Saintly Investments: Pilgrimage Development And Contemporary Hinduism In India

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This dissertation studies recent religious, infrastructural, financial, and legal alterations to pilgrimage development in north India by focusing on the aesthetics and social effects of knowledge: specifically, that of bureaucrats, priests, and pilgrim trusts. In Gogameri, Rajasthan, pilgrims worship at the tomb of Gogaji (a deified warrior king with Hindu and Muslim genealogical ties), presided over by litigious Muslim, Brahman, and government priests; and at Gorakhtila, a politically influential temple of Gogaji's divine guru, the ascetic Gorakhnath, in the charge of monks from the Nath Sampraday. With the Gogameri pilgrimage's increased popularity since the 1980s, Gogaji's tomb and Gorakhtila have become sites for three broad "faith-based" development (sev!-vik!s) initiatives: in the pilgrimage economy and infrastructure, religious education, and secular vs. nationalist ethics. I illustrate how state and private investment in pilgrimage development responds to and encourages expert interest in devotional historiography and aesthetic and administrative aspects of ritual practice, and then track the consequences of this investment and interest for pilgrims by studying the development projects of "religious and charitable trusts" led by Gogameri pilgrims in urban north India. In a period represented by rises in Hindu nationalism, caste antagonism, and neoliberal reforms, I observe that the Gogameri pilgrimage not only brings together unaffiliated and sometimes-competing groups of people, making for a diverse aesthetics of worship and religious affiliation at a single site; it also instigates public and official debate about the values, on the one hand, of state secularism in Gogameri-related bureaucracy and litigation, and, on the other hand, of government programs and support for pilgrimage development in Gogameri.

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Hinduism; Pilgrimage; Development


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Union Local


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Gold,Daniel Richard

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Blackburn,Anne M.
Ramberg,Lucinda E.G.

Degree Discipline

East Asian Literature

Degree Name

Ph. D., East Asian Literature

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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