Author: Yoginder Sikand
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0-14-302931-2
Weaving together legend, history, ethnography and reminiscences with critical insights, this book affords us a rare glimpse of religious traditions outside the mainstream. This rich legacy could well be invaluable in promoting alternate ways of understanding religion and the notion of community identity, a need that has never been more urgent than it is today.
The politics of communal hatred in recent times has brought under attack the heterodoxy of our religious life. This book explores popular religious cults from various parts of the country that defy the logic of communities as neatly separated from and necessarily opposed to each other.
Traveling from Kerala to war-torn Kashmir, and from Punjab to Madhya Pradesh, through twenty-five places of popular pilgrimage-dargahs, temples and shrines-Yoginder Sikand finds followers from different communities flocking together in common worship.
At Hazrat Nund Rishi at Charar-e-Sharif, or the Wavar shrine at the Ayyappa pilgrimage of Sabarimala, at the temple of Goddess Elamman of Sauditti, or the dargah of Sarmad of Delhi, Sikand meets saints, keepers and devotees to discover how traditions associated with these places have historically challenged religious as well as secular elites, and offered their adherents a powerful and deeply humanist vision of the sacred, freed from the narrow boundaries of caste and creed. But It is also noteworthy that some of these shrines, such as the Swami Dattatreya Buddhan Baba in Karnataka, have been transformed over time and become sides of communal contestation.
Note on Transliteration
The God of the Mountain
The Star of the Seas, Our Lady of Health of Vailankanni
Sri Guru Dattatreya Baba Budhan Dargah
The Sufi-Sadhus of Northern Karnataka
The Deendar Channabasaveswara of Asif Nagar
The Sai Baba of Shirdi
The Imam Mahdi and the Buddh Avatar of Panna
Goga, the Pir of Poison
Sarmad Shahid, the Martyr for Love
The Baba of Bhatinda
The Sufis of Jammu
Nund Rishi, the flag-Bearer of Kashmir
Conclusion: And the Journey Must Continue