c a t e h i s h e r e d i t y , he i s n o t r e c o g n i z e d . They s a y ,
'Oh, he w i l l p e r h a p s be a b l e t o p e r f o r m some r i t u a l s h e r e and
t h e r e b u t he w i l l n e v e r be a r e a l b i j m d . '

I t i s w i t h r e f e r e n c e t o t h e r e l i g i o u s f i l i a t i o n on t h e m a t e r n a l
s i d e t h a t Muktuba e x p l a i n s how t h e p r i e s t s a p p e a r e d i n Limbu
country i n general. I n t h e b e g i n n i n g t h e r e was a p h e h n g m a , t h e n
a b i j m z from whom descended a l l t h e p r i e s t s (of t h e s e two c a t -
e g o r i e s ) who a r e a l i v e t o d a y . Among t h e Limbu, r e s i d e n c e i s
p a t r i l o c a l . Only m a t r i l i n e a l f i l i a t i o n c o u l d p e r m i t t h e p r i e s t s
t o a p p e a r i n a l l t h e c l a n s a n d a l l t h e v i l l a g e s . When he c a l l s
h i s m a s t e r - s p i r i t s , t h e phedanyma c i t e s a v e r y l o n g l i t a n y o f
phedangma names. I t i s p o s s i b l e t h a t t h e enumeration i s intended
t o p r o v e h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h t h e v e r y f i r s t phedangma, t h e one
b e l o n g i n g t o t h e g r o u p o f t h e Ten Limbu.

The f u t u r e p r i e s t i s d a n g e r o u s

U n t i l t h e end o f h i s a p p r e n t i c e s h i p and e s p e c i a l l y d u r i n g t h e
p e r i o d i n which t h e s i g n s o f t h e v o c a t i o n become m a n i f e s t , t h e
f u t u r e p r i e s t i s c o n s i d e r e d d a n g e r o u s . I t i s s a i d t h a t he
a t t r a c t s t h e c r u e l l e s t s p i r i t s o f t h e c r e a t i o n . P o s s e s s e d , he
h a r b o u r s them and becomes t h e i r i n s t r u m e n t . H e i s i d e n t i f i e d
w i t h t h e s e m a s t e r - s p i r i t s by t h o s e who s a y , ' h e i s a s h i - y a . l 6
H e i s compared t o a s o r c e r e r , f s h i - r e ) . H e is feared. Modemba,
a layman, t e l l s how t h e b i j u w z , T a l e , had t e r r o r i z e d h i s neigh-
bours before submitting t o h i s vocation.

One o f t h e n e i g h b o u r s had s e e n him i n a dream one n i g h t i n t h e


form o f a t i g e r e n t e r i n g h i s house. The s t o r y s p r e a d t h r o u g h t h e
h a m l e t . T a l e was f i n a l l y compelled t o r e c o g n i z e h i s v o c a t i o n ,
dominate h i s m a s t e r - s p i r i t s , become a b i j m - and 'assume h i s p a t h '

I had t h o u g h t t h a t t h e t e r m shi-ya d e s i g n a t e d o n l y t h e f u t u r e
b i j m z whose i d e n t i t y had n o t y e t been r e v e a l e d by t h e m a s t e r -
s p i r i t during a trance. I a l s o thought t h a t only t h e possessed
c o u l d be dangerous. The t e s t i m o n y o f Muktuba, t h e phedangma,
s h e d s d o u b t on t h i s n o t i o n . H e a g a i n r a i s e s t h e problem o f t h e
n a t u r e of t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p s e x i s t i n g between e a c h c a t e g o r y o f
p r i e s t s and t h e w o r l d of s p i r i t s .

Here i s h i s t e s t i m o n y : a s we have s e e n , Muktuba's f a t h e r


postponed h i s s o n ' s v o c a t i o n by t h e r i t u a l o f h r sakma. ~ He
b l o c k e d t h e r o a d t h a t l e a d s t h e p h e d a n g m t o t h e r e a l m o f Nahangma
i n t h e 'other world'. T h i s e x p l a i n s t h e h a l l u c i n a t i o n o f bending
bamboos; t h e dream a b o u t t h e rock on t h e p a t h . ' A s l o n g a s my
p a t h was b l o c k e d , ' s a y s Muktuba, ' I was a s h i - y a . I f my f a t h e r
had l i v e d , i f he had renewed t h e h m s a h r i t u a l , I would be
dead. ' Thus, a c c o r d i n g t o Muktuba, a f u t u r e phedangma can a l s o
be c a l l e d by t h e name shi-ya.
The shi-ya i s n o t o n l y dangerous t o h i m s e l f , b u t a l s o to t h o s e
n e a r him. I n Fimkhim, i n t h e Tamur Khola, two b i i w - are husband
and w i f e . The s i g n s of t h e b i j & i 8 s vocation appeared while she
was p r e g n a n t . She gave b i r t h t o a boy. The new-born c r i e d con-
t i n u o u s l y and r e f u s e d t o n u r s e . H e d i e d two d a y s a f t e r b i r t h .
H i s mother had unknowingly c a u s e d b u z z a r d and w i l c ~ a ts p i r i t s t o
come o n t o him. She was a t t h a t time u n a b l e t o c o n t r o l t h e s e
master-spirits. T h i r s t y f o r b l o o d , t h e y had r u s h e d t o the c h i l d
a t t h e moment of b i r t h . I n t h e new-born's back was a k i n d of
wound, ' t h e f l e s h was k n o t t ~ d ' . T h a t was t h e mark o f t h e i r
attack.

I n Libang, t h e bijuwii Lungwasa, had t h r e e c h i l d r e n . A l l t h r e e


d i e d , t h e y s a y , b e c a u s e he was a shi-ya. I n L i n g t e p it is s a i d
t h a t a man becomes a bijuwZ s o t h a t h i s c h i l d r e n might s u r v i v e .

Even o u t s i d e t h e h o u s e h o l d , t h e p r i e s t is a t h r e a t t o t h e
community a s a whole. Phungba, one o f my main i n f o r m a n t s i n
Libang, s a y s t h a t a s h i - y a l i v e d n e a r h i s house. H i s wife w a s
pregnant. he c a l l e d t h e phedangma and a s k e d him t o b l o c k t h e
p a t h (lam sakma). The phedangma made a s m a l l hedge o f i n t e r l a c e d
p l a n t s on t h e p a t h between t h e two h o u s e s . The n e i g h b o u r , l e a r n -
i n g t h e s t a t e o f h i s w i f e , r e f r a i n e d from e n t e r i n g d u r i n g t h e
e n t i r e pregnancy and even s e v e r a l months a f t e r t h e b i r t h . 'If
h e had come,' s a i d Phungba, ' h e would have s h r i e k e d b e f o r e
e n t e r i n g , 'thapu s h e shamo!' 'Throw a s h and embers!', i n o r d e r
t h a t t h e s p i r i t s he had w i t h him would b e chased away.'

T h i s dangerous p e r i o d c o n t i n u e s u n t i l t h e end o f t h e appren-


t i c e s h i p , when t h e mundhwn h a s been l e a r n e d under t h e d i r e c t i o n
of a master. I n Libang, Cupke's 'way' w a s r e c o g n i z e d as b e i n g
t h a t of t h e phedangma when h e was 18. But h e n e v e r wanted t o
s u b m i t t o t h e d i r e c t i o n of a m a s t e r and n e v e r underwent t h e
mwzdhwn i n s t r u c t i o n .

He was 34 when I knew him. One e v e n i n g T a l e , t h e b i j m a ' , was


p e r f o r m i n g a r i t u a l . The p e o p l e o f t h e v i l l a g e had come t o s e e
him dance. There were a p p r o x i m a t e l y 20 p e o p l e s e a t e d i n t h e
y a r d . Cupke was a l s o t h e r e . H e a c c e p t e d a b e e r (tongba) t h a t
t h e woman of t h e house o f f e r e d him. Soon a f t e r w a r d s , he was
overcome by f i t s of a n g e r . Armed w i t h h i s k h u k u r i he lunged a t
h i s subba. T a l e , t h e bijuwa', immediately gave him a gong and a
c l a p p e r and made him dance w i t h him. T h a t n i g h t , Cupke c o l l a p s e d .
H e s e n t h i s w i f e t o Muktuba, t h e p h e d a n g m . Then h e h i m s e l f came.
' I am a s h i - y a , ' h e r e p e a t e d on t h e v e r g e of a f i t o f h y s t e r i c s .
' I d o n ' t know what I ' m d o i n g , I ' m bad, I t h r e a t e n p e o p l e , I want
t o k i l l them. T h i s t i m e I came t o a s k you t o be my m a s t e r . I
want t o l e a r n t h e mun&wn. I g i v e i n t o my v o c a t i o n .
Sickness and the recognition o f t h e vocation

I n much t h e same way, w i t h more o r less r a p i d i t y and i n t e n s i t y ,


t h e v o c a t i o n of t h e m a j o r i t y o f p r i e s t s i n Libang was m a n i f e s t e d .
The v o c a t i o n c u l m i n a t e s one day w i t h a s e r i o u s i l l n e s s . I t is
o f t e n a t t h e t i m e o f t h i s i l l n e s s t h a t t h e o t h e r p r i e s t s , and w i t h
them t h e v i l l a g e , r e c o g n i s e t h e v o c a t i o n . From t h i s day, i t i s
s a i d t h a t a new phedangma o r a new b i j m 5 h a s ' r i s e n ' (pokrna).

A s a y o u t h , t h e c h i l d may have a p p e a r e d s t r a n g e . A s an adoles-


c e n t , he may have been s u s p e c t e d of h a v i n g c o n t a c t w i t h t h e s u p e r -
natural. But t h e s e v a r i o u s symptoms a r e known o n l y t o t h e narrow
c i r c l e o f t h e household. One d a y , d u r i n g a d o l e s c e n c e , a p u b l i c
c r i s i s may a t t r a c t t h e a t t e n t i o n of t h e v i l l a g e and, f o r t h e f i r s t
t i m e , p r i e s t s w i l l i n t e r v e n e . But t h e y do n o t l o o k f o r t h e d e e p
c a u s e s o f t h e e v i l . They o n l y want t o a p p e a s e and p e r f o r m a p u r i -
f i c a t i o n r i t u a l (wahapm5). T h i s p r o c e s s may b e r e p e a t e d s e v e r a l
times w i t h o u t l e a d i n g t o t h e r e c o g n i t i o n of t h e v o c a t i o n .

Thus, i n t h e c a s e o f Kapoba, t h e p r i e s t o f Yuma, we had gone t o


a f a i r 7 t h a t was h e l d i n t h e v a l l e y f l o o r . Along t h e r i v e r , s e v e r a l
f a m i l i e s performed p r o p i t i a t o r y r i t e s t o t h e m a s t e r - s p i r i t s o f
n a t u r e (Tampungma e t c ...) a s w e l l a s t o t h e N e p a l i dent5 ( K a l i k a
Devi, Naga). An a d o l e s c e n t , i n t h e m i d d l e o f a s m a l l group a t t e n -
d i n g t h e ceremony, was b r u t a l l y s e i z e d by an u n c o n t r o l l e d t r a n c e .
Kapoba watched f o r a l o n g t i m e . He t u r n e d toward me, a s k i n g him-
s e l f these questions: 'By whom can h e be m i s t r e a t e d t h i s way
(bigzrnu) (N)? The p l a n e t s ? An enemy? Yuma? The phedangma?
The bijuwd? The ongshi? Who e l s e ? ' H e a t t e n t i v e l y watched t h e
priest's purification. Once calm was r e s t o r e d , w e c o n t i n u e d on o u r
way. Kapoba's q u e s t i o n s were l e f t w i t h o u t answer. These q u e s t i o n s
g e n e r a l l y a r e posed u n t i l t h e answers appear a s a v i t a l n e c e s s i t y ,
t h a t is, u n t i l the t i m e of the serious i l l n e s s .

A s w e have s e e n , Muktuba, a t t h e a g e o f 1 4 , became s e r i o u s l y ill


f o r t h r e e months a f t e r h a v i n g c a r r i e d t h e d e c e a s e d ' s s t r e t c h e r
d u r i n g t h e f a m i l y mourning. I t was a t t h a t t i m e t h a t h i s f a t h e r
performed t h e r i t u a l o f Nahangma and r e c o g n i z e d h i s v o c a t i o n , even
though h e c o n c e a l e d it.

A young g i r l from t h e h a m l e t o f T j u n g t j i p u n g remained ill f o r


s i x months. P r i e s t s t o o k t u r n s a t h e r b e d s i d e , b u t t h e y were a l l
p o w e r l e s s t o c u r e h e r . A t one t i m e , s h e was t h o u g h t dead. Kapoba
t o o k h i s t u r n p e r f o r m i n g t h e mwzdhwn o f Yuma. A t t h e end o f t h e
r i t u a l , h e r c o n d i t i o n improved. She was t o become a p r i e s t e s s of
Y uma .

Indramaya l i v e s t o d a y i n t h e v i l l a g e o f Y a k t e l i i n t h e Maewa
Khola. A s a n a d o l e s c e n t , s h e l i v e d w i t h h e r p a r e n t s i n Libang.
While a t t e n d i n g a b i j m d dance one day s h e was p o s s e s s e d . Subse-
q u e n t t o t h i s i n c i d e n t s h e f e l l s i c k . A pheciangma f i n a l l y r e v e a l e d
h e r ' w a y ' ; s h e a l s o was t o b e a c o n s e c r a t e d p r i e s t e s s o f Yuma.

Kapoba, a t 1 3 , went t o l i v e w i t h h i s m o t h e r ' s f a m i l y . A s a


y o u t h , he l o s t c o n s c i o u s n e s s a t t h e s i g h t o f a bijtcwd's h e a d d r e s s .
I n h i s m o t h e r ' s v i l l a g e o f Nangphabung i n t h e Mewa Khola, he became
s e r i o u s l y i l l . A t n i g h t he w a s d e l i r i o u s , a n d t h e y t h o u g h t h e was
on t h e v e r g e o f d e a t h . H i s m o t h e r ' s b r o t h e r , a p r i e s t o f Yuma,
recognized h i s vocation.

T a l e , t h e b i j m d o f Libang, went t o perform a r i t u a l i n t h e


n e i g h b o u r i n g v i l l a g e of Dunwa. P e o p l e g a t h e r e d a t n i g h t t o see
him d a n c e . An a d o l e s c e n t among t h e s p e c t a t o r s was overcome w i t h
an u n c o n t r o l l a b l e t r a n c e . T a l e n o t i c e d him, gave him a gong, made
him d a n c e , t h e n p u r i f i e d him. He r e t u r n e d t o L i b a n g . They came
f o r him s e v e r a l d a y s l a t e r . He ( t h e b o y ) was v e r y i l l . T a l e came
t o h i s b e d s i d e a n d r e c o g n i z e d him a s a b i i m - . H i s improvement was
n o t i c e a b l e a n d c o n t i n u e d u n t i l he was c u r e d .

The above e x a m p l e s were o b t a i n e d a s t h e y a r e d i s c u s s e d , t h a t i s ,


s i m p l i f i e d t o t h e e x t r e m e . They have i n f a c t been r e c o n s t r u c t e d
a n d e l a b o r a t e d by t h e v i l l a g e r s l o n g a f t e r t h e a c t u a l e v e n t t o o k
place. W e no l o n g e r f i n d h e r e t h e u n c e r t a i n t y t h a t predominated
a t t h e t i m e t h e s e e v e n t s o c c u r r e d . When t h e f u t u r e p r i e s t i s ill,
a multitude of p o s s i b l e causes a r e i n f a c t suggested, but t h e s e
have d i s a p p e a r e d from t h e i n f o r m a n t ' s a c c o u n t s . I b e l i e v e t h a t
t h e a c t u a l r e c o g n i t i o n o f t h e v o c a t i o n i s f a r from h a v i n g t h e
c l a r i t y t h a t appears i n these various reports.

I n f a c t , i t would seem t h a t a l l t h e s i g n s o f a v o c a t i o n p r e v i -
o u s l y d e s c r i b e d t a k e o n t h e c h a r a c t e r o f o b v i o u s symptoms o n l y l o n g
a f t e r t h e e v e n t . The t r a n c e i s a c t u a l l y n o t t h e e x c l u s i v e s i g n o f
a v o c a t i o n . Among laymen, i t c a n r e s u l t from t h e d i s p l e a s u r e o f
s p i r i t s s u c h a s K e m s a , Miku, Dungdungguey a n d s t i l l o t h e r s , some
o f whom a r e c o n s i d e r e d a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h e human body. Possession
c a n o c c u r f o r i n s t a n c e among t h e k u k u s i n g sorcerers who w i l l n e v e r
become p r i e s t s . Moreover, t r a n c e s a n d p o s s e s s i o n a r e n o t i n d i s p e n -
sable i n r e c o g n i z i n g a c a l l i n g . The c a s e o f t h e p h e d a n g m , Muktuba,
seems c o n v i n c i n g i n t h i s r e g a r d . C e r t a i n l y it is t r u e t h a t o n c e
i n i t i a t e d , bijuwd a n d ywraa a c t a c c o r d i n g t o t h e c l e a r l y i n s t i t u -
t i o n a l i z e d behaviour of t h e possessed i n trance. But t h e c l e a r l y
d e f i n e d c h a r a c t e r o f t r a d i t i o n a l r i t u a l s p e r f o r m e d by c o n f i r m e d
p r i e s t s i s s e e m i n g l y q u i t e d i f f e r e n t from t h e b e h a v i o u r t h a t p r e -
c e d e s t h e a p p r e n t i c e s h i p a n d t h e master's i n s t r u c t i o n . I n o t h e r
words, t h e i l l n e s s o f t h e f u t u r e p r i e s t , n o matter what symptoms
may h a v e p r e c e d e d i t , ' s e e m s t o b e c o n s i d e r e d i n t h e m a j o r i t y o f
cases, a s a n o r d i n a r y i l l n e s s . The t r e a t m e n t , a t l e a s t a t t h e
beginning, is n o t p a r t i c u l a r l y s i g n i f i c a n t . A s i n any i l l n e s s , a l l
c a t e g o r i e s o f p r i e s t s t a k e t u r n s a t t h e p a t i e n t ' s b e d s i d e . Bij-
a n d p h e d a n p , y m and o n g s h i , sometimes e v e n jGkri a n d l a - ,
e a c h a c c o r d i n g t o h i s own methods, l o o k f o r t h e s p i r i t s o r g o d s who
may b e r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e e v i l and who must b e p r o p i t i a t e d . But
t h e r e a r e many o t h e r s . Did Tampungma o r Toksongba s t e a l o n e o f
t h e p a t i e n t ' s s o u l s ? Does t h e t i g e r o r b u z z a r d e a t h i s e n t r a i l s ?
IS it a n a t t a c k o f b a d - d e a t h (soghal o r o f a woman who d i e d i n
c h i l d b i r t h ( s u ~ u ~ ) Is ? t h e e v i l due t o t h e j e a l o u s y o f a n e i g h b o u r
p e r s o n i f i e d by Nahen o r t h e c u r s e o f a n e x t o f k i n ? O r i s it t h e
d i s p l e a s u r e of t h e h o u s e h o l d d i v i n i t i e s Yuma o r Okwanama who com-
p l a i n t h a t t h e y have been f o r g o t t e n ? Is i t t h e a t t a c k o f a s o r -
c e r e r , and i s it n e c e s s a r y t o s u c k t h e body (phingwa) (L) i n o r d e r
t o e x t r a c t t h e c a u s e o f e v i l i n t h e form o f a h a i r , a s m a l l s t o n e ,
o r a g r a i n o f r i c e ? Is it t h e s p i r i t o f t h e monkey (saba sam) (L)
o r t h e ' s o u l s ' o f c o r p s e s ( l e t sam) (L) i n t h e t o m b s t o n e s ( s u t
l a g ) ( L ) ? I n t h e c a s e o f a young g i r l , s i c k i n Libarlg i n 1966,
1 4 r e l i g i o u s p r a c t i t i o n e r s f o l l o w e d e a c h o t h e r a t h e r b e d s i d e and
performed i n less t h a t two weeks, 70 t o 8 0 r i t u a l s .

If t h e a p p e a r a n c e o f t h e v o c a t i o n i s n o t r e v e a l e d , t h e v a r i o u s
p r i e s t s a r e sometimes prompted t o compare t h e i r d i a g n o s i s , whether
t h e y f o l l o w e a c h o t h e r o r a c t t o g e t h e r i n c o n c e r t . What seems i n -
t e r e s t i n g i s t h a t t h e i r methods a r e d i f f e r e n t d e p e n d i n g on t h e
c a t e g o r y t o which t h e y b e l o n g .

Y u m and b i j m 5 a c t , a t l e a s t i n p a r t , a c c o r d i n g t o s i m i l a r pro-
c e d u r e s . They c a l l upon t h e i r ' m a s t e r - s p i r i t s ' and u s e t h e p a t i e n t
a s a medium. Through t h e p a t i e n t ' s mouth, t h e ' m a s t e r - s p i r i t s '
r e v e a l t h e i r own i d e n t i t y and c o n f i r m t h e v o c a t i o n . The p r i e s t of
Yuma t h e n d i s m i s s e s Yuma. The bijuwa' accompanies h i s ' m a s t e r -
s p i r i t s ' t o t h e ' o t h e r world' a s f a r a s t h e i r mythical residence.
Then he b l o c k s t h e i r p a t h (lam s a h ) and r e t u r n s t o t h e w o r l d o f
men.

The phedxngma however p r o c e e d s a l t o g e t h e r d i f f e r e n t l y . H e p e r -


forms a r i t u a l t o t h e d i v i n i t y Nahanyma. A t t h i s t i m e , h e d e t e r -
mines t h e p a t h (h~) of h i s c l i e n t , t h a t i s , h i s e v e n t u a l v o c a t i o n .
I t i s t h i s method t h a t I w i l l a t t e m p t t o d e s c r i b e , w h i l e a t t h e
same t i m e remembering t h a t my m a t e r i a l i s f r a g m e n t a r y and i t s e l a b -
o r a t i o n f a r from c o m p l e t e .

The paths of Nahangma

Only t h e phedmgma c a n p e r f o r m t h e Nahangrna r i t u a l . However,


it must n o t b e assumed t h a t t h i s r i t u a l i s r e s e r v e d s o l e l y f o r
c a s e s o f i l l n e s s . Twice a y e a r , once d u r i n g t h e ' h i g h s e a s o n '
and once d u r i n g t h e ' l o w s e a s o n ' , it i s p e r f o r m e d i n e a c h house
o f t h e v i l l a g e , i n t h e name o f e a c h head of t h e f a m i l y . Its p r i n -
c i p a l g o a l i s ' r e s t o r i n g ' t h e w a r l i k e q u a l i t i e s t o one o f t h e
' s o u l s ' ( m k m sam) o f t h e h e a d of t h e h o u s e h o l d . When it i s
performed a s a p r o p i t i a t o r y r i t e , i t becomes p a r t o f a group o f
ceremonies t h a t c a n l a s t t h r e e d a y s a t a t i m e . It begins with
t h e ceremonies d e v o t e d t o t h e s p i r i t s o f n a t u r e and some minor
d i v i n i t i e s , f o l l o w e d by t h e r i t u a l s d e d i c a t e d t o t h e a n c e s t o r s i n
t h e p e r s o n of Lumaeppa. Next, a t t h e same time a s Nahangma, the
r i t u a l of Manguenna, i s performed, which i n v o l v e s a l l the members
of t h e f a m i l y , i n c l u d i n g women and c h i l d r e n . F i n a l l y , every t h r e e
y e a r s , t h e p l a n e t s (grahu) and t h e g r e a t r i t u a l of Tongsing, ass-
o c i a t e d w i t h t h e l i n e o f d e s c e n d a n t s , i s performed. I w i l l l i m i t
t h e d e s c r i p t i o n s o l e l y t o t h e c u l t of Nahangma which c l o s e l y over-
l a p s t h a t of Manguenna - t h e c a l l i n g o f t h e guru.

During t h e morning, t h e p r e l i m i n a r y r i t e s ( p r o p i t i a t i o n of the


s p i r i t s of n a t u r e , e t c . ) a r e performed. A s e v e n i n g approaches, t h e
phedangma s e t t l e s down on t h e terrace of t h e house, s h e l t e r e d by
t h e r o o f o f t h e v e r a n d a , n e a r t h e main d o o r . S e a t e d c r o s s - l e g g e d ,
he p r o c e e d s t o c a l l h i s ' m a s t e r - s p i r i t s ' , h i s guru, s o t h a t t h e y
might h e l p him accomplish ' h i s journey t o t h e o t h e r w o r l d ' . He
f i r s t r e c i t e s some f o r m u l a s t h a t w i l l p r o t e c t him from e v e n t u a l
a t t a c k s o f s o r c e r y d u r i n g t h i s voyage. Before him, an a s s i s t a n t
s p r e a d s some w e t mud on t h e hard-packed e a r t h ( c o v e r i n g an a r e a
a b o u t t h e s i z e o f a winnowing b a s k e t ) .

They s e t down a copper p l a t e , f u l l of uncooked husked rice,


( a c h e t d ) on which i s p l a c e d a copper c o i n . Next t o t h e p l a t e , a
c o p p e r p o t (Zohotd) f u l l of w a t e r i s p l a c e d . In t h i s pot plant
l e a v e s t i e d i n a bundle with a c o t t o n t h r e a d a r e i n s e r t e d . A
s m a l l c o p p e r bowl (batuko) (N) f u l l o f uncooked husked r i c e i s
a r r a n g e d a m i d s t t h e above. F i n a l l y , some embers a r e added t o t h e
a l t a r e i t h e r on t h e ground o r i n a s m a l l baked c l a y c e n s e r . The
p h e d a n g m p u t s some i n c e n s e i n t h e embers which g i v e s o f f a s w e e t -
s m e l l i n g odour a s i t b u r n s . S e a t e d , t h e phedungmz b e g i n s h i s c h a n t
and s t a r t s t a k i n g h i s g e a r from h i s s a t c h e l . The v e r y monotonous
c h a n t d e s c r i b e s t h e n i g h t f a l l and t h e a n i m a l s ( a l l t y p e s o f domes-
t i c and e s p e c i a l l y w i l d a n i m a l s ) a s w e l l a s p e o p l e who have f a l l e n
asleep. H e r e p e a t s t h e c h a n t w i t h v a r i a t i o n s a t e a c h of t h e f o u r
c a r d i n a l p o i n t s and t h e n a t t h e c e n t r a l p o i n t where he now sits.

F i n a l l y , h e s a y s , ' I t i s t i m e t o perform t h e r i t u a l ' . Still


c h a n t i n g , t h e phedangma d e s c r i b e s t h e o f f e r i n g s made by t h e house-
h o l d . H e throws a l i t t l e a c h e t d i n t h e a i r . He r e p e a t e d l y t a p s
a c o i n a g a i n s t a p l a t e . H e t h e n a s k s h i s guru t o ' r i s e ' (pokma)
and h e l p him p e r f o r m t h e r i t u a l i n t h e names o f t h e f a m i l y . May
t h e y l e a v e t o g e t h e r . May t h e y a v e r t t h e t r a p s on t h e i r p a t h . One
by one he p u l l s h i s n e c k l a c e s from h i s s a t c h e l and p u t s them around
h i s neck. He a l s o l a y s down p i e c e s o f h i s g e a r t h a t he d e s c r i b e s
i n h i s c h a n t and t h a t w i l l b r i n g him power, such a s t h e dagger
(thuvini) , porcupine q u i l l s , a rock-crystal , a lightning stone,
b e a r and t i g e r t e e t h , a w i l d - b o a r t u s k , a horn made from a ' t i g e r
bone' t h a t he blows, and a b e l l t h a t he r i n g s . A t t h e same t i m e ,
he l i s t s , w h i l e c h a n t i n g , t h e guru who w i l l h e l p i n h i s under-
taking. F i r s t a long l i t a n y o f 'tamsa'. Then a s h o r t e r one of
bijuwd; t h e n o n g s h i , I&Z, o j h d . From t i m e t o t i m e he i n t e r r u p t s
h i m s e l f t o e x p l a i n once a g a i n what he e x p e c t s o f them. A f t e r
t h e s e l o n g l i t a n i e s comes a s i m i l a r enumeration of t h e d i v i n i t i e s
(mang), which a r e o f a l l t y p e s . They t a k e t h e names o f r i v e r s ,
mountains, w a t e r f a l l s , l a k e s , a l l g e o g r a p h i c a l l y d e t e r m i n e d . There
a r e a l s o t h e human s p i r i t s ( l i k e Warokma), t h e N e p a l i d e n t d ( s u c h
a s t h e Naga, t h e D e v i l ) . He f i n i s h e s by h i t t i n g t h e c o p p e r c o i n
on t h e p l a t e , blowing h i s horn and above a l l r i n g i n g h i s b e l l . It
i s s a i d t h a t a t t h e end o f t h e a p p e a l , ' t h e gum have r i s e n ' , and
t h a t t h e y r e s t dn t h e phedmgma's s h o u l d e r s . They a r e r e a d y t o
b e g i n t h e j o u r n e y w i t h him; t h e phedangma h a s been i n v e s t e d w i t h
t h e power e n a b l i n g him t o u n d e r t a k e h i s ' v o y a g e ' . A t no t i m e was
he i n a t r a n c e .

The a l t a r of Nahangma

A f t e r summoning t h e guru t h e r e g e n e r a l l y f o l l o w s a p a u s e d u r i n g
which t h e p h e d u n g m d r i n k s t h e tongba he h a s been o f f e r e d . Inside
t h e house, t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f t h e v a r i o u s a l t a r s o f Lumaeppa,
Nahangma, Manguenna i s completed. They a r e a l l l o c a t e d i n , t h e
u p p e r p a r t ( t h o ) o f t h e h o u s e , a g a i n s t t h e w a l l . The a l t a r o f
Nahangrna i s made o f a r e c t a n g u l a r c u s h i o n o f banana l e a v e s . A t
t h e f o u r c o r n e r s a r e bamboo s t i c k s r e p r e s e n t i n g t h e b e e r c o n t a i n e r
f i l l e d w i t h w a t e r and unfermented g r a i n . Those t h a t a r e n e a r t h e
w a l l do n o t have s t r a w s ; t h e o t h e r s have. On t h e banana l e a v e s
t h e y have s e t a p l a t e o f uncooked husked r i c e w i t h a c o i n , a l i t t l e
s a l t , g i n g e r , p e p p e r , and a s w e e t - s m e l l i n g h e r b c a l l e d ftvzgkhimba
( L ) . On t h i s p l a t e t h e r e i s a l s o a c o p p e r p o t f u l l o f w a t e r i n
which t h e y have dropped l e a v e s bound by a c o t t o n t h r e a d . A g a i n s t
t h e w a l l , a t t h e head o f t h e a l t a r and a g a i n s t a s c r e e n o f banana
l e a v e s , t h e y have p l a c e d a s h i e l d made o f s k i n . The s h i e l d i s i n
t h e c e n t r e . To t h e r i g h t o f t h e s h i e l d , from t h e v i e w e r ' s s t a n d -
p o i n t , i s a sword, t o t h e l e f t , a n a r c h d e c o r a t e d w i t h l e a v e s .

F i r s t part of t h e ritual: r e c i t a t i o n of t h e myth8

The phedungma i s i n s i d e t h e h o u s e , i n t h e h i g h p a r t , f a c i n g t h e
a l t a r of Nahangma, h i s back t o w a r d s t h e c e n t r a l p i l l a r . The r i t u a l
t o Lumaeppa may have p r e v i o u s l y been p e r f o r m e d . The women s c a t t e r
t o t h e low p a r t o f t h e house. The phedangma s i t s c r o s s l e g g e d , a
t u r b a n around h i s head, t h e sword, p o i n t up, i n h i s r i g h t hand.
H e b e g i n s r e c i t i n g t h e myth o f t h e o r i g i n o f Nahangma. Incense
b u r n s b e f o r e t h e a l t a r . The mundhum b e g i n s s o f t l y a m i d s t t h e
c r i e s o f c h i l d r e n and v a r i o u s d i s c u s s i o n s . L i t t l e by l i t t l e calm
i s e s t a b l i s h e d . The s p e c t a t o r s , f o r t h e most p a r t members o f t h e
household, l i s t e n .

T h i s myth n a r r a t e s t h e o r i g i n o f t h e Ten Limbu, t h e a p p e a r a n c e


of t h e f i r s t phedungma and t h e f i r s t b i j m d , t h e o r i g i n o f t h e
r i t u a l s t o Nahangma and Manguenna.

D e s c r i b i n g t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s a t l e n g t h , t h e phedungma e x p l a i n s
how S u t j u r u Suhampheba and J e l a r a Tahadongma became husband and
w i f e . They have 1 7 c h i l d r e n . They r e a l i z e b e l a t e d l y t h a t t h e i r
union i s i n c e s t u o u s . They must s e p a r a t e . They d e c i d e t o d i v i d e
t h e i r c h i l d r e n between t h e two o f them. They c o n s t r u c t a s i e v e
of g o l d and s i l v e r . The c h i l d r e n a r e thrown i n t o t h e s i e v e . E i g h t
of them p a s s t h r o u g h t h e s i e v e . They g o down t o what i s t o d a y
~ i m b uc o u n t r y . They a r e c a l l e d j e t hung, t h e E i g h t Kings. The
e i g h t o t h e r s who remain a t t h e s u r f a c e o f t h e s i e v e w i l l go up t o
t h e s k y . The l a s t o n e , c a l l e d S a k t a Bindu, i s c a u g h t i n t h e mesh.
~t i s d e c i d e d t h a t he w i l l accompany t h o s e who go t o t h e sky. His
e i g h t b r o t h e r s and h i m s e l f w i l l h e n c e f o r t h be c a l l e d t h e Nine
Kings fphang hang).

A f t e r s e t t l i n g i n t h e lower w o r l d , t h e E i g h t Kings e n c o u n t e r
v a r i o u s t r i b u l a t i o n s . They d e c i d e t o a s k f o r t h e h e l p of t h e Nine
Kings. The y o u n g e s t c h i l d i s d e s i g n a t e d a s a messenger. He g o e s
t o j o i n t h e Nine Kings i n t h e r e s i d e n c e o f Ningwa Phuma, t h e cre-
a t o r . H i s f a t h e r r e c e i v e s him and l i s t e n s t o him; h e r e f u s e s t o
l e a v e h i s f i r s t e i g h t s o n s ; b u t w i t h r e s e r v a t i o n s he f i n a l l y con-
s e n t s t o l e t S a k t u Bindu, t h e n i n t h s o n , descend towards the
domain o f t h e E i g h t Kings.

On t h e way, S a k t u Bindu behaves r e c k l e s s l y . He f a l l s into


t r a n c e s . H e b e a t s t r e e s . H e b e a t s h i s f a t h e r ' s s i s t e r (nya).
He s t r i k e s down a house b u i l t w i t h e i g h t s t r a w t w i g s . From above,
h i s angry f a t h e r watches. H e d e c i d e s t o i n t e r v e n e . H e c a t c h e s
S a k t u Bindu and f i e r c e l y knocks him down.

A t t h e s p o t where S a k t u Bindu f a l l s , t h e e a r t h o p e n s and b e g i n s


t o s h a k e . Then, one a f t e r a n o t h e r , t h e r e a p p e a r s a s p r i n g
( T w n i a h a n ~Dha'ra) , s t o n e s (pok l u n g ) , a sword, a s h i e l d , and
Nahangma, t h e w a r r i o r d i v i n i t y who w i l l , from t h a t t i m e o n , a n i -
mate one o f t h e s o u l s o f e a c h o f t h e E i g h t Kings ( m k m s m ) .

The E i g h t Kings e x p e r i e n c e s t i l l more m i s f o r t u n e and s i c k n e s s .


Once a g a i n , t h e y o u n g e s t i s d e l e g a t e d t o go t o t h e r e a l m o f
Ningwa Phuma. The l a t t e r c a u s e s him t o have a dream and t h e n s e n d s
him t o t h e s p o t where S a k t u Bindu f e l l . Coming from t h e ' f o u n t a i n
o f t h e p h e & n g m 1 , he f i n d s the f i r s t p h e d a n g m . H e b r i n g s him
back w i t h him t o t h e E i g h t Kings. I n s p i r e d by t h e y o u n g e s t s o n ' s
dream, t h e E i g h t Kings a s k t h e f i r s t phedcmgrm t o p e r f o r m f o r t h e
f i r s t t i m e t h e r i t u a l t o Nahangma and Manguenna.

Once a g a i n t h e E i g h t Kings e x p e r i e n c e numerous problems i n c l u -


d i n g t h e a t t a c k of sogha (wandering s p i r i t , d e a d from a v i o l e n t
d e a t h ) . The y o u n g e s t son r e t u r n s t o a s k f o r h e l p from Ningwa
Phuma. A t t h e s p o t where S a k t u Bindu f e l l , coming from t h e
' s p r i n g o f t h e b i j w d ' he meets t h e f i r s t b i j w - . H e t a k e s him
back w i t h him t o t h e E i g h t Kings. For t h e f i r s t t i m e t h e b i j d
' k i l l s t h e s o g h a ' and p e r f o r m s o t h e r r i t u a l s .
The E i g h t Kings, t h e phedangm and t h e bij- c o n s t i t u t e hence-
f o r t h t h e Ten Limbu. The s p o t where S a k t u Bindu f e l l i s c a l l e d
sum lamdona, t h e C r o s s r o a d s o f t h e T h r e e p a t h s o r t h e Confluence
o f t h e T h r e e S p r i n g s . To t h e l e f t , t h e s p r i n g a n d p a t h o f t h e
bij-. I n t h e w a t e r , t h e s p r i n g and p a t h o f t h e laymen. A t t h e
r i g h t , t h e s p r i n g and p a t h o f t h e phedangma; t h e e n t i r e a r e a i s
c a l l e d t h e co-lung. T h i s i s t h e domain o f Nahangma.

A r a t h e r long pause follows. The phedQngmz c h a n g e s h i s p o s i t i o n .


H e moves b e f o r e t h e a l t a r o f Manguenna. H e performs t h e f i r s t
p a r t o f t h i s r i t u a l , r e c i t i n g t h e myth o f t h e m i g r a t i o n s o f t h e
Ten Limbu, t h e a p p e a r a n c e o f the Lhasa and Kashi gotm and t h e
e s t a b l i s h m e n t o f e a c h o f t h e Ten Limbu i n a c e r t a i n a r e a . A t t h e
e n d of t h i s f i r s t p a r t of t h e r i t u a l of Manguenna, two c h i c k e n s
a r e s a c r i f i c e d i n t h e name o f e a c h member o f t h e f a m i l y , i n c l u d i n g
women and s m a l l c h i l d r e n .

Another p a u s e f o l l o w s a n d t h e phedangma o n c e a g a i n moves b e f o r e


t h e a l t a r o f Nahangma.

Second part of t h e ritual: the ascent towards t h e ' o t h e r world'


During t h i s second p a r t , t h e phedangma u n d e r t a k e s h i s a s c e n t
t o t h e ' o t h e r w o r l d ' t o o f f e r a c h i c k e n t o Nahangma i n t h e name o f
t h e head o f t h e house. I n exchange t h e s o u l (mukwna sam) o f t h e
head o f t h e house, w i l l b e r e g e n e r a t e d w i t h w a r l i k e e n e r g y .

The phedangma, s t i l l s i t t i n g c r o s s - l e g g e d , h o l d s t h e sword i n


h i s r i g h t hand, t h e p o i n t d r i v e n i n t h e ground. Incense burns
a g a i n . H e t h r o w s a c h e t d t o w a r d s t h e a l t a r o f Nahangma, t h e n t o -
wards t h e c h i c k e n . I t i s a f a t male c h i c k e n whose f e a t h e r s must
b e r e d . The phedangma t a k e s a c o p p e r p o t , s e t n e x t t o him b e f o r e
t h e a l t a r . The p o t i s f u l l of w a t e r i n which t h e r e a r e s t e m s o f
namyoba. Using t h e l a t t e r a s a brusli, he t h r o w s a few d r o p s o f
w a t e r toward t h e c h i c k e n . He t h e n g e t s up a n d , h o l d i n g t h e sword
w i t h t h e t o p i n t h e a i r , he c i t e s t h e names o f t h e head o f t h e
f a m i l y , h i s c l a n , h i s v i l l a g e , t h e f o u n d e r o f h i s p r o t o - c l a n (one
of t h e Ten Limbu). H e c i t e s t h e d a t e and b e g i n s h i s c h a n t . The
head of t h e house i s a t t h i s t i m e c r o u c h i n g b e h i n d him, p l u c k i n g
and e v i s c e r a t i n g t h e c h i c k e n s a c r i f i c e d t o Manguenna. The
phedmrgnrx, s t i l l c h a n t i n g , a g a i n i n v o k e s h i s g u r u . He a s k s them,
and w i l l c o n t i n u e a s k i n g them i n t e r m i t t e n t l y , t o climb s t i l l
h i g h e r towards t h e co-lung, t h e domain o f Nahangma; he a s k s them
t o open up t h e way, t o c l e a r t h e t r a p s t h a t have been s e t ; t h e
way h a s p e r h a p s been e r a s e d by t h e c h a n t o f a n o t h e r phedangma who
d i d n o t know t h e s t e p s ? P e r h a p s it w i l l be n e c e s s a r y t o d r i v e
away Nahen ( j e a l o u s y ) , who might be w a i t i n g i n ambush, summoned
by someone i n t h e v i l l a g e ? May t h e y r e s i s t t h e a t t a c k s o f s o r c e r y ,
a p p e a r i n g i n t h e form o f b e e t l e s (Yuwa) o r h o r n e t s on b e h a l f o f
Warokma, m a s t e r o f t h e w a t e r s . May he oppose t h e a t t e m p t s o f t h e
l e t sam, s o u l s o f c o r p s e s l i v i n g i n tombstones e r e c t e d on tombs
( s u t lung) t h a t Tampungma, master of t h e f o r e s t , sometimes u s e s
a s s o l d i e r s . He makes t h e most i m p o r t a n t ' m a s t e r - s p i r i t s ' help
him. He u r g e s them t o i m i t a t e , d u r i n g t h i s journey, t h e migra-.
t o r y b i r d s (karangwa) who r e t u r n each y e a r t o T i b e t . H e t e l l s
them t o t a k e t h e i r p l a c e s , one a f t e r a n o t h e r , on t h e p a t h . Leading
t h e way, t h e S p i r i t of F i v e opens a wide road. Then comes Wasang
Samba, ' t h e samba of t h e b ijwa' h e a d d r e s s ' , armed w i t h a s h o t gun,
watching o u t f o r Nahen, Then t h e t h r e e - y e a r - o l d e l e p h a n t fswntong
h a t t i ) followed by t h e b e a r fmakyu), t h e w i l d p i g f s a r a ) , and t h e
phedangma h i m s e l f . The phedangm c a r r i e s t h e s o u l of t h e head of
t h e f a m i l y a s a yak c a r r i e s i t s load; he complains sometimes of
being t i r e d from t h e weight. Next, may come h i s d i s c i p l e who
r e c i t e s a f t e r him e a c h s e n t e n c e of t h e TRWZdhUm a s w e l l a s numerous
o t h e r ' m a s t e r - s p i r i t s ' who may be invoked on v a r i o u s o c c a s i o n s .
The t i g e r (keba) c l o s e s t h e march*and a s s u r e s t h e r e a r guard. The
f a m i l y members c o n t i n u e t o go a b o u t t h e i r work, b u t t h e y r e p e a t
i n c h o r u s t h e phedungma's e x h o r t a t i o n s .

The f i r s t s t e p of t h e ' j o u r n e y ' i s t h e c e n t r a l p i l l a r of t h e


house (hang s i t z a n g ) , t h e n t h e second f l o o r , and then t h e r i d g e
beam Tmukwn thakmz) . A t t h i s p o i n t , t h e p h e d u n p c a l l s upon
K h a j e l i n g Samba t o h e l p him s e e t h e road, c l e a r t h e t r a p s and p r e -
d i c t t h e f a t e t h a t a w a i t s t h e master o f t h e house. 'Look, g u r u ,
look c l o s e l y , s o t h e jungle does n o t p r e v e n t you from s e e i n g ; w i l l
h i s body be s i c k ? W i l l he have a f e v e r ? ' Khajeling Samba may
speak through t h e mouth of t h e phedangma. Then t h e phedungma and
t h o s e accompanying him a r r i v e a t t h e t h a t c h e d roof (lingbongba
lam), a t t h e edge where water r u n s o f f i n t h e r a i n (suktungba Zm).
From t h e r e t h e y go t o t h e i n n e r y a r d of t h e house. Once a g a i n t h e
phedangm u r g e s h i s m a s t e r s p i r i t s ' t o c o n t i n u e moving upwards ' ( t h o
.
lam p e g u i r o )

Then comes t h e t r a d i t i o n a l s t e p s t h a t a r e found on t h e p a t h of


Nahangma a s w e l l a s on t h a t of o t h e r r i t u a l s (Lumaeppa, ScZVl Sa?TkZ,
Tongsing). Each time t h e r e i s a d i f f i c u l t y , o r whenever danger
must be a v e r t e d , t h e phedungma s t a n d s b e f o r e t h e a l t a r , i n s p i r e d
by h i s g u r u , and waves h i s sword a s i f he were b e a t i n g h i m s e l f .
I n c e r t a i n c a s e s he may be i n a t r a n c e .

When t h e phedangm f i n a l l y r e a c h e s t h e Crossroads o f t h e Three


P a t h s and Conf l v e n c e o f t h e Three S p r i n g s , ( s M i r i swnlmdb l a m ) ,
he s t o p s . Before him s t r e t c h e s t h e domain of Nahangma, c a l l e d co-
lung. To h i s l e f t , t h e ' p a t h o f t h e b i j m - ' , where t h e f i r s t
b i j m d appeared. Before him ' t h e p a w o f t h e laymen' ( t m i a h a n g
lam) where Saktu Bindu, by f a l l i n g , chused Nahangma t o appear.
F i n a l l y , t o h i s r i g h t , t h e p a t h of t h e phedangnrz. The c o - h ~ g
t h a t t h e phedangmct s e e s from t h e c r o s s r o a d s a p p e a r s t o be an imm-
e n s e f i e l d of f l o w e r s , each one of them symbolizing a human l i f e .
Those n e a r e s t him a r e t h e a d o l e s c e n t s , while t h o s e f a r t h e r away
a r e t h e women, and f i n a l l y t h e men.
The phedungma s t a n d s b e f o r e t h e a l t a r , h i s sword i n h i s hand a s
t h e head o f t h e f a m i l y a p p r o a c h e s him. H e s t a n d s b e h i n d and t o
t h e l e f t of t h e phedcmgm, f a c i n g t h e a l t a r o f Nahangma i n t h e
h i g h p a r t o f t h e house n e a r t h e c e n t r a l p i l l a r . The phedangma t u r n s
a r o u n d and g i v e s him t h e sword which he w i l l h o l d i n h i s r i g h t hand.

The c h i c k e n o f Nahangma i s removed from t h e b a s k e t . Cupping i t


i n h i s hands, t h e phedangma a p p r o a c h e s t h e layman. He p a s s e s be-
h i n d him. H e p l a c e s t h e c h i c k e n f i r s t on h i s l e f t s h o u l d e r , t h e n
on h i s r i g h t , t h e n on h i s head. The phedangma t h e n b e g i n s t o
s h a k e s l i g h t l y , e s p e c i a l l y i n t h e lower p a r t of h i s body. These
v a r i o u s g e s t u r e s a r e r e p e a t e d s e v e r a l t i m e s . The p e o p l e of t h e
household h e l p t h e phedangma w i t h t h e i r e x c l a m a t i o n s . The p r i e s t
then p l a c e s t h e chicken a t t h e layman's f e e t , f i r s t i n f r o n t of
them, t h e n b e h i n d . Then he g i v e s t h e c h i c k e n t o t h e head o f t h e
house who h o l d s i t a g a i n s t h i s body i n h i s l e f t hand, t h e sword
s t i l l i n h i s r i g h t hand.

The phedungma t h e n t a k e s t h e c h i c k e n back. H e walks toward t h e


a l t a r o f Nahangma. F o r a l o n g t i m e he h o l d s t h e c h i c k e n cupped
i n h i s hands b e f o r e t h e a l t a r . Again he s a y s t h e names o f h i s
c l i e n t , h i s clan, h i s v i l l a g e , t h e ancestor of h i s proto-clan.
Then comes t h e most i m p o r t a n t d i v i n a t i o n o f t h e r i t u a l .

I n p e r f o r m i n g t h e d i v i n a t i o n , t h e phedangma f o l l o w s c e r t a i n
patterns. H e f i r s t must d e t e r m i n e i n which d i r e c t i o n t h e c h i c k e n
s h o u l d be o r i e n t e d i n o r d e r t o r e a c h t h e domain of Nahangma. By
t h e p a t h on t h e l e f t , t h e man i s r e c o g n i z e d a s a b i j m l i , by t h e
middle, t h e laymen ( t w n i a h a n g ) , o r t h e head o f t h e house, a n d t o
t h e r i g h t , phedangma, samba, o n g s h i , even y m . T h i s p o i n t i n t h e
r i t u a l of d i v i n a t i o n a l s o p e r m i t s t h e r e c o g n i t i o n of a v o c a t i o n .
Although I am u n a b l e t o g i v e d e t a i l s o r i n t e r p r e t t h i s i n f o r m a t i o n ,
I was t o l d a b o u t an a d o l e s c e n t who had become ill and c a l l e d a
phedrmgnna t o p e r f o r m t h e r i t u a l o f Nahangma i n t h e name o f h i s
father. 'The phedangma remarked t h a t t h e p a t h s o f t h e f a t h e r and
son were n o t t h e same, t h a t t h e y must b e s e p a r a t e d o r t h e son would
d i e . The f o r m e r had t h e p a t h o f t h e layman, t h e l a t t e r was on t h e
phedangma8s p a t h . On t h i s day, two Nahangma were p e r f o r m e d ; one
f o r t h e f a t h e r , s t i l l head o f t h e h o u s e , t h e o t h e r f o r t h e son who
became a phedangnrz ' .

The phedangma can a l s o p r o p h e s y a f t e r o b s e r v i n g t h e f l o w e r t h a t


symbolizes t h e l i f e o f h i s c l i e n t . B e n t , w i t h e r e d , o r f a d e d , i t
may announce an i l l n e s s o r a p p r o a c h i n g d e a t h . W e saw such an i n -
t e r p r e t a t i o n i n t h e a c c o u n t g i v e n by Muktuba, t h e phedangma o f
Libang. Another example o f t h e same p r o c e d u r e was t o l d t o m e a s
follows: ' A f a t h e r was o l d , he had t h r e e m a r r i e d s o n s who l i v e d
w i t h him. The phedangma performed t h e r i t u a l o f Nahanqma, i n t h e
name o f t h e f a t h e r , j u s t a s he had done e v e r y y e a r . Then he r e a -
l i z e d t h a t t h e r i t u a l s h o u l d be done i n t h e name o f t h e e l d e s t son.
The f a t h e r d e c i d e d t o d i v i d e up h i s p o s s e s s i o n s and t h i s r e s u l t e d
i n t h e segmentation of h i s house'.

O t h e r symbols are u s e d i n t h e d i v i n a t i o n o f awn lamdoma. The


phedangma c a n t h r o w s t o n e s (pok l u n g leprm) t o w a r d s o n e o f t h e
three paths. I f t h e s t o n e s b r e a k , it i s a b a d s i g n . H e c a n a l s o
o b s e r v e t h e b e h a v i o u r o f a s a c r i f i c i a l c h i c k e n , l e t l o o s e on t h e
packed ground o f t h e house. ' T h e r e a r e many p e o p l e i n t h e co-lung
s o you must move a r o u n d t o make room f o r y o u r s e l f . The c h i c k e n
helps i n doing t h a t . He p e c k s a t p e o p l e ' s f e e t s o t h a t t h e y s p r e a d
out. I f you c a n n o t make room f o r y o u r s e l f i n t h e co-lung, you d i e ' .

T h i s type of d i v i n a t i o n a g a i n p o s e s q u e s t i o n s concerning t h e
r e l a t i o n s h i p between t h e p r i e s t a n d t h e w o r l d o f s p i r i t s . I a t t e n -
d e d t h e Nahangma s e v e r a l t i m e s . Only o n c e was t h e phedmrgm i n a
trance. I n t h e m a j o r i t y o f t h e c a s e s he s a i d a f t e r w a r d s , t h a t h i s
p r e d i c t i o n s were b a s e d on an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f h i s s h u d d e r i n g o r
h i s v i s i o n s , i d e a s t h a t h i s m a s t e r - s p i r i t s h a d g i v e n him.

During t h e e n t i r e t i m e t h a t t h e phedmrgma o f f e r s t h e l i v e c h i c k e n
b e f o r e t h e a l t a r o f Nahangma, t h e h e a d o f t h e house a n d t h e p h e c h q m
h i m s e l f d o a war d a n c e . Standing before t h e a l t a r , they both shout.
The layman waves h i s sword, y e l l s , s t a m p s h i s f e e t . He t u r n s a r o u n d
i n circles several times. The phedangma ( o n l y i n c e r t a i n c a s e s ob-
s e r v e d ) t u r n s t o w a r d s him, t a k e s t h e sword a n d w i t h t h e p o i n t traces
a c i r c l e on t h e g r o u n d a r o u n d t h e layman. Once t h e l a y m a n ' s s o u l
( m u k m sam) (Chemjong 1961:358) f i n d s a p l a c e , t h e phedrmgma t e l l s
i t t o b e s t r o n g a n d h e a l t h y a n d t o s t a y i n t h e co-lung.

Then t h e phedmgma t u r n s t o w a r d s h i s a s s i s t a n t . H e e i t h e r g i v e s
Nahangma's c h i c k e n t o him o r p u t s it on t h e ground. He t h r o w s some
a c h e t d t o w a r d s t h e a n i m a l . He t a k e s t h e b r a s s p o t . H e removes t h e
l e a v e s a n d p o u r s w a t e r on t h e c h i c k e n ' s h e a d . I f t h e chicken shakes
i t s e l f o f f , i t i s a s i g n t h a t Nahangma a c c e p t s t h e o f f e r i n g . I once
saw a c h i c k e n t h a t r e f u s e d t o d r y o f f . T h i s w a s a s i g n o f r e f u s a l .
The h e a d o f t h e h o u s e a n d h i s w i f e were u p s e t . F i n a l l y , a f t e r a
l a s t t r y , t h e c h i c k e n shook i t s e l f d r y a n d t h e f a m i l y l a u g h e d w i t h
relief.

The phedmzgma t a k e s h i s sword back from t h e l a y m a n ' s h a n d s a n d


t u r n s t o w a r d s t h e a l t a r o f Nahangma. H i s a s s i s t a n t holds t h e chicken
i n h i s l e f t hand. With a c l u b i n h i s r i g h t hand, h e b r e a k s t h e c h i c k -
e n ' s b a c k . He i m m e d i a t e l y a p p r o a c h e s t h e a l t a r , a n d h o l d i n g t h e
c h i c k e n h e a d down, he w a i t s f o r a few d r o p s o f b l o o d t o f l o w from
t h e beak o n t o two s m a l l p i e c e s o f b a n a n a l e a v e s c u t f o r t h i s p u r -
pose. The phedangma m i m e s a war d a n c e , h i s sword r a i s e d h i g h . A l l
the onlookers cry: ' D i d t h e b l o o d f l o w ? ' (maki k e r e - i ) . The
phedangma y e l l s o u t ( k e r e r o ) , ' I t i s t h e r e 1 . The a s s i s t a n t p u l l s
a few f e a t h e r s from t h e e n d o f t h e w i n g s , from t h e t a i l , from t h e
f e e t , t h e neck. He p l a c e s them on t h e a l t a r o f Nahangma. Then
t h e phedangma d r i v e s h i s sword i n t o t h e ground. H e i n t e r r u p t s t h e
ritual. He t a k e s t h e two s m a l l p i e c e s o f banana l e a f and p r e d i c t s
t h e f u t u r e a c c o r d i n g t o t h e c o n f i g u r a t i o n o f t h e d r o p s of blood.
H e p a s s e s them t o t h e members o f t h e f a m i l y . I once saw a man
q u i t e u p s e t b e c a u s e an a i r b u b b l e was mixed i n t h e d r o p o f blood.
They s a i d t h a t was a s i g n o f d e a t h . ' Y e s ' , s a i d t h e phedangma,
' i t i s a s i g n of d e a t h . But i t i s n o t c e r t a i n t h a t i t a p p l i e s t o
you. P e r h a p s d e a t h w i l l s t r i k e a house i n t h e v i l l a g e , p e r h a p s
elsewhere'. Then he added: ' W e must v e r i f y it by l o o k i n g a t t h e
o t h e r s i g n s ' . There was a p a u s e . Calm was once more r e s t o r e d .
The p h e d a n , ~ who s u p p o s e d l y t r a v e l s i n t h e o t h e r w o r l d , t a k e s
h i s b e e r . The s a c r i f i c i a l c h i c k e n i s s c a l d e d , p l u c k e d and e v i s -
c e r a t e d . The e n t r a i l s a r e examined; t h i s e i t h e r c o n f i r m s o r i n -
validates the previous divination. H i s i n t e s t i n e s a r e examined
( k u h i k i ) a s w e l l a s t h e c o l o u r and s t a t e of t h e l i v e r ( k u l u n g m )
and t h e k i d n e y s (kusengnm). I n most c a s e s , t h e s e s i g n s i n d i c a t e
something a b o u t t h e f a m i l y ' s p r o s p e r i t y (money, h a r v e s t s ) . The
phedangm, s i t t i n g calmly b e f o r e h i s b e e r , .waits f o r t h e chicken
t o b e c o m p l e t e l y e v i s c e r a t e d and p l u c k e d . The a n i m a l i s p u t on a
p l a t e b e f o r e t h e a l t a r . The e n t r a i l s , r o a s t e d i n t h e a s h e s , a r e
e a t e n by t h e f a m i l y b e g i n n i n g w i t h t h e m a s t e r o f t h e house ( p a r s a d ) .
The phedangnm t h e n moves t o t h e a l t a r o f Manguenna a g a i n . H e p e r -
forms t h e second p a r t o f t h i s r i t u a l , d u r i n g which e a c h m e m b e r o f
t h e f a m i l y o f f e r s two s m a l l c u p s o f w a t e r a t t h e c e n t r a l p i l l a r ,
t h e h e a r t h , t h e two d o o r s , e t c ... The a l t a r o f Manguenna i s t h e n
d e s t r o y e d . Again a p a u s e . Then t h e phedangma moves t o t h e a l t a r
of Nahangma, t o p e r f o r m t h e l a s t p a r t o f t h e ceremony.

T h i r d part of t h e ritual.: the return

During t h i s l a s t p a r t of t h e r i t u a l of Nahangma, t h e phedangma


r e t u r n s t o t h e house from co-lung. H e c a r r i e s w i t h him t h e layman's
s o u l (mukwna s m ) t h a t had been r e g e n e r a t e d by t h e o f f e r i n g o f t h e
c h i c k e n . A t t h e end of t h e s e q u e n c e , h e r e s t o r e s t h e s o u l t o t h e
head o f t h e f a m i l y . The phedrmgma s i t s c r o s s - l e g g e d b e f o r e t h e
a l t a r , sword i n h i s hand, w i t h 'he p o i n t up. The steps o f h i s jour-
ney a r e enumerated i n t h e same way a s b e f o r e b u t , o f c o u r s e , i n re-
v e r s e o r d e r . The same s c e n a r i o i s r e p e a t e d , a l t h o u g h t h e ' d e s c e n t '
i s generally s h o r t e r than t h e 'climb'. Nevertheless, a t each
d i f f i c u l t p a s s a g e , t h e phedangma a g a i n c a l l s upon h i s m a s t e r - s p i r i t s
H e m i m e s t h e s t r u g g l e t o open t h e p a t h , h i s sword i n h i s hand. He
can be s e i z e d by a t r a n c e and one o f h i s ' m a s t e r - s p i r i t s ' may speak
t h r o u g h h i s mouth. H e may be t h r e a t e n e d by d a n g e r s a n a l o g o u s t o
t h o s e o f t h e a s c e n t . When he r e a c h e s t h e l a s t s t a g e o f h i s j o u r n e y ,
t h e c e n t r a l p i l l a r of t h e h o u s e , he s t a n d s up. He p r e t e n d s t o
throw some p i e c e s of f l e s h from t h e c h i c k e n p l a c e d b e f o r e him t o -
wards t h e a l t a r . Then, by waving h i s sword and k i c k i n g , he d e s -
t r o y s t h e a l t a r of Nahangma. From t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h i s sequence,
he h o l d s i n h i s l e f t hand e i t h e r t h e t u r b a n , o r t h e h a t ( t o p i ) ( N )
b e l o n g ~ n gt o t h e head of t h e f a m i l y , who s t a n d s b e h i n d him. The
phedangma apprbakhes t h e layman. H e p u t s t h e p l a t e o f Nahangma
i n h i s l e f t hand, t h e sword i n h i s r i g h t . He p u t s h i s t u r b a n ( o r
h a t ) back on h i s head. The head o f t h e house a g a i n b e g i n s a w a r
dance, a n a l o g o u s t o t h e one i n t h e p r e c e d i n g sequence. The p r i e s t
t a k e s t h e f e a t h e r s from t h e c h i c k e n t h a t had been p l a c e d on t h e
a l t a r p l a t e and i n s e r t s them i n t h e layman's t u r b a n . H e t a k e s t h e
copper p o t and p u t s it ( a s he had p r e v i o u s l y done w i t h t h e c h i c k e n )
on t h e two s h o u l d e r s and t h e n t h e head of h i s c l i e n t . Then, u s i n g
t h e p l a n t s t e m s a s a b r u s h , he p o u r s w a t e r on t h e layman's head.
H e t a k e s t h e sword back and g i v e s him t h e c o p p e r p o t i n i t s p l a c e .
During a l l t h i s t i m e , t h e layman d o e s a war dance. H e s h o u t s ,
t r a m p l e s t h e ground, stamps h i s f e e t , t u r n s i n c i r c l e s s e v e r a l
t i m e s , encouraged by t h e cries. of t h e o n l o o k e r s . They s a y t h a t
t h e head of t h e house h a s r e c u p e r a t e d h i s s o u l (muktmrz Sam) and
t h a t i t i s r e g e n e r a t e d w i t h i t s w a r l i k e q u a l i t i e s (sir uth6unu)
(N). The layman t a k e s t h e p l a t e and p o t of Nahangma, and p u t s
them i n t h e h i g h p a r t of t h e house. Nahangma's c h i c k e n i s c u t up
i n s m a l l p i e c e s and w i l l b e s e r v e d , f r i e d o r b o i l e d , t o a l l t h e
o n l o o k e r s when t h e y e a t t h e meal b e i n g p r e p a r e d .

I n t h e l a s t sequence, t h e phedangma d i s m i s s e s t h e g u r u who


have h e l p e d i n h i s journey. I n one c a s e I o b s e r v e d , he was a t
t h i s t i m e v i o l e n t l y possessed.

Some conc2udin.g remrks c o n c e r n i n g t h e r i t u a l Nahangm

1. The r i t u a l t o Nahangma, performed s o l e l y by t h e phedangma,


h a s t h e s e c o n d a r y f u n c t i o n o f r e c o g n i z i n g a p r i e s t by showing him
h i s way (Lam).

2. The p h e d a n g m c a n r e c o g n i z e any t y p e o f v o c a t i o n : phed-


angma, of c o u r s e , b u t a l s o bijuwa', ywnz, o n g s h i . The o t h e r
p r i e s t s do n o t have t h i s p r i v i l e g e . They remain l i m i t e d t o t h e
narrow framework o f t h e i r c a t e g o r i e s . They a c t a s s p e c i a l i s t s .
A b i j m t i , f o r example, i s o f no h e l p i n r e c o g n i z i n g a f u t u r e ywm
o r phedangma. H e comes t o o f f i c i a t e and t h e n d i s a p p e a r s i n t h e
f a c e o f h i s f a i l u r e . C o n t r a r y t o t h e phedangma, he can o n l y
r e c o g n i z e t h e v o c a t i o n o f a p r i e s t i n h i s own c a t e g o r y , t h a t i s ,
a bijmti.

3 . No m a t t e r how t h e v o c a t i o n w a s d i v u l g e d d u r i n g t h e i l l n e s s
( t r a n c e o r p a t h ) and r e g a r d l e s s o f t h e c a t e g o r y o f t h e p r i e s t
o f f i c i a t i n g , i t i s f i n a l l y t h e phedangma and t h e phedangma a l o n e
who r e v e a l s t h i s v o c a t i o n . H e d o e s it e a c h t i m e he o f f i c i a t e s a t
t h e Nahangma i n h i s c l i e n t ' s house. He t h e ~ e f o r ebecomes t h e
spokesman f o r t h e community who r e c o g n i z e s t h e f u t u r e p r i e s t .

Apprenticeskip

Once h i s 'way' i s know,i, t h e f u t u r e p r i e s t chooses a m a s t e r


whose t e a c h i n g h e w i l l f o l l o w . T h i s master must be a p r i e s t from
t h e c a t e g o r y t o which t h e d i s c i p l e i s seen t o belong: pheaangm
f o r a phedangma, b i j w d f o r a bijuwa', e t c . ...
The terms d e s i g -
n a t i n g t h e m a s t e r and s t u d e n t a r e borrowed from Nep5li (gum,
chela) .
Often t h e master chosen i s t h e one who took c a r e of t h e d i s c i p l e ,
d u r i n g h i s i l l n e s s , and who recognized h i s v o c a t i o n . This i s t h e
c a s e of t h e b i j w d , L a t e and Lungnasa; t h e ywraa, Kapoba, Moktama,
etc. . ..
The c h o i c e i s accomplished by a s m a l l ceremony. I n a winnowing
b a s k e t p l a c e d b e f o r e h i s m a s t e r , t h e d i s c i p l e p u t s a b u f f a l o head,
two b o t t l e s o f r a k s i ( s p i r i t s ) , some money. T h i s p r e s t a t i o n i s
c a l l e d y a j e n , t h e p r i z e . He bows w i t h r e s p e c t , and p h r a s e s h i s
r e q u e s t i n t r a d i t i o n a l terms. I f t h e master accepts t h e pres-
t a t i o n , he commits himself t o t e a c h t h e mundhwn t o h i s s t u d e n t
and g i v e him h i s r e l i g i o u s g e a r . T h i s ceremony resembles c e r t a i r
kinship prestations . -
The d u r a t i o n of t h e a p p r e n t i c e s h i p t h e o r e t i c a l l y v a r i e s depend-
i n g on whether it i s a q u e s t i o n of a phedangm, on t h e one hand,
o r a ywrm o r bijuwd on t h e o t h e r . For t h e former, t h e d u r a t i o n
seems r a t h e r i n d e t e r m i n a t e . The l a t t e r must t h e o r e t i c a l l y s t a y
with t h e i r masters f o r t h r e e years.

P r i e s t s who have had v i o l e n t c o n t a c t w i t h t h e s u p e r n a t u r a l


( r e t r e a t t o t h e f o r e s t , p o s s e s s i o n ) a r e r e p u t e d t o have l e a r n e d
t h e mndhwn d i r e c t l y from t h e i r m a s t e r - s p i r i t s . In t h e i r c a s e ,
t h e i n s t r u c t i o n i s s a i d t o l a s t a s h o r t time (from f o u r months
t o two y e a r s ) . Some 'have n o t even needed t o submit t o an appren-
ticeship'. T h i s i s s a i d t o be t h e c a s e o f t h e ywrm of Mahagangphe,
from t h e Wanem c l a n , l i v i n g i n Songsabung i n t h e Maewa and r e p o r t -
edly able t o ' f l y i n the a i r ' . The p r i e s t s who know t h e mundhwn
w i t h o u t having l e a r n e d it a r e c a l l e d pok y a , pok yuma, pok samba.

A c t u a l l y t h e d u r a t i o n of t h e a p p r e n t i c e s h i p appears r a t h e r
long. I t l a s t e d t h r e e y e a r s f o r t h e b i j m - o f Tempe, and t h e
ywna of Tjungjipung, b u t t h e s e c a s e s seem r a r e . Kapoba, r e p u t e d
t o be t h e b e s t ywncl i n t h e t h r e e v a l l e y s , s t u d i e d f o r e i g h t o r
nine y e a r s with h i s mother's brother. BijuwZ Lungwaba's master
l e f t f o r Assam a f t e r t e a c h i n g f o r f o u r y e a r s , b u t t h i s a p p r e n t i c e -
s h i p was s a i d t o be incomplete. The phedangma Kule began h i s
a p p r e n t i c e s h i p a t 24 and f i n i s h e d a t 31. I t i s s a i d t h a t phedung-
ma Muktuba's a p p r e n t i c e s h i p l a s t e d n i n e y e a r s .
The a s s o c i a t i o n between t h e master and d i s c i p l e seeems d i f f e r -
e n t , depending on whether it i s a q u e s t i o n of phedangm on t h e
one hand, o r ywna and b i j u u z on t h e o t h e r .

Ywna and b i j m E have o n l y one m a s t e r . During t h e e n t i r e app-


r e n t i c e s h i p t h e y must submit t o r i g o r o u s t a b o o s . They may n o t
p a r t i c i p a t e i n youth d a n c e s . They must remain c h a s t e . A woman
may o n l y b e g i n h e r a p p r e n t i c e s h i p s i x months a f t e r a b i r t h . The
y m , it i s s a i d , must p u r i f y h i m s e l f e v e r y day i n t h e river. H e
eats o n l y once a day. H e may n o t speak w i t h members o f o t h e r jct
( p o p u l a t i o n s , castes). Morning and n i g h t h e must o f f e r i n c e n s e
t o Yuma. I t i s o n l y a f t e r i n i t i a t i o n t h a t t h e s e t a b o o s a r e
removed.

The t a b o o s a p p l i e d t o t h e p h e d a n p seem much less r i g c r o u s .


The m a j o r i t y of t h e s e p r i e s t s have s e v e r a l m a s t e r s , one a f t e r t h e
o t h e r . Muktuba had 8 o r 10, i n h i s own f a m i l y a s w e l l a s o u t s i d e .
Kule had n i n e b e l o n g i n g t o t h r e e d i f f e r e n t v i l l a g e s .

For phedangma and bijuwz r e c r u i t e d from t h e Limbu community,


t h e r e a r e no language problems, a t l e a s t i n t h e Mewa Khola. On
t h e o t h e r hand, a N e w a r p r i e s t of Yuma, l i v i n g i n Dobhan, r e c i t e s
t h e mwzdhwn i n Limbu.

The method o f t e a c h i n g seems t h e same f o r a l l t h e c a t e g o r i e s


of p r i e s t s . I t i s b a s e d on r e p e t i t i o n . The d i s c i p l e f o l l o w s h i s
master when t h e l a t t e r o f f i c i a t e s . H e p l a c e s h i m s e l f n e x t t o him
and immediately r e p e a t s e a c h o f t h e c o u p l e t s o f t h e m d h w n . H e
f o l l o w s him i n a l l t h e r i t u a l g e s t u r e s . T h i s p r o c e s s i f c a l l e d
sang langoba.

Aside from t h i s f o r m a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n , t h e ywaa and b i j -


l e a r n t o c o n t r o l t h e t r a n c e i n a way I d o n o t u n d e r s t a n d . The
end o f t h e a p p r e n t i c e s h i p i s accompanied by a t o t a l c u r e . Like-
w i s e t h e a s o c i a l c o n d u c t of t h e p r i e s t s d i s a p p e a r s . Modemba
d i s c u s s e d t h e phedangma Largang of Chinasung a s b e i n g t a c i t u r n ,
sombre, v i o l e n t ; ' a f t e r h i s t e a c h i n g , h e became a p l e a s a n t man'.

It is s a i d t h a t t h e r e is a gradation i n t h e teaching. For


example, a phedangma would j u s t l e a r n t o o f f e r i n c e n s e t o Yuma;
t h e n t o p r o p i t i a t e t h e masters o f n a t u r e ; t h e n c a l l t h e p a t i e n t ' s
s o u l ; t h e n s a c r i f i c e t h e p i g ; t h e n t h e r i t u a l of Nahangma; t h e n
L m a e p p a ; t h e n Lang9ing.

I t i s a t t h e e n d o f the a p p r e n t i c e s h i p t h a t t h e m a s t e r would
g i v e h i s d i s c i p l e t h e g e a r he w i l l l a t e r u s e .

The b i j m - ' s Gear9

The g e a r i n g e f i e r a l i s c a l l e d S m i n Limbu. I t i s used by


t h e bijm,a' when h e d a n c e s around t h e yaguesing p o l e . The g e a r i s
composed o f t h e f o l l o w i n g e l e m e n t s :

1. A h e a d d r e s s c a l l e d wasang i s made o f a c i r c u l a r s u p p o r t
w i t h c i r c u l a r s e c t i o n s a n a l o g o u s t o a crown. The m a t e r i a l s c o n s i s t
of a straw pad, c o v e r e d w i t h c l o t h on which cowrie s h e l l s (bagu)
are sewn. I n t h i s s u p p o r t t h e y i n s e r t p o r c u p i n e q u i l l s (oz;buk)
and f e a t h e r s i n s i x d i s t i n c t g r o u p s . The p r e d o m i n a r ~ t f e a t h e r s a r e
t h o s e o f t h e wado b i r d , p e r h a p s t h e Gracula r s l i g i o s a (Chemjong
1961:272; T u r n e r 1 9 3 1 : 5 1 9 ) . I n t h e v a r i o u s headdresses I observed
t h e r e were a l s o f e a t h e r s from t h e cock (wa), t h e samdm~gwa (&he
i n NepZli: t h e Lophophorus impejanus) t h e r e d - f o o t e d p a r t r i d g e
c a l l e d khewa i n Limbu and cydkhuro i n NepZli, t h e p e a c o c k , c a l l e d
mera i n Limbu, and mGEr i n NepBli, a m i g r a t o r y b i r d c a l l e d
karangewa i n Limbu, t h e b u z z a r d (muya i n Limbu), t h e Himalayan
p h e a s a n t c a l l e d tikwa i n Limbu and k d l i j i n N e p Z l i , and a long-
t a i l e d b i r d ( c a l l e d mekempu i n Limbu), u n i d e n t i f i e d b u t s a i d t o
l i v e m a i n l y i n yangsingba t r e e s ( S c h i m WaZZichii) and a s s o c i a t e d
w i t h t h e c u l t o f a i tdbare. A t t a c h e d t o t h i s h e a d d r e s s and hang-
i n g dvwn t h e back o f t h e bijuwZ i s a l o n q b r a i d made o f a band o f
b l a c k c l o t h w i t h a r e d pompom a t t h e end ( y a burko).

2. A w h i t e s h i r t c a l l e d ya b0t0 o r ya Zogek i s a l s o worn.

3. A l o n g p l e a t e d r o b e c a l l e d ya jama i s h e l d a t t h e w a i s t by
a s t r i p o f c o t t o n p a s s e d t h r o u g h a hem-like b e l t . It is usually
w h i t e and p l e a t e d and d e c o r a t e d w i t h two wide r e d h o r i z o n t a l
bands, one a t t h e l e v e l o f t h e t h i g h s , t h e o t h e r a t t h e c a l v e s .

4. A wide b e l t o f r e d c o t t o n (ya-pho-i) i s worn a r o u n d t h e


w a i s t . One end f a l l s a l o n g t h e f r o n t o f t h e r o b e down t o t h e f e e t

5 . A l e a t h e r w a i s t b e l t must be made, t h e y s a y , from t h e s k i n


o f a t i g e r (keba), a b e a r f m k y u ) o r a buck (mirga) ( N ) . In
r e a l i t y , i t i s most o f t e n a n o l d army w a i s t b e l t . On t h e l e a t h e r
i s sewn a c o n t i n u o u s row o f hand b e l l s and s m a l l g l o b u l a r b e l l s ,
of b r a s s o r bronze. O t h e r b e l l s hang a l l a l o n g t h e b e l t a t t a c h e d
t o s m a l l l e a t h e r s t r i p s . These b e l l s a r e c a l l e d pongue i n Limbu.
The g l o b u l a r b e l l s ( s i r ; pongue) a r e d i s t i n g u i s h e d from t h e hand
b e l l s (yang pongue, khiring pongue). Some come from t h e h a r n e s s
o f a yak o r T i b e t a n mule. O t h e r s a r e t h e hand b e l l s u s e d by t h e
Zm-. The g l o b u l a r b e l l s a r e d e c o r a t e d w i t h embossed d e s i g n s ,
e v o k i n g t h e h e a d s o f MahZkZla o r t h e B u d d h i s t k n o t . Formerly
t h e y were made by t h e T i b e t a n s . Today, t h e y may b e made by t h e
Newar o f Bhojpur. Some come from Assam. The b e l t and g l o b u l a r
b e l l s a r e c a l l e d pongue sama.

6. Around h i s neck t h e bijuwa w e a r s v a r i o u s n e c k l a c e s c a l l e d


pomzi. Some a r e made o f s e e d s from t h e pimbrikpa t r e e . These
are t h e famous r i t t h e mdld o f t h e j G k r i . O t h e r s a r e ruhtikga
mdld. O t h e r s , osek pomai, a r e made o f s n a k e v e r t e b r a e . They
s u p p o s e d l y d r i v e away t h e bokso, boksi.

7. Two o t h e r n e c k l a c e s a r e worn a s b a n d o l i e r s , one on t h e


l e f t , t h e o t h e r on t h e r i g h t . They a r e c a l l e d dpzdk. They a r e
made, f o r t h e most p a r t o f s e e d s , b u t a l s o have e i t h e r b i r d h e a d s
o f t h e e n t i r e wing from t h e samdangwa mentioned above.
8. A l s o worn as b a n d o l i e r s on t h e r i g h t and l e f t , are t w o
s a c k s c a l l e d &a j a b o , d e c o r a t e d w i t h cowries i n t h e form o f two
i n t e r t w i n i n g c r o s s e s ; w i t h t i g e r ' s t e e t h (keba), wild-hog t u s k s
( s a r a ) and v a r i o u s b i r d f e a t h e r s . -

9. The bijuwd p l a y s o n l y t h e gong. I t i s a copper N e p a l i


p l a t e (thiiZ) c a l l e d c e t h y a by t h e Limbu. The gong i s b e a t e n w i t h
a s h o r t , f l a t , r e c t a n g u l a r b a t o n c a l l e d y a krang s i n g o r simply
c e t h g a hipm s i n g , ' t h e wood t o b e a t a g o n g ' . When he d a n c e s t h e
bijtrwd i s b a r e f o o t . To b e a t a gong i s c a l l e d t h e n g t h e n g mungwu.

The g e a r i s s t o r e d i n a t i g h t l y woven bamboo b a s k e t w i t h a l i d .


T h i s b a s k e t i s c a l l e d a lwrrphu. The f e a t h e r s , once d e t a c h e d from
t h e i r s u p p o r t , a r e p l a c e d i n a t y p e of bamboo q u i v e r , c a l l e d a
wa- j a u .
I t i s c o n s i d e r e d dangerous f o r a layman t o t o u c h t h e bij-'s
gear. I f h e wears any p i e c e s o f t h e b i j m i ' s o u t f i t , wounds form
a t t h e p o i n t o f c o n t a c t . The g e a r i s i n d i v i d u a l i z e d .

The y wna 's Gear

The YWIKZ's g e a r r e s e m b l e s t h a t o f t h e bijuwa'. The r o b e , t h e


c l o t h b e l t , t h e l e a t h e r b e l t w i t h hand b e l l s and g l o b u l a r b e l l s ,
t h e v a r i o u s n e c k l a c e s , and t h e l i t t l e s a c k s a r e a l l i d e n t i c a l t o
t h o s e of t h e bijuw6. There a r e however t h r e e i m p o r t a n t d i f f e r -
ences: f i r s t , t h e h e a d d r e s s c o n s i s t s o f a r e d c l o t h t u r b a n , one
end o f which f a l l s a l o n g t h e p r i e s t ' s back. Around t h e t u r b a n i s
a s m a l l n e c k l a c e o f pimbrilcpa s e e d s . There a r e no f e a t h e r s . It
may be d e c o r a t e d w i t h f l o w e r s o r sometimes g o l d jewels. Secondly,
t h e ywna's i n s t r u m e n t i s n e v e r t h e gong b u t mainly t h e jGkrils
drum, t h e dhydflgro. I t i s made s p e c i a l l y f o r him (mainly o f
k o i m ' l o wood and mirga s k i n ) , and i s a n a l o g o u s t o t h e jtza'krils
drum. Enclosed i n s i d e a r e seven g r a i n s o f r i c e , s e v e n ' l i g h t n i n g
s t o n e s ' , t h r e e k i n d s o f i n c e n s e and a copper c o i n . The drum i s
c o n s e c r a t e d a t a r i t u a l d u r i n g which a c h i c k e n i s s a c r i f i c e d .
The drum, a s w e l l a s t h e rest of t h e g e a r , i s p e r s o n a l . In the
c a s e t h a t it changes owners, a c h i c k e n must be s a c r i f i c e d t o
p r e v e n t a p o s s i b l e r i s k of s i c k n e s s o r d e a t h . The b a t o n i s i d e n -
t i c a l t o t h a t u s e d by t h e j h t i k r i and i s a l s o c a l l e d a g d o . A
t r i d e n t , t h e sun and moon a r e p a i n t e d on t h e s k i n s . T h i r d l y , a l l
a c c e s s o r i e s evoking t h e b i r d a r e a b s e n t from t h e ywna's g e a r ,
which h a s n e i t h e r f e a t h e r s n o r wings.

The ywna's g e a r a l s o i n c l u d e s t h e f o l l o w i n g :

1. Necklaces o f f l o w e r s a r e worn a t t h e neck.

2. A small s i c k l e i s inserted i n t h e b e l t . I t supposedly i s


t h e s i c k l e Yuma u s e s t o g a t h e r t h e h a r v e s t . It protects against
a j a j a b a fra'kgasl (N) .
3. A &m~2+ ) (drum) i s p l a y e d w i t h h i s l e f t hand.
( N~

4. Small cymbals (jhljlirpto) (N) a r e a l s o f r e q u e n t l y used.

5. A b e l l , a bone h o r n , and a d a g g e r ( t h u r m i ) a n a l o g o u s t o
t h e phedcnzgmus a r e i n c l u d e d i n t h e i n v e n t o r y .

6. A y a k ' s t a i l is included.

7. Various s p e a r s and swords t o which r e d c l o t h streamers a r e


a t t a c h e d complete h i s o u t f i t .

The p h e d a n g m 's gear

The phedangnm's g e a r i n c l u d e s n e i t h e r r o b e s , n o r b e l t s w i t h
b e l l s , n o r s a c k s . I n c e r t a i n c a s e s he o f f i c i a t e s w i t h n o t h i n g on
h i s head. I n o t h e r c a s e s he h a s a t u r b a n o r a t l e a s t a N e p a l i
hat. I t i s s a i d t h a t i n t h e p a s t , t h e p h e d a n g m had a c h a r a c t e r -
i s t i c headdress.

In f a c t h i s e n t i r e gear i s contained i n a small satchel. We


have a l r e a d y d i s c u s s e d c e r t a i n p i e c e s i n t h e d e s c r i p t i o n of t h e
Nahangma r i t u a l . These a r e mainly l i g h t n i n g s t o n e s ( s e r i l u n g ) ,
r o c k c r y s t a l ( p a t i Zung) , t h e b e l l (pongue), t h e &mam used
sometimes w i t h t h e b e l l , and t h e wooden t h u r m i d a g g e r , made of
d h u p i ( N ) wood, w i t h a t h r e e - s i d e d b l a d e , e a c h s e c t i o n h a v i n g t h e
f i g u r e of a NZga. The t o p o f t h e d a g g e r i s d e c o r a t e d w i t h t h r e e
c r u d e , embossed h e a d s t h a t evoke Brahma, Vishcu, MahSdeo and
r e p r e s e n t Ningwa Phumba f o r t h e Limbu. A gamd b i r d d e c o r a t e s
t h e end of t h e handle.

The phedangma's g e a r a l s o may i n c l u d e a ' t i g e r - b o n e ' h o r n ,


v a r i o u s a n i m a l h o r n s , a l a r g e c o w r i e s h e l l which s e r v e s i n c e r t a i n
c a s e s a s a r e f u g e f o r t h e phedangma's s o u l , n e c k l a c e s a n a l o g o u s
t o t h o s e o f t h e b i j m i i (pomai), p o r c u p i n e q u i l l s ( o i b u k ) , and
f i n a l l y , f e a t h e r s of t h e GrrrcuZa rezigiosa (wado buk).

The i n i t i a t i o n of a p r i e s t e s s of ~ w n a l l

I a t t e n d e d t h e i n i t i a t i o n of a p r i e s t e s s o f Yuma i n t h e Mewa
Khola. The ceremony t o o k p l a c e i n t h e l a t t e r ' s own house and i n
t h e n e i g h b o u r i n g f i e l d s . The main p a r t i c i p a n t s were t h e p r i e s t -
e s s , h e r m a s t e r and a p h e d a n g m . To d e s i g n a t e such a r i t u a l , t h e
Limbu o f t e n u s e t h e N e p a l i word vafisCvaZi ( s u c c e s s i o n o f gener-
a t i o n s ) . T h i s name evokes t h e way Yuma s i n c e t h e b e g i n n i n g h a s
c o n t i n u e d t o e n d u r e and m a n i f e s t h i m s e l f . L e s s f r e q u e n t l y , t h e
Limbu e x p r e s s i o n yama d i n g m s i n g i s u s e d . Approximately 60
p e o p l e were p r e s e n t : n e i g h b o u r s from t h e h a m l e t , r e l a t i v e s from
o t h e r v i l l a g e s , ' f o l l o w e r s ' o f t h e m a s t e r yuma and of t h e phed-
rmgma. Today t h i s ceremony i s becoming more and more r a r e . I t
n e c e s s i t a t e s very heavy expenses from the i n i t i a t e ' s household.
A buffalo, two sheep, t h r e e hogs, several goats, pigeons, m r e
than 2 0 chickens, f i s h , honey, several dozen eggs and numerous
pieces of f r u i t . In order t o feed 60 people, r i c e , s p i r i t s and
beer a r e a d d i t i o n a l expenses. The r i t u a l s l a s t t h r e e days. We
w i l l summarize t h e sequence of events. Two s e r i e s of ceremonies
take place a t the same time but they remain c l e a r l y separate, i n
d i f f e r e n t places, and only come together f o r a moment toward the
middle of the second day. These a r e the r i t e s conducted by the
phedangma and t h e r i t e s conducted by t h e two p r i e s t s of Yuma, the
master and h i s d i s c i p l e . The most important r i t u a l sequences
occur a t the a l t a r of Yuma s e t up i n the i n i t i a t e ' s house and a t
the 'monumental' a l t a r of Yuma, constructed temporarily i n a
terraced f i e l d near t h e residence. Other places a r e used f o r
secondary r i t u a l s and appear i n the account below.

Toward the middle of the f i r s t day, the phedungnra begins t o


perform a number of ceremonies i n t h e f i e l d s near t h e house. In
one ceremony he blocks the path of the buzzard and wild c a t , the
m a s t e r - s p i r i t s of the bijuwz, who might be a t t r a c t e d by the blood
'of the s a c r i f i c e s . He o f f e r s them an egg a f t e r having accompanied
them t o t h e i r mythical residence. In another ceremony he o f f e r s
'some food scraps' t o saba sam, the s p i r i t of t h e monkey, so t h a t
he a l s o w i l l not come t o i n t e r r u p t the f e a s t . In s t i l l another
r i t u a l , f o r the same reason, he o f f e r s two eggs t o Mangsa, a
p a r t i c u l a r l y aggressive d e i t y of t h e r e t i n u e of Tampungma.
F i n a l l y , a t n i g h t f a l l there i s a s a c r i f i c e f o r Singlaba. This i s
a 'Tibetan d i v i n i t y ( m g ) who l i v e s i n a temple (mzndir) (N) i n
Bhotia land'. e l a b o r a t e a l t a r i s s e t up i n a terraced f i e l d .
Offerings a r e made of b u t t e r , s a l t , f i s h , cooked r i c e and espe-
c i a l l y a small male goat whose head i s cut off with a sabre. This
ceremony, the mast important one performed by t h e p h e d a n p t h a t
evening, i s comparable t o the o f f e r i n g of t h e p i g t o Kemba. After
t h e s a c r i f i c e , the a l t a r i s destroyed.

Toward four i n the afternoon, Yuma's d i s c i p l e leaves her house,


preceded by a woman carrying an o i l lamp and other o f f e r i n g s i n a
p l a t e . She i s followed by t h r e e people who carry the welcoming
p r e s t a t i o n s f o r her master. The d i s c i p l e plays the drum. Her
cortege moves towards t h e master ' s path. The master ' s cortege,
a r r i v i n g from t h e v i l l a g e , i s composed of a man carrying a r a i s e d
sword leading t h e march followed by a man with a spear decorated
i n red and white, t h e colours of Yuma. Then follow seven children,
boys and g i r l s together, each carrying a copper p l a t e containing
a l i g h t e d b u t t e r lamp and one of the master's a t t r i b u t e s ( t h d ,
conch, e t c . ... ). In the procession there i s a man with a yak's
t a i l and a small drum, on the order of a (kzmru, which he plays.
Then comes t h e p r i e s t of Yuma, playing h i s drum followed by
various bearers who close the march.
The two c o r t e g e s meet a b o u t 1000 f e e t from t h e d i s c i p l e ' s
house. They s t o p , f a c i n g each o t h e r on t h e road. Between them,
i n a winnowing b a s k e t p l a c e d on t h e ground, a r e t h e welcoming
p r e s t a t i o n s t h a t t h e d i s c i p l e g i v e s h e r m a s t e r . These i n c l u d e
f l o w e r n e c k l a c e s , raksi, g i n g e r , a s m a l l sum of money, and t h e
l i k e . The two p r i e s t s dance and p l a y t h e drum while t h e p r e s t a -
t i o n s a r e made.

The two c o r t e g e s , t h a t now form o n l y one, walk i n s i n g l e f i l e


t o t h e d i s c i p l e ' s house. They s t o p a t v a r i o u s p l a c e s where they
dance and p l a y t h e drum. F i r s t they s t o p a t t h e s p r i n g (dhZra)
(N) and t h e n i n t h e i n n e r c o u r t y a r d o f t h e house b e f o r e t h e
c e n t r a l p o l e which h a s been f r e s h l y c u t and d e c o r a t e d . A t each
of t h e e x t e r i o r c o r n e r s of t h e house t h e y s t o p , moving c o u n t e r -
clockwise, beginning a t t h e ' u p p e r s i d e ' ( r i d g e s i d e ) . F i n a l l y
t h e y a r r i v e a t t h e t h r e s h o l d of t h e main door'where t h e y a g a i n
s t o p . Then once i n s i d e , they c i r c l e , n e a r t h e c e n t r a l p i l l a r ,
and f i n a l l y t h e y a r r i v e n e a r t h e h e a r t h .

The y m and t h e i r c o r t e g e s a r r i v e a t t h e permanent a l t a r


e r e c t e d a t t h e back of t h e l i v i n g room and s e p a r a t e d from i t by a
t h i n bamboo s c r e e n . They adorn t h e a l t a r w i t h t h e v a r i o u s
o b j e c t s t h e y were c a r r y i n g . T h i s a l t a r l e a n s a g a i n s t t h e w a l l on
t h e upper s i d e ( t h o ) o f t h e house. I t i s a k i n d of s h e l f c a s e
w i t h t h r e e boards whose a n g u l a r t o p l o o k s l i k e t h e roof of a
house. On each s h e l f a r e p l a t e s , b u t t e r lamps, p o t s f u l l of w a t e r
w i t h f l o w e r s and l e a v e s , and v a r i o u s o f f e r i n g s . I n f r o n t of t h e
a l t a r i s a t r i d e n t p l a n t e d i n t h e ground. The p r i e s t ' s a t t r i b u t e s
a r e p l a c e d e i t h e r on t h e packed e a r t h o r i n t h e p l a t e s . They
i n c l u d e a conch, thurmi, &unarm, cymbals, bone horn, d i v e r s e
b e l l s , y a k ' s t a i l , drums, a s w e l l a s o t h e r o f f e r i n g s o f f r u i t s ,
f l o w e r s , a c h e t z , and i n c e n s e .

A f t e r p u t t i n g on a l l h i s g e a r , t h e master b e g i n s r e c i t i n g t h e
f i r s t 'mwzdhm t o Yuma' . One a f t e r t h e o t h e r , he w i l l p l a y each
of t h e i n s t r u m e n t s i n a s o l o . F i r s t he p l a y s t h e cymbals and
t h e n t h e drum. Then he p l a y s t h e drum and cymbals t o g e t h e r .
F i n a l l y , he a g a i n p l a y s t h e drum a l o n e . For most of t h e ceremony,
t h e d i s c i p l e w i l l accompany h e r m a s t e r with t h e cymbals, t h e n
toward t h e end of t h e r i t u a l , w i t h t h e drum. The two p r i e s t s s i t
c r o s s - l e g g e d f a c i n g t h e a l t a r i n t h e lower p a r t of t h e house (yo).
While he p l a y s t h e drum, t h e m a s t e r c h a n t s t h e myth of Yuma. The
d i s c i p l e r e p e a t s each. c o u p l e t a f t e r him .as soon a s he has f i n i s h e d
(sanglangoba) (L). Toward t h e end o f t h e r i t u a l , t h e m a s t e r
d i r e c t s t h e p o s s e s s i o n of h i s d i s c i p l e , while she t a k e s h e r drum
and dances i n a t r a n c e b e f o r e t h e a l t a r .

T h i s f i r s t r i t u a l t o Yuma ends about s i x i n t h e evening. The


meal i s t h e n s e r v e d by t h e members of t h e f a m i l y , f i r s t t o t h e
p r i e s t s , and t h e n t o a l l t h e g u e s t s .
In the morning of the second day, each of the t h r s e p r i e s t s
i s p u r i f i e d a t the dhiira. The most important r i t u a l sequences
take place i n t h e afternoon of the second day. The phedangma
and the p r i e s t s of Yuma o f f i c i a t e i n concert before the 'monumental'
a l t a r of Yuma, e r e c t e d i n the f i e l d s f o r the main animal s a c r i f i c e s
t o Yuma and the members of her r e t i n u e (Kapoba, Kanorma, Modemsa
and Kemsa). Between. e i g h t and eleven o'clock a t night, t h e d i s -
c i p l e , possessed and i n a t r a n c e , performs her f i r s t divination
(sign of her i n i t i a t i o n ) .

From 6.00 i n the morning the phedangmz performs a s e r i e s of


r i t u a l s a t various places i n t h e t e r r a c e d f i e l d s surrounding the
i n i t i a t e ' s house. Toward noon, he i s i n f r o n t of the monumental
a l t a r of Yuma. The f i r s t r i t u a l i s t o t h e Naga, near the spring
( d G r a ) . The a l t a r i s placed on a board t h a t spans a t h i n t r i c k l e
of water. The Naga a r e represented by clay s p i r a l s . The r i t u a l
i s r e c i t e d i n NepZli, and eggs a r e offered. The second i s c a l l e d
sagune, an auspicious NepZli r i t u a l . An a l t a r i s s e t i n a
winnowing box and composed e s s e n t i a l l y of 16 small samsing leaves
placed s i d e by s i d e . I t takes place i n a t e r r a c e d f i e l d . This
i s followed by o f f e r i n g s t o Kalika and Siqha Devi a t the foot of
a t r e e near the house. The t r e e i s decorated with cotton threads
i n t e r l a c e d with red and white streamers. Two a l t a r s i n the hollow
of a r o o t a t the base of the trunk. A pigeon i s s a c r i f i c e d t o
Kalika and an egg t o Sigha.

Then o f f e r i n g s a r e made t o the SansZri, d i v i n i t i e s of the


universe, responsible f o r epidemics. These a r e conducted i n
NepZli i n a t e r r a c e d f i e l d . Seven small a l t a r s , each b u i l t
around an upright stone, a r e erected, and seven eggs a r e offered
along with flowers and o t h e r items. Offerings a r e a l s o made t o
K Z l i Mar, responsible f o r smallpox, and t o Cokhoba, associated
with r i t u a l p u r i t y . These a r e a l s o made i n NepSli. The a l t a r i s
s e t up around a small c e n t r a l pole a t the base of which a r e two
stones. Offerings of two pigeons ( t o K Z l i Mar) and a white
chicken ( t o Cokhoba) a r e made, a s well as various sweets.

. Then, o f f e r i n g s of two pigeons and various sweets a r e made t o


t h e d i v i n i t i e s of t h e mountains, PZthi Bhara and Mati Bhara. An
egg i s offered t o Toksong S i k Z r i , who i s always p r o p i t i a t e d when-
ever s a c r i f i c e s a r e made t o t h e f i r s t two d i v i n i t i e s . Then a
r i t u a l i s conducted i n NepZli t o AitabZre, followed by an o f f e r -
ing t o personified r i v e r s - Tamur RZjZ/RZni, Mewa RZjZ/RZni,
Maewa RZjZ/RZni, and the ' s o r c e r e s s ' Chala Qzkini. In a f i e l d ,
an a l t a r composed of twp stones and two poles ( p l a n t s t a l k s ) f o r
each of the d e i t i e s i s erected and o f f e r i n g s of chickens a r e made
t o the r i v e r d i v i n i t i e s while an egg i s given t o the l a t t e r one.
These o f f e r i n g s a r e followed by a r i t u a l t o Misek, the spark,
born of t h e jealousy of the sun and moon. Misek i s given a
r o o s t e r and the r i t u a l i s conducted i n Limbu which i s longer than
those i n NepZli. The s a c r i f i c e of a chicken i s made t o Warokma,
the s p i r i t of the waters followed by the s a c r i f i c e of four chick-
ens t o Tampunga, Taksongba, Koccoma, Shengma, 'masters of the
forest'.

Next a r i t u a l i z e d curse i s made i n Limbu a t an a l t a r s e t up


around a pole near the a l t a r of the 'masters of n a t u r e ' . Tied t o
the o f f i c i a t i n g p r i e s t i s a cotton thread t h a t i s c u t and an
o f f e r i n g of a b o t t l e of s p i r i t s i s made.

Next, Dung Dunguey, d i v i n i t y of the mountain, associated with


the Syamba clan i s worshipped i n a f i e l d , i n Limbu a t an a l t a r
arranged around a pole. Offerings of a f a t male chicken and beer
a r e made. Then a very e l a b o r a t e pole and a l t a r a r e constructed
i n the courtyard of t h e house on the s i d e of the r i v e r . This i s
the a l t a r of Nahen. A f a t male chicken i s offered. (The r i t u a l s
t o Nahen a r e of s e v e r a l types; it i s t h e r i t u a l c a l l e d Nahen k h o m
t h a t i s performed h e r e ) . After the r i t u a l t o Nahen, r i t u a l s
c a l l e d graha a r e conducted t o drive away the e v i l influence of
various c o n s t e l l a t i o n s . These a r e very e l a b o r a t e , accompanied by
a long r i t u a l associated with Tongsing, and a r e conducted around
a c e n t r a l pole i n t h e courtyard of bhe house, i n the Limbu
language.

A t the time of each of these above mentioned r i t u a l s , the


phedangma i s a s s i s t e d by two o r t h r e e people who prepare t h e
a l t a r s , who a r e present a t t h e r e c i t a l of t h e mundhtun, and who
perform the l i v e s a c r i f i c e s .

During t h i s time, about 10 people work on t h e construction of


the monumental a l t a r s t o Yuma and the members of h i s r e t i n u e .
They have been working since e a r l y i n the morning i n a t e r r a c e d
f i e l d below t h e house. he main m a t e r i a l i s bamboo. The a l t a r
dedicated t o Yuma i s s i m i l a r i n s t r u c t u r e t o the a l t a r of shelves
erected i n s i d e of t h e house. I t has t h r e e shelves above which i s
a canopy of red and white c l o t h representing the 'sky' (tanpang).
Through the c e n t r e of t h e canopy i s a s o r t of c i r c u l a r chimney of
red c l o t h t h a t represents the ' b r i d g e ' l i n k i n g the sky and t h e
e a r t h (torong ding tangsang). Scattered around t h i s f i r s t monu-
mental a l t a r made of upright bamboos a r e smaller a l t a r s erected
t o Kapoba, Kantima, Modemsa, Thungdangba, t h e d i v i n i t i e s of
Yuma's r e t i n u e . A l i t t l e f a r t h e r away i s another group of s i m i l a r
but smaller a l t a r s dedicated mainly t o Kemba and Payunglung and
a l s o t o Kebo.

The phedangma then s a c r i f i c e s a hog and s e v e r a l o t h e r animals


t o Kemsa and the d i v i n i t i e s of h i s r e t i n u e . He then comes before
the monumental a l t a r t o Yuma. Following h i s p a r t i c u l a r method
(which i s d i f f e r e n t from t h a t of t h e Yuma p r i e s t s ) , he g e t s
ready t o s a c r i f i c e animals t o Yuma. I t i s then t h a t t h e p r i e s t
of Yuma and h i s d i s c i p l e come t o join him.
From morning u n t i l about noon, while the phe- perfonoed
the r i t u a l s we have j u s t l i s t e d , the p r i e s t s of Yuma ( t h e master
and h i s d i s c i p l e ) perform a second 'mundhum t o Yuma' , i d e n t i c a l
to the one performed the preceding evening, but i n s i d e the house
i n f r o n t of t h e s h e l f - l i k e a l t a r .

Toward noon, the two p r i e s t s of Yuma go outside t h e house.


They play the drum and dance. They a r e preceded by the cortege
described above. They s t o p a t s e v e r a l points: the f i r e p l a c e ,
the c e n t r a l p i l l a r , the threshold of the main door; then outside,
a t t h e four corners of the house before which they pass. Arriving
again a t the inner courtyard, they dance and play the drum around
the c e n t r a l pole. S t i l l preceded by t h e i r cortege, they move i n
a s i n g l e f i l e t o t h e monumental a l t a r of Yuma s i t u a t e d i n the
f i e l d s where the phedangma waits f o r them.

While the phedangma begins the r i t u a l t o Yuma, t h e master and


h i s d i s c i p l e move counter-clockwise around the a l t a r , dancing and
playing the drum. They a r e preceded by the cortege, and followed
by the guests. Then they s i t cross-legged facing the a l t a r next
t o the phedangma, who continues t o o f f i c i a t e . A l l t h e i r gear,
c a r r i e d by the members of the cortege, i s placed before the a l t a r .
They begin t h e i r t h i r d 'mm'Ldhwn t o Yuma' .
The p h e d u n p then begins t o d i r e c t t h e most important animal
s a c r i f i c e s t o Yuma, Kapoba, Kausima, Modemba, Thungdanga: a
buffalo, two sheep, two goats, and o t h e r s . These s a c r i f i c e s a r e
conducted according t o t h r e e d i s t i n c t t r a d i t i o n a l sequences,
i n t e r s p e r s e d with pauses (and analogous t o the s a c r i f i c e of the
hog t o Kemba). The two p r i e s t s of Yuma a c t i n concert with the
phedmrgma, r e c i t i n g the r i t u a l , playing the drum and dancing a t
c e r t a i n times.

Toward f i v e i n t h e evening, the animals, which had been slau-


ghtered, eviscerated and placed on a mat between the p r i e s t s and
the a l t a r , a r e brought t o the house i n baskets. The p r i e s t s of
Yuma r e t u r n t o the house, preceded by t h e i r corteges, accompanied
by the phedangma and followed by the onlookers who join i n the
dancing. They s t o p a t the same p a i n t s a s they did upon t h e i r
a r r i v a l (but, of course, i n reverse o r d e r ) . They return t o the
a l t a r i n s i d e the house f o r t h e evening ceremony.

Inside t h e house the phedangm performs the r i t u a l s t o the


household gods including Okwanama. The y m once again take t h e i r
places before the a l t a r and begin the fourth 'mwzdhwn t o Yuma'.
The master d i r e c t s the r i t u a l and guides the d i s c i p l e ' s possession.
Once the d i s c i p l e i s possessed, she leaves the a l t a r , dismisses
her 'master s p i r i t s ' , and removes her gear. From t h i s time on,
the d i s c i p l e o f f i c i a t e s alone before the a l t a r . Possessed and i n
a trance, she dances and plays t h e drum. A master of ceremonies
prepares t h e d i v i n a t i o n s6ance. Each guest who wants t o p a r t -
i c i p a t e , r e c e i v e s a small s a u c e r o f p l a n t l e a v e s i n which he
p l a c e s a f l o w e r and a s m a l l c o i n (1 r u p e e ) . H e r e t u r n s h i s
s a u c e r t o t h e m a s t e r o f c e r e m o n i e s and i n d i c a t e s t h e q u e s t i o n s he
wants t o a s k Yuma. The master o f c e r e m o n i e s a p p r o a c h e s t h e d i s -
c i p l e who i s i n a t r a n c e and c a l l s t o h e r by t h e name Yuma Maha-
r k i . H e shows h e r t h e s a u c e r , names t h e p e r s o n who made t h e
o f f e r i n g , a n d a s k s t h e q u e s t i o n s . The p o s s e s s e d p r i e s t e s s a n s w e r s
e a c h q u e s t i o n . The g u e s t s a r e a t t h i s t i m e assembled n e a r t h e
a l t a r and l i s t e n a t t e n t i v e l y . According t o t h e s p e c t a t o r s , t h i s
i s t h e most i m p o r t a n t moment o f t h e ceremony. T h i s i s t h e f i r s t
t i m e t h a t t h e new p r i e s t e s s p r e d i c t s t h e f u t u r e . H e r ' p r o f e s s i o n -
a l f u t u r e ' i s i n a way a t s t a k e . I n t h e c a s e o f a well-known ywna
o f t h e Tambar Khola, p e o p l e s t i l l remembered, a f t e r 20 y e a r s , t h e
d i v i n a t i o n s h e had made t h e d a y o f h i s i n i t i a t i o n . These d e b u t s
determine h i s r e p u t a t i o n .

The f o l l o w i n g a r e some o f t h e p r e d i c t i o n s t h a t were made: To


a v i l l a g e r from L i n g t a p , h e p r e d i c t e d t h e d e a t h o f h i s w i f e . Not
o n l y d i d t h e w i f e d i e w i t h i n t h r e e months b u t t h e women h e l a t e r
married a l s o died. He p r e d i c t e d t h e d e a t h o f a 15-year-old boy
who l i v e d i n h i s own v i l l a g e (Mahapanghe). The p r e d i c t i o n
m a t e r i a l i z e d w i t h i n t w o weeks.

Between 9 . 3 0 and 11 p.m. a b o u t 30 p e o p l e t a k e t u r n s l i s t e n i n g


t o Yuma s p e a k t h r o u g h t h e mouth o f h i s new p r i e s t e s s . A t t h e end
o f t h i s f o u r t h mundhwn t o Yuma, t h e h o s t s o f f e r a meal t o t h e
t h r e e p r i e s t s and a l l t h e g u e s t s .

On t h e t h i r d d a y , a f i f t h mwzdhum t o Yuma i s p e r f o r m e d i n t h e
house. I t i s i d e n t i c a l t o t h a t of t h e p r e v i o u s evening. Once
t h e d i s c i p l e h a s gone i n t o a t r a n c e , t h e m a s t e r l e a v e s t h e a l t a r
and l e t s h e r p r o p h e s y f o r t h e p e o p l e who were u n a b l e t o o b t a i n
t h i s f a v o a r t h e p r e v i o u s e v e n i n g . Toward m i d n i g h t t h i s f i f t h
mundhum e n d s . Around 1.00 a.m., a f i n a l r i t u a l i s p e r f o r m e d
i n s i d e t h e house. The m a s t e r r e c e i v e s t h e p r e s t a t i o n s from h i s
d i s c i p l e and t h e payment f o r h i s s e r v i c e s (money, an enormous
b a s k e t o f meat, a n d o t h e r g o o d s ) . H e t h e n d i s m i s s e s h i s d i s c i p l e .
A t t h i s t i m e he p r e d i c t s h e r f u t u r e and g i v e s h e r some l a s t a d v i c e
w h i l e t h e phedangma r e c e i v e s t h e p r e s t a t i o n s f o r h i s p a r t i c i p a t i o n
i n t h e c e r e m o n i e s (money, meat 1 .
The ceremony l a s t s a h a l f . hour. I t takes place near the
c e n t r a l p i l l a r o f t h e house. The phedangma and m a s t e r Yuma a r e
s i d e by s i d e . The d i s c i p l e f a c e s them. The members o f h e r
f a m i l y and t h e c o r t e g e i r e a d y t o l e a v e , are l i n e d up n e x t t o them.

I n t h e same way he had a r r i v e d , p r e c e d e d by h i s c o r t e g e and


p l a y i n g t h e drum, t h e p r i e s t o f Yuma r e t u r n s t o h i s v i l l a g e ,
accompanied by t h e phedangma. Leaving t h e i n i t i a t e ' s house, he
i s accompanied by h i s d i s c i p l e , who l e a v e s him a t t h e same p l a c e
s h e had come t o g r e e t him, t h r e e d a y s e a r l i e r .
I n i t i a t i o n of t h e b i j w - and p h e d a n w
I have l i t t l e i n f o r m a t i o n on t h e i n i t i a t i o n o f t h e bijuwa' and
phedangma. The i n i t i a t i o n of a b i j w - i s d e s i g n a t e d by t h e same
name a s t h a t of t h e yurna, y a dengma sing. L i k e t h e y m ' s i n i -
t i a t i o n , i t t a k e s p l a c e a t t h e end o f t h e 'low s e a s o n ' , i n w i n t e r ,
between O c t o b e r and F e b r u a r y .

A s w i t h t h e ywna, t h e d i s c i p l e w i l l g r e e t h i s m a s t e r on the
r o a d . I n a winnowing box, he p l a c e s 30 r u p e e s , s p i r i t s and meat.
I n exchange h i s m a s t e r g i v e s him h i s g e a r .

A monumental a l t a r i s c o n s t r u c t e d w i t h bamboo. 'On t o p , t h e r e


is a s o l i d p l a t f o r m . A l a d d e r w i t h e i g h t r u n g s l e a d s t o it.
Once t h e b u f f a l o i s s a c r i f i c e d , t h e bij-, i n a trance, b i t e s
t h e animal on t h e e a r s , muzzle, f e e t and t a i l . Then he c l i m b s
t h e l a d d e r toward t h e p l a t f o r m . Once a t t h e t o p , he d a n c e s . The
g u e s t s dance w i t h him. I t i s s a i d t h a t on t h e p l a t f o r m t h e
b i j m - has a r r i v e d a t t h e v i l l a g e of h i s 'master-spirits', yeprne
thungema pangphe. During t h i s t i m e , t h e phedangrm p e r f o r m s t h e
GrFihZ, Tonsing, and o t h e r r i t u a l s . A b i j m d who d o e s n o t perform
t h i s ceremony w i l l n e v e r b e a t r u e bijuwa'. And Muktuba, t h e
p h e d a n g m , who i s t o d a y 4 8 , adds : 'My f a t h e r ' s s i s t e r , who was
a bijuwiini, performed t h i s ceremony when I was s e v e n ' . A s w i t h
t h e yuma, t h e r e i s a main d i v i n a t i o n ceremony. The bijuwa', i n
o r d e r t o p r o p h e s y , t u r n s h i s p l a t e (gong) i n c i r c l e s around him.
A t t h e end, t h e master d i s m i s s e s h i s d i s c i p l e . 'Now you no
l o n g e r need m e . You can do t h e mundhwn a l o n e . '

The i n i t i a t i o n o f a phedangma i s c a l l e d a phedang thok lung.


The word t h o k , from thokma, means s p r i n k l i n g , and by e x t e n s i o n ,
ordination. I t t a k e s p l a c e i n t h e i n n e r c o u r t y a r d of t h e house,
around t h e c e n t r a l p o l e c a l l e d samba g u e s i n g .

'Today, t h e phedangma i n i t i a t i o n s a r e n o t done a s t h e y were i n


t h e p a s t , ' s a y s Medemsa, an o l d man o f t h e v i l l a g e . 'Tongsing i s
done, a c h i c k e n i s s a c r i f i c e d t o Nahangma and i t ' s o v e r . But
b e f o r e , t h e i n i t i a t i o n o f a phedangma was a s i m p o r t a n t a s t h a t of
t h e b i j w d and ywna. You had t o k i l l hogs, g o a t s and a s many
animals a s f o r t h e b i j m d . A l l t h a t is forgotten.'

I d o n o t i n t e n d t o conclude. My m a t e r i a l i s fragmentary and


I have n o t a t t e m p t e d t o i n t e r p r e t it. I t r a i s e s more q u e s t i o n s
t h a n it answers and i s t h e b a s i s f o r f u r t h e r i n q u i r y .

I would, however, l i k e t o make two remarks. Many of P r o f e s s o r


H i t c h c o c k ' s (1967: 156) o b s e r v a t i o n s c o n c e r n i n g t h e comparison o f
C e n t r a l A s i a t i c shamanism and N e p a l i shamanism a p p l y t o t h e Limbu
religion. However, a s f o r t h e ' journey of t h e s o u l ' , i t would
a p p e a r t h a t t h e f a c t s concerning t h e Limbu of t h e Mewa sometimes
d i f f e r from t h o s e observed among t h e Magar o f t h e B h u j i v a l l e y .
And y e t , t h e Limbu r e l i g i o n , l i k e t h e Magar c u l t s , b e a r s t h e mark
o f an obvious d e t e r i b r a t i o n of t h e C e n t r a l A s i a t i c t r a d i t i o n .

Secondly, one df t h e o u t s t a n d i n g p o i n t s concerning t h e v o c a t i o h


o f t h e Limbu p r i e s t s seems t o be t h e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c r o l e o f t h e
phedangma. He h a s a p a r t i c u l a r f u n c t i o n i n t h e r e c o g n i t i o n of
t h i s v o c a t i o n . He is p r e s e n t a t t h e i n i t i a t i o n o f o t h e r p r i e s t s .
The Yuma c u l t , f o r example, c o n s i d e r e d s e p a r a t e l y , could e v e n t u a l l y
be t h e o b j e c t of a comparison w i t h t h e f a c t s observed by Gaborieau
( 1 9 6 9 ) , Macdonald (1962) and Hofer (1973) i n o t h e r Nepali r e g i o n s .
But it cannot be approached a s an i s o l a t e d phenomenon. The
f u n c t i o n s of t h e phedangma a r e s i g n i f i c a n t i n t h i s r e g a r d . The
Limbu r e l i g i o n must be s t u d i e d a s a whole i n accordance w i t h t h e
p o i n t o f view d e f i n e d i n a r e c e n t c o n t r i b u t i o n by Hofer (1974:
66-67).

P h i Zippe Sagan t

1. Concerning t h e Limbu of e a s t e r n Nepal, s e e , among o t h e r s ,


Caplan (1970) f o r d a t a on economy and s o c i a l change, Hooker
(1854) f o r r e g i o n a l geography and o t h e r e t h n o g r a p h i c d a t a
i n t h e 1 9 t h c e n t u r y , Chemjong (1967) f o r a s p e c t s of s o c i a l
and c u l t u r a l l i f e , and J o n e s ( i n t h i s volume) on r e l i g i o n .
I n t h i s a r t i c l e t h e g e o g r a p h i c a l names have n o t been
changed, b u t t h e names o f p e o p l e have been a l t e r e d . The
NepZli terms were t r a n s c r i b e d a c c o r d i n g t o Turner (1931).
Limbu terms have been g a l l i c i z e d and r e f e r e n c e i s made t o
Chemjong's d i c t i o n a r y ( 1 9 6 1 ) . On t h e t y p e s of a g r i c u l t u r e
i n t h e Mewa Khola a r e a , s e e Sagant (1973a).

2. These two v i s i t s were f i n a n c e d by t h e C e n t r e N a t i o n a l de l a


Recherche S c i e n t i f i q u e ( P a r i s ) w i t h i n t h e framework o f t h e
R.C.P. Nepal. I wish t o thank P r o f e s s o r M i l l o t of t h e
R.C.P. f o r h i s constant aid.

3. Concerning \the r o l e o f t h e phedangma a t t h e time of a


m a r r i a g e , s e e Sagant (1970: 91) . On t h e v a r i o u s t y p e s of
p r i e s t s , s e e R. J o n e s ( i n t h i s volume). For a b i b l i o g r a p h y
concerning t h e phedangma, s e e Sagant (1969:121-22).

4. On t h e baiddang, c f . Macdonald (1966b3285); b a i d d e , 'native


doctor' .
5. Artemisia v u l g a r i s ; f o r example, S i i g e r (1967:61, v o l . 1 ) .
6. Shi-ya, see Chemjong 1 9 6 1 : 2 9 4 (sik samba).

The c u l t of t h e Yuma drld l t s p r i e s t s seems t o be localized


i r ~t h e n o r t h of L i n d j u c o u n t r y . On t h i s s u b j e c t s e e R . J o n e s
a r ~ dS . Kurz J o n e s i n t h i s v o l u n e .

Conct-rnlncj t i l e myth of N a h a ~ l q n a , s e e C h e m j o r i q ( 1 9 6 7 : 37-40,


FJdrt I ) dlld d l s u C'hemjoncj ( 1 9 1 > 7 : 1 2 , 1 4 , 2 2 , 56, 7 9 ) .

('uncernlricl t h e q e d r of tkie L1rrk)u r e l l g l o u s prdct L t l o r i e r s ,


see H. J v r l e s 111 t i l l s v o l u ~ n c . F u r a c o r n p d r l s o r ~ w l t k ~t h e
j i ; d k r ~ i , see H l t-chcoc-k, M l c l , l a n d Mhcdunald I 11 tills volume.

Or1 t l i e l n l t l c l t l c r i arid apprentlceshlp, s e e d l s u I?. J o n e s and


S. Kurz J o n e s lri t f ~ l sv o l u n e .

L i A U ywna (master a d d i s c i p l e ) b e a t l n c ~t h e i r
drums d u r i n g the i n i t i a t i o n ceremony
A PRELIMINARY REPORT ON THE PUIMBO AND THE
NGIAMI - THE SUNUWAR SHAMANS OF SABRA

The Sunuwar c o n s t i t u t e a s m a l l a g r o - p a s t o r a l p o p u l a t i o n of
Nepal. They l i v e i n E a s t No. 2 and No. 3 d i s t r i c t s between t h e
Tamba and Mauling r i v e r s . l According t o R . S h a f e r (1966:3) t h e y
a r e l i n g u i s t i c a l l y c l a s s i f i e d i n t h e 'Bodic Division, E a s t
Himalayish S e c t i o n , Western Branch, Bahing U n i t ! of t h e Sino-
Tibetan languages.

The v i l l a g e o f S a b r a , where my i n v e s t i g a t i o n t o o k p l a c e i n
1969-70, i s l o c a t e d on t h e S a b r a Khola, a t r i b u t a r y o f t h e Likhu
Khola. The v i l l a g e i s composed o f d i v e r s e homesteads and h a m l e t s .
I l i v e d i n Khaping, a h a m l e t c o n s i s t i n g o f 4 2 d w e l l i n g s o c c u p i e d
by t h e Sunuwar.

Introduction

The puimbo ( S ) o r ngiami ( S ) a r e t h e shamans o f t h e Sunuwar


community a n d s e r v e a s p r i v i l e g e d i n t e r m e d i a r i e s between t h e
w o r l d o f s p i r i t s and t h e p r o f a n e world o f t h e v i l l a g e r s . It is
s a i d t h a t t h e f i r s t puimbo o f S a b r a was Gandar, f o r e f a t h e r o f
Samarbahadur, who i s p r e s e n t l y t h e puimbo o f Khaping. It is
Gandar who i s invoked a s t h e g r e a t a n c e s t o r a t t h e t i m e o f t h e
2
Sunuwar p u b l i c r i t u a l s , s u c h a s T s a n d i ( S ) , G h i l ( S ) o r Khas ( S ) .

The puimbo o r ngiami a r e ' b e i n g s who f a l l i n t o a s t a t e o f


t r a n c e d u r i n g which t i m e v o i c e s speak t h r o u g h t h e i r p e r s o n ' . 3 I n
s o f a r a s t h e y communicate w i t h t h e w o r l d o f s p i r i t s , t h e y know
t h e p a s t , p r e s e n t and f u t u r e , t h e y c a n f i n d l o s t o r m i s p l a c e d
o b j e c t s , d i s c e r n t h e c a u s e s o f e v i l s i n f l i c t e d by an a n g r y s p i r i t
and t h e n e x o r c i s e them. A f t e r I have d e s c r i b e d t h e shaman's
c a l l i n g and t h e s o u r c e s and a t t r i b u t e s o f h i s power, I w i l l l i m i t
m y s e l f , i n t h i s a r t i c l e , t o t h e p u r e l y shamanic a s p e c t o f t h e
puimbo and t o h i s r o l e a s a h e a l e r , a f t e r a b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n o f
h i s c a l l i n g and t h e s o u r c e s o f h i s power and a t t r i b u t e s .

A t p r e s e n t , t h e r e a r e o n l y t h r e e puimbo and.ngiami i n S a b r a :
a puimbo i n Khapin, a puimbo i n K e r a b h o t e , a n o t h e r i n N i g a l e and
a ngiami i n B e s s a r a b i . Khargabahadur Sunuwar who i s a l s o a puimbo
from Khaping i s p r e s e n t l y s e r v i n g i n t h e army i n I n d i a .
A Sunuwar shaman during a adanca
The Calling and Apprenticeship of the Puimbo or Ngiami

The c a l l i n g o f a puimbo and ngiami o f t e n seems t o make itself


known d u r i n g a n e n c o u n t e r w i t h a s p i r i t who u n d e r t a k e s t o initiate
them. According t o my i n f o r m a n t s , t h e s e e x p e r i e n c e s have always
t a k e n p l a c e i n t h i s way, and i t i s t h e s e e x p e r i e n c e s t h a t I will
t r y t o r e l a t e here.

Fig.1
L i n e a g e o f Sarnarbahadur, puimbo o f Khaping

4 Garndar

? Botul

4 Baherupsi

A Samarbahadur (57 y e a r s )

L i n e a g e o f Mayadevi, ngiami o f B e s s a r a b i

0 Mayadevi (46 y e a r s )

A : h a s been a puimbo

: h a s n e v e r been a puimbo : h a s been a ngiami


Samarbahadur i s t h e descendant of Gamdar who was t h e f i r s t
puimb0. He i s 57, l i v e s i n Khaping and h a s been married t h r e e
times. When he was 1 3 o r 14, Samarbahadur was s e n t by h i s f a t h e r
t o t h e h i l l i e s t r e g i o n s of t h e jungle i n o r d e r t o t e n d t h e l i v e -
s t o c k g r a z i n g t h e r e . One day, when he had p e n e t r a t e d d e e p l y i n t o
t h e j u n g l e , he l o s t h i s way and came upon some small e l f - l i k e
beings who l e d him i n t o a g r o t t o . The male e l v e s a r e c a l l e d
bashpuimbo ( f o r e s t s p i r i t s ) ( s ) and t h e females a r e c a l l e d
.'
shaZapuimbo ( l o n g - h a i r e d s p i r i t s ) ( 5 ) There i n t h e g r o t t o , one
of t h e s e e l v e s t a u g h t him d i v e r s e formulae (mmtm) (N) and i n v i t e d
him t o r e t u r n . Samarbahadur t h e n l o s t c o n s c i o u s n e s ~and was found
t h r e e days l a t e r by h i s p a r e n t s and neighbours who, being worried,
had o r g a n i z e d a s e a r c h p a r t y t o f i n d him. S i n c e he had a high
f e v e r , h i s f a t h e r c a l l e d upon Bakshi puinbo, t h e most competent
puimbo of Sabra, t o t a k e c a r e o f him. A f t e r he was cured by
Bakshi, Samarbahadur was asked t o d e s c r i b e what had happened t o
him. He s a i d he had walked i n t h e jungle u n t i l he met t h e e l v e s
who looked a f t e r him. Bakshi asked i f he had touched &e of t h e s e
elf-women, b u t t h e young boy r e p l i e d t h a t he had been v e r y c a r e f u l
n o t t o come i n t o d i r e c t p h y s i c a l c o n t a c t with them. These e l f -
women a r e i n f a c t a b l e t o reduce t h e power f t u n g ) (S) of a f u t u r e
puimbo i f he s o much a s t o u c h e s them o r h a s s e x u a l c o n t a c t with
one o f them. Samarbahadur's h a i r began t o grow and h i s f a t h e r ,
c o n s t e r n a t e d by t h i s s i g n of a f u t u r e shaman, asked Bakshi t o t a k e
him a s a s t u d e n t . Bakshi a c c e p t e d b u t , b e i n g very a u t h o r i t a r i a n ,
o f t e n b e a t t h e new s t u d e n t . During h i s a p p r e n t i c e s h i p , Samarbaha-
d u r l e a r n e d by h e a r t formulae t h a t would e n a b l e him t o ward o f f
and immobilize e v i l s p i r i t s ; he l e a r n e d t o u t i l i z e d i v e r s e methods
of a t t r a c i n g s p i r i t s and l a s t l y , he was t a u g h t t o f o l l o w t h e
r i t u a l s of o f f i c i a t i n g pu*o a t t h e t i m e o f t h e ceremonies.
S e v e r a l t i m e s a y e a r , when Samarbahadur was overcome by a f i t o f
t r e m b l i n g ( k r i n k r i ) ( S ) , he would l e a v e h i s master and i s o l a t e
himself i n t h e f o r e s t where he a g a i n met w i t h t h e bashpuimbo.
When Samarbahadur was 16 o r 17, h i s f a t h e r h e l d a f e a s t i n honour
of Bakshi puimbo and o f f e r e d him a j a c k e t , a r i t u a l garment f j h - )
(N) 20 t o 25 r u p e e s and d i s t i l l e d l i q u o r . Before t h e f a m i l y ,
f r i e n d s and neighbours, who had g a t h e r e d f o r t h e o c c a s i o n , Bakshi
re-enacted t h e a p p r e n t i c e s h i p s e s s i o n s ; a t t h e end of t h e n i g h t ,
he c o n s e c r a t e d h i s novice who would h e n c e f o r t h have t h e r i g h t t o
use a shamanic drum (@ydgro) (N). 7 Samarbahadur chose t o l e a v e
Sabra i n o r d e r t o f o l l o w t h e t e a c h i n g s of o t h e r shamans. He
s t u d i e d w i t h a Sunuwar ngiarni, t h e n w i t h a Tamang jh&Pi8 b e f o r e
leaving f o r Darjeeling. I n D a r j e e l i n g , where he worked a s a
p o r t e r , he met v a r i o u s shamans and t h e r e b y a c q u i r e d more and more
experience. I t was n o t u n t i l t h e age of 26 t h a t he c o n s i d e r e d
himself a t r u e puimbo. Meanwhile, hg had e n l i s t e d i n t h e I n d i a n
army a s a Gurkha s o l d i e r . A f t e r having s e r v e d f o r n i n e y e a r s , he
s t a y e d i n t h e n o r t h of I n d i a where he wandered about i n t h e company
of szdhu and a s c e t i c s (yogi). A t t h e age of 35, he r e t u r n e d t o
Sabra. The few y o g i who today t r a v e l through t h i s r e g i o n , seem
t o make a d e t o u r through Sabra in o r d e r t o see him.
I have t a k e n t h e time t o d e s c r i b e Samarabahadur's t r a i n i n g i n
d e t a i l b e c a u s e h i s p e r s o n a l i t y w i t h o u t a doubt s u r p a s s e s t h a t of
t h e a v e r a g e i n h a b i t a n t o f S a b r a and c o n s e q u e n t l y h i s c a s e can h e l p
u s e x p l a i n t h e n a t u r e o f p o s s e s s i o n among t h e puimbo.

The second example c o n c e r n s t h e puimbo o f Kerabhote, 4 9 y e a r s


of a g e and m a r r i e d o n l y o n c e .

When h e was 7 o r 8 , t h e puimbo Kerabhote f e l l i n t o a swoon a t a


c r o s s r o a d s on a wooded h i l l t o p . H e was s m i t t e n w i t h a h i g h f e v e r ,
accompanied by n a u s e a and d e l i r i u m and mumbled i n an unknown
l a n g u a g e . H i s body began t o s w e l l a l t h o u g h he was no l o n g e r a b l e
t o t a k e n o u r i s h m e n t . A puimbo was c c l l e d who immediately d i s c o v -
e r e d t h a t t h e c h i l d had been a t t a c k e d by a s p i r i t . S e v e r a l
s a c r i f i c e s were made, b u t h i s h e a l t h c o n t i n u e d t o d e c l i n e . Bakshi
puimbo, whose fame was w i d e l y known, was summoned. H e came t h a t
v e r y e v e n i n g and s p e n t t h e e n t i r e n i g h t b e a t i n g h i s drum and
r e c i t i n g e x o r c i s m f o r m u l a e . I n t h e e a r l y h o u r s o f t h e morning,
he e x o r c i s e d t h e s p i r i t Dobate B h i r ,' which had t a k e n p o s s e s -
s i o n of t h e boy, and compelled it t o l e a v e t h e body i n p e a c e .
The c h i l d r e g a i n e d h i s s t r e n g t h and s u b s e q u e n t l y f o l l o w e d t h e
t e a c h i n g s o f Bakshi puimbo and a l s o o f h i s p a t e r n a l a u n t , a w e l l -
known ngiarrri who t a u g h t him ?mntra of proven e f f e c t i v e n e s s .

S i n c e t h e age of 1 7 o r 1 8 , he h a s been a puimbo and h a s n e v e r


l e f t t h e a r e a . Because of h i s even temper and g e n e r o s i t y , he i s
v e r y p o p u l a r among t h e Sunuwars, t h e Kagate and t h e Tamang of t h e
S a b r a and B h u j i a r e a .

The t h i r d puimbo l i v e s i n N i g a l e . He i s 52 and h a s been


married t w i c e .

When he w a s o n l y 8 o r 10, t h e puimbo o f N i g a l e was knocked down


by a bashpuimbo i n t h e j u n g l e and he remained t h e r e f o r s e v e r a l
d a y s . The e l v e s t a u g h t him mantra. When he was found, he c o u l d
remember n o t h i n g , b u t f r e q u e n t l y had s h i v e r i n g s p e l l s and moaned.
H i s p a r e n t s were a t a l o s s , s i n c e t h e y d i d n o t want t h e i r son t o
become a puimbo. H e r e f u s e d t o l i s t e n t o them and o f t e n r e t u r n e d
t o t h e f o r e s t . For s e v e r a l d a y s , he l i v e d w i t h o u t food and w i t h
h a r d l y any c l o t h e s i n t h e company o f t h e e l v e s , and h i s m a s t e r ,
who t a u g h t him how t o make a drum. A t t h e age o f 1 5 o r 1 6 , h e
began t o p r a c t i s e h i s a r t . H e n e v e r performed t h e major p u b l i c
r i t u a l s o f t h e Sunuwar, T s a n d i , G h i l o r Khas, and he n e v e r had a
puimb0 i n s t r u c t o r . H e i s , however, f r e q u e n t l y s o u g h t t o c u r e
c e r t a i n a i l m e n t s , such a s p a r a l y s i s , c e s s a t i o n of m e n s t r u a l
cycles, o r miscarriages.

The l a s t example i s t h a t of Mayadevi, a 47 y e a r o l d ngiami.


m a r r i e d , widowed and l i v i n g i n B e s s a r a b i .
When s h e was 11 o r 12, s h e went i n t o t h e j u n g l e t o c u t f o l i a g e
f o r t h e l i v e s t o c k . She f e l l and f a i n t e d . She was d i s c o v e r e d
t h r e e o r f o u r days l a t e r s h i v e r i n g beneath a rock, eyes closed,
u n c o n s c i o u s and s p e a k i n g i n a n unknown l a n g u a g e . A puimbo c a l l e d
to h e r b e d s i d e i d e n t i f i e d t h e e v i l s p i r i t . H e a d v i s e d t h e g i r l ' s
p a r e n t s t h a t t h e s p i r i t wanted t h e i r d a u g h t e r t o become a ng-,
and t h a t i f t h e y p r e v e n t e d t h i s , t h e i r d a u g h t e r would d i e . She
s u b s e q u e n t l y s p e n t l o n g p e r i o d s o f s e c l u s i o n i n t h e j u n g l e where
s h e a g a i n met w i t h h e r h e l p i n g s p i r i t and p e r i o d i c a l l y f o l l o w e d
t h e t e a c h i n g o f v a r i o u s puimbo and jMkrYi, i n c l u d i n g Bakshi
puimbo. She complained t h a t a s a woman, s h e had t o o many d o m e s t i c
d u t i e s and t h a t , u n l i k e t h e male n o v i c e s , s h e c o u l d n o t p r o p e r l y
p u r s u e h e r a p p r e n t i c e s h i p , a s s h e was n o t a s r e a d i l y a v a i l a b l e a s
h e r male c o l l e a g u e s . ( I n f a c t , it i s i m p o s s i b l e t o o f f i c i a t e
when one i s m e n s t r u a t i n g o r when a woman under t h e same r o o f i s
m e n s t r u a t i n g . ) N e v e r t h e l e s s , s h e i s j u s t a s q u a l i f i e d a s Samar-
bahadur o r t h e puimbo o f Kerabhote and n o t h i n g p r e v e n t s h e r from
p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n a Khas, G h i l o r even a T s a n d i . I n 1969 s h e had
two shaman a p p r e n t i c e s , a Tamang g i r l and a C h e t r i boy.

Upon r e a d i n g t h e s e v a r i o u s e x p e r i e n c e s , it becomes e v i d e n t
t h a t t h e puirnbo's o r n g i a m i ' s v o c a t i o n i s i n i t i a t e d i n t h e f o r e s t ,
t h a t i s , i n t h e e v i l world o f w i l d b e a s t s and h o s t i l e s p i r i t s . In
t h i s r e g i o n , where a d u l t s a r e r e l u c t a n t t o e n t e r , t h e r e a r e
numerous s t o r i e s o f p e o p l e b e i n g i n j u r e d , devoured o r l o s t i n t h e
jungle. C h i l d r e n go t o l i v e t h e r e f o r s e v e r a l d a y s , w i t h o u t food
i n the company of e l v e s and m a l e v o l e n t s p i r i t s . The v i l l a g e r s a r c
c e r t a i n t h a t having s u c c e s s f u l l y passed t h i s test, t h e f u t u r e
puimbo i s marked o u t and f a v o u r e d by t h e awesome d e i t i e s . They
a r e a l l p l e a s e d by t h i s , and i n t h e i r c o n t a c t s w i t h t h e f u t u r e
puimbo, t r y t o o b t a i n c e r t a i n s i g n i f i c a n t f a v o u r s , which w i l l
augur w e l l f o r t h e f u t u r e .

I t i s a l s o apparent t h a t t h e r o l e of p u h b o o r ngi& cannot


be h e r e d i t a r y , s i n c e e a c h one i s i n d i v i d u a l l y chosen by a s p i r i t .
I n f a c t , a d i v i n i t y r a r e l y c h o o s e s o u t s i d e a shaman's l i n e a g e ,
b u t h e may b y p a s s d i r e c t d e s c e n d a n t s and s e l e c t d i s t a n t r e l a t i v e s .

I t i s p o s s i b l e f o x b o t h p a r t n e r s o f a m a r r i a g e Lo be p o s s e s s e d ,
I have h e a r d o f a c a s e o f a Sunuwar c o u p l e i n P i r t i where t h e
husband was a puimbo and t h e w i f e a n g k m i .

The Sources of Power

The puimbo o r n g i a h i s a i d e d i n h i s d u t i e s by a h e l p i n g s p i r i t
who a p p e a r s a t t h e t i m e o f t h e young shaman's c a l l i n g and who
delegates t o t h e novice .
h i s powers (tung) (S) These p r o t e c t i v e
s p i r i t s do n o t a l l have t h e same powers. There a r e f o u r t y p e s o f
powers, e a c h a s s o c i a t e d with a p a r t i c u l a r species of p l a n t life:
- kldu tmg. This i s the most important power. It is a
type of bamboo. lo

- DhaZi tung. This i s a Fagaceae whose f o l i a g e serves as


fodder f o r b u f f a l o s . 11

- Gungirwa tung. This i s a thorny creeper t h a t puimbo use t o


make the c u b i t s t i c k (kong-gu) ( 9 ) with
which they beat t h e i r drums (@gzgro) .l2

- Kiabm tung. This i s the root of a LiZiaceae which i s


used t o make a soap. 13

With the a i d of Lawa tung, an embodiment of the rainbow (washi)


( S ) , t h e most important s p i r i t , a puimbo can confront the house-
hold s p i r i t (gu-muk-ki) (S) , the most dangerous of a l l s p i r i t s .
The o t h e r tung: DhaZi, G u n g i m and Kiabra, a r e much weaker and
t h e i r powers a r e no longer s u f f i c i e n t t o enable the puimbo o r
ngiami t o exorcise the household s p i r i t .

In accordance with t h i s h i e r a r c h i c a l order of powers obtained


from t h e s p i r i t s , the puimbo o r ngiami a r e a l s o arranged i n a
hierarchy. Thus, a Lawa t u g puimbo o r ngiarni says, speaking of
a colleague: 'That one! Oh, h e ' s a DhaZi t u n g ' , with a scowl of
disdain.

A puimbo ' s o r ngiami Is paraphemZia

When o f f i c i a t i n g , the puimbo i s a t t i r e d i n c e r t a i n c l o t h e s and


uses c e r t a i n equipment t h a t , he says, p r o t e c t him from the e v i l
s p e l l s of s p i r i t s . He wears an ample long sleeved, double breasted
garment (jw-), of white cotton, t h a t f a l l s around h i s ankles. I t
is gathered a t t h e waist by a long g i r d l e (kipsuru) (S) of white
o r coloured cotton o r n e t t l e f i b r e o r ramie. Around h i s head, he
t i e s a long piece of white cotton ( r u t i k e ) (S) with one end f a l l -
ing over h i s r i g h t shoulder. I n t o t h i s improvised turban he has
i n s e r t e d s e v e r a l porcupine q u i l l s (kashie-taki) ( s ) . slung across
h i s back and hanging a t h i s r i g h t s i d e , he wears a pouch (dun-
t u h i l o ) (S) made of cotton woven by h i s wife. The pouch i s
decorated with one o r s e v e r a l rows of cowries o r sometimes with
wild boars' t e e t h (bashpo-kmi) (S) and trimmed with b r a i d s of
coloured thread, usually yellow. He wears up t o twenty necklaces
(ma'zd) t h a t resemble r o s a r i e s and a r e made of snake vertebrae
(rajmzlii ( N ) or. chebasarpa mdld) ,l4 and l a r g e black beads of
kaZomliE (N) (Sapindus mukerossi ~ a e r t n . ) ,o r brown beads of
rudracchemCE ( N ) (Elaeocarpus sphaericus ~ a e r t n) . Certain .
puimbo o r ngiami a t t a c h t o these rosary-type necklaces the t u s k s
of a wild boar o r the claws of a b i r d of prey (gaduZ) .15 He a l s o
wears bandoliers with various s i z e b e l l s , whose names a r e a s
follows: a ) four large b e l l s ( g h q t d ) ( N ) ; seringhi ( s ) ( t h e sky) ;
dwnz ( S ) ( b e n e a t h t h e ground) ; k o q u (S) ( r i d g e p o l e / a i r ) ; gumn
( S ) ( N e p a l / a i r ) ; b ) t h r e e s m a l l b e l l s : sidha p e r h a p s from siddha
( N ) ( p e r f e c t ) ; polchi, p e r h a p s from polnu ( N ) ( t o b u r n ) ; toahare
p e r h a p s from tusdro ( N ) ( w h i t e f r o s t ) ; c ) one t i n y b e l l ( g h q t i ) ;
washi (S) ( r a i n b o w ) ; and d ) n i n e s m a l l g l o b u l a r b e l l s e a c h o f
which is supposed t o r e p r e s e n t t h e s p i r i t s o f the dead fmasbn)
( N ) . I 6 The names o f t h e s e a r e : b i r ( b r a v e , v e r y p o w e r f u l ) rnzsiin
( N ) ; kabir ( p r o b a b l y f i c m Urdu, kabar, g r a v e ) ; k b G ( s t r e a m )
msa'n ( N ) ; p a ' h ( d r y t e r r a c e ) m s d n ( N ) ; hima'l (snow-covered
mountain) mas& (N); baga'le ( p r o l i f i c ) mzadn ( N ) ; doba'te ( c r o s s -
r o a d ) masiin ( N ) ; e k l e ( s o l i t a r y ) ?ma& (N) . (According t o v a r i o u s
puimbo and ngiurni, b i r and kabir masa'n a x e b e n e v o l e n t s p i r i t s ) .
O f t e n , i n o r d e r t o r e i n f o r c e h i s power and t o f r i g h t e n e v i l
s p i r i t s , t h e puimb0 a t t a c h e s a s m a l l copper d i s c (tha'l) ( N ) ~ ~
b e h i n d some o f the b e l l s i n such a way t h a t when h e d a n c e s , t h e
b e l l s h i t t h e m e t a l d i s c . Around h i s neck and hanging a t h i s
c h e s t , he wears a n e c k l a c e (kasafilo)18 made o f r i n g s o r i r o n c h a i n
t h a t t h e puimbo h a s s t o l e n from a cemetry o r a b r i d g e . (The
c h a i n s t h a t s u p p o r t t h e s u s p e n s i o n - b r i d g e s i n Nepal have a n
unquestionable magico-religious q u a l i t y i n the e a s t e r n p a r t of
t h e c o u n t r y ) . One o f t h e puimbo r e l u c t a n t l y a d m i t t e d t o m e t h a t
he had t a k e n h i s from t h e c e m e t e r y o f Haluwa, n e a r B e t a l i , a town
i n h a b i t e d p r i m a r i l y by Brahmans. Mayadevi a s s u r e d m e t h a t s h e
g o t h e r kas&Zo from h e r g r e a t - g r a n d f a t h e r on h e r m o t h e r ' s s i d e .

Around h i s w r i s t s , he winds r o s a r i e s made o f ka2oZrrEE. I n


h i s wide b e l t (kipsuru) h e k e e p s a small r i t u a l k n i f e , a b o u t one
f o o t l o n g , c a l l e d a phurbu. l9 I t i s s c u l p t u r e d w i t h v a r i o u s
s y m b o l i c p a t t e r n s t h a t w i l l be d e s c r i b e d and a n a l y z e d when w e
t a l k o f t h e drum (dhyzgro) and i t s h a n d l e . The two a r e i n f a c t
s i m i l a r . T h i s r i t u a l k n i f e i s made o f t s e g i (s)20 o r thingre (sI2l
wood. I t i s u s e d f o r c u t t i n g c e r t a i n g t o m (s12*a t t h e t i m e o f
t h e Tsagu, Khas o r G h i l r i t u a l s . A t t h e t o p o f t h e h a n d l e
(purshi) ( S ) , i t i s d e c o r a t e d w i t h t h e t h r e e h e a d s o f lamas and
r i b b o n s of r e d and w h i t e c l o t h . The puimbo u s e s t h e s e r i b b o n s
i n s t e a d o f a whip t o e i t h e r d r i v e away o r c a p t u r e c e r t a i n wander-
i n g s o u l s or c e r t a i n s p i r i t s . I n t h e pouch t h a t he wears a t h i s
s i d e , t h e r e a r e two s m a l l s i c k l e s ( k h ) (S), e a c h w i t h a b r a s s
b l a d e a n d a h a n d l e o f wood ( t o s h i l l (S) (Abies pindrow) , and ' e l f
s t o n e s ' (bash puimbo polu) ( S ) , g e n e r a l l y made o f r o c k - c r y s t a l o r
p e t r i f i e d wood t h a t had been g i v e n t o him by a bashpuimbo d u r i n g
h i s n o v i t i a t e i n t h e jungle. F i n a l l y a s m a l l wooden t h i m b l e
(kamir/kemur) ( S ) i s p l a c e d i n t h e pouch. H e u s e s t h e t h i m b l e t o
p o u r a d r o p o f w a t e r a s an o f f e r i n g t o t h e s p i r i t s . I n t h e pouch
a r e a l s o p l a c e d o n e o r two s m a l l c h i l d ' s femurs, t a k e n from a
e m e t e r y on a moonless n i g h t . These femurs (mirk) (S) a r e some-
times t h o s e o f a t i g e r (dzaemirk) (S) , 2 3 which had been used a s a
r i d i n g a n i m a l by t h e bashpuimbo. The puimbo u s e s t h e s e femurs a s
s m a l l t r u m p e t s t o c a l l t h e f o r e s t spirits.24 H e may a l s o summon
s p i r i t s by blowing i n t o a brat ( S ) , o r w i l d s h e e p ' s horn (Cemus
a x i s ) o r w h i t e conch (sang, ( N ) , p r o b a b l y from S a n s k r i t ) o f v a r i o u s
sizes.

I n a d d i t i o n t o t h e phurbu, t h e puimbo h a s a n o t h e r weapon w i t h


which t o c o n f r o n t s p i r i t s - t h e l a n c e (tsiutek-bartsa) (s) . ~t i s
made of t s o t s i ( S ) o r dhopi ( N ) 25 wood, surmounted by an oblong
spear-head, f t s i u t e k e ) (S) from which r e d o r w h i t e c l o t h r i b b o n s
(dader) ( S ) 2 6 hang. E i g h t t o t e n i n c h e s o f t h i s p a r t o f t h e l a n c e ,
which t h e puinbo h o l d s i n h i s hand, a r e d e c o r a t e d w i t h t h e same
p a t t e r n s a s t h o s e found on t h e phurbu o r t h e drum h a n d l e , T h i s
l a n c e , a p p r o x i m a t e l y 44 f e e t l o n g , i s r a r e l y u s e d by t h e ngiami.
The puimbo h a s one o r s e v e r a l p a i r s o f cymbals (jhydta) (s)2 7 made
o f copper o r b r a s s , o f v a r i o u s s i z e s , bought i n Kathmandu from t h e
Newar g o l d s m i t h s ( B a r e ) o r i n Dharan from t h e rnetal-workers. Each
o f t h e two cymbals i s sexed; t h e h i g h - p i t c h e d one i s m a s c u l i n e ; t h e
low-pitched one i s f e m i n i n e . L a s t l y , e a c h puimbo p o s s e s s e s a drum
(?hy Sgro) .
The &yzgro i s a double-headed drum w i t h a s i n g l e h a n d l e . The
frame i s made o f one p i e c e of h a z e l wood f t s e g i ) o r o f ( t h i n g r e ) ,
c. 4 i n c h e s deep w i t h a c i r c u m f e r e n c e o f c. 164 i n c h e s . The mem-
b r a n e c o v e r i n g e a c h of t h e two s i d e s i s f o l d e d o v e r on t h e o u t s i d e .
I t i s made o f t h e s k i n of a t h r e e - y e a r - o l d d e e r (rokoshie) ( S ) ,
(Ceruudus muntjacl o r of a two-year-old g o a t fkiarshe) ( s ) . A
l e a t h e r thong ( t a n i n ) ( S ) , o r a thong made o f calamus (guri) ( S ) ,
s e c u r e s t h e s k i n s by a network o f i n t e r l a c e d k n o t s . Between t h e
wood o f t h e frame and t h e t h o n g , t h e puinbo s l i p s one o r more p o r -
c u p i n e q u i l l s t o p r e v e n t t h e s k i n s from s t r e t c h i n g . The h a n d l e
( g o e h k i ) ( S ) , which i s c . one f o o t l o n g , i s pegged t o t h e frame.
I t i s made o f t h e same wood a s t h e frame and s c u l p t u r e d w i t h v a r i o u s
s y m b o l i c p a t t e r n s , u s u a l l y i n forms t h a t a r e i d e n t i c a l t o t h o s e en-
g r a v e d on t h e phurbu o r on t h e l a n c e . I t i s i m p o r t a n t t o n o t e t h a t
t h e f a c e o f t h e T s i n g e Lama i s l o c a t e d below t h e f e m i n i n e s i d e of
t h e &yzgro. T h i s i s n o t t h e c a s e w i t h t h e o t h e r two ZQ'rrZf a c e s ,
t h e two t e l e . (See F i g u r e 2 ) :

U n l e s s o t h e r w i s e n o t e d words a r e assumed t o be SunwZri.

1. pia: t h e head. There are t h r e e human f a c e s c a l l e d Err5( N ) .


( A ) T s i n g e Lama; ( B ) Nima T e l e ; (C).,Urgin ~ e l e ~ *

2. batsa: neck-opening, o r handgrip.

3. baZa: shoulders.

4. tukse m n o : a small white Tibetan st up^, , :


Female face of the &dgro
5. 2- mane: a w a l l of s t o n e s where T i b e t a n i n s c r i p t i o n s a r e
inscribed.

6. badaer gum (N): t h e power, f o r c e , t h u n d e r b o l t , c f . vajm .29


7. mane t s i t e r : a small w a l l o f s t o n e s along t h e edge of road$.

8. tsatah darti (N): t h e seven l e v e l s o f t h e e a r t h o r t h e en-


t r a n c e t o seven s t a r s . 30

9. nZg (N) : a snake c o i l e d on a p i r a .

10. pim: a s e a t made of woven corn l e a v e s . ( C f . NepZli pirko,


' a low wooden s t o o l ' , Turner 1931:382).

11. a t y p e o f p a t t e r n w i t h f o u r l a r g e d o t s i s engraved i n r e l i e f .
The f o u r d o t s a r e : a ) b d t s h e r : a d i v i n i t y of t h e r o a d s ; 31
b ) d i y o b a t t i ( N ) : a s m a l l c l a y o i l lamp; c ) mndir ( N ) :
a Hindu temple; d ) sang ( N ) ; t h e puimbo's conch. The l a s t
o f t h e s e d o t s , ( d l , s t r a d d l e s t h e s i d e s A and C o f t h e
murtsil.
12. murtsiz: t h i s i s t h e t h r e e - s i d e d t a p e r e d end o f t h e handle
where t h r e e M g a a r e s c u l p t u r e d . These t h r e e snakes
a r e : a ) k d l i M g ( N ) : t h e b l a c k snake; b ) padm
(N) kuli: t h e snake d i v i n i t y o f t h e l o t u s ;
C) astra ( N ) ku2i: t h e armed snake.

The f i r s t t h i n g one n o t i c e s upon r e a d i n g t h i s nomenclature i s


t h e s c a r c i t y of t r u l y SunwSri terms; i n f a c t , t h e m a j o r i t y o f terms
used a r e e i t h e r mountain NepSli o r a T i b e t a n d i a l e c t . I t i s , how-
e v e r , s i g n i f i c a n t t o n o t i c e t h e t e r n a r y p a t t e r n s : t h e t h r e e lama,
t h e t h r e e m e , t h e t h r e e snakes.

The @zy@ro, a s w e l l a s t h e p h w b u o r t h e l a n c e , i s made under


t h e d i r e c t i o n of t h e puimbo o r ngiami. Following a dream o f Sam- ,
arbahadur, h i s b r o t h e r Lalbahadur made t h e two drums used by t h e
puimbo o f Khaping. Samarbahadur r e l a t e d t h e s t o r y t o me a s f o l l o w s :

'The puimbo had a dream. He was walking i n t h e f o r e s t


wheii suddenly h i s a t t e n t i o n was c a l l e d t o a p a r t i c u l a r
t r e e . He f e l t h i s h e l p i n g s p i r i t o r d e r i n g him t o c u t
t h i s t r e e and make a drum from i t . When he awoke, he
went t o t h e jungle w i t h h i s b r o t h e r . The puimbo t r i e d
t o f i n d t h e s p o t he had seen i n h i s dream. Suddenly,
t h e t r e e t h a t had appeared i n h i s v i s i o n was s t a n d i n g
b e f o r e h i s eyes and he began t o t r e m b l e , communicating
with h i s p r o t e c t i v e s p i r i t . The s p i r i t (he c l a i m s )
showed him t h e branch t o c u t . A s soon a s t h e branch
was c u t , it was brought back t o t h e v i l l a g e and w i t h i n
t h r e e days h i s b r o t h e r c o n s t r u c t e d t h e dhyzgro. Hi+
b r o t h e r a l s o made t h e s t i c k ( k a g - g u ) o u t o f gungir.
A f t e r p u t t i n g t h e s t i c k i n t h e f i r e , he b e n t it i n t o
t h e s h a p e o f an ' S o . When he r e c e i v e d h i s drum, Sam-
a r b a h a d u r had t o do a r i t e o f Tsagu.'

To t h e h a n d l e of @h&agzWa r e a t t a c h e d r e d and w h i t e c l o t h r i b -
bons ( w a r s h i ) t h a t a r e o f f e r e d by t h e c l i e n t . A t t h e t i m e o f t h e
major p u b l i c Sunuwar r i t u a l s , e a c h s i d e o f t h e d r u m i s d e c o r a t e d
w i t h p a i n t . During an i m p o r t a n t r i t e , t h e m e m b e r o f t h e coomunity
who o f f e r s t h i s r i t u a l , d e c o r a t e s b o t h f a c e s o f t h e shaman's drum.
On t h e f e m a l e s i d e , h e s t a r t s by t r a c i n g i n w h i t e a l l around the
edge, a s e r i e s of lozenge shapes d i v i d e d h o r i z o n t a l l y i n t o e q u a l
p a r t s . The t o p h a l f o f t h e l o z e n g e r e p r e s e n t s t h e mountains; t h e
b a s e t h e p l a i n s ; and t h e d i v i d i n g l i n e t h e r i v e r . Above t h e top-
most p o i n t s h e p a i n t s i n d o t s t h e stars. I n t h e c e n t r e o f t h e
d h y z g r o , h e draws an o c t a g o n i n t h e form o f two crosses, t h e one
superimposed o v e r t h e o t h e r t o form an 8 - p o i n t e d s t a r . One cross
i s w h i t e , t h e o t h e r y e l l o w o r r e d . 32 F i n a l l y a t the t o p o f t h e
w h i t e c r o s s , he i n d i c a t e s t h e s t a r s by means of f o u r d o t s ( r e d and
w h i t e a l t e r n a t e l y ) . On t h e male s i d e , he a g a i n draws 2 0 w h i t e t r i -
a n g l e s d e p i c t i n g t h e mountains, e v e r y t h r e e summits a r e surmounted
by 6 f i n e l y c u r v e d l i n e s r e p r e s e n t i n g a rainbow, above which he once
more d o t s i n t h e Milky Way. I n t h e c e n t r e o f t h e drum, he p a i n t s
a t i r s u z ( N ) ,g i v a ' s t r i d e n t , a t t h e b a s e o f which he o u t l i n e s
two l i t t l e s q u a r e s , e a c h c o n t a i n i n g a c r o s s ; on e i t h e r s i d e o f t h e
t r i d e n t , h e draws, i n w h i t e a s a l w a y s , a moon (on t h e l e f t ) and a
s u n (on t h e r i g h t ) . Whatever t h e r i t u a l , it w a s always t h e same
m o t i f s t h a t w e r e reproduced.

The ngiami h a s t h e same g e a r a s t h e puimbo. However, i n s t e a d


o f t h e j d 6 , s h e wears a p e t t i c o a t , gh8gri (N), 3 3 o v e r h e r d r e s s
(gunifi) ( N ) .

The puimbo o r ngiami p e r f o r m v a r i o u s t y p e s o f r i t e s : A ) t h e


major p u b l i c r i t e s : T s a n d i , G h i l , Khas, P o l ...B) s e a s o n a l r i t e s :
R i k h i t a r p a n i , 3 4 Sri-panchami, f e a s t s o f t h e f u l l moon (purne) (N) ...
C) d o m e s t i c r i t e s : b i r t h , g r a n t i n g o f a name, f u n e r a l s ... D) pro-
pitiatory rites: s e l e c t i o n of a s i t e f o r a dwelling o r hunt ...
E) c u r a t i v e r i t e s f o r humans and l i v e s t o c k : Iwa T s i n t a , Mewal ... 35

A t the t i m e o f t h e s e c e r e m o n i e s t h e puCmb0 o r ngiami n e v e r make


blood s a c r i f . I n t h e c a s e o f a s a c r i f i c e , the puimbo c a l l s
upon a M s o I f g e : a c r i f i c e r and l e a d e r o f t h e major p u b l i c r i t e s .
I f you a s k a puimbo which r i t e s h e p r e f e r s , he w i l l answer t h e f u l l
moon f e a s t s (pwlne) ( N ) 37 and t h e c u r a t i v e r i t e s f t s i n t a ) (S) . In
f a c t , c e r t a i n puinibo e n j o y a r e p u t a t i o n a s h e a l e r s o r s o o t h s a y e r s
t h a t e x t e n d s f a r beyond t h e c o n f i n e s o f t h e v i l l a g e t o a r a d i u s o f
a one o r two d a y s ' walk. Thus e a c h puimbo o r ng.iami, a c c o r d i n g t o
h i s merits, e s t a b l i s h e s a c l i e n t e l e t h a t i s always r e a d y t o p r a i s e
h i s c a r e . The Sunuwar w i l l n o t u s u a l l y a t t e m p t t o f i n d o u t i f h i s
puimbo i s a l a m - t u n g o r a k i a b m - t u n g . H e d o e s s o o n l y i f he i s
a t t a c k e d by a wandering s o u l . I n t h i s case, h e w i l l c h o o s e t h e
best ha-tung exorcist.

The Economic Advantages

The puimb0 o r t h e ngiami a r e o f t e p p o o r e r t h a n t h e i r f e l l o w


j h z k r i of o t h e r e t h n i c groups. I t is a l l t h e more a s t o n i s h i n g
t h e n t h a t t h e y have f e w e r p r o b l e m s t h a n t h e Sunuwar p r i e s t o r s a c -
r i f i c e r , t h e dwna na'so. The puirnbo d i f f e r s from t h e l a t t e r i n t h a t
he n o t o n l y r e c e i v e s f o o d a n d a p i e c e o f c l o t h i n t h e form o f re-
m u n e r a t i o n , b u t a l s o some money. A t t h e t i m e o f e v e r y f u l l moon
f p u r n e l , a puirnbo o r a n g i a m i r e c e i v e s a few paisa ( N ) from e a c h
h o u s e , a n d n o t a month p a s s e s b y , b u t t h a t he h a s t o p e r f o r m some
p r o p i t i a r y r i t e , o r t o c u r e some i l l n e s s c a u s e d by a n e v i l s p i r i t .
L a s t l y , i f h e i s a good s o o t h s a y e r , p e o p l e o f t e n come from m i l e s
a r o u n d t o c o n s u l t him; t h u s h e a l w a y s h a s a l i t t l e money a t h i s
disposal.

Name of rite Mon t h Duration Remuneration

TSANDI BaisZkh 5 t o 7 days 2 mZnd o f r i c e ; 1


jar o f b e e r ; each
p e r s o n p l a c e s a few
c o i n s i n h i s dun-
t a h i 2 bag.

GHIL KZrtik 5 t o 10 r u p e e s ; 1
3 days jar o f b e e r , c o n t a i n -
Mangsir i n g 2 pdthi; 1 g o a t ' s
foot; 1 chicken's leg;
1 g t o m ; 2 rna'na' o f
parched r i c e ; 1 piece
of cloth for the tur-
ban; k a s h i e - t a k i ; 1
w a r s h i ( r e d and white
ribbons) f o r the
phurbu a h d f o r t h e
$hy@rd; . I.&der
( r e d and white r i b -
bons) f o r t h e l a n c e .

KHAS/KHASA KZrtik 1-3 r u p e e s ; 1 j a r o f


2 days .. b e e r ; 1 m-nd o f p a r -
Mangsir ched r i k e ; w a r s h i
f o r t h e phurbu and
Name of r i t e Month Duration Remuneration

KHAS/KHASA (contd . ) the $&zgro; 1 dader


f o r the lance; and
a piece of c l o t h f o r
the turban.

TSAGU/TSHAGU KFirtikor 1-2 rupees; 1 g t o m ;


Mangsir o r 1 night 1 j a r of beer; a piece
Pus o r Chait of c l o t h f o r holding
the kashie-taki;
(porcupine q u i l l s ) ;
narshi f o r t h e phurbu
and the ?hgzgro and
1 dader f o r t h e lance.

MESSELMI 1 morning 1 goat's foot; $


chicken; 1 j a r of
beer; a piece of
c l o t h f o r the turban;
1 dader f o r the lance;
warshi f o r the phurbu
and the @~yc?~ro.

BULSO LAGUI o r 2 hours 1 rupee; and 2 meals.


BULSO TULTSA

RIKHITARPANI SZun 1 day and 2 rupees; 2 meals;


1 night 1 m&Z of beer per
house.

AMLA TSINTA 1 day 2 rupees; 2 meals;


1 miin5 of beer and
some meat.

IWA TSINTA 2 o r 3 hours 1-5 rupees; 1 meal;


a piece of c l o t h f o r
the turban; 1 min5
of beer.

MEWAL TSINTA 1 night 1-2 rupees; 2 meals


and 1 m-nii of beer.

113
Name o f r i t e Month Duration Remuneration

TARA TSINTA 1 night 2 rupees; 2 meals;


1 mEind o f b e e r ] 1
dnii of s p i r i t s
( m k s i ) ; and +
chicken.

I n view o f t h e above, how i s t h e i r p o v e r t y t o be e x p l a i n e d ? I


t h i n k i t i s due f i r s t o f a l l t o t h e a b u s e o f a l c o h o l , on which
most o f t h e i r g r a i n and money a r e s p e n t , and s e c o n d l y t o t h e pov-
e r t y o f t h e i r v i l l a g e c l i e n t e l e who a r e n o t a b l e t o r e m u n e r a t e
them d e c e n t l y . A t t h e p r e s e n t t i m e , one comes a c r o s s puimbo who
w i l l t e l l you, n o t w i t h o u t a c e r t a i n a f f e c t a t i o n , t h a t t h e y p r e f e r
n o t t o p r a c t i c e t h e i r a r t , i n o r d e r t o devote t h e i r e n t i r e energies
t o t h e i r a g r i c u l t u r a l and p a s t o r a l o c c u p a t i o n s .

The Shamn ' 6 Performance

A l l t h e s 6 a n c e s I have a t t e n d e d were t r u l y s p e c t a c u l a r . I will


a t t e m p t t o g i v e two examples.

P r i o r t o t h e seance, r e l a t i v e s , neighbours, guests, o r simply


c u r i o u s f r i e n d s s a t down i n t h e main room, g r o u p i n g t h e m s e l v e s a s
c l o s e t o g e t h e r a s p o s s i b l e around t h e f i r e l a c e . The p a t i e n t l a y
.
on a mat b e n e a t h t h e a l t a r ( p i p i l a g a ) (S) 5 8 ~t t h e p a t i e n t ' s f e e t
and w i t h h i s back t u r n e d toward t h e p a t i e n t , t h e puimbo p r e p a r e d
t h e s p i r i t ' s a l t a r on a winnowing t r a y ( g i o l o ) ( S ) . I n t h e c e n t r e
o f t h e t r a y , t h e puimbo p l a c e d a s m a l l c o p p e r cup c o n t a i n i n g c l a r i -
f i e d b u t t e r (ghiu) ( N ) i n which he p l a c e d a c o t t o n wick. T h i s . w a s
l a t e r t o be u s e d a s a lamp. Around t h e lamp, h e s c a t t e r e d husked
r i c e , and a t t h e f o u r c a r d i n a l p o i n t s , he a r r a n g e d t h e l i g h t n i n g
s t o n e s he had r e c e i v e d from t h e bashpuimbo. On t h e same t r a y and
t o t h e r i g h t of t h e lamp, h e p l a c e d a femur ( m i r k ) . To t h e l e f t
o f t h e lamp, h e p l a c e d a s m a l l s i c k l e ( k u r m i ) , a n e g g , and t h r e e
rudrlicche b e a d s d e t a c h e d from one o f h i s r o s a r y n e c k l a c e s . Near
t h e winnowing t r a y and t o h i s r i g h t , h e p l a c e d a c o p p e r v a s e ( t k d r )
(N)39 w i t h a lopsa ( N ) 40 f l o w e r and a s m a l l i n c e n s e cup (dhupero)
( N ) .41 To h i s l e f t he p l a c e d a b a s k e t (dliZo) ( N ) f u l l o f c o r n k e r -
nels. H e i n s e r t e d h i s phurbu i n t o t h e b a s k e t . H e drove h i s l a n c e
i n t o t h e ground between t h e o f f e r i n g p l a t f o r m and t h e s h e l f ( a t i )
( S ) where t h e w a t e r was p l a c e d .

A t a p p r o x i m a t e l y 8 . 3 0 p.m., he p u t on h i s jdm- and t h e r e s t o f


h i s g e a r w h i l e c h a n t i n g p r a y e r s i n SunuwZri. S i t t i n g c r o s s - l e g g e d ,
s h a k i n g h i s head, h e began t o r h y t h m i c a l l y b e a t h i s Bhyzgro and
shake h i s body. A t t h e same t i m e , he a t t e m p t e d t o keep h i s l e g s
s t i f f . A s t h e rhythm o f h i s drumming became more a c c e n t u a t e d a n d
t h e s h a k i n g o f h i s body more pronounced, he sang v e r y s o f t l y i n a
high-pitched n a s a l voice. Suddenly he changed t h e rhythm and
p a s s e d h i s drum t o someone i n t h e a u d i e n c e . H e blew i n t o t h e femur
he had p l a c e d on t h e t r a y . Then he took g r a i n s of rice from h i s
sack and threw them towards t h e f o u r c a r d i n a l p o i n t s . P l a c i n g a
hand on e a c h knee, he s l o w l y swayed i n t i m e t o h i s hwmning. Sud-
d e n l y he gave a s t a r t and began t o shake more and more v i o l e n t l y ,
b e f o r e l e a p i n g up a b r u p t l y . Once he was on h i s f e e t , he a g a i n took
h i s $huZgro, h o l d i n g t h e h a n d l e i n h i s l e f t hand and t h e kong-gu
i n h i s r i g h t , and began t o dance. A t t h e same t i m e he p r a y e d t o
h i s h e l p i n g s p i r i t t o g u i d e him towards t h e s p i r i t t h a t had i n f l i c -
t e d f e v e r upon t h e Sunuwar woman. He b r a n d i s h e d h i s drum towards
t h e c o r n e r s o f t h e house and hopped w i t h h i s f e e t t o g e t h e r . Little
by l i t t l e he moved i n t h e d i r e c t i o n o f t h e house a l t a r (hagal. He
b e a t h i s & y ~ g r ovehemently. The r i n g o f t h e cymbals and t h e t o n e s
o f t h e conches and femurs h e l p e d t o m a i n t a i n h i s t r a n c e . The
p o s s e s s i o n ended a s a b r u p t l y a s i t began, and t h e puimbO suddenly
f e l l t o t h e f l o o r on h i s k n e e s . The f i r s t t r a n c e l a s t e d e l e v e n
m i n u t e s . While smoking a c i g a r e t t e , t h e puirnbo answered q u e s t i o n s
from members of t h e a u d i e n c e who were e a g e r t o l e a r n t h e i d e n t i t y
of t h e a n g e r e d s p i r i t . S p i r i t s w e r e p a s s e d around and everyone
talked.

A t t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e second a c t , t h e p a t i e n t l e f t t h e c o r n e r
where s h e was l y i n g and s a t between t h e two wooden p i l l a r s t h a t
s u p p o r t e d an upper s t o r y and t h e r o o f i n g . Having invoked a long
l i s t o f s p i r i t s , t h e puimbo a g a i n f e l l i n t o a t r a n c e . H e p l a y e d
t h e dhyZgro, a d d r e s s i n g h i m s e l f sometimes t o t h e f e m i n i n e s i d e
and sometimes t o t h e m a s c u l i n e , depending upon t h e s e x of t h e
s p i r i t of which he was s p e a k i n g . 42 A t one p o i n t , a f t e r h a v i n g
p a s s e d h i s ghzj8gro t o someone, he s e i z e d h i s l a n c e and p l a c e d it
i n t h e h e a r t h among t h e embers and a s h e s . When t h e p o i n t began t o
glow, he d i r e c t e d it towards t h e p a t i e n t . H e repeated t h i s process
s e v e r a l times, t h e n he b r a n d i s h e d h i s l a n c e towards t h e f o u r p o i n t s
o f t h e e a r t h . F i n a l l y he p o i n t e d it t a w a r d s t h e p a t i e n t , who was
p r o g r e s s i v e l y assuming a p r o n e p o s i t i o n . H e then drove t h e lance
i n t o t h e ground i n f r o n t of t h e d o o r . Having p l a c e d t h e s a c r i -
f i c i a l egg n e a r h i s l a n c e , he asked f o r a b l a c k hen and h e l d it by
t h e wings i n h i s r i g h t hand w h i l e t w i r l i n g h i s p h w b u i n t h e l e f t .
With t h e p o i n t o f h i s phurbu, he touched t h e s h o u l d e r s of t h e
p a t i e n t 4 3 and spun t h e c a c k l i n g , winged c r e a t u r e above t h e p a t i e n t ' s
head. H e d i d t h i s s e v e r a l t i m e s b e f o r e throwing t h e hen and t h e
phurbu o u t s i d e o f t h e house i n t o t h e y a r d . T h i s was t h e end o f
t h e second a c t .

The t h i r d a c t was a t o n c e ' t h e most s p e c t a c u l a r and t h e most


i m p o r t a n t . On t h e ground i n f r o n t o f t h e d o o r , t h e puirnbo drew,
w i t h c o r n f l o u r , a diamond shaped form d i v i d e d i n t o e i g h t t r i a n g l e s .
A t t h e c e n t r e of t h i s l o z e n g e , he p l a c e d a d o g ' s jaw44 wrapped i n
p a p e r and t i e d w i t h a s t r i n g . I n h e r r i g h t hand, t h e p a t i e n t h e l d
t h e o t h e r end o f t h e s t r i n g a s i f it were a ' l e a s h ' . A pan o f
a s h e s was p l a c e d n e a r t h e d o o r a t t h e t i p o f t h e diamond. The
f i r e had been e x t i n g u i s h e d . The o n l y l i g h t came from t h e dimly
lit ghiu lamp on t h e winnowing t r a y where t h e o f f e r i n g s were ex-
p o s e d . The puirnbo s a t a t t h e f o o t of t h e l a d d e r f a c i n g t h e p a t i e n t
and t h e h e a r t h . Once a g a i n i n a t r a n c e , t h e piwnbo blew i n t o t h e
femurs and summoned s e v e r a l s p i r i t s , s p e a k i n g t o them i n a f o r e i g n
language (it seemed t o be NewSri o r Kagate-Tamang). He danced
w h i l e accompanying h i m s e l f on t h e d h y z g m , which h e waved h o r i z o n - -
t a l l y t o w a r d s t h e c o r n e r s o f t h e room o r towards t h e laga. A f t e r
g i v i n g h i s drum t o a member o f t h e a u d i e n c e , he spun around above
t h e diamond. Then t h e t o o k t h e s t r i n g from t h e p a t i e n t and t w i r l e d
t h e jaw around h e r h e a d and s h o u l d e r s . When h e r e t u r n e d t h e jaw
t o t h e c e n t r e o f t h e l o z e n g e , h e gave h e r back t h e ' l e a s h ' . 4 5 He
a g a i n g r a s p e d h i s l a n c e , and a f t e r h a v i n g c o a t e d t h e t i p w i t h a s h ,
he touched t h e p a t i e n t on t h e s h o u l d e r s , f o r e h e a d and neck. H e
t h e n d r o v e t h e l a n c e i n t o t h e diamond. While he danced, h e whipped
t h e s h o u l d e r s , head and back o f t h e Sunuwar woman w i t h t h e w a r s h i
o f h i s phurbu. Next, he a t t a c h e d a s m a l l s t r i n g t o a r i c e - p e s t l e
( t u Z i ) (S) t h a t was i n s e r t e d i n a f i s s u r e above t h e d o o r . To t h e
o t h e r end o f t h e s t r i n g h e t i e d t h e l e f t f o o t o f a .hen who k i c k e d
a b o u t w i t h h e r h e a d hanging above t h e magic diamond. The puimbo
p l a c e d a s h e s a t t h r e e d i f f e r e n t p l a c e s on t h e s t r i n g t h a t h e l d
t h e chicken, then ordered t h e e v i l s p i r i t t o take refuge i n t h e
c e n t r e of the diamond and promised him t h e c h i c k e n i n r e t u r n .
While h e danced, t h e puirnbo i n d i c a t e d t o t h e s p i r i t t h e d i r e c t i o n
he must f o l l o w t o l e a v e t h e p a t i e n t . H e s a i d , ' I b u i l t an a l t a r
f o r you i n a temple ( t h e ' d i a m o n d ' ) and I have p r e p a r e d your p a t h
( t h e ' l e a s h ' ) . ' A s soon a s t h e puimbo was convinced t h a t t h e s p i r i t
was abandoning t h e p a t i e n t , h e w h i s t l e d between h i s t e e t h . A t this
p r e c i s e moment, t h e p a t i e n t ' s b r o t h e r - i n - l a w c u t t h e ' l e a s h ' w h i l e
h e r husband s n i p p e d t h e s t r i n g h o l d i n g t h e hen. The t h i r d p e r s o n
emptied t h e pan of a s h e s on t h e c e n t r e of t h e diamond. The young
p e o p l e b u s i e d t h e m s e l v e s c l e a n i n g t h e p l a c e where t h e s p i r i t was
t r a p p e d . The a s h , t h e c o r n f l o u r , t h e d o g ' s jaw and e v e r y t h i n g
e l s e was q u i c k l y c l e a r e d away, t o be thrown i n t o t h e j u n g l e . The
p o r t e r s were e s c o r t e d by two o t h e r b o y s , one b e a t i n g t h e cymbals,
t h e o t h e r t h e magic drum. When t h e p r o c e s s i o n r e t u r n e d from t h e
j u n g l e , t h e p a t i e n t ' s husband s p r i n k l e d them w i t h a lopsa branch
b e f o r e t h e y e n t e r e d t h e house. The f i r e was a g a i n l i t , and t h e
p a t i e n t r e t u r n e d t o h e r bed. T h i s was t h e end o f t h e t h i r d a c t .
The puimbo commented on h i s s p i r i t u a l voyage, b u t he no l o n g e r
remembered most of t h e t h i n g s he saw and h e a r d . H e was, however,
a b l e t o i d e n t i f y t h e s a h a i n ( S ) ,46 who had a t t a c k e d t h e Sunuwar
woman. Everyone a s k e d him q u e s t i o n s : 'Did you s e e s o and s o ? '
( a r e l a t i v e who d i e d a v i o l e n t d e a t h and who comes back from t i m e
t o time t o b o t h e r t h e c l i e n t ' s f a m i l y ) . I t i s s u r p r i s i n g t o n o t e
t h a t during the trance, the spectators continually interrogated
and encouraged t h e puimbo. Then t h e y a s k e d him t o c l a r i f y t h o s e
answers t h a t remained ambiguous. The l a s t a c t t o o k p l a c e much
l a t e r , a f t e r t h e p a t i e n t ' s f a m i l y and t h e puimbo had e a t e n . I t
s e r v e d t o demonstrate t h e power of t h e puimbo's h e l p i n g s p i r i t and
t o confirm t h e f a c t t h a t t h e s p i r i t was i n f a c t gone.

The second s6ance t h a t I a t t e n d e d took p l a c e on December 12, i n


t h e middle of t h e n i g h t between 2 . 0 0 a.m. and 6.00 a.m., i n t h e
home of Yambahadur. Yambahadur had been bedridden f o r about t e n
days with a f e v e r . He a t e with d i f f i c u l t y and h a r d l y spoke a t a l l .
He t o l d me t h a t one evening while r e t u r n i n g from t h e water s o u r c e ,
he had been a t t a c k e d by a g h o s t and t h a t he had been ill e v e r s i n c e .
A ngiami (Mayadevi) who was a d i s t a n t r e l a t i v e , was c a l l e d and
arrived l a t e a t night.

A f t e r p u t t i n g on h e r u n d e r s k i r t ( g E g r i ) , she went q u i c k l y i n t o
a t r a n c e , dancing and humming a l i t a n y i n a f a l s e t t o v o i c e accan-
panied by h e r dhyzgro. She q u i c k l y l o c a t e d t h e e v i l s p i r i t and
o r d e r e d him t o l e a v e Yambahadur. The s p i r i t demanded a white hen.
The neighbours, awakened by t h e n g i a m i ' s drumming, came t o g e t h e r
t o h e l p w i t h t h e c u r a t i v e ceremony.

While t h e ngiami r e s t e d , t h e household members f e t c h e d t h e hen


r e q u i r e d by t h e s p i r i t , and t h e ngiami a g a i n began t o b e a t h e r
drum and a g a i n f e l l i n t o a t r a n c e . The hen was handed t o h e r and
she t w i r l e d i t o v e r t h e p a t i e n t ' s head i n t h e way d e s c r i b e d above.
She touched Yambahadur's neck w i t h t h e t i p of h e r phurbu and t h e n
b i t and sucked on i t . A l i t t l e blood appeared on t h e shaman's
l i p s . She s p a t two s m a l l blood c l o t s and a w h i t e bloody f e a t h e r
i n t o a s m a l l cup.47 She claimed t h a t t h e g h o s t (bhut) (N) had
d e p a r t e d f o r h i s abode. A f t e r c l e a r i n g h i s t h r o a t s e v e r a l t i m e s ,
Yambahadur announced t h a t he f e l t b e t t e r and asked f o r something
t o e a t . The white hen was k i l l e d by a neighbour. Without t h e
h e l p of t h e shaman, t h e h e n ' s g i z z a r d and f e e t were c o n s u l t e d
b e f o r e t h e hen Qas cooked. Yambahadur became p r o g r e s s i v e l y more
l i v e l y and came o u t of h i s l e t h a r g y , announcing with a s s u r a n c e
t h a t he was cured. The chicken had n o t been s a c r i f i c e d , I was
a s s u r e d , b u t simply k i l l e d a t t h e r e q u e s t of Yambahadur, t h e
convalescent.

The f i r s t c u r a t i v e r i t e was a Mewal T s i n t a and t h e second,


c a r r i e d o u t by t h e ngiami, a Tara T s i n t a . I n t h e two examples
d e s c r i b e d , t h e puimbo and ngiami drove away t h e bothersome s p i r i t
by p r a c t i s i n g a r i t e of exorcism. Acting through h i s p r o t e c t i v e
s p i r i t , t h e shaman f o r c e s t h e s a h a i n o r bhut48 t o l e a v e t h e
p a t i e n t by o f f e r i n g it t h e animal it has r e q u e s t e d . However,
t h i s agreement t u r n s o u t t o be a t r i c k f o r t h e animal w i l l n o t be
s a c r i f i c e d . The c a s e i n which t h e puirnbo o r n g h i f a l l s i n t o a
t r a n c e may seem s u r p r i s i n g t o t h e r e a d e r . Perhaps we a r e d e a l i n g
h e r e w i t h more e l a b o r a t e t e c h n i q u e s t h a n t h o s e used by t h e mediums
( j h z k r i ) o f neighbouring populations?49
These s e a n c e s resemble dramas composed o f s e v e r a l a c t s i n which
t h r e e c h a r a c t e r s h o l d t h e s t a g e : t h e p a t i e n t , t h e e v i l s p i r i t and
t h e shaman. Within e a c h a c t , t h e s c e n e s a r e s e p a r a t e d by t h e
e n t r a n c e o r e x i t of an a g e n t o r i n s t r u m e n t . The p u b l i c may be
c a l l e d upon t o p l a y a walk-on p a r t . Through i t s q u e s t i o n s and
encouragement, t h e p u b l i c c o n t r i b u t e s t o t h e u n f o l d i n g o f t h e
a c t i o n . T h i s , i t seems t o m e , i s one o f t h e major r e a s o n s f o r
t h e s u c c e s s of t h e Sunuwar shaman who e n t e r t a i n s t h e h i l l m e n a t
t h e same t i m e t h a t h e c u r e s them.

Conc Zusion

The f a c t s t h a t w e have summarized h e r e , b a s e d on p e r s o n a l


o b s e r v a t i o n s , g i v e u s a p i c t u r e , a l b e i t i n c o m p l e t e , o f t h e Sunuwar
shaman who d i f f e r s o n l y s l i g h t l y from h i s c o l l e a g u e s o f o t h e r
e t h n o l i n g u i s t i c g r o u p s o f e a s t e r n ~ e ~ a l . The two i m p o r t a n t
d i s t i n c t i o n s e x i s t i n g a t p r e s e n t a r e a s follows: 1) f u n c t i o n o f
an a s s i s t a n t p r i e s t t h a t t h e puimbo u s e s a t t h e t i m e o f t h e major
p u b l i c Sunuwar r i t u a l s , and 2 ) t h e manner i n which h e i s b u r i e d .

S i n c e 1947, t h e Sunuwar have d i s c o n t i n u e d t h e p r a c t i c e o f bury-


i n g t h e i r dead, i n f a v o u r of c r e m a t i o n . N e v e r t h e l e s s , t h e y s t i l l
inhume t h e ndso and t h e puimbo: t h e f o r m e r i n a s t a n d i n g p o s i t i o n ,
the l a t t e r i n a s i t t i n g position.51 Both a r e d r e s s e d i n t h e i r
c e r e m o n i a l r e g a l i a , and a c c o r d i n g t o my i n f o r m a n t s , s a l t i s s t a c k e d
around t h e c o r p s e s b e f o r e t h e g r a v e i s s e a l e d . Over t h e m-so's
g r a v e t h e y hang h i s drum (dwna, N, dhoZ, N ) o r (tsiri, S , $hoZ),
and on t h o s e o f t h e puimbo o r t h e ngiami t h e y p l a c e t h e i r @ySgro
and cymbals.

I n s p i t e o f t h e growing i n f l u e n c e o f Hinduism i n t h e e a s t o f
Nepal, r e s u l t i n g from t h e demographic t h r u s t of t h e Brahmans and
C h e t r i s , t h e puimbo a n d ngiami r e t a i n t h e i r c l i e n t e l e and c o n t i n u e
t o t r a i n f u t u r e shamans. A s h e a l e r , g u i d e and s o o t h s a y e r , t h e
puimbo remains t h e most i n f l u e n t i a l f i g u r e o f h i s community. The
day when t h e r e w i l l be enough d o c t o r s , c h e m i s t s and t e a c h e r s i n
t h e r e g i o n , t h e puimbo's d a y s w i l l b e numbered, f o r h i s f u n c t i o n
w i l l no l o n g e r have any meaning f o r t h e Sunuwar s o c i e t y .

A Zain F o u z n i e r
T h i s i n v e s t i g a t i o n took p l a c e between Auguet 1969 and
February 1970, w i t h i n t h e framework of t h e RCP Nepal of the
CNRS. I wish t o thank M r . C. J e s t , who was a t t h a t t i m e
t h e d i r e c t o r . I a l s o wish t o thank M i s s G. S t e i n and
M r . A.W. Macdonald, who were k i n d enough t o r e a d t h i s manu-
s c r i p t and o f f e r me numerous s u g g e s t i o n s . The t r a n s l i t e r -
a t i o n system used f o r t h e SunuwZri i s my own. For the
Nepali, I used t h a t of R.L. Turner (1965).

Tsandi, G h i l and Khas a r e r i t u a l s performed i n honour o f a


new-born c h i l d i n t h e l i n e a g e o r t h e v i l l a g e . The f o r e -
f a t h e r s a r e invoked, and b u f f a l o e s , p i g s , g o a t s and
chickens a r e s a c r i f i c e d .

T h i s i s t h e d e f i n i t i o n of t h e Muglan j?dkri given by


M r . A . W. Macdonald (1962: 107-1391 .
Bash, i n Sunuwari, means ' j u n g l e o r f o r e s t ' . T h i s may be a
deformation of t h e E n g l i s h word, ' b u s h ' . The word puincbo
corresponds t o t h e Nepzli term, jMkri, ' d i v i n e r ,
c o n j u r e r , wizard' (Turner 1931 : 231) .
S h l i~n Sunuwari means 'women's long h a i r ' . I t is signif-
i c a n t t o n o t e t h a t i n a l l of Nepal, t h e r e i s a symbolic
system where h a i r is a b e a r e r of e v i l . Some very h e l p f u l
comments on t h i s may be found i n Gaborieau (1969:31 and 49)

' a p a r t i c u l a r kind of long garment worn by c h i l d r e n wizards


and bridgegrooms'. (Turner 1931:215).

' a b i g drum' (Turner 1931:269). T h i s drum i s used o n l y by


t h e puimbo, ngiarni o r jakri. I t may even be c o n s i d e r e d a s
t h e i r trademark.

'The j h d k r i .. . i s a being who f a l l s i n t o a t r a n c e d u r i n g


which time v o i c e s speak through h i s p e r s o n , t h u s e n a b l i n g
him t o diagnose i l l n e s s e s and sometimes c u r e them, g i v e
a d v i c e on t h e f u t u r e and shed l i g h t on p r e s e n t m a t t e r s i n
f u n c t i o n of p a s t e v e n t s ' (Macdonald 1962:108).

dobdte: ' S i t u a t e d a t t h e j u n c t u r e o f two r o a d s ' (Turner


1931:320); b h i r : ' b r a v e man, h e r o , w a r r i o r ' (Turner 1931:
4 4 5 ) . T h i s i s t h e s p i r i t of t h e cross-roads.

T h i s i s perhaps borrowed from t h e T i b e t a n ha:" a c l a s s


of a n c i e n t T i b e t a n d e i t i e s who l o s t t h e i r o r i g i n a l i d e n t i t y
a f t e r having been s e t e q u a l t o t h e devas of t h e I n d i a n
mythology' (Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1956b:268). O r p e r h a p s , i t
i s borrowed from Zhapa, t h e Tibetan 'medium'?
11. C a s t a n o p s i s i n d i c a Roxb i n F l o r a o f P h u l c h o k i , Katmandu,
1969, M i n i s t r y o f F o r e s t , Dept. o f M e d i c i n a l P l a n t s , g.18.

-2. Neyraudia M a d a g a s c a r i e n s i s ( T u r n e r 1 9 3 1 : 1 5 8 ) . Macdonald


( 1 9 6 2 : l l O ) m e n t i o n s t h i s c r e e p e r l i a n a used a s a dhydgro
baton. I n NepZli i t i s c a l l e d ghufirik?.

13. Asparagus plwnosus ( T u r n e r 1931: 100) . I n NepBli it i s c a l l e d


k u r i lo.

14. L.A. Waddel (1895:206) d e s c r i b e s t h e v a r i o u s n e c k l a c e s o f


t h e T i b e t a n m a g i c i a n and n o t e s t h a t n e c k l a c e s made of s n a k e
v e r t e b r a e a r e t h e most p r e c i o u s . Cheba ( S ) . Sarpa: ' s n a k e '
(Turner 1931:591).

15. I t h i n k t h a t t h i s i s a c o r r u p t i o n o f t h e Nepgli garuda, t h e


v u l t u r e - b i r d , t h e T i b e t a n khyung: ' a gigantic iron-bird
w i t h c o p p e r beak and c o p p e r c l a w s , t h e enemy o f t h e o f f e n d e r
o f t h e Bong (Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1956b3240).

16. ' b u r n i n g ground where t h e d e a d a r e b u r n t ; b u r i a l ground


c e m e t e r y , a g h o s t ' ( T u r n e r 1931:496) .
17. ' S h i e l d ' ( T u r n e r 1 9 3 1 : 2 6 5 ) ; R . d e Nebesky-Wojkowitz (1956b:
546) writes: ' a n i m p o r t a n t p a r t o f t h e o u t f i t worn by t h e
shaman o f t h e Golds and B u r i a t s i s t h e s o - c a l l e d tali, a '
m i r r o r - l i k e p o l i s h e d p l a t e o f c o p p e r c a r r i e d on t h e b r e a s t
o r on t h e b a c k , and s a i d t o have been o r i g i n a l l y a s h i e l d
protecting against e v i l forces'.

18. See f o o t n o t e 8 1 of Macdonald (1962 :137) .

19. p ' u p p a o r pur-bu i n T i b e t a n ( J a s c h k e 1969) .

20. Trapa n u t a n s (Turner 1931:605). It is c a l l e d sikro in


NepBli.

21. Rhododendron a r b o r e w n ( M e d i c i n a l P l a n t s of Nepal 1 9 7 0 : 1 2 7 ) .

22. These a r e s a c r i f i c i a l c a k e s made w i t h f l o u r i n a t r i a n g u l a r


o r human form. (Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1956b:347-356).

23. Although t h e r e a r e n o t i g e r s a t t h i s a l t i t u d e b u t o n l y
p a n t h e r s (Panthers u n c i a ) , t h e Sunuwar a l w a y s s p e a k o f
p a n t h e r s a s i f t h e y were t i g e r s .

24. C o n c e r n i n g t h e h o r n made o f a femur see Macdonald (1962:


f o o t n o t e 38) .

25. tsotsi: F i c u s lacor Buch-Ham. ( M e d i c i n a l P l a n t s of Nepal


1970:25) o r F i c u s g l a b e r r i m a ( T u r n e r 1 9 3 1 : 8 7 ) ; dhup&/dhopi:
J u n i p e m recurva Buch-Ham. (Medicinal P l a n t s of NepaZ
1970:72) o r J u n i p e r u s sabina ( T u r n e r 1931:330).

~t i s p o s s i b l e t h a t dader i s a d e f o r m a t i o n o f &'&r
T i b e t a n ' d i v i n a t i o n - a r r o w ' (Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1956b:365-368).
dar i n T i b e t a n means ' s t a n d a r d o r w a r - f l a g ' , see J a s c h k e
(1969:251).

I n 1967, t h e symbols made by t h e Bare o f Kathmandu cost


from 1 5 t o 5 0 r u p e e s , a c c o r d i n g t o t h e i r s i z e . Those o f
Lhe Samarbahadur c o s t 45 r u p e e s , t h a t i s , h a l f t h e monthly
s a l a r y of a country teacher.

s6n-ge o r sir?-ge p e r h a p s means ' t h e l i o n ' . S e e H.A. J a s c h k e


(1969: 575) ; nyi-rm ' t h e s u n ' ( J a s c h k e 1969: 1 8 7 ) ; u r g i n ,
a c c o r d i n g t o M r s . A.M. Large-Blondeau ( p e r s o n a l c o m m u n i c a t i o n ) ,
i s t h e d e f o r m a t i o n o f t h e T i b e t a n word U-rgyan o r Grgyan,
which d e s i g n a t e s t h e b i r t h p l a c e o f Padmasambhava, Oddiyana.
T h i s r e g i o n would b e t h e v a l l e y o f t h e Swat i n A f g h a n i s t a n
and P a k i s t a n ( T u c c i 1 9 5 8 ) .

This is thunder, lightning, f l a s h . (Turner 1931:415). It


a l s o d e s i g n a t e s ' t h e power o f t h u n d e r ' i n t a n t r i c Buddhism.

T h i s i s t h e c o n t r a c t i o n o f sat t a l e d h a r t i : sdt ' s e v e n ' ;


t a l o ' s t o r e y ' ; ( T u r n e r 1931: 276) ; dharti, ' t h e e a r t h '
(Turner 1931:325); t h a t i s , t h e seven s t o r i e s o f t h e e a r t h .

T h i s i s t h e c o n t r a c t i o n o f E&o,' r o a d , p a t h , way, j o u r n e y '


( T u r n e r 1931:432) a n d iswar, 'God' ( T u r n e r 1 9 3 1 : 4 2 ) . T h a t
i s , ' a god o f t h e r o a d s ' .

F o r t h e c o l o u r s , t h e Sunuwars u s e whitewash f o r w h i t e , t h e
y e l l o w o f t h e tastsi f l o w e r : E d g e w o r t h i a g a r d n e r i Mess.
( M e d i c i n a l P l a n t s of Nepal 1960 :8 ) d u b i p l a n t : R u b i a
cordifolia L i n n . ( M e d i c i n a l P h t s of Nepal 1970: 1 0 9 ) o r
r e d c l a y mixed w i t h w a t e r .

'frock, petticoat, child's dress' (Turner 1931:156).

C o n c e r n i n g t h e r i k h i t a r p a n i , a l s o c a l l e d j d n a i p u r n i m 5 , see
J e s t (1966:143-152) a n d Macdonald (1972:73-80). The puimbo,
ngiami and jha=kri meet d u r i n g an e n t i r e d a y and n i g h t a t
Panch-Pokhari, n e a r t h e s o u r c e o f t h e Khimti Khola, on t h e
b a n k s o f t h e f i v e l a k e s where t h e y p l a y t h e dhy6gPO. 'Very
f r e q u e n t l y a l a k e is r e g a r d e d a s a b l a g n u s on which t h e
l i f e o f a man o r even a whole n a t i o n d e p e n d s ' (Nebesky-
Wojkowitz 1 9 5 6 b : 4 8 2 ) .

The meaning o f t h e word i s u n c e r t a i n . I t i s perhaps c i n t d


' t h o u g h t , p u r p o s e , i m a g i n a t i o n , s p e c u l a t i o n ' , c i n e garnu:
' t o t h i n k ' (Turner 1931:176), o r citt-8: ' f a l l i n g on t h e
back, f a i l m i s e r a b l y ' (Turner 1931:175).

The miso i s ' a man of knowledge and a conductor o f r i t u a l s


who knows t h e p r o p i t i a t o r y formulae f p i d a r ) used f o r invok-
i n g t h e d e i t i e s of t h e Sunuwar pantheon and who s a c r i f i c e s
b u f f a l o e s , p i g s , g o a t s o r chicken d u r i n g p u b l i c o r semi-
p u b l i c ceremoniest ( F o u r n i e r 1 9 7 3 a : 2 ) . The Duma Naso h o l d s
t h e most sway among t h e naso, t h e o t h e r s a c t i n g a s h i s
a s s i s t a n t s (Sher-pa NZso, Dhupe Naso o r Shipe Naso).

T h i s i s t h e n i g h t o f t h e f u l l moon (Turner 1931:386). On


t h i s n i g h t t h e puimbo p l a y s h i s drum u n t i l l a t e a t n i g h t .

The p i p i kga i s one of t h e f o u r k g a found i n every Sunuwar


r e s i d e n c e . The laga a r e s m a l l a l t a r s d e d i c a t e d t o t h e
a n c e s t o r s , t o t h e s p i r i t s o f t h e l i n e a g e . The p i p i k g a i s
d e d i c a t e d t o Children dead a t an e a r l y age.

tw-: 'copper' (Turner 1931:279). T h i s i s i n f a c t a copper


pot.

A r t e m i s i a n i l g a r i s Linn. (Medicinal Plants of Nepal 1970:


64).

There a r e v a r i o u s t y p e s of i n c e n s e b u t t h e most common a r e


made from t h e j u n i p e r t r e e .

The puimb0 o r n g h i h o l d t h e handle of t h e ghyzgro i n t h e


l e f t hand and b e a t w i t h t h e kong-gu i n t h e r i g h t hand.
When t h e y a r e t a l k i n g w i t h a s p i r i t , they r a i s e t h e s i d e
t h a t corresponds t o t h e s e x of t h e god t o f a c e l e v e l .

More t h a n a c e n t u r y ago, S c h l a g i n t w e i t (1863:147) d e s c r i b e d


t h e same p r o c e s s of e x p u l s i o n among t h e T i b e t a n s : 'the
phurbu when p o i n t e d i n t h e d i r e c t i o n o f demons and accom-
p a n i e d by t h e r e p e t i t i o n of magical formula, w i l l c h a s e
demons away and d e s t r o y them' .
'The most e f f e c t i o u s method, however, t o s u p p r e s s t h e sri
i s t o bury o r s e t o u t t h e s k u l l s of men and animals which
have been f i l l e d w i t h s l i p s o f p a p e r w i t h magic s p e l l s '
(Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1956b:516). The puimbo a r e among t h e
few Sunuwar who know how t o r e a d and sometimes even w r i t e .

' I t i s remarkable t h a t sometimes when c a r r y i n g o u t such a


r i t e a s t r i n g i s t i e d w i t h one end t o one hand of t h e medium
and w i t h t h e o t h e r end of t h e s e v e r e d l e g o f t h e s a c r i f i c i a l
animal. The s t r i n g should a p p a r e n t l y s e r v e a s a kind of a
' p a t h ' through which t h e s p i r i t e n t e r s t h e body of t h e
medium' (Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1956b:551).
46. T h i s i s a wandering s o u l , s u b s e q u e n t t o a bad d e a t h .

47. ' a t y p i c a l s h a m a n i s t i c f e a t u r e is a l s o t h e Tibetan custom


t o suck an i l l n e s s o u t of t h e body o f a p a t i e n t by means of
an arrow, the T i b e t a n magician ... shows a worn o r some
o t h e r o b j e c t which he had ' s u c k e d o u t ' o f t h e body of t h e
patient'. (Nebesky-Wojkowitz 1956b:544).

48. T h i s i s a g h o s t , a n e v i l s p i r i t (Turner 1931:479). I t i s


a l s o a t y p e of bogey-man used t o t h r e a t e n c h i l d r e n .

49. M r . A.W. Macdonald was s u r p r i s e d by t h i s i n h i s a r t i c l e on


t h e s o r c e r e r i n Nepal (1966: 291) .
50. The SunuwZr t e r m s ngiami and puimbo are s i m i l a r t o t h e S u r e 1
'
terms 'gianoini and 'p0enb0 ' ( F o u r n i e r 1974) o r t o t h e J i r e l
shaman 'pem-bo' ( I b i d . ) .Ng- may be l i n k e d t o t h e Lepcha
term ' y h a ' , t h e f e m a l e shaman of t h e Lepchas o r t h e Limbus
(Gorer 1 9 3 8 : 2 1 6 ) . Puimbo may b e compared w i t h t h e Tamang.

51. For t h e respective r o l e s of t h e niiso and t h e puimbo, see


F o u r n i e r (1973a:2-7).
VI I
SHAMANISM AMONG THE THULUNG RAI

The Thulung R a i l i v e f o r t h e most p a r t w i t h i n some n i n e v i l l a g e


p a n c h a y a t s forming a c o n t i n u o u s t r a c t around t h e c o n f l u e n c e o f t h e
Dudh Kosi and t h e S o l u ~ h o 1 a . l They a r e c l e a r l y d e f i n e d a s
s p e a k e r s o f a Tibeto-Burman l a n g u a g e d i s t i n c t from t h a t o f neigh-
b o u r i n g R a i s u b t r i b e s , and were a t one t i m e no d o u b t s o l e occup-
a n t s o f t h e a r e a . Nowadays h a m l e t s o r h o u s e h o l d s o f more t h a n a
dozen c a s t e s 2 l i v e i n t e r s p e r s e d among them, t h e g r e a t m a j o r i t y
b e i n g Hindus o r s t r o n g l y H i n d u i s e d , and most s p e a k i n g NepZli a s a
f i r s t l a n g u a g e . Day-to-day i n t e r a c t i o n between Thulung and non-
Thulung v a r i e s somewhat w i t h t h e d e t a i l e d demographic h i s t o r y o f
p a r t i c u l a r v i l l a g e s b u t h a s been i n p r o g r e s s f o r many g e n e r a t i o n s .
T h i s l e a d s t o t h e f i r s t problem i m p l i c i t i n t h e t i t l e . One would
l i k e t o c o n c e n t r a t e on what i s s p e c i f i c a l l y Thulung and a v o i d
r e p e a t i n g what i s a l r e a d y known ( t h a n k s l a r g e l y t o Macdonald)
a b o u t t h e jh&i as a r o l e t h a t i s w i d e s p r e a d w i t h i n t h e NepSli-
s p e a k i n g world. But t h e Thulung t h e m s e l v e s , w i t h a s y n c r e t i s m
t y p i c a l of t h e a r e a , h a p p i l y b l u r t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n , and synchron-
i c a l l y a t l e a s t , it would be a r t i f i c i a l t o h o l d t o i t r i g o r o u s l y ,
even i f my d a t a a l l o w e d . However, w e s h a l l on o c c a s i o n d i s t i n g u i s h
between Thulung j h z k r i and non-Thulung o r n a t i v e NepZli-speaking
o n e s ; t h e former might a l t e r n a t i v e l y b e r e f e r r e d t o a s bijum- ( N )
o r a s seZeme, b u t no c o n v e n i e n t l a b e l s u g g e s t s i t s e l f f o r t h e
latter.

The second problem, t h e t e r m 'shamanism', i s e q u a l l y unavoid-


a b l e . This i s because w i t h i n t h e g e n e r a l c l a s s o f r i t u a l
o f f i c i a n t s (dhEmi nokcho), t h e Thulung d i s t i n g u i s h q u i t e c l e a r l y
between jGkri and ' t r i b a l p r i e s t s ' (dewa nokcho). An a s p e c t o f
t h e c o n t r a s t t h a t i s s t r e s s e d by most Thulung i s t h a t t h e p r i e s t
l a c k s t h e p e r s o n a l s p i r i t t h a t e n a b l e s t h e j h z k r i t o become
possessed. S i m p l i f y i n g a l i t t l e , one might s a y t h a t t h e p r i e s t
d e a l s with t h e o r d e r l y supernatural, t h e properly i n t e g r a t e d
a n c e s t o r s , and t h e f e r t i l i t y o f t h e v i l l a g e a g r i c u l t u r a l l a n d ,
w h i l e t h e jhiikri d e a l s w i t h t h e f o r c e s o f d i s o r d e r t h a t a f f l i c t
i n d i v i d u a l households. I t i s d i f f i c u l t t o d e c i d e whether a p a p e r
on shamanism s h o u l d f o c u s on one o r o t h e r o f f i c i a n t , o r on b o t h
of them o r on a s e l e c t i o n o f t h e a c t i v i t i e s o f b o t h o f them; t h e y
do i n f a c t s h a r e a good d e a l of p a r a p h e r n a l i a and many r i t u a l
techniques. I n f a v o u r of t h e p r i e s t , it might be u r g e d t h a t i n
A group of youthful ~hulungj M M a t the
caTga f e s t i v a l
- . *"
&
t h e normal c o u r s e o f e v e n t s it i s h e who a c t s a s psychoponip; a l s o
t h a t as t h e more c o n s e r v a t i v e of t h e two, he i s less i n f l u e n c e d
by t h e c u l t u r e of N e p Z l i - s p e a k e r s and p e r h a p s c l o s e r t o c e n t r a l
A s i a t i c shamans i n t h e s e n s e of E l i a d e ( 1 9 6 4 ) . I t i s t r u e t h a t
h e i s n o t g e n e r a l l y supposed t o b e s u b j e c t t o m e n t a l s t a t e s t h a t
c o u l d be d e s c r i b e d a s p o s s e s s i o n o r e c s t a s y , b u t I am n o t convin-
c e d t h a t t h i s i s a m a t t e r of g r e a t i m p o r t a n c e . I n s p i t e o f what
was s a i d above, t h e r e i s i n J u b u v i l l a g e a w e l l - e s t a b l i s h e d p r i e s t
who is sometimes v o l u n t a r i l y p o s s e s s e d . Although f o r many jJ6kr-i
g a i n i n g t h i s a b i l i t y i s a major c r i s i s , i t would seem t h a t
i n d i v i d u a l s s u c h a s t h e Jubu p r i e s t , who a r e a l r e a d y r i t u a l
s p e c i a l i s t s o f one s o r t , can a c q u i r e t h e c a p a c i t y s i m p l y a s a
f u r t h e r technique i n t h e i r r e p e r t o i r e without e i t h e r they o r t h e i r
s o c i e t y r e g a r d i n g i t a s a s i g n i f i c a n t change. Thus, among t h e
Thulung, a s e l s e w h e r e , t h e d i s t i n c t i o n i n t i t l e and f u n c t i o n
between t r i b a l p r i e s t and jha'kri i s a p p a r e n t l y becoming b l u r r e d S 4
I f t h i s i s s o , t o d e s c r i b e o n l y one e l e m e n t i n t h e f u s i o n i s t o
mutilate the t o t a l picture. In s p i t e of these considerations,
s p a c e f o r b i d s a d e q u a t e t r e a t m e n t of b o t h t y p e s o f o f f i c i a n t , and
w e s h a l l s e t t l e f o r t h e j h d k r i on t h e g r o u n d s t h a t it i s t y p i c a l l y
h e who i s v o l u n t a r i l y p o s s e s s e d .

The i n i t i a t i v e i n t h e r e c r u i t m e n t o f a jGkri i s a s c r i b e d n o t
t o humans b u t t o a god who s e l e c t s o r f a v o u r s (mcdunu, N ) some
i n d i v i d u a l , t y p i c a l l y by p o s s e s s i n g him i n t h e c o u r s e o f a s e a n c e .
I n p r i n c i p l e t h e g o d ' s c h o i c e i s n o t l i m i t e d by s e x , f a m i l y l i n e ,
c a s t e o r quota. I n f a c t f e m a l e s ( u s u a l l y c a l l e d dhdmini, N ) a r e
r e l a t i v e l y r a r e ; I m e t w i t h none who performed sGances, though
g r o u p s o f them were s e e n i n a c t i o n a t f a i r s ( s e e b e l o w ) . ' Vocation
i s n o t supposed n e c e s s a r i l y t o r u n i n f a m i l i e s , though i t may do
s o . I n Dewsa t h e p a t r i l i n e a l d e s c e n d a n t s o f t h e m y t h i c a l Thulung
f i g u r e Salewa a r e s a i d t o i n c l u d e jGkri t o t h i s v e r y day, and i n
Lokhim a c e r t a i n j h z k r i was esteemed on t h e g r o u n d s t h a t h i s
g i f t s came b o t h from ' h i s own p e o p l e ' and h i s m o t h e r ' s . A s we
have n o t e d , t h e t r i b a l p r i e s t i s g e n e r a l l y supposed t o be immune
from v o c a t i o n .

Informants held t h a t jGkYic o u l d a p p e a r i n any c a s t e , though


I met w i t h no i n s t a n c e among Brahman. T h e r e were s a i d t o be no
Thulung j h d k r i i n T i n g l a , two i n J u b u , e i g h t i n Mukli, and around
f i f t e e n i n Lokhim, which i s t o s a y v e r y r o u g h l y t h a t t h e numbers
a r e p r o p o r t i o n a l t o t h e r a t i o i n e a c h v i l l a g e o f Thulung t o
NepZli-speakers. There was a d i s p r o p o r t i o n a t e number o f Kami
j h z k r i , e s p e c i a l l y r e l a t i v e t o o t h e r untouchables. Trends i n t h e
t o t a l j%kri p o p u l a t i o n a r e u n c l e a r ; some i n f o r m a n t s t h o u g h t t h a t
t h e a b s o l u t e number was on t h e i n c r e a s e . However, it seemed t h a t
t h e more t r a v e l l e d , p r o s p e r o u s and e d u c a t e d a v o i d e d t h e v o c a t i o n ,
and i f t h e y were r e l i g i o u s l y i n c l i n e d , were drawn more t o w a r d s t h e
p r a c t i c e s of t h e l i t e r a t e t r a d i t i o n . None o f t h e j h d k r i I m e t
were w e a l t h y by l o c a l s t a n d a r d s , and s e v e r a l w e r e n o t i c e a b l y p o o r ,
f o r i n s t a n c e , Simbure o f Mukli, who was d e a f and dumb a s a r e s u l t
of a b l o b on t h e head i n c h i l d h o o d . However, there seems t o be
n o t h i n g e l s e t h a t would s u p p o r t t h e t h e o r y t h a t v o c a t i o n is an
e x p r e s s i o n of ' p r o t e s t by t h e p o l i t i c a l l y i m p o t e n t ' (Lewis 1971:32).

The neophyte t y p i c a l l y l e a r n s h i s a r t from an e s t a b l i s h e d jha'kri.


The t e a c h e r i s n o t n e c e s s a r i l y of t h e same c a s t e and i n s t a n c e s were
r e c o r d e d o f a Mukli K a m i s t u d y i n g w i t h a Thulung and a T i n g l a G h a r t i
s t u d y i n g w i t h a Sunuwar. The G h a r t i ' s p o s s e s s i n g deuta' was s a i d
t o be a Tamang ( p e r h a p s t e l a t e d t o t h e f a c t t h a t h i s g r e a t - g r a n d -
f a t h e r was of t h a t c a s t e ) , and p a r t o f h i s i n v o c a t i o n was i n t h a t
language. P u p i l and t e a c h e r s h o u l d g o t o g e t h e r t o a s o l i t a r y
p l a c e (ekiintn, N ) f o r t h e t r a n s m i s s i o n of t h e knowledge. However,
a n o t h e r Mukli Kami, Baunne, claimed t o have a c q u i r e d t h e a r t
w i t h o u t a t e a c h e r and such b h ~ ? - ~ h u t @( N ) jz kry i a r e a recognized
p o s s i b i l i t y ; t h e r e i s a Thulung v e r b , phk%ni ' t o p r e p a r e o r
i n i t i a t e (an o f f i c i a n t ) ' , which c a n be used i n t h e i n t r a n s i t i v e
form phZEsimu t o r e f e r t o t h i s s i t u a t i o n .

An e p i s o d e from t h i s p e r i o d o f a ji%kril s c a r e e r i s r e c o u n t e d
i n t h e f o l l o w i n g s t o r y ( v e r s i o n by Ph o f Mukli) 5 .
'Baginanda was an o f f i c i a n t (nokcho) o f l o n g ago. During h i s
i n i t i a t o r y p e r i o d when he needed t o make h i s drum, he c a l l e d h i s
gods o r s p i r i t s , and h i s god (deuta', N ) gave him t h e t r e e f o r h i s
drum ( a c r o s s t h e Dudh Kosi r i v e r ) a t t h e p l a c e c a l l e d Bangdel
( n e a r Sungdel, ? = Saungdel on maps), H e c o l l e c t e d a c o u p l e o f
a s s i s t a n t s from t h i s v i l l a g e and t h e y went o f f t o make t h e drum.
The t r e e t u r n e d o u t t o be i n t h e garden (bzri, N ) o f one o f the
l o c a l B a n g d i l e s , who a s k e d them what t h e y were up t o . 'This i s
t h e t r e e my t u t e l a r y s p i r i t ( g u m , N) h a s g i v e n m e f o r a drum;
t h a t ' s why w e have come t o c u t i t , ' s a i d Baginanda. So t h e y
made t h e drum and covered t h e e n d s w i t h h i d e .

'Meanwhile t h e B a n g d i l e s made a p l a n . 'How good is he, t h i s


o f f i c i a n t who comes and c u t s trees i n o u r garden? Next t h i n g it
w i l l be o u r house. W e ' l l g e t him t o h o l d a s g a n c e , and t h e n w e ' l l
g i v e him a thorough b e a t i n g . ' So a f t e r t h e drum was c o v e r e d , one
of them s a i d : 'You m u s t n ' t l e a v e w i t h o u t p e r f o r m i n g a sdance i n
my house.' They s t o p p e d him from g o i n g and made a f u r t h e r p l a n .
Somewhere t h e y g o t h o l d o f a pta3ang (onomatopoeic name f o r a s o r t
of owl, koira'Zo, N) and a r r a n g e d t o s e r v e i t up t o t h e o f f i c i a n t
and h i s f r i e n d s . So t h e y cooked t h e b i r d and gave it t o them
w i t h t h e i r meal. But by means of h i s magical powers (ym),
Baginanda had a l r e a d y s e e n t h r o u g h them. 'They a r e g i v i n g u s
pUWCmg, a k i n d o f meat t h a t i s n o t t o be e a t e n . J u s t p r e t e n d t o
be e a t i n g i t , and i n f a c t p o u r i t o n t o my p l a t e . ' The a s s i s t a n t s
f o l l o w e d t h e i n s t r u c t i o n s he had g i v e n , and w h i l e Baginanda k e p t
e v e r y o n e ' s e y e s d i s t r a c t e d t h e y j u s t p r e t e n d e d t o e a t . Then he
b r o u g h t t h e b i r d t o l i f e , k n i t t i n g t o g e t h e r t h e p i e c e s o f meat.
( N a r r a t o r r e t u r n s t o Baginanda's i n s t r u c t i o n s ) . 'When I b r i n g
t h e pz.uJmzg t o l i f e t h e y w i l l t r y and a t t a c k u s . The b i r d w i l l
'
c r y ' p m a n g and f l y i n t h e a i r . I ' 11 s h o u t ' h a h a ' and go o f f i n
pursuit. You hang on t o t h e drum on e i t h e r s i d e . '

' A f t e r the m e a l , when t h e s e a n c e was i n p r o g r e s s , t h e l o c a l


p e o p l e crowded i n on a l l s i d e s , e a c h h o l d i n g a s t i c k and r e a d y t o
a t t a c k . Then Baginanda b r o u g h t t o l i f e t h e p W n g h e had been
g i v e n a s meat. The b i r d c r i e d ' p ~ n g ' . and , w i t h a l o u d 'haha!'
Baginanda was o f f a f t e r i t . I n a f l a s h h e was o u t o f t h e house.
The a n g r y v i l l a g e r s w i t h t h e i r s t i c k s c h a s e d a f t e r him, b u t he
flew off t o the north. H i s a s s i s t a n t s hung on e i t h e r s i d e o f t h e
drum, which f l e w them up t o - I f o r g e t t h e name o f t h e p l a c e ,
t h i s s i d e o f t h e r i v e r Rawa, where t h e drum sounded ( ? b r o k e ) .
C o n t i n u i n g n o r t h w a r d s , t h e y r e a c h e d B i r a j u r a where t h e i r p u r s u e r s
t u r n e d b a c k . On t h e y went, and Baginanda b r o u g h t h i s drum and
a s s i s t a n t s home and h e l d a s e a n c e . H e worked c o p p e r ( t z b o , N )
and b e l l - m e t a l ( E s o , N ) , and down a t S a k h l e , h e r e i n Mukli, a r e
t h e cymbals h e made. So i s t h e wooden drum and t h e e a r t h e n w a r e
p o t t h a t h e wrought w i t h h i s m a g i c a l power (yum), and a l s o h i s
l o n g , s t r a i g h t g o u r d . When w e were c h i l d r e n , I h e a r d t h e o l d men,
h i s d e s c e n d a n t s , t e l l i n g of Baginanda, and t h e p o t , t h e g o u r d and
t h e cymbals I have s e e n w i t h my own e y e s - t h e y a r e s t i l l i n
existence today.'

Two o t h e r v e r s i o n s were c o l l e c t e d , from G i n Mukli a n d from K


i n Lokhim, b u t even w i t h t h e i r a i d o u r commentary w i l l l e a v e many
l o o s e e n d s . The i d e n t i t y o f Baginanda h i m s e l f r a i s e s problems,
though a l l v e r s i o n s a g r e e t h a t he came from Mukli and G even g i v e s
t h e h a m l e t (Dorphu). I n K ' s v e r s i o n he i s t h e f a t h e r o f K ' s
m a t e r n a l g r a n d f a t h e r Dokole, and t h e son o f K r o k s i u , son o f Chepa
R a j a , who i n t u r n was a p p a r e n t l y grandson o f t h e t r i b a l f o u n d i n g
h e r o , Ramli. On t h e o t h e r hand ( t h o u g h t h i s would be u n l i k e l y t o
o c c u r t o a T h u l u n g ) , t h e name i s e v i d e n t l y non-Bodic; no d o u b t t h e
name and s t o r y have s e p a r a t e h i s t o r i e s . H i s powers were 'amazing'
(tmds, N ) , b u t t h e r e i s no d i r e c t e v i d e n c e t h a t he was any s o r t
of a r c h e t y p a l o r p r i m a l shaman.

The making o f t h e drum i s t h e main p o i n t o f t h e e p i s o d e , b u t


what s o r t of drum? There a r e two d i s t i n c t t y p e s i n t h e a r e a
( o m i t t i n g t h o s e used f o r p l e a s u r e and by t h e Damai t a i l o r - m u s i -
c i a n s ) . The dhydfigro ( N ) and i t s u s e a r e d e s c r i b e d and i l l u s -
t r a t e d i n Macdonald ( 1 9 6 2 ) , c f . a l s o F o u r n i e r (1973b, r e v i s e d i n
t h i s volume). The QhoZ ( N ) i s less e l a b o r a t e . The two s t r i k i n g
s u r f a c e s , of t h e same d i m e n s i o n s a s i n t h e dhydfigro, a r e l f - 2 f e e t
a p a r t and n e v e r i n my e x p e r i e n c e have d e s i g n s t r a c e d on them.
Lacking a h a n d l e , t h e drum i s suspended from o n e ' s neck o r a p o l e ,
and s t r u c k a l t e r n a t e l y on e a c h s u r f a c e w i t h a s i m p l e , s t r a i g h t
b a t o n h e l d i n e i t h e r hand. The Thulung p r i e s t i s n e v e r accom-
p a n i e d by t h e dhydfigro, w h i l e t h e Thulung jakri o n l y o c c a s i o n a l l y
u s e s t h e $hoZ, and t h e non-Thulung o n e s n e v e r do s o i n my e x p e r -
ience. I n t h e s t o r i e s , Ph t a l k s o n l y o f t h e dhoz, w i t h one
e x c e p t i o n ; G t a l k s of t h e dh02-dhydfigro a s a p a i r , once mentioning
t h e l a t t e r a l o n e ; K d e f i n i t e l y c o n c e i v e s o f b o t h drums b e i n g made
on t h e same o c c a s i o n , though once r e f e r s t o t h e dhol by i t s e l f .
The i m p l i c a t i o n i s t h a t f o r m e r l y o f f i c i a n t s such as Baginanda had
a t l e a s t e q u a l need f o r b o t h i n s t r u m e n t s , But t h e l e x i c a l
e v i d e n c e t a k e s u s a s t e p f u r t h e r . The a s s i s t a n t of e i t h e r a p r i e s t
o r jzkri i s c a l l e d a Qhole o r g h o l i y a , and t h e c o r r e s p o n d i n g word,
dh-ydGre, i s n e v e r used. The Thulung f o r @WE i s an a l t e r e d form
of t h e ~ e p a l word i (&la, d e l a o r d e o h i n d i f f e r e n t d i a l e c t s ) ,
whereas t h e r e i s n o d i s t i n c t Thulung word f o r t h e d h y d @ ~ o , n o r
f o r t h e d o u b l y - r e c u r v e d b a t o n ( g * ~ , N ) which i s normally used t o
p l a y i t and i s n e v e r used on t h e d h o l . I n t h i s a r e a , t h e n , the
Q b Z i s p r o b a b l y o l d e r t h a n t h e dhyd??po.

The t r a n s l a t e d v e r s i o n o m i t s t h e p r o c e d u r e by which t h e neophyte


i s g u i d e d t o t h e t r e e from which t o make h i s drum, a p r o c e d u r e
which i s w i d e l y known and i s mentioned by Macdonald (1962:119).
U t t e r i n g a m a n t r a (V), he d i s c h a r g e s ( l i t e r a l l y ' s e n d s ' ) a porcu-
p i n e q u i l l ( G I K )which f l i e s s t r a i g h t o f f and p l a n t s i t s e l f i n a
t r e e ; some s a y a plume may be used. A v a r i e t y o f trees may be
i n d i c a t e d i n t h i s way, e . g . W a ' t e (N , G ) o r mlagiri ( ? = m&ya'-
g N . Mango of Lokhim claimed t h a t h i s plume p l a n t e d i t s e l f
i n a p h u l p h u t t a ( N ) t r e e some way up t h e Hongu Khola. G and K
l o c a t e B a g i n a n d a ' s t r e e a t P a r a (on t h e L i d i n g K h o l a ) ; r e s p e c t i v e l y
i n a p r i v a t e g a r d e n (ghzuya'n, N ) , o r i n t h e middle o f t h e v i l l a g e .
For K t h e t r e e was a t r u l y enormous b o h o r i (N) and Baginanda f l e w
t h e r e , h i s two a s s i s t a n t s f o l l o w i n g on f o o t , a s k i n g t h e i r way a s
t h e y went. B e a t i n g a metal p l a t e (tha'l, N), o f t e n used i n s t e a d
of a drum, Baginanda began d a n c i n g h i g h up i n t h e tree. The P a r a l i
g a t h e r round and t r y and p r e v e n t t h i s f o r e i g n e r ( b i e n u , N ) from
c u t t i n g t h e i r t r e e , b u t he s i l e n c e s them by p u t t i n g them i n a
t r a n c e (rnohani, N ) . H e f e l l s the tree w i t h a plume, h o l l o w s o u t
t h e drums, and c o v e r s them w i t h h i s a s s i s t a n t s ' h e l p , t h e n f r e e s
t h e P a r a l i from t h e i r t r a n c e .

The plume and t r e e need f u r t h e r comment. The plume, parbung,


u s u a l l y d i s t i n g u i s h e d from t h e o r d i n a r y f e a t h e r (pasiurium) a p p e a r s
i n various r i t u a l contexts. I t i s o f t e n used a s a magical c u t t i n g
weapon. Simbure i s s t i l l r e p u t e d t o be a b l e t o c u t bamboos w i t h
a f e a t h e r , j u s t a s i n a n c i e n t T i b e t Bonpos were s a i d t o c u t i r o n
( S t e i n 1959:232). I n a n o t h e r s t o r y two j)za=kri who d r a i n a l a k e
do s o w i t h a blow of t h e i r plumes, and i n a more symbolic manner
t h e Jubu p r i e s t s t r o k e d a f o w l ' s f e a t h e r t h r o u g h h i s l i p s a s a
weapon a g a i n s t e v i l f o r c e s . Tile jh&ri0s h e a d d r e s s ( l i k e t h a t of
r o y a l t y ) g e n e r a l l y i n c l u d e s peacock plumes, though p h e a s a n t s ' a r e
s a i d t o b e a c c e p t a b l e . The t a i l f e a t h e r s of a suspended b i r d may
be p l a n t e d i n a tha'n (See below) . The word i t s e l f , sometimes
p a r i b u n g , i s of some i n t e r e s t . The second e l e m e n t b e l o n g s t o a
s e m a n t i c a l l y complex f a m i l y which r e l a t e s t h e head, f l o w e r s and
f l o u r i s h i n g ( A l l e n 1972:92-3); t h e f i r s t , which w e s h a l l meet
a g a i n , r e f e r s t o t h e o t h e r world, i . e . t h e world of t h e dead
( ? c f . piiri, N , ' a c r o s s ' ) .
There a r e many e c h o e s of c l a s s i c a l c e n t r a l A s i a t i c shamanism i n
t h e Baginanda s t o r y , and it i s n a t u r a l t o s u s p e c t t h a t t h e drum
would have been c u t from a cosmic t r e e ( E l i a d e 1 9 6 4 : 1 6 8 f f ) .
S e v e r a l f e a t u r e s o f K ' s a c c o u n t c a n be 1 n t e r p r e t . e d i n t h i s l i g h t ,
i n p a r t i c u l a r t h e emphasis on t h e v a s t n e s s o f t h e tree.6 I n w e s t
N e p a l , d u r i n g h i s i n i t i a t i o n , t h e n e o p h y t e , h a v i n g climbed a t r e e ,
i s supposed t o d e m o n s t r a t e t h a t he c a n d i v i n e t h e f u t u r e ( H i t c h -
cock 1967:155). P e r h a p s we can see a d i s t a n t r e f l e c t i o n o f t h i s
m o t i f i n t h e f a c t t h a t t h e a s s i s t a n t s d i d n o t know what was i n
s t o r e f o r them u n t i l t h e y were t o l d by Baginanda, when t h e y went
o u t s i d e t o wash t h e i r hands f o r t h e meal (G; K a l s o m e n t i o n s t h e
w a s h i n g ) . I n any c a s e , i n t h i s c o n t e x t , t h e k i l l i n g , c u t t i n g up
and r e s u r r e c t i o n o f t h e b i r d r e f l e c t s r a t h e r c l e a r l y t h e w e l l -
known p a t t e r n o f i n i t i a t o r y dismemberment f o l l o w e d by r e b i r t h .
I n R u s s i a t h e new body o f t h e neophyte n e e d n o t c o n t a i n a l l t h e
component m a t e r i a l o f t h e o l d ( E l i a d e 1964: 367) , and s i m i l a r l y
i n one v e r s i o n t h e a s s i s t a n t s a r e a l l o w e d t o e a t t h e j u i c e ;
it i s t h e lumps of f l e s h and bone ( c o k t d , N ) t h a t a r e c o l l e c t e d
and r e s t o r e d t o l i f e ( G ) . I t i s a f u l l seance he i s conducting,
w i t h a l t e r n a t i n g p e r i o d s o f i n v o c a t i o n and d a n c i n g ( K ) , and i t is
f o r h i s own s a k e , n o t a s t h e P a r a l i t h i n k , f o r t h e i r s ( G ) ;n o
d o u b t it i s t o g i v e h i m s e l f t h e power t o u n d e r t a k e t h e r e s u r r e c t i o n
and e s c a p e . F o r t h e P a r a l i a r e s e t on k i l l i n g him, n o t m e r e l y on
g i v i n g him a t h r a s h i n g , and have crowded i n t o t h e house b l o c k i n g
both doors (G,K). K makes t h e b i r d s u d d e n l y jump o n t o t h e dhoZ
t o g i v e i t s c r y , and w e may p e r h a p s u n d e r s t a n d t h a t i t i s t h i s
a c t which g i v e s t h e drum i t s power o f f l i g h t . One h e a r e r o f t h e
s t o r y u n d e r s t o o d t h a t t h e drum was a c t u a l l y t h e v e h i c l e on which
Baginanda f l e w , b u t d e t a i l s o f t h e e s c a p e and r e t u r n a r e a l i t t l e
unclear. In G t h e P a r a l i a r e i n trance f o r a period before they
b e g i n p u r s u i n g , and t h e journey i s i n t e r r u p t e d a t Bagacol
(Bankachol on maps). K seems t o s u g g e s t a f e r r y i n g p r o c e s s f o r
t h e a s s i s t a n t s and i n t e r r u p t s t h e journey a t Sukhe P o k h a r i above
Jubu. The two i n t e r r u p t i o n s i n Ph make one wonder whether e a r l i e r
v e r s i o n s of t h e s t o r y may n o t have had more s t a g e s on t h e r e t u r n
journey from t h e ' c e n t r e ' . K alone continues i n t o a s t o r y about
how Baginanda was i n v i t e d t o Kathmandu t o c u r e t h e queen o f l e p r o s y
and came back w i t h one o r two p a i r s o f h o r s e s and a l a k h o f r u p e e s
a s reward f o r h i s s u c c e s s .

The e p i s o d e was n a r r a t e d more a s an i n t e r e s t i n g o l d s t o r y t h a n


a s a s i g n i f i c a n t p a r t o f t r i b a l o r a l t r a d i t i o n ( m d d U d , and it i s
d i f f i c u l t t o r e l a t e i t e i t h e r t o contemporary l i f e o r t o h i s t o r y .
A d m i t t e d l y i t i s c o n g r u e n t w i t h some c u r r e n t l o c a l i d e a s , e . g . o n
t h e method o f s e l e c t i n g t h e t r e e , and on t h e c l o s e r e l a t i o n s h i p
between j G k r i and b i r d s - some Thulung s a y t h a t t h e f i r s t t r i b a l
j h z k r i was t h e kaZcE& ( N ) b i r d who d i v i n e s t h e c a u s e o f a n i l l n e s s
i n t h e Thulung myth o f c r e a t i o n ( t h e more H i n d u i s e d n a t u r a l l y r e f e r
t o S i v a ) . On t h e o t h e r hand, f o l k t a l e s t r a v e l , and i n s p i t e o f
t h e ways i n which t h e n a r r a t o r s a t t a c h t h e s t o r y t o l o c a l geography
and m y t h i c a l f i g u r e s , t h e r e i s no g u a r a n t e e f o r i n s t a n c e t h a t i d e a s
of dismemberment e v e r p l a y e d a p a r t i n t h e i n i t i a t i o n of Thulung
o f f i c i a n t s . Nor is t h e r e a n y t h i n g e l s e t o s u g g e s t t h a t t h e Thulung
f o r m e r l y knew how t o work m e t a l s ; nowadays t h e o f f i c i a n t s ' b e l l s
and cymbals a r e made by Newar c r a f t s m e n , a s i n d e e d a r e a l l p o t t e r y
vessels.

SBances ( c i n t d , N ; no d i s t i n c t Thulung word) may be h e l d


r e g u l a r l y , o f t e n a n n u a l l y , a s prophylaxis, o r i n response t o a
p a r t i c u l a r m e d i c a l problem when s i m p l e day-time e x o r c i s m h a s
p r o v e d i n e f f e c t i v e . 7 The d i s t i n c t i o n i s n o t a s h a r p o r r e c o g n i z e d
one s i n c e i n t h e former c a s e t h e jGkri i s l i k e l y t o d i s c o v e r some
immediate t h r e a t , and i n t h e l a t t e r , t r e a t m e n t o f a p a r t i c u l a r
p a t i e n t w i l l u s u a l l y be accompanied by p r o p h y l a x i s f o r t h e house-
hold. I n v e r y s e r i o u s a f f a i r s , such a s a bad d e a t h o r a f i r e , t h e
s e a n c e may need t o be r e p e a t e d , i f on a lesser s c a l e , a y e a r l a t e r .
The h o u s e h o l d e r can i n v i t e any jhBkri who can be p e r s u a d e d and who
h e t h i n k s i s l i k e l y t o be e f f e c t i v e . The date i s f i x e d by mutual
convenience w i t h o u t any r e c o u r s e t o a s t r o l o g i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s .

A r r i v i n g a l i t t l e a f t e r dusk, t h e j % k r i may b r i n g h i s own


a s s i s t a n t t o h e l p w i t h b u i l d i n g t h e t h i n and w i t h drumming, or one
o r more may be r e c r u i t e d from t h o s e p r e s e n t ; t h e r o l e i s n o t
r e g a r d e d a s s k i l l e d and u s u a l l y a c h i l d w i l l do. Neighbours w i l l
assemble, a n y t h i n g from two t o more t h a n t w e n t y , o f t e n w i t h o u t
f o r m a l i n v i t a t i o n , e i t h e r f o r f u n o r b e c a u s e t h e y have a q u e s t i o n
t o p u t t o t h e jha'kri when he i s p o s s e s s e d . They may a t t e n d t o
p r o c e e d i n g s , doze o r d e p a r t , a s and when t h e y wish.

The j X k r i unpacks h i s m a t e r i a l and costume from t h e s p e c i a l


b a s k e t i n which t h e y a r e k e p t (bhune o r & Z i t N ) . An u n t o u c h a b l e
o f f i c i a n t c a n n o t o f c o u r s e e n t e r t h e house and t h e th& i s t h e n
b u i l t on t h e v e r a n d a h , t h e o r i e n t a t i o n b e i n g u n i m p o r t a n t . Other-
wise t h e o f f i c i a n t h a s t h e o p t i o n of p e r f o r m i n g i n d o o r s , i n t h e
a r e a d o w n h i l l o f t h e f i r e i n a Thulung house; o n l y a Rai may b u i l d
h i s thiZn f a c i n g u p h i l l , i . e . towards t h e f i r e . The thESn i s b a s e d
on a moulded lump o f cowdung i n which i s s t u c k a c r i s s - c r o s s f e n c e
of f o u r - i n c h bamboo s l i v e r s ; t h e l e n g t h from which t h e y a r e made
i s shaved s o t h a t t h e s l i v e r s f r i l l o u t a t t h e upper end. Eighteen
i n c h l e n g t h s o f whole bamboo t r e a t e d s i m i l a r l y (phurke, N ) may be
p l a n t e d n e a r b y and a r e a l s o u s e d by t h e o f f i c i a n t i n t h e t r e a t m e n t
o f t h e p a t i e n t , f o r s p r i n k l i n g , and when d a n c i n g . Cotton t h r e a d
i s wound a r o u n d t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n , which may a l s o have q u i l l s and
plumes p l a n t e d i n it and a s m a l l s i c k l e and k n i f e ( k h u r p i and
karda, N ) o r l e n g t h s o f a n t l e r propped a g a i n s t it. I n f r o n t a
b r a s s p l a t e c o n t a i n i n g pounded r i c e s u p p o r t s a b r a s s v e s s e l
Zohota' ( N ) , b u t c a l l e d kaZas ( N ) i n r i t u a l c o n t e x t s . T h i s s h o u l d
c o n t a i n a g l u e y f l u i d (khasku o r khosku) made by pounding &lo fN)
l e a v e s i n w a t e r , i n p r i n c i p l e u s i n g a t i g e r ' s bone a s pounder.
S p r i g s (syduZa, N ) of t h e same t r e e p r o j e c t from t h e mouth o f t h e
v e s s e l . Around, l e a f p l a t e s o f pounded r i c e s u p p o r t v a r i o u s ob-
jects: q u a r t z c r y s t a l s and o t h e r s t o n e s s a i d t o have f a l l e n from
h e a v e n I 9 b o n e s , a n e g g c o l o u r e d r e d w i t h sindur ( N ) , a n o i l c a n d l e
( d i y o , N). N e a r b y i s p l a n t e d a t r i d e n t , a s p e a r (bareha', N ) , o r
wooden k n i f e (thurmi, N ) w i t h a bunch o f c o l o u r e d c l o t h s t r i p s
(dhajo, N ) a t t a c h e d . C i n d e r s b u r n on a f l a t s t o n e o r i n a c e n s i n g
v e s s e l (dhupauro, N ) .

T h i s s o r t o f thiin, w i t h minor v a r i a t i o n s , i s f a i r l y s t a n d a r d ,
b u t I d o u b t i f it is t h e s u b j e c t l o c a l l y o f any d e t a i l e d o r
systematic exegesis. I n what i s n o d o u b t t h e o l d e r and l e s s
a c c u l t u r a t e d s t y l e , a l t h o u g h a thiin i s b u i l t , t h e f o c u s o f i n t e r e s t
i s t h e huseo (Lokhim) o r hoptarcg ( e l s e w h e r e ) . T h i s i s a n a n i m a l
which i n t h e c o u r s e o f t h e r i t e i s hung above t h e o f f i c i a n t ' s h e a d
and r e c e i v e s o f f e r i n g s o f b e e r s p l a s h e d from g o u r d s k e p t on t h e
thiin. Depending p a r t l y on t h e h o u s e h o l d e r ' s means, i t i s e i t h e r
t h e f r o n t h a l f o f a p i g , o r a f o w l (which may b e hung up l i v i n g ) ;
a g e n e r a t i o n ago a p a r t i c u l a r l y r e p u t e d o f f i c i a n t i n Mukli u s e d t o
s u s p e n d a f r o g (piihd, N , a l a r g e a n d e d i b l e v a r i e t y ) ' a s a s u b -
s t i t u t e f o r a man, b e c a u s e i t was n o t p o s s i b l e t o k i l l men'.
On one o c c a s i o n i n Lokhim t h e f o w l w a s hung from t h e e i g h t h a n d
t o p m o s t r u n g o f a l a d d e r on t h e d o w n h i l l w a l l o f t h e h o u s e .
On e i t h e r s i d e were t i e d b r a n c h e s o f kiiuzo, a n d a s p r i n g o f t h i s ,
bound t o g e t h e r w i t h a p h u r k e i n t o a s o r t o f wand, was i n s e r t e d i n
the rafters. H a l f way up t h e l a d d e r w a s t i e d ( c G d n u , N ) t h e dhoZ
which, some o f t h e t i m e , w a s b e a t e n s i m u l t a n e o u s l y w i t h a $hyd?igro
and a b r a s s p l a t e . The l a t t e r may b e s t r u c k i n d i f f e r e n t l y w i t h a
l e n g t h o f h o r n , t h e back o f a k n i f e , o r a t w i g .

The j h d k r i ' s costume i s a s i n Macdonald ( 1 9 6 2 ) e x c e p t t h a t o u t -


s i d e t h e t u r b a n t h e Thulung t i e a s o r t o f f r i n g e ( s e w a r i ) hand-made
from b r i g h t c o l o u r e d dyed wool a n d t h e y e l l o w s u n i i k h a r i (N f i b r e . lo
Some j h z k r i wear two p o u c h e s ( j Z b i , N o r a b a n d o l i e r o f s n a k e
v e r t e b r a e , a s w e l l a s t h e u s u a l mdrZicche (N) ( a l t e r e d t o Zudra
i n Lokhim) . A j h d k r i may h a v e a n o r d i n a r y Hindu t u p i j u s t b e s i d e
h i s professional pigtail. The undyed t u r b a n i s t r a d i t i o n a l , b u t
I have s e e n Kami a n d Tamang j h z k r i w i t h r e d o n e s .

S e v e r a l of t h e elements of t h e thdn a r e c l e a r l y a s s o c i a t e d with


p u r i f i c a t i o n , which may b e a p r o m i n e n t theme i n t h e p r e l i m i n a r i e s
t o a s g a n c e . The a r e a where t h e t G n i s t o b e b u i l t may b e
s p e c i a l l y smeared w i t h cow-dung, r i t u a l p a r a p h e r n a l i a may b e
c e n s e d , r j :e may b e thrown o v e r t h e a s s i s t a n t , f l o w e r p e t a l s t u c k e d
a r o u n d t h e s i d e s o f t h e dhydGgro. The wording o f t h e i n v o c a t i o n s
t h a t f o l l o w i s d i f f i c u l t t o make o u t , i m p o s s i b l e i n t h e c a s e o f
Simbure, whose h i g h - p i t c h e d moan i s w o r d l e s s . Nami j h d k r i c e r -
t a i n l y c a l l on t h e S o r a S i k a r i ( e . g . Kamlung, G o t i , S e t i , K a l i ,
R a k t a ) , among o t h e r s p i r i t s . Thulung o n e s a r e s a i d t o i n v o k e
i n t e r azia b i r d s , g r a s s h o p p e r s a n d t h e s p i r i t s o f t h e w a t e r s a n d
jungle .ll

E v e n t u a l l y p o s s e s s i o n i s s i g n a l l e d by s h a k i n g and t h e j h d k r i
c a n answer q u e s t i o n s ( k u l i~r a ? ~lya'itnu o r bhannu, N ; t h e same
e x p r e s s i o n i s used o f a jGbi r e p o r t i n g t h e r e s u l t s o f a d i v i n a -
t i o n ) . Q u e s t i o n s a r e p u t i n a r a p i d , u r g e n t t o n e o f v o i c e and a r e
a d d r e s s e d t o God (Parmesura, N ) . They o f t e n i n c l u d e a r e q u e s t for
t h e utmost p o s s i b l e c l a r i t y . I n s p i t e of t h i s , t h e r e p l y i s a p t
t o be c r y p t i c ; however t h e jakri can a f t e r w a r d s u s u a l l y g i v e
f u r t h e r e x p l a n a t i o n . There may be more t h a n one o f t h e s e q u e s t i o n -
answer s e s s i o n s i n a s 6 a n c e . I t is i n t e r e s t i n g t h a t they a r e
o r d i n a r i l y h e l d i n ~ e p a l i ,even when t h e j h d k r i i s a Thulung;
t h e one h e l d by a Jubu p r i e s t i n t h e c o u r s e o f h i s day-time
a n c e s t r a l r i t e was a n e x c e p t i o n . The s e s s i o n s d i d n o t o c c u r a t
Sinbure' s e s s i o n s , nor a r e they a necessary f e a t u r e o f t h e ' l a r g e
s e a n c e s ' fthuZo c i n t d ) which a r e o r used t o be h e l d a f t e r a d e a t h
c l a s s i f i e d a s bad o r u n n a t u r a l , i n o r d e r ' t o k i l l t h e s i u p ' , i . e .
t o d i s p o s e of t h e p a r t i c u l a r l y dangerous s p i r i t t h a t has r e s u l t e d .

U n f o r t u n a t e l y most o f my d a t a on ' l a r g e s e a n c e s ' a r e second


hand, from a T i n g l a i n f o r m a n t who c l a i m e d t o have w i t n e s s e d f o u r
o r f i v e . I n t h e s p e c t r u m o f s e a n c e s t h e y seem t o r e p r e s e n t n o t
o n l y t h e l a r g e s t i n s c a l e b u t a l s o t h e most c o n s e r v a t i v e . For
s u c h a ceremony r e l a t i v e s and n e i g h b o u r s have t o be i n v i t e d and
f e a s t e d w i t h rice and g e n e r o u s s u p p l i e s o f a l c o h o l ; s e v e r a l
hundred r u p e e s would be s p e n t . A p i g must be k i l l e d f o r t h e
hoptang. A Thulung jh&i i n f u l l costume i s o b l i g a t o r y , a @hot
w i l l be u s e d , and a s many a s s i x a s s i s t a n t s , e a c h w i t h a dhy%gro,
w i l l h e l p i n s e e i n g o f f t h e d a n g e r o u s s p i r i t . Although t h e
d e s t i n a t i o n i s u n c l e a r , it i s c e r t a i n t h a t t h e j h d k r i i s supposed
by means of h i s d a n c i n g t o be u n d e r t a k i n g some s o r t o f m y s t i c a l
journey .
Such j o u r n e y s a r e a l s o u n d e r t a k e n i n some o r d i n a r y s e a n c e s
when t h e j G k r i d a n c e s . Thus on one o c c a s i o n a t Lokhim t h e j M k r i
w a s s a i d t o have r e a c h e d P h y l i u k u ( r i t u a l name f o r Mukli) v i a
S a b a l i ( a c l i f f n o r t h o f t h e Hongu K h o l a ) . According t o an
e x p e r i e n c e d Mukli layman, a j g k r i ' s journey i s broken i n t o e i g h t
s t a g e s (halam) marked by d i f f e r e n t dance s t y l e s ( s i Z i ) , f o r t h e
most p a r t i m i t a t i v e o f d i f f e r e n t s p e c i e s o f b i r d s . In Tingla
o f f i c i a n t s are s a i d t o know s i x t e e n d i f f e r e n t s t y l e s , some named
a f t e r animals, a s w e l l . One which i s e a s i l y r e c o g n i z e d i s t h e
f e r r y m a n ' s s t y l e (mlijhi, N , s i l i ) , i n which, a s h e c i r c l e s , t h e
jhiikri makes a p a d d l i n g g e s t u r e , f i r s t on one s i d e , t h e n t h e o t h e r ,
w i t h a p h u r k e ; a t some p o i n t he h o l d s o u t a f o l d of h i s r o b e f o r
t h e a u d i e n c e t o c o n t r i b u t e a few c o i n s , which a r e i n t e r p r e t e d by
some as t h e b o a t m a n ' s f e e (khewa', N ) , by o t h e r s a s o f f e r i n g s t o
t h e d e a d man. I n a n o r d i n a r y s e a n c e t h e o b j e c t o f t h e journey
may b e t o g e t (from heaven, someone s u g g e s t e d ) a m y s t e r i o u s
s u b s t a n c e , c h i t - k h o a , which t h e j%kri i n g e s t s and which serves
b o t h t o s t r e n g t h e n him a g a i n s t m y s t i c a l a t t a c k ( s o t h a t Gn-b&
Zdgdaina, N ) , and t d c a p t u r e e v i l s p i r i t s . I f a layman saw i t ,
it would h u r t h i s e y e s , b u t it was compared t o b i r d - l i m e , t o
s p i d e r ' s webs and t o f l y - p a p e r ( s u c h a s I had hanging i n my room).
A p p a r e n t l y a t t h e end o f a s e a n c e it i s s e n t back.
Thulung j%kri do n o t n e c e s s a r i l y dance a t a s g a n c e , and non-
Thulung o n e s c e r t a i n l y d o s o sometimes. However, I was l e f t w i t h
t h e i m p r e s s i o n t h a t t h e n o t i o n o f a j o u r n e y symbolized by d a n c i n g
was much more e l a b o r a t e d among t h e Thulung, who o f t e n knew o f no
e x a c t Nepsli equivalents f o r t h e concepts involved. I t is t r u e
t h a t t h e r e e x i s t Thulung e x p r e s s i o n s f o r b e i n g p o s s e s s e d ( t h e
p o s s e s s i n g agency i s a buwaZem, r e n d e r e d a s b a n j h d k r i o r banes-
f i a n d i , (N); n e v e r t h e l e s s p o s s e s s i o n seems t o be a more e s s e n t i a l
f e a t u r e o f t h e s e a n c e s o f n a t i v e N e p Z l i - s p e a k i n g jhaPkri t h a n o f
Thulung o n e s .

The m a j o r i t y of d a n c e s c o n t a i n an a c t ( i n t h e t h e a t r e ' s s e n s e
o f t h e word) v e r y s i m i l a r t o t h a t d e s c r i b e d by Hosten (1909:681-2)
under t h e t i t l e , ' C u t t i n g t h e road t o heaven'. Scene 1 i s p r e p -
a r a t o r y . The p a t i e n t o r t h o s e a t r i s k s i t on t h e v e r a n d a h , and
t h e r o a d i s symbolized by a c o t t o n t h r e a d o r t h r e a d s s e v e r a l f e e t
l o n g r u n n i n g from them t o a s t r u c t u r e e r e c t e d i n t h e c o u r t y a r d .
The commonest i s a banana s a p l i n g whose t r u n k o r s t a l k i s a n o i n t e d
w i t h r e d powder ( s i n d u r ) ; r a r e l y a bamboo s e r v e s i n s t e a d . Around
it t h e r e may b e l e a f p l a t e s and a m a n d a l a - l i k e d e s i g n i n f l o u r
( r e h - , N , l i t e r a l l y ' l i n e s ' ) , which on one o c c a s i o n was c o v e r e d
w i t h a s h e e t o f p a p e r s u p p o r t i n g e l e v e n p i l e s o f r i c e crowned
w i t h c o i n s o r f l o w e r s . Another s t r u c t u r e , t h e ' o t h e r - w o r l d l y
h o u s e ' ( p a r i n e m , c f . p a r i b u n g above) may be b u i l t a s a n a l t e r -
n a t i v e , o r s u b s e q u e n t l y , o r i n p a r a l l e l , a s i n one c a s e where t h e
husband w a s c o n n e c t e d t o t h e banana stump and t h e w i f e t o t h e
model house. The house i s e x p l a i n e d a s t h a t o f t h e s p i r i t who i s
'eating' the patient. I t s c o r n e r s a r e formed by f o u r mlilingo (N)
bamboos and it may b e r o u g h l y r o o f e d w i t h t h a t c h i n g g r a s s . The
f l o o r i s r a i s e d t o form a p l a t f o r m on which may be p l a c e d mini-
a t u r e l e a f p l a t e s o f r i c e and s t e w . On a n o t h e r o c c a s i o n a lump
o f c a c t u s was b u r i e d b e n e a t h t h e s t r u c t u r e , ghee was h e a t e d on a
s m a l l flame on t h e l e v e l o f t h e e a r t h and t h e ' f l o o r ' was formed
by a s h e e t o f p a p e r on which t h e j h z k r i had drawn d e s i g n s i n
c h a r c o a l . A t one s e a n c e i n Lokhim, t h e t h r e a d r o a d was i n t e r -
r u p t e d by s p l i n t e r s shaved t h a t a f t e r n o o n from t h e edge o f a
p l a n k b r i d g e i n t h e v i l l a g e ; a t a n o t h e r i t l e d on from t h e banana
t o a l i z a r d immobilized by b e i n g t i e d t o a s t i c k i n a Thulung (K)
myth t h e l i z a r d i n t r o d u c e s d e a t h among mankind . Other o b j e c t s
t h a t may b e a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h e banana a r e a t h r e a d c r o s s ( c a l l e d
a ' b u t t e r f l y ' ) and a s h o r t t w i g w i t h n i n e wicks t i e d a l o n g it.
However, Simbure performed t h e r i t e on an a l t o g e t h e r s m a l l e r and
less e l a b o r a t e s c a l e , once on a v e r a n d a h , o n c e i n a doorway.

I n s c e n e 2 , fowl o r p i g e o n s a r e waved o v e r t h e h e a d s o f t h e
p a t i e n t s , e v i l f o r c e s a r e t h r e a t e n e d w i t h weapons, and t h e jhalkri
d a n c e s a r o u n d t h e s t r u c t u r e . D e t a i l s v a r y , b u t t h e c l i m a x comes
when t h e t h r e a d i s r u p t u r e d and t h e s t r u c t u r e c u t i n two, b u r n e d
o r broken. I n s c e n e 3 , a number of o b j e c t s a r e t a k e n by t o r c h -
l i g h t and abandoned a minute o r t w o ' s walk from t h e h o u s e , some-
t i m e s b u t n o t always a t a cross-roads. The o b j e c t s , which may
have been a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h e banana t r u n k o r may be s p e c i a l l y
made a t t h i s p o i n t , a r e o f t e n c a r r i e d on a winnowing f a n which is
r e t a i n e d . They i n c l u d e model a n i m a l s , made from o t a t o e s o r t h e
l i k e , w i t h s p l i n t e r s f o r l e g s , c h a r c o a l drawingsIP2 l e a f p l a t e s
of v a r i o u s g r a i n s (satabiu p a l a b i u , c f . b i u , N , ' s e e d ' ) , n a i l
s c r a p i n g s , t h r e a d c r o s s e s . There i s a c e r t a i n f e e l i n g t h a t t h e y
a r e jernadzn (N ) , o f f e r i n g s t o Yama , god of t h e dead. The j h i t k r i
may o r may n o t accompany t h e p r o c e s s i o n and t h e r e may b e a s m a l l
r i t e a t i t s f u r t h e s t p o i n t , e.g. f o u r lumps o f c a c t u s a r e b u r i e d ,
a peg ( k i l o , N of ka'g-bhalZgo (N wood i s hammered i n t o t h e e a r t h ,
a h e n ' s egg i s thrown a t a s t o n e .

The whole a c t i s sometimes c a l l e d g m h u kh&o 8iimzu (N),


' s h i f t i n g t h e e v i l s t a r ' , and it i s s a i d t h a t i t can b e performed
e q u a l l y by Brahman, s a h u , J o g i o r jFa'kPi. An a l t e r n a t i v e form
o f t h e a c t I m e t performed o n l y by Thulung j M k r i . The banana
tree i s r e p l a c e d by a t a l l bamboo ( l i n g o , N ) p l a n t e d o u t s i d e t h e
house, and t h e manufactured c o t t o n t h r e a d by a hand-made r i t u a l
r o p e (9achiz-i , a s d i s t i n c t from t h e mundane I Y ~ w ) , which p a s s e s
from t h e summit of t h e bamboo t h r o u g h a h o l e made i n the r o o f o f
t h e house down t o t h e d r y i n g frame (chukkar) which is suspended
over t h e f i r e .

Two o t h e r a c t s may be b r i e f l y mentioned. The r a i s i n g o f the


head (sir utha'unu, N ) i s t y p i c a l l y performed on a c o u p l e who
s q u a t h o l d i n g t h e i r s e x e s ' weapons ( k u k p i , N , and s i c k l e ) and may
b e g i v e n r a k s i t o d r i n k . While t h e o f f i c i a n t i n v o k e s d e i t i e s by
b e a t i n g a b r a s s p l a t e , a s s i s t a n t s h o l d o v e r t h e c o u p l e ' s heads a
cock o r hen a n d / o r p l a t e s w i t h c a n d l e s on them. To t h e c r y o f
sarara t h e s e are r a i s e d i n t h e a i r t h r e e t i m e s . Flowers are
t u c k e d under t h e c o u p l e ' s headwear. The fowl are k i l l e d by a
blow on t h e back and t h e n e a t e n . I n one c a s e , a f t e r r a i s i n g t h e
head o f t h e h o u s e h o l d e r s , t h e jGkri proceeded t o ' r a i s e t h e head
of t h e house', s p r i n k l i n g c o c k ' s blood a t t h e f o u r c o r n e r s o u t -
s i d e t o t h e accompaniment of b l a s t s on a human thigh-bone trumpet.

Another manoeuvre might be t h o u g h t o f a s t h e ' m a t e r i a l i z a t i o n '


o f t h e e v i l f o r c e by means o f t h e phurke. Sometimes t h e jh8k.t-i
m o i s t e n s t h e phurke i n t h e g l u e y khasku and d a n c e s waving it above
h i s head. sometimes h e u s e s t h e phurke t o e x t r a c t t h e e v i l from
t h e p a t i e n t ' s body. In e i t h e r case t h e materialized e v i l is repre-
s e n t e d by a small p a r t i c l e of i n d e t e r m i n a t e m i n e r a l o r o r g a n i c
o r i g i n which i s p l a c e d on a p l a t e and handed round amid c o n g r a t u -
l a t o r y c r i e s of syiibds (N) o r o a l a s e o . I n some i n s t a n c e s t h e
p a r t i c l e a p p e a r s t o b e p i c k e d up by chance i n t h e c o u r s e o f t h e
movements o f t h e phurke. On one o c c a s i o n t h e jMkri f a i l e d t o
e x t r a c t a n y t h i n g from a g i r l , even a f t e r s i x a t t e m p t s a t v a r i o u s
p a r t s o f t h e body, u s i n g q u i l l s and f e a t h e r s a s w e l l a s h i s phurke.
The p a r t i c l e may b e drowned i n t h e &alaso r t r a n s f e r r e d t o a
s t o p p e r e d bamboo t u b e which i s b u r n t ; b u t t h e a u d i e n c e is much
less i n t e r e s t e d i n t h i s f i n a l d e s t r u c t i o n t h a n i n t h e e x t r a c t i o n
o r capture, i.e. the materialization.

A t t h e end o f t h e s & a n c e , t h e jhi?kri t a k e s l e a v e of h i s


divinities. In p r i n c i p l e , e s p e c i a l l y i n a proper full-scale
s e a n c e , t h i s i s somewhat a f t e r dawn, though n o t a l l s 6 a n c e s l a s t
s o l o n g . There d o e s n o t seem t o be any g e n e r a l l y r e c o g n i z e d o r d e r
f o r t h e a c t s i n t h e middle o f t h e s e a n c e . A sequence a t Lokhim
ran: c u t t i n g t h e r o a d , r a i s i n g t h e head o f h o u s e h o l d e r s and house,
meal ( i n c l u d i n g cock u s e d i n t h e p r e c e d i n g a c t ) , magical j o u r n e y ,
e x t r a c t i o n of m a t e r i a l i z e d e v i l from p a t i e n t s . The p a t i e n t s may
have p a r t s o f t h e i r t r e a t m e n t l e f t o v e r a f t e r t h e s e a n c e , f o r
i n s t a n c e t o make some s p e c i f i e d s a c r i f i c e , o r t o p u t on a new amu-
l e t which t h e j h d k r i w i l l p r e p a r e . The b e n e f i t s of t h e s e a n c e may
b e f e l t o n l y a f t e r weeks o r months.

Though t h e n o c t u r n a l s e a n c e i s t h e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a c t i v i t y o f
t h e j h a k r i , he may a l s o c o n d u c t daytime r i t e s i n which t h e r e i s
no q u e s t i o n of p o s s e s s i o n o r o f danced m y s t i c a l j o u r n e y s , f o r
i n s t a n c e s a c r i f i c e s t o t h e f o r e s t d e i t y Mankime o r t o t h e v a r i o u s
s p i r i t s who may harm l i v e s t o c k . H e may a l s o b u i l d a t G n and
a t t e m p t e x o r c i s m o f humans and a n i m a l s w i t h o u t s a c r i f i c i n g .
H e c o n d u c t s t h e b u r i a l of t h e bad dead i n an a r e a o f d e n s e j u n g l e
away from h a b i t a t i o n s , and I m e t one i n s t a n c e o f a j a k r i a s s i s t i n g
a p r i e s t f o r a portion of t h e ordinary death r i t u a l . But o u t s i d e
s e a n c e s , h i s most i n t e r e s t i n g a c t i v i t i e s a r e p e r h a p s a t t h e
p e r i o d i c a l g a t h e r i n g s which a r e u s u a l l y r e f e r r e d t o a s b a j d r o r
meld ( N ) , r a t h e r t h a n by t h e s l i g h t l y more p r e c i s e term j d t r d (see
d e s c r i p t i o n s by Macdonald 1966a:47-8, 1 9 7 2 : 7 6 f f , F o u r n i e r 1973a:166,
r e v i s e d i n t h i s volume). These ' f a i r s ' a r e h e l d a t a number o f
r e c o g n i z e d s i t e s c l o s e t o a s h r i n e . The main one i n t h e Thulung
a r e a i s J a l i n Bazaar which i s h e l d on t h e r i d g e above Dewsa,
where t h e v i l l a g e p a n c h a y a t h a s r e c e n t l y b u i l t a p r o m i n e n t s t o n e
building. Crowds assemble towards e v e n i n g and p a s s t h e n i g h t
d a n c i n g and d r i n k i n g , m i l l i n g around t h e temporary s t a l l s .
The o c c a s i o n h a s a r e p u t a t i o n f o r s e x u a l l i c e n c e , b u t i f it o c c u r s
it i s nowadays v e r y d i s c r e t e . J h z k r i dance t h e i r way t h r o u g h t h e
crowds and i n t h e morning g r o u p s make t h e i r way up t o t h e l a k e on
t h e f o r e s t e d r i d g e t o p t o wash and pay t h e i r r e s p e c t s (darsan, N )
a t t h e s m a l l w a l l e d s h r i n e s c l o s e by i t . F i r s t one s h o u l d worship
~ i k a r ai t t h e b a s e o f a b o u l d e r , t h e n w i t h t h e o f f e r i n g o f a s m a l l
t r i d e n t , S e t i Devi, whose e n c l o s u r e i s a t t h e mouth o f a c a v e .
The f a i r t a k e s p l a c e a t f u l l moon ( p u r n e , N ) i n Baisakh, ~ a u n ,
and on a s m a l l e r s c a l e , ~ a n ~ s i rI .have ~ ~ no i n s t a n c e s of j h z k r i
g a t h e r i n g s b e i n g h e l d i n o t h e r months, though a g i v e n s i t e d o e s
n o t n e c e s s a r i l y have one on e a c h of t h e t h r e e o c c a s i o n s . A l a r g e
f a i r , a t t e n d e d by Thulung ( a s w e l l as o t h e r c a s t e s ) i s h e l d a t
Dudh Kund t o t h e n o r t h ; it was d e s c r i b e d a s t h e e l d e s t ( j e t h i , N )
i n a series where J a l i m came s e c o n d , S a l p a ( t o t h e e a s t ) t h i r d ,
and t h e y o u n g e s t ( G n c h i , N ) was n o t i d e n t i f i e d . O t h e r f a i r s a r e
h e l d a t H a l e s i t h r i c e y e a r l y , n e a r Lodin a t l e a s t i n Mangsir, and
a t Caiya ( o r Chuiya) a t l e a s t i n saun.14 Some s i t e s a r e o f no
g r e a t a n t i q u i t y . A few y e a r s ago, t h e Thulung jMkm: Mango o f
Lokhim d i s c o v e r e d (khzuk - l i t e r a l l y ' e x t r a c t ' i . e . from t h e e a r t h )
a stone representing ~ita ~ani,
Puri ~ a y a and founded Sayebeni
Bazaar, which i s c e l e b r a t e d n o t f a r from t h e v i l l a g e on t h e same
d a t e s a s J a l i m Bazaar. Such d i s c o v e r i e s do n o t n e c e s s a r i l y a t t r a c t
o r r e t a i n p o p u l a r s u p p o r t . A t ~ u l b o h o n ( f o r -muGn, N ) above
Mukli t h e r e m a i n s a r e v i s i b l e o f a s h r i n e founded by l o c a l j M k r i
l e s s t h a n a decade ago; b u t it seems t h a t n o g a t h e r i n g any l o n g e r
t a k e s p l a c e . During t h e l a s t t e n y e a r s t h e r e has been a g r e a t
i n c r e a s e i n t h e number o f r e g u l a r weekly b a z a a r s r u n by v i l l a g e
p a n c h a y a t s , and i t i s p o s s i b l e t h a t t h o s e founded by jGkri s u f f e r
i n consequence.

There seems t o be no open b a r g a i n i n g n o r any f i x e d c o n v e n t i o n a l


r a t e , b u t t h e jhzkri c a n e x p e c t a t l e a s t a f e e o f two o r t h r e e
r u p e e s and a r i c e meal i n t h e e v e n i n g o r morning; f o r a f u l l s e a n c e
he may g e t f i v e r u p e e s and two meals. H e w i l l a l s o t a k e the rice
on t h e b r a s s p l a t e s on t h e t G n and any b e e r from t h e g o u r d s .
However, h e would n o t be p a i d f o r d i v i n a t i o n s o r minor e x o r c i s m s .
I f he i s s u c c e s s f u l he may, l i k e Baginanda i n Kathmandu, r e c e i v e
an o c c a s i o n a l w i n d f a l l ; Simbure was p r o u d o f a woollen w a i s t c o a t
p r e s e n t e d by a g r a t e f u l Gurung c l i e n t . Baunne c l a i m e d t o p e r f o r m
s g a n c e s some 20-25 n i g h t s a month, and N a j u r e Pap o f Lokhim, a b o u t
12. These f i g u r e s seem on t h e h i g h s i d e and would c e r t a i n l y n o t
a p p l y d u r i n g t h e busy a g r i c u l t u r a l months o f t h e summer, though
t h e r e i s no a b s o l u t e c l o s e d season f o r s6ances ( a s t h e r e i s f o r
most o f t h e p r i e s t ' s r i t e s ) . I n c i d e n t a l l y a j G k r i may h o l d a
s g a n c e i n h i s own house, a s Simbure d i d on t h e n i g h t of J a l i m
Bazaar. Whatever h i s a v e r a g e income from i t , b e i n g a j G k r i i s
r e g a r d e d a s a p a r t - t i m e a c t i v i t y , and i t would n o t o c c u r t o anyone
t h a t i t c o u l d be someone's s o l e means o f l i v e l i h o o d , on a p a r w i t h
government s e r v i c e o r s c h o o l m a s t e r i n g . I t i s a v o c a t i o n , and may
be d i f f i c u l t t o r e s i g n . To d o s o would be t o r i s k t h e a n g e r o f
one's possessing d e i t i e s .

T h i s a c c o u n t o f shamanism i n t h e Thulung a r e a i s i n c o m p l e t e i n
many r e s p e c t s , even r e a d i n c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h A l l e n ( 1 9 7 4 b ) .
I would emphasize a g a i n t h a t t h e a c t i v i t i e s o f t h e p r i e s t have
d e l i b e r a t e l y been e x c l u d e d , a l t h o u g h t h e y c o u l d w e l l be c a l l e d
shamanic, and a l t h o u g h i n o t h e r a r e a s no d o u b t t h e same
a c t i v i t i e s a r e performed by a jhiikri. T h i s h c s meant e x c l u d i n g
a l l r i t u a l s h e l d on b e h a l f o f t h e c o l l e c t i v i t y ( e . 9 . bhwne, N ,
' a g r i c u l t u r a l r i t e s ' ) , o r r e l a t e d t o t h e normal l i f e c y c l e .
I have a l s o o m i t t e d c e r t a i n r i t u a l s t h a t may be performed by
e i t h e r o f f i c i a n t , e . g . t h e hutpa r i t e and c e r t a i n minor s a c r i -
f i c e s , and t h e method o f d i v i n a t i o n by s l i c i n g g i n g e r . T h a t s t i l l
l e a v e s many g a p s due t o l a c k o f knowledge. I was n e v e r on c l o s e
terms w i t h an o f f i c i a n t , and a t t e m p t s t o c o l l e c t d i c t a t e d t e x t s
failed. I t was o n l y t o w a r d s t h e v e r y end o f my s t a y t h a t I began
t o s e n s e t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f drawing a d i s t i n c t i o n , which i s h a r d l y
a p p a r e n t t o i n f o r m a n t s , between j h & = it r a d i t i o n s widespread i n
t h e r e c e n t N e p z l i - s p e a k i n g world and a n o t h e r c l u s t e r o f t r a d i -
t i o n s , b e t t e r p r e s e r v e d i n Lokhim, and c l o s e r i n c h a r a c t e r t o
t h e c l a s s i c a l c e n t r a l A s i a t i c shamanism o f E l i a d e . If t h i s dis-
t i n c t i o n , o r b e t t e r p e r h a p s , t h i s p o l a r i t y , i s confirmed, i t i s
t h e s e c o n d p o l e w i t h i t s emphasis on m y s t i c j o u r n e y s r a t h e r t h a n
p o s s e s s i o n , t h a t i s t h e more u r g e n t l y i n need o f r e c o r d i n g .

Nicho Zas A 2Zen

1. During 1969-71, s e v e n t e e n months were s p e n t i n Thulung


villages. I g r a t e f u l l y acknowledge t h e f i n a n c i a l s u p p o r t
o f t h e S o c i a l S c i e n c e R e s e a r c h C o u n c i l and t h e encourage-
ment of P r o f e s s o r C. von Furer-Haimendorf and D r . R .
Needham.

2. In using t h e t e r m ' c a s t e ' t o render ~ e p a l i jet


and
therefore t o include ' t r i b e s ' , I consciously ignore a
d i s t i n c t i o n t h a t , useful a s it is, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n
h i s t o r i c a l contexts, i s a l i e n t o l o c a l thinking.

3. ~ e ~ a words
l i o r expressions a r e labelled with a following
IN' on f i r s t mention. Thulung words a r e u n l a b e l l e d .

4. I t seems t h a t b e f o r e t h e coming o f t h e l i t e r a t e r e l i g i o n s ,
t h e d i s t i n c t i o n between t r i b a l p r i e s t and medium ( t o u s e a
more n e u t r a l t e r m t h a n j h z k r i ) was t o be found among many
o f t h e t r i b a l p e o p l e s of N e p a l , and t h a t it can s t i l l b e
r e c o g n i z e d i n t h e o f f i c e s o f t h e Gurung g y a b r i n g ( k l i h b r i o r
k h e p r e ) and p o j u (pucu o r p a j u u ) , Mewa Khola Limbu phedangma
and yaba, w e s t e r n Tamang lambu and bombo. The e v i d e n c e i s
d i s c u s s e d i n A l l e n (1974b1, which on many p o i n t s i s com-
plementary t o t h e p r e s e n t paper. Further evidence i s
a v a i l a b l e i n H6fer (1971 and 19721, S a g a n t (1973b) and
F o u r n i e r (1973b, r e v i s e d i n t h i s volume) .

5. The p r e s e n t r e n d e r i n g d e p a r t s c o n s i d e r a b l y from t h e gramma-


t i c a l s t r u c t u r e of t h e Thulung o r i g i n a l , b u t I hope t o
p r e s e n t e l s e w h e r e a t r a n s c r i p t i o n of t h e t a p e - r e c o r d i n g a s
a l i n g u i s t i c t e x t . The s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n of t h e v a r i o u s
n a r r a t o r s r e f e r r e d t o w i l l a l s o b e t r e a t e d e l s e w h e r e ; none
w e r e themselves o f f i c i a n t s . Except f o r t r e e names, which
have been t r a n s l a t e d i n t o NepZli, t h e NepZli words g i v e n
are p r e s e n t i n t h e o r i g i n a l t e x t s .
6. The Thulung name f o r t h e t r e e i n K ' s a c c o u n t i s moasa.
T h i s i s p r o b a b l y a d i a l e c t a l v a r i a n t o f moso, a b r a n c h o f
which i s used i n the T i n g l a dedam r i t e : t h e p a t i e n t ' s
t o e s a r e c o n n e c t e d by a s p e c i a l r i t u a l c o r d ( b o r ) t o t h e
b r a n c h , which amid tremendous n o i s e t h e p r i e s t t a p s w i t h a
k n i f e and t o which he makes o f f e r i n g s o f b e e r , r i c e , and a
s p r a y o f g i n g e r d i r e c t e d from t h e mouth. One i s reminded
o f t h e r i t e o b s e r v e d by Hitchcock (1967: 153-4) i n which
t h e p a t i e n t ' s f o o t was moved from n o t c h t o n o t c h a l o n g a
s m a l l p i e c e o f wood, a p p a r e n t l y a m i n i a t u r e cosmic tree.
Conceivably t h e l o c a t i o n of t h e t r e e a t P a r a , a p l a c e n o t
o t h e r w i s e o f any p a r t i c u l a r s i g n i f i c a n c e t o t h e Thulung,
might b e due t o t h e s i m i l a r i t y o f t h e name t o t h e morpheme
p h i mentioned e a r l i e r .

The f o l l o w i n g a c c o u n t i s b a s e d on some e l e v e n o f t h e s e
r i t e s o b s e r v e d i n whole o r more o f t e n i n p a r t . They may be
r o u g h l y c l a s s i f i e d as f o l l o w s . ( i )F u l l s t a n d a r d s e a n c e s :
one a t T i n g l a by a G h a r t i , t h r e e a t Lokhim by d i f f e r e n t
Thulung j h z k r i , two a t Mukli by Kami (one by Baunne, one
by a Dewsa v i l l a g e r ) . ( i i )A b b r e v i a t e d s t a n d a r d s 6 a n c e by
Simbure, who c l a i m e d t h a t he c o u l d n o t p e r f o r m t h e f u l l
ceremony w i t h o u t r i t u a l l y - p r e p a r e d b e e r , which w a s n o t
available. (iii) ' L a r g e s6ance' by a Mukli Thulung
f o l l o w i n g t h e d e a t h o f a n i n f a n t ; b u t t h e s c a l e w a s much
smaller t h a n a s d e s c r i b e d t o m e under t h a t name.
( i v ) Three s e a n c e s w i t h o u t d a n c i n g o r u s e o f d h y z g r o :
one by Simbure, one by a n o t h e r Mukli Thulung, one by
a n o t h e r Mukli K a m i . I n a d d i t i o n , one ' h e a d - r a i s i n g ' r i t e
i n Mukli, p e r h a p s m i s c l a s s i f i e d a s a s6ance.

8. I n t h e l a t t e r c a s e , when a s sometimes t h e r e a r e f r i l l s a t
b o t h e n d s s i t u a t e d on e i t h e r s i d e o f a j o i n t i n t h e
bamboo, one c a n n o t e s c a p e b e i n g reminded o f t h e form o f t h e
T i b e t a n rD0-rje. They do n o t seem t o be used by Thulung
p r i e s t s , and c o n v e r s e l y I n e v e r saw a jhiikri u s e a y a k ' s
t a i l , though some p r i e s t s do. The Thulung f o r phurke i s
hiwnen, ' h o u s e o f t h e hiw ( e v i l s p i r i t ) ' .

9. An o f f i c i a n t i n t h e Khaling v i l l a g e of J u b i n g had a
p o l i s h e d s t o n e a x e head which h e c l a i m e d t o have found
locally.

10. A specimen g i v e n m e c o n s i s t s o f a band 30 i n c h e s l o n g by a


i n c h h i g h , from which hang 50 two-inch-long t a s s e l s a l s o o f
wool and f i b r e . I n a d d i t i o n , from s t r i n g s f i x e d a t e a c h
end o f the band, two b u n d l e s o f e i g h t t a s s e l s hang halfway
down t h e back a s a queue (camp&). Perhaps t h e f r i n g e i s
t o be r e g a r d e d a s a s o r t o f mask ( c f . E l i a d e 1964:167) .
I hope t o c o n s i d e r e l s e w h e r e i n @ o r e d e t a i l t h e r i t u a l
l a n g u a g e which, a p a r t from some p a r t i c u l a r p h r a s e s , t h e
Thulung j h d k r i s h a r e w i t h t h e p r i e s t s . A s a n example h e r e ,
w e may t a k e t h e term f o r drum, which a p p e a r s i n t h e
invocation together with o t h e r i t e m s of the paraphernalia.
The t e r m i s holosam camcosam deoresam b r e k s i u s a m , where
-sam, l i t e r a l l y ' b r e a t h ' , r e f e r s t o t h e s o u n d , a n d t h e
o t h e r e l e m e n t s r e f e r r e s p e c t i v e l y t o t h e wood (ZZmpCte a n d
m a z a y i i g i r i ? ) a n d t h e n t h e s k i n ( o f d e e r and w i l d g o a t ) .

12. One example showed n i n e o b j e c t s : s u n a n d moon, a n t h r o p o -


morphic f i g u r e w i t h t r i d e n t , c r a b , b u t t e r f l y , b u f f a l o ,
a n d ? l i z a r d , b i r d and s n a i l . O t h e r s s a y an e l e p h a n t a n d
horse should be included.

13. The l u n a r c a l e n d a r u s e d i n r i t u a l c o n t e x t s ( i n which d a t e s


are c a l l e d t i t h i , N ) o n l y roughly c o i n c i d e s w i t h t h e
every-day s o l a r c a l e n d a r (where d a t e s a r e e x p r e s s e d w i t h
gate, N ) . Thus ~ a i s a k hp u r n e ( l u n a r ) may f a l l i n J e t h
( s o l a r ) a n d SZun pwlne i s o f t e n i n Bhadau. To a d d t o
p o t e n t i a l c o n f u s i o n , c a l e n d a r s w r i t t e n by d i f f e r e n t p u n d i t s
do n o t necessarily agree. I t s h o u l d be n o t e d t h a t t h e r e
a r e a l s o f a i r s a t which jMkri d o n o t a s s e m b l e , e . g . t h o s e
h e l d below Mukli a t Borku on t h e e l e v e n t h o f t h e b r i g h t
h a l f o f K a r t i k ( E G d a s i meZG) a n d on t h e l a s t day
( s a f i k r Z n t i , N ) o f Magh.

14. C a i y a B a z a a r i s h e l d o n an a p p a r e n t l y w a t e r l e s s k n o l l a t
t h e n o r t h w e s t e n d o f Neche @&. The s t o n e r e p r e s e n t i n g t h e
d e i t y s t a n d s on a s q u a r e d c a i r n which o n e c i r c u m a m b u l a t e s ,
crowded w i t h i n t h e s t o n e w a l l s o f a r e c t a n g u l a r e n c l o s u r e .
B e s i d e it s t o o d a f o r t y - f o o t T i b e t a n p r a y e r f l a g . I was
s t r u c k h e r e by t h e c o o r d i n a t e d , a p p a r e n t l y r e h e a r s e d d a n c i n g
o f o n e p a i r o f jh??kri.
VIII
SOME OBSERVATIONS ON SHERPA SHAMANISM

On the basis of observations made by me and my colleague, Sherry


Ortner, in the Shorung region of Solu-Khurnbu, home of the Sherpas,
during fieldwork done in 1966-68, I would say that Sherpa shamanism
is in a severe state of decline. The reasons for this fact must be
sought by placing the institution in the context of a broader cul-
tural framework, in which it will be seen that most of the distinc-
tive features of shamanism have been successfully divided up among
other competing institutions, and what remains is losing favour
because of the general trend of the development of Sherpa culture
in contemporary times.

In discussing shamanism among the Sherpa, who belong to the


Tibetan culture area, it is necessary to distinguish between the
term shamanism used in the broad sense to refer to any sort of
healing complex employing supernatural contact either through spirit
possession or soul journey on the one hand; and on the other hand
the specific religious pattern characteristic of most indigenous
peoples of North and Central Asia involving a certain definable set
of ideas, practices, and symbols, as described by Eliade (1964).

The latter, which for brevity I will refer to as classical sha-


manism, played a major historical role in the formation of Tibetan
culture, and the historical relationship between classical shaman-
ism, the Bon religion, the Buddhism of the Guru Rimpoche, and modern
Tibetan Buddhism is a vast and complex problem which I will only
touch on briefly here. But though the Sherpa are Tibetan in origin,
they have lived in Nepal for four hundred years, and especially in
the more southerly Shorung region, they have been directly influenced
by neighbouring local Nepali cultural traditions.

It is important, therefore, to point out at the outset that most


of the shamanizing which is done for Sherpa patients and !supported
by Sherpa sponsors in Shorung is actually done by shamans from non-
Sherpa castes. Just as Sherpa employ Nepali service castes to sew
and smith for them, they also bring in outside specialists on many
occasions when as shamanistic cure is in order, employing Chetri,
Newar or other caste shamans living within the Sherpa area. This
accounts for a good deal of the shamanizing that goes on in Sherpa
villages, but may in no way be described as Sherpa shamanism. It
is performed in NepZli, employing a set of cultural ideas which
a r e n o t Sherpa i n o r i g i n .

F u r t h e r m o r e , some of t h e i d e a s and symbols from t h e s e non-Sherpa


N e p a l i g r o u p s have found t h e i r way i n t o Sherpa p r a c t i c e a s w e l l , s o
t h a t what Sherpa shamanism t h e r e i s c o n t a i n s i d e a s which a r e b o t h
T i b e t a n and N e p a l i i n o r i g i n .

A s a h e a l i n g t e c h n i q u e , i n d i g e n o u s Sherpa shamanism h a s t o com-


p e t e n o t o n l y w i t h imported N e p a l i shamanism, b u t w i t h s e v e r a l
o t h e r h e a l i n g t e c h n i q u e s . Western medicine i s making i m p o r t a n t i n -
r o a d s , and commands w i d e s p r e a d and p e r h a p s somewhat e x a g g e r a t e d
r e s p e c t - from t h e S h e r p a , t h a n k s - t o i t s e f f e c t i v e a d m i n i s t r a t i o n by
v a r i o u s m o u n t a i n e e r i n g and s c i e n t i f i c e x p e d i t i o n s , and e s p e c i a l l y
t h r o u g h t h e e f f o r t s o f S i r Edmund H i l l a r y .

Western medicine i s n o t , however, n e c e s s a r i l y u n d e r s t o o d by t h e


Sherpa t o b e i n d i r e c t c o m p e t i t i o n w i t h o t h e r h e a l i n g t e c h n i q u e s .
I t i s r e c o g n i z e d t h a t medicine c u r e s symptoms, b u t t h a t t h e c a u s e s
o f many d i s e a s e s a r e p u r p o s e f u l s u p e r n a t u r a l a g e n t s , o r t h e c o n s c i o u s
o r u n c o n s c i o u s a g e n c i e s o f o t h e r p e o p l e , and t h a t i n such c a s e s ,
medicine c a n o n l y r e l i e v e t h e p h y s i c a l damage t h e y do, n o t e l i m i n a t e
o r f o i l t h e i n t e n t i o n s which a r e a t t h e r o o t o f t h e i l l n e s s . For
t h i s , some form o f s u p e r n a t u r a l c u r e i s r e q u i r e d . In general, t h e
Sherpa a t t i t u d e i n t h i s p a r t i c u l a r r e g a r d i s t o t r y a s many c u r e s
a s p o s s i b l e , and l e t a hundred f l o w e r s bloom.

But i n t h e r e a l m of s u p e r n a t u r a l c u r i n g i t s e l f , Sherpa shamanism


h a s t o compete w i t h a v a r i e t y o f t e c h n i q u e s which f a l l w i t h i n t h e
d o c t r i n a l c o n f i n e s of t h e S h e r p a r e l i g i o n , t h e Sang-Ngak ( S e c r e t
Formula) b r a n c h o f t h e Nying-ma-wa (Old One) s e c t o f T i b e t a n Budd-
hism. These i n c l u d e : m e d i c i n e s p r e p a r e d and bestowed w i t h r e l i g i o u s
power by h i g h o r r e i n c a r n a t e m, or by 2- doctors according t o
Tibetan medical lore;. d o c t r i n a l c u r i n g r i t u a l s with w r i t t e n t e x t s
which may be c h a n t e d by monks, nuns, o r m a r r i e d m-; and r e l i g i o u s
r i t u a l s which a r e knowfi and performed by laymen w i t h some knowledge
of t h e r e l i g i o u s t e x t s .

There i s a l s o a n a t i v e h e r b a l l o r e which c a n be u s e d t o e f f e c t
c u r e s . Some laymen a r e t h o u g h t t o have s p e c i a l powers s u c h t h a t
h e r b s a d m i n i s t e r e d by them w i l l b e more e f f e c t i v e t h a n t h e same
t h i n g t a k e n by t h e p a t i e n t a l o n e .

Not o n l y t h e h e a l i n g f u n c t i o n s b u t a l s o v a r i o u s o t h e r d u t i e s o f t e n
u n d e r t a k e n by shamans, s u c h a s d i v i n a t i o n , f i n d i n g l o s t o b j e c t s ,
and i d e n t i f y i n g m a l e f a c t o r s , c a n a l s o b e accomplished i n Sherpa c u l -
t u r e by I&d, o r by laymen w i t h a l i t t l e r e l i g i o u s t r a i n i n g , (which
most have h a d ) o r by t r a d i t i o n a l s i m p l e r i t u a l t e c h n i q u e s , s u c h a s
d i v i n i n g w i t h r o s a r y beads.

A s a f i n a l n o t e on t h e e r o s i o n o f shamanism i n Sherpa c u l t u r e , it
i s e s s e n t i a l t o mention t h a t t h e c e n t r a l f e a t u r e o f c l a s s i c a l sham-
anism, t h e journey t o t h e l a n d o f t h e d e a d , e i t h e r i n t h e sky o r
under ground, and i t s a t t e n d a n t symbolism, h a s been almost corn-
p l e t e l y i n c o r p o r a 5 e d l o n g ago w i t h i n t h e f o r m a l d o c t r i n e of t h e
~ i b e t a nBuddhist r e l i g i o n . What used t o b e t h e spontaneous ecs-
t a t i c e x p e r i e n c e of a s i n g l e i n d i v i d u a l became f o r m a l i z e d i n t o a
r i t u a l embodied i n t e x t s and c a p a b l e of b e i n g evoked t h r o u g h recit-
a t i o n i n a n i n s t i t u t i o n a l r e l i g i o u s c o n t e x t . T h i s i s accomplished
t h r o u g h ceremonies which may once have been s h a m a n i s t i c , b u t now
t a k e p l a c e i n a Buddhist c o n t e x t , and i n a c o n t e x t n o t r e l a t e d t o
curing.

There i s a s e p a r a t e i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d r o l e i n Sherpa c u l t u r e ,
t h a t of t h e da 20 ma ( h e l l - r e t u r n e d - f e m a l e one, i . e . , woman who
h a s been t o h e l l and b a c k ) , who may be a l a y woman, who undergoes
t h e c l a s s i c shamanic voyage, and h a s e x t r a o r d i n a r y knowledge bes-
towed on h e r , a s w e l l a s becoming a r e c e p t a c l e o f merit f o r t h e
community. She d i f f e r s from a shaman, however, i n t h a t h e r voyage
o c c u r s once, w h i l e s h e a p p e a r s t o be r e a l l y dead, and i s n o t v o l -
u n t a r i l y r e p e a t a b l e . The r o l e of da 20 ma i s o f t e n e q u a t e d by
Sherpa w i t h t h e s u p e r n a t u r a l c a t e g o r y of kang do rm (sky-going-
female o n e ) , t h e D a k i n i o f I n d i a n l o r e who p l a y a major r o l e i n
m e d i t a t i o n a s m e d i a t o r s between e a r t h and heaven. Many Sherpa
Buddhist r i t u a l s i n t h e m o n a s t i c s e t t i n g i n v o l v e t h e e f f o r t through
t e x t u a l r e c i t a t i o n , v i s u a l i z a t i o n , t h e wearing of a p p r o p r i a t e cos-
tumes, and t h e performance o f t h e f i r e s a c r i f i c e , (which h a s o r i g i n s
i n I r a n i a n c u l t u r e and t h e shamanic c o m p l e s ) , t o a c h i e v e an i d e n t i -
f i c a t i o n of t h e c e l e b r a n t w i t h t h e kang do m. I n b o t h c a s e s , a n
i d e a which i s c l e a r l y shamanic i n t h e c l a s s i c a l s e n s e h a s been i n s -
t i t u t i o n a l i z e d i n s u c h a way t h a t i t i s no l o n g e r t h e p r e r o g a t i v e
o f t h e shaman.

Along t h e same l i n e s , it may b e mentioned t h a t the T i b e t a n Buddhis


i d e a of t h e r e i n c a r n a t e &6, t h e s a i n t o r B o d h i s a t t v a who i s r e b o r n
o v e r and o v e r t o f u l f i l l h i s m i s s i o n on e a r t h , can be i n t e r p r e t e d as
y e t a n o t h e r symbolic t r a n s f o r m a t i o n o f t h e shamanic c o n c e p t i o n o f
t h e r e l i g i o u s v i r t u o s o who g o e s t h r o u g h t h e e x p e r i e n c e of d e a t h ,
j o u r n e y s t o t h e l a n d o f t h e dead, s u r v i v e s t h e p h y s i c a l d e s t r u c t i o n
o f h i s body, and r e t u r n s t o l i f e t r i u m p h a n t o v e r d e a t h and w i t h
s p e c i a l powers. The r e i n c a r n a t e &15 a c c o m p l i s h e s t h i s f e a t n o t
t h r o u g h e c s t a t i c s o u l f l i g h t , b u t by a c t u a l l y dying and b e i n g r e b o r n
as a p i n f a n t , b u t one w i t h c h a r i s m a t i c a u t h o r i t y . The Sherpa r e i n -
c a r n a t e &?i may p o s s e s s p e c i a l h e a l i n g powers, d i v i n i n g powers,
power t o c o n v e r s e w i t h s u p e r n a t u r a l s , and power t o i d e n t i f y m i s -
c r e a n t s , t h u s once a g a i n c l e a r l y e n c r o a c h i n g on t h e t r a d i t i o n a l do-
main of t h e shaman.

The many o t h e r i d e a s and symbols i n modern T i b e t a n Buddhism w h ~ c h


a r e c l e a r l y r e l a t e d t o shamanism - t h e drum, t h e winged h o r s e of
good l u c k , the r o p e s l i d e , t h e s k e l e t o n dance, t h e chod ceremony
i n which t h e body i s o f f e r e d t o c a n n i b a l demons - t h e s e and o t h e r s
a r e w e l l enough known n o t t o r e q u i r e f u r t h e r d i s c u s s i o n h e r e .
N o t w i t h s t a n d i n g a l l t h e s e c a u t i o n a r y remarks, however, a sep-
a r a t e c l e a r and d i s t i n c t S h e r p a c a t e g o r y c o r r e s p o n d i n g t o t h e
shaman s t i l l s u r v i v e s , though t h r e a t e n e d on e v e r y hand a s I have
d e s c r i b e d . T h e r e i s i n Sherpa c u l t u r e t h e r o l e o f a n o n - c l e r i c a l
c u r e r who h e a l s by e n t e r i n g i n t o t r a n c e o r a l t e r e d s t a t e i n t h e
c o u r s e o f which h e j o u r n e y s t o t h e o t h e r w o r l d , manages t o make
d i r e c t c o n t a c t w i t h t h e gods f o r p u r p o s e s o f d i s c o v e r i n g t h e s u p e r -
n a t u r a l s o u r c e of i l l n e s s and i t s p o s s i b l e c u r e , and may a l s o ex-
h i b i t o t h e r o r a c u l a r powers. Such a p e r s o n may be known i n Sherpa
a s h l a - m (God One); min-dung ( c o r r u p t i o n o f mik-tong, t o s e e w i t h
t h e e y e s ) ; o r pen-bu (Bon-po, p r a c t i o n e r o f t h e Bon r e l i g i o n , t h e
p r e - B u d d h i s t r e l i g i o n o f T i b e t , s t i l l s u r v i v i n g i n some a r e s o f
Nepal, and i d e n t i f i e d by t h e s h e r p a s w i t h shamanism).

I n t h e v a l l e y i n which I worked, p o p u l a t e d by s e v e r a l hundred


S h e r p a s , t h e r e were o n l y f o u r hla-wa t h a t I knew o f , and a l l o f
them had g i v e n up shamanizing e i t h e r c o m p l e t e l y o r a l m o s t c o m p l e t e l y .
I n t h e same v a l l e y , t h e much s m a l l e r Newar and C h e t r i p o p u l a t i o n
produced more shamans whose s e r v i c e s were more i n demand. Three o f
t h e f o u r Sherpa shamans I knew were male, and one was a woman whose
d i s t i n c t i v e f e a t u r e seemed t o b e b a r r e n n e s s . None had e v e r made a
l i v i n g f u l l t i m e from s h a m a n i z i n g , though o n e had s u b s t a n t i a l l y
augmented h i s income w i t h i t . Though I n e v e r saw any o f them a c -
t u a l l y p e r f o r m a c u r e , I was a b l e t o r e c o n s t r u c t some a s p e c t s o f
S h e r p a shamanism on t h e b a s i s o f i n t e r v i e w s w i t h them. (I d i d
however w i t n e s s a number o f s 6 a n c e s by N e p a l i and T i b e t a n shamans,
b o t h i n Shorung and t h e Khurnbu) .
The t h e o r y o f i l l n e s s on which Sherpa shamanism i s b a s e d p o s t u -
l a t e s t h a t most d i s e a s e i s v i s i t e d upon one a s a r e s u l t o f o f f e n d i n g
o r n e g l e c t i n g one o f t h e v a r i o u s c l a s s e s o f s u p e r n a t u r a l b e i n g s who
p o p u l a t e t h e S h e r p a u n i v e r s e . These s u p e r n a t u r a l s w i l l withdraw
t h e i r ill w i l l and hence t h e c a u s e o f t h e d i s e a s e i f t h e y a r e pro-
p i t i a t e d w i t h o f f e r i n g s o r s a c r i f i c e s , o r decoyed w i t h s c a p e g o a t s .
The shaman's t a s k i s t h e r e f o r e t o d i s c o v e r which s u p e r n a t u r a l a g e n t
i s a t work, and t o f i n d o u t what h e w a n t s a s t h e p r i c e o f g r a n t i n g
health t o the patient.

T h e r e f o r e , t h e shaman's e s s e n t i a l s k i l l must be t h e a b i l i t y t o
p h y s i c a l l y c o n f r o n t t h e g o d s , c o n v e r s e w i t h them, and b a r g a i n w i t h
them. It is t h i s d i r e c t contact, t h i s 'seeing with t h e eyes', t h a t
makes t h e shaman's r o l e d i s t i n c t i v e and a l s o t r o u b l e s o m e f o r t h e
S h e r p a . I t i s c e r t a i n l y an abnormal a b i l i t y t o have - and one which
2- may s t r i v e f o r y e a r s t o a c h i e v e t h r o u g h r i g o r o u s m e d i t a t i o n
t e c h n i q u e s . The Sherpa s a y t h a t d i r e c t c o n t a c t w i t h t h e s u p e r n a t u r a l
f o r one who i s n o t p r o p e r l y p r e p a r e d makes o n e c r a z y . T h i s c a n happen
t o a ZiirnZ who d a b b l e s i n m y s t i c a l p r a c t i c e s beyond h i s a b i l i t y , o r
may o c c u r b e c a u s e of a c c i d e n t a l l y s e e i n g a g h o s t o r o t h e r low l e v e l
s p i r i t wandering a b o u t .

Shamans have t h e i r c a l l i n g ' a n n o u n c e d t o them, u s u a l l y i n t h e i r


e a r l y o r middle t e e n s , by a b o u t o f c r a z i n e s s which may l a s t any-
where from a few weeks t o two y e a r s . I n this c r a z i n e s s , t h e d i v i n e
m a n i f e s t s i t s e l f t o them, b u t i n s o c h a o t i c and overpowering a way
t h a t t h e y a r e overcome and go mad. But a s E l i a d e h a s r i g h t l y p o i n t e d
o u t , a shaman i s t o b e d i s t i n g u i s h e d from a madman i n t h a t he h a s
managed t o c u r e h i m s e l f of h i s madness, t h a t is, l e a r n e d t o c o n t r o l
and n o t b e a t t h e mercy o f t h e d i v i n e powers. (See R i n e h a r d ' s d e f -
i n i t i o n a r t i c l e i n t h i s volume. Also H i t c h c o c k ' s a r t i c l e ) .

G r a d u a l l y t h e u n c o n t r o l l e d c r a z i n e s s o r g a n i z e s i t s e l f , and t h e
shaman's t u t e l a r y god makes h i s i d e n t i t y known, and i n s t r u c t s him
i n t h e t e c h n i q u e s of sharnanizing. The shaman r e c e i v e s no o t h e r
i n s t r u c t i o n e x c e p t t h a t from h i s t u t e l a r y god. The t u t e l a r y god
i s i d e n t i f i e d i n t h e c a s e s o f which I knew w i t h t h e N e p a l i f o r e s t
god, Ban ~ h g k r i , r a t h e r t h a n w i t h any n a t i v e Sherpa god. T h i s i s
p e r h a p s t h e most i m p o r t a n t a s p e c t o f d i r e c t N e p a l i i n f l u e n c e on
Sherpa r e l i g i o u s c u l t u r e , and I have no p l a u s i b l e e x p l a n a t i o n f o r
it, o t h e r t h a n t h a t N e p a l i shamanism i s a more v i s i b l e model o f a
s h a m a n i s t i c complex f o r t h e Shorung Sherpa t h a n i s t h e i r more remote
T i b e t a n h e r i t a g e , b o t h i n t i m e and s p a c e . The symbolism o f t h e
f o r e s t , and i t s l o c a l N e p a l i god, i s c o n s i s t e n t w i t h t h e i d e a o f
madness and w i l d n e s s , s i n c e it i s s a i d t h a t d u r i n g t h e i r i n i t i a t o r y
c r a z i n e s s , shamans t a k e t o t h e f o r e s t and behave i n a savage o r
u n c i v i l i z e d manner.

A shaman emerges from h i s c r a z i n e s s w i t h a p e r s o n a l t e c h n i q u e f o r


i n d u c i n g d i v i n e c o n t a c t , u s u a l l y made up o f e l e m e n t s o f Buddhist
r i t u a l , and i n some c a s e s w i t h N e p a l i e l e m e n t s a s w e l l . Having es-
t a b l i s h e d c o n t a c t w i t h h i s t u t e l a r y d e i t y , he can g o on t h r o u g h him
t o b e i n t r o d u c e d t o t h e o t h e r s u p e r n a t u r a l s w i t h whom he must d e a l .

The e x t r a o r d i n a r y power o f d i v i n e c o n t a c t i s c a l l e d ngak, t h e


word a l s o u s e d t o r e f e r t o t h e power which a l h - a c q u i r e s t h r o u g h
a series o f i n i t i a t i o n s , t r a n s m i t t e d by a g u r u and p e r f e c t e d by
t h e r e a d i n g and c o n t e m p l a t i o n o f w r i t t e n t e x t s i n c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h
a s c e t i c p r a c t i c e s . Ngak i s an e s s e n t i a l element i n any Sherpa re-
l i g i o u s ceremony, and r i t u a l s performed by a m- o r shaman who
h a s l o s t h i s ngak, a s may happen t h r o u g h p o l l u t i o n , a r e no more
e f f e c t i v e t h a n j u s t s i n g i n g and d a n c i n g , a s t h e Sherpa n i c e l y p u t
it.

The shaman d o e s n o t become p o s s e s s e d by t h e gods: t h i s i s p r e -


c i s e l y t h e o p p o s i t e o f what happens. R a t h e r t h a n g i v i n g up h i s ego
t o t h e gods, t h e S h e r p a shaman a t t e m p t s t o impdse h i s own w i l l on
t h e gods, t o c o n t r o l them r a t h e r t h a n b e i n g c o n t r o l l e d by them.
More s p e c i f i c a l l y , he c o n f r o n t s t h e gods, by i n v i t i n g them t o b e
h i s g u e s t s i n a s p i r i t u a l house. H i s a l t a r must t h u s c o n t a i n amen-
i t i e s f o r t h e gods, i n c l u d i n g o f f e r i n g s o f food and d r i n k , i n c e n s e ,
which i s p l e a s i n g t o t h e gods, and a c u s h i o n f o r them t o s i t o n ,
r e p r e s e n t e d by c u p s f u l l o f g r a i n . (For more on t h e symbolism o f
grain a s carpet o r s e a t , see Ortner, 1973).
The shaman s i t s b e f o r e t h e a l t a r w i t h h i s l e g s f o l d e d . H e be-
g i n s t o u s e whatever i s h i s p e r s o n a l formula f o r summoning t h e
t u t e l a r y god, and accompanies h i m s e l f on t h e drum, u s i n g t h e same
k i n d of drum which i s used i n o r t h o d o x Buddhist c h a n t i n g , b u t
b e a t i n g i t from t h e back s i d e . (The symbolism o f shamanism a s t h e
o p p o s i t e of Buddhism, o r anti-Buddhism w i l l c o n c e r n me i n t h e second
s e c t i o n of t h i s p a p e r ) .

Soon t h e shaman's l e g s b e g i n t o s h a k e , and it i s t h i s s h a k i n g


which i s t h e key s i g n o f t h e p r e s e n c e o f ngak. G r a d u a l l y t h e
s h a k i n g e x t e n d s t o t h e whole body. According t o my most e x p l i c i t
i n f o r m a n t , t h e d i a l o g u e w i t h t h e god t h e n b e g i n s , when t h e s h a k i n g
h a s l e d t h e shaman i n t o an a l t e r e d s t a t e o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s , w i t h
t h e shaman v e r b a l i z i n g b o t h s i d e s o f t h e exchange. The shaman e n t e r s
t h e house he u s e s t o e n t e r t a i n t h e g o d s , i n t h e sky o r i n t h e f o r e s t ,
welcomes them i n , o f f e r s them a s e a t , and g i v e s them food and d r i n k ,
a s one would d o w i t h a human g u e s t .

A f t e r t h e a p p r o p r i a t e f o r m a l i t i e s are o u t o f t h e way, t h e b a r -
g a i n i n g b e g i n s : t h e o f f e n d e d god, i n t r o d u c e d by t h e t u t e l a r y god,
i d e n t i f i e s h i m s e l f a n d t h e n announces what he i s d i s s a t i s f i e d a b o u t ,
and what he would a c c e p t a s a n o f f e r i n g . T h i s i s t h e d i a g n o s t i c a s -
p e c t o f t h e s e s s i o n , and t h e o n l y p a r t done i n t r a n c e . The shaman
c a n t h e n go on, h a v i n g l e a r n e d what o f f e r i n g s a r e a p p r o p r i a t e , t o
a c t u a l l y make t h e o f f e r i n g , and t o f i n d o u t i f t h e y have been re-
c e i v e d and have i n f a c t s a t i s f i e d t h e god. However, t h e o f f e r i n g s
o r i g i n a t e from t h e s p o n s o r o f t h e ceremony, n o t form t h e shaman.

The shaman i s p a i d i n g r a i n o r c a s h o r b o t h , u s u a l l y a b o u t t e n
rupees. But judging by t h e f r e q u e n c y w i t h which Sherpa shamans
p e r f o r m i n Shorung, t h i s c a n ' t have much i m p a c t on t h e i r income.
Shamanizing i s always done a t n i g h t , a f t e r t h e d a y ' s work and when
t h e gods are more a c c e s s i b l e , i n t h e house o f t h e s p o n s o r o f t h e
ceremony and i n t h e p r e s e n c e of t h e p a t i e n t . The members of t h e
f a m i l y a r e a l s o p r e s e n t , and it may be a r g u e d t h a t it i k f o r them
t h a t t h e ceremony i s performed. More o f t e n t h a n n o t , t h e p a t i e n t
i s a n i n f a n t , a s e n i l e p e r s o n , o r a p e r s o n so s i c k a s t o be beyond
communication, a n d s o t h e performance o f t h e ceremony c a n n o t be
i n t e r p r e t e d t o depend on t h e p s y c h o l o g i c a l impact o f t h e c u r e on
t h e p a t i e n t himself. Indeed, shamanizing may even be done f o r s i c k
cows and y a k s , which e f f e c t i v e l y r u l e s o u t a t h e s i s e x p l a i n i n g
S h e r p a shamanism a s a s o r t o f p r i m a r y p s y c h o t h e r a p y f o r t h e p a t i e n t
himself.

However, t h e f a m i l y o f t h e p a t i e n t i s made t o f e e l by t h e shaman


t h a t it i s d o i n g a l l t h a t can be done, by making o f f e r i n g s t o t h e
gods, and a l s o presumably by a t o n i n g t h r o u g h s a c r i f i c e f o r whatever
g u i l t t h e y may f e e l a s a p s y c h o l o g i c a l r e a c t i o n t o t h e i l l n e s s o f
t h e r e l a t i v e , toward whom t h e y d o u b t l e s s have h a r b o u r e d some grudge,
ill w i l l , o r r e s e n t m e n t a t some l e v e l .
I n a d d i t i o n t o d e a l i n g w i t h d i s e a s e , shamans may u s e t h e i r
c o n t a c t w i t h t h e gods t o d i v i n e , t o f i n d l o s t o b j e c t s , i d e n t i f y
c r i m i n a l s , and p e r f o r m b l a c k magic, s u c h a s k i l l i n g enemies of
t h e s p o n s o r o r s e d u c i n g women f o r him. These a c t i v i t i e s o b v i o u s l y
r e q u i r e d i s c r e t i o n , and shamans made it c l e a r t o me t h a t t h e y
n e v e r e x p l i c i t l y i d e n t i f y c r i m i n a l s t o o c l e a r l y , f o r f e a r of
getting i n t o trouble. I h e a r d a b o u t a monk, a r e i n c a r n a t e Z M ,
and a da-lo-ma a l l of whom d o t i n t o t r o u b l e by b e i n g t o o c e r t a i n
i n i d e n t i f y i n g e v i l - d o e r s on t h e b a s i s o f s u p e r n a t u r a l i n f o r m a t i o n .
I a l s o h e a r d a Sherpa man swear t h a t i f he c o u l d f i n d t h e shaman
who had b l i n d e d h i s grandmother, he would send t h e p o l i c e a f t e r
him, s o t h e shamans' f e a r s i n t h i s r e s p e c t a r e well-founded.

The one shaman I knew who claimed t o have been a master of t h e


b l a c k a r t s a l s o claimed t o have g i v e n it up l o n g s i n c e , and r e f u s e d
t o be v e r y e x p l i c i t a b o u t h i s a c t i v i t i e s . T h i s same shaman claimed
t o have been a b l e t o f l y d u r i n g h i s s e a n c e s , and when d e a l i n g w i t h
r e f r a c t o r y d e i t i e s t o do b a t t l e w i t h them i n m i d a i r w i t h h i s myst-
i c a l t h r e e s i d e d d a g g e r . F i g h t i n g w i t h gods o r demons may be
r e s o r t e d t o by any shaman i f a more g e n t e e l approach h a s n o t
worked.

E v e r y t h i n g t h a t a shaman d o e s i n Sherpa c u l t u r e can be accom-


p l i s h e d by some o t h e r means - t h e r e i s no s i t u a t i o n which r e q u i r e s
a shaman and n o t h i n g e l s e . Diagnosing of i l l n e s s c a n b e done by
t r a d i t i o n a l f o l k t e c h n i q u e s , o r by t e x t u a l d i v i n a t i o n ; and o f f e r -
i n g s c a n b e made d i r e c t l y t o gods w i t h o u t s h a m a n i s t i c i n t e r v e n t i o n .
There i s a g e n e r a l i z e d exorcism ceremony, t h e kurim, which b a n i s h e s
e v i l i n f l u e n c e and m a l e v o l e n t demons from a household i n a n a l l
i n c l u s i v e way, and may a l s o b e used f o r any i l l n e s s . The kurim i s
u s u a l l y performed by v i l l a g e 2-. Given a c h o i c e , t h e Sherpa
p r e f e r e n c e i s d e f i n i t e l y f o r t h e t e x t u a l ceremony r a t h e r t h a n t h e
shaman. One i n f o r m a n t s a i d t o m e t h a t one c a n n e v e r be s u r e i f a
shaman r e a l l y sees t h e gods and i s r e a l l y s h a k i n g from ngak, o r
whether it i s a l l an a c t . But i n t h e c a s e of liimii, t h e i r ngak
is c e r t i f i a b l e , h a v i n g been bestowed i n a n i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d way,
a n d t h e i r ceremonies conform t o t h e w r i t t e n books, which c a n n o t
l i e , r a t h e r t h a n t h e i r own p e r s o n a l whims. I t behoves u s , t h e r e -
f o r e , t o examine i n t h e n e x t s e c t i o n o f t h i s p a p e r t h e i n s t i t u t i o n
of Sherpa shamanism i n d i r e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p t o and c o n t r a s t w i t h
t h e o r t h o d o x Buddhist t r a d i t i o n .

From t h e Sherpa p o i n t o f view t h e shaman i s anomalous, because


he s t a n d s t h e normal o r d e r o f t h i n g s u p s i d e down. H e i s an ord-
i n a r y layman who h a s t h e ngak o f a m y s t i c a l m a s t e r of t h e d o c t r i n e .
H i s l i f e i s n o t g u i d e d by any p a r t i c u l a r f o r m a l moral o r e t h i c a l
code, a s i s t h e monk's; n o r i s h e c o n s i d e r e d a r e c e p t a c l e o f
s a c r e d power o r c h a r i s m a w i t h t h e a b i l i t y t o bestow m e r i t a s an
o b j e c t o f w o r s h i p , as i s t h e c a s e w i t h a r e i n c a r n a t e - or
da-lo-m. H i s power i s n o t a c q u i r e d o r used i n c o n j u n c t i o n w i t h
any f o r m a l o r i n s t i t u t i o n a l t r a i n i n g o r s t u d y , n o r d o e s it c o r r e s -
pond t o any h i g h p o s i t i o n on any s o c i a l o r r e l i g i o u s h i e r a r c h y .
I t is c e r t a i n l y c o n t r a r y t o t h e S h e r p a view o f t h i n g s t o have an
o r d i n a r y f e l l o w w i e l d i n g s u c h power.

To p e r f e c t h i m s e l f a c c o r d i n g t o Buddhism, a p e r s o n must submit


t o u n i v e r s a l laws and submerge h i s p e r s o n a l e g o and w i l l i n t h e
t r a n s c e n d e n t a l and e t e r n a l ; a f t e r h a v i n g done s o , he may emerge
a s a p o w e r f u l and m e r i t o r i o u s p e r s o n a l i t y , and a n a p p r o p r i a t e o u t -
l e t f o r t h e d i v i n e i n s o c i e t y . But a shaman r e t a i n s h i s own
p e r s o n a l i t y , and a t t e m p t s t o impose h i s own p r o f a n e and u n d i s c i p -
l i n e d c o n t r o l o v e r t h e g o d s (though n o t o v e r t h e h i g h gods o f t h e
r e l i g i o n who a r e beyond h i s r e a c h ) .

The t r i u m p h o f Buddhism o v e r shamanism a s a h i s t o r i c a l e v e n t i n


T i b e t i s c o n c e i v e d o f by t h e S h e r p a a s n o t o n l y d e m o n s t r a t i n g t h e
g r e a t e r power o f t h e f o u n d e r o f T i b e t a n Buddhism, t h e Guru
Rimpsche, i n terms of s h e e r ngak, b u t a l s o a s r e p r e s e n t i n g t h e
d i s c o v e r y o f t h e t r u e m o r a l p r i n c i p l e s o f t h e u n i v e r s e , and t h u s
b e i n g a g r e a t step f o r w a r d i n t h e p r o g r e s s o f c i v i l i z a t i o n . Sub-
sequent r e l i g i o u s h i s t o r y i n t h e Tibetan c u l t u r e area c o n s i s t s i n
t h e growth o f i n s t i t u t i o n s , h i e r a r c h i e s , w r i t t e n t e x t s , i n s h o r t ,
t h e r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n , n o t t o s a y r o u t i n i z a t i o n , of charisma.

There i s a whole body o f S h e r p a f o l k l o r e d e a l i n g w i t h compet-


i t i o n between Buddhism and shamanism, and t h e u l t i m a t e t r i u m p h of
Buddhism. V a r i o u s landmarks i n t h e Solu-Khumbu a r e s a c r e d s h r i n e s
r e p r e s e n t i n g s p o t s where c r u c i a l v i c t o r i e s were won by 2 6 6 o v e r
shamans i n t e s t s o f s t r e n g t h or r e l i g i o u s power. A s a n example,
I may mention a t a l e a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a d i s t i n c t i v e d e p r e s s i o n j u s t
below t h e summit o f a c e r t a i n snowy peak.

I t i s s a i d t h a t a 2 5 5 , sometimes i d e n t i f i e d w i t h t h e Guru
Rimpoche, f o u n d e r o f T i b e t a n Buddhism, c h a l l e n g e d a g r e a t shaman
t o a t e s t o f power. They p r o v e d t o be a l m o s t e x a c t l y e q u a l i n
s u c h e v e n t s as f l y i n g , l i f t i n g huge r o c k s , l e a v i n g h a n d p r i n t s i n
s t o n e , and t h e r e s t . F i n a l l y , a mountain c l i m b i n g r a c e was pro-
p o s e d . The shaman began t o c l i m b i n t h e m i d d l e o f t h e n i g h t ,
l o n g b e f o r e dawn. A s he c l i m b e d , he looked back and saw t h a t t h e
w a s s t i l l i n bed a s l e e p . H e climbed h i g h e r and h i g h e r , and
as dawn approached, found h i m s e l f j u s t t h r e e p a c e s below t h e
summit. H e t u r n e d a r o u n d and saw t h e la'& s t i l l i n bed. In his
joy o v e r h i s a p p a r e n t s u r e v i c t o r y , h e began t o d o a d a n c e , c a u s i n g
a d e p r e s s i o n i n t h e mountain. But a s h e was engaged i n h i s p r e -
mature c e l e b r a t i o n , t h e dawn came and t h e s u n b u r s t o v e r t h e
mountain peak, s e n d i n g a sunbeam down t o t h e v a l l e y below. The
&El h a v i n g a r i s e n , mounted t h e sunbeam and g l i d e d i n an i n s t a n t
t o t h e mountain p e a k , t h u s f i n a l l y p r o v i n g h i s s u p e r i o r i t y . By
this and o t h e r measures, t h e s u p e r c e s s i o n o f shamanism by Buddhism
was a s s u r e d .
The r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n p r o c e s s i s e v i d e n t i n r e c e n t Sherpa h i s t o r y .
Within t h e l a s t f i f t y y e a r s , c e l i b a t e monasticism h a s been i n t r o -
duced and s p r e a d , r e p l a c i n g t h e e a r l i e r system o f v i l l a g e - b a s e d
m a r r i e d %d, p e r m i t t e d w i t h i n t h e r u l e s o f t h e Nying-ma-wa sect.
Monasticism i s more f o r m a l , more r a t i o n a l i n Weber's terms, more
h i e r a r c h i c a l , and more r i g o r o u s . Whereas r e l i g i o u s v i r t u o s i t y
may once have c o i n c i d e d f o r t h e Sherpa w i t h m a g i c a l power o r
c h a r i s m a , which c o u l d be' had by v i l l a g e 2%- o r shamans, t o d a y it
c o r r e s p o n d s t o o b e d i e n c e t o a h i g h number o f moral r e g u l a t i o n s .
I have no p a r t i c u l a r h y p o t h e s i s t o p u t f o r w a r d a s t o why t h i s
s h o u l d b e t h e c a s e , o t h e r t h a n t h a t it seems t o b e t h e o v e r a l l
d i r e c t i o n o f t h e movement o f h i s t o r y , a s Weber and H e g e l i a n s
b e f o r e him p o i n t e d o u t .

The shaman d o e s n o t f a r e w e l l i n t h e c o n t e x t o f t h e i n c r e a s e d
emphasis on d i s t a n c e between t h e i n d i v i d u a l and d i r e c t r e l i g i o u s
e x p e r i e n c e , and t h e i n t e r p o s i t i o n o f r u l e - g u i d e d means between a
man and e c s t a s y . The f a c t t h a t t o d a y even monasticism i s b r e a k i n g
down i n t h e Solu-Khumbu d o e s n o t , it seems t o m e , r e v e r s e t h e
t r e n d and pave t h e way f o r a r e b i r t h of shamanism, b u t i s r a t h e r
t h e r e s u l t of t h e even g r e a t e r p r o c e s s of r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n b r o u g h t
a b o u t by m o d e r n i z a t i o n and c o n t a c t w i t h world c u l t u r e . However,
S h e r p a c u l t u r e w i l l no d o u b t p a s s t h r o u g h a p e r i o d o f c u l t u r a l
anomie a s monasticism b r e a k s down and b e f o r e i t i s r e p l a c e d by a
v i a b l e modernized c u l t u r e i n t e g r a t e d i n t o t h e n a t i o n a l l i f e , and
it i s q u i t e c o n c e i v a b l e t h a t d u r i n g t h i s p e r i o d t h e r e may b e o u t -
b r e a k s of e c s t a t i c r e l i g i o u s phenomena i n one form o r a n o t h e r .

The d i s t i n c t i o n between lamaism and shamanism may be d e s c r i b e d


a l s o i n terms of lamaism's o r i e n t a t i o n towards d e a t h and t h e n e x t
l i f e ; w h i l e shamanism i s concerned w i t h h e a l t h and s u c c e s s i n t h i s
one. V i t a l n a t u r a l e n e r g y i s e n c l o s e d i n r u l e s and b o u n d a r i e s i n
lamaism, and p l u n g e d d i r e c t l y i n t o by shamanism. & are con-
c e r n e d w i t h t h e b o u n d a r i e s o f l i f e , shamans w i t h t h e power o f
life itself.

P e r h a p s I c a n symbolize t h i s dichotomy n e a t l y by p o i n t i n g o u t
t h e d i f f e r e n c e i n b e h a v i o u r between t h e Sherpa a n d Rai p i l g r i m s
t o t h e Milk Lake, i n which l i v e s a p o w e r f u l w i s h - g r a n t i n g goddess.
The c a u t i o u s Sherpa g a i n t h e i r m e r i t by circumambulating t h e l a k e ,
t h a t i s by walking around t h e s o u r c e o f power and d e f i n i n g i t s
boundary. The R a i shamans and t h e i r f o l l o w e r s , on t h e o t h e r hand,
jump r i g h t i n t o t h e l a k e and are shaken w i t h t h e f r e n z y o f a c t u a l l y
b e i n g i n t h e s o u r c e o f t h e d i v i n e power. One might s a y , f o l l o w i n g
B u b e r ' s views on r e l i g i o u s e x p e r i e n c e , t h a t o r t h o d o x Sherpa Bud-
dhism a t t e m p t s t o e s t a b l i s h a n I-It r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h t h e d i v i n e ,
w h i l e slfamanism r e v e l s i n t h e d i r e c t I-Thou c o n f r o n t a t i o n . The
I-Thou e x p e r i e n c e i s a l s o p r e s e n t i n Sherpa Buddhism, b u t o n l y
a f t e r t h e m e d i a t i o n of f o r m a l and r a t i o n a l i z e d t e c h n i q u e s .

Another n i c e i l l u s t r a t i o n o f t h e d i f f e r e n c e i s c a p t u r e d i n t h e
Sherpa s a y i n g t h a t a 2-'s w i f e e a r n s s i n , and a shaman's w i f e
e a r n s m e r i t (an o b v i o u s l y a b s u r d p r o p o s i t i o n t o a S h e r p a ) . The
e x p l a n a t i o n f o r t h i s conundrum i s t h a t women o f t e n c o n t r o l house-
hold p u r s e s t r i n g s and a r e i n any c a s e thought t o be i n t e r e s t e d
o n l y i n m a t e r i a l t h i n g s , such a s money. Married ~ r m ai r e c a l l e d
on t o r e c i t e p r a y e r s whenever t h e r e i s a f u n e r a l i n t h e v i l l a g e ,
and a r e p a i d f o r t h e i r s e r v i c e s . T h e r e f o r e , a ZZrZ's w i f e hopes
t h a t many people w i l l d i e , a s i n f u l t h o u g h t , i n o r d e r f o r h e r
husband t o make a l o t of money.

But a shaman makes money from performing c u r e s , and t h e more


s u c c e s s f u l he i s a t i t , t h e b e t t e r a r e p u t a t i o n he w i l l have, and
t h e more o f t e n he w i l l be c a l l e d . T h e r e f o r e a shaman's wife hopes
t h a t s i c k people w i l l r e c o v e r a f t e r h e r husband's c u r e , and by
such benevolent t h o u g h t s accumulates m e r i t . T h i s i r o n i c a l recog-
n i t i o n by t h e Sherpa themselves of t h e shaman's a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h
l i f e and t h e 2-'s with death only a c t s a s a paradoxical s i d e -
l i g h t t o t h e f a c t t h a t liima' a r e t o be t a k e n much more s e r i o u s l y ,
d e a l i n g a s t h e y do w i t h s e r i o u s i s s u e s , and t h a t it i s more
worthy t o be concerned a b o u t t h e n e x t l i f e t h a n about t h i s one.
A f t e r a l l , t h e humour of t h e joke l i e s i n p r o v i n g by f a l l a c i o u s ,
b u t n o n e t h e l e s s v a l i d , l o g i c t h e t r u t h of an o b v i o u s l y absurd
idea.

Along t h e same l i n e s , I may p o i n t o u t t h a t while it i s t h e norm


f o r a Sherpa t o have one w i f e , b o t h monks and shamans d i v e r g e from
t h e norm, b u t i n o p p o s i t e d i r e c t i o n s . Whereas t h e i d e a l f o r t h e
monk i s c e l i b a c y , ( t h e i n s t i t u t i o n o f m a r r i e d Z&a' having f a l l e n
i n t o d i s f a v o u r i n r e c e n t t i m e s ) , t h e male shamans t h a t I knew a l l
had been m a r r i e d s e v e r a l t i m e s , and o n e , t h e one who claimed t h e
g r e a t e s t powers, h e l d t h e r e c o r d a s f a r a s I know of having had
seven wives i n sequence. I t t h u s a p p e a r s t h a t e m p i r i c a l l y
shamans d i v e r g e from t h e s e x u a l norm through e x c e s s r a t h e r t h a n
r e s t r i c t i o n , and i n t h i s way t o go a g a i n s t t h e mainstream of
a c c e p t e d Sherpa t h i n k i n g and m o r a l i t y .

I s h a l l conclude t h i s s k e t c h of t h e p r o c e s s of r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n
of r e l i g i o n among t h e Sherpa by mentioning t h a t i t works n o t o n l y
on a c u l t u r a l l e v e l b u t a l s o w i t h i n i n d i v i d u a l l i v e s . Two o f t h e
Shorung shamans I knew had g i v e n up shamanizing and become
v i l l a g e liima', and t h e o n l y son o f one had become a monk. One, an
o l d e r man who p r a c t i s e d t h e b l a c k a r t s i n h i s youth, gave up
shamanizing because a l l b u t one of h i s t h i r t e e n c h i l d r e n had d i e d ,
some under v e r y b i z a r r e c i r c u m s t a n c e s , and he took t h i s a s a s i g n
of s u p e r n a t u r a l d i s p l e a s u r e w i t h h i s wicked ways. A s he began t o
approach t h e end of h i s l i f e , he s a c r i f i c e d t o h i s god and asked
t o be r e l e a s e d from shamanizing work, and s i n c e t h a t time he h a s
devoted himself t o m e r i t o r i o u s a c t i v i t y , r e a d i n g t e x t s a t v i l l a g e
ceremonies, making a u s p i c i o u s c h a m s f o r p e o p l e , and r e f u s i n g t o
shamanize. He s t r e s s e d t h a t shamanism i n i t s e l f i s n e i t h e r good
nor e v i l , b u t it may be used f o r e g o - c e n t r i c , t h i s - w o r l d l y , and
even m a l i c i o u s ends; and w h i l e he i s proud of h i s wonder-working
youth, he is seriously concerned about his fate in the next life,
and for this he must turn to the orthodox religion. With the
waning of life, and the approach of death, wild, ecstatic, personal
shamanism gives way to controlled, formal, ethical and universal
Buddhism.

Another shaman began ehamanizing in his youth after an initial


madness, but, because of the pollution entailed in constantly
being around sick people, he began to lose his ngak, and when he
remarried he finally iost his ngak altogether. He remained inter-
ested in religion, but was too interested in sex to become a monk.
Nonetheless, as he got older and brought his life under control,
he also brought his religion under control, such that by now his
participation is almost entirely formal and textual.

We may thus conclude by reiterating that in the context of the


total Sherpa religious situation, shamanism must be seen as one
side of a structural dichotomy with lamaism or orthodox Buddhism
on the other, representing the different poles of a continuum
from ecstatic to formal, personal to universal, sexual to ascetic,
this-wordly to other-worldly, and so on. Furthermore, the
Buddhist side of this dichotomy is the clear official public
position subscribed to by almost everyone in the culture. Although
the opposite side of the picture is also there, and forms the root
of Sherpa shamanism, it is being driven underground by rational-
ization in the form of both routinization of religion and the
process of modernization, and we should not be very surprised,
though we may be saddened, if Sherpa shamanism soon becomes a
thing of the past.

Robert A. Paul
PART I1
SPIRIT POSSESSION IN
WESTERN NEPAL

Bhujel Matwala Khae shamans being questioned


when speaking for Dakkfn Devi
NOTES ON THE J H ~ K R IOF ATH HAJAR PARBAT/
DHAULAGIRI HIMALAYA

T h i s c o n t r i b u t i o n i s b a s e d on d a t a c o l l e c t e d i n t h e D h a u l a g i r i
a r e a i n 1971-72.l Although shamanism2 was n o t t h e f o c u s o f t h e
r e s e a r c h , I had t h e o p p o r t u n i t y t o o b s e r v e t h r e e s e a n c e s c o m p l e t e l y
a n d a b o u t h a l f a dozen i n p a r t , a n d c o u l d i n t e r v i e w t h r e e C h a n t e l
jh&-i a n d o n e Kami jGkri. A l l t h e s e a n c e s I o b s e r v e d were
p e r f o r m e d by Kumma S i h a C h a n t e l o f Kuinekhani v i l l a g e who h a s
a c h i e v e d an o u t s t a n d i n g p o s i t i o n among t h e shamans o f t h i s r e g i o n
a n d most i n f o r m a t i o n w a s o b t a i n e d from him. But b e f o r e g i v i n g an
o u t l i n e o f t h e complex, a b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e C h a n t e l o f A t h
Hajar P a r b a t w i l l b e ~ s e f u l . ~

The C h a n t e l , w i a a p o p u l a t i o n o f a b o u t 5 , 0 0 0 , a r e o n e o f t h e
smallest g r o u p s among t h e Tibeto-Burmese p o p u l a t i o n i n N e p a l . I n
t h e minds o f t h e i r n e i g h b o u r s t h e y a r e c l o s e l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h
t h e i r former occupation: t h e y were e x c l u s i v e l y engaged i n c o p p e r
m i n i n g . Although t h e y s t a r t e d some a g r i c u l t u r e a r o u n d 1900, t h e
d e f i n i t i v e change t o o k p l a c e i n 1 9 30- 31, when t h e government
c l o s e d t h e c o p p e r mines. Except f o r a s h o r t s u r v e y by C. J e s t ,
n o r e s e a r c h h a s b e e n done among t h e ~ h a n t e l . They ~ are often
r e f e r r e d t o by their n e i g h b o u r s a s Magar a n d a p p e a r as s u c h i n the
Census a n d o t h e r r e p o r t s . T h i s may b e due t o t h e f a c t t h a t t h o s e
C h a n t e l who e n l i s t i n t h e I n d i a n o r B r i t i s h A r m i e s a d o p t t h e name
Pun ( a Magar s u b - t r i b e ) , b e c a u s e t h e Magar have an e x c e l l e n t
reputation a s soldiers.

N e a r l y a l l my i n f o r m a t i o n on shamanism was o b t a i n e d from t h e


e a s t e r n C h a n t e l o f Ath H a j a r P a r b a t . T h i s r e g i o n i s b o r d e r e d by
t h e Myagdi Khola t o t h e S o u t h a n d West, t h e D h a u l a g i r i Range t o
t h e N o r t h , a n d t h e K a l i Gandaki t o t h e E a s t . I n t h e lower p a r t s
o f t h e h i l l s t h e r e a r e m o s t l y Magar s e t t l e m e n t s , some J a i s i Brahman
a n d C h e t r i and a few Kami, S a r k i a n d Damai. In t h e higher regions
t h e r e a r e o n l y C h a n t e l v i l l a g e s (between 6 , 0 0 0 and 8 , 5 0 0 f t . )
which a l w a y s i n c l u d e some K a m i h o u s e h o l d s . S i n c e most o f t h e
T h a k a l i m e r c h a n t s have l e f t t h e r e g i o n b e c a u s e t r a d e w i t h t h e
C h a n t e l was no l o n g e r p r o f i t a b l e a f t e r t h e c l o s i n g o f t h e m i n e s ,
t h e r e a r e a l m o s t n o i n t e r e t h n i c r e l a t i o n s between t h e C h a n t e l of
Ath H a j a r P a r b a t and t h e s u r r o u n d i n g c a s t e s and e t h n i c g r o u p s .
Today a l l C h a n t e l c a n b e c o n s i d e r e d s e t t l e d a g r i c u l t u r a l i s t s , b u t
b e c a u s e o f t h e e n v i r o n m e n t a l c o n d i t i o n s we c a n a l s o s p e a k o f a
transhumant p a t t e r n t o some e x t e n t . A f t e r h a r v e s t i n g , cows and
b u f f a l o e s a r e herded n e a r t h e v i l l a g e t o g r a z e on t h e f i e l d s .
During t h e r e s t of t h e y e a r t h e y a r e moved t o d i f f e r e n t g r a z i n g
a r e a s e v e r y 6-8 weeks. The h i g h e s t g r a z i n g l a n d (10-12,000 f t . )
i s used i n monsoon time. Each f a m i l y e s t a b l i s h e s i t s own temporary
c a t t l e shed made o u t of bamboo mats, and one o r two p e r s o n s t a k e
c a r e of t h e h e r d . Sometimes a c a t t l e shed can be a s f a r a s two
d a y s ' walk and s m a l l f a m i l i e s w i l l l e a v e t h e v i l l a g e t o s t a y
t h e r e . Because of t h e g r a z i n g p a t t e r n between 25-50% of t h e
i n h a b i t a n t s l i v e o u t s i d e t h e v i l l a g e f o r most of t h e y e a r .

P o t a t o e s , maize, b a r l e y , wheat and buckwheat ( t h e b i t t e r v a r i e t y )


a r e t h e main food c r o p s . M i l l e t i s grown o n l y i n a few v i l l a g e s
and i s of a poor q u a l i t y . Paddy i s purchased i n a bazaar o r
o b t a i n e d i n exchange f o r bamboo mats o r b a s k e t s , o r p o t a t o e s ( t h e
o n l y c a s h c r o p ) , and i s o n l y used d u r i n g f e s t i v a l s and o t h e r
s p e c i a l o c c a s i o n s . Hemp (Cannabis s a t i v a ) grows w i l d i n t h e
f o r e s t s and f i e l d s b u t o n l y d u r i n g t h e l a s t few y e a r s , when t r a d e r s
began t o c o l l e c t h a s h i s h i n t h e C h a n t e l r e g i o n , h a s t h i s p l a n t
become a s m a l l s o u r c e of income. I n t h e p a s t twenty y e a r s t h e
number of C h a n t e l e n l i s t i n g i n t h e I n d i a n o r B r i t i s h armies has
i n c r e a s e d s t e a d i l y and n e a r l y 10%of t h e households g e t cash
through p e n s i o n s o r pay brought home by s o l d i e r s on l e a v e .

The C h a n t e l emphasize t h a t they have never had any l e a d e r .


Before t h e Panchayat system was i n t r o d u c e d h e r e , t h e mukhiyd
(headman) and t h e c a u d h a r i (deputy headman) of a v i l l a g e , a s i n
t h e g r e a t e r p a r t of Nepal, were r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t a x c o l l e c t i o n .
Both p o s i t i o n s were i n h e r i t e d from f a t h e r t o son b u t a p p a r e n t l y
t h e y were n e v e r a s i m p o r t a n t a s t h e y were i n t h e p u r e l y a g r i c u l -
t u r a l regions. D e c i s i o n s s t i l l a r e made by t h e v i l l a g e assembly
and t h e i n f l u e n c e of t h e e l e c t e d Panchayat members i s n o t v e r y
significant.

The C h a n t e l c l a i m t o be Hindus b u t it i s obvious t h a t t h e y a r e


l e s s i n f l u e n c e d by Hinduism t h a n t h e i r n e a r e s t n e i g h b o u r s , t h e
Northern Magar (mostly Pun). I n i n t e r r e l a t i o n s w i t h t h e Kami
t h e y s t r i c t l y observe t h e r e g u l a t i o n s of t h e N e p a l i c a s t e system
r e g a r d i n g commensality, b u t a r e l e s s concerned about t o u c h a b i l i t y :
i n one c a s e I c o u l d even o b s e r v e t h e p a r t i c i p a t i o n of a Kami ( a
s o l d i e r i n t h e I n d i a n Army on l e a v e ) a t t h e cremation of a ~ h a n t e l . ~
The Kami p a r t i c i p a t e i n many of t h e f e a s t s and r e l i g i o u s ceremonies
and it is n o t unusual t o s e e t h e Chantel jMkri p r a y i n g t o g e t h e r
w i t h a K a m i on t h e o c c a s i o n of a piijd f o r t h e w e l f a r e of t h e
v i l l a g e . Among t h e d e i t i e s worshipped by t h e C h a n t e l o n l y a few
belong t o t h e ' c l a s s i c ' Hindu pantheon; l o c a l d e i t i e s such a s
Bhume, BSra and Siddha a r e more i m p o r t a n t . Witches ( b o k s i , & i n i ) ,
g o b l i n - o r demon- l i k e b e i n g s ( b i r , masdn, e t c . ) and s p i r i t s of
t h e dead (moc, p r e t , s i y o ) p l a y a dominant r o l e i n t h e r e l i g i o u s
l i f e of t h e Chantel. There a r e no temples i n t h e Chantel r e g i o n
of Ath Hajar P a r b a t ; o n l y some bushes w i t h a s m a l l s h r i n e made of
some s t o n e p l a t e s and d e c o r a t e d w i t h c o t t o n s t r i p s o r o c c a s i o n a l l y
w i t h a s m a l l b e l l t o i n d i c a t e t h e p l a c e s of t h e gods.

The C h a n t e l c l a i m t o employ Brahman f o r e v e r y i m p o r t a n t l i f e -


c y c l e ceremony such a s b i r t h , m a r r i a g e and d e a t h , b u t d u r i n g my
s i x months' s t a y , Brahman performed s a n s k r i t i c r i t e s i n a C h a n t e l
v i l l a g e o n l y once (on t h e o c c a s i o n of t h e d e a t h o f a C h a n t e l woman,
t h e mother of a D i s t r i c t Assembly member). Only a few C h a n t e l own
a janma pztra ( a s t r o l o g i c a l b i r t h c e r t i f i c a t e ) w r i t t e n by a J a i s i
Brahman. I n my r e c o r d s a b o u t C h a n t e l m a r r l a g e s o v e r t h e p a s t 60
y e a r s , n o t a s i n g l e c a s e a p p e a r s where a Brahman was employed f o r
a wedding-ceremony. Some C h a n t e l c l a i m t o b e d e s c e n d a n t s of t h e
c h e t r i 6 b u t t h i s o p i n i o n i s n o t s h a r e d by t h e m a j o r i t y .

The j z k r i i s t h e most i m p o r t a n t r e l i g i o u s e x p e r t among t h e


Chantel. I n Ath H a j a r P a r b a t t h e r e a r e f o u r jh&i i n c l u d i n g one
jharini7 ( a female shaman). The Kami j h z k r i are more numerous
b u t it i s d i f f i c u l t t o g i v e t h e e x a c t number because - as I was
t o l d by t h e C h a n t e l - e v e r y Kami i s a p o t e n t i a l j a k r i and commun-
i c a t e s w i t h g h o s t s and s p i r i t s anyhow. Among t h e f o u r j G k r i one
Kumma S i h a C h a n t e l of Kuinekhani v i l l a g e , h a s a c h i e v e d an o u t s t a n d -
i n g p o s i t i o n , and h e i s t h e o n l y one who can l i v e e n t i r e l y on h i s
income a s a shaman. None o f t h e jh%i w i t h whom I w a s a c q u a i n t e d
showed any n o t i c e a b l e p s y c h o l o g i c a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o r s p e c i f i c
b e h a v i o u r t h a t was d i f f e r e n t t o o t h e r s i n t h e community. A s I
c o u l d o n l y r e c o r d b i o g r a p h i c a l d a t a from two C h a n t e l and one Kami
j E k r i I must emphasize t h a t from such a s m a l l sample no g e n e r a l
c o n c l u s i o n s can be drawn.

Economically t h e K a m i j a k r i i s i n a better p o s i t i o n t h a n t h e
o t h e r 1 3 Kami households i n t h e v i l l a g e b u t t h i s i s mainly due t o
t h e f a c t t h a t he h a s t h e o n l y b l a c k s m i t h ' s workshop i n . t h e commun-
i t y . H i s income a s a shaman is i n s i g n i f i c a n t b u t t h e r e a r e
indications t h a t those K a m i still exercising t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l
b l a c k s m i t h p r o f e s s i o n ( n e a r l y a l l Kami i n t h e r e g i o n a r e s e t t l e d
a g r i c u l t u r a l i s t s nowadays) a r e more l i k e l y t o become jk6kri t h a n
others. H i s f a t h e r and f a t h e r ' s f a t h e r had been jhiikri a s w e l l ,
b u t h e emphasized t h a t becoming a j G k r i i s a ' v o c a t i o n ' and i s
not hereditary.

Padma La1 C h a n t e l became a jh&i when he w a s a b o u t 30 y e a r s


o l d b u t he r a r e l y p e r f o r m s s e a n c e s ( a b o u t 5-7 p e r y e a r ) . H e had
been caudhari and i s one o f t h e w e a l t h i e s t men i n t h e community.
Kumma S i h a C h a n t e l ' s r e p u t a t i o n a s a j z k r i i s e x c e l l e n t and h e
i s a l s o c a l l e d upon by members o f o t h e r c a s t e s and e t h n i c groups.
H e p e r f o r m s a t l e a s t 50 s e a n c e s p e r y e a r b u t h i s economic c o n d i t i o n
i s n o t b e t t e r t h a n t h a t o f an a v e r a g e C h a n t e l .

These t h r e e j h z k r i a r e between 50 and 60 y e a r s o l d and l i k e


a l m o s t a l l p e o p l e o f t h i s r e g i o n have t h e i r own l a n d . C h a n t e l
j k 6 k r i can be employed by everybody and K a m i jk6kri a r e a l s o
c a l l e d upon by Chantel ( i n which c a s e t h e seance w i l l t a k e p l a c e
on t h e ver&dah o r o u t s i d e t h e h o u s e ) . Although t h e C h a n t e l and
t h e Kami j M k r i deny t h a t t h i s r o l e i s h e r e d i t a r y , t h e r e i s a
tendency f o r it t o remain i n t h e same p a t r i l i n e a g e (Kumma S i h a ' s
f a t h e r ' s f a t h e r , and t h e Kami jzkri's f a t h e r and h i s f a t h e r ' s
f a t h e r were j G k r i ) . Both C h a n t e l j h z k r i belong t o t h e Kanchibar
c l a n . None o f t h e t h r e e jhzkri mentioned had s e r v e d i n t h e army
o r l i v e d o u t s i d e Ath H a j a r Parbgt f o r a long p e r i o d . The way i n
which t h e y became a j z k r i i s s i m i l a r and can be b e s t p r e s e n t e d
i n Kumma S i h a ' s own words :'
' I s t a r t e d t h i s p r o f e s s i o n when I was 15 y e a r s o l d . I was
i n a goth ( c a t t l e s h e d ) up t h e r e i n t h e mountains. The
guru a l s o l i v e s t h e r e , i n t h e e a s t e r n s i d e of Kuine.
During t h e n i g h t when I was s l e e p i n g t h e gw?u e n t e r e d my
body and caused my body t o t r e m b l e . For some days,
because of t h e sudden change, I f e l t some p a i n and was a
l i t t l e b i t s i c k . While I was s l e e p i n g I was t r e m b l i n g ,
and a f t e r g e t t i n g up I was s t i l l t r e m b l i n g . A f t e r t h a t ,
s t i l l t r e m b l i n g , I went t o o t h e r p l a c e s where a jha'kri
basnu ( s e a n c e ) was going on. Sometimes I a l s o looked
a f t e r someone's headache, f o r t h e p a i n of t h e h e a r t and
f o r o t h e r t r o u b l e s . Once somebody recovered from t h a t
t r e a t m e n t and from t h e n on everybody c a l l e d me jha'kri ' '.
' F o r two y e a r s I worked i n t h e same way t h a t means with-
o u t p l a y i n g t h e dhyiiriro (drum) . In t h e t h i r d year I
s t a r t e d p l a y i n g t h e thE2 (metal d i s c ) which belonged t o
h i s f a t h e r ' s f a t h e r who a l s o was a jhiikri . After t h a t
I made a pfijd t o t h e guru . A f t e r making pm.5 t o t h e
guru I waited f o r t h e d h y a r o and t h e gajo (drumstick; .
pronounced gajd by t h e C h a n t e l ) and c o n t i n u e d p l a y i n g
t h e tGZ. Once i t happened t h a t t h e thdZ c l a s h e d w i t h
a t r e e covered w i t h c r e e p i n g p l a n t s and g o t s t i c k i n
it . A f t e r t h a t I took some akgatd ( h o l y , unbroken r i c e
f o r o f f e r i n g s ) , chanted some mantra and threw t h e aksatd
on t h a t t r e e . While throwing a k ~ a t don t h a t t r e e , it
was t o l d t h a t t h e t r e e trembled. Because of t h e god i n
me, I d i d n o t s e e t h e t r e e t r e m b l i n g , b u t t h e murkha
( f o o l ; h e r e used a s an e x p r e s s i o n f o r a l l ' o r d i n a r y '
people a t t h e moment when a jhzkri communicates w i t h
gods o r s p i r i t s , a l s o i n t h e meaning of ' i g n o r a n t
people ' ) t o l d t h a t it ( t h e t r e e ) trembled.

'Then I t o l d them t o c u t t h e t r e e and t h e n t h o s e murkha


c u t t h e t r e e and I made t h e frame f o r t h e @zy&?ro.
Then, a f t e r h u n t i n g t h e ghoral (wild g o a t ) and having
f i x e d t h e s k i n on t h e frame I s t a r t e d p l a y i n g t h e
drum . The g d z was a l s o brought on t h e same d a y . '
An i n i t i a t i o n u n d e r t h e g u i d a n c e o f a t e a c h e r ( g m ) a s men-
t i o n e d by H i t c h c o c k (1967:154 f f ) and H 6 f e r / S h r e s t h a (1973:l ff)
i s unknown among t h e j h E k r i o f A t h H a j a r P a r b a t . F o r them t h e
gum i s i d e n t i c a l w i t h t h e t u t e l a r y d e i t y a n d t h e y deny any
i n i t i a t i o n by a human b e i n g . Kumma S i h a a d m i t s t h a t h e h a s
a c q u i r e d some knowledge a b o u t r e l i g i o n i n g e n e r a l t h r o u g h Brah-
man a n d Magar b u t i n s i s t s t h a t a l l t h e r i t u a l t e c h n i q u e s and
mantra were t a u g h t i n dreams by h i s s p i r i t u a l g w . Any god o r
s p i r i t c a n b e a guru, a n d t h a t god who c a u s e d a j h d k r i t o t r e m b l e
f o r t h e f i r s t t i m e , s i g n i f y i n g t h e b e g i n n i n g o f h i s career, w i l l
become h i s gum f o r h i s l i f e t i m e .

I n t h e c a s e o f t h e t h r e e j h z k r i o f Kuinekhani t h e p r e d i s p o s i n g
e x p e r i e n c e o c c u r r e d when t h e y were s t a y i n g i n t h e g o t h , remote
p l a c e s i n t h e f o r e s t s , t h e abode o f most g o d s and s p i r i t s .
The most i m p o r t a n t p a r t s o f t h e i r p r e d i s p o s i n g e x p e r i e n c e s were
similar i n a l l c a s e s : u n c o n t r o l l a b l e trembling, e s p e c i a l l y o f
t h e head; f e e l i n g o f l i g h t p h y s i c a l s i c k n e s s ( f e v e r , i m p r e s s i o n
t h a t h i s body was l i g h t , b u t n o t f e e l i n g much p a i n ) ; c o n v i c t i o n
t h a t t h e i r c o n d i t i o n w a s c a u s e d by a s p e c i f i c god o r s p i r i t ;
dreams i n which t h e i r g u r u g a v e them o r d e r s a n d t a u g h t them
mantra. T h i s e x p e r i e n c e a l w a y s o c c u r s i n p r i v a t e and o n l y a f t e r
s u c c e s s f u l l y performing a seance w i l l the person be recognized
a s a jzkri. F o r a b o u t two y e a r s t h e n e o p h y t e w i l l a t t e n d a s
many s e a n c e s o f o t h e r j G k r i as p o s s i b l e b u t t h e r e i s n o
e s t a b l i s h e d t e a c h e r - s c h o l a r r e l a t i o n . When I p o i n t e d o u t t o
Kumma S i h a t h a t t h e t e c h n i q u e s u s e d by him were s i m i l a r t o t h o s e
I c o u l d o b s e r v e e l s e w h e r e and a s k e d him w h e t h e r he had n o t
l e a r n e d a t l e a s t t h e b a s i c t e c h n i q u e s o f a s 6 a n c e from o t h e r
jGkri, h e a n s w e r e d i n t h e n e g a t i v e and g a v e me t h e f o l l o w i n g
explanation: E v e r y t h i n g i s l e a r n e d from t h e guru and it was
a l s o h e who t o l d him t o a t t e n d s e a n c e s o f o t h e r j h d k r i ; t h e
t e c h n i q u e s u s e d i n s 6 a n c e s a r e s i m i l a r b e c a u s e a l l jGkri are
b r o t h e r s a n d d e s c e n d a n t s o f t h e F i r s t J h d k r i , Ma'chEpurrm
( c f . t h e B h u j e l complex d e s c r i b e d by H i t c h c o c k i n t h i s volume,
where t h e F i r s t Shaman i s c a l l e d RZma).

The g u r u c a n b e c a l l e d upon a t a n y t i m e ; n o s p e c i a l o f f e r i n g
o r p r e p a r a t i o n is n e c e s s a r y . A t t h e v e r y moment when t h e g u m
e n t e r s t h e body o f t h e j h d k r i ( t h r o u g h t h e h e a d , sometimes
t h r o u g h t h e h e a r t ) h i s h e a d b e g i n s t o s h a k e . When h e i n t e n d s t o
p e r f o r m a s e a n c e he w i l l p u t on h i s chdc&na'cd (costume and
e q u i p m e n t o f t h e j h z k r i ) , o f f e r some dhup ( i n c e n s e ; any t y p e o f
l e a v e s o r f l o w e r s may b e u s e d ) t o t h e g u r u , p u t some a s h from
t h e f i r e p l a c e on h i s f o r e h e a d t o p u r i f y h i m s e l f , and p l a n t t h e
m e t a l trigiiz ( t r i d e n t ) , d e c o r a t e d w i t h r e d and w h i t e c o t t o n
s t r i p s , b e s i d e him. Then he b e g i n s t o c h a n t t h e 'main r n a ~ t r a ' .
T h e s e 'main mantra' v a r y a c c o r d i n g t o t h e d i f f e r e n t g l l ~ ~ ut ;h e i r
m a j o r p u r p o s e i s t o improve t h e communication between g u r u and
jhbkri. When t h e j h z k r i c h a n t s mantra i t i s i n f a c t t h e gldru
who speaks through him. Kumma S i h a ' s g u m i s siram9 ( t h e dumb god
o f t h e f o r e s t s ) and t h e r e f o r e he makes no sound b u t o n l y moves h i s
l i p s when Siram i s speaking through him. With t h e h e l p of h i s
gurm t h e jhiikri can a l s o c a l l o t h e r gods and t h e y w i l l speak
through him. The jGkri's speech d u r i n g a seance i s c a l l e d
baka'unu b G g d (baka'wzu = ' t o cause t o c o n f e s s ' , Turner 1931:413).
When communicating w i t h t h e j a k r i , t h e gods and t h e guru w i l l
a d d r e s s him by t h e term darige ('dafigd-d&gi, a d j . Overjoyed,
e c s t a t i c . a g e , a d j . Quarrelsome;' Turner I b i d . : 3 0 1 ) . The guru
p r o t e c t s t h e j h a ' k r i a g a i n s t w i t c h e s ( b o k s i , G i n i ) and o t h e r
e v i l s p i r i t s such a s b h u t , ra'kgas, p i s d c , e t c . In return the
g w u e x p e c t s s t r i c t obedience, and i f t h e j h z k h does n o t obey
he dl1 be punished. From time t o time t h e j h d k r i w i l l o f f e r
dhup t o h i s p u , and it i s a compulsory o f f e r i n g a t t h e
beginning of a s6ance.

A s t o t h e costume and equipment t h e r e a r e no s t r i c t r u l e s f o r


t h e j h z k r i of Ath H a j a r P a r b a t . According t o Kumma S i h a t h e
complete c G c h - c d i s given by t h e g u r u and he d e c i d e s what a
j h 8 k r i needs. The chZc-cd i s c o n s i d e r e d t h e ' robe of t h e God'
and w i l l p r o t e c t t h e j h z k r i a g a i n s t a t t a c k s of e v i l s p i r i t s .
Two k i n d s of n e c k l a c e s a r e used: r i t t h d ( b l a c k , s h i n i n g seeds
from a t r e e ) and r u d r d c c h i ko mdld ('rub-cche,l. rudrEkga, s .
A v a r i e t y of Elaeocarpus, t h e s e e d s of which a r e used f o r r o s a r i e s '
Turner I b i d : 5 3 9 ) . Each n e c k l a c e should c o n t a i n 108 p i e c e s o r 54,
b u t of a l l t h e n e c k l a c e s I have s e e n , none had t h e ' r i g h t '
number of p i e c e s . (No j h z k r i could t e l l me a n y t h i n g about t h e
meaning of t h e s e numbers.) On c e r t a i n o c c a s i o n s Kumma S i h a
a l s o wears a n e c k l a c e made o u t of t h e s k e l e t o n of a snake (which
he k i l l e d on t h e o r d e r of h i s g u r u ) . Other i t e m s a r e a l s o f i x e d
t o both n e c k l a c e s : h o r n s of t h e g h o r a l ( w i l d g o a t ) , t e e t h of
t h e sum- ( a k i n d of d e e r ) and of t h e w i l d b o a r , 8 s m a l l b e l l s
( b r a s s ) and one round b i g b e l l , and a kmada' (conch s h e l l ) .

On h i s l e f t arm Kumma S i h a wears a b h o l t o ( a k i n d of wooden


b r a c e l e t t h a t p r o t e c t s t h e h u n t e r ' s arm a g a i n s t t h e s t r i n g of
t h e bow; it i s made o u t of n y h l wood; ' b h o l t o , s. G a u n t l e t ,
mailglove.' Turner I b i d . : 4 8 4 ) . This too protects against e v i l
s p i r i t s . Qhydriro and gajd (drum and d r u m s t i c k ) a r e t h e weapons
of t h e j h i i k r i . The one-sided drum i s h e l d w i t h two l o o s e l y f i x e d
c r o s s e d handles. When b e i n g p l a y e d , both t h e drum and drumstick
a r e moved. The s k i n of t h e drum must be from a ghoraZ, p r e f e r -
a b l y from a male animal; t h i s must be r e p l a c e d e v e r y 2 o r 3 y e a r s .
Besides t h e dhyiiriro, a m e t a l d i s c c a l l e d a t h E l ( u s u a l l y a b r a s s
p l a t e ) i s a l s o used by some j h 8 k r i . (I was t o l d t h a t a t h d l i s
g e n e r a l l y used i n t h e Pokhara r e g i o n ) . The use o f t h e tr-i&iiZ
h a s a l r e a d y been mentioned. For a seance t h e j h z k r i wears c l e a n
c l o t h e s , t h e same a s h i s o r d i n a r y ones: b o l o ( c l o t h forming a
sack on t h e back and c r o s s e d a t t h e c h e s t ) and a s h o r t l u n g i .
Both p i e c e s can be made of c o t t o n o r p h w a ( n e t t l e - c l o t h ) .
I n comparison t o t h e shamanism i n t h e n e i g h b o u r i n g B h u j i Khola -
N i s h i Khola r e g i o n p r e s e n t e d by Hitchcock (1967; 1 9 7 4 ) , shamanism
i n Ath H a j a r P a r b a t i s l e s s i n f l u e n c e d by t h e ' c l a s s i c I n n e r Asian
t r a d i t i o n ' l O ; t h e r e i s no headgear a t a l l and no f e a t h e r s o r o t h e r
s i g n s o f f l i g h t i n t h e costume. S k i n and h o r n s o f t h e w i l d g o a t ,
t h e b e l l s and t o some e x t e n t t h e ' c l i m b i n g p l a n t s ' mentioned i n
Kumna S i h a ' s a c c o u n t p o i n t t o an I n n e r A s i a t i c t r a d i t i o n , b u t t h e
j G k r i of t h i s r e g i o n a r e n o t aware o f i t s o r i g i n . Tri6ii2,
m d r Z c c h i ko ma'Z6 and conch s h e l l i n d i c a t e t h e i n f l u e n c e o f
northern India.

E c o l o g i c a l c o n d i t i o n s i n Ath H a j a r P a r b a t a r e r a t h e r h o s t i l e
t o human e x i s t e n c e ; t h e m i c r o - c l i m a t e of D h a u l a g i r i i s w e l l known
because o f i t s r a p i d and v i o l e n t change. H a i l s t o r m s w i t h h a i l -
s t o n e s up t o t h e s i z e o f a c h i c k e n egg d e s t r o y t h e h a r v e s t ;
whole f l o c k s o f s h e e p and g o a t s a r e k i l l e d by l i g h t n i n g ; heavy
r a i n t r a n s f o r m s t h e s t e e p mountain t r a i l s i n t o s m a l l s t e a m s ,
t a k i n g away t h e t h i n l a y e r o f f e r t i l e s o i l and c a u s i n g land-
s l i d e s . Leopards.living i n t h e l a r g e f o r e s t s surrounding t h e
v i l l a g e s k i l l s h e e p , g o a t s and even s m a l l cows and b u f f a l o e s .
I n t h e n i g h t j a c k a l s (siyiiz) come i n t o t h e v i l l a g e and t a k e
away c h i c k e n s . The C h a n t e l b e l i e v e t h a t a l l t h e s e t r o u b l e s a r e
c a u s e d by a n g r y gods o r e v i l s p i r i t s . One o f t h e t a s k s o f t h e
j h d k r i i s t o f i n d t h e c a u s e o f t h e s e t r o u b l e s and t o a p p e a s e t h e
gods and s p i r i t s . I n most c a s e s h e w i l l f i x a d a t e f o r a p w d
which a t l e a s t one member o f e a c h household s h o u l d a t t e n d .
The c o s t s f o r s u c h a p G d w i l l b e s h a r e d by t h e whole v i l l a g e .
F o r s u c h k i n d o f s e r v i c e t h e j h d k r i d o e s n o t r e c e i v e any
compensation; i t i s f o r t h e w e l f a r e o f t h e v i l l a g e .

H i s main t a s k , however, i s t o d i a g n o s e d i f f i c u l t i e s of i n d i v i -
d u a l s o f f a m i l i e s who c a l l upon him f o r h e l p , and t o k i l l o r d r i v e
away h a r m f u l g h o s t s and s p i r i t s by t h e u s e o f v a r i o u s magical
t e c h n i q u e s . The j h z k r i d o e s n o t h o l d r e g u l a r s e s s i o n s ; i f a
c l i e n t n e e d s h i s s e r v i c e he w i l l go t o t h e jha'kri, inform him o f
h i s d i f f i c u l t i e s and g i v e h i s own o p i n i o n on t h e i r s o u r c e . Then
t h e y w i l l a g r e e on a d a t e f o r a s e a n c e (always performed a t
n i g h t ) . Payment i s a r r a n g e d a f t e r t h e s e a n c e ; it depends on how
l o n g a s e a n c e l a s t s , and t h a t c a n n o t be known i n advance.
The c h a r g e a l s o depends upon t h e f i n a n c i a l s i t u a t i o n o f t h e c l i e n t
( a c c o r d i n g t o Kumrna S i h a ) , v a r y i n g from 3 t o 20 Rupees. The
j h & r i a l s o r e c e i v e s one meal and one mind o f r i c e ( p o o r p e o p l e
may g i v e maize o r buckwheat).

A t t h e end o f t h e s e a n c e when t h e j z k r i h a s found t h e c a u s e


of t h e t r o u b l e t h r o u g h h i s c o n t a c t w i t h t h e s u p e r n a t u r a l world
he t e l l s t h e c l i e n t which measures a r e n e c e s s a r y t o a p p e a s e t h e
a n g r y gods o r t o k i l l o r d r i v e away t h e e v i l s p i r i t s . I n most
c a s e s a s m a l l o f f e r i n g i s n e c e s s a r y and t h i s i s performed
immediately a f t e r t h e s e a n c e o r d u r i n g it under t h e g u i d a n c e o f
the jhdkri. sometimes two o r more gods o r s p i r i t s may c a u s e
t r o u b l e and then t h e y must each be g i v e n an o f f e r i n g . There i s
no q u e s t i o n i n g of t h e c l i e n t o r a r e l a t i v e by t h e j h & i during the
s6ance; nor a r e t h e y e v e r p o s s e s s e d by s p i r i t s . I f t h e c l i e n t i s
n o t s a t i s f i e d he can seek a n o t h e r jha'kri b u t o n l y a f t e r c a r r y i n g
o u t t h e f i r s t jGkri's recommendations. For t h e k i l l i n g of a
s i y o ( s p i r i t o f an a d u l t p e r s o n who d i e d an u n n a t u r a l d e a t h )
s e v e r a l s e s s i o n s a r e n e c e s s a r y , sometimes o v e r a p e r i o d of s e v e r a l
y e a r s ; and f o r s i y o m e n e ( s i y o k i l l i n g ) t h e same jMkri always
i s employed. The f o l l o w i n g d e s c r i p t i o n of s i y o &ne may s e r v e
a s an example of a t y p i c a l s6ance i n Ath Hajar P a r b a t ( c f . t h e
account of a s i m i l a r ' k i l l i n g ' i n t h e f o l l o w i n g e s s a y by Hitchcock)

I n 1%6 P . P . ' s son (30 y e a r s o l d ) had f a l l e n from a t r e e and


died. H i s s o u l could n o t go t o Swarga (heaven) and soon i t began
t o t r o u b l e P . P . ' s f a m i l y ; a cow d i e d s h o r t l y a f t e r w a r d s and P.P.
himself became ill.'' Kumma S i h a was c a l l e d and t r i e d t o k i l l t h e
s i y o b u t a f t e r some time t h e t r o u b l e s t a r t e d a g a i n and i n 1968 a
second seance had t o be h e l d . A f t e r t h a t i t seemed t h a t t h e s i y o
was k i l l e d , b u t a t t h e end of 1971 two p e r s o n s of a neighbouring
f a m i l y s u f f e r e d from permanent headache and t h e y t o l d P.P. t h a t
t h i s was caused by h i s s o n ' s s i y o . A t t h e same time s e v e r a l of
P . P . ' s chickens d i e d s o he decided t o c a l l Kumma S i h a a g a i n .
On t h e a r r a n g e d day P . P . ' s house was c l e a n e d w i t h a mixture of c l a y
and cow-dung. Kumma S i h a came t o t h e house a t about n i n e o ' c l o c k
and had h i s evening meal t h e r e . P.P. p r e s e n t e d one m-nZ of r i c e
and some s m a l l c o i n s i n a b r a s s p l a t e t o t h e j h z k r i and a d i y o
b a t t i ( s m a l l b u t t e r lamp) was l i t i n honour o f Kumma S i h a ' s guru.
Then t h e j h z k r i p u t on h i s equipment, s q u a t t e d b e f o r e t h e f i r e -
p l a c e (normally P . P . ' s own p l a c e ) , and, a l r e a d y shaking h i s head,
p u t sonle a s h e s on h i s f o r e h e a d and threw some f l o w e r s i n t o t h e
f i r e (an o f f e r i n g f o r t h e gzu'u). He p u t t h e drum v e r y n e a r t h e
t h e f i r e , t u r n i n g i t from one s i d e t o t h e o t h e r , t h e n h e l d it
b e f o r e h i s f a c e l i k e a mirror12 and began t o move h i s l i p s ( t h a t
means he spoke t h e 'main mantra' i n t h e 'dumb l a n g u a g e ' ) . Suddenly
h i s body began t o shake v i o l e n t l y , t h u s c a u s i n g t h e b e l l s f i x e d i n
t h e n e c k l a c e s t o t i n k l e ; he s t a r t e d drumming and sang a song i n
~ e p a l i ,mixed with e x p r e s s i o n s i n C h a n t e l and words of ' o t h e r
languages ' .l 3 Sometimes he jumped up, dancing around i n a small
c i r c l e w i t h o u t s t o p p i n g h i s drumming. A f t e r about twenty minutes
he suddenly stopped, asked f o r a c i g a r e t t e and wanted t o h e a r p a r t s
of t h e seance on t h e t a p e r e c o r d e r . He r e a d i l y answered o u r ques-
t i o n s and t a l k e d i n a v e r y normal way with P.P. about t h e weather
and t h e w i n t e r c r o p s . l4 Nobody ( e x c e p t t h e a n t h r o p o l o g i s t ) men-
t i o n e d t h e s i y o o r asked q u e s t i o n s concerning t h e s e a n c e . A f t e r
about t e n minutes Kumma S i h a s t a r t e d performing a g a i n , w i t h t h e
same i n t e r v a l s a s b e f o r e , and t h i s c o n t i n u e d f o r s e v e r a l h o u r s .
A t about two o ' c l o c k he informed us t h a t h i s guru had found t h e
s i y o with t h e h e l p of s e v e r a l o t h e r gods and t h a t he was roaming
around P . P . ' s house. I n o r d e r t o d r i v e t h e s i y o away he went
around t h e house t h r e e t i m e s , drumming v i o l e n t l y and s i n g i n g
very l o u d l y . A t about f o u r o ' c l o c k he announced t h a t t h e s i y o was
f i x e d i n a bush n e a r t h e s c h o o l and h e went there w i t h P.P. and
one of h i s s o n s .

bout a hundred y a r d s from t h e bush, j u s t b e s i d e a c r o s s r o a d ,


P.P. dug a s m a l l h o l e and p u t i n a hollow b o t t l e - s h a p e d gourd con-
t a i n i n g some m i l k .I5 A u s e d kuco ( a broom, made o u t o f a s p e c i a l
g r a s s ) was f i x e d u p r i g h t i n t h e h o l e and t h e jakri began t o t a l k
t o t h e s i y o i n t h e bush, t e l l i n g him t h a t t h e r e would be good food
and n i c e p r e s e n t s f o r him i n t h e gourd. B e f o r e , he had g i v e n P.P.
a b i g wooden hammer made of paekZi wood and p a i n t e d w i t h c h a r c o a l
and b e s a r ( t u r m e r i c ) and had i n s t r u c t e d him t o s t r i k e t h e c o n t a i -
n e r when he would s h o u t , ' s h a a a a . . . ' . A t t h e r i g h t moment P.P.
d e s t r o y e d t h e g o u r d and t h e jh8kri examined t h e remaining p a r t s .
He found some d e a d i n s e c t s , an i n d i c a t i o n t h a t t h e s i y o was
k i l l e d . l6 Then P.P. dug a n o t h e r h o l e , s l a u g h t e r e d a small g o a t i n
t h e name o f t h e gw"u and a l l t h e gods t h a t had h e l p e d him and
poured some b l o o d i n t o t h e h o l e . The broken gourd ( t o g e t h e r w i t h
t h e ' d e a d s i y o ' ) and t h e broom were p u t i n t o t h i s h o l e and t h e n
e v e r y t h i n g was c o v e r e d w i t h s o i l . To p r e v e n t t h e s i y o from l i v i n g
a g a i n and l e a v i n g t h e h o l e , Kumma S i h a p l a n t e d a halo (main p a r t o f
of t h e wooden p l o u g h ) i n t h e h o l e and f o u r b i g n a i l s around i t .
The g o a t was t a k e n home and Kumma S i h a g o t h i s s h a r e t o g e t h e r w i t h
h i s pay (17 R u p e e s ) .

One o f t h e most f r e q u e n t s o u r c e s o f t r o u b l e a r e b o k s i ( w i t c h e s ) .
I n t h e v i l l a g e o f Kuinekhani ( a b o u t 450 i n h a b i t a n t s ) n i n e women
between t h e a g e s o f 22 t o 73 a r e b e l i e v e d t o be b o k s i b u t p e o p l e
o n l y t a l k a b o u t b o k s i i n secret. They have s u p e r n a t u r a l powers,
t h e i r ' s p i r i t ' l e a v e s t h e body i n t h e n i g h t and t r o u b l e s o t h e r
p e o p l e e s p e c i a l l y t h o s e i n t h e i r own v i l l a g e , mainly s m a l l c h i l -
d r e n and p r e g n a n t women. I f t h e jGkril s d i a g n o s i s shows t h e
c a u s e of t h e t r o u b l e t o be a b o k s i h e always s p e a k s o f b o k s i i n
g e n e r a l w i t h o u t g i v i n g any d e t a i l s . During a s e a n c e t h e jGkri
n e v e r m e n t i o n s t h e names o f l i v i n g p e r s o n s , t h u s a v o i d i n g s o c i a l
c o n f l i c t s t h a t might r e s u l t from h i s d i a g n o s i s and have conse-
quences f o r h i m s e l f a s w e l l .

Q u i t e f r e q u e n t l y p e o p l e a r e t r o u b l e d by a bad graha ( c o n s t e l l a -
t i o n of t h e stars) o r d a s d (lit.: ' c o n d i t i o n , s t a t e ' ) and t h e y
w i l l c o n s u l t the jEkri t o g e t r e l i e f . I n such a c a s e no s6ance
i s n e c e s s a r y ; f o r a bad grahu o r d a s d t h e jh&i h a s two p o s s i b l e
ways t o h e l p h i s c l i e n t s : a ) w i t h t h e h e l p o f h i s gw?u he may f i n d
o u t which o f f e r i n g s have t o be g i v e n t o t h e g r a h a ( c o n s i d e r e d a s
g o d s ) t o a p p e a s e them; b ) he w i l l g i v e a j a n t r a ( a m u l e t , charm)
t o t h e c l i e n t t h a t s h o u l d p r o t e c t him. U s u a l l y g i r l s wear a t
l e a s t one j a n t r a a r o u n d t h e neck, c o n s i s t i n g o f a s m a l l c o t t o n o r
m e t a l c o n t a i n e r . l 7 I n s i d e t h e r e i s some h o l y r i c e , a p i e c e of
m e t a l (any k i n d may be u s e d ) o r a p i e c e o f p a p e r w i t h some mlntPc2
w r i t t e n on i t by t h e jEkri. I t i s v e r y i m p o r t a n t t h a t t h e j a n t m
i s a l w a y s i n c o n t a c t w i t h t h e body. The m e t a l c o n t a i n e r s f o r t h e
j a n t r a a r e m a n u f a c t u r e d by t h e K a m i . For a bad g r a h o r dasa' a
J a i s i Brahman may a l s o b e c o n s u l t e d b u t i n g e n e r a l t h e C h a n t e l
p r e f e r t h e i r j h & r i : - he s p e a k s t h e i r own l a n g u a g e and a l s o h i s
s e r v i c e s a r e less e x p e n s i v e .

The s e r v i c e s done f o r t h e community a s a whole have a l r e a d y


been mentioned: f i n d i n g an a u s p i c i o u s day t o move from one
g r a z i n g a r e a t o a n o t h e r , o r g a n i z i n g a pvE i n t h e case of drought,
l a n d s l i d e s , e t c . When n o Brahman i s a v a i l a b l e t h e jMkri i s a l s o
c o n s u l t e d f o r q u e s t i o n s r e g a r d i n g death-ceremonies, b i r t h ,
p o l l u t i o n , e t c . 'However, when a name f o r a c h i l d h a s t o be
s e l e c t e d o r an a s t r o l o g i c a l b i r t h c e r t i f i c a t e i s needed, p e o p l e
w i l l go t o s e e a J a i s i Brahman i n t h e l o w e r v i l l a g e s . C u r i n g by
s a y i n g s p e l l s o r blowing a s h e s , o r d i v i n i n g by t h r o w i n g g r a i n s o f
rice i s n o t done by t h e j h z k r i b u t by Kami c u r e r s .

According t o t h e i r t r a d i t i o n t h e C h a n t e l have n e v e r had any


l e a d e r and my i n v e s t i g a t i o n r e v e a l e d t h a t C h a n t e l s o c i e t y i s
rather egalitarian. Even a f t e r t h e i n t r o d u c t i o n o f t h e Panchayat
system d e c i s i o n s a r e made o n l y by t h e t r a d i t i o n a l v i l l a g e assembly
h a v i n g one male member from e a c h h o u s e h o l d and t h e i n f l u e n c e o f
t h e e l e c t e d Panchayat members r e m a i n s i n s i g n i f i c a n t . (The prob-
l e m o f dependence on T h a k a l i m e r c h a n t s c a n n o t be t r e a t e d h e r e . )
A s e v e r y a s p e c t o f d a i l y l i f e , economic, s o c i a l , e t c . , i s b a s e d
on t h e r e l i g i o u s background, t h e o p i n i o n o f t h e r e l i g i o u s s p e c i a -
l i s t i s t h e most i m p o r t a n t . Although t h e jhiikri i n Ath H a j a r
P a r b a t does n o t a c t a s a l e a d e r , he i s i n f a c t a very important
adviser. I must a d m i t , however, t h a t t h i s i s more t r u e f o r
Kumma S i h a , t h a n t h e o t h e r C h a n t e l o r Kami jGkz-i o f Ath H a j a r
P a r b a t who p l a y o n l y s e c o n d a r y r o l e s . I n q u a r r e l s between
d i s t i n c t g r o u p s o r i n d i v i d u a l s h e t r i e s t o ' d e p e r s o n a l i z e ' t h e con-
f l i c t and blame i t on ' i m p e r s o n a l ' s p i r i t s a s much a s p o s s i b l e . I 8
H e f u l f i l l s this t a s k , a s w e l l a s h i s s e r v i c e s t o t h e whole com-
munity, w h i l e r e m a i n i n g i n t h e background. H e c o u l d be c h a r a c -
t e r i z e d a s a k i n d o f l e a d e r , b u t I t h i n k he i s b e s t c h a r a c t e r i z e d
a s an i n t e g r a t i n g f a c t o r i n C h a n t e l s o c i e t y and a l s o t o some ex-
t e n t i n i n t e r e t h n i c r e l a t i o n s : h e d e c i d e s whether a Kami may
p a r t i c i p a t e i n a r i t u a l o r n o t , and Magar and T h a k a l i a r e a l s o
among h i s c l i e n t s . The j g k r i o f Ath H a j a r P a r b a t ( e s p e c i a l l y
Kumma S i h a ) is a l s o a r e l i g i o u s p o l i c y maker. A s a r e s u l t o f h i s
pronouncements, ' p a r t i c u l a r d e i t i e s a p p e a r , g a i n prominence, l o s e
prominence, and d i s a p p e a r i n t h e v i l l a g e p a n t h e o n . ' (Berreman
1964:59).

Although some b a s i c b e l i e f s , p r a c t i s e s and c o n c e p t s a r e s h a r e d


by a l l jukri much f l e x i b i l i t y i s l e f t t o t h e i n d i v i d u a l and t h i s
makes it d i f f i c u l t t o s p e a k o f 'Ath H a j a r P a r b a t shamanism' o r
' C h a n t e l shamanism' i n g e n e r a l .
'Research was c a r r i e d o u t w i t h t h e s u p p o r t o f the South Asia
I n s t i t u t e , kieidelberg U n i v e r s i t y .
O t h e r t h a n p l a c e names a l l words i n N e p a l i o r C h a n t e l a r e
t r a n s c r i b e d a c c o r d i n g t o T u r n e r ' s (1931) system pie f a r as
possible.

I u s e t h e term 'shamanism' i n i t s w i d e s t s e n s e and r e f e r t o


t h e d e f i n i t i o n p r o p o s e d by J . Reinhard f o r t h i s volume.

F o r a p r e l i m i n a r y r e p o r t s e e my a r t i c l e (Michl 1 9 7 3 ) .

I am i n d e b t e d t o D r . J e s t f o r v a r i o u s i n f o r m a t i o n on the
C h a n t e l and h i s s u g g e s t i o n t o do r e s e a r c h among them.

I want t o emphasize t h a t t h i s Kami was a s o l d i e r . Normally


Kami c a n n o t p a r t i c i p a t e i n d e a t h ceremonies f o r C h a n t e l .
The f a c t t h a t he i s s e r v i n g i n t h e I n d i a n Army h a s appar-.
e n t l y changed h i s s o c i a l p o s i t i o n and h i s c a s t e s t a t u s .

T h i s development can b e found among s e v e r a l e t h n i c g r o u p s


i n Nepal. See C . von Fiirer-Haimendorf (1964b:140-160).

One would e x p e c t t h e t e r m t o be j M k r i n i ('The w i f e o f a


w i z a r d ' : T u r n e r , 1931:231) b u t a c c o r d i n g t o my i n f o r m a t i o n
jhdkrini i s t h e term o f r e f e r e n c e f o r t h e w i f e o f a
j M k r i and j h a r i n i a female shaman.

Round b r a c k e t s s i g n i f y t r a n s l a t i o n s from N e p a l i o r C h a n t e l
words; r e c t a n g u l a r b r a c k e t s s i g n i f y e x p l a n a t i o n s o b t a i n e d
a f t e r r e h e a r i n g Kumma S i h a ' s a c c o u n t on t h e t a p e r e c o r d e r
d u r i n g t h e s e c o n d and t h i r d i n t e r v i e w .

A corruption of sri rEm ?

H i t c h c o c k (1967:149).

A d u l t p e o p l e who d i e an u n n a t u r a l d e a t h become a s i y o .
A s i y o c a n t r o u b l e h i s own f a m i l y a s w e l l a s o t h e r p e r s o n s
i n h i s village. S o l d i e r s k i l l e d i n a c t i o n do n o t become
siyo .

Kumma S i h a t o l d me t h a t he c o u l d see h i s gum i n t h e drum.


To g i v e a good sound, t h e s k i n o f t h e drum must b e h e a t e d .

A j h z k r i can u n d e r s t a n d a l l l a n g u a g e s when t h e g W U i s i n
h i s body, and when a god s p e a k s t h r o u g h him i n a f o r e i g n
l a n g u a g e , ' h i s tongue i s moved by t h e g o d ' . The f i r s t
language o f a l l jhdkri i s N e p Z l i b e c a u s e t h i s was t h e
mother tongue o f t h e F i r s t ~ M k r i ,MZchZpuran.
14. There i s no r e s t r i c t i o n on a t t e n d a n c e - a t a s6ance and
e s p e c i a l l y f o r c h i l d r e n i t i s g r e a t fun: i m i t a t i n g t h e
jha"kri i s one of t h e i r f a v o u r i t e games. The two neighbours
who complained about headache caused by P . P . ' s s o n ' s
were n o t p r e s e n t . There i s one r e s t r i c t i o n however:
when t h e s i y o i s ' k i l l e d ' ( i - e . , when t h e gourd i s des-
t r o y e d ) women a r e n o t allowed t o a t t e n d .
A s6ance i s n o t a v e r y s e r i o u s m a t t e r ; it i s a l s o an
e n t e r t a i n m e n t f o r t h e people. A j % k r i must be a good
s i n g e r and dancer i f he wants t o be s u c c e s s f u l .

15. For t h i s purpose o n l y g o a t ' s milk i s used because g h o s t s


and s p i r i t s l i k e i t v e r y much. Normally g o a t s a r e n o t
milked i n A t h Ha j a r P a r b a t .

16. There a r e two c l a s s e s of s i y o : a d u l t p e r s o n s who d i e an


u n n a t u r a l d e a t h and become s i y o a f t e r w a r d s , and t h o s e who
e x i s t s i n c e t h e 'Golden Age'; t h e l a t t e r a r e immortal.
A f t e r b e i n g k i l l e d , male s i y o become mav@auli ( d e r i v e d
from map&Zi "A powerful and i n f l u e n t i a l man.' (Turner,
1931:489); female s i y o become d e y t i n i . Both a r e c o n s i d e r e d
t o be gods.

17. Small boys a l s o wear jmtra b u t I do n o t remember a s i n g l e


man who wore it. B r a c e l e t s , e a r r i n g s and f i n g e r r i n g s can
a l s o be jcmtra. J a n t r a a r e a l s o p r o v i d e d by I n d i a n p i l -
grims on t h e way back from Muktinath. On one o c c a s i o n
t h r e e I n d i a n s s o l d 22 jantra c o s t i n g between 3 and 12
Rupees i n Kuinekhani i n a few hours. A l l were bought by
women.

18. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t h a t i n t h e a d j o i n i n g r e g i o n o f Bhuji
Khola - N i s h i Khola (about 2-3 d a y s ' walk from A t h H a j a r
P a r b a t ) t h e jGkri8s a t t i t u d e i s completely d i f f e r e n t .
In h i s p a p e r ' A Shaman's Song and some I m p l i c a t i o n s f o r
Himalayan Research' (1974a:152), Hitchcock compares t h e
d u a l r e l a t i o n s h i p between w i f e - g i v e r s and w i f e - r e c e i v e r s
w i t h shamanism and s a y s : ' I n t h e domain of shamanism we
f i n d a s t a t u s which s i m i l a r l y i s ambiguous, because l i k e
t h e s t a t u s of w i f e - g i v e r , it i s a l s o a s s o c i a t e d w i t h power
t h a t can be e i t h e r b e n e f i c i e n t o r p u n i s h i n g . ' Among t h e
jGkri of Ath Hajar P a r b a t I c o u l d n o t f i n d any i n d i c a t i o n
t h a t t h e j h E k r i V s powers were d i r e c t e d a t i n d i v i d u a l s
w i t h i n t h e community o r t h a t ' t h e shaman's s t a t u s ... with
r e s p e c t t o good and e v i l i s ambiguously c o l o u r e d . '
(Hitchcock, 1974: 152) .
ASPECTS OF BHUJEL SHAMANISM

The shamanic complex d e s c r i b e d here1 i s found among p e o p l e


whose w i n t e r v i l l a g e s a r e l o c a t e d i n t h e u p p e r B h u j i ( b i r c h t r e e )
valley. I t a l s o i s found i n a d j a c e n t v a l l e y s t o t h e e a s t and
w e s t and a l o n g t h e u p p e r r e a c h e s o f t h e U t t a r Ganga, i n v i l l a g e s
such a s Taka and S h e r a . The t e r m B h u j e l , which I w i l l u s e t o
r e f e r t o t h i s complex, i s used by t h e p e o p l e o f t h e upper B h u j i
v a l l e y t o r e f e r t o t h e m s e l v e s , and was u s e d by o t h e r s t o r e f e r
t o p o r t i o n s of t h i s p o p u l a t i o n t h r o u g h o u t t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y
(See Hamilton, 1819:19; V a n s i t t a r t , 1 8 9 4 : 2 3 1 ) . The B h u j e l com-
p l e x was e n c o u n t e r e d d u r i n g f i e l d w o r k i n t h e s p r i n g o f 1962 and
a p o r t i o n o f a s e a n c e was f i l m e d (Hitchcock and Hitchcock, 1 9 6 5 ) .
A more i n t e n s i v e s t u d y was made d u r i n g t h e summer and f a l l o f
1967, when i t was p o s s i b l e t o t a p e c o m p l e t e l y a number o f d a n c e s
and t o augment t h e s m a l l c o l l e c t i o n o f r i t u a l t e x t s o b t a i n e d i n
1962.

S u b s i s t e n c e i n t h e upper B h u j i v a l l e y i s b a s e d on two eco-


zones: t h e v a l l e y i t s e l f where w i n t e r s a r e s p e n t and h i g h pas-
t u r e s i n and around Dhorpatan. The major c r o p s on t h e v a l l e y
t e r r a c e s a r e wheat, b a r l e y and maize; i n Dhorpatan and a d j a c e n t
a r e a s , p o t a t o e s and buckwheat. The B h u j e l a r e semi-transhumant,
and members of most f a m i l i e s spend t h e summer h e r d i n g l i v e s t o c k
and t e n d i n g c u l t i v a t i o n i n t h e h i g h p a s t u r e s . B e s i d e s Magar o f
t h e Pun, G h a r t i and Budha c l a n s , t h e m a j o r i t y o f t h e p o p u l a t i o n
a r e Kami, many o f whom d c r i v e a l l o r most o f t h e i r income from
h l l - t i m e a g r i c u l t u r e and a g r i c u l t u r a l l a b o u r r a t h e r t h a n i n
p x r s u i t o f t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l o c c u p a t i o n as metalworkers. A t h i r d
and s m a l l e r segment o f t h e p o p u l a t i o n i s comprised o f Matwala
Khas, a group c l a i m i n g e l i t e twice-born a n c e s t r y b u t now r e l i n -
q u i s h i n g t h e s a c r e d t h r e a d because t h e y no l o n g e r o b s e r v e d i e t a r y
r e s t r i c t i o n s s u c h a s a b s t e n t i o n from a l c o h o l and c h i c k e n . Sha-
mans from a l l t h r e e g r o u p s were o b s e r v e d b u t I worked most c l o s e -
l y w i t h two Kami shamans and a Matwala.

The term f o r shaman i n p a r t s o f w e s t c e n t r a l Nepal i s 2-


( H i t c h c o c k , 1 9 6 6 ) , b u t i n t h e B h u j i r e g i o n a s i n many o t h e r
r e g i o n s i n ( e . g . , Michl i n t h i s volume) and a d j a c e n t ( e . g . , Mac-
d o n a l d , 1962, and i n t h i s volume) t o Nepal t h e word used i s
k . Whenever 'shaman' i s used i n t h i s e s s a y , ' j h d k r i ' w i l l
'? *, * c .
.sadeo Ram - Bhujel K a m i shaman
be i n t e n d e d . A s Macdonald ( I b i d . ) h a s p o i n t e d o u t jh&ri may
also refer t o a spirit. I n some p l a c e s t h e s p i r i t jhQ=kriis n o t
t h o u g h t o f a s a shaman p r i m a r i l y o r a t a l l by many i n t h e popu-
l a t i o n . F o r them t h e s p i r i t 1s a f o r e s t h u n t e r s p i r i t and i s wor-
s h i p p e d a s s u c h . The B h u j e l s a l s o a s s o c i a t e t h e jakri s p i r i t w i t h
t h e f o r e s t and h u n t i n g and always r e f e r t o it a s Ban ( f o r e s t )
Jhzkri. (See P a u l i n t h i s volume.) But h e r e t h e shamanic con-
n o t a t i o n i s s t r o n g e r , though n o t emphasized, and some have h e a r d
Ban J h a r i b e a t i n g t h e i r drums. Some b e l i e v e d e a d shamans i n
t i m e become Ban J h h r i ; o t h e r s deny t h i s and s a y t h e y a r e ances-
tral spirits.

Although Matwala Khas and Magar sometimes c a l l Brahman, e s p e c -


i a l l y f o r f u n e r a l s of t h e e l d e r l y and w e l l - t o - d o , and a l t h o u g h
t h e r o l e o f shaman i s complemented by t h e r o l e o f a s t r o l o g e r
(sometimes i n one and t h e same p e r s o n ) , t h e j G k r i h o l d s the most
c e n t r a l p l a c e i n t h e r e l i g i o u s l i f e o f t h e upper B h u j i v a l l e y .
Y e t d e s p i t e t h e i m p o r t a n c e o f t h e r o l e , it c a n n o t be s a i d t o have
g r e a t p o l i t i c a l w e i g h t . Among t h e B h u j e l t h e s t r o n g p o l i t i c a l
f i g u r e , g e n e r a l l y t h e mukhiyd, t e n d s always t o b e a d i f f e r e n t
p e r s o n t h a n t h e j h i i k r i , no m a t t e r how w e l l r e s p e c t e d . T h i s s t a t e -
ment i s n o t meant t o imply t h a t most B h u j e l shamans a r e abnormal,
i n t h e s e n s e o f b e i n g u n a b l e t o f u l f i l l t h e u s u a l f a m i l i a l and
o c c u p a t i o n a l demands. A l l I knew w e r e f u n c t i o n i n g w e l l a s house-
h o l d e r s and p a r t - t i m e a g r i c u l t u r a l i s t s j and some K a m i i n a d d i t i o n
were m e t a l s m i t h s . But t h e r o l e d i d n o t p r o v i d e s u f f i c i e n t s e c u r -
i t y t o i n d u c e any man t o become a f u l l - t i m e s p e c i a l i s t .

The B h u j e l complex e x h i b i t s symbolic themes b e a r i n g a remark-


a b l y c l o s e resemblance t o t h o s e found i n I n n e r A s i a and t o some
e x t e n t t h r o u g h o u t much o f the world ( E l i a d e , 1 9 6 4 ) . T h i s is
p a r t i c u l a r l y t r u e o f s u c h a s c e n s i o n a l themes a s a r i t u a l i n which
t h e shaman a p p e a r s t o b e f l y i n g i n t o t h e heavens w i t h h i s p a t i e n t ,
h i s i n i t i a t o r y p o l e c l i m b , and symbols o f s p e e d and f l i g h t embod-
i e d i n h i s costume. I n o t h e r r e s p e c t s , however, a s I have poin-
t e d o u t e l s e w h e r e ( H i t c h c o c k , 1967) t h e B h u j e l complex d o e s n o t
f i t t h e c o n c e p t i o n o f p r i m a l and ' c l a s s i c ' shamanism a s d e f i n e d
by E l i a d e . I t d o e s n o t have a s i t s c e n t r a l f e a t u r e t h e p u r e and
( a c c o r d i n g t o E l i a d e ) h i s t o r i c a l l y p r i o r b e l i e f t h a t t h e shaman's
s o u l a s c e n d s i n e c s t a s y t o commune w i t h a Supreme C e l e s t i a l Being.
It e x h i b i t s changes t h a t have t r a n s f o r m e d t h e o r i g i n a l complex,
i n n o v a t i o n s s u c h a s ' t h e f i g h t a g a i n s t e v i l s p i r i t s , and a l s o t h e
i n c r e a s i n g l y f a m i l i a r r e l a t i o n s w i t h s p i r i t s which aim a t t h e i r
i n c o r p o r a t i o n o r a t t h e p o s s e s s i o n o f the shaman by them' ( E l i a d e ,
1964:506). Hence i n E L i a d e ' s view i t r e p r e s e n t s a l a t e r f a l l i n g
away.

However w e may view E l i a d e ' s b e l i e f i n a p r i m a l shamanism


b a s e d on e c s t a t i c c e l e s t i a l communion (and t o d i s a g r e e r a i s e s t h e
problem o f a l t e r n a t i v e e x p l a n a t i o n s f o r s u c h w i d e s p r e a d a s c e n -
s i o n a l symbolism) he d o e s l i f t t o prominence c e r t a i n f e a t u r e s o f
shamanism which I t a k e t o b e e s s e n t i a l . I w i l l discuss these a s
a way of i l l u m i n a t i n g t h e n a t u r e o f t h e B h u j e l complex.

The n a t u r e of t h e shaman's p s y c h o l o g i c a l s t a t e h a s been of


g r e a t i n t e r e s t t o i n v e s t i g a t o r s , some o f whom have r e c e n t l y d i s -
c u s s e d shamanism i n Nepal ( e . g . , Hdfer, 1974:168-182). I agree
w i t h R e i n h a r d ( l n t h i s volume) t h a t t h e t e r m ' e c s t a s y ' i s t o o
r e s t r i c t e d and c a r r i e s t o o narrow a c o n n o t a t i o n . But w h i l e re-
f l e c t i n g on B h u j e l shamanism f o r t h i s e s s a y , I found I a l s o was
u n c o m f o r t a b l e w i t h t h e more n e u t r a l t e r m ' t r a n c e ' . Trance i m -
p l i e s d i s s o c i a t i o n and i n my o p i n i o n t h e shamans I knew b e s t and
o b s e r v e d most c l o s e l y d i d n o t e n t e r an a l t e r e d s t a t e o f con-
s c i o u s n e s s d u r i n g s e a n c e s , a t l e a s t no more t h a n a good a c t o r
d o e s when he t a k e s a p a r t . I s i m p l y d o n o t know 'what i s g o i n g
o n ' i n t h e i r minds. I f i n d it e a s y t o concede t h a t some who
have become shamans may have e x p e r i e n c e d m y s t i c a l e c s t a s y , whe-
t h e r i n E l i a d e ' s s e n s e o r p e r h a p s i n a way t h a t e x c l u d e s any
p a r t i c u l a r c o n c e p t i o n o f d e i t y (Huxley, 1 9 4 5 ) . I a l s o f i n d it
e a s y t o b e l i e v e t h a t shamans I have n o t o b s e r v e d e n t e r a s t a t e
o f t r a n c e . The p o i n t r e m a i n s , however, t h a t a whole s p e c t r u m o f
s t a t e s i s p o s s i b l e and i n any g i v e n c a s e I do n o t r e a l l y know
which of t h e many p o s s i b i l i t i e s i s p r e s e n t . What I d o know i s
how t h e shaman d e s c r i b e s h i s e x p e r i e n c e and what t h e community
a c c e p t s a s a v a l i d and v a l i d a t i n g d e s c r i p t i o n o f h i s s t a t e o r
states.

I n Tungus s h m a n i s m ( S h i r o k o g o r o f f , 1935) two d e s c r i p t i o n s o f


what happens t o t h e f u l l - f l e d g e d shaman d u r i n g a s e a n c e a r e t a -
ken t o b e v a l i d and v a l i d a t i n g . I n one s t a t e it i s b e l i e v e d o r
r e p o r t e d t h a t t h e shaman h a s i n c o r p o r a t e d a s p i r i t . Moreover,
t h e shaman e n t e r s b o t h s t a t e s v o l u n t a r i l y and when p o s s e s s e d i s
m a s t e r o f r a t h e r t h a n m a s t e r e d by t h e p o s s e s s i n g s p i r i t . A l l
t h i s i d e o l o g y a l s o i s p a r t o f t h e B h u j e l complex, a s t h e f o l l o w -
i n g examples w i l l i l l u s t r a t e .

The m a t e r n a l g r a n d f a t h e r o f a Matwala Khas, 26 y e a r s o l d , was


a r e s p e c t e d shaman. During two s e a n c e s when t h e g r a n d f a t h e r
c a l l e d a god (deutz) and h i m s e l f became p o s s e s s e d , s o d i d h i s
g r a n d s o n , though none knew by what god o r s p i r i t . The young man
t r e m b l e d and shook and e v e n t u a l l y Pegan t h r o w i n g h i m s e l f a b o u t .
F r i e n d s had t o r e s t r a i n him u n t i l t h e s e i z u r e had p a s s e d .

When r e p o r t i n g what t h i s ' u n s o l i c i t e d ' and ' u n c o n t r o l l e d '


(Lewis, 1971:55) p o s s e s s i o n was l i k e , t h e young man s a i d he be-
&meu n c o n s c i o u s (behosh) and was n o t aware o f a n y t h i n g h e d i d .
He s a i d t h a t f o r s e v e n y e a r s h e had been s u b j e c t t o s u c h s e i -
z u r e s , p a r f . i c u l a r l y though n o t e x c l u s i v e l y when h i s g r a n d f a t h e r
was c o n d u c t i n g a s e a n c e . The o n s e t o f t h e s e e p i s o d e s was i n i -
t i a t e d by a s e n s a t i o n a s i f a c o l d wind were blowing a g a i n s t h i s
r i g h t b r e a s t . Then t h e god came i n s i d e and moved a b o u t a c t i v e l y
t h r o u g h o u t h i s whole body (ang-ma tarkhardurru a'unchul.
A t some unknown time i n t h e f u t u r e he was c e r t a i n t h a t what-
e v e r god had been p o s s e s s i n g him would announce h i s name and
b e g i n t o s p e a k t h r o u g h him. The god t h e n would r e q u e s t p e r s o n s
w i t h i n e a r s h o t t o o b t a i n wood f o r h i s shaman's drum. Only a f t e r
he had l e a r n e d t h e name of t h e god who had been making him s h a k e
(kandune deutli) - now h i s chieE god ( m k h i y a ' deutli) - and had
begun t h e p r o c e s s o f o b t a i n i n g a drum, d i d he e x p e c t t o become
h i s grad a t h e r ' s p u p i l ( s i k g e ) . Only t h e n would t h e g r a n d f a t h e r
b e g i n t e a c h i n g him h i s mantra and g i v i n g him some o f t h e o t h e r
n e c e s s a r y i t e m s o f a s h a i a n ' s g e a r such a s b e l l s , f e a t h e r s and
m e t a l symbols o f t h e s u n and moon.

Was t h e young man i n a s t a t e o f e c s t a s y , t r a n c e ? Was he an


' h y s t e r i c ' ? I do n o t know. what 1 d o know i s t h a t i n u n s o l i c i -
t e d p o s s e s s i o n t h e i n c i p i e n t B h u j e l shamail i s e x p e c t e d t o say he
i s n o t i n c o n t r o l o f h i m s e l f cr t h e p o s s e s s i n g s p i r i t . Only l a -
t e r , by l e a r n i n g from h i s guru, by s e c u r i n g h i s costume and r i t -
u a l a p p a r a t u s , and by p r a c t i s i n g t h e a r t , d o e s he g r a d u a l l y l e a r n
how t o c a l l h i s c h i e f god, and, most i m p o r t a n t , t o r e t a i n con-
s c i o u s n e s s when t h i s god, o r any o t n e r god o r s ~ i r i t ,e n t e r s h i s
body. For t h e b e l i e f i s t h a t u n l e s s a shaman i s c o n s c i o u s , he i s
u n a b l e t o h e a r and r e p r o d u c e what t h e i n t r u s i v e d e i t y i s t e l l i n g
him. Among t h e B h u j e l a c o n t r o l l e d i n t r u s i v e d e i t y i s s a i d t o be
' s t a b l e ' ( t h i r o bhayc), and having t h i s k i n d o f m a s t e r y i s t h e
h a l l m a r k o f t h e f u l l - f l e d g e d shaman - an a t t a i n m e n t r e - e n a c t e d r n
s e a n c e s e v e r ] t i m e a shaman c a l l s a d e i t y or s p i r i t . For when
t h e s p i r i t f i r s t e n t e r s h i s body, h e o f t e n a c t s i n a way t h e aud-
i e n c e r e c o g n i z e s as unconscious and u n c o n t r o l l e d . But g r a d u a l l y
(sometimes w i t h h e l p from a member o f t h e f a m i l y o r a u d i e n c e who
s p r i n k l e s him w i t h w a t e r ) he b e g i n s a c t i n g i n such a way t h a t t h e
a u d i e n c e r e c o g n i z e s he h a s overcome t h e s p i r i t and h a s s e c u r e d
c o n t r o l o f h i s f a c u l t i e s . I f h e h a s been drumming, t h e b e a t
s t e a d i e s . I n s t e a d o f g r o a n i n g , g a s p i n g and h i s s i n g he b e g i n s t o
c h a n t and s i n g , and i f h e h a s been f l u n g t o t h e ground (sometimes
c l o s e t o t h e f i r e o r even i n t o i t ) , h e p i c k s h i m s e l f up and re-
sumes h i s s i t t i n g p o s i t i o n . Thus he again and again recapitu-
lates his novitiate.

U n c o n t r o l l e d p o s s e s s i o n and a n n u n c i a t i o n ( r e p o r t e d o r ob-
s e r v e d ) , a c q u i s i t i o n of g e a r , a p p r e n t i c e s h i p t o a guru and grad-
u a l a c q u i s i t i o n o f s p i r i t m a s t e r y a r e c u l t u r a l l y defined, s t e p s on
t h e r o a d t o becoming a B h u j e l shaman, b u t t h e y a r e n o t t h e o n l y
way. Although uncommon among t h e D h u j e l , I h e a r d o f one shaman
and e n c o u n t e r e d a n o t h e r whose guru were s u p e r n a t u r a l b e i n g s .
They c l a i m t o b e s e l f - g e n e r a t e d (bhuz-phuttd: i . P . , ' e a r t h -
s p r u n g ' , o r Zphu ubjeko: i . e . , ' s e l f - p r o d u c e d ' ) . A legendary
g r e a t g r a n d f a t h e r o f a l i v i n g d h u j e l headman was a shaman o f t h i s
t y p e . While plowing he was s n a t c h e d away by t h e d e i t y o f Cold
Water ( c i s 0 pEni d e u t d ) , k e p t f o r f i v e d a y s and f e d on earthworms
w h i l e l e a r n i n g shaman l o r e and t e c h n i q u e . The god t o o k t h e boy
because he l i k e d him and r e t u r n e d him o n l y when t h e mother, who
w a s a widow, had begun t o hang h e r s e l f . F o r t e n d a y s t h e boy
was dumb and u n a b l e t o e a t o r move. On t h e t e n t h day he became
p o s s e s s e d by t h e Cold Water d e i t y , who e x p l a i n e d t o t h e mother
t h r o u g h t h e boy what had happened. T h e r e a f t e r he became s o am-
o u s a shaman t h a t he was . s a i d t o have been i n demand by t h e king
o f Kathmandu.

A young B h u j e l shaman had had a s i m i l a r v a l i d and v a l i d a t i n g


n o v i t i a t e . A deutd had come t o him when he was 1 3 and t a k e n him
t o t h e bottom o f a l a k e , where h e s t a y e d f o r 15 d a y s . L a t e r t h e
same d e u t d t o c k him t o a b u r i a l p l a c e i n t h e B h u j i v a l l e y and
k e p t him t h e r e t h r e e d a y s and n i g h t s . During t h e s e e x p e r i e n c e s
he was t a u g h t t h e s p e l l s (?t'KzntPa) he was u s i n g i n h i s st5ances.
I n s t e a d o f a drum, he was u s i n g a b u n d l e o f l e a f y b r a n c h e s ,
which he h e l d i n f r o n t o f him and shook v i o l e n t l y when p o s s e s s e d
an a t y p i c a l f e a t u r e I had n o t o b s e r v e d i n 1962 ( c f . H i t c h c o c k ,
1 9 6 6 ) . T h i s shaman had l o s t a f o o t u n d e r what must have been ex-
t r e m e l y p a i n f u l c i r c u m s t a n c e s , b u t h e s a i d h e had become a shaman
b e f o r e t h i s m i s f o r t u n e b e f e l l him.

I n t h e l a s t two c o u r s e s toward becoming a shaman t h e b o d i e s of


t h e n o v i c e s w e r e s a i d t o be p r e s e n t b u t t h e s o u l ( p u r u s h ) had
been t a k e n away. W e have h e r e a r e p o r t o f s o u l - l o s s o r s o u l -
j o u r n e y i n g , though n o t t h e c e l e s t i a l journey t h a t d e f i n e s E l i -
a d e ' s c l a s s i c configuration. For i n both these cases t h e soul
t r a v e l l e d on o r u n d e r t h e e a r t h . I n my e a r l i e s t d a t a on B h u j e l
shamanism I d i d n o t e n c o u n t e r t h i s k i n d o f s o u l j o u r n e y . The
shamans I knew t h e n d i d n o t c l a i m t o have e n t e r e d t h e O t h e r World
( H i t c h c o c k , 1 9 6 7 ) . Now w e have t h i s i n s t a n c e o f more e x t e n s i v e
soul-journeying, a soul-journeying during t h e n o v i t i a t e t h a t l i k e
t h e n o v i t i a t e - a s - p o s s e s s i o n i s u n c o n t r o l l e d and u n s o l i c i t e d .

W e c a n f u r t h e r augment t h i s by an i n s t a n c e o f c o n t r o l l e d s o u l -
l o s s , and i t i s n o t e w o r t h y t h a t t h e movement, i f one i s t o be
r e c o g n i z e d a s a f u l l - f l e d g e d shaman, must be toward m a s t e r y -
and v o l u n t a r y c o n t r o l - w h e t h e r o f p o s s e s s i o n o f o f s o u l - j o u r n e y -
i n g . A Matwala shaman p e r f o r m s a r i t u a l t o c u r e a p a t i e n t who i s
unconscious. During t h e c o u r s e of t h e r i t u a l he s i n g s a song i n
which o v e r 100 l o c a l f l o w e r s , b u s h e s and t r e e s a r e mentioned.
A f t e r t h i s he c a l l s a d e u t d , becomes p o s s e s s e d , and l i e s down
unconscious b e s i d e h i s unconscious p a t i e n t . H i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n
o f t h i s l a s t p o r t i o n o f t h e r i t u a l i s t h a t t h e d e u t d i s conduct-
i n g h i s s o u l among t h e p l a n t s named i n t h e s o n g , - f o r somewhere
among them t h e s o u l i s h i d i n g . 2 A f t e r some t i m e ' t h e shaman
awakes and r i t u a l l y restores t o t h e p a t i e n t h i s l o s t s o u l . Es-
p e c i a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t i n t h e shaman's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f t h i s
search f o r a l o s t s o u l i s h i s statement t h a t it i s n o t t h e p l a n t
t h a t h o l d s t h e s o u l p r i s o n e r , b u t one o r more e v i l s p i r i t s , who
u s e t h e p l a n t a s a h i d i n g p l a c e . The shaman h a s t o do b a t t l e
w i t h t h e s e s p i r i t s i n o r d e r t o w r e s t t h e s o u l away. I t a l s o i s
s i g n i f i c a n t t h a t t h e c o n t e s t t a k e s p l a c e on e a r t h , o r j u s t be-
n e a t h i t , among r o o t s .
-
R e t u r n i n g now t o E l i a d e ' s t h r e e e l e m e n t s a psychological
s t a t e , and i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of it s p e c i f y i n g s o u l - l o s s and journey-
i n g , and p o s s e s s i o n by a s p i r i t - I would want to view B h u j e l sha-
manism, f i r s t , a s an a c t i v i t y t h a t i s observed by o t h e r s or a men-
t a l s t a t e a n d / o r an a c t i v i t y reported on by t h e a c t o r - t h u s ab-
s o l v i n g me from any need t o s p e c i f y o r imply what ' r e a l l y ' i s
happening i n t h e shaman's mind. Two i n i t i a l a c t i v i t i e s mark t h e
b e g i n n i n g o f t h e c o u r s e toward b e i n g a s h ~ m a n . One i s l y i n g as
i f d e a d , i n f a c t o r i n r e p o r t , a i ~ di s interpreted as an uncon-
t r o l l e d and u n s o l i c i t e d i n s t r u c t i o n a l s o u l - j o u r n e y . The o t h e r i s
s h a k i n g o r f l i n g i n g o n e ' s s e l f a b o u t ( a g a i n i n f a c t o r i n report),
and i s interpreted a s u n c o n t r o l 4 e d and u n s o l i c i t e d p o s s e s s i o n .
So f a r a s I know, a l l B h u j e l shamans take one o r a n o t h e r c o u r s e .
F u r t h e r m o r e , a shaman p a s t h i s n o v i t i a t e v a l i d a t e s h i s r o l e by
a c t i v i t y and a p p a r e n t m e n t a l s t a t e s having r e f e r e n c e t o b o t h
t h e s e e a r l i e r o c c a s i o n s , b u t w i t h t h e i m p o r t a n t a d d i t i o n of v o l -
u n t a r y c o n t r o l . A s a working, s o c i a l l y a c c e p t e d shaman h e d e s -
c r i b e s h i s s o u l ' s journey a s v o l u n t a r i l y i n i t i a t e d , and termina-
t e d when h i s m i s s i o n t o t h e O t h e r World h a s been accomplished.
Similarly, h i s voluntarily i n i t i a t e d possession is described, o r
a c t e d o u t , a s temporary l o s s and resumption o f a l l h i s f a c u l t i e s .
b c e p t f o r commitment t o t h e i d e a o f t r a n c e o r some o t h e r a l t e r e d
s t a t e o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s I f i n d no d i f f i c u l t y i n f i t t i n g t h i s con-
c e p t i o n e i t h e r t o R e i n h a r d ' s ( t h i s volume) d e f i n i t i o n ( i f w e a s -
sume, a s I do, t h a t t h e shaman's i s a s o c i a l r o l e and embodies
a c t i v i t i e s , s u c h a s c u r i n g , u n d e r t a k e n f o r t h e good o f t h e com-
munity) o r t o S h i r o k o g o r o f f ' s (1935) d e s c r i p t i o n o f shamanism
among t h e Tungus .
Becoming a S w

I n what f o l l o w s I must be s e l e c t i v e i n t w o s e n s e s . Due t o


s p a c e l i m i t a t i o n I must s e l e c t from t h e complex a s a whole, and
w i l l a t t e m p t t o t o u c h on o n l y some o f t h e most c e n t r a l f e a t u r e s .
O f t e n I a l s o must s e l e c t from among i n f o r m a n t s , and a g a i n f o r
want o f s p a c e w i l l p r e s e n t t h e complex a s s e e n from one o r ano-
t h e r i n d i v i d u a l p o i n t o f view. Although i n c o m p l e t e , t h i s ap-
p r o a c h d o e s less v i o l e n c e t o t h e l a r g e component o f i n d i v i d u a l i t y
i n t h e complex t h a n t o w r i t e a s i f it were homogeneous and one
shaman o r layman c o u l d speak f o r a l l .

The young Matwala w e d i s c u s s e d e a r l i e r , who was p o s s e s s e d


d u r i n g h i s m a t e r n a l g r a n d f a t h e r ' s s e a n c e s , e x p e c t e d t o become h i s
g r a n d f a t h e r ' s p u p i l . Among t h e B h u j e l it i s n o t e s s e n t i a l t h a t a
n o v i c e l e a r n from a c l o s e r e l a t i v e b u t it i s n o t uncommon. Nor
i s it uncommon f o r a n o v i c e o f one c a s t e t o have a p x % i from
a n o t h e r . Magar have t a u g h t Matwala Khas and v i c e v e r s a . Both
Magar and Matwala have t a u g h t Kami. To my knowledge, however, no
Kami (who a r e members o f an ' u n c l e a n ' c a s t e ) have been t h e f o r m a l
gurm o f Matwala o r Magar (who belong t o 'clean' c a s t e s ) . But much
informal learning occurs a c r o s s t h e 'clean-unclean' c a s t e l i n e ,
b e c a u s e ' c l e a n ' c a s t e members o f t e n a r e t r e a t e d by K a m i shamans
and members o f these c a s t e s f r e q u e n t l y a t t e n d s e a n c e s o f Kami
shamans. F o r t h i s r e a s o n , d e s p i t e e t h n i c ' c u l t u r a l b o u n d a r i e s ' -
n e i t h e r Kami n o r Magar shamans f o r example f a v o u r t h e v e r y l a r g e
b e l l t h a t i s p a r t o f t h e Matwala costume - t h e B h u j e l complex i n
overall perspective i s not sharply caste-specific.

On h i s d e a t h a shaman's g e a r t e n d s t o p a s s t o h i s most
f a v o u r e d p u p i l , o f t e n a c l o s e r e l a t i v e s u c h a s a grandson o r
s i s t e r ' s s o n . Among t h e Matwala t h e b e s t o w a l by h i s f a m i l y of a
d e a d shaman's g e a r i s s i g n i f i e d t o b e c o r r e c t when t h e r e c i p i e n t
shaman, w e a r i n g h i s newly r e c e i v e d g e a r , becomes p o s s e s s e d by t h e
s o u l ( p ~ P U s h ) of h i s d e c e a s e d p P U . I n a n o t h e r t y p e of i n h e r i -
t a n c e t h e d e c e a s e d shaman i s b e l i e v e d t o bestow some o f h i s pow-
e r s on r e l a t i v e s , r e g a r d l e s s o f whether t h e y r e c e i v e h i s g e a r .
A Magar l i n e a g e g r a n d s o n , a n o v i c e shaman, was b e l i e v e d t o have
r e c e i v e d some o f t h e powers (gytin) o f h i s famous l i n e a g e grand-
f a t h e r , and a g r a n d d a u g h t e r r e c e i v e d t h e g i f t o f c l a i r v o y a n c e
from t h e same shaman.

The l a t t e r g i f t r a i s e s t h e q u e s t i o n o f f e m a l e shamans. To my
knowledge t h e B h u j e l n e v e r have had a f e m a l e shaman. When quer-
i e d , p e o p l e s a y t h e work i s t o o d i f f i c u l t f o r a woman. Else-
where, however, women shamans, though r a r e , a r e n o t unknown, and
I have s e e n one p e r f o r m i n g among t h e Pun Magar o f U l l e r i , i n t h e
mountains e a s t o f Beni on t h e K a l i Gandaki.

L a t e r i n t h e e s s a y I w i l l g i v e an account of a Bhujel sgance.


What f o l l o w s i s t h e a c c o u n t o f t h e o f f i c i a t i n g shaman's n o v i t i a t e
and a p p r e n t i c e s h i p . T h i s shaman was a K a m i named Deo Ram and a f -
t e r a b r i e f p e r i o d o f u n c o n t r o l l e d p o s s e s s i o n , he was v i s i t e d by
a deity. The god, named Kamal J a i s i Burma, r e v e a l e d h i m s e l f and
spoke t h r o u g h Deo Ram t o t h e p e o p l e p r e s e n t a t a s e a n c e b e i n g
conducted by a n o t h e r shaman. A t t h e t i m e Deo Ram was 11 y e a r s
old.

From t h a t f i r s t r e v e l a t i o n o f h i s t u t e l a r y d e i t y , Deo Ram,


when becoming p o s s e s s e d , always h a s c a l l e d Kamal J a i s i Burma
f i r s t , and o n l y s u b s e q u e n t l y , one a t a t i m e , any o t h e r s p i r i t s h e
may wish t o c o n s u l t . Should he have t o c a l l on Kamal J a i s i Burma
a second t i m e d u r i n g t h e s e a n c e , h e f i r s t o f f e r s him i n c e n s e by
b u r n i n g j u n i p e r , o r i f t h a t i s n o t a v a i l a b l e , ghee mixed w i t h
sage.

When Deo Ram was f i r s t p e r f o r m i n g h e had no costume and knew


none o f t h e t r a d i t i o n a l shaman s o n g s (okhZ h e c a l l e d them, o r
sometimes 6Zstra, o r ' s c r i p t u r e s ' ) . A s a ' s e l f - g e n e r a t e d 1 sha-
man he depended on i n c a n t a t i o n s (mantra) t h e god had t a u g h t him
and a l s o used a few m e d i c i n a l h e r b s . To a t t a i n a s t a t e o f p o s -
s e s s i o n h e b e a t on a b r a s s p l a t e and when p o s s e s s e d c o u l d d r i v e
away e v i l s p i r i t s by t h r o w i n g b u r n i n g s t i c k s i n t h e i r d i r e c t i o n .
I n answer t o a u d i e n c e q u e s t i o n s , h e a l s o c o u l d f o r e t e l l t h e f u t -
u r e (baknu).

I n Gorakhpur, I n d i a , where Deo Ram s t a y e d t h r e e months on the


way t o BuPma when s e e k i n g army employment, h e performed f o r r e s i d -
e n t N e p a l i s and was much r e s p e c t e d because o f a c u r e f o r b l i n d -
n e s s he a c h i e v e d . I n Manipur, Burma, one o f t h e o f f i c e r s was a
Matwala from h i s own home v a l l e y . T h i s man, a l i e u t e n a n t , had a
w i f e and c h i l d r e n w i t h him and c a l l e d on Deo Ram f o r shaman work.
He was s o i m p r e s s e d w i t h Deo Ram's s u c c e s s t h a t a y e a r a f t e r Deo
Ram's r e t u r n t o t h e B h u j i v a l l e y , when t h e l i e u t e n a n t was home on
l e a v e , he a r r a n g e d a m e e t i n g i n Dhorpatan between Deo Ram and a
Magar shaman from t h e v i l l a g e o f S h e r a . T h i s man was a f r i e n d o f
t h e B h u j i v a l l e y l i e u t e n a n t ' s and had s e r v e d w i t h him i n Burma.
The Magar became Deo Ram's guru, a c c e d i n g t o h i s f r i e n d ' s r e q u e s t
t o p r o v i d e t h e B h u j e l , t h r o u g h Deo Ran, w i t h a s h i g h a q u a l i t y of
shamanism a s h e was p r o v i d i n g f o r t h e p e o p l e o f h i s l o c a l i t y .
Thus Deo Ram r e p r e s e n t s a shaman who was b o t h ' s e l f - g e n e r a t - e d '
and g w - t a u g h t .

The a p p r e n t i c e s h i p was u n u s u a l b e c a u s e Leo Ram s p e n t o n l y a


Cew d a y s w i t h h i s g w . The more u s u a l p r a c t i c e i s f o r a n ap-
p r e n t i c e ( s i k g e ) t o spend a y e a r , and sometimes many y e a r s , a t -
tending d a n c e s with h i s teacher, carrying h i s gear, observing
him, and sometimes, as a way o f l e a r n i n g t h e l o n g s o n g s , s i n g i n g
them a f t e r him v e r s e f o r v e r s e . But Deo Ram's guru w r o t e o u t h i s
i n c a n t a t i o n s , u s i n g N e p a l i s c r i p t t o t r a n s c r i b e t h e Khamkura i n
which he u s u a l l y s a n g them. H e a l s o w r o t e o u t t h e s p e l l t o be
p l a c e d i n s i d e a p r o t e c t i v e p a c k e t t o be worn by a p a t i e n t around
h i s neck ( j a n t a r ) . To h e l p Deo Ram a c ~ u i r epower o v e r gods and
s p i r i t s , he had D e a R a m s i t b e s i d e him w h i l e he drummed and s a n g
t h e i n c a n t a t i o n s r e q u i r e d t o summon v a r i o u s s u p e r n a t u r a l b e i n g s .
A f t e r e a c h s p i r i t was mentioned, he s h o u t e d , 'Ho!' and moved h i s
drum i n f r o n t of Deo Ram, t h u s t r a n s f e r r i n g c o n t r o l o f t h e s p i r i t
t o h i s p u p i l . A t e a c h t r a n s f e r e n c e Deo Ram shook v i o l e n t l y .

S i n c e Deo R a m ' s t e a c h e r d i d n o t w r i t e o u t t h e long songs t h a t


form a n e c e s s a r y p a r t o f t h e shaman's r e p e r t o i r e , b u t o n l y s a n g
them t o him a number o f t i m e s , Deo Ram had t o t r a n s c r i b e t h e s e
h i m s e l f , a f t e r t h e g w u had completed t h e s i n g i n g , and h i s t r a n s -
c r i p t i o n s a c t u a l l y were t r a n s l a t i o n s i n t o N e p Z l i o f t h e Khamkur6
i n which h e h e a r d them. Deo Ram s a i d t h a t f o r a shaman's power
t h e s p e l l s and i n c a n t a t i o n s were o f f i r s t importance, and t h a t
f o r e a c h shaman, o r s c h o o l of shamans, t h e y t e n d e d t o be more se-
c r e t and p a r t i c u l a r i z e d t h a n t h e l o n g s o n g s , which t e l l s t o r i e s
t h a t a r e w i d e l y known, and a r e more a p a r t o f t h e p u b l i c domain -
a f a c t t h a t d o e s n o t p r e v e n t each shaman from g i v i n g h i s own
unique stamp t o a s t o r y ' s r e n d i t i o n , whether by h i s s t y l e o f
s i n g i n g , arrangement o f e p i s o d e s o r d e l e t i o n s and a d d i t i o n s o f
material.
A f t e r hearing h i s g w u ' s songs, o b t a i n i n g t r a n s c r i p t i o n s of
h i s s p e l l s and i n c a n t a t i o n s , and l e a r n i n g t o c o n t r o l h i s p r o t e c -
t i v e s p i r i t s , Deo Ram began c o l l e c t i n g t h e n e c e s s a r y i t e m s o f a
s h a m a n ' s costume. F o r p r a c t i c ? h e would d r e s s up i n t h e costume,
p r o p h i s g u r u ' s words o r h i s own t r a n s c r i p t i o n s i n f r o n t o f him-
s e l f , a n d drum a n d s i n g u n t i l f i n a l l y h e h a d them a l l by h e a r t .

I n t h i s account I do n o t have s p a c e t o d i s c u s s t h e r i t u a l t h a t
accompanies t h e making of t h e s h a m a n ' s g e a r , n o r c a n I g i v e d e -
t a i l s a b o u t smaller p a r t s o f s u c h p a r a p h e r n a l i a a s t h e drum.
I w i l l l i s t t h e m a j o r i t e m s f o r m i n g t h e costume o f a n o t h e r Kami
shaman, whose g e a r I w a s a b l e t o p u r c h a s e . The drum (Qhydgro)
i s o n e - s i d e d a n d i s h e l d by c r o s s e d s t . i c k s f a s t e n e d by r i n g s t o
t h e i n s i d e o f t h e r i m - on which a b e l l may b e f a s t e n e d . The
d r u n h e a d is made o f w i l d Himalayan g o a t s k i n ( g h o r a l ) . A wrist
g u a r d ( b h o l t o ) i s worn o n t h e l e f t arm. The h a n d l e o f t h e s l e n -
d e r s t r a i g h t d r u m s t i c k f g a j d ) i s c a r v e d . To h o l d t h r e a d o f f e r -
i n g s t o h i s c h i e f d i e t y (mukhiyd d e u t i i ) , t h e shaman c a r r i e d a
s t i c k w i t h a t r i d e n t f t r i s / l i ~ )a t t h e t o p . The whole a r t i c l e i s
r e f e r r e d t o as a s p e a r o r j a v e l i n ( b a r e & ) . (According t o l o c a l
shamans t h e t r i d e n t d o e s n o t b e a r any r e l a t i o n t o g i v a b e c a u s e i t
i s made o f i r o n r a t h e r t h a n c o p p e r ) . The w a i s t - l e n g t h l e a t h e r
' j a c k e t ' ( w i t h a l l i t s appendages a p t l y c a l l e d b h z r a : lit.
' c o o k i n g p o t s ' a n d i n t h e p h r a s e bhZra kw, ' p o t s and p a n s ' )
c o n s i s t s o f two s h o u l d e r s t r a p s a n d a wide b e l t a t t h e w a i s t made
o f w i l d g o a t l e a t h e r . Some ' j a c k e t s ' are made o f b a r k i n g d e e r
( r d t e ) o r w i l d s h e e p ( t h i i r ) , b u t w i l d g o a t i s p r e f e r r e d . The
b e l t and suspenders a r e d e c o r a t e d with cowrie s h e l l s and b i r d
s k i n s are a t t a c h e d a t t h e b a c k , i n c l u d i n g s k i n s o f t h e Impeyan
P h e a s a n t (Lophophorus i m p e j a n u s . S e e Rand a n d F l e m i n g , 1 9 5 7 : 6 2 ) .
B e l l s , a n d p i e c e s o f m e t a l r e p r e s e n t i n g s u n , moon a n d s t a r s a r e
a t t a c h e d t o t h e s h o u l d e r s t r a p s , a n d o n e o f them, d i s t i n g u i s h e d
by a c o i l o f w i r e , was g i v e n by t h e s h a m a n ' s guru a n d c a l l e d
gurghanta'. ( T h i s i s t o b e d i s t i n g u i s h e d from t h e much l a r g e r
b e l l o f t h e Matwala, a l s o c a l l e d g u r g a n t h a b u t worn i n f r o n t a n d
depending from a f a s t e n i n g around t h e n e c k ) . Together t h e b e l l s
a n d m e t a l p l a t e s c r e a t e a l o u d j a n g l i n g when t h e shaman d a n c e s ,
o r may m e r e l y t i n k l e when h e t r e m b l e s s l i g h t l y . With h i s ' j a c -
k s t ' a n d drum ( i n c l u d i n g t h e s m a l l b e l l a n d r i n g s a t t a c h e d t o t h e
h o l d i n g s t i c k s ) he is a b l e t o c r e a t e a remarkable v a r i e t y of
rhythmic and sound e f f e c t s .

T h i s shaman h a d a v a r i e t y o f n e c k l a c e s . Some were made o f


g l a s s b e a d s p u r c h a s e d i n Butwal o r l o c a l b a z a a r s a n d s t o r e s .
Some were i n t e r s p e r s e d w i t h b e a d s f a v o u r e d by s d d h u f r u d r d c c h e ,
E l a e o c a r p u s S p h u e r i c u s Gizertn.) t h o u g h some shamans s a i d t h a t on-
l y ~ & - & ~ j0gi , o r o t h e r r e l i g i o u s mendicants and a s c e t i c s should
wear t h e s e . He a l s o h a d a l o n g n e c k l a c e made o f s n a k e v e r t e b r a e
a n d donned e a c h n e c k l a c e i n t h e name o f o n e o f h i s g u r u . A f i n a l
n e c k l a c e which h e r e g a r d e d a s o n e o f t h e most e s s e n t i a l f e a t u r e s
o f h i s c o s t u m e , t o which a r o o t o f t h e V m b e l l i f e r a e g e n u s
( b h u t t i s ) was a t t a c h e d . Dug r i t u a l l y i n t h e h i g h p a s t u r e s , i t
h e l p e d him m a s t e r e s p e c i a l l y p o w e r f u l s p i r i t s .

H i s f e a t h e r h e a d d r e s s fbakhar) c o n s i s t e d o f p h e a s a n t and p a r t -
r i d g e f e a t h e r s and t o keep i t u p r i g h t he wore a t i a r a - l i k e sup-
p o r t made o f p o r c u p i n e q u i l l s . He wore j o d h p u r - l i k e N e p a l i t r o u -
sers (su-l) and d u r i n g much o f a s e a n c e s a t on a low wooden
s t o o l (pirka') c a r v e d from a s i n g l e b l o c k o f wood.3 The costume
and a l l o t h e r g e a r was k e p t i n a s p e c i a l l y made w i c k e r b a s k e t
with a top.

Once Deo Ram had o b t a i n e d h i s g e a r and had l e a r n e d h i s v ' s


s o n g s , h e was r e a d y f o r a f i n a l i n i t i a t o r y s t e p on t h e way t o be-
coming a f u l l - f l e d g e d shaman. T h i s i s t h e p o l e c l i m b and a l -
though n o t a l l B h u j e l shamans have done it and n o t a l l b e l i e v e
t h e y m u s t , t h o s e w i t h whom I worked most c l o s e l y - and t h e y were
t h r e e o f t h e most a c t i v e shamans i n t h e upper v a l l e y - r e g a r d e d
i t a s a n e c e s s a r y p a r t o f t h e i r c r e d e n t i a l s . Deo Ram s a i d he
took t h e s t e p t h r e e y e a r s a f t e r h i s f i r s t a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h h i s
guru and t h e f o l l o w i n g i s a much condensed v e r s i o n of h i s a c c o u n t .

When t h e p P U h a d become p o s s e s s e d w h i l e s i n g i n g and drumming,


he was a b l e t o see a p a r t i c u l a r p i n e t r e e growing i n t h e f o r e s t ,
and s e n t h i s two s o n s , who a l s o were shamans, t o g e t it. A f t e r
t h e y had made r i t u a l o f f e r i n g s a t t h e f o o t o f t h e t r e e and had
s e e n i t s t o p s h a k e as t h e y d i d s o , t h e y chopped it down, s t r i p p e d
it o f a l l b r a n c h e s e x c e p t f o r a t u f t a t t h e t o p , and took i t back
t o t h e c e n t r e of t h e v i l l a g e . Here, t h e y p l a n t e d it u p r i g h t i n a
h o l e . The g u r u b l i n d f o l d e d h i s p u p i l , and h i s two s o n s d r e s s e d
him i n h i s shaman's r e g a l i a and handed him h i s drum and d r u m s t i c k .
By drumming and s i n g i n g , t h e guru a g a i n became p o s s e s s e d and
t r a n s m i t t e d h i s c o n d i t i o n t o h i s p u p i l . A f t e r c a l l i n g on t h e
Snake o f H e l l and t h e Sun and t h e Moon t o be w i t n e s s e s o f what
was a b o u t t o happen, t h e g u r u , who was s h a k i n g , g o t up and l e a n e d
a g a i n s t t h e p i n e t r e e . H i s p u p i l f o l l o w e d him, g r a s p e d t h e t r u n k
and s h i n n i e d t o t h e t o p , s t i l l h o l d i n g h i s drum and d r u m s t i c k .
The guru n e x t a s k e d him q u e s t i o n s he c o u l d answer o n l y by d i v i n -
i n g t h e f u t u r e . Among t h e q u e s t i o n s was how many y e a r s o f l i f e
remained t o h i s p u p i l ' s mother. When Deo Ram had shown t h a t he
had a c q u i r e d powers o f d i v i n a t i o n , t h e g u r u and h i s s o n s danced
and s a n g f o r a t i m e a t t h e f o o t of t h e t r e e , and t h e n the gum
b r o u g h t him down g r a d u a l l y by s h o u t i n g 'Ho!' n i n e times. A t e a c h
s h o u t , Deo Ram s l i d p a r t way down, u n t i l a t l a s t he touched t h e
ground. During h i s r e t u r n t o e a r t h , t h e g u r u prayed: 'Make my
p u p i l a s b r i g h t a s t h e Sun and a s b e a u t i f u l a s t h e Moon. L e t
t h i s be my fame.' F o l l o w i n g t h e rest o f t h e ceremony, which i n -
v o l v e d t h e s a c r i f i c e o f a ram and g o a t , t h e t r e e was c e r e m o n i a l l y
r e t u r n e d t o t h e f o r e s t . A b r a n c h was g i v e n t o t h e p u p i l , and he
s a v e d i t s o t h a t a t t h e t i m e o f h i s b u r i a l it c o u l d be s e t up-
r i g h t between t h e s t o n e s a t t h e peak o f h i s b u r i a l mound.
Sharrnnic Funerary R i t e s

I n t h e B h u j i v a l l e y t h e f i n a l r i t e s f o r a shaman a r e d i f f e r e n t
from t h o s e f o r non-shamans. I p r e s e n t them i n b r i e f e s t summary,
a s Deo Ram d e s c r i b e d t h e f u n e r a l h e e x p e c t e d . The dead shaman i s
d r e s s e d i n h i s r e g a l i a , b l i n d f o l d e d and propped up on t h e p o r c h
of h i s house. He i s made t o h o l d a drum, and a d r u m s t i c k i s t i e d
t o h i s hand. H i s p u p i l s , and t h e p r o f e s s i o n a l s he a l r e a d y h a s
t r a i n e d , come and s i t b e f o r e him. They drum and s i n g u n t i l a l l
a g r e e t h a t t h e body h a s become p o s s e s s e d , a s i n d i c a t e d by s l i g h t
t r e m b l i n g , even sometimes by b e a t i n g t h e drum. The body t h e n i s
c a r r i e d t o a h i l l s i d e chosen by t h e shaman b e f o r e h i s d e a t h .
A h o l e i s dug and u n l i k e customary k u r i a l s which a r e by t h e r i v e r
and p r o n e , t h e c o r p s e i s p l a c e d i n t h i s g r a v e s i t t i n g up, w i t h
t h e t o r s o above ground. The rest o f t h e body i s c o v e r e d w i t h a
cone-shaped w a l l of s t o n e s . The b r a n c h from t h e t r e e climbed by
t h e shaman d u r i n g h i s a p p r e n t i c e s h i p i s i n s e r t e d a t t h e peak o f
t h e cone, and some of h i s b e l l s a r e t i e d t o i t . Some b r e a d and
l i q u o r , p l u s a l o c k of t h e shaman's h a i r , i s l e f t i n a compart-
ment j u s t b e n e a t h t h e p e a k . Some s i x months l a t e r a l l t h e sha-
mans who have been p u p i l s come and c o l l e c t t h e h a i r , d r i n k t h e
l i q u o r , i f any r e m a i n s , and throw away tllc food. The l o c k o f
h a i r , p l u s a s t o n e from j u s t above t h e shaman's head, w i l l be t a -
ken t o t h e shaman's l i n e a g e s p i r i t ' s memorial s i t t i n g p l a c e and
w i l l be entombed t h e r e under a s m a l l s t r u c t u r e o f s t o n e s , l i k e
t h o s e t h a t have been e r e c t e d a s memorials t o o t h e r d e c e a s e d l i n e -
age members.

P h y s i c a l Ills

B h u j e l shamans f r e q u e n t l y a r e a s k e d t o p r o v i d e t h e r a p y , and
most f r e q u e n t l y f o r s p e c i f i c p h y s i c a l i l l s . To p r o v i d e some i n -
d i c a t i o n o f what a ' p r a c t i c e ' i s l i k e , I ' l l n o t e c a s e s u n d e r t a k e n
by a Matwala shaman w i t h i n t h e c o u r s e o f two months. Each c a s e
was t r e a t e d by p o s s e s s i o n d u r i n g a n i g h t ' s s g a n c e , which l e d t o
d i a g n o s i s , and e v e n t u a l l y t o an o f f e r i n g t o t h e c a u s a t i v e s p i r i t .
A woman w i t h b o i l s was a f f l i c t e d by s p i r i t s l i v i n g i n some o f h e r
cultivated terraces. The s p i r i t s were Banaskhangi ( s p i r i t o f t h e
f o r e s t s e c t o r ) and Ban ~ h & r i ( f o r e s t shaman). She was t o l d t o
make a s h r i n e on t h e t e r r a c e and o f f e r a c h i c k e n t o e a c h s p i r i t .
A man had p a i n s i n h i s l e f t s i d e . The c a u s a t i v e s p i r i t was a
w i t c h (Ban DZini) who l i v e d on one of h i s t e r r a c e s and s e n t a
w i t c h arrow ( b o k s i b d n l . H e a l s o was t o l d t o make a s h r i n e and
o f f e r a c h i c k e n . A young boy c o u l d n o t move h i s l e g s and arms.
He was a f f l i c t e d by t h e Kuce L u l and t o p r o p i t i a t e t h i s Z U Z , t h e
shaman had t o have t h e a s s i s t a n c e o f two young men, o n e o f whom
was d r e s s e d l i k e a woman. These two, known a s deaf and dumb man
and woman ( l d f o - l d $ i ) dance when an o f f e r i n g i s made and were de-
manded by t h e Zul i f i t was t o r e l e a s e t h e p a t i e n t ' s arms and
l e g s . Two d i f f e r e n t k i n d s o f l u l were c a u s i n g a woman's s w e l l i n g
g o i t r e . They were p r o p i t i a t e d by images made o f wheat f l o u r .
And i n t h e f i n a i caEe, a woman's p a i n f u l e y e s were found t o be
caused by a human w i t c h . B e r t r e a t m e n t was v e r y similar t o t h e
one t o be d e s c r i b e d s u b s e q u e n t l y a s p a r t of one o f Deo Ram's
sCances .
C o n t e x t s O t h e r Than t h e Family Seance
The r i t u a l c o n t e x t p a r e x c e l l e n c e o f b h u j e l shamanism i s t h e
sGance, c a l l e d by a f a m i l y and a t t e n d e d by t h e f a m i l l and neigh-
bours. Shamans i n s t a t e s of p o s s e s s i o n , however, do f u n c t i o n on
o t h e r o c c a s i o n s and f o r o t h e r g r o u p s . A t t h e l e v e l of t h e l o c a l -
i z e d l i n e a g e , Magar w i t h a r e c e n t a n c e s t o r who w a s a well-known
shaman b u i l t a memorial e a r t h - c o v e r e d c a i r n ( 1 ~ 2 t h )on t h e s t o n e
t r a i l s i d e r e s t i n g p l a c e (bisdwza) e r e c t e d i n honour o f t h e i r
l i n e a g e god ( k u l d e u t d ) and a n c e s t o r s ( p i t r a ) . On t h e f u l l m o n
n i g h t o f BaisZkh (April-May) t h i s l o c a l i z e d l i n e a g e i n v i t e s sham-
a n s who were p u p i l s of t h e a n c e s t r a l shaman t o h o l d a n a l l - n i g h t
s6ance and t h e f o l l o w i n g day t h e shamans dance p o s s e s s e d t o t h e
m t h , where a l i n e a g e member o f f i c i a n t ( p u j d r i ) beheads a ram.
The h o r n s a r e removed and w i t h t h e r o p e used t o l e a d t h e ram t o
t h e s a c r i f i c e , a r e hung on t h e math, o r on a p i n e t r e e p o l e b e s i d e
it. During t h e n i g h t - l o n g s e a n c e , o r d u r i n g t h e r i t u a l a t t h e
math, t h e d e c e a s e d shaman p o s s e s s e s and s p e a k s t h r o u g h one o r
another of h i s l i v i n g p u p i l s . A reading of t h e ram's pancreas
a l s o is thought t o r e v e a l h i s prognostic.

An example o f shamanic p a r t i c i p a t i o n a t t h e l o c a l c a s t e l e v e l
o c c u r s a n n u a l l y among t h e Matwala. An a n c e s t r a l shaman i n s t r u c t e d
h i s c a s t e f e l l o w s t o b u i l d a s h r i n e t o a l o c a l goddess ( d e v i l and
w o r s h i p t h e r e on t h e f u l l moon o f Bhadau (August-September).
Matwala shamans p a r t i c i p a t e i n the r i t u a l , becoming p o s s e s s e d and
s p e a k i n g f o r t h e d e v i l who i s c a l l e d Dakkhin ( s o u t h e r n ) ~ e v oi r
Dakkhin KZli. A s a c e n t r a l f e c t u r e o f the r i t u a l t h o s e p r e s e n t
bedeck c a p t u r e d Mona1 p h e a s a n t s (Lophophorus impejanus) w i t h r e d
and w h i t e t h r e a d s , mark them w i t h r e d powder, and s p r i n k l e t h e n
w i t h c l e a n unbroken h u l l e d r i c e . The p h e a s a n t s a r e h e l d by male
o f f i c i a n t s ( p G & i ) d r e s s e d as women. A f t e r t h e p h e a s a n t s have
been honoured t h u s i n t h e name o f t h e g o d d e s s , t h e y a r e t a k e n t o
t h e edge o f t h e f o r e s t and r e l e a s e d . S u b s e q u e n t l y t h e goddess is
p r o p i t i a t e d by s a c r i f i c i n g male s h e e p and g o a t s . A s a r u l e t h e s e
s a c r i f i c e s a r e made by p e r s o n s whose r e q u e s t f o r a boon from t h e
goddess h a s been g r a n t e d .

A r i t u a l a t t h e most i n c l u s i v e B h u j e l l e v e l i s performed b i -
a n n u a l l y t o r i d t h e h i g h p a s t u r e s of a r z k s a s - an e v i l s p i r i t t h a t
k i l l s humans and l i v e s t o c k and i s s a i d by some t o resemble a h o r s e ;
by o t h e r s t o a p p e a r l i k e a man r i d i n g a h o r s e , a b e a r o r a t i g e r .
T h e o r e t i c a l l y t h e r i t u a l i s performed by shamans from t h e whole
valley. I n a c t u a l i t y when ? saw i t , t h e a c t i v e p a r t i c i p a n t s were
e i g h t Kami. They came t o g e t h e r i n t h e i r r e g a l i a , and w i t h one of
t h e i r number a s l e a d e r , sang a n t i p h o n a l l y The F o r e s t S p i r i t
' s c r i p t u r e ' (ban banpa-ko okFa'). Three t i m e s d u r i n g t h e course of
t h e song they a l l g o t up and performed a l i n e dance a s p r o t e c t i o n
a g a i n s t e v i l s p i r i t s . I n t e r m i t t e n t l y some became p o s s e s s e d .
Toward evening p a r t of t h e group c r o s s e d t h e v a l l e y t o a p a s s t h a t
l e a d s from t h e high p a s t u r e s down i n t o t h e Bhuji v a l l e y . Here,
n e a r a s h r i n e f o r t h e S p i r i t of t h e Pass ( d e o r d Z i l , i n a g e s t u r e
t o p r e v e n t t h e rirksasfrom going i n t o t h e v a l l e y , t h e y s y m b o l i c a l l y
t i e d t h e s p i r i t t o a t r e e , and t o s i g n a l i z e v i c t o r y smeared t h e i r
f a c e s and drums with white c l a y . A f t e r s u n s e t o t h e r s from t h e
group went n o r t h a c r o s s t h e v a l l e y , d r i v i n g t h e ra'ksas,and a f t e r
c r o s s i n g t h e U t t a r Ganga s a c r i f i c e d an u n c a s t r a t e d ram - a g i f t
t o persuade t h e r a ' k s a s t o l e a v e t h e r e g i o n i n peace f o r a n o t h e r
two y e a r s . I t was claimed t h a t i n i t i a l l y t h i s r i t u a l was supported
by t h r e e upper Bhuji v a l l e y headmen, who provided t h e ram and
r e c e i v e d i n t u r n a p o r t i o n o f t h e meat. Recently t h e i r s u p p o r t
had waned and on t h i s o c c a s i o n t h e money f o r t h e ram was being
r a i s e d i n i t i a l l y from passers-by a s t h e r i t u a l p r o g r e s s e d and
l a t e r from a nearby v i l l a g e . The s a c r i f i c i a l meat was d i v i d e d
among p a r t i c i p a t i n g shamans and t h e y s h a r e d a p o r t i o n w i t h a l o c a l
innkeeper who provided them l i q u o r and a p l a c e t o cook.

Techniques Other Than P o s s e s s i o n

Before t u r n i n g t o a seance performed by Deo Ram - t h e work most


s p e c i f i c a l l y a s s o c i a t e d with shamanism because i t involved
possession - l e t me mention o t h e r ways t h a t he s e r v e d t h e community,
f o r he was b o t h an a s t r o l o g e r and a person who could t a p power by
t h e use of s p e l l s and o t h e r e s o t e r i c t e c h n i q u e s . A shamanic per-
formance i s p h y s i c a l l y t a x i n g . Deo Ram s u f f e r e d p a i n f u l l y from
a r t h r i t i s i n one knee. For t h i s reason he had begun t o c u t down
on t h e number of s e a n c e s he would perform, and a l s o t 3 c u t down
on t h e i r l e n g t h . But i n a d d i t i o n t o t h i s reason f o r t a p e r i n g o f f
h b work a s a shaman, he a l s o mentioned h i s b e l i e f i n t h e g r e a t e r
power of a s t r o l o g y . 'Even t h e g o d s , ' h e s a i d , 'have t o obey t h e
stars.' Deo Ram was one o f two h i g h l y r e s p e c t e d a s t r o l o g e r s
r e g u l a r l y used by t h e people of t h e upper Bhuji v a l l e y . The
o t h e r was a Matwala.

The b a s i s f o r Deo Ram's knowledge of a s t r o l o g y was l a i d when


he worked f o r t h e B r i t i s h army and became l i t e r a t e . I t was d u r i n g
t h i s time a l s o t h a t Hindu i n f l u e n c e s on h i s l i f e were s t r e n g t h e n e d
by h i s memorizing and l e a r ~ i n gt o s i n g long adapted e x c e r p t s from
t h e RSmayavZ and t h e l i f e of Kgigna. On h i s r e t u r n t o t h e Bhuji
v a l l e y t h i s knowledge made him t h e f o c a l person i n s i n g i n g groups
t h a t were r e q u e s t e d t o perform a t d i f f e r e n t homes. The b a s i c
f e a t u r e of t h e p r e s e n t a t i o n was e x c e r p t s from one o r t h e o t h e r of
t h e s e two Hindu c l a s s i c s , and involved drums, unison r e s p o n s i v e
s i n g i n g , and simple r e p e t i t i v e dancing by men, some o f them
d r e s s e d l i k e women.
When Deo R a m r e t u r n e d from Burma, d u r i n g t h e same p e r i o d when
he was l e a r n i n g t h e shaman's s o n g s from t h e r e t i r e d Magar s o l d i e r
he a l s o s t u d i e d w i t h a Brahman who was l e a d i n g t h e l i f e o f an
a s c e t i c and was l i v i n g i n a v i l l a g e a d j a c e n t t o Monal. H e spoke
of this man a s g u m ma/Ziriij and d u r i n g t h e c o u r s e of t h r e e y e a r s
l e a r n e d from him how t o u s e a n a s t r o l o g i c a l c a l e n d a r ( W t r o ) .

Deo Ram's a t t r a c t i o n t o Hindu customs and forms o f knowledge


a l s o became a p p a r e n t somewhat l a t e r d u r i n g a p e r i o d o f f o u r y e a r s
j u s t p r e c e d i n g h i s t h i r d m a r r i a g e , a t t h e age o f 32. An a s c e t i c
was l i v i n g i n a f o r e s t a b o u t a d a y ' s walk from Deo Ram's home.
Deo Ham spoke o f him a s pra'bhu ( l o r d ) , a t i t l e d e s e r v e d , he s a i d ,
b e c a u s e t h i s a s c e t i c , who worshipped g i v a , a t w i l l c o u l d change
h i m s e l f i n t o a b i r d , a t i g e r and a number o f o t h e r a n i m a l s . Deo
Ram went f r e q u e n t l y t o v i s i t him a t h i s r e t r e a t ( k u t i ) and p a r t i -
c i p a t e d w i t h o t h e r v i s i t o r s i n s i n g i n g songs o f d e v o t i o n ( n i r g m )
He began t o wear t h e b e a d s worn by a s c e t i c s d e v o t e d t o s i v a
(rudra'cche), and o n l y under p r e s s u r e from h i s f a t h e r ' s s i s t e r ' s
husband d i d h e g i v e up t h e i d e a of d e v o t i n g h i m s e l f e n t i r e l y t o
t h i s guru.

I was u n a b l e t o make a s t u d y o f Deo Ram's knowledge and p r a c -


t i c e a s a n a s t r o l o g e r . I knew h e was i n demand f o r i n f o r m a t i o n
a b o u t d a t e s o f r e l i g i o u s i m p o r t a n c e i n t h e Hindu c a l e n d a r , f o r
f i n d i n g a p p r o p r i a t e names f o r c h i l d r e n , and f o r d e t e r m i n i n g what
t h e a s t r o l o g i c a l r e a s o n was f o r i l l n e s s and o t h e r d i f f i c u l t i e s i n
which p e o p l e found t h e m s e l v e s . The few t i m e s I was a b l e t o
o b s e r v e him working a s a n a s t r o l o g e r h e d i d n o t u s e a c a l e n d a r ,
b u t p r o c e e d e d , sometimes by c o u n t i n g on h i s f i n g e r s , o r by c o u n t i n g
t h e number o f g r a i n s o f r i c e h e p i c k e d up between h i s thumb and
f o r e f i n g e r , and by o t h e r means I c o u l d n o t fathom, t o a s c e r t a i n
what p l a n e t s (grab) were a t t h e r o o t o f h i s c l i e n t s ' t r o u b l e s
and whether a n y t h i n g c o u l d b e done a b o u t i t .

Sometimes Deo R a m would d i a g n o s e a c l i e n t w i t h o u t s a y i n g any


s p e l l s o r drawing on t e c h n i q u e s o t h e r t h a n h i s ' s e c o n d s i g h t ' .
When c a l l e d t o see an o l d K a m i woman v e r y ill w i t h t u b e r c u l o s i s .
he s a i d , 'Your s o u l ' s s o u l ( G s a purmsh) h a s gone t o t h e grz-ve-
y a r d and h a s t a k e n r o o t t h e r e 1 . He added t h a t it now loved t h e
g r a v e y a r d more t h a n it d i d h e r f a m i l y members. Although h e men-
t i o n e d t h a t s a t i s f y i n g a p a r t i c u l a r e v i l s p i r i t ( s i u dokh) might
p o s s i b l y s t r e n g t h e n h e r p u l s e , he d i d n o t convey much optinlism
and c o n c l u d e d by remarking t h a t s h e had b e s t b e g i n s e e i n g members
o f h e r f a m i l y n o t p r e s e n t - w i t h t h e i m p l i c a t i o n of i t s b e i n g f o r
the l a s t t i m e .

By ' s e c o n d s i g h t ' he a l s o d i a g n o s e d t h e stomach p a i n s o f a


young Magar a d u l t male a s b e i n g caused ly an e v i l f o r e s t s p i r i t
o r i g i n a l l y a human (ban dokh) and by a w i t c h l i v i n g i n t h e w a t e r
(jaZ @ i n i ) . H i s p r e s c r i p t i o n was t o make and o f f e r two images
(mti). The young man made b o t h o f c l a y and i n t h e form o f
human b e i n g s . Each was p l a c e d on i t s own p i e c e o f b i r c h b a r k ,
marked w i t h some r e d powder and s p r i n k l e d w i t h r i c e , w a t e r and
s a g e . The one f o r t h e f o r e s t s p i r i t was p l a c e d n e a r t h e c a t t l e -
shed; t h e o t h e r , f o r t h e w a t e r s p i r i t , was l e f t a t t h e community
water source.

Another t e c h n i q u e employed by Deo R a m and n o t depending on


p o s s e s s i o n was r e t r i e v a l of a s t r a y e d p o r t i o n o f the l i f e s p i r i t
( s d t o ) . T h i s i n v o l v e d u s e o f a s t r i n g s e v e n times t h e l e n g t h o f
t h e c l i e n t ' s arm. A f t e r t h e n e c e s s a r y r i t u a l , which i n c l u d e d
s a y i n g s p e l l s , t h e ' s t r i n g was c o i l e d around t h e c l i e n t ' s neck.
These a c t s b r o u g h t t h e s p i r i t back and wearing t h e s t r i n g a b o u t
t h e neck ( o r w r i s t ) was meant t o e n s u r e it d i d n o t a g a i n s t r a y
away.

To i l l u s t r a t e a s b a n c e , I w i l l draw on Deo Ram's performance


on t h e e v e n i n g o f March 9 , 1962, a t t h e home o f a Kami from t h e
v i l l a g e o f Marbang. Chandra Man, t h e man who a s k e d Deo R a m t o
come, had j u s t l o s t a f o u r month o l d i n f a n t and wished t o p r o t e c t
h i s home from t h e i n f a n t ' s s o u l . The performance t o o k p l a c e i n
t h e main room o f Chandra Man's s m a l l h o u s e , w i t h t h e shaman s i t t i f i g
b e f o r e t h e f i r e - p i t , h i s back t o t h e w a l l , and t h e f a m i l y and
g u e s t s g a t h e r e d i n a s e m i - c i r c l e i n f r o n t o f him. Smoky p i t c h p i n e
s p l i n t e r s p l a c e d on an i r o n s t a n d i n t h e f i r e - p i t gave t h e o n l y
l i g h t . B e s i d e s Deo Ram, h i s s o n , s t e p s o n and l i n e a g e s o n , t h e
f o l l o w i n g were p r e s e n t ( r e l a t i o n s h i p s a r e t o Chandra Man) : w i f e ,
s o n , s t e p s o n , e l d e r b r o t h e r and h i s s o n , e l d e r b r o t h e r ' s d a u g h t e r ' s
husband, w i f e ' s two younger b r o t h e r s , f a t h e r , and f a t h e r ' s s i s t e r ' s
son.

While f o r e t e l l i n g t h e f u t u r e , Deo R a m ' s t u t e l a r y d e i t y had t o l d


him t o p r o t e c t t h e f a m i l y a g a i n s t w i t c h - e v i l , a s t e p t a k e n i n
a l m o s t e v e r y s6ance. I n a n t i c i p a t i o n h e a s k e d Chandra Man t o
p r e p a r e w i t c h o f f e r i n g s . One o f f e r i n g was a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f a
woman and a s u c k l i n g c h i l d made o f dough and w a t e r , an image
( C h h a ~ l y E - k o murti) t h a t s t a n d s f o r a n a t t e n d a n t o r f a m i l i a r . A
second g i f t c o n s i s t e d o f a b a l l o f a s h w i t h a s i n g e d f e a t h e r s t u c k
i n t o it ( k k d n i - k o pdtZo). ~ o t ho b j e c t s a r e customary g i f t s t o
a w i t c h , and may he augmented by o t h e r dough images ( o f a c a t
e s p e c i a l l y ) a s w e l l a s v a r i o u s food i t e m s .

Although t h e work o f making an o f f e r i n g .to a w i t c h went on


c o n c u r r e n t l y w i t h o t h e r a c t i v i t i e s , I w i l l d e s c r i b e it t o com-
p l e t i o n h e r e . The p e r s o n who made t h e o f f e r i n g was t h e y o u n g e s t
b r o t h e x o f Chandra Man's w i f e , and h e began w i t h two p i e c e s o f
b i r c h b a r k , one f o r t h e ash b a l l , t h e o t h e r f o r t h e mother and
baby. With t h e a s h b a l l he l a i d a t h r e a d , s t r i p e d b l a c k w i t h
c h a r c o a l . H e d i v i d e d e v e n l y between t h e two b i r c h b a r k t r a y s
some p i e c e s o f b e e r mash, some cooked rice and small p i e c e s of
p a n - f r i e d b r e a d , cooked on o n l y one s i d e . The t o t a l o f f e r i n g was
r e f e r r e d t o a s pa'tzo-

The n e x t s t e p taken by Deo Ram was a procedure t o determine the


e x i s t e n c e o f some o b s t a c l e o r o b ~ t r u c t i o nt o t h e happy f u l f i l l m e n t
of t h e c l i e n t ' s l i f e . The o b s t a o l e fgaunya) , according t o Deo Ram,
i s n o t t h e same a s an i n a u s p i c i o u s c o n f i g u r a t i o n of p l a n e t s ( p h a
dQ8d). The l a t t e r u n f o r t u n a t e c o n f i g u r a t i o n can o n l y be changed,
he s a i d , by Brahman o r J a i s i . The former h a s a s i m i l a r e f f e c t ,
however, and can be c u r e d by ' t h e drum' (dhg&p~: i.e. shaman)
i n a ceremony c a l l e d 'removing t h e o b s t a c l e ' f g m p u~halnal.~

Witch Evi Z

Deo Ram began t o s i n g t h e Nine Witch Song (nauje g u v E d ) always


used f o r removing witch e v i l , and s e r v i n g t o v a l i d a t e and e x p l a i n
t h e shaman's power t o c o n t r o l i t . The song t e l l s t h e s t o r y of the
F i r s t Shaman, c a l l e d R-a, and h i s c o n f r o n t a t i o n with e v i l , i n t h e
g u i s e of n i n e s i s t e r s , who were t h e f i r s t w i t c h e s . The s t o r y
makes c l e a r t h a t when speaking o f a witch fboksi) one a l s o can
mean a h i g h l y g e n e r a l i z e d form o f e v i l - perhaps t h e epitome of
a l l e v i l - and a form m a n i f e s t i n g i t s e l f i n more l o c a l i z e d and
p a r t i c u l a r s p i r i t s , such a s t h e water w i t c h fjaZ f i i n i ) , t h e witch
o f t h e high p a e t u r e s and f o o t h i l l s (buki @iini), t h e troublesome
s p i r i t of a dead grown up ( s i u &kh) o r of a dead c h i l d (rZ dokh).

Witch l o r e , b e l i e f and p r a c t i c e i s e x t e n s i v e , and sometimes


c o n f l i c t i n g . A s background f o r t h e song o n l y t h e b r i e f e s t mention
of some a s p e c t s of t h e complex can be made h e r e . The n i n e witch
s i s t e r s , t h e F i r s t Witches, f i g u r e prominently. Some hold t h e
youngest witch s i s t e r , whose agreement with R h a t h e song d e s c r i b e s ,
bore a daughter and began a m a t r i l i n e of w i t c h e s . Others do n o t
b e l i e v e i n a m a t r i l i n e o f witches. They s a y t h e n i n e s i s t e r s -
a l l o f whom s t i l l l i v e , i n s p i t e of t h e d e a t h s d e a l t them i n t h e
song - a f f e c t female embryos, s o t h a t they a r e born w i t c h e s . They
do t h i s a t random.

A p e r v a s i v e f e a t u r e of any shaman's s u p e r n a t u r a l world i s t h e


easy t r a n s i t i o n from what might be c a l l e d t h e p r i m a l , u n i v e r s a l
form t o a s e r i e s o f l o c a l and p a r t i c u l a r m a n i f e s t a t i o n s . Siddha,
f o r example, may be spoken of a s a p r i m a l and u n i v e r s a l d e i t y o r
a s one of many l o c a l m a n i f e s t a t i o n s such a s l a t t d siddha (Siddha
w i t h matted h a i r l i k e a j o g i ) . The n i n e w i t c h e s a r e p r i m a l and
u n i v e r s a l . They themselves may cause e v i l , o r t h e p r i n c i p l e of
witch e v i l t h e y r e p r e s e n t may t a k e e f f e c t through l i v i n g i n d i v i d -
u a l s (manukkhe-ko b o k s i o r gdu-ko b o k s i , i . e . human witches o r
v i l l a g e witches) .
Rh and S i u p r o v i d e a n o t h e r example o f a s h i f t from a n e t e r n a l
p r i n c i p l e t o p a r t i c u l a r and t r a n s i e n t embodiments. R e s p e c t i v e l y ,
RB and S i u r e f e r t o t r o u b l e s o m e s p i r i t s of a c h i l d t h a t h a s d i e d
b e f c r e growth of i t s second t e e t h , and o f an a d u l t . But when
p e o p l e d r i v e away a p a r t i c u l a r R Z o r S i u t h e y o f t e n s p e a k a s if
t h e s p i r i t h6d r e t u r n e d t o and been a b s o r b e d i n t h e p r i m a l s p i r i t -
t h e one from whom t h e y o b t a i n e d t h e i r e s s e n t i a l and bothersome
q u a l i t i e s . These R Z and S i u a r e o m n i p r e s e n t and e v e r l a s t i n g .

To b e born a w i t c h means t o have a s p e c i a l s u b c u t a n e o u s b i t o f


f l e s h ( b o k s e r i ~ s a on ) t h e forehead. The b o k s e r i d s a , which t h e
p o s s e s s o r i s c o m p l e t e l y unaware o f h a v i n g , h a s t w o a s p e c t s : one
i s a w a r e n e s s , and i s r e f e r r e d t o by t h e t e r m u s e d f o r a k i n d o f
c o n s c i o u s n e s s , mind o r i n t e l l i g e n c e (dimiig). F o r example, i f a
woman w i t h b o k s e r i mzsa q u a r r e l s w i t h a n o t h e r p e r s o n , t h e b o k s e r i
dimiig t a k e s n o t e . Then, a l t h o u g h t h e woman may i n t e n d h e r oppon-
e n t no harm, s h e n e v e r t h e l e s s may do s o , f o r t h e b o k s e r i d s a
a l s o i s l i k e a s p i r i t o r s o u l (purush) and under t u t e l a g e o f t h e
b o k s e r i dimiig can c o v e r t l y s t r i k e o u t t h r o u g h t h e e y e s o r sound o f
t h e tongue and a f f l i c t o t h e r s . The synonyms f o r r e f e r r i n g t o t h i s
' e v i l e y e ' and i t s e f f e c t s a r e l e g i o n . One o f t h e most f r e q u e n t l y
h e a r d i s c h e d bhed. Ched, from c h e p u , i m p l i e s p i e r c i n g o r b o r i n g
and bhed i m p l i e s something h i d d e n o r secret. The heavy l o a d o f
c o n n o t a t i o n t h a t c h e d bedh c a r r i e s may be r e n d e r e d a s ' t h e secret
e v i l a c t o f making w i t h a g l a n c e a h o l e ( a s w i t h a magic arrow or
biin) s o t h a t a p e r s o n ' s l i f e s l o w l y e b b s away.'

One o f t h e shaman's major f u n c t i o n s i s c o u n t e r i n g t h e d a n g e r


from v i l l a g e women who a r e b o k s i . o n l y he c a n t e l l who t h e y a r e .
Because o f s t r i n g e n t l e g a l p e n ~ l t i e sf o r b a s e l e s s a c c u s a t i o n s
(Macdonald 1968 and t h i s volume) w i t c h e s v e r y seldom a r e o p e n l y
named. I n s & a n c e s t h e y a r e r e f e r r e d t o by i n d i r e c t i o n and a s I
have n o t e d e l s e w h e r e (Hitchcock 1974a) f r e q u e n t l y a r e b e l i e v e d t o
be found among women of a man's w i f e ' s n a t a l l i n e a g e . Occasion-
a l l y , though, a shaman may i n d i c a t e a man's own w i f e and a recom-
mended c u r e i s s e c r e t l y mixing some o f h e r excrement i n h e r food
and g e t t i n g h e r t o e a t it. I f t h i s i s done n o t o n l y w i l l s h e be
c u r e d b u t s h e w i l l be i n c a p a b l e o f b e a r i n g b o k s i o f f s p r i n g .

S i n c e t h e song o f t h e n i n e w i t c h s i s t e r s i s s o c e n t r a l a f e a t u r e
of t h e upper B h u j i shaman complex, I w i l l g i v e a s h o r t e n e d v e r s i o n
of i t . I would p r e f e r t o p r e s e n t t h e whole o r i g i n a l t e x t , a l o n g
w i t h commentary and a n a l y s i s . But even w i t h t h e f o l l o w i n g abbrev-
i a t e d v e r s i o n it i s p o s s i b l e t o convey some i d e a o f t h e t y p e o f
m a t e r i a l t h e song a s a whole c o n t a i n s . With f u r t h e r work o f t h e
k i n d r e c e n t l y done by A l l e n (1974a) and Hdfer (1974) it i s c l e a r
t h a t t h e s e songs and o t h e r f o l k l o r i s t i c c o l l e c t i o n s (Gaborieau
1974) n o t o n l y w i l l f u r t h e r i l l u m i n a t e shamanism b u t a l s o w i l l
p r o v i d e i n s i g h t s i n t o unknown p o r t i o n s o f N e p a l ' s e t h n i c and
l i n g u i s t i c h i s t o r y . Moreover, i n some i n s t a n c e s , a s i n t h i s s o n g ,
t h e s e r i t u a l t e x t s from t h e h i l l s r e f l e c t a t y p e o f s o c i e t y and
i t s t e n s i o n s , and more g e n e r a l l y , u n i v e r s a l problems o f t h e human
c o n d i t i o n (Hitchcock 1974) .
T h i s song i s t h e b r i e f e s t v e r s i o n I r e c o r d e d , n o t o n l y from Deo
Ram b u t from any o t h e r shaman. I t w a s c o p i e d i n N e p a l i a s he
r e c i t e d i t , a l i n e o r two a t a t i m e . I t is somewhat s h o r t e r t h a n
t h e v e r s i o n I h e a r d him p r e s e n t d u r i n g s e a n c e s , i n c l u d i n g t h e
seance being d e s c r i b e d here. In a l l versions I heard a m n g t h e
B h u j e l t h e number of w i t c h e s and t h e b a r g a i n between RZna and t h e
youngest sister a r e c o n s t a n t e l e m e n t s . But depending on t h e shaman
and t h e c o n t e x t o f t h e performance, e p i s o d e s a r e expanded and
c o n t r a c t e d , added o r d e l e t e d , . The opening e p i s o d e o f t h e p r e s e n t
v e r s i o n , f o r example, i s v e r y s h o r t . I n a n o t h e r v e r s i o n it i s
much expanded by t e l l i n g how t h e k i n g t r i e d t o g e t h e l p from a
Brahman, an a s t r o l o g e r and a n o t h e r k i n d o f shaman b e f o r e t u r n i n g
t o RZma. Longer v e r s i o n s a l s o go i n t o much d e t a i l a b o u t t h e
b i r t h o f t h e n i n e s i s t e r s and RZrna's v i s i t t o t h e i r p a r e n t s . In
t h e p r e s e n t t r a n s l a t i o n I have t r i e d t o s t r i k e a b a l a n c e between
complete l i t e r a l n e s s and r e a s o n a b l y e a s y comprehension. In the
s p a c e a l l o t t e d I c o u l d d i s c u s s v e r y few o f t h e t e x t u a l problems
r a i s e d . T h i s v e r s i o n , however, r e p r e s e n t s what Deo Ram s a y s t h e
t e x t means. I n h i s p r e s e n t a t i o n Deo Ram used a number o f t u n e s
and rhythms. Another K a m i shaman, whom I o f t e n h e a r d , used t h e
same t u n e and rhythm t h r o u g h o u t .

The atmosphere d u r i n g t h e s i n g i n g o f t h i s song, a s was g e n e r a l l y


t h e c a s e , was v e r y i n f o r m a l . Although t h e song had bouncing
rhythms and s i n g a b l e t u n e s , and though it t o l d a d r a m a t i c t a l e ,
it was s o f a m i l i a r t h a t much c o n v e r s a t i o n went on and Deo Ram once
had t o remind t h e a u d i e n c e t o be more a t t e n t i v e because t h e song
was b e i n g sung f o r t h e i r good. When l o n g e r v e r s i o n s a r e p r e s e n t e d ,
even by b e t t e r s i n g e r s t h a n Deo Ram, some of t h e a u d i e n c e c a n n o t
s t a y awake f o r t h e r e q u i r e d two h o u r s o r more and r o l l up i n t h e i r
b l a n k e t s and go t o s l e e p .

Song of t h e Nine Glitches

0 g r e a t Age o f T r u t h , t h a t g r e a t Age. Good R2na grew up and


was c r e a t e d . He v i s i t e d t h e p e o p l e a t t h e ~ h u m a ik ~i n g ' s h i l l
f o r t r e s s . Re v i s i t e d t h e r i c h merchant, KhZte, i n h i s room. They
c a l l e d Good R k a . With copper drum and l e a d d r u m s t i c k Good RZna
s a n g and danced i n a s t a t e o f p o s s e s s i o n . 6 Good RSma s a n g and
danced i n a s t a t e o f p o s s e s s i o n a l l n i g h t . H e began t o r e c o g n i z e
.
w i t c h e s ( k a k s i ) ,7 he began t o r e c o g n i z e w i t c h e s ( b o k s i )

'0 n i n e sisters8 when I s e e your two l o n g b r a i d s , how


b e a u t i f u l your h a i r i s , 0 e l d e r s i s t e r f d i d i ) , how beau-
t i f u l your h a i r i s , 0 younger sister ( b a h i n i ) . When I
s e e your f o r e h e a d , i t i s l i k e t h e f u l l moon. When I
see your e a r s , t h e y a r e l i k e b i g tambourines. When I
l o o k a t your e y e s , t h e y a r e l i k e d o v e s ' e y e s . When I see
y o u r n o s e , it l o o k s l i k e a g o l d e n f l u t e w i t h a f r i n g e d
n o s e r i n g . 9 How b e a u t i f u l didi, how b e a u t i f u l b a h i n i .
Didi you a r e b e a u t i f u l , b a h i n i you a r e charming.'
* * *
The d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e n i n e s i s t e r s c o n t i n u e s a t l e n g t h , e x t o l -
l i n g l i p s , teeth, s h o u l d e r s , arms, f i n g e r s , bosom, t h i g h s , h e e l s ,
s o l e s of t h e f e e t , w e l l - f i t t e d c l o t h i n g , e t c . I t e n d s w i t h RZma
a s s e r t i n g t h a t t h e y a r e w i t c h e s and p r e s s i n g , d e s p i t e t h e i r
p r o t e s t a t i o n , t o know where t h e y were born and who t h e i r p a r e n t s
were . * *
' I , RZma, am c a l l e d and b r o u g h t t o t h e k i n g ' s p a l a c e and
t h e o r d i n a r y man's house. I have uncovered t h e w i t c h
e v i l o f t h e n i n e sisters. I f e l t t h e n i n e p u l s e s and
s e a r c h e d o v e r t h e s u r f a c e o f t h e e a r t h and a l l i t s rooms.
YOU a r e k a k s i , you a r e b o k s i . who i s your f a t h e r ? Who
i s your mother? Where were you born? Without knowing
your c a s t e w e cannot e a t b o i l e d r i c e t o g e t h e r . '

' I n D i s t r i c t N u m b e r Twelve west1' w e n i n e sisters were


born and o u r f a t h e r i s Old Man Kutchen and o u r mother,
Old Woman Kutchen. '

'What v i l l a g e were you born i n ? '

' W e were born i n o u r house i n ~ a n i b a n i lv~i l l a g e i n


Number W e l v e West. T h i s b e i n g t h e c a s e we n i n e s i s t e r s
are d e s c e n d a n t s of Magars b e l o n g i n g t o t h e Pun and Budha
clans. I13

' I f you a r e elder t h a n I , I ' l l r e g a r d you a s an e l d e r


s i s t e r ; i f younger, a s a younger s i s t e r . L e t ' s walk
a b o u t my d i d i , l e t ' s walk a b o u t , my b a h i n i . L e t ' s make
a t o u r of t h e c o u n t r y s i d e , l e t ' s make a t o u r t h r o u g h
the hills.'

'Our bones a r e naked and o u r stomachs a r e hungry. Which


r e g i o n s h a l l w e go t o ? Which h i l l s s h a l l w e go t o ?

On h e a r i n g t h i s RZma gave a g i f t of r i c e mixed w i t h b l o o d and


a b a l l made of a s h e s 1 4 t o t h e d i d i w i t c h .

' F a t t h i s s h a r e and d e p a r t when you a r e d r i v e n away by


r i t u a l p a s s e s w i t h a wand o f l e a f y t w i g s . ' 1 5

A t t h e c r o s s r o a d s n e a r R a n i b a n i v i l l a g e , t h e y began t o dance
t h e j h o l a l 6 on t h e l a r g e s t o n e a s f l a t a s a woven mat. They began
t o s i n g m g a l , began t o s i n g ~ h z k i l7 . Good RZma began donning
h i s shaman's costume, b r o u g h t a p i n e wood p o l e from P a t h a r k o t , 1 8
e r e c t e d it on t h e f l a t s t o n e a t t h e c r o s s r o a d s and climbed i t . H e
began t o r e c o g n i z e k a k s i , began t o r e c o g n i z e b o k s i .
' D i d i you danced t h e jholu; b a h i n i , you sang t h e p h d k i ,
t h e mangal. You a r e k a k s i , you a r e b o b $ . '

When RZma s a i d this, t h e y danced upside down. The p o l e f e l l


down and RBrna f e l l f l a t . Thinking R8ma was dead, t h e n i n e s i s t e r s
s a i d , ' L e t u s e a t R h a , l e t u s e a t , RBnju. I 19
Ir *
In t h e next s e c t i o n t h e witch s i s t e r s f i r s t consider e a t i n g
RBma's head b u t f i n d t h e y a r e p r e v e n t e d by t h e magic of h i s f e a t h e r
headdress. T h e r e a f t e r they c o n s i d e r e a t i n g h i s e a r s , e y e s , mouth,
neck, s h o u l d e r s , back, r i g h t hand, l e f t hand, h e a r t , w a i s t , h i p s ,
b u t t o c k s , l e g s . But everywhere Rhma i s p r o t e c t e d by some item of
h i s shaman's costume.

RSma r e g a i n e d consciousness, took seven magic s e e d s he had w i t h


him and threw them i n t o t h e a i r . The p o l e e r e c t e d i t s e l f , he him-
s e l f s t o o d up shaking, dancing and i n a s t a t e of p o s s e s s i o n , and
once more began r e c o g n i z i n g k a k s i and b o k s i .

The n i n e s i s t e r s challenged RZma t o compare h i s l e a r n i n g i n


black magic20 wich t h e i r s . He concedes t h e i r s i s g r e a t e r t \ a n any
shaman's and s a y s i n s t e a d they should compare t h e i r l e a r n i n g i n
white magic21 w i t h h i s .
* * *
RZma s a i d , ' L e t ' s go, my d i d i , l e t ' s go, my b a h i n i . A t Bahra
~ u k e n ai t~ t~h e f o o t of t h e snow-covered mountain, t h e Mona1
pheasant23 i s c a l l i n g k u l l i s ! k u l l i s ! k u l l i s ! The d a z z l i n g sun
looks b e a u t i f u l on t h e f o r e s t . 0, my d i d i , 0 my b a h i n i , t h e
b l a c k s k i r t and white shawl i s very becoming. L e t ' s dance from
r i g h t t o l e f t and l e t ' s dance from l e f t t o r i g h t . '

Good R h a r e l e a s e d a powerful s p i r i t 2 4i n t h e v a s t f o r e s t .
Good R h a s e n t t h e s p i r i t t o t h e e l d e s t w i t c h s i s t e r . She vomited
blood from h e r mouth. She t o s s e d from s i d e t o s i d e i n p a i n . The
e l d e s t s i s t e r became t h e witch ( @ i n i ) o f t h e high t r e e l e s s
p a s t u r e s i n t h e v a s t f o r e s t a t Bahra Bukeni.

' I n a l l f o u r Ages you must e a t t h e given s h a r e and d e p a r t a t


t h e b e h e s t of t h e wand of l e a f y t w i g s . '

The second s i s t e r exclaimed, 'Thakka ba2?a'si!-'25 and s a i d ,


'RZna, you a r e s i n f u l . Why d i d you k i l l o u r e l d e s t s i s t e r ? '

'No, my didi; no, my b a h i n i . RZma i s n o t s i n f u l . She passed


through Bahra Bukeni a t an i n a u s p i c i o u s time. I 26
*
One a f t e r a n o t h e r , while they t r a v e l l e d , RZma b r i n g s about t h e
d e a t h s of a l l b u t t h e youngest s i s t e r . 2 7 With t h e h e l p of
~ h x m a r j a nhe ~ ~drawns t h e second s i s t e r , who becomes a witch of
watery p l a c e s ( j a l @ n i l . The t h i r d s i s t e r he a f f l i c t e d with a
f i r e arrow (agni bdn) , which caused a f a t a l a b c e s s , and t h e f o u r t h
w i t h c h o l e r a , s o t h a t s h e becomes t h e c h o l e r a w i t c h (haijz & i n i ) .
BhImarjan threw an i r o n s h o t weighing 600 pounds t o k i l l t h e f i f t h .
The song does n o t s p e c i f y how t h e s i x t h s i s t e r was k i l l e d b u t does
s a y s h e became t h e a f f l i c t i n g s p i r i t (dokh) of a dead grown up
(siu) o r child (e) when t h e s p i r i t r e t u r n s t o t r o u b l e i t s n e a r e s t
r e l a t i v e s . ~ h i m a r j a npersuaded t h e s e v e n t h s i s t e r t o c r o s s a
s u s p e n s i o n b r i d g e and c u t t h e c a b l e s . The e i g h t h s i s t e r was
a f f i x e d t o t h e sky by l i g h t n i n g . The n i n t h and youngest s i s t e r
spoke :
* *
'When I look t o my r i g h t I d o n ' t f i n d didi; when I look
t o my l e f t I d o n ' t f i n d b a h i n i . They a r e k i l l e d , a r e
d e s t r o y e d . I t a k e t h e Sun a s w i t n e s s and t h e Moon a s
witness. I name t h e v i l l a g e S u r j e p u r . ' 29

SZno E n c h i (youngest s i s t e r ) t h o u g h t , 'Thakka b m - s i ! They


a r e k i l l e d . They w i l l k i l l me t o o . ' She began t o change h e r shape.
I n t h e g u i s e of a s m a l l f l y she e n t e r e d and h i d h e r s e l f i n R h a ' s
own f e a t h e r e d h e a d d r e s s . He t r a v e l l e d from Bhansa River t o Uran
peak.30 He was t h i r s t y . RSma t h r u s t h i s l e a d drumstick i n t o a
b i g rock. Three s p o u t s of w a t e r came o u t f o r RBma. While d r i n k -
i n g , Tipa 13zma31 looked behind. H e saw t h e young w i t c h i n h e r o m
guise.

'Why d i d you come, G n c h i ? I n t h e s c u t h your n e x t young-


e s t s i s t e r h a s been f i x e d t o t h e sky by l i g h t n i n g . L e t ' s
r e t u r n , b a h i n i ; l e t ' s go back.'

'With a l l r e s p e c t , RZma, w i t h a l l r e s p e c t . 32 L i s t e n t o
my e n t r e a t y ; t h e n I ' l l go back. I f you k i l l me, no one
i n t h e h i l l s w i l l c a l l you. No one w i l l c a l l you. I f
I go and b r i n g w i t c h e v i l , you, m a s t e r , w i l l be c a l l e d .
You w i l l be given 72 pounds ( n i n e dhZmi) of sesame and
160 pounds ( n i n e w i ) of h u l l e d r i c e . With a l l r e s p e c t ,
m a s t e r , w i t h a l l r e s p e c t . L e t ' s go t o t h e h i l l s . '

H e came home and s t r u c k t h e t h r e s h h o l d w i t h a s t i c k made of


cane33 and e n t e r e d t h e house of JhumZ; t h e j h d k r i t s wife34 s a i d ,
' I n your name I have k e p t l i q u o r and a white ram f o r s i x months.
Before you go d r i n k some l i q u o r . '

The youngest witch began s e a r c h i n g f o r s h e l t e r .

'Give me s h e l t e r i n t h e upper s t o r e y . '

'There may be a l a d d e r and h o r i z o n t a l e n t r a n c e i n t o t h e


upper s t o r e y . You belong t o t h e b o k s i t r i b e and have t h e
e y e s of a w i t c h . Gold and s i l v e r t r e a s u r e might be t h e r e .
0 your w i t c h e v i l ! You'll not g e t s h e l t e r . '

'With a l l r e s p e c t , RZma, w i t h a l l r e s p e c t . Give me


s h e l t e r i n t h e back room, s h e l t e r f o r one p o o r s o u l . '
'The lineage d e i t y 3 5 might be there, and the gun storage
place, and something t o use a s incense. You have the
~ v i lw e . 3 6 You'll not g e t s h e l t e r . '

'With a l l respect, R a a , with a l l respect. Give me


s h e l t e r i n the entrance

' Y o u ' l l bewitch the water pots i n the entrance h a l l .


You' 11 not g e t s h e l t e r . '

' If t h i s i s so, give me s h e l t e r a t the door. '


'Good Rama s t r i k e s the threshhold with a cane s t i c k and
d r i v e s a three-pronged i n t o the door, making an
obstacle t o keep e v i l out. You'll not g e t s h e l t e r . '

' I f t h i s i s s o , with a l l respect, R k a , with a l l respect,


give me s h e l t e r on the porch.'

'The r i c e h u l l e r and quern may be on the porch. Children


may be playing t h e r e , laughing and making jokes. The
youngsters may be a f f l i c t e d by witch e v i l . You'll not
get shelter.'

'If this is SO, give me s h e l t e r i n the courtyard.'

'Women weave wool blankets on t h e i r looms and garments


made of n e t t l e f i b r e s . You'll a f f l i c t them with witch
e v i l . 39

' I f t h i s i s so, give me s h e l t e r among your lineage


brothers. '

'With you i n the v i l l a g e of ~ a k h a r c h e m aI~' l~l have t o


look a t the blood and dead bodies of my brothers. The
s i n of t h i s would be on me. You'll not g e t s h e l t e r . '
* *
In the concluding s e c t i o n RZma e s c o r t s the youngest witch s i s t e r
t o t h e crossroads - . a drossroads through which funeral processions
pass and where a ram, the companion of the dead, i s s a c r i f i c e d .
RZmareminds her she w i l l leave h i s p a t i e n t when he brings her
share t o t h e crossroads. The song concludes, 'Good RZma spoke the
t r u t h . One word, two words, three words.'

Chandra Man, the p a t i e n t whom the song and associated r i t u a l


was meant t o cure, was seated near t h e f i r e p i t . Toward the end
of the song Deo Ram stopped and with a bundle of leafy twigs t i e d
together with n e t t l e f i b r e thread (siduZo) made two passes over
Chandra Man's head. Then he handed the siduZo t o the youngest
brother-in-law and asked him t o pass the wand of leaves slowly
over the p a t i e n t (j&nu) and shake it above the two offerings on
t h e s t r i p s of b i r c h bark. A s Deo Rarn resumed s i n g i n g t h e b r o t h e r -
in-law, a s d i r e c t e d , k e p t moving t h e leaf-wand and shaking i t .

Deo Ram stopped drumming, took t h e leaf-wand from t h e b r o t h e r -


in-law, moved i t o v e r t h e p a t i e n t t h r e e t i m e s and threw it s o t h a t
i t t u r n e d i n t h e a i r and f e l l n e a r t h e f i r e p l a c e . The way t h e
bound-up s t e m s of t h e l e a v e s l a n d i n r e l a t i o n t o t h e p a t i e n t
r e v e a l s whether o r n o t t h e p a t i e n t i s l i k e l y t o e n c o u n t e r s e r i o u s
d i f f i c u l t i e s i n the near future.

Three p e r s o n s , i n c l u d i n g t h e youngest b r o t h e r - i n - l a w , were asked


t o make t h e o f f e r i n g t o t h e w i t c h . While Deo Ram drummed and sang
a s p e l l , f i r s t one and t h e n a n o t h e r p i c k e d up a p i e c e o f b i r c h bark
and moved it seven t i m e s toward and away from t h e p a t i e n t . The
t h r e e l e f t t h e house and followed a p a t h u n t i l i t was joined by
a n o t h e r . A t t h e c r o s s i n g t h e b r o t h e r - i n - l a w , using a s m a l l k n i f e ,
dug a h o l e . The mother and c h i l d were p l a c e d i n it and t h e n
covered w i t h e a r t h . The a s h b a l l w i t h f e a t h e r s was p l a c e d on t o p .
Between t h e house and t h e b u r i a l , t h e brother-in-law made a s e r i e s
of seven V-shaped h a t c h e s i n t h e p a t h and s t r u c k t h e ground seven
times with h i s h e e l . He e x p l a i n e d t h a t t h e b u r i a l and t h e s e a c t s
p l a c e d o b s t a c l e s between t h e house and t h e w i t c h . Before l e a v i n g
he s a i d , ' T h i s i s what should be done t o t h e w i t c h ' , and u r i n a t e d
on t h e a s h b a l l and b u r i a l .

When t h e t h r e e r e t u r n e d t o t h e house, t h e y s t o o d o u t s i d e and


s h o u t e d , 'Ha! Ha! Ha!' t o f r i g h t e n away e v i l s p i r i t s and someone
from i n s i d e threw o u t a l i v e c o a l .

A f t e r g i v i n g them a n o t h e r c h a r c o a l Cikcr, Deo Ram was ready t o


p u t on h i s complete costume. Before doing t h i s , he intoned a
p r a y e r t o RZma, The F i r s t Shaman, whose r o l e he was now assuming
completely. The p r a y e r (RW-k0-okha') i s b r i e f . A translation
follows :

I n t h e Golden Age, on t h a t same day and d a t e , i n T a l i b h o t ,


RZma was c r e a t e d . With n i n e p i e c e s o f equipment, w i t h h i s
j a c k e t , w i t h p h e a s a n t s k i n s on h i s back and a h e a d d r e s s of
p h e a s a n t f e a t h e r s , RZna was c r e a t e d . I have walked t h e
p a t h Rma t r o d and I w i l l c o n t i n u e t o walk t h i s p a t h . I
s i t on t h e s e a t where RZma s a t and w i l l d r i n k t h e d r i n k
he drank.

Chandra Man had brought a bowl of l o c a l l i q u o r ( r a k s i ) a s Deo


Ram prayed. Deo Ram b e l i e v e d t h a t i f he d i d n o t d r i n k mksi a f t e i
every r e p e t i t i o n of t h i s p r a y e r h i s guru would be banished t o h e l l .
Before he would r e p e a t i t d u r i n g an i n t e r v i e w , he o b t a i n e d some
raksi from h i s house. He was s i t t i n g on t h e ground and when he
had prayed and had gwallowed t h e r a k s i , he p u t h i s hand down a s
i f s t e a d y i n g h i m s e l f . Then he s t o o d up. The p r a y e r , he s a i d , had
made t h e e a r t h tremble s o v i o l e n t l y t h a t he c o u l d n ' t remain s e a t e d .
He walked a l i t t l e t o one s i d e and stamped on t h e ground w i t h h i s
h e e l . Reaching down and p i c k i n g up some e a r t h from t h e p l a c e
where he had stamped, he blew on i t , then s c a t t e r e d it i n a l l
directions. He d i d t h i s he s a i d i n o r d e r t o banish a l l e v i l
s p i r i t s s t i r r e d up by t h e trembling e a r t h .

A f t e r completing t h e p r a y e r , Deo Ram p u t on t h e rest of h i s


costume and p i c k i n g up t h e cup of raksi, leaned forward and dippea
t h e t i p s of some of h i s f e a t h e r s i n t o i t . Then he shook h i s head
v i g o r o u s l y from s i d e t o s i d e , s c a t t e r i n g d r o p s of l i q u o r . Next
he drank t h e l i q u o r , and t a k i n g o u t h i s low wooden s t o o l , s a t down
on i t . Once d r e s s e d and s e a t e d on t h e s t o o l , he had assumed
t o t a l l y t h e r o l e of RBma and was ready t o begin t h e e v e n i n g ' s
major r i t u a l , t h e k i l l i n g of a dead c h i l d ' s troublesome s o u l (m-
rrZrnu). I w i l l d e s c r i b e t h e r i t u a l with e x p l a n a t i o n s given by Deo
Ram and I w i l l add my f u r t h e r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n a t t h e end.

K i ZZing a Chi Zd's Troub Zesome S p i r i t

I n t h i s r i t u a l t h e c e n t r a l f e a t u r e i s a small-necked gourd
fchindu). I t s purpose i s t o a t t r a c t t h e s p i r i t ( m i ) of t h e
r e c e n t l y deceased f o u r months o l d c h i l d i n t o t h e gourd, which t h e n
i s smashed. T h i s d r i v e s t h e s p i r i t away and b a r r i e r s a r e e r e c t e d
s o t h a t it never can r e t u r n .

Many t h i n g s were done t o make t h e gourd a t t r a c t i v e t o t h e c h i l d ' s


s p i r i t . So t h a t t h e c h i l d would b e l i e v e it had come t o i t s own
home p l a c e , t h e f a t h e r dug up a l i t t l e s o i l from f i v e p l a c e s along
t h e p a t h where t h e body was taken f o r b u r i a l . H e p l a c e d t h e s o i l
i n s i d e t h e gourd, and t h e w i f e ' s youngest b r o t h e r added a puppy
made o f dough, a s m a l l bamboo t u b e f i l l e d w i t h g o a t ' s milk, a
p i e c e of b i r c h bark, and a small p i e c e of unleavened bread cooked
o n l y on one s i d e . To warn of t h e c h i l d ' s a r r i v a l , he a l s o p u t
i n s i d e a very d r y p z i y d l e a f . 41 To make t h e o u t s i d e of t h e gourd
a t t r a c t i v e , he d e c o r a t e d it with white p a i n t made of c l a y and
water. He r i n g e d a s t i c k f i v e times with c h a r c o a l and pushed it
i n t o t h e neck. I t was meant t o look l i k e a flower. To provide
an a l t e r n a t i v e e n t r a n c e f o r t h e c h i l d he c u t two h o l e s i n t h e
s i d e of t h e gourd.

The w i f e ' s youngest b r o t h e r and Deo Ram's son had t h e t a s k of


smashing t h e gourd when t h e c h i l d e n t e r e d . Both had s t i c k s which
a l s o were r i n g e d with s t r i p e s o f c h a r c o a l s o t h a t t h e c h i l d would
mistake them f o r f l o w a s . When t h e s p i r i t e n t e r e d t h e v a l l e y
where t h e house and i t s hamlet were l o c a t e d , one of t h e men, Deo
R a m ' s s o g would cover himself with a b l a n k e t and h i d e j u s t i n s i d e
t h e door. The brother-in-law would s t a t i o n himself on t h e o t h e r
s i d e of t h e door, s t e a d y i n g t h e gourd on t h e t h r e s h h o l d by holding
i t around t h e neck.
The f a t h e r , h i s w i f e , h e r son by t h e p r e s e n t husband and h e r
s o n by a former husband - t h e l i v i n g members o f t h e d e c e a s e d
c h i l d ' s h o u s e h o l d - smeared t h e i r f a c e s w i t h c h a r c o a l . They d i d
t h i s s o t h a t t h e r Z w o u l d n ' t r e c o g n i z e them and go t o them r a t h e r
t h a n i n t o t h e g o u r d . The g r o u p was f u r t h e r d i s g u i s e d when t h e y
s q u a t t e d , c l u s t e r e d t o g e t h e r , and were d r a p e d w i t h a f i s h n e t hung
from a r o o f beam and w e i g h t e d down w i t h a n a x e h a n d l e . The man
a p p o i n t e d t o hang t h e n e t was t h e e l d e r o f t h e w i f e ' s two b r o t h e r s .
H e was spoken o f a s t h e p o t t e r (kuhmEZe), a c a s t e t h a t a l s o a r e
fishermen. To f u r t h e r d i s c o u r a g e t h e c h i l d from a p p r o a c h i n g them,
t h e husband o f t h e f a t h e r ' s e l d e r b r o t h e r ' s d a u g h t e r ( a wife-
r e c e i v e r ) s t o o d by w i t h a pan o f w a t e r , a b a s k e t o f s a n d , and a
s w i t c h of seven s t a l k s of s t i n g i n g n e t t l e s . When t h e r Z e n t e r e d
t h e v i c i n i t y he was t o b e g i n t h r o w i n g s a n d and s p r i n k l i n g w a t e r
on t h e n e t , and b e a t i n g a r o u n d i t w i t h t h e n e t t l e s w i t c h . Should
t h e unseen r Z a p p r o a c h t o o c l o s e t o t h e n e t , it e i t h e r would be
s t r u c k w i t h n e t t l e s , g e t s a n d i n i t s e y e s o r be s p r i n k l e d w i t h
cold water - o r q u i t e p o s s i b l y a l l t h r e e .

A c h i c k e n , w i t h i t s head b l a c k e n e d by c h a r c o a l , and t h e bottom


p a r t o f a plow - t h e p a r t driven through t h e e a r t h - were p l a c e d
t o o n e s i d e u n d e r a b l a n k e t . A t t h e u n p o i n t e d end o f t h e plow,
b e s i d e t h e h o l e f o r t h e g u i d i n g s t i c k , an i r o n s t a p l e was d r i v e n -
t h e same k i n d o f i r o n s t a p l e t h a t is found a l o n g t h r e s h h o l d s and
e l s e w h e r e a s a way o f c r e a t i n g a b a r r i e r a g a i n s t w i t c h e s . Both
t h e c h i c k e n and t h e plow f i g u r e a t t h e end o f t h e ceremony and
were h i d d e n s o t h a t t h e r S would n o t be f r i g h t e n e d .

Two men who s t o o d i n r e l a t i o n o f w i f e - r e c e i v e r (j&) t o the


f a t h e r o f t h e d e c e a s e d c h i l d were g i v e n t h e t a s k r e g a r d e d a s most
d a n g e r o u s . They were a s k e d t o g o some d i s t a n c e away o u t s i d e t h e
house and c r e a t e a low w h i s t l e by blowing a c r o s s t h e t o p o f a
bamboo. The sound was meant t o a t t r a c t t h e r Z . To p r o t e c t them-
s e l v e s a g a i n s t a t t a c k from b e h i n d t h e two w h i s t l e r s s t o o d back t o
back. A s a d i s g u i s e and a s p r o t e c t i o n from any l u r k i n g s p i r i t s ,
Deo Ram s a i d a s p e l l o v e r some c h a r c o a l , which he rubbed on t h e i r
f a c e s . From t i m e t o t i m e when Deo Ram w h i s t l e d , t h e y were t o r e p l y
and t o move g r a d u a l l y c l o s e r t o t h e h o u s e , u n t i l t h e y r e a c h e d t h e
p o r c h , where t h e y c o u l d s i t down and c o n t i n u e t o w h i s t l e from
there.

About t h r e e h o u r s b e f o r e m i d n i g h t Deo Ram began t h e s o n g t h a t


p r o v i d e d t h e r a t i o n a l e f o r most o f t h e r i t u a l a c t s c o m p r i s i n g t h e
soul-killing ritual. F o r o v e r fwo h o u r s t h e song went on c o n t i n -
u o u s l y e x c e p t f o r a few i n t e r r u p t i o n s when Deo Ram had t o g i v e
directions t o the participants. The song d e s c r i b e d i n g r e a t
d e t a i l t h e journey t a k e n by t h e c h i l d ' s s p i r i t , which Deo R a m was
c a l l i n g home. A c t u a l l y t h e r Z was i t s e l f comprised o f two s o u l s
( p u m s h ) , and t h e j o u r n e y s o f b o t h o f t h e l a t t e r were d e s c r i b e d ,
well-known p l a c e by well-known p l a c e , a s t h e y converged a l o n g
p a t h s l e a d i n g i n t o t h e B h u j i v a l l e y from t h e n o r t h and s o u t h .
They met below t h e h a : l l e t , a t a c r o s s r o a d where t h e p a t h t o the
h a m l e t m e t t h e main v a l l e y p a t h . Deo Ram s a i d t h e ra ( o r a l t e r -
n a t i v e l y , ZZgu) was h e r e , w a i t i n g f o r i t s two s o u l s .

A s t h e song d e s c r i b e d t h e r a m sp r o g r e s s c l o s e r and c l o s e r t o -
t h e house, t h e t e n s i o n mounted. Deo Ram w h i s t l e d more and more
f r e q u e n t l y and was answered by t h e two men, who by now were s i t t i n g
on t h e verandah. The man by t h e d o o r who was n o t under t h e b l a n -
k e t s l o w l y r a i s e d h i s s t i c k , r e a d y t o s t r i k e a t t h e gourd he h e l d
i n h i s hand. The n e t - k e e p e r t h r e w s a n d and w a t e r more and more
f r e q u e n t l y , and i n between b e a t r a p i d l y around t h e n e t w i t h t h e
n e t t l e s . Whed Deo Ram s t o p p e d s i n g i n g and began c l u c k i n g , a s one
would t o a t t r a c t a c h i l d , t h e t e n s i o n was extreme. A l l was q u i e t
e x c e p t f o r t h e f u r i o u s b e a t i n g o f t h e n e t t l e s . The w h i s t l e r s had
s t o p p e d . Then Deo Ram u t t e r e d a n a l m o s t screaming y e l l , and
immediately t h e two by t h e d o o r smashed a t t h e gourd, s h o u t i n g a s
l o u d a s t h e y c o u l d and t h e bedlam was augmented by t h e s h o u t s o f
two o t h e r men, who had p i c k e d up t h e plow and c h i c k e n , had dashed
o u t of t h e d o o r , and were headed down t h e p a t h . They were f o l l o w e d
a t a r u n by t h e two who had smashed t h e gourd. They had p i c k e d up
some of t h e p i e c e s and were c a r r y i n g i t w i t h them. The remaining
p i e c e s were c o l l e c t e d by t h e f a t h e r , who had l e f t t h e n e t and was
p r o c e e d i n g down t h e p a t h f o l l o w e d by Deo Ram.

The p a r t y g a t h e r e d some d i s t a n c e away from t h e house and went


o f f t o one s i d e , t o a v e r y s t e e p s t o n y s l o p e , where c u l t i v a t i o n
n e v e r would be p o s s i b l e . Here two of t h e men, u s i n g t h e plow,
dug a h o l e a b o u t a f o o t deep. The s t r i p e d s t i c k from t h e gourd
was p u t i n t o t h e h o l e where t h e i r o n plow t i p normally would be;
t h e o t h e r two s t r i p e d s t i c k s and t h e n e t t l e s w i t c h were p u t i n t o
t h e h o l e where t h e h a n d l e had been. The plow was p l a c e d i n t h e
ground a s a b a r r i e r a g a i n s t t h e r e t u r n o f t h e c h i l d ' s s o u l . To
a t t r a c t a s p i r i t t o a c t a s g u a r d , one o f t h e two w i f e - r e c e i v e r s
beheaded t h e c h i c k e n and s p r i n k l e d t h e b l o o d on t h e plow and round
a b o u t . F i n a l l y Deo Ram p l a c e d h i s f o o t on the plow and u t t e r e d a
s p e l l t o a c t as a f u r t h e r b a r r i e r a g a i n s t t h e s p i r i t ' s r e t u r n .
The p a r t y r e t u r n e d t o t h e house and t h e r i t u a l was complete when
t h o s e w i t h b l a c k e n e d f a c e s had washed and t h e f a t h e r had g i v e n t h e
net-keeper a coin i n r e t u r n f o r h i s a s s i s t a n c e .

Interpretation

T h i s r i t u a l l e n d s i t s e l f t o i n t e r p r e t a t i o n as a r i t e o f p a s s a g e
(van Gannep 1 9 6 0 ) . T u r n e r (1969:94-95) h a s summarized van Gannep
a s follows:

Van Gannep h a s shown t h a t a l l r i t e s o f p a s s a g e o r


' t r a n s i t i o n ' a r e marked by t h r e e p h a s e s : s e p a r a t i o n ,
margin ( o r Zimen, s i g n i f y i n g t h r e s h o l d i n L a t i n ) , and
a g g r e g a t i o n . The f i r s t phase ( o f s e p a r a t i o n ) comprises
symbolic b e h a v i o u r s i g n i f y i n g d e t a c h m e n t o f t h e i n d i v i d u a l
o r group e i t h e r from an e a r l i e r f i x e d p o i n t i n t h e s o c i a l
s t r u c t u r e , from a s e t o f c u l t u r a l c o n d i t i o n s ... o r from
b o t h . During t h e i n t e r v e n i n g ' l i m i n a l ' p e r i o d , t h e
c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f t h e r i t u a l s u b j e c t a r e ambiguous; h e
p a s s e s t h r o u g h a c u l t u r a l r e a l m t h a t h a s few o r none o f
t h e a t t r i b u t e s of t h e p a s t o r coming s t a t e . I n t h e t h i r d
phase ( r e a g g r e g a t i o n o r r e i n c o r p o r a t i o n ) t h e p a s s a g e i s
consummated.

I n t h i s r i t u a l t h e f a m i l y , under t h e l e a d e r s h i p o f Deo Ram, a r e


moved away from t h e i r u s u a l p o s i t i o n i n s o c i e t y . They a r e s e p a r -
a t e d From everyday l i f e by d i s g u i s i n g t h e i r f a c e s and by b e i n g
hidden under a n e t . During t h e l i m i n a l p e r i o d t h e r Z i s a t t r a c t e d
and ' k i l l e d ' , and when t h i s h a s been done, t h e f a m i l y ' s r e t u r n t o
s o c i e t y i s symbolized by removal o f t h e c h a r c o a l and t h e n e t . The
r i t u a l c a n be u n d e r s t o o d a s a symbolic means f o r a l t e r i n g b o t h t h e
r Z and t h e f a m i l y ' s r e l a t i o n s t o i t .

Death may be c o n c e i v e d o f a s complete o r i n c o m p l e t e . Only when


it i s a r e t u r n t o Chaos and Old N i g h t may i t b e s a i d t o b e complete
The d i f f i c u l t y t o which t h i s r i t u a l a d d r e s s e s i t s e l f i s f i r s t t h a t
t h e r z ' s d e a t h i s n o t complete. To u s e a word s u g g e s t e d by T u r n e r
(1969:96), t h e rii h a s n o t y e t a t t a i n e d a s t a t e o f s o c i a l l y u n d i f -
f e r e n t i a t e d cornitatus. I t h a s n o t d i s a p p e a r e d , a s a four-month ,

o l d c h i l d should, i n t o t h e v o i d of f o r g e t f u l n e s s . I t s t i l l , s o t o
speak, c l i n g s t o its l i v i n g r o l e of 'baby'. A s such it 'comes
b a c k ' and ' b o t h e r s ' t h e l i v i n g . Because i t s t i l l i s p a r t o f t h e
f a m i l y i t w i l l b e j e a l o u s o f a new baby, and one of t h e e x p l i c i t
r e a s o n s f o r h o l d i n g t h e s 6 a n c e was t o p r e v e n t t h i s i n c o m p l e t e l y
dead c h i l d from harming t h e n e x t c h i l d t o be b o r n . Looking a t t h e
s i t u a t i o n from t h e p a r e n t s ' p o i n t o f view, t h e baby - t a k e n from
them by no v o l u n t a r y a c t of t h e i r own - s t i l l l i v e s i n t h e i r
h e a r t s , and t h e f a m i l y members c a n n o t be f u l l y engaged i n t h e i r
u s u a l and r e q u i r e d r o l e s , b e c a u s e t h e y a r e ' h a l f i n l o v e w i t h
e a s e f u l D e a t h 1 , a s r e p r e s e n t e d by t h e i r l o s t c h i l d .

The r i t u a l c u r e f o r t h i s s t a t e o f i n c o m p l e t e d e a t h o f t h e c h i l d ,
and t h e s t a t e o f i n c o m p l e t e s o c i a l l i f e t h a t i s i t s m i r r o r image
i n t h e l i v e s o f t h e p a r e n t s , i s r e d u c t i o n b o t h o f t h e f a m i l y and
t h e l o s t c h i l d t o a s t a t e o f u n d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n o r cornitatus. A s
n o t e d e a r l i e r t h i s s t a t e o f w i t h d r a w a l and s e p a r a t i o n from incom-
p l e t e d e a t h i s symbolized by i t s e n t r a n c e i n t o t h e womb-like gourd.
The l i m i n a l s t a t e f o r b o t h c h i l d and ffamily - though more l i t e r a l l y
s o f o r t h e c h i l d - i s r e d u c t i o n f o r b o t h t o t h e v e r y edge o f noth-
i n g n e s s , t o t h e a l m o s t t o t a l l y amorphous p o i n t o f i n i t i a l
c o n c e p t i o n , a s t a t e from which new d i r e c t i o n s t h e n may o r i g i n a t e .

The n e w . d i r e c t i o n f o r t h e p a r e n t s i s t a k e n when t h e y w i l l t h e
death of the rz. They have i n v i t e d t h e shaman t o p e r f o r m t h e
r i t u a l ; t h e y have p r o v i d e d him w i t h t h e n e c e s s a r y means; and
a l t h o u g h t h e y do n o t t h e m s e l v e s ' k i l l ' t h e s p i r i t , it seems s i g -
n i f i c a n t t h a t i n p a r t t h i s a c t i s performed by a b r o t h e r o f t h e
mother, one of h e r c l o s e s t consanguines. Acting through t h e two
men who smash t h e gourd, t h e f a m i l y a c h i e v e s a v i o l e n t s e v e r a n c e
from the c h i l d and makes a v o l u n t a r y c h o i c e o f l i f e t h a t no
l o n g e r i s u m b i l i c a l t o d e a t h . For them t h i s i s what ' k i l l i n g '
the rz means.

For t h e rz b e i n g ' k i l l e d ' means e n c o u n t e r i n g h o s t i l i t y where


f o r m e r l y it found n u r t u r a n c e - and a s i f t o make t h e shock s t i l l
more g r e a t , t h e h o s t i l i t y it m e t came a f t e r f l o w e r s , food, and
w h i s t l i n g had l e d it s t r o n g l y t o e x p e c t human l o v e . The rz
i t s e l f d o e s n o t d i e . What d i e s i s i t s involvement i n l i f e , more
s p e c i f i c a l l y i n l i f e a s a f a m i l y member; and a s a p r e c a u t i o n , were
it e v e r t o t r y and become i n v o l v e d a g a i n , t h e plow b a r r i e r , w i t h
i t s g u a r d i a n s p i r i t , h a s been e r e c t e d . A t t h e c l o s e o f t h e
r i t u a l t h e c l a i m s of d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n , o r what Turner c a l l s
' s t r u c t u r e s ' , have been r e a s s e r t e d a g a i n s t t h e amorphous c l a i m s
of d e a t h , and b o t h s i d e s - t h e r g a s w e l l a s i t s f a m i l y - have
been moved toward p a r t i c i p a t i o n w i t h t h e l i v i n g .

John T. Hitchcock

1. For f i n a n c i a l s u p p o r t w h i l e doing r e s e a r c h on Bhujel shaman-


i s m I a m g r a t e f u l t o t h e Wenner-Gren Foundation f o r Anthro-
p o l o g i c a l Research I n c . , and t o t h e Graduate School o f t h e
U n i v e r s i t y o f Wisconsin.

2. T h i s i n t e r p r e t a t i o n may be compared t o t h e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n
o f a s i m i l a r r i t u a l enumeration of f l o w e r s a m n g t h e Tamang
(Hbfer 1974: 178) .
3. Many i t e m s o f t h i s shaman's g e a r a l s o a r e worn by t h e
C h a n t e l shamans r e p o r t e d on by Michl (1974, and i n t h i s
vol.ume). H i s r e p o r t i s from a r e g i o n a b o u t t h r e e d a y s '
walk t o t h e e a s t and s o u t h .

4. F o r a b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n o f t h e r i t u a l r e q u i r e d t o remove
t h e ' o b s t a c l e ' s e e E i t c h c o c k (1967) and f o r a f u r t h e r
a c c o u n t w i t h i l l u s t r a t i o n s s e e Hitchcock (1974b).

5. The shaman d i d n o t know who t h i s k i n g w a s , e x c e p t t h a t he


r u l e d i n t h e west. Nor d i d he know who KhZte was.

6. The word f o r dancing and s i n g i n g i n a s t a t e of p o s s e s s i o n


is jhykg-jhydng. The s o r ~ gstates he was jh@ag-jhyGng
a l l day and a l l n i g h t . d i m i jhyiing-jhydw bhayo. Ratai
jhyiing- jhyiing bhayo.

Kaksi i s a j i n g l e (minu). The word f o r w i t c h i s bokai.

They sometimes a r e r e f e r r e d t o a s m u bahini ( n i n e s i s t e r s ) ,


sometimes a s nazW'a guna'mi. The song i t s e l f i s c a l l e d nauja
g m - m i . To t h e shaman gun&; meant w i t c h . The a u t h o r i s
n o t c e r t a i n of t h i s word's d e r i v a t i o n .

T h i s l i n e w i l l s e r v e a s a n example o f t h e k i n d of freedom
t a k e n i n t h i s t r a n s l a t i o n . The l i n e r e a d s l i t e r a l l y : na'k
( n o s e ) timro ( y o u r ) hair& ( s e e i n g ) s u m i ( g o l d e n ) murali
( f l u t e ) jhwnke ( f r i n g e ) buZdki ( n o s e r i n g ) . The freedom
does n o t g o beyond t h e shaman's own i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , however.

The word i s ched bhed and i s d i s c u s s e d i n t h e s e c t i o n on


Witch E v i l . I t i s one o f a number o f synonyms f o r w i t c h
e v i l t h a t a p p e a r i n t h i s song. To e x p l i c a t e e a c h would be
impossible i n t h e a l l o t t e d space.

To t h e a u t h o r ' s knowledge t h e r e i s no D i s t r i c t Number 12


West. To t h e shaman t h e p h r a s e meant i n t h e f a r w e s t beyond
t h e Bheri r i v e r .

To t h e shaman Ranibani c o n n o t e s w i t c h e v i l . It is a jingle


on bdn, t h e w i t c h e s ' magic arrow.

The shaman b e l i e v e s t h a t RZma was a Magar of t h e Budha c l a n .


O t h e r Kami shamans s a y h e was a Kami, some Matwala c l a i m h e
was Matwala.

The a s h b a l l , u s u a l l y w i t h s i n g e d c h i c k e n f e a t h e r s s t u c k
i n t o i t , i s a n o f f e r i n g commonly made d u r i n g an e x o r c i s m
d i r e c t e d a t witch e v i l .

T h i s i s t h e siEuZo d e s c r i b e d l a t e r i n t h e s e a n c e .

The shaman b e l i e v e s t h i s i s a w i t c h e s ' dance from t h e w e s t .

The shaman s a y s b o t h a r e w e s t e r n w i t c h e s ' songs. M g a Z


u s u a l l y means ' an a u s p i c i o u s song' . ~ h E k ii s a ' rhyme ' .
Beyond s a y i n g i t was i n t h e w e s t t h e shaman c o u l d n o t
locate Patharkot.

J i n g l e on R-ma.

The word i s bidyLi ( l e a r n i n g ) b u t i n t h i s c o n t e x t t h e shaman


s a y s it means t h e knowledge o f how t o work e v i l . Among t h e
B h u j e l some shamans a r e r e p o r t e d t o have p r a c t i c e d b l a c k
magic and s o r c e r y .
The word i s satya ( t r u t h ) .

The l o c a t i o n i s n o t known. buki i s h i g h mountain p a s t u r a g e ;


bukeni i s a v a r i a n t form. L i t e r a l l y ba'hra bukeni means '12
h i g h mountain p a s t u r e s ' b u t is used h e r e t o r e f e r t o a p l a c e
i n t h e f o o t h i l l s o f t h e snow c o v e r e d mountains.

Lophop horus impejanus .


putG bir. Puthi i s a word l o c a l l y used i n s u p e r n a t u r a l
c o n t e x t s f o r t h e rainbow and b i r i s a word used f o r a power-
ful spirit.

An e x c l a m a t i o n w i t h o u t o t h e r meaning t o t h e shaman.

s h i t i s an a u s p i c i o u s t i m e f o r a journey.

Shaman's songs v e r y f r e q u e n t l y d e s c r i b e j o u r n e y s (See A l l e n


1974a: 6-22 .
P r o b a b l y t h e l o c a l p r o n o u n c i a t i o n o f ~ h l m a s e n , t h e second
s o n o f PBcdu i n t h e MahE5hZrata e p i c .

29. surje i s a l o c a l name f o r t h e s u n . The shaman p l a c e s


Surjepur i n the Terai.

30. L o c a t i o n s unknown t o shaman.

31. Another name f o r R h a . He a l s o is called Talibhot R a a .

32. jadau mZjd, jadau. T h i s i s t h e shaman's t r a n s l a t i o n .


jadau i s a form o f g r e e t i n g , b u t mas' i n t h i s p h r a s e i s
problematic.

33. The word f o r cane i s b e t , and t h e a c t i s a way o f d r i v i n g


away a l u r k i n g w i t c h e v i l .

35. The kuZ deutd. I n t h i s room t h e a n c e s t o r s (pitm) a r e


r e g u l a r l y worshipped, hence t h e r e f e r e n c e t o i n c e n s e (dhup).

36. & n o G z a choto dicche i s t h e t e r m used. A s t h i s shaman


u n d e r s t o o d t h e term, &o ( l d n g ) and choto ( s h o r t ) a r e
j i n g l e words. nEza means ' e y e ' and dicche i s a l o c a l
p r o n o u n c i a t i o n f o r disha' ( d i r e c t i o n ) . Roughly, t h e n , the
p h r a s e r e f e r s t o 'eye d i r e c t i o n ' o r ' g l a n c e ' , with t h e
connotation of 'harm-bearing'.
37. The h o u s e d e s c r i b e d i s corrunonly f o u n d In B h u j i v a l l e y a n d
elsewhere i n t h e h i l l s . A c e n t r a l room, w i t h d f ~ r p eit,
i s f l a n k e d by a n e n t r a n c e h a l l a n d a s t o r e r o o n r , w h e r e
a n c e s t o r s a r e worshipped. A n o t c h e d p o l e l a d d e r Ledds t o
an a t t i c , u s u a l l y d o o r l e s s .

38. Use o f t h e t h r e e - p r o n g e d n a i l a s a b a r r i e r d y ' i i n s t witch


e v i l i s a conlrnon p r a c t i c e .

39. T h e shaman b e l i e v e s t h i s p a r t i c u l a r k i n d o f w i t c l l e v i l
( h a i l ) makes t h e women w e a v e r s f o r g e t t h e i r c o u n t .

40. L o c a t i o n n o t known.

41. Prunus ctlr~aso-ides. wood a n d l e a v e s f r o m t l l i s t r e e o f t e n


a r e used i n supernatural c o n t e x t s , e s p e c i a l l y i n r i t u a l s
f o r exorcising witches.

The d e a d c h i l d ' s f a m i l y u n d e r t h e f i s h n e t i n t h e
ceremony t o ' k i l l ' h i s s o u l
ETHNOGRAPHIC OBSERVATIONS OF CURUNG
SHAMANISM IN LAMJUNG DISTRICT

The Gurung a r e a Tibeto-Burman s p e a k i n g p e o p l e o f w e s t e r n


Nepal. T h e i r h a b i t a t i o n r a n g e s from low v a l l e y s a t a b o u t 1300
f e e t e l e v a t i o n t o h i g h f o r e s t e d r i d g e s i n e x c e s s o f 6600 f e e t i n
t h e d i s t r i c t s o f Kaski, Lam'ung, Gorkha, and i n a d j a c e n t p a r t s o f
P a r b a t , Tanahu, and Manang . C u l t u r a l l y and l i n g u i s t i c a l l y , t h e
Gurung b e a r a c l o s e a f f i n i t y t o t h e i r n e i g h b o u r s t h e Tamang,
Magar and T h a k a l i p e o p l e . Economically t h e y d i f f e r l i t t l e from
t h e m a j o r i t y of Himalayan h i l l p e o p l e . They s u b s i s t on a combin-
a t i o n o f lowland and upland a g r i c u l t u r e and animal husbandry,
c o u p l e d w i t h p e t t y t r a d e and m i l i t a r y s e r v i c e a s Gurkha s o l d i e r s .
R i c e , maize, m i l l e t , e l e u s i n e , wheat and b a r l e y a r e t h e i r p r i m a r y
f i e l d c r o p s . They a l s o k e e p a few g o a t s , s h e e p , w a t e r b u f f a l o and
c h i c k e n s which are e a t e n and used f o r s a c r i f i c i a l p u r p o s e s . The
Gurung a l s o p r a c t i c e o c c a s i o n a l swidden f a r m i n g , r i v e r f i s h i n g and
h u n t i n g and g a t h e r i n g i n t h e f o r e s t s . Those who d w e l l i n t h e
n o r t h e r n r e a c h e s o f Gurung c o u n t r y on h i g h r i d g e s from 5000 t o
6600 f e e t a r e c a l l e d ZekhaZi (N), ' h i g h l a n d e r s ' . Some Gurung
highlanders a r e s e a s o n a l l y transhumant, herding sheep, g o a t s ,
c a t t l e and w a t e r b u f f a l o ( o r yak i n Manang D i s t r i c t ) i n h i g h H i m -
alayan pastures. The s h e e p wool i s p r o c e s s e d i n t o homespun y a r n
and woven i n t o r o b e s and r u g s which, a l o n g w i t h c l a r i f i e d b u t t e r ,
hand made bamboo w i c k e r b a s k e t s and mats, and homespun hemp c l o t h ,
a r e i m p o r t a n t i t e m s f o r t r a d e (Messerschmidt n . d . ) .

A d i s t i n c t i v e s t r u c t u r a l f e a t u r e o f Gurung s o c i a l o r d e r i s i t s
o r g a n i z a t i o n i n t o two h i e r a r c h i c a l and endogamous s t r a t a o r sub-
t r i b e s c a l l e d Char J a t ( C G P j d t , N , ' f o u r c l a n s ' ) and Sora J a t
( s o m j d t , N , ' s i x t e e n c l a n s ' ) . Each s t r a t a i n c o r p o r a t e s a number
of named exogamous p a t r i l i n e a l c l a n s which a r e i n t u r n segmented
i n t o l o c a l l i n e a g e s . The f o u r Char J a t c l a n s i n t r a d i t i o n a l h i e r d
a r c h i c a l o r d e r a r e : Ghale, Ghodane, Lama and Lamichane (N). I n
C e n t r a l Gurung c o u n t r y , p r i m a r i l y encompassing Lamjung D i s t r i c t ,
t h e s e c l a n s a r e known a s kZe, kon, l a m and Zem o r khhri7 ( G I ,
r e s p e c t i v e l y . The Gurung i n n o r t h e r n Lamjung D i s t r i c t s a y k h h d -
m a i ( G I ' c h i e f s ' ) when r e f e r r i n g t o t h e f o u r c l a n s o f t h e Char J a t
s t r a t u m t o g e t h e r , a s w e l l a s t o t h e Lamichane c l a n i n p a r t i c u 1 a r . l
By h i s t o r i c a l and l e g e n d a r y a c c o u n t , t h e Char J a t c l a n s of Ghale
and, more r e c e n t l y , Lamichane have long h e l d p o s i t i o n s o f economic,
p o l i t i c a l and s o c i a l dominance o v e r t h e a l l e g e d l y s u b o r d i n a t e Sora
Gwung shamans performing one'of the final dancing
rites of the post-funerary ceremony of pd

A Gurung kheprg's post-funerary ceremony


J a t . The S o r a J a t i s s i m p l y c a l l e d thaz-mi ( G I ' t h e c l a n s ' ) by
t h e c e n t r a l Gurungs. T h e r e a r e many more t h a n s i x t e e n c l a n s
( l o n g l i s t s o f which a r e found i n P i g n e d e 1962, 19661, b u t t h e r e
i s no d i s c e r n i b l e i n t e r n a l S o r a J a t s t r a t i f i c a t i o n comparable t o
t h a t f o u n d among t h e Char J a t . In t h i s account I w i l l r e f e r only
t o a few S o r a J a t c l a n s which have r e l e v a n c e t o shamanism. Although
n o t e n t i r e l y a c c u r a t e , t h e v a r i o u s terms f o r t h e J a t s a n d c e r t a i n
J a t - s p e c i f i c a t t r i b u t e s a n d r o l e s - t h e shamans' i n p a r t i c u l a r -
tend t o reinforce t h e s t a t u s d i s t i n c t i o n s .

R e s e a r c h was c o n d u c t e d among Char J a t and S o r a J a t Gurung o f


c e n t r a l Gurung c o u n t r y , p r i m a r i l y i n a s m a l l h i g h l a n d v i l l a g e o f
n o r t h e r n Lamjung D i s t r i c t c a l l e d G h a i s u (pseudonym) a n d p a r t l y i n
t h e n e a r b y a n d l a r g e r Gurung v i l l a g e o f Ghanpokhara ( t r u e name).
Both v i l l a g e s a r e i n t h e d r a i n a g e o f t h e M a r s i a n g d i R i v e r . The
data were c o l l e c t e d between O c t o b e r 1 9 7 1 a n d O c t o b e r 1972.

Shamans were o b s e r v e d i n a v a r i e t y o f r i t u a l a n d n o n - r i t u a l
s e t t i n g s . Most a t t e n t i o n w a s g i v e n t o shamanic r i t u a l s a s s o c i a t e d
w i t h t h e o c c a s i o n s o f d e a t h , b u r i a l and p o s t - f u n e r a r y c e l e b r a t i o n s .
The p r i m a r y o b j e c t i v e was n o t t o s t u d y shamans b u t t o o b s e r v e
c e r t a i n p o l i t i c a l and socio-economic a s p e c t s o f Gurung l i f e . A s
a c o n s e q u e n c e , t h e f o l l o w i n g o b s e r v a t i o n s o f Gurung shamanism may
a p p e a r somewhat l a c k i n g t o t h e a n t h r o p o l o g i s t o f r e l i g i o n . The
i n t e n t h e r e is merely t o i n t r o d u c e c e r t a i n s a l i e n t f e a t u r e s o f
Gurung shamanism, t o raise p e r t i n e n t q u e s t i o n s , a n d h o p e f u l l y t o
encourage f u r t h e r i n v e s t i g a t i o n . Information supplementary t o
the a u t h o r ' s own o b s e r v a t i o n s i s drawn from t h e w r i t i n g s o f
.
B e r n a r d P i g n e d e (1962, 1966) a n d A. D. J Macf a r l a n e (1972 1 , b o t h o f
whom s t u d i e d t h e Gurung i n t h e more w e s t e r l y d i s t r i c t s o f P a r b a t
and K a s k i , r e s p e c t i v e l y .

Gurung R e l i g i o u s T r a d i t i o n

Gurung r e l i g i o n i s a c o m b i n a t i o n o f t h r e e s t r o n g t r a d i t i o n s :
i n d i g e n o u s shamanism, T i b e t a n Buddhism ( o r Lamaism), and Hinduism.
Gurung shamanism a p p e a r s t o b e c l o s e l y r e l a t e d t o t h e o l d Bon
r s l i g i o n of T i b e t and n o r t h e r n N e p a l . Shamanism i s t h e e x c l u s i v e
domain o f members o f t h e S o r a J a t , b u t b e l i e f i n t h e power a n d
e f f i c a c y o f shamans and t h e o b s e r v a n c e a n d a c t i v e s u p p o r t o f
shamanic r i t u a l i s p a n - t r i b a l . T i b e t a n Buddhism, a l s o c l o s e l y
a l l i e d w i t h Bon h i s t o r i c a l l y , i s more r e s t r i c t e d i n p r a c t i c e by
t h e Gurung. Gurung lamahood i s u s u a l l y , b u t n o t e x c l u s i v e l y ,
p r a c t i c e d by Char J a t men o f t h e Lama c l a n . B u d d h i s t lamaism i s
c o n s i d e r e d t o b e t h e r e l i g i o n o f t h e Char J a t c l a n s , w i t h o n e
i m p o r t a n t e x c e p t i o n . The Ghale c l a n , f o r m e r l y t h e c l a n o f p a r a -
mount t r i b a l c h i e f s , h a s t r a d i t i o n a l l y m a i n t a i n e d a s t r o n g a d h e r -
e n c e t o shamanism. The p r i e s t of t h e famed l a s t ' G h a l e R a j a '
( ' k i n g * o r paramount c h i e f ) was a shaman o f t h e class o f k h e p r z
(described below). ina ally, t h e t r a d i t i o n s o f Hinduism have had
a n a l l - p e r v a s i v e i n f l u e n c e on b o t h Gurung r e l i g i o n a n d s o c i e t y .
T h r e e o t h e r r i t u a l s p e c i a l i s t s sometimes e n c o u n t e r e d i n Gurung
v i l l a g e s a r e t h e Gurung a s t r o l o g e r o r ( j y o t i s h i , N ) and t h e
N e p a l i jMkri and d&i, ' d i v i n e r , c o n j u r e r , w i z a r d ' , and ' w i z a r d ,
s o r c e r e r , ' r e s p e c t i v e l y ( T u r n e r 1931:321b, 3 2 7 a ) .

Shamanic and a n i m i s t i c p r a c t i c e s and b e l i e f s p e r v a d e v i r t u a l l y


a l l Gurung r e l i g i o u s phenomena, b u t t h e r e i s some e v i d e n c e t h a t
Hinduism h a s had g r e a t i n f l u e n c e o n Gurung r e l i g i o n , p a r t i c u l a r l y
among t h o s e Gurung who d w e l l i n t h e lower and more s o u t h e r l y p a r t s
of Gurung c o u n t r y where t h e y a r e i n c l o s e p r o x i m i t y t o t h e domin-
a n t N e p a l i Hindu c a s t e s . I n c o n t r a s t , t h e h i g h l a n d Gurung o f t h i s
s t u d y have been somewhat l e s s a f f e c t e d by t h e Brahmanical c o n c e p t s
o f r e l i q i o u s p u r i t y , p o l l u t i o n and c a s t e . Dwelling c l o s e r t o t h e
T i b e t a n b o r d e r l a n d s and p u r s u i n g t r a d e i n t h o s e p a r t s , t h e high-
l a n d e r s have been more i n f l u e n c e d by e g a l i t a r i a n T i b e t a n Buddhism.
I n some r e s p e c t s , t h r o u g h o u t Gurung c o u n t r y , t h e o b s e r v a n c e and
s u p p o r t o f B u d d h i s t a n d / o r Hindu r i t u a l h a s c o n s i d e r a b l e p r e s t i g e
and s t a t u s - s u p p o r t i v e v a l u e .

Many o f t h e r e l i g i o u s and s o c i a l d i f f e r e n c e s between Gurung


h i g h and low, n o r t h and s o u t h , a r e r a p i d l y d i m i n i s h i n g nowadays
due t o c h a n g i n g a n d improved p a t t e r n s o f communication and t h e
i n c r e a s e d i n f l u e n c e s o f t h e n a t i o n a l government i n t h e h i l l d i s -
t r i c t s . R e c e n t l y , f o r example, T i b e t a n b o r d e r t r a d e h a s been
c u r t a i l e d and many b u s t l i n g new N e p a l i t r a d e c e n t r e s , c o n s t r u c t e d
o n new motor r o a d s i n t o and t h r o u g h t h e h i l l s , a r e drawing t h e
Gurung t r a d e southward. These m a r k e t s f o s t e r i n t i m a t e t i e s w i t h
t h e N e p a l i n a t i o n a l c u l t u r e . There have a l s o been o t h e r i n n o v a t i v e
and a g g r e s s i v e moves by t h e government i n Kathmandu t o promote
i n t e r n a l u n i t y and a s t r o n g n a t i o n a l i d e n t i t y t h r o u g h o u t t h e
country .

Not t h e l e a s t i n f l u e n t i a l a s a g e n t s o f change a r e t h e mercenary


s o l d i e r s i n t h e s e r v i c e o f t h e B r i t i s h , I n d i a n and N e p a l i a r m i e s .
R e t i r e d Gurkha s o l d i e r s r e t u r n i n g t o t h e i r home v i l l a g e s from
a b r o a d o f t e n form t h e l o c a l e l i t e . F o r y e a r s t h e y have been
b r i n g i n g home a n i n c r e a s e d c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f c a s t e , Hindu r e l i g i o u s
p r a c t i c e s and knowledge and e x p e r t i s e i n economic and p o l i t i c a l
matters. Although t h e y a r e g e n e r a l l y s u p p o r t i v e o f Gurung t r a d -
i t i o n , t h e s o l d i e r s n e v e r t h e l e s s embody a new i n c e n t i v e f o r change

C a t e g o r i e s of Curung Shaman

T h e r e a r e two c a t e g o r i e s o f Gurung shaman, t h e p a j y u and t h e


kheprz. While b o t h a r e found t h r o u g h o u t Gurung c o u n t r y , t h e r e
tend, t o b e 'more p G y u shamans i n t h e w e s t e r n d i s t r i c t s where
Macfarlane and Pignede s t u d i e d and more khepri3 shamans among t h e
c e n t r a l Gurung. D i f f e r e n c e s between them a r e n o t r e a d i l y d i s t i n g -
u i s h a b l e by a n o u t s i d e r . Both t r a d i t i o n s i n c o r p o r a t e e l e m e n t s o f
t h e p r e - B u d d h i s t Bon r e l i g i o n which i s s t i l l p r e v a l e n t i n remote
Himalayan r e g i o n s . A s p e c t s of T i b e t a n l a m a i s m and o f Hinduism are
a l s o d e t e c t e d i n t h e i r r i t u a l s t y l e and p a r a p h e r n a l i a . Sub-
c a t e g o r i z a t i o n s w i t h i n e a c h t r a d i t i o n a r e f a r more d i f f i c u l t to
d i s t i n g u i s h . They c e n t r e around d i f f e r e n c e s i n o r a l t r a d i t i o n s ,
i n s y s t e m s o f l e a r n i n g , and i n s u b t l e e s o t e r i c p a r t i c u l a r i t i e s o f
p a r a p h e r n a l i a and performance. Many k i n d s o f p a r a p h e r n a l i a a r e
w i d e l y s h a r e d by Gurung shamans, s u c h a s t h e one-sided drum,
cymbals, beaded n e c k l a c e s and v e s s e l s f o r d r i n k i n g , o f f e r i n g and
b u r n i n g i n c e n s e . Some o f t h e k h e p r z shamans' equipment such a s
t h e b e l l , b u t t e r lamps and c o n i c a l f i g u r e s ( l i k e tom) c o n s t r u c t e d
o f f l o u r and b u t t e r resemble t h o s e o f B u d d h i s t lamaism and a r e
i n d i c a t i v e o f a c l o s e r e l a t i o n s h i p between shamanism, l a m i s m and
B O ~ t ;h e~ p d y u d o n o t u s e them.

A p p a r e n t l y PignGde's and M a c f a r l a n e ' s b e s t i n f o r m a n t s on r e l -


i g i o u s m a t t e r s were p a j y u shamans. Pignede (1966:293-298) d e s -
c r i b e s t h e i r r i t u a l t r a d i t i o n s i n d e t a i l and compares them w i t h
t h e few k h e p r z shamans he o b s e r v e d . M a c f a r l a n e ' s (1972) e n t i r e
d i s c u s s i o n o f r i t u a l h e a l i n g i s based on p d y u t r a d i t i o n s .

The p a ~ ' y u i s sometimes i n a c c u r a t e l y c a l l e d a jha"kri (N).


C e n t r a l Gurung i n f o r m a n t s , i n d e s c r i b i n g t h e p a j y u were h e a r d t o
s a y t h a t he was ' l i k e ' t h e jha'kri, b u t a l t h o u g h t h e r e a r e some
outward f u n c t i o n a l s i m i l a r i t i e s t h e d i f f e r e n c e s between p j y u and
jakri a r e v e r y pronounced and i m p o r t a n t . The jha'kri i s e s s e n -
t i a l l y a phenomenon o f non-Gurung N e p a l i s o c i e t y and i s n o t e d f o r
t r a n c e and p o s s e s s i o n . The Gurung pa,jyu, on t h e o t h e r hand, i s
n e v e r p o s s e s s e d and h i s m y t h i c a l t r a d i t i o n s d e s c r i b e no p o s s e s s i o n
s c e n e s (Pignede 1966:293). Nor d o e s t h e k h e p r z shaman g a i n
p o s s e s s i o n , a l t h o u g h b o t h W y u and k h e p r z c l a i m t h e a b i l i t y t o
c o n t r o l t h e s u p e r n a t u r a l by v a r i o u s e s o t e r i c means. The d i f f e r -
e n c e i s t h a t between m i l d e c s t a c y and f u l l p o s s e s s i o n . F u r t h e r -
more, t h e M y u and k h e p r z shaman r e v e l a t i o n s a r e based upon
e x t e n s i v e o r a l t r a d i t i o n s i n t h e form o f m y t h s _ ( p e , GI, w h i l e
jGkri r e v e l a t i o n i s o f t e n s e l f - g e n e r a t e d ( b h u i p h u t w , N 1 .
A Gurung shaman d o e s n o t a p p e a r t o e x h i b i t any n o t i c e a b l e o r
unique p s y c h o l o g i c a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o r any p r e d i s p o s i n g p s y c h i c
a t t r i b u t e s , a l t h o u g h a n i n d e p t h s t u d y might r e v e a l what i s n o t
immediately d i s c e r n i b l e . O c c a s i o n a l r e f e r e n c e s t o a t t a i n m e n t o f
t r a n c e s t a t e s and o f p o s s e s s i o n by some v i l l a g e r s ( n o t shamans)
came t o my a t t e n t i o n , b u t I was u n a b l e t o witness them o r t o
d e t e r m i n e i f t h e p e r s o n s i n v o l v e d were a p t t o become r i t u a l spe-
c i a l i s t s . Because no complete l i f e h i s t o r y o f any shaman was
r e c o r d e d , I am u n a b l e t o r e l a t e d e t a i l s of s e i e c t i o n o r of t h e
r e c o g n i t i o n o r acceptance of a s p e c i a l c a l l i n g .

Shamanic r e c r u i t m e n t i s b a s i c a l l y h e r e d i t a r y among S o r a J a t
clansmen. Most shaman guru wish t o p a s s on t h e i r r e v e l a t i o n and
e s o t e r i c knowledge d i r e c t l y t o a s o n , b u t i n f a c t , anyone w i s h i n g
t o become a shaman can s t u d y w i t h a m a s t e r shaman by mutual a g r e e -
merit. A young man may b e g i n s t u d y i n g shamanism d u r i n g h i s t e e n
y e a r s . A s a neophyte h e i s c a l l e d s h i s o (GI. The p e r i o d o f h i s
a p p r e n t i c e s h i p v a r i e s a c c o r d i n g t o t h e p e r s o n a l i t y o f t h e neophyte
and t h e s t r e n g t h o f h i s commitment and i n t e r e s t . H e i s i n v e s t e d
w i t h f u l l guru s t a t u s o n l y when h i s m a s t e r c o n s i d e r s him a d e q u a t e l y
p r e p a r e d , and o n l y t h e n i s he a l l o w e d t o be c a l l e d ' g m ' and t o
u s e t h e f u l l r a n g e o f p a r a p h e r n a l i a and a r t i f a c t s o f t h e shaman
( a l t h o u g h h e may have h e l d o r looked a f t e r some of t h e more impor-
t a n t a r t i f a c t s , such a s t h e b i r d , d e s c r i b e d below, d u r i n g r i t u a l s
when h i s m a s t e r was p r e o c c u p i e d w i t h o t h e r d u t i e s ) . During h i s
course of study t h e novice l e a r n s t o use t h e r e q u i r e d r i t u a l
p a r a p h e r n a l i a and commits t h e o r a l t r a d i t i o n s (pe) t o memory.
S o c i e t y u s u a l l y r e c o g n i z e s a shaman a s a t h u l o ( N , ' g r e a t ' ) g u r u
a f t e r h e h a s campleted c o n s i d e r a b l e s t u d y w i t h o n e o r more n o t a b l e
guru and p a r t i c u l a r l y a f t e r he h a s o v e r s e e n t h e s u c c e s s f u l com-
p l e t i o n o f h i s g u r u ' s f i n a l p o s t - f u n e r a r y r i t u a l (psi) which i s
d e s c r i b e d i n d e t a i l below.

The k h e p r z shaman o f Ghaisu v i l l a g e c l a i m s d i r e c t p a t r i l i n e a l


d e s c e n t from a n a n c e s t r a l shaman o f t e n g e n e r a t i o n s ago. P a r t o f
h i s c l a i m rests on t h e p o s s e s s i o n o f a s m a l l a r t i f a c t o r t o k e n o f
shamanic a u t h o r i t y . T h i s t o k e n ( c h i n u , N ) i s i n v e s t e d w i t h myst-
i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e and power r e v e a l e d t o t h e f o r e f a t h e r who f i r s t
o b t a i n e d it from h i s m a s t e r . The power o f t h e t o k e n is t h e n c e -
f o r t h i n h e r i t e d by a l l o f h i s d i r e c t s u c c e s s o r s who become shamans.
I n t h i s instance the chinu is a small c l a y v e s s e l , b u t informants
spoke o f a s i m i l a r t o k e n , a p i e c e o f d e e r h o r n , c l a i m e d t o have
analogous a t t r i b u t e s and h i s t o r y owned by a shaman i n a neighbour-
i n g v i l l a g e . I t appears t h a t t h i s p r a c t i c e o f having a token of
a u t h o r i t y and power i s w i d e s p r e a d among Gurung shamans.

I n no s e n s e i s t h e shamanic r o l e a s e l f - s u s t a i n i n g one i n
economic terms, a l t h o u g h a l l shamans r e c e i v e some r e m u n e r a t i o n
i n t h e form o f g i f t s o f g r a i n , meat and b e a r f o r r i t u a l s e r v i c e s
r e n d e r e d . A l l shamans o b s e r v e d i n Ghaisu, Ghanpokhara and v i c i n -
i t y u s e d shamanism t o augment t h e i r r e g u l a r f a r m i n g and h e r d i n g
economies and no Gurung shaman ( o r ZEmZ o r a s t r o l o g e r ) was
e n c o u n t e r e d who r e l i e d e x c l u s i v e l y on h i s r i t u a l s p e c i a l i z a t i o n
for a living.

Becoming a shaman i s a S o r a J a t m a n ' s p r e r o g a t i v e . No f e m a l e


shamans were e n c o u n t e r e d o r mentioned a s now l i v i n g o r p r a c t i c i n g
by my i n f o r m a n t s . There i s , however, t h e l e g e n d o f a female
W y u shaman c a l l e d ~ h ~ a n g u r a n i The . ~ legend r e l a t e s t h a t t h e r e
were once two b r o t h e r s who were p d y u p r i e s t s . One had a s o n
named Loche ( l o c h g , G ) who became h i s f a t h e r ' s s u c c e s s o r , b u t t h e
o t h e r b r o t h e r had o n l y a d a u g h t e r , Chyangurani, t o s u c c e e d him.
She became a shamaness. S i n c e t h a t t i m e t h e Gurung r e c o g n i z e two
s u b - c a t e g o r i e s of p a p : one f o l l o w i n g t h e t r a d i t i o n s o f Loche-
P a j yu and t h e o t h e r f o l l o w i n g ~ h ~ a n g u r a n i - pjyu.
a These d a y s t h e
l a t t e r l i n e i s i n h e r i t e d e x c l u s i v e l y by men, and c e r t a i n a s p e c t s
o f t h e i r c o s t u m e d i s p l a y f e m i n i n e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s (see F o o t n o t e
11).

Most Gurung shamans a r e members o f o n l y c e r t a i n few S o r a J a t


c l a n s . The few p a y u shamans e n c o u n t e r e d among C e n t r a l Gurung
b e l o n g t o t h e Pajyu and Kromze (kromaz, G ) c l a n s . Pignede r e p o r t s
t h a t some o f h i s p q j u shaman i n f o r m a n t s were Lehnai (Lehizai, G)
clansmen (1966 :293) .#
I t h a s been s u g g e s t e d t h a t among t h e khepr4 shamans t h e r e are
t w o b a s i c s u b - d i v i s i o n s b a s e d on membership i n one o r a n o t h e r o f
two Gurung s u b - c l a n s , t h e KO-Khepre (ko-kheprz, G ) and the Tu-
Khepre (tu-kheprz, G ) c l a n s (Pignsde 1966 :196) .
I t may be more
c o r r e c t t o r e f e r t o t h e s e a s s e p a r a t e c l a n s , Tb and Ko ( o r kokZ)
a s i n f o r m a n t s i n Ghanpokhara and Ghaisu p r e f e r r e d . Pignede a l s o
mentions h e a r i n g o f k h e p r z shamans b e l o n g i n g t o t h e Thirnze
( t h i m a z , G ) and t h e Murmumze ( m m z z , G I ( I b i d . .
My d a t a r e v e a l s e v e r a l o t h e r kheprg shaman c a t e g o r i e s and c l a n s .
I n Ghanpokhara and v i c i n i t y , k h e p r z s h a m n s b e l o n g i n g t o t h e Tu
c l a n 9 a r e f u r t h e r c a t e g o r i z e d a s b a ' h ( ' t w e l v e ' , N ) khcpfi o r a s
s a t t a i s ( ' twenty-seven' , N 1 kheprz. The p r e c i s e s i g n i f i c a n c e o f
t h e numbers i s u n c l e a r , b u t o t h e r d i f f e r e n c e s between them a r e
more a p p a r e n t . A l l k h e p r z shamans b e l i e v e t h a t t h e u l t i m a t e
s o u r c e o f t h e i r r e v e l a t i o n , power and a u t h o r i t y i s w i t h t h e Bon
' lamas' o f Lupra, a monastery v i l l a g e i n t h e T i b e t a n b o r d e r r e g i o n
o f Lo (Mustang) i n t h e upper K a l i Gandaki R i v e r V a l l e y n o r t h w e s t
of Gurung country.10 But, w h i l e t h e bdhra khepr.3 b e l i e v e t h a t
e a c h shaman s h o u l d journey t o Lupra a t l e a s t once i n h i s l i f e t i m e
f o r s t u d y and i n o r d e r t o g a i n supreme wisdom, t h e sattais khepr3
do n o t . The l a t t e r b e l i e v e t h a t t h e i r own l o c a l g u r u a r e a b l e t o
t r a n s m i t a l l r e q u i s i t e knowledge and t h a t a r e v i t a l i z a t i o n p i l -
grimage back t o Lupra, where t h e i r f o r e f a t h e r s once s t u d i e d , i s
u n n e c e s s a r y . l1 One o f t h e most renowned shamans o f t h e b a ' h
k h e p r z c l a s s r e s i d e s i n lower Ghanpokhara v i l l a g e , and h i s c o u n t e r -
p a r t among t h e sattais k h e p r z l i v e s i n upper Ghanpokhara.

A t h i r d c a t e g o r y o f k h e p r z shaman i s t h e KO ( o r &om) kheprB


r e c r u i t e d from t h e KO c l a n and found p a r t i c u l a r l y a t Pasgaun
v i l l a g e w e s t of Ghanpokhara. Another i s t h e Maptse ( q t s g , G)
k h e p r z o f t h e Maptse c l a n found i n and n e a r G i l u n g v i l l a g e s o u t h
o f Pasgaun. S t i l l a n o t h e r t y p e i s c a l l e d Mrokre ( m r o k - 2 , G )
k h e p r z which i n f o r m a n t s s a i d i s found i n Gorkha D i s t r i c t e a s t o f
Lamjung. The l a t t e r t y p e i s t h o u g h t t o combine c e r t a i n f e a t u r e s
o f t h e o t h e r f o u r k h e p r z t r a d i t i o n s p l u s e l e m e n t s o f t h e jMkrYi
complex.

O r n i t h o l o g i c a l s y m b o l i s m i s a p e r v a s i v e theme i n Gurung shaman-


i s m , a s i t i s i n shamanism w i d e l y ( E l i a d e 1964:156-158). Between
t h e p d y u and the k h e p r z , however, it t a k e s s l i g h t l y d i f f e r e n t
forms. For t h e p a j y u , f e a t h e r s a r e a n i n t e g r a l p a r t o f t h e r i t u a l
r e g a l i a , while f o r t h e k h e p r z a small wooden b i r d c a l l e d a n&
(G) is t h e p r i n c i p a l r i t u a l a r t i f a c t . T h i s b i r d i s t h e embodiment
of the shaman's p a t r o n d e i t y o r l o r d and t h e r e p o s i t o r y o f h i s
m y s t i c a l power o v e r t h e s u p e r n a t u r a l . The r i g h t t o p o s s e s s and
use t h e wooden b i r d , which is hand h e l d d u r i n g r i t u a l s , i s
i n v e s t e d o n l y w i t h f u l l a t t a i n m e n t of k h e p r z guruhood. T h e r e a f t e r ,
every time t h e k h e p r z guru completes a f u n e r a l o r p o s t - f u n e r a r y
r i t u a l he a t t a c h e s a white t a s s l e (which i s t o r n from a g i f t of
white c l o t h brought by a f f i n e s o f t h e deceased) t o h i s p e r s o n a l
wooden b i r d . The amount of e x p e r i e n c e t h a t any one k h e p r 2 shaman
h a s had i s a c c o u n t a b l e by t h e number of t a s s l e s (which resemble
feathers) . The symbolism o f t h e b i r d is an i m p o r t a n t element
i n t h e p o s t - f u n e r a r y r i t e s f o r a d e p a r t e d guru ( d e s c r i b e d below).

F u n c t i o n a l d i s t i n c t i o n s between t h e primary c a t e g o r i e s of
p a j y u and k h e p r z shamanism a r e d i f f i c u l t t o s e p a r a t e because o f
t ' l e i r i n h e r e n t c l o s e r e l a t i o n s h i p t o begin w i t h and t h e f r e q u e n t
tendency of one t o s u b s t i t u t e f o r t h e o t h e r i n t h e performance of
c e r t a i n r i t e s . The most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c performance of both t y p e s
of shaman a r e t h o s e r i t u a l s d e a l i n g w i t h d e a t h and b u r i a l and
p a r t i c u l a r l y w i t h p o s t - f u n e r a r y memorial c e l e b r a t i o n s .

Gurwzg Shanmn Funerary R i t e s

F u n s r a l s (mhi sibari, G ) and p o s t - f u n e r a r y c e l e b r a t i o n s (pi,


G ) a r e t h e most s i g n i f i c a n t r i t u a l and s o c i a l o c c a s i o n s i n Gurung
s o c i e t y . They a r e l e n g t h y , e l a b o r a t e , r i c h l y c o l o u r f u l and
s o c i a l l y o s t e n t a t i o u s a f f a i r s i n v o l v i n g r i t u a l s p e c i a l i s t s and
a l l c a t e g o r i e s o f kinsmen i n i n t i m a t e r e c i p r o c a l i n t e r a c t i o n .
They a r e important a s r i t e s s e p a r a t i n g t h e l i v i n g from t h e dead,
i n a f f i r m i n g t h e shaman's ( o r l a m a ' s ) powers of c o n t r o l l i n g t h e
s u p e r n a t u r a l , and a s r i t e s of r e a f f i r m a t i o n and r e c o n f i g u r a t i o n
of s t a t u s e s and r o l e s among t h e l i v i n g h e i r s and o f a l l i a n c e s and
bonds between ongoing c o r p o r a t e groups. I t i s d i f f i c u l t t o imp-
rove upon P i g n e d e ' s c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n o f t h e f u n e r a r y ceremonies
a s h o l d i n g t h e primary p l a c e ( ' l a p l a c e de p r e m i e r ' ) i n Gurung
r i t u a l and s o c i a l l i f e (1966 :340): l3

The f u n e r a l ceremony i s d o u b t l e s s t h e most i m p o r t a n t i n


t h e e y e s of t h e Gurung from both t h e s o c i a l and r e l i g i o u s
p o i n t s o f view. In f a c t , during t h e f u n e r a l t h e s o c i a l
and r e l i g i o u s b l e n d i n such a complex and l o g i c a l way
t h a t it would seem u s e l e s s , t o my way o f t h i n k i n g , n o t
t o say f a l s e , t o t r y t o c a t e g o r i z e them s y s t e m a t i c a l l y
i n o r d e r t o analyze t h e Gurung way of l i f e . In the
f u n e r a l ceremony a l l Gurung b e l i e f s and i n s t i t u t i o n s a r e
found t o g e t h e r , complete and e x p l a i n e d . The lama, pucu
p 4 j p and k l i h b r i ( k h e p r Z ) p r i e s t s o f f i c i a t e s i d e by
s i d e , a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c which i s n o t found i n any o t h e r
ceremony. F u n e r a l s r e u n i t e n o t o n l y t h e f a m i l y ... b u t
6urung Zaata reciting the initial rite81 fox t b pzd
ceremony sf tb9 Ch4b ja*
- --
a l s o t h e c l a n members o f t h e d e c e a s e d l i v i n g i n o t h e r
villages ..., p e o p l e from a l l i e d c l a n s , and f i n a l l y t h o s e
p e o p l e from t h e c l a n which i s more o r less t i e d by f r i e n d -
s h i p t o t h e dead p e r s o n o r t h e f a m i l y . F u n e r a l s a f f i r m
b o t h f a m i l y r e l a t i o n s h i p s between p e o p l e who a r e c o n n e c t e d
w i t h t h e dead man, t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p s between c l a n s , v i l -
l a g e s , and t h o s e r e l a t i o n s h i p s t a k i n g a l l t h e i r s i g n i f -
i c a n c e from a r e l i g i o u s c o n t e x t which embodies many
varying b e l i e f s .

The f i n a l and most o s t e n t a t i o u s o f a l l f u n e r a r y e v e n t s i s t h e


c e l e b r a t i o n o f pai which f o l l o w s d e a t h and b u r i a l b a s few a s
s e v e r a l d a y s o r a s many a s s e v e r a l months o r y e a r s . l4 The t i m i n g
o f p a i depends upon two f a c t o r s : ( I ) t h e a b i l i t y of t h e c l a n of
t h e d e c e a s e d t o a f f o r d t h e e x p e n s i v e c e l e b r a t i o n , and ( 2 ) c e r t a i n
h o r o s c o p i c c o n s i d e r a t i o n s . Most pa; a r e h e l d i n t h e f a l l o f t h e
y e a r d u r i n g t h e N e p a l i months of KZrtik o r Mangsir (mid-October
t o mid-December) f o l l o w i n g t h e h a r v e s t s e a s o n . Pai may be h e l d
i n t h e same y e a r a s t h e d e a t h o c c u r r e d , o r p o s t p o n e d and combined
w i t h pai o f one o r more o t h e r clansmen i n a n o t h e r y e a r . P a i have
been o b s e r v e d which w e r e c o n d u c t e d i n a s s h o r t a t i m e a s a few
d a y s o r weeks f o l l o w i n g d e a t h . A v e r y p r o m i n e n t p e r s o n ' s p a i may
be held alone o r i n conjunction with a c l o s e r e l a t i v e ' s (e.g. a
w i f e , son o r d a u g h t e r ) . Most p a i l however, a r e a combined e f f o r t
( t u - p a i l G ) f o r s e v e r a l p e r s o n s ( a d u l t and c h i l d r e n ) o f one c l a n
o r o f two o r more a l l i e d c l a n s i n t h e same J a t . I n t h i s way t h e
expense i n v o l v e d i s s p r e a d w i d e l y and t h e r e b y r e d u c e d . The pai
may l a s t two o r t h r e e d a y s , depending on a s t r o l o g i c p r e s c r i p t i o n
b a s e d on t h e horoscope o f t h e most p r o m i n e n t d e c e a s e d a d u l t b e i n g
honoured.

The laymen who a r e p r e s e n t and who p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h e s o c i a l


and r i t u a l o b l i g a t i o n s o f t h e p a i i n c l u d e , (1) t h e clansmen o f t h e
d e c e a s e d who s e r v e a s t h e p a t r o n s o r s p o n s o r s (neb, G ) o f t h e
o c c a s i o n , ( 2 ) c l o s e kinsmen o f t h e immediate p a t r i l i n e a l d e s c e n t
group ( t h a , G ) o f t h e d e c e a s e d who p e r f o r m s t h e most outward s i g n s
o f mourning, ( 3 ) t h o s e a f f i n e s i n a r e c e i v i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p t o t h e
d e c e a s e d ( i . e . mo, G I ' d a u g h t e r ' s h u s b a n d ' ) and ( 4 ) t h o s e a f f i n e s
i n a g i v i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p t o t h e deceased ( i . e . dsyc, G I ' w i f e ' s
b r o t h e r ' ) . Of t h e two groups o f a f f i n e s , t h e mo ( p l u r a l mo-mi)
o r ' w i f e - r e c e i v e r s ' have t h e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r p e r f o r m i n g t h e
p o l l u t i n g d u t i e s r e l a t e d t o d e a t h and d i s p o s a l o f t h e body and
d u r i n g t h e commemorative r i t e s o f p a i . They h a n d l e t h e c o r p s e ,
b i n d i t , c a r r y it t o t h e b u r i a l o r c r e m a t i o n g r o u n d s , and i n t e r
o r burn i t . During p a i t h e y c o n s t r u c t and h a n d l e e x c l u s i v e l y t h e
e f f i g y ( p l a t G ) o f t h e d e c e a s e d . For t h o s e d u t i e s t h e y a r e com-
p e n s a t e d , p a r t i a l l y , by r e c e i v i n g a l l of t h e g i f t s o f f o o d , d r i n k
and t h e s h r o u d c l o t h which o t h e r s i n t h e f u n e r a l company ( p a r t i c -
u l a r l y t h e Eysd a f f i n e s ) have g i v e n i n honour o f t h e d e c e a s e d .
The Csyz ( p l u r a l Esyd-mail o r ' w i f e - g i v i n g ' a f f i n e s g i v e t h e most
i m p o r t a n t g i f t s w i t h o u t which t h e f u n e r a r y e v e n t s a r e i n c o m p l e t e .
They b r i n g t h e w h i t e f l a g (aB, G ) which i s flown above t h e house
o f t h e d e c e a s e d a t b o t h d e a t h and pa;, t h e s h r o u d (dsyb h Z ) , and
v a r i o u s o t h e r g i f t s . The d8@ t h e n become, i n t u r n , t h e most
honoured g u e s t s of t h e f u n e r a l and p a i o c c a s i o n s .

E i t h e r a shaman o r a 2- can p e r f o r m pai a l o n e o r i n conjun-


c t i o n w i t h one a n o t h e r , b u t t h e r e a r e s u b t l e s o c i o l o g i c a l ,
d o c t r i n a l and e s o t e r i c d i s t i n c t i o n s between them. For i n s t a n c e ,
the & -u s u a l l y p e r f o r m s pai f o r Char J a t clansmen, a l t h o u g h a
shaman can do l i k e w i s e , depending on t h e w i s h e s o f t h e clansmen
who s p o n s o r pai and t h e l o c a l a v a i l a b i l i t y o f one o r t h e o t h e r
type of s p e c i a l i s t . I n j o i n t performance o f psi by a khepri?
shaman and a v i l l a g e m-, f o r example, e a c h p r i e s t t a k e s t h e
r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r p l a c a t i n g o r c o n t r o l l i n g p a r t i c u l a r forms o f
e v i l and good. The r i t e s a r e o f t e n v i r t u a l l y i d e n t i c a l and a r e
f u n c t i o n a i l y a n a l o g o u s , b u t a r e known by d i f f e r e n t t e r m i n o l o g i e s .
The f o l l o w i n g d i s u c s s i o n f o c u s e s e x c l u s i v e l y on s h a m a n - o f f i c i a t e d
pai o b s e r v e d a t Ghaisu and Ghanpokhara.

I n a pai o f f i c i a t e d by a khepriZ shaman it i s customary t o


i n v i t e a p G y u e x o r c i s t a t t h e s t a r t of t h e p r o c e e d i n g s t o t a k e
t h e p r i m a r y r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r e x o r c i s i n g t h e demons of t h e under-
world from t h e s p i r i t of t h e d e c e a s e d . I n i n s t a n c e s when a p*yu
~s n o t l o c a l l y a v a i l a b l e it i s n o t uncommon t o f i n d a kheprB
shaman i n h i s s t e a d . The Gurung b e l i e v e t h a t a t d e a t h , t h e s p i r i t
of t h e dead i s c a p t u r e d by demons o f t h e underworld and t h a t they
must b e s e p a r a t e d b e f o r e p r o c e e d i n g w i t h pai. The r i t e performed
by t h e e x o r c i s t i s c a l l e d mosz t z b ( G I , and it is c o n s i d e r e d t o
b e t h e s i n g l e most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c p a j y u r i t u a l . On t h e f i r s t
n i g h t o f p a i t h e p d y u beckons t h e d e c e a s e d by name, i n company
w i t h t h e underworld demons, t o approach t h e house o r h u t where
pai i s b e i n g h e l d and where t h e kinsmen and a f f i n e s a r e assembled
expectafitly. I n t h e t o t a l darkness of n i g h t , t h e p G y u performs
a s e a n c e t o w r e s t e x c l u s i v e c o n t r o l o f t h e deceased away from t h e
demons, and t o d r i v e t h e l a t t e r away f o r e v e r . S u c c e s s i n t h i s
endeavour i s i n t e r p r e t e d by c e r t a i n p r e d i c t e d s i g n s . For t h i s
r i t e a c h i c k e n i s hung by i t s f e e t from t h e t o p o f a m i n i a t u r e
a r c h which s e r v e s a s t h e entryway f o r t h e s p i r i t s . Around t h e
a r c h t h e r e l a t i v e s o f t h e d e c e a s e d have p l a c e d p l a t e s of food.
A s t h e p d y u b e g i n s h i s exorcism s 6 a n c e and r e c i t a t i o n s , t h e
c h i c k e n i s r e s t r a i n e d from f l a p p i n g . A t t h e c l i m a x o f t h e r e c i t -
a t i o n s t h e c h i c k e n i s a l l o w e d t o hang f r e e and when i t f l u t t e r s
t h e e x o r c i s m i s e f f e c t e d . The s p i r i t o f t h e d e c e a s e d i s b e l i e v e d
t o be r e l e a s e d from t h e demons and f r e e t o e n t e r t h e company o f
l i v i n g r e l a t i v e s , where some o f h i s f a v o u r i t e f o o d s a r e s e t o u t
f o r him. F o r a n o t h e r s i g n , t h e shaman may p r e d i c t t h a t a w h i t e
f e a t h e r w i l l a l i g h t on a p l a t t e r o f food. When t h e t o r c h e s a r e
l i g h t e d and a s e a r c h conducted, t h e f e a t h e r i s u s u a l l y found -
c e r t a i n p r o o f o f t h e shaman's power. I f t h e s i g n s do n o t o c c u r
o r a r e vague, t h e r e c i t a t i o n i s r e p e a t e d u n t i l t h e y a r e c l e a r l y
seen.
During the r e c i t a t i o n s , t h e shaman s p e a k s i n a p a r t i a l l y unin-
t e l l i g i b l e d i a l e c t ( o l d Gurung?). H e r e c i t e s , among o t h e r t h i n g s ,
the names o f w e l l known g e o g r a p h i c l o c a t i o n s l e a d i n g from t h e h i g h
mountains, down t h r o u g h f a m i l i a r h i g h l a n d p a s t u r e s and f o r e s t s t o
the village. T h i s f u n e r a r y geography i n c l u d e s p o i n t s on t h e r o u t e
a l o n g which t h e f o r e f a t h e r s a r e s a i d t o have come when t h e y f i r s t
s e t t l e d s o u t h o f t h e Himalaya (from t h e n o r t h ) . I t now s e r v e s a s
t h e r o u t e a l o n g which t h e s p i r i t s o f t h e d e c e a s e d r e a p p r o a c h t h e
v i l l a g e a f t e r d e a t h . Of p a r t i c u l a r i n t e r e s t a r e p l a c e names a b o u t
t h e s i t e o f t h e f i r s t Gurung s e t t l e m e n t , l o n g d e s e r t e d . T h i s
a n c i e n t v i l l a g e , c a l l e d Khhol, was l o c a t e d i n t h e d e n s e h i g h f o r -
e s t of Lamjung Himal (Messerschmidt n - d . ) .

The c e r t a i n p r e s e n c e o f t h e s p i r i t o f t h e d e c e a s e d i s s i g n a l l e d
a g a i n d u r i n g t h e r i t u a l s a c r i f i c e s c o n d u c t e d by t h e kheprB shaman.
A t one p o i n t a g o a t i s b r o u g h t i n t o t h e shaman's p r e s e n c e , washed
by t h e r e l a t i v e s o f t h e d e c e a s e d , a n d s e t f r e e t o browse among
o t h e r p l a t e s of food. When t h e g o a t s h a k e s , t h e members o f t h e
crowd, p a r t i c u l a r l y t h e w a i l i n g women, s n a t c h t u f t s o f h a i r from
t h e a n i m a l and p l a c e them i n t h e i r h a i r . They b e l i e v e t h a t t h e
d e c e a s e d has'shown h i s p l e a s u r e t o them by a f f e c t i n g t h e g o a t .
The t u f t s o f h a i r a r e c o n s i d e r e d symbolic o f t h e d e c e a s e d ' s b l e s -
s i n g . T h e r e a f t e r , t h e g o a t i s q u i c k l y k i l l e d by t h e a f f i n e s (mo)
o f t h e d e c e a s e d by c u t t i n g o u t i t s h e a r t .

The one a s p e c t o f r i t u a l which i s u n i q u e l y c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f


kheprE shamanism i s t h e b l o o d s a c r i f i c e , c a l l e d tb s e b a i n Gurung
(kd$mQ'r) ( N ) . I 5 H e d i r e c t s many b l o o d s a c r i f i c e s d u r i n g t h e c o u r s e
of p a i and he b e l i e v e s t h a t h i s e f f o r t s a r e i n e f f e c t u a l w i t h o u t
them. (Ldmii, on t h e o t h e r hand, r e f r a i n from a l l forms o f k i l l i n g ;
i n s t e a d , t h e y s y m b o l i c a l l y d e s t r o y e v i l by s k e w e r i n g s m a l l demon
e f f i g i e s moulded of f l o u r and b u t t e r . ) N o t e t h a t no shaman h i m s e l f
e v e r performs t h e a c t u a l k i l l i n g ; t h a t i s t h e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of
t h o s e a f f i n e s of t h e d e c e a s e d who a r e i n t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p o f r e -
c e i v i n g , t h e mo. Note a l s o t h a t t h e b l o o d o f t h e s a c r i f i c i a l a n i -
mals i s u s e d o n l y f o r r i t u a l p u r p o s e s ; i t i s n e v e r e a t e n . The
meat, however, i s saved f o r l a t e r f e a s t i n g , some s e l e c t p a r t s o f
which a r e r e s e r v e d f o r c e r t a i n c a t e g o r i e s of r e l a t i v e s and o f
ritual specialists.

While some of t h e s e s a c r i f i c e s of g o a t s , s h e e p , and c h i c k e n s


i n d i c a t e p o s s e s s i o n and p r e s e n c e o f t h e s p i r i t o f t h e d e c e a s e d ,
o t h e r s of them s i g n a l p o s s e s s i o n by f o r c e s o f e v i l , u s u a l l y a t
t h e b e h e s t of t h e p r i e s t . I n t h e l a t t e r c a s e s , k i l l i n g t h e animal
e n s u r e s t h a t t h e d e c e a s e d can journey s a f e l y t o Lands (GI , t h e
'abode o f t h e g o d s ' , f r e e o f any r e s i d u a l s i n o r d a n g e r . The de-
c e a s e d i s a l s o g i v e n t h e s e e d of l i v e s t o c k and fowl t h r o u g h b l o o d
s a c r i f i c e s and o t h e r symbolic r i t e s u s i n g g o a t s , s h e e p , and c h i c k -
ens.

Throughout t h e d u r a t i o n of p a i t h e kheprZ p r i e s t i s r e s p o n s i b l e
f o r preparing the s p i r i t of the deceased f o r h i s journey through
the a f t e r l i f e t o k d s . L d s , where the ancestors abide, i s con-
sidered t o be above and north (while the underworld, the domain of
the demons, i s below). Getting t o Z u d s i s e f f e c t e d by a long
s e r i e s of r i t u a l s .

Shortly a f t e r the underworld demons a r e exorcised by the pajyu


shaman, the mo a f f i n e s construct a small e f f i g y of the deceased
which i s c a l l e d a pZa ( G I . The p l a i s placed prominently on the
porch of the house o r i n the hut where p a i i s being conducted, and
i t becomes the c e n t r e of a l l a t t e n t i o n s f o r the duration of the
proceedings. I t i s i d e n t i f i e d by a s p e c i a l name card ( c f . Snell-
grove 1957:265). A s the dead kinsmen a r e f e t e d by t h e i r survivors,
g i f t s of food, drink, money, c i g a r e t t e s , clothing, and other sun-
d r i e s a r e heaped upon the pza.

The p l a i s constructed according t o ancient presceiption out of


wood and leaves, symbolic of physical body p a r t s such a s bones,
h a i r , blood, e t c . I t i s constructed t o resemble the conical shaped
frame i n which the corpse was bound t o the b i e r p r i o r t o b u r i a l o r
cremation. Within the p l a i s placed the 'essence of l i f e ' c a l l e d
p h i (G) which i s e i t h e r ash from the cremation pure, or ash of the
t i p s of the e a r s and tongue and of the n a i l s of the corpse ( c u t
p r i o r t o interment o r cremation), o r i f n e i t h e r of these i s avai-
l a b l e , the ash of ground cowry s h e l l s (representative of human
bone). Next, the p l a i s wrapped i n c l o t h t o resemble clothing:
white f o r a deceased man and black and red p r i n t f o r a woman. The
pkz i s symbolically sought out and captured from the mo a f f i n e s by
the shamans i n a r i t u a l dance which d e p i c t s the shamans success-
f u l l y wresting c o n t r o l over the supernatural. From t h a t time u n t i l
the conclusion of p a i l the pkz i s the c e n t r e of a l l a t t e n t i o n .

The emotions evoked by the pza, imbued a s i t i s with t h e s p i r i t


of the deceased, a r e considerable and impressive. I t i s important,
furthermore, a s the f o c a l point of mediation between the shaman
and the deceased. Pignede (1966:348-349) describes i t s importance
t o the l i v i n g :

I do not believe it d i s t o r t s Gurung thought t o say t h a t


the pzah ( p k ) makes the dead person a l i v e i n the eyes
of the onlookers. I t affirms the l i f e of the dead per-
son. The deceased i s there i n the middle of everybody.
The widow huddles a t the f o o t of the plah, overcome by
g r i e f . She s e i z e s the p k h and, i n a voice f i l l e d w i t h
sobs, c r i e s out: 'Why have you l e f t u s ? . .. Stay with
us ... Don't leave!' A l l those watching f e e l t h i s
presence of the deceased. The pae (pai) takes the form
of a dramatic dialogue between the dead person and the
p r i e s t s and, more generally, the onlookers.

The several r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s of the kheprZ shaman during p a i


a r e t o e n s u r e t h e h a p p i n e s s and c o n t e n t m e n t o f t h e d e c e a s e d , t o
keep him from f u r t h e r i n f l u e n c e o f m a l i c i o u s s p i r i t s , and t o i n s -
t r u c t and g u i d e him s a f e l y on h i s way t o l a d s . I n t h e r e c i t a t i o n
of c e r t a i n myths, t h e khepr2 r e q u e s t s t h e d e c e a s e d t o l e a v e h i s
good f o r t u n e and o l d a g e and n e v e r t o r e t u r n a s a m a l i g n a n t s p i r i t
t o haunt h i s l i v i n g fellows.

F i n a l l y , a t t h e c o n c l u s i o n of p a i t h e pZa i s c a r r i e d t o t h e edge
o f t h e v i l l a g e . T h e r e , a t dusk on t h e f i n a l d a y , f o l l o w i n g long
h o u r s o f e x h a u s t i n g r i t u a l p a r t i c i p a t e d i n by laymen and shamans
a l i k e , t h e shaman ( e i t h e r k h e p r 2 o r p a j y u , o r b o t h ) p e r f o r m a d r a -
m a t i c s e a n c e . He s e e k s t o c o n t r o l and e x p e l t h e f o r c e s o f e v i l
which might b l o c k t h e way t o l a n z s . The shaman p h y s i c a l l y c h a s e s
t h e e v i l o f f t h e p a t h i n t o t h e d a r k f o r e s t , and t h e s p i r i t o f t h e
d e c e a s e d i s t h e n f r e e t o d e p a r t . The p k i s summarily d e s t r o y e d
and t h e pai i s o v e r . ( T h i s f i n a l a c t i s c a l l e d pa; Zeb, ' t o c a s t
pai away', o r p a i piib, ' t o b u r y p a i l ) (GI.

A t a p o i n t immediately p r e c e e d i n g t h e d e s t r u c t i o n o f t h e pza,
t h e pai r i t u a l s f o r a k h e p r z shaman guru t a k e a s i g n i f i c a n t de-
p a r t u r e from t h o s e f o r a layman.l6 The d i f f e r e n c e i n r i t u a l s e t s
t h e shaman guru d i s t i n c t l y a p a r t from a common layman and it i s
e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y r i c h i n symbolism.

Throughout a k h e p r z g u r u ' s p a i , a s m a l l f o r e s t b i r d c a l l e d
nokrZ ( ~ 1 i1s ~k e p t caged i n a p r o m i n e n t p o s i t i o n o v e r t h e pZa.
The u l t i m a t e c l i m a x o f t h e g u r u ' s pai i s t h e r e l e a s e of t h i s b i r d
and i t s f l i g h t back i n t o t h e n e a r b y f o r e s t . Above t h e cage i s
f i x e d a t a l l bamboo. F o l l o w i n g t h e l o n g r e c i t a t i o n o f myths which
r e l a t e v a r i o u s h u n t i n g s c e n e s , t h e b i r d ' s cage i s opened a t t h e
t o p , a d j a c e n t t o t h e bamboo s t a l k . A hush f a l l s o v e r t h e crowd a s
t h e b i r d emerges. The bamboo i s s y m b o l i c o f a l a d d e r i n t o t h e s k y ,
upon which t h e s p i r i t o f t h e d e c e a s e d a s c e n d s . The crowd, and e s -
pecially the guru's successor(s), is especially pleased i f the b i r d
a s c e n d s t h e bamboo i n l a d d e r f a s h i o n , one limb a t a t i m e . A t each
p r o g r e s s i v e movement o f t h e b i r d up t h e bamboo toward t h e t o p joy-
o u s e x c l a m a t i o n s a r e h e a r d from t h e crowd, and drums and cymbals
a r e b e a t e n t o add t o t h e clamour. The g r e a t e s t moment i s when
t h e b i r d , h a v i n g p e r c h e d on t h e t i p of t h e bamboo, a t l a s t f l i e s
o f f i n t o t h e haven of t h e f o r e s t . T h i s s i g n a l s n o t o n l y t h e s u c c -
e s s f u l and unimpeded journey o f t h e g u r u ' s s p i r i t t o t h e a f t e r l i f e
i n Zanzs, b u t a l s o t h a t t h e g u r u h a s s u c c e s s f u l l y bequeathed h i s
m y s t i c a l power and e f f i c a c y a s a shaman t o h i s immediate s u c c e s s o r
who h a s o v e r s e e n t h e pai ceremonies. A t t h e moment o f f l i g h t from
t h e bamboo t h e r e i s a g r e a t c r y from t h e a w e s t r u c k crowd, a s t h e y
s u r g e toward t h e g u r u ' s r i t u a l h e i r t o embrace him. ( I t i s con-
s i d e r e d a d a r k and f o r e b o d i n g s i g n i f t h e b i r d s h o u l d d i e i n t h e
c a g e . And i f t h e b i r d f l i e s d i r e c t l y from t h e c a g e i n t o t h e f o r e s t
w i t h o u t a s c e n d i n g t h e bamboo s t a l k t h e g r e a t n e s s o f t h e g u r u ' s
r i t u a l h e i r , t h e new shaman gum, i s q u e s t i o n e d . )
On t h e day f o l l o w i n g t h e completion o f t h e r i t u a l o b l i g a t i o n s
o f pai o f e i t h e r layman o r shaman guru, t h e shaman c o n d u c t i n g t h e
ceremonies p e r f o r m s a b r i e f p u r i f i c a t i o n r i t u a l i n t h e house o f
t h e d e c e a s e d f o r t h e kinsmen and t h e mo a f f i n e s . They a r e t h e n
f r e e o f a l l i m p u r i t y c a u s e d by t h e i r a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h d e a t h and
a r e r e l e a s e d from t h e s o c i a l p r e s c . r i p t i o n s of mourning ( b o t h o f
which are v e r y s l i g h t r e l a t i v e t o Hindu p r a c t i c e and b e l i e f ) .
T h e r e a f t e x , t h e p a t r o n s of t h e pai p r e p a r e a g r e a t f e a s t c a l l e d
mhz' du k a i ( G ) , 'men t o g e t h e r r i c e ' . This f e a s t is designed ' t o
p l e a s e t h e a f f i n e s ' (iisya phu' l a b ) (G) and i n a more g e n e r a l way
honours a l l members of c l a n s a l l i e d by m a r r i a g e , a l l r i t u a l spec-
i a l i s t s ( i n c l u d i n g t h e a s t r o l o g e r who h a s d e t e r m i n e d t h e t i m i n g s
o f t h e r i t u a l a c t s t h r o u g h o u t psi), and a l l o t h e r g u e s t s . T h i s
day o f f e a s t i n g and honouring i s c a l l e d amel (N), t h e day o f ' d i s -
uniting' o r of departure of a l l guests.18

Shamans' Other D u t i e s

I n a d d i t i o n t o f u n e r a r y r i t u a l s , o t h e r o f t h e shamans' d u t i e s
i n c l u d e c u r a t i v e r i t u a l s u s u a l l y c e n t e r i n g around t h e r e t r i e v a l
o f wandering s o u l s of t h e s i c k , which o n l y t h e shaman can e f f e c t .
(Pw'yu h e a l i n g p r a c t i c e s a r e d e s c r i b e d i n d e t a i l by Macfarlane
1 9 7 2 ) . Shamans a r e a l s o c a l l e d upon t o p l a c a t e and e x p e l malig-
n a n t s p i r i t s o f t h e r e c e n t l y d e c e a s e d f o r whom pai was e i t h e r n o t
y e t performed o r , i f performed, was somehow i n e f f e c t u a l o r incom-
plete. They a l s o d e t e r m i n e t h e c a u s e o f widespread i l l n e s s , p e s -
t i l e n c e , and o t h e r a f f l i c t i o n s which may o c c u r i n one o r more
neighbouring v i l l a g e s . I f the s p i r i t of a p a r t i c u l a r ancestor i s
d e t e r m i n e d t o be a c a u s e , t h e shaman i s t h e r e a f t e r r e s p o n s i b l e f o r
o f f i c i a t i n g a t p e r i o d i c c l a n o r v i l l a g e - w i d e r i t u a l s d e s i g n e d to
placate that s p i r i t .

I n Ghaisu v i l l a g e t h e kheprZ shaman g u m i s a l s o r e s p o n s i b l e f o r


r i t u a l s t o p l e a s e and a p p e a s e c e r t a i n f o r e s t gods, g o d l i n g s , and
r e l a t e d s p i r i t s o f n a t u r e . On t h e o c c a s i o n o f t h e worship o f
neighbourhood gods r e c o g n i z e d a s Hindu, t h e same shaman performs
a s p d i i r i (N) o r ' o f f i c i a t i n g p r i e s t ' i n l i e u o f a Brahman p r i e s t .
I n Ghanpokhara, and i n o t h e r Gurung v i l l a g e s where Brahmans a r e
l o c a l l y a v a i l a b l e , shaman and Brahman r i t u a l f u n c t i o n s a r e q u i t e
s e p a r a t e and d i s t i n c t .

A t t i m e s , a shaman may be c a l l e d upon t o perform a s a n - a s t r o l -


o g e r , a l t h o u g h i n many Gurung v i l l a g e s t h e r e a r e l o c a l paidi whose
r o l e s a r e p r i m a r i l y t o i n t e r p r e t horoscopes and t o make s t r a t e g i c
d e c i s i o n s f o r t h e t i m i n g of f i e l d work, h e r d i n g , t r a v e l , and t h e
l i k e . When l i g h t n i n g o r f i r e s t r i k e s and d e s t r o y s p r o p e r t y o r
i n j u r e s o r k i l l s l i v e s t o c k o r p e o p l e , t h e shaman i s c a l l e d i n t o
p e r f o r m a r i t u a l t o r e t u r n t h e flame t o t h e heavens (2 t e sgb;
mi 7 ' l i g h t n i n g , f i r e ' 1 (GI .
The ecology of Gurung shamanism i s one a s p e c t of i n v e s t i g a t i o n
which needs f u r t h e r i n t e n s i v e s t u d y . C e r t a i n f l o r a l and f a u n a l
m a t e r i a l s a r e c o n s i d e r e d n e c e s s a r y f o r c o n s t r u c t i n g both ephemeral
and l o n g - l a s t i n g shaman p a r a p h e r n a l i a . The c o n s t r u c t i o n of t h e
pza e f f i g y of t h e deceased f o r use d u r i n g pi c e l e b r a t i o n s i s an
example of t h e u t i l i z a t i o n of 'symbolic wood and l e a v e s . Likewise,
cow dung, blood, u r i n e , and a r o m a t i c weeds a r e important i n r i t e s
d e a l i n g w i t h t h e c a p t u r e and r e t u r n of a s i c k man's wandering s o u l .

Reference t o o r use o f p a r t i c u l a r geographic p l a c e s o r t e r r a i n


is a l s o i m p o r t a n t , p a