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The Biography of a God

Mahasu in the Himalayas

208 pages
Amsterdam University Press
Mahasu is the joint name of four gods whose influence is widespread throughout the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Like other deities in the Western Himalayas, they are regarded as royal gods who rule over territories and people. This book traces changes in faith and practices surrounding the Mahasu brothers, and shows how the locals understand these changes by emphasizing the dominant role of humans in the decisions of the gods. The locals are also constantly testing the authenticity of the human mediumship. Thus, the book presents the claim that the gap between local conceptions of divinity and the perceptions of anthropologists regarding gods may be narrower than we think.
The Biography of a God: Mahasu in the Himalayas is based on ethnographic research, resulting in an important contribution to the study of Indian village deities, Himalayan Hinduism, lived Hinduism, and the anthropology of religion.
Author Bio
Dr. Asaf Sharabi, Senior Lecturer in the School of Behavioral Sciences at the Peres Academic Center, obtained his doctorate in social anthropology in 2010 from Bar Ilan University. In his doctoral thesis he explored the encounter between religion and contemporary modernity, in the context of the religious revival movement in Israel. In 2013, he undertook an ethnographic study in the Western Himalayas, a study in which he intermittently engaged to this day. The research focuses on the religious experience and changing theological perceptions relating to the image of local gods, especially Mahasu. In 2021, his research Gods and goddesses in the Western Himalayas - a comparative ethnographic research won a research grant from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF). His research interests include anthropology and sociology of religion, ritual healing, anthropology of gods, anthropology of Hinduism, and anthropology of Judaism.