Chapter

A Fine Balance

Corinne G. Dempsey

in The Goddess Lives in Upstate New York

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780195187298
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784547 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195187296.003.0007
 A Fine Balance

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This chapter investigates the nature and effect of religious discipline at the Rush temple, and notes how participants from various backgrounds, possessing very different motivations for visiting the temple, encounter temple expectations in very different ways. For instance, the majority of participants, often loosely affiliated with the temple and drawn primarily to the power and grace of the temple goddess, are not typically interested in religious discipline. As a result, they sometimes receive admonitions from the guru, Aiya, ever the perfectionist, that warn them of the pitfalls of a utilitarian connection to the goddess and of an overemphasis on material well-being. Inner core devotees, typically highly dedicated to and invested in the heavy demands of temple rituals and upkeep, receive a different set of messages from Aiya. Ever the trickster-maverick and dedicated to the tantric mandate to narrow the human-divine divide, Aiya infuses humor and playfulness into temple rituals and interactions with his students, encouraging them to engage with the deity with intimacy and light-heartedness amid their serious devotion.

Keywords: discipline; humor; playfulness; utilitarian; trickster; rituals

Chapter.  8224 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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