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The Law of PossessionRitual, Healing, and the Secular State$
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William S. Sax and Helene Basu

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190275747

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190275747.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 December 2021

In the Courtroom of Jungle Saints

In the Courtroom of Jungle Saints

The Poor and Transcendental Justice

(p.31) 2 In the Courtroom of Jungle Saints
The Law of Possession

Helene Basu

Oxford University Press

The chapter is based upon trials and ordeals as they were practiced in the 1980s at a Muslim dargah, or shrine, in Gujarat, which functioned also as a transcendental law court. The trials combined juridical functions with the ritual healing of possession, on the one hand, and the creation of Sufi aesthetics and emotions, on the other. The different functions taken on by the shrine coalesced in a shared “morality of the poor,” which contradicted official standards of “crime,” and deviated from the norms of mainstream Sufi-Islam unfolding in a counterworld ruled by “jungle saints” whose power, judgment, and sense of justice provided protection to the poor. Although moderns might regard these shrines or courts as exploitative and dangerous, they provide what might be called a parallel or alternative Indian modernity.

Keywords:   ritual, ordeal, purification of practices, morality of the poor, justice, dargah, Sufism

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