The Karmic Theater: Self, Society, and Astrology in Jaffna

The Karmic Theater: Self, Society, and Astrology in Jaffna

The Karmic Theater: Self, Society, and Astrology in Jaffna

The Karmic Theater: Self, Society, and Astrology in Jaffna

Excerpt

Jaffna is the community where I spent the first two and a half decades of my life, and the life described here is known to me firsthand. For purposes of this study, however, I have used information gathered more systematically from 1975 onward during the summer months in the field. This fieldwork included intensive questioning of informants regarding religion and caste; observation and participation in 'various rituals and visits to a number of temples and villages in several parts of the peninsula. Astrologers and many of their clients were interviewed, and some astrologers were observed at work in a number of locations.

The textual material was selected in terms of its relevance to the problem at hand; for the literate Śaivite in Jaffna, the mythic texts are part of his literary repertoire, occurring in conversations as resources for explanation, allusion, solace, and metaphor. For the others, the texts are available mainly as hearsay material but, for all that, they are real and useful in the same way. Once selected, it seemed inevitable that this material be submitted to that most productive and, despite controversies and petty cavils, convincing methodology . . .

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