Chapter

Dog Ladies and the Beriya Baba

Lawrence Cohen

in No Aging in India

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 1998 | ISBN: 9780520083967
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925328 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520083967.003.0009
Dog Ladies and the Beriya Baba

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This chapter examines and compares the following: dogs and old women, old women and madwomen, madwomen and witches, dogs and old men, old men and babas, and babas and the state. The Elder's Day image conveys a symbolic juxtaposition, that is, a connection between dogs and old women based upon particular cultural associations. In both classical Hindu and popular local narrative, dogs were one of several archetypical denizens of the ultimate dying spaces of the Hindu polis. In Varanasi, the fierce form of Lord Shiva was closely associated with dogs. To be “treated like a dog” thus conveyed a complex set of associations suggesting both iconic dependency and noise and symbolic pollution and threat. Meanwhile, the relation between terror and abjection circles around the female witch. Old men as babas draw upon the dense field of the renunciate and the rishi.

Keywords: babas; old men; old women; dogs; Varanasi; Hindu polls; dependency; madwomen

Chapter.  13394 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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