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Religious texts, priestly education and ritual action in south Indian temple Hinduism

Fuller, C. J. (1997) Religious texts, priestly education and ritual action in south Indian temple Hinduism. Contributions to Indian Sociology, 31 (1). pp. 3-25. ISSN 0069-9667

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Identification Number: 10.1177/006996679703100102


This article, mainly based on research among the priests of the Minaksi temple in Madurai, Tamilnadu, is a continuation of earlier work on the relation between religious texts and ritual action which was presented in a monograph about the priests and a recent article in Contributions (Fuller 1984; 1993). It contains new data about education in the religious schools attended by the priests and their sons, which show that my previous analysis of the relation between the texts and ritual performance was flawed in some significant respects. My doubts about whether the priests' performance of ritual could be improved through education were also overstated, because educated priests have the crucial ability to recite texts when carrying out rituals, whereas their uneducated colleagues can perform only the physical ritual acts. This article also looks at the priests' `techniques of the body' and shows that education nevertheless has virtually no impact on how priests carry out physical ritual. The article concludes with some further reflections on the analysis of ritual and the problem of its misperformance.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 1997 SAGE Publications
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2005
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2024 03:45

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