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Hanuman's TaleThe Messages of a Divine Monkey$
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Philip Lutgendorf

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195309225

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195309225.001.0001

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 Major and Minor

 Major and Minor

Hanuman in Hindu Life and Scholarly Discourse

(p.3) 1 Major and Minor
Hanuman's Tale

Philip Lutgendorf (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Opening with a brief tour of modern Hindu temples that feature increasingly monumental icons of Hanuman, this introductory chapter poses the question of why a deity of such apparent prominence in popular practice has generally been marginalized or overlooked in academic scholarship. It seeks the roots of this paradox in the Orientalism of Euro-American scholarship, especially during the period of the British Empire, which applied conceptual categories derived from Judeo-Christian discourse to the understanding of Indian religious traditions. Deities in animal-like forms were especially troubling to Western scholars, who invented labels like “theriomorph”, “fetish”, and “totem” to describe them, and created (e.g., in the folklore research of William Crooke) a false dichotomy between “major” and “minor” deities. After describing the present study's remedial approach and outlining the material to be presented in subsequent chapters, the chapter concludes with an explanation of the most common names and epithets by which Hanuman is known in various regions of India.

Keywords:   British Empire, colonialism, folklore, fetishism, Hindu temples, imperialism, mythology, Orientalism, totemism, William Crooke

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