Charming Beauties and Frightful Beasts. Non-Human Animals in South Asian Myth, Ritual and Folklore

di Aa.Vv.

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    In 8°, b ross. edit. 272 pp., b/n

    Fabrizio M. Ferrari, Thomas Dähnhardt

    The study of non-human animals as other-than-human persons (including animal-spirits and divine animals) has marked a significant shift in the ethics and politics of the academic study of religion. Charming Animals and Frightful Beasts investigates how South Asian religions, with their sacred narratives, ritual and non-ritual practices and performances, bear witness to the active presence of non-human animals as both culture makers/bearers and symbols of spirituality. With bourgeoning debates on religion, indigeneity, ecotheology and environmentalism, this volume urges for a promotion and an in-depth analysis of the roles and places of animals in South Asian traditions.

    The structure of the book reflects that of the most popular collection of folktales on animals in South Asia, the Pacatantra. Such an arrangement creates the backbone for an articulate, clear and reasoned discussion on animals and the concept of animality in different South Asian traditions, or various aspects of the same tradition. Like the original Sanskrit text, the volume is divided into five books (tantras), each dealing with themes as different as South Asian animals as divine messengers, restorers of order, symbols of cultural identity, exemplary beings, spiritual teachers, objects of human reverence and portents symbolizing the life cycle, including its inevitable end.

    The Animal Question in South Asia: A Post-Modern Pacatantra
    Thomas Dähnhardt and Fabrizio M. Ferrari

    First Tantra: Wonder, Monstrosity, Conflict
    1. Talking Animals: Explorations in an Indian Literary Genre
    Patrick Olivelle, University of Texas, Austin
    2. Monstrous Animals on Hindu Temples, with Special Reference to Khajuraho
    David Smith, Lancaster University
    3. Her Majesty's Servants: The Tame and the Wild under the British Raj
    Davide Torri, University of Chester

    Second Tantra: Conflict, Ethics, Environment
    4. Beware the Crocodile: Female and Male Nature in Aśvaghoṣa's Saundarananda
    Alice Collett, York St John University
    5. Sparrows and Lions: Fauna in Sikh Imagery - Symbolism and Ethics
    Eleanor Nesbitt, University of Warwick
    6. Tigers, Tiger Spirits and Were-tigers in Tribal Orissa
    Stefano Beggiora, University of Venice

    Third Tantra: Environment, Myth, Devotion
    7. Falling Rain, Reigning Power in Reptilian Affairs: The Balancing of Religion and the Environment
    Ivette Vargas-O'Bryan, Austin College
    8. Guardian Spirits, Omens and Meat for the Clans: The Place of Animals among the Apatanis of Arunachal Pradesh
    Sarit Kumar Chaudhuri, Arunachal University
    9. Karman and Compassion: Animals in the jain Universal History
    Eva De Clercq, Ghent University

    Fourth Tantra: Devotion, Wisdom, Awe
    10. Horses that Weep, Birds that Tell Fortunes: Animals in South Asian Muslim Myth
    David Pinault, Santa Clara University
    11. Winged Messengers, Feathered Beauties and Beaks of Divine Wisdom: The Role of Birds in Hindi-Urdu Allegorical Love Stories
    Thomas Dähnhardt
    12. The Biggest Star of All: The Elephant in Hindi Cinema
    Rachel Dwyer, SOAS, University of London

    Fifth Tantra: Awe, Fear, Death
    13. Dark Shades of Power: The Crow in Hindu and Tantric Religious Traditions
    Xenia Zeiler, Universität Bremen
    14. Fear, Reverence and Ambivalence: Divine Snakes in Contemporary South India
    Amy Allocco, Elon University
    15. The Silent Killer: The Donkey as Personification of Illness in North Indian Folklore
    Fabrizio M. Ferrari