The present book, "Religion and Making of a Region : A Study of Santal Parganas" is collection of the improved version of author's earlier published research papers on the theme. The data collected during his field research work has been utilized here to articulate his postulations. The author has also utilized the findings of the latest research works of different scholars working in this field.
In this study, the role played by the Baidyanath Cult in the development of regional culture of the Santal Parganas has been studied. The study of the Baidyanath Cult also reflects the process of the interaction, amalgamation and integration of various diverse traditions of Indian sociocultural life. Thus the study of Santal Parganas region of modern Jharkhand province of India tries to test and underline the hypothesis that there does exist a unique relationship between "Religion" and "Region" in the Indian sub-continent. Needless to say that apart from highlighting the integrative feature of religion, reconstructing history in chronological order of the region of Santal Parganas has been explored in the present study of the Baidyanath Cult. Hence, the author has tried to identify and establish the relationship between religion; the Baidyanath Cult and making of a region; the Santal Parganas in the present work.
The author claims that this work may be regarded as a pioneering work of the field, since the twin themes of the Baidyanath Cult and the emergence of Santal Parganas as a distinct geocultural region have been studied for the first time in this book.
The religio-cultural world of India is still being interpreted by different scholars from the prism of their own ideological frameworks. So far as the understanding of the nature and the formation of Indian Culture is concerned, scholars are confronting each other's postulations. It has reached to a very chaotic state and historians in India are becoming targets of differently motivated political agenda. To some extent this situation is also the result of the abuse of historian's craft by some scholars. Therefore, in order to present a balanced understanding of the History, Culture, Religion and Region of India, I have shared some of my relevant observations and postulations, developed and articulated during the study of the Baidyanath Cult of Santal Parganas. The study of the Baidyanath Cult has enabled me to reconstruct the history and culture of the region of Santal Parganas since the early medieval period of Indian history.
As has rightly been said by scholars, religion and nationalities are very important institutions developed by mankind. No doubt religion is one of the most important ingredients of culture as it may influence people of different nationalities. For example Islam and Christianity have been doing this across the world for centuries. At home, Hinduism is also being credited for the same. Similarly, culture of any given region incorporates common traits adopted by the people of a given area across religious affiliations. Thus, culture accommodates religious rituals and practices too in its fold. Hence, both these important institutions; religion and culture, are also complimentary to each other. In fact, religion and culture together may be perceived as a mirror in which one can see the reflection of some total of the achievements acquired by a given culture or civilization through millennia. However, predominance of religious traits of a single community on the culture of any geographical area still needs to be examined by the scholars of the field.
No doubt, the founding principles of Indian culture do resemble with the practices and rituals adopted by Hindus, yet the nature of Hinduism itself is a subject of debate amongst intellectuals in general and historians in particular. I have tried to understand this dimension of Hinduism in the present study. Thus, religion and culture together become the thread that binds a group of people with all those whom they recognize as part of them. And hence, religion and culture together help the growth of a region in various stages of its historical development. In this study I have tried to establish the role played by the 'Baidyanath Cult' in the development of the regional culture of 'Santal Parganas' and its surrundings. The study of the 'Baidyanath Cult' also reflects the process of the interaction, amalgamation and integration of various diverse traditions of Indian sociocultural life. The migration of Maithil Brahmanas in this region since 10-11th centuries started a new era for the region. The process of 'Acculturation' and 'Sanskritisation' left a deep impact on both the Maithil Brahmanas and local traditions which ultimately gave rise to distinct characters of a religious sect of this area, to be called as the 'Baidyanath Cult'.
Hence, the study of Santal Parganas region of modern Jharkhand province of India tries to test and underline the hypothesis that there does exist a unique relationship between 'Religion' and 'Region' in the Indian sub-continent. This study also tries to understand why and how 'Dharma' or 'Religion' becomes one of the extremely important and relevant institutions for the students of 'Region', 'Religion' and 'Culture' in India. Most of us know that 'Dharma' has always been studied by researchers and scholars to understand and explain its assimilative, accommodative and inclusive characteristics. In fact, due to these characteristics 'Dharma' has been perceived as the essence of Indian culture. Therefore, an unbiased academic study of religion might highlight its historic role played in the formation of various regional and religious characteristics of socio-politico-cultural life of India.
The study of 'Sacred' has been primarily the domain of anthropology. Accordingly, within anthropological frame-work, several studies conducted by many scholars on 'Sacred Centers' or 'Sacred Complexes' are available. This study also demonstrates that the Baidyanath Cult and its Sacred Complexes play a useful role in the process of national integration in India at micro-level. Thus, far from being an isolated phenomena, temple complex and their attendant ritual activities studied in this book, form a part of socioreligious matrix connecting people belonging to varying ecological settings to a common set of traditions. Undoubtedly, this may be regarded as one of the greatest achievements of religo-cultural traditions of India. Needless to say that this integrative feature of religion, reconstructing chronological order of a region has been explored in the present study of the Baidyanath Cult and the Baidyanath Temple Complex. I am of the opinion that the same may be explored elsewhere too in order to reconstruct the unbiased history of Ancient Indian Culture through the prism of religion of a given region.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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