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Lectures by Professor June McDaniel

Hinduism in Bengal and Bali

Wahlstrom Lecture
22 May 2013

In terms of layering, while Bengali Saktism has folk, yogic-tantric and bhakti layers, Balinese Hinduism has folk religion, agama tirtha, and agama hindu dharma. From the perspective of mysticism, while Bengali sadhus and sadhikas have visions of Kali and union through both emotion and yogic expanded consciousness, Balinese pedandas have daily ritual union with Shiva/Surya to create holy water and link the religion in exile with both the gods and the homeland of India, creating Ganges water. From a political perspective, whereas the Bengali goddess has been linked to patriotism, defense of the land and concern for the oppressed (including women).  In Bali, the religion has developed into a monotheism that protects it from Islamic concerns with idolatry, and hints that the Hindu god has legitimacy as one of the hidden names of Allah. Balinese forms of religion strongly emphasize dharma (as one pedanda said, the island is too small for renunciation- there is no place to go to be alone!)  In these and other ways we will explore the contrast between their understandings of dharma, and roles of religious experience, renunciation, and society in Hinduism.

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