Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Glossary to Caste and Kinship in a Modern Hindu Society

My publisher forgot to include the glossary to my book, Caste and Kinship in a Modern Hindu Society: The Newar City of Lalitpur, Nepal (Bangkok: Orchid, 2013, available here) so here it is for anyone struggling their way through it.

Apart from English terms, all names and terms are transliterated from Newari, Nepali (Np.) or Sanskrit (Skt.).

ācārya (ācāḥ)—learned teacher
āgã chẽ—Tantric shrine
āgã dyaḥ—god that resides in āgã chẽ
agnate—patrilineal kin, a person that is related to ego through links with males alone
aĩta—sweet presented as part of ritual gift-giving
Aji—midwife; provides ritual service at Birth Purification
Ajimā (Hāriti)—malevolent goddess
Ashtamātrika—Eight Mother Goddesses
ashtami—Eighth day of lunar fortnight; important for Buddhists
avatār—‘avatar’; incarnation of Vishnu
aylaḥ—spirits, usually distilled from rice
bāhāḥ, bahi—Buddhist monastery
baigaḥ—uppermost storey of house
bājã—particular style of traditional music; music in general
baji—beaten rice, staple at feasts
Bāl Kumāri—one of the Eight Mother Goddesses
bali—sacrifice, usually animal
Banepa—small Newar town east of Bhaktapur
Bārāhi—lineage of Carpenters; one of the constituent thars of the Pengu Daḥ
Bhairava—blood-accepting, male deity; consort of the Devi
bhakta—devotee (usually in context of Vaishnavite sects)
Bhimsen (Bhindyaḥ)—blood-accepting, male deity beloved of traders
bhincā macā—sister’s son and his children
bhoto (Np.)—waistcoat or vest of Bῦgadyaḥ
bhujyaḥ—offering to Bῦgadyaḥ
bodhisattva—one who aims to become a fully enlightened Buddha
Brahman—a member of a particular lineage with links to the priesthood
brahman—the uppermost of the four ideal varna categories; priest
Bhaktapur—Newar city, east of Lalitpur
bhusyāḥ—large cymbals
bhut/pret—ghost, malevolent spirit
buddhamārgi—a follower of the path of Buddha; one who has a Vajrācārya domestic priest
Bῦgadyaḥ (coll.)—the god of Bῦga; Karunāmaya/Matsyendranāth
caḥre—the fourteenth day of the waning fortnight, especially sacred to the worship of Shiva.
caitya—votive Buddhist shrine; like a stupa but much smaller
Cākwāḥdyaḥ (a.k.a. Minnāth)—accompanies Bῦgadyaḥ on the Jātrā
Caturmāsa—period of four months of Vishnu’s sleep
cheli—ground floor of house
chwāsā—Remains Deity marked by an aniconic stone embedded in the ground
chwaylā bhu—pre-purification feast
cibhāḥ—(see caitya)
cusyāḥ—small cymbals, accompany naykhĩ
cwatã—second floor of house
dakshina—ritual fee
dabu—dance platform
daḥmā—the main forward beam of the chariot
dāmaru (dabu dabu)—small, one-handed double-headed drum
dān—inauspicious gift
dāphā—a genre of traditional Newar music
darshan—view of the deity; obeisance
dasa karma—Ten Life-Cycle Rituals (see samskāra)
Dashmahāvidya—Ten Great Knowledges; a set of female protective deities
dekhā—Tantric initiation
devi—goddess; refers to all goddesses or specifically to the great Goddess (the Devi)
Dewāli—season for Lineage Deity Worship
dhāḥ—two-headed drum, may be played with wooden stick
dharma—religious duty, law, custom, classically set out in sacred texts (dharmashastra); by extension, moral order more generally
dhimay—double headed drum, played with hand and curved cane stick; bigger than dhāḥ
dholi (Np.)—palanquin
digu dyaḥ—Lineage Deity
doti—traditional wrap-around loincloth
dyaḥ pālā—god guardian; caretaker of a temple
ekadasi—11th day of lunar fortnight; sacred to Vaishnavites
emic—the perspective of the insider (the opposite of etic)
galli—narrow lane
Ganesh (Ganedyaḥ)—elephant-headed god, Shiva’s first son and god of beginnings
ghaḥ—traditional Newar water pot
Ghaḥku—a lineage of Farmers who act as brakemen for the Bῦgadyaḥ and Cākwāḥdyaḥ chariots
ghāt—slope, typically adjacent to a river
ghyaḥ—clarified butter
Gubhāju (coll.)—Vajrācārya, Buddhist Priest
guthi (gu)—socio-religious association
guthiyār—member of a guthi
gway—areca (betel) nut
Haluwāi (coll.)—alternative thar appellation of Sweetmaker or more general referent of any sweetmaker
hiti—water spout
Holi—important spring festival
Indra—the Vedic king of the gods
ishtadevatā—chosen deity
—boiled rice
jāt/jāti—common term for group of intermarrying lineages, or caste
jātrā—processional festival; The Jātrā refers specifically to that of Bῦgadyaḥ
jhyāli—small cymbals
Jyāpu (coll.)—Maharjan, Farmer
kacha—raw food
kāshyap (kāshi)-gotra—of Aryan (Indic) ancestry
Kasāḥ (coll.)—Mulmi/Nyāchyã Shresthas, Bronzesmiths
kaḥsi—roof terrace
kalasha—Flask used for sacred purposes
Karamjit—Mahābrāhman death specialists
Karmācārya (Acāḥju)—Tantric priest
kartal—two-piece, one-handed percussion instrument
Karunāmaya—name of bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (see Bῦgadyaḥ)
Kāstakār—Carpenter (alt. to Sthāpit)
Kathmandu—capital city of Nepal; one of three cities of medieval Nepal Valley
Kãwã—skeletal demon
Khadgi (Nay)—Butcher
Khwapa (coll.)—Bhaktapur
khya—the goblin with the lolling red tongue
Krishna—incarnation of Vishnu
kshatriya—second of ideal varna categories; warriors and kings
kuladevatā (Np.)—Lineage Deity (see digu dyaḥ)
Kumāri—Mother Goddess; also virgin goddess in Newar societies
Kwenādyaḥ (coll.)—Jala Vināyak; one of the four important forms of Ganesh in the Valley
lakh—one hundred thousand
lākha mari—sweet presented as part of ritual gift-giving
Lakshmi—goddess of good fortune; Vishnu’s principle wife
Lalitpur—city of Nepal (Kathmandu) Valley south of Bāgmati River; home of Pengu Daḥ
laptyā bhway—traditional Newar leaf-plate feast
laskus—ritual welcome at the door of house or gate of city
lhāsā-gotra—of Tibetan (Bodic) ancestry
Licchavi—ancient rulers of Nepal Valley
linga—phallic representation of Shiva
Lwahãkaḥmi (coll.)—Stonemason; one of the constituent thars of the Pengu Daḥ
magaḥ khĩ (Np. mādal)—small two headed drum Mahādyaḥ (Shiva)
Mahālakshmi—Mother Goddess
Malla—rulers of medieval Nepal
mānā—volumetric measure of ten handfuls or about a litre
Mānandhar—Oil Presser
mandala (mandap)—sacred diagram or platform
Marikaḥmi (coll.)—Sweetmaker; one of the constituent thars of the Pengu Daḥ
mashān—cremation ground
mātã—first floor of a house
melā—grand festival
mhyāy macā—daughter and her children
Mohani (Dashaĩ)—the most important festival of the autumn season
mridanga (Skt.; Nw. pacimā)—two-headed drum
mudrā—ritual position of the hands
muhāli—shawm (medieval-style oboe)
Mulmi/Nyāchyã Shresthas—Bronzesmiths
murti—image or form of deity
nāga—serpent deity
Nakaḥmi—(Newar) Blacksmith
nakhaḥtyā—feast associated with a nakhaḥ
Narasimha—‘man-lion’ incarnation of Vishnu
Nārāyana—alternative name of Vishnu; common form in Nepal
Nāpit (Nau)—Barber
Nauni—Barber’s wife
naykhĩ—double-headed drum, like dhāḥ but smaller; usually played by Butchers (Nay)
nitya pujā—daily worship
Nyāchyã—(see Mulmi)
Panauti—small Newar town in Banepa Valley
pāju—mother’s brother
Pānju—priest of Bῦgadyaḥ
Parbatiyā—Nepalese of the hills
pāthi—volumetric measure equivalent to eight mānās
Pengu Daḥ— ‘The Four Groups’; the focus of this study
phālca—public shelter
phuki—patrilineal relative
pikhā lakhu—carved stone that marks the ritual entrance to the house; Kumar
pitha (pigandyaḥ)—Power-Place
pradakshinapātha (Skt.)—procession route
Prahlāda—son of Hiranyakashipu; devotee of Vishnu
prākrit—natural, aniconic stone image
Pramānas—medieval, de-facto rulers of Lalitpur
prasād—‘grace’; sanctified food, flowers and sinha distributed to worshippers in return for pujā
pujā—worship, usually comprising offerings of fruit, flowers, vermilion, and sweets
pujāri—temple priest
pukka—food that has been made acceptable to eat; well cooked; more generally, solid
purohit—domestic priest
punhi—full moon, auspicious day especially for Buddhists
pwanga—short horn
Rādhā—Krishna’s lover
Rājbhandāri—Royal Storekeeper, member of dominant caste
Rājopādhyāya—Newar Brahman caste
Rājkarnikār (Marikaḥmi)—Sweetmaker
Rām (Rāma)—avatar of Vishnu
Rana—rulers of Nepal from 1847-1951
sadhu (see sannyasin)—ascetic renouncer
sagã—good luck food; two varieties-egg (khẽy) and fish (nyā)
sāit—auspicious time
samay baji—feast-like meal consumed after special pujā
Samgha—Buddhist Monastic Community
samskāra—life-cycle rituals
Sankhu—small town north of Bhaktapur
sãnhu (sãlhu)—first day of solar month
sannyasin—ascetic renouncer
Sarasvati—goddess of learning, Brahma’s wife
Shaivite—of, or pertaining to, Shiva; worshipper of Shiva
Shah—present dynasty of Nepal kings; descendants of Prithvi Narayan Shah
Shākya (Bare)—Goldsmiths; also workers of silver and brass; shopkeepers; of one caste with Vajrācāryas
Shilākār (Lwahãkaḥmi)—Stonemason; alt. thar appellation for Shilpakār
Shilpakār (Lwahãkaḥmi or Sikaḥmi)—Sculptor
shivamārgi—a follower of the path of Shiva; one who has a Brahman priest
shudra—fourth of ideal varna categories; servants, slaves, labourers
Sikaḥmi (coll.)—Carpenter; one of the constituent thars of the Pengu Daḥ
sinha—mark of vermilion on forehead
shakti—divine power, personified as feminine
shawm—medieval-style oboe
shrāddha—Ancestor Worship
Shrestha—dominant Newar caste; proper thar name of some of these
sikāḥ bhu—meal involving ritual division of head of sacrificial animal
sinājyā myẽ—rice transplantation song
snāna—ritual bathing
soḥra shrāddha—Sixteen [Day] Ancestor Worship
Sthāpit (Sikaḥmi)—Carpenter
stupa (thur)—sacred mound
Swanti (Np. Tihār)—important late-autumnal festival
syāḥ phuki—close or ‘bone marrow’ kin
taksāri—chief of royal mint
Taleju—chosen deity of Malla kings; blood-accepting female deity
Tamvaḥ (coll.)—Coppersmith; one of the constituent thars of the Pengu Daḥ
Tāmrakār (Tamvaḥ)—Coppersmith
tāpā phuki—distant kin
thaḥ chẽ—natal home of married woman
thākāli—senior male; elder
thākāli luyegu—initiation as a thākāli
thākāli nakĩ—senior married female
thāy bhu—ceremonial dish used at a Marriage or Mock Marriage celebration
Theravāda Buddhism—form of Buddhism found in Sri Lanka and more recently brought to Nepal
thon—homebrewed beer
thyasaphu—biographical entry on a legal document
trope—a word or expression used in a figurative sense
Tulādhar—principle thar of merchant caste in Kathmandu
tulasi—sacred basil plant; worshipped as Vishnu throughout Caturmāsa
twaḥ (Np. tol)—traditional locality
Urāy (coll.)—Tulādhar et al.
utsāva (Skt.)—festival
vaikuntha—Vishnu’s abode
Vaishnava (Vaishnavite)—of or pertaining to Vishnu; worshipper of Vishnu
vaishya—third of ideal varna categories; traders
Vajrācārya—Buddhist Priest
Vārāha—the boar-avatar of Vishnu
varna—‘colour’; system of castes in sacred texts; ideal caste structure
vermilion—mercuric sulphide; a bright red to reddish-orange coloured powder; mixed with curd, and husked rice it is applied with the finger to the image of the deity and thence to the worshipper’s forehead as prasād
Vishvakarma—patron deity of artisans
vrata—Observance including fasting usually in devotion toward a particular deity
waḥ—lentil cake
wala pala or wala pā—sub-section of guthi
yaḥ mari—special rice cake especially consumed at winter solstice festival
yaḥsĩ—ceremonial pole
yajña (homa)—Fire Sacrifice
Yama (Yamadyaḥ, Yamarāja)—the god of the abode of the dead
Yāngwa—a lineage of Farmers who lash the chariot together with vines
Yẽnyaḥ (Indra Jātrā)—important late-monsoon festival

Friday, May 23, 2014

My Debt to Francis Schaeffer

As a teenager I was profoundly affected by watching the films of How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer. In this series of films (now accessible on YouTube) Schaeffer, in breeches and goatee beard, traces the history of Western civilization from the first century to the twentieth arguing, in his characteristic way, that “There is a flow to history and culture”, and that “This flow is rooted and has its wellspring in the thoughts of people” (Complete Works, Vol. 5, p. 83). I had never heard anyone talk like this before. Not that I understood much of it – my head was spinning as I tried to get my mind around the phrases like ‘autonomous man’ and ‘upper-storey faith’. As the end music (the third movement of Corelli’s Concerto Grosso no. 8 – a favourite to this day) washed over me I knew that I had to watch all ten films. I was hooked. So I travelled up to Haywards Heath every Friday evening with the rest of the youth group until the series was finished. From then on I read every Schaeffer book I could get my hands on. Some, like He is There and He’s Not Silent, were beyond me the first time I tried: I was a science student – how could I be expected to deal with epistemology? Others, like True Spirituality and Edith’s L’Abri were encouraging and sanctifying as well as being stretching.

At some point while I was studying geology in Aberystwyth I read Art and the Bible. I had no idea, then, how foundational that little book would be in my life. Recently I realized that Schaeffer’s ‘Four Standards of Judgment’ (Complete Works, Vol. 5, pp. 399ff.) have been shaping my interaction with culture ever since. Let me share them with you with the prayer that they will be as helpful to you as they have been to me.

Schaeffer, writing about a Christian approach to art in particular (I hope you can see how it applies to culture in general) argues that “there are four basic standards: (1) technical excellence; (2) validity; (3) intellectual content, the world-view which comes through; and (4) the integration of content and vehicle” (emphasis in the original).

  1. By technical excellence Schaeffer is talking about, for painting, “the use of color, form, the texture of the paint, the handling of lines, the balance, composition and the unity of the painting, and so forth”. In other words, how well the work of art is executed. “We are not being true to the artist as a man if we consider his art work junk simply because we differ with his outlook on life.....Man must be treated fairly as man.”
  2. By validity Schaeffer means “whether an artist is honest to himself and to his world-view, or whether he makes his art only for money or for the sake of being accepted.” He talks about the difficulty an artist is in if he paints for a patron (whether an old nobleman or a modern art gallery). There is a real tension here and it affects the ‘art’ of preaching as Schaeffer points out. My students often struggle with this concept. When I say that a society that has rejected the idea of a God to whom we are accountable is valid in approving of euthanasia frowns appear around the room. A cultural artefact, a piece of art by Damien Hurst or a social practice such as abortion may be completely valid, if it matches the world-view of the actor. That doesn’t mean it is ‘good’. It may be completely horrifying. But it would not be, for that, invalid.
  3. Schaeffer’s third criterion is worldview: “The third criterion for the judgment of a work of art is its content, that which refers to the world-view of the artist” (emphasis in the original). The question here is whether the creator of the work of art or whatever has produced something that reflects the truth or falsehood – in Schaeffer’s words, whether a Christian worldview is shown through it or not.
  4. “The fourth criterion for judging a work of art involves how well the artist has suited the vehicle to the message” (emphasis in the original). Schaeffer has in mind here the idea of congruence: does the form suit the message that the creator wants to convey? To be told you have cancer by your doctor with a smile on his face is to experience incongruence. Picasso’s Guernica, with its broken images of broken people and broken animals is a piece of art in which the form of the art is congruent with the subject.

Over the decades since I first read those standards they have prompted me, cajoled me, corrected me and aided me (mostly sub-consciously I am sure) in my quest to understand and evaluate culture. They continue to help me to avoid two equal and opposite errors: (1) thinking that a cultural form is bad just because I don’t like it (the error of ethnocentrism, or just plain selfishness); and (2) thinking that all cultural forms are equally acceptable (the error of relativism). It is possible, then, to look at a West African spirit mask or listen to a drug-fuelled electric guitar solo or watch a Hindu dance-drama and appreciate them without agreeing with the worldview of their creators. It is also possible to critique a piece of so-called Christian music or art, not because it does not convey true content (Schaeffer’s third criterion) but because it does so in a poorly executed (criterion 1), invalid (criterion 2) and tacky (criterion 4) way.

I have much to be thankful for that I was taken to watch those Schaeffer films. I am still trying to work out the implications of his advice three and a half decades later.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Business as Mission as Business as Usual

Business as mission is a significant idea that has received a fair bit of exposure in the missions world in recent years. According to the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization Occasional Paper 59, business as mission (BAM) is based on the principle of holistic mission (; my interaction in this post is entirely with this paper). As holistic mission attempts to address God’s concern for all of life so a biblical and Christian and missional view of business must address issues such as economic development, employment and unemployment, economic justice and the use and distribution of natural and creative resources. Advocates of business as mission assert the validity of “business as a mission, a calling, a ministry in its own right”. It has, they assert, a kingdom perspective rather than an approach to call people to separate from the world.

The paper then goes on to define BAM by distancing it from other related concepts. It is not, they say, “workplace ministry”. Nor is it tentmaking or “business for missions” in which legitimate business is engaged in to generate profits to plough into missions. BAM advocates also distance the approach from fake businesses that exist solely to provide a platform for missionaries to get a visa and businesses that operate solely for the personal gain of the owner even if they are purportedly run out of Christian motivations. As the Lausanne Occasional Paper puts it “The business of business is business. And the business of business of business as mission is business with a kingdom of God purpose and perspective”.

The Lausanne Occasional Paper gives us ten foundational business principles of good business as mission, the first two of which are those that are shared with all good businesses. The rest are those that are distinctive of BAM. BAM, then,
  1.  strives to be profitable and sustainable in the long term. As such then it takes a positive view of the profit motive. A good profit indicates that resources are being used wisely and that the business is a good steward of those resources.
  2. strives for excellence, operates with integrity and has a system of accountability. Hard work, honesty and fairness are valued. These qualities become known and lead to the long term viability and success of the business.
  3.  has a kingdom motivation, purpose and plan that is shared and embraced by the senior management and owners. The principle here is that the company should be set up with the intention of having a “positive and lasting impact in the local community as well as the local church”.
  4.  aims at holistic transformation of individuals and communities. The business will use every opportunity to bring spiritual, social, economic or environmental benefits to the local community.
  5. seeks the holistic welfare of employees. The company sets high standards for the way it treats its employees.
  6.  seeks to maximise the kingdom impact of its financial and non-financial resources. This is worked out in different ways by different companies.
  7.  models Christ-like, servant leadership, and develops it in others. Managers lead by example, living a life of prayer and mentoring.
  8.  intentionally implements ethical Christ-honouring practice that does not conflict with the gospel. Kingdom businesses operate on moral and ethical principles of the Bible.
  9.  is pro-active in intercession and seeks the prayer support of others. Managers and owners actively seek the prayer support of others and keep them informed of the progress of their company in recognition that they are operating in a spiritual conflict.
  10. seeks to harness the power of networking with like-minded organizations. Partnership with other organizations with such a kingdom orientation is sought for the common good.

I think all these principles are very good but I have a question about categories: I find it difficult to see how they are any different from what one would hope from any business that is being run by those who have experienced the grace of God in their lives and understood the positive value and legitimacy of life ‘in the world but not of it’. But the advocates of BAM seem to be saying that the concept is different from such a business because of its intentionality in mission. I think it is important to recognise how many Christians who do business do so with values that are far from Christian and therefore one can see how such a contrast can be maintained but surely the principles they are advocating are those that should be the norm for all Christ-followers in business, are they not?

So BAM, for a business person, really means living your whole life under the lordship of Christ. It is not, in the end, something new at all. Rather, it should be business as usual for the one who follows Christ with integrity and desires that his whole life should bring glory to God.