Chapter

The Language of the Mint

Hugh B. Urban

in The Economics of Ecstasy

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780195139020
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834778 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019513902X.003.0004
 The Language of the Mint

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This chapter and the following two delve into the most esoteric and hidden dimensions of the Bengali Kartābhajā sect, as they explore the use of secret discourse and bodily practice. This is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the cryptic songs of the Kartābhajās and their own unique form of the Tantric sandhābhāṣā(intentional language with elaborate use of imagery, metaphors, and riddles), which they called the “Language of the Mint.” This is examined not so much in terms of its professed hidden content (the usual approach), but rather in terms of form and strategies. After briefly outlining the form and content of the Mint Sayings, the chapter delves into the hermeneutic problems involved in trying to make sense of these cryptic utterances, and offers the author's own reading, based on a modified version of Bourdieu's model of symbolic capital. Finally, it looks at the problem of secrecy as played out in contemporary field research from conversations with Kartābhajā gurus.

Keywords: Bengal; cults; hermeneutics; India; interpretation; Kartābhajās; language; secrecy; sects; Tantrism

Chapter.  11376 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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