Questioning Meaningful Layers of Locality in a Pan-Indian tīrtha




tradition, locality, pan-Indian-ness, māhātmya, Kedāreśvara


This paper critically addresses notions of locality, tradition, and pan-Indian-ness by analyzing the case of Kedāreśvara in Varanasi. Textual evidence from local māhātmyas and digests, as well as historical sources, depict Kedāreśvara as one of the city’s major manifestations of Śiva. However, the shaping of a progressively more locally-oriented myth in eulogistic texts, together with a mix of regional elements and contemporary practices at the temple constitute a complex reality, where various fragments of locality intersect. Drawing on the anthropological concepts of locality and localization, I detail the layers that constitute part of a supposedly ‘great’ tradition in one of the most notable and so-considered pan-Indian tīrthas. The paper questions the existence of a unified, ‘great’ Brahmanical tradition as opposed to and distinct from elements of regionalism and locality; on the contrary, it highlights variations within glorification texts, while documenting interpretations, adaptations and transformations of their narrative material as transmitted and enacted in the contemporary shrine and its environs.

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How to Cite

Lazzaretti, Vera. 2016. “Questioning Meaningful Layers of Locality in a Pan-Indian tīrtha”. Cracow Indological Studies 18 (December):119-44.