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Title:Patchwork jacket and loincloth: An ethnographic study of the Bauls of Bengal
Author(s):Murase, Satoru
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Gould, Harold A.
Department / Program:Religion, History of
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Religion, History of
Anthropology, Cultural
Abstract:This dissertation is an ethnographic study of the Bauls of Bengal, a specific group of people who are mendicant religious musicians and whose religious beliefs and practices are expressed in their songs. Since Rabindranath Tagore called the attention of the public to the richness of the Baul songs and their religion, a number of people have collected Baul songs, and studied and written about the Bauls. However, they have primarily dealt with Baul songs, Baul religion, and/or Baul music. Unfortunately, there is virtually no anthropological or ethnographic literature that attempts a scholarly presentation of the Bauls as people. The basic objective of this study is to meet this scholarly need.
This dissertation is an empirical investigation of the Bauls, whose mere existence contributes to the maintenance of the entire social system. The ethnographic analysis in this study demonstrates that the Bauls constitute a definable group located on the margins of the caste society. Their negation of the social order directing the lives of the majority within the structured world of caste places the Bauls equally outside of, and in opposition to, the dominant structural segment of the society. Nevertheless, as members of a recognized institutionally liminal group, the Bauls intimately co-exist with the larger society as an essential anti-structural element. A cultural and structural tension exists between the institution of renunciation and the caste system that tends toward a state of dialectic equilibrium preventing the center from collapse. The actual operation of this dialectic system takes place within the context of day-to-day social interaction. Ironically, the Bauls, who have collectively rejected the larger caste society and have been to an extent rejected by it as a result of inherent cultural contradictions and stress within the system, function to preserve the stability of the entire structure of caste.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Murase, Satoru
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9210929
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9210929

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