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About this product
- DescriptionLethal Spots, Vital Secrets provides an ethgraphic study of varmakkalai, or the art of the vital spots, a South Indian esoteric tradition that combines medical practice and martial arts. Although siddha medicine is officially part of the Indian Government's medically pluralistic health-care system, very little of a reliable nature has been written about it. Drawing on a diverse array of materials, including Tamil manuscripts, interviews with practitioners, and his own personal experience as an apprentice, Sieler traces the practices of varmakkalai both in different religious traditions-such as Yoga and Ayurveda-and within various combat practices. His argument is based on in-depth ethgraphic research in the southernmost region of India, where hereditary medico-martial practitioners learn their occupation from relatives or skilled gurus through an esoteric, spiritual education system. Rituals of secrecy and apprenticeship in varmakkalai are among the important focal points of Sieler's study. Practitioners protect their esoteric kwledge, but they also engage in a kind of lure and withdrawal --a performance of secrecy--because secrecy functions as what might be called symbolic capital. Sieler argues that varmakkalai is, above all, a matter of texts in practice; kwledge transmission between teacher and student conveys tacit, n-verbal kwledge, and constitutes a moral ecomy. It is t merely plain facts that are communicated, but also moral obligations, ethical conduct and tacit, bodily kwledge. Lethal Spots, Vital Secrets will be of interest to students of religion, medical anthropologists, historians of medicine, indologists, and martial arts and performance studies.
- Author BiographyRoman Sieler has a PhD in cultural anthropology from South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University (2011) as well as experience in development cooperation with regard to health issues in South Asia. His research interests include siddha medicine and the transmission and practice of non-institutionalized forms of health care in India, especially bonesetting and other forms of manual medicine. Currently, Sieler is Assistant Professor of anthropology at the South Asia Institute, where he coordinates the MA program Health and Society in South Asia. He is also an affiliate postdoctoral researcher at the French Institute of Pondicherry, India.
- Author(s)Roman Sieler
- PublisherOxford University Press Inc
- Date of Publication25/06/2015
- SubjectAlternative Belief Systems
- Place of PublicationNew York
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintOxford University Press Inc
- Content Note24 illus.
- Weight10 g
- Width157 mm
- Height235 mm
- Spine21 mm
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