7199 -- GUZY, LIDIA

From non-Brahmin priests of the goddess to ascetics of the god Alekha
Baessler-Archiv 53.2005:149-158
Keywords: Brahmins, ascetics, Alekha, goddess, babas, shakti, popular asceticism

##Mahima Dharma is an ascetic religion of Orissa showing a strong diversity in its regional configurations. I propose in this paper to look at the main protagonists of the religion, the ascetics (babas), as non-Brahmin priests who have incorporated shakti, the power of the local goddess into their disciplined bodies and, in doing so, have transformed the feminine element of the Hindu belief into the belief of the indescribable and abstract god Alekha. Mahima Dharma is seen as a sort of micro-structure of popular asceticism and recent religious reforms in India on a local level, which features a non-Brahmin priesthood as well as a belief in goddesses.##