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Mesocosm [electronic resource] : Hinduism and the organization of a traditional Newar city in Nepal /
Robert I. Levy with the collaboration of Kedar Rāj Rājopādhyāya.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1990.
description
xxii, 829 p., [8] p. of of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0520069110 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1990.
isbn
0520069110 (alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
7993047
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 775-787) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"A first-rate anthropological study of Hinduism. . . . The scholarship is clearly of superior quality. There is no study with the [same] kind of comprehensive breadth and treatment.Robert Levy and Kedar Rajopadhyaya show us how to do anthropology at this time in our history."--Triloki N. Pandey, University of California, Santa Cruz "I have no doubt thatMesocosmwill become a classic in South Asian anthropology and Indology--leaving aside its implications for our understanding of other traditional cities in ancient European and Middle Eastern as well as more recent Oriental civilizations. . . . A very welcome and clear ordering of the very detailed and complex material."--Michael Witzel, Harvard University
Flap Copy
"A first-rate anthropological study of Hinduism. . . . The scholarship is clearly of superior quality. There is no study with the [same] kind of comprehensive breadth and treatment.Robert Levy and Kedar Rajopadhyaya show us how to do anthropology at this time in our history."--Triloki N. Pandey, University of California, Santa Cruz "I have no doubt that Mesocosmwill become a classic in South Asian anthropology and Indology--leaving aside its implications for our understanding of other traditional cities in ancient European and Middle Eastern as well as more recent Oriental civilizations. . . . A very welcome and clear ordering of the very detailed and complex material."--Michael Witzel, Harvard University
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1991-12:
A massive and comprehensive ethnocultural study of Bhaktapur, located nine miles east of Kathmandu, the capital of the Kingdom of Nepal. With a population of 40,112 persons organized into 6,484 households, Bhaktapur is smaller than the two other cities of Kathmandu and Patan, which together constitute the Kathmandu valley, the core of Nepalese politics and culture. Levy's book is in three parts, divided into 17 chapters and 6 appendixes. The author has structured his work around major themes: the historical background of the community of Newars; the internal structures of society in terms of kinship and marriage; the Hindu-Buddhist-Tantrik religious complex of beliefs and ritual practices; the nature and role of the priesthood; and festivals pertaining to the lunar and solar cycles. Levy also discusses the nature and conception of numerous benign and fearsome deities and the role of ideas on ritual and social purity/impurity that underlie the hierarchy. This is a work based on extensive field research as well as on a comprehensive use of existing literature. It will be indispensable for cultural anthropologists and for serious students of the history and culture of the Newars of Nepal. Suitable for libraries collecting in South Asian studies.-B. G. Gokhale, emeritus, Wake Forest University
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, December 1991
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Summaries
Long Description
Mesocosm is a study of Hinduism in its most fully realized form as a symbolic system for organizing the life of a particular kind of city--what the author terms an "archaic" city. The work is a detailed description and analysis of the symbolic world of Bhaktapur, a unicultural city in the Kathmandu Valley, a city which is perhaps the last surviving example of a type of organization once widespread in the ancient world. Robert Levy views Bhaktapur as a structured "mesocosm," mediating between the microcosm of individual self-conception and the macrocosm of the culturally conceived larger universe. The city is a bounded entity, grounded on a minutely divided and interrelated sacrilized space. It uses that space, roles assigned by an elaborate caste system, a semantically differentiated pantheon, and the tempos and forms of the festival year and rites of passage to construct a "civic dance," a web of communication and instruction which deeply affects the experience of Bhaktapur's citizens. Levy investigates the meaning of the community to the people who live there and suggests how the religious forms that have challenged Hinduism in South Asia--Christianity and, above all, Islam--are profoundly antithetical to Hinduism as the organizing principle for cities such as Bhaktapur. Mesocosm is a groundbreaking contribution to anthropology, social and religious history, and Indian and Nepalese studies.
Main Description
Mesocosmis a study of Hinduism in its most fully realized form as a symbolic system for organizing the life of a particular kind of city--what the author terms an "archaic" city. The work is a detailed description and analysis of the symbolic world of Bhaktapur, a unicultural city in the Kathmandu Valley, a city which is perhaps the last surviving example of a type of organization once widespread in the ancient world. Robert Levy views Bhaktapur as a structured "mesocosm," mediating between the microcosm of individual self-conception and the macrocosm of the culturally conceived larger universe. The city is a bounded entity, grounded on a minutely divided and interrelated sacrilized space. It uses that space, roles assigned by an elaborate caste system, a semantically differentiated pantheon, and the tempos and forms of the festival year and rites of passage to construct a "civic dance," a web of communication and instruction which deeply affects the experience of Bhaktapur's citizens. Levy investigates the meaning of the community to the people who live there and suggests how the religious forms that have challenged Hinduism in South Asia--Christianity and, above all, Islam--are profoundly antithetical to Hinduism as the organizing principle for cities such as Bhaktapur. Mesocosmis a groundbreaking contribution to anthropology, social and religious history, and Indian and Nepalese studies.

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