This book seeks to analyse the kaleidoscopic images through which Krsna-Jagannatha has been represented by European travellers and scholars.
Recalling the ancient relationship of the Syrian Christians to Hindu culture, Part I brings to centre stage commonly ignored parallelisms between Jagannatha and Thomas the Apostle. Such analogies are clearly suggested in the Syrian Christian traditions collected by Europeans from the law Middle Ages. Athanasius Kircher (1601/2-1680) made abundant use of these sources, albeit grossly distorted, for his alleged reconstruction of the diffusion of Christianity in Asia.
Since the 18th century, the cult of Jagannatha was accommodated by European scholars to their conceptions of history. The foundation myth of the cult was interpreted in this perspective. In the process, as shown in Part II, meaning has been drastically deflected.
A very different picture emerges when several versions of the Jagannatha myth, unhampered by the inherited models of interpretation, are brought together and compared. Part III attempts to capture the coherent unity arising from the intricate fabric of interconnected motifs that can be found in the narratives. The book provides access to this inner unity and sheds new light on the problems engendered by persistent efforts to ensure the viability of historical reconstruction.
Jose carlos gomes da silva is Professor of Anthropology (retired) at ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon University Institute. He has published L'identite VOLEE: Essais d'Anthropologie sociale (1989) [Stolen Identity : Essays in Social Anthropology], O Discurso contra si propri (2003) [ The Discourse against Itself], and The Gulf of Jagannatha : Myths and Rituals (MLBD, 2010) , along with other books and articles.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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