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Sacred Landscapes and Self-Organized Complexity by: Baidyanath Saraswati , John McKim Malville

Using case studies from pilgimages around the world undertaken by the devout, the volume explores the ways many of the pilgrimage traditions have started and evolved. The book deals with pilgrimages not only in India but also in several countries abroad.



ISBN: 9788124604540
Year Of Publication: 2009
Edition: 1st
Pages : x, 359
Bibliographic Details : With several maps; b/w and coloured photographs; Index
Language : English
Binding : Hardcover
Publisher: D.K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Size: 29
Weight: 1500


Pilgrimage involves movement of people, either as individuals or as members of a group, in search of the sacred. Spontaneous behaviour, miraculous events, and/or ecstatic visions of individual pilgrims have often resulted in complexity in ritual, meaning, and movement. Pilgrimages may start with individual ecstatic visions, unusual strange unworldly experiences, which are the experiences of “ordinary” people, certainly not of priests or politicians. Often they are uniquely human experiences which embarrass ecclesiastical authorities.
As a pilgrimage tradition evolves, sacred sites may become formalized in organized socio-political systems with economic overtone. Even in these structured situations, individual people may still have powerful individual experiences. Eventually a pilgrimage tradition may be taken over by religious and political authorities, lose spontaneity, and become frozen in time. But even in these situations, in which large numbers of people may gather, there is a tremendous amount of “primal” energy in which innovations and visions may be evoked.
Using case studies from pilgrimages around the world, the volume explores the ways many of these traditions have started and evolved. A common perspective is that of self-organization of complex structures in space and time.
The variety of pilgrimage described in the book is remarkable. The subcontinent of India is the location of many sites such as the temples to the nine planets in Tamil Nadu, the pilgrimage circuits of Varanasi, early Buddhist pilgrimages in Sanchi and Bodh-Gaya, the great ruined city of Vijayanagara, those associated with the Ramayana, and the death ceremonies at Gaya. Beyond India, the self-organization and stability of pilgrimage systems are analysed for pilgrimages in Nepal (Kathmandu), Japan, Mexico, the Caribbean, Peru, Norway, and the US.


— R.K. Bhattacharya
— John McKim Malville
— Baidyanath Saraswati
Theory and Case Studies
1. Sacred Theory of Pilgrimage
— Baidyanath Saraswati
2. Complexity and Self-organization in Pilgrimage Systems
— John McKim Malville
3. Circulation and Circumambulation
— Surinder M. Bhardwaj
4. Pilgrimage and Space: Case Studies from Bhaktapur, Muktinath and Varanasi
— Niels Gutschow
Pilgrimage in India, Tibet and Nepal
5. Kashi as Cosmogram: Panchakrosi Route and Complex Structure of Varanasi
— Rana P.B. Singh
6. Death and Transformation at Gaya : Pilgrimage, Ancestors and the Sun
— Rana P.B. Singh
— John McKim Malville
— Anne L. Marshall
7. Earthly Presence of Heavenly Bodies: Navagraha yatra of Tamil Nadu
— Marianna Kropf
8. Complex Landscapes and the Ramayana Legend
— Amita Sinha
9. Traces of Buddhist Pilgrimage in Ancient India
— Kurt Behrendt
10. Pilgrimage Places and Sacred Geometries
— Robert L. Stoddard
11. Complexity and Economy in Pilgrimage Centres of the Vijayanagara Period
— Alexandra Mack
World Pilgrimage
12. Adaption and Adjustment in the Shikoku Pilgrimage
— Hiroshi Tanaka Shimazaki
13. Pilgrim in Individualistic Context
— Kaj Noschis
14. Basilica of La Madeleine, Vrzelay : Spatial and Symbolic Narratives in the Medieval Western Christian Church
— Thomas Barrie
15. Pilgrimage and Ritual Movements in Cuzco and the Inca Empire
— R. Tom Zuidema
16. Conchero’s Sanctuaries and Pilgrimages
— Yolotl Gonzalez Torres
17. Transplanting Pilgrimage Traditions
— Carolyn V. Prorok
18. Washington, D.C. and Power of Pilgrimage
— Jeffrey F. Meyer
Sacred Landscapes and Personal Transformation
19. Pilgrimage as Spatial Representation of Complexity
— Pradeep A. Dhillon
List of Contributors

Meet the Author
B.N. Saraswati obtained his PhD from Ranchi University and specializes in the anthropology of religion and Indian civilization. He is the former UNESCO Professor at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. He was associated with the Anthropological Survey of India, Kolkata, for a decade, and another decade at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. During this period he did extensive field work in rural India and conducted a detailed study of Varanasi. Most recently he has been drawing out relevant themes from traditional thought and modern science to build up indigenous anthropology from within. He has authored The Sacred Science of Man, Ascetics of Kashi, and The Nature of Man and Culture: Alternate Paradigms in Anthropology, as well as many other books and publications.
J.M. Malville obtained his PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado. He has taught in the astronomy departments of the universities of Michigan and Colorado. At Colorado he served as the Chairman of the Department of Astro-Geophysics. His research interests have ranged from the physics of the earth’s aurora and the sun’s corona, to the archaeoastronomy of India, American Southwest, Peru, and Egypt. As a visiting scientist at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Malville investigated the connections between astronomy, culture, and self-organized complexity. His is presently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado and an Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at James Cook University, Queensland, Australia. His books include A Feather for Daedalus and Prehistoric Astronomy in the Southwest.
Books of John McKim Malville