Varieties of Javanese Religion: An Anthropological Account

Varieties of Javanese Religion: An Anthropological Account

Varieties of Javanese Religion: An Anthropological Account

Varieties of Javanese Religion: An Anthropological Account

Synopsis

Java is famous for its combination of diverse cultural forms and religious beliefs. In this most comprehensive study of Javanese religion since Clifford Geertz's classic study, Andrew Beatty considers Javanese solutions to problems of cultural difference, and how villagers make sense of their complex, multi-layered culture. Pantheist mystics, supernaturalists, orthodox Muslims and Hindu converts at once construct contrasting faiths and create a common ground through syncretist ritual. Vividly evoking the local religious life, this book probes beyond the surface of ritual and cosmology, revealing the compromise inherent in practical religion.

Excerpt

This book is about religion in Java – its diverse forms, controversies, and reconciliations; more abstractly it is about cultural difference and syncretism. At a time when anthropology is increasingly preoccupied with cultural pluralism in the West, and with the challenges to personal identity, mutual tolerance, and social harmony that it presents, the example of Java reminds us that some of the more 'traditional' societies have been dealing with similar problems for quite some time. the varieties of Javanese religion are, of course, well known, thanks to a number of excellent studies. in what follows, however, my chief interest is in the effect of diversity upon Javanese religion. in looking at the mutual influences of Islamic piety, mysticism, Hinduism, and folk tradition upon each other, and at their different compromises with the fact of diversity, I hope to give a credible and dynamic account of how religion works in a complex society.

The setting for this book – Banyuwangi in the easternmost part of Java – is particularly appropriate to such an enterprise. in the standard view of things, the various forms of Javanese religion are unevenly distributed among village, market, court/palace, and town. Although most communities contain orthodox Muslims as well as practitioners of other tendencies (Koentjaraningrat 1985: 318), a rough spatial separation along religious and cultural lines (or a polarization within the most heterogeneous villages) has, allegedly, been characteristic of Java from the early years of the century (Jay 1963), though the sharpness of divisions has fluctuated with political developments. in rural Banyuwangi, however, typically we find pantheistic mysticism, spirit cults, and normative piety coexisting in great intimacy within a single social framework. the perennial Javanese problem – how to get on with . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.