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The Renewal of the Priesthood : Modernity and Traditionalism in a South Indian Temple - C. J. Fuller

The Renewal of the Priesthood

Modernity and Traditionalism in a South Indian Temple

Paperback Published: 23rd November 2003
ISBN: 9780691116587
Number Of Pages: 232

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Much has changed for the priests at the Minakshi Temple, one of the most famous Hindu temples in India. In "The Renewal of the Priesthood," C. J. Fuller traces their improving fortunes over the past 25 years. This fluidly written book is unique in showing that traditionalism and modernity are actually reinforcing each other among these priests, a process in which the state has played a crucial role.

Since the mid-1980s, growing urban affluence has seen more people spend more money on rituals in the Minakshi Temple, which is in the southern city of Madurai. The priests have thus become better-off, and some have also found new earnings opportunities in temples as far away as America. During the same period, due partly to growing Hindu nationalism in India, the Tamilnadu state government's religious policies have become more favorable toward Hinduism and Brahman temple priests. More priests' sons now study in religious schools where they learn authoritative Sanskrit ritual texts by heart, and overall educational standards have markedly improved.

Fuller shows that the priests have become more "professional" and modern-minded while also insisting on the legitimacy of tradition. He concludes by critiquing the analysis of modernity and tradition in social science. In showing how the priests are authentic representatives of modern India, this book tells a story whose significance extends far beyond the confines of the Minakshi Temple itself.

"This book is beautifully written in a clear style that will make even the most arcane aspects of the priestly profession accessible to undergraduate readers. At the same time, it is a theoretically sophisticated work that will be read widely. No one can write about the Minakshi temple priests with the authority that Dr. Fuller brings to the task. As ethnography the book is unique."--Mattison Mines, author of Public Faces, Private Voices
"In this book, C. J. Fuller has cumulated ethnographic experience and data for twenty-six years and has thus made himself into the consummate ethnographer of the priests of one of the most magnificent temples of South India."--Peter van der Veer, author of Religious Nationalism

Figures and Tablesp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Note on Transliterationp. xv
Key to Figures 1 and 2p. xvii
The Priests and the Minakshi Temple's Renovation Ritualp. 1
Rights, Duties, and Workp. 19
Family and Domestic Lifep. 57
The Agamas and Priestly Educationp. 80
Religious Politics and the Priestsp. 114
Modernity, Traditionalism, and the Statep. 152
Notesp. 169
Glossaryp. 191
Bibliographyp. 195
Indexp. 205
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691116587
ISBN-10: 069111658X
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 232
Published: 23rd November 2003
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.84 x 17.07  x 1.45
Weight (kg): 0.34