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Message-Id: <199801250133.UAA97942@h-net.msu.edu>
Date: Sat, 24 Jan 1998 17:32:36 -0800
Reply-To: Frank Conlon <conlon@u.washington.edu>
Sender: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture <H-ASIA@h-net.msu.edu>
From: Frank Conlon <conlon@u.washington.edu>
Subject: H-ASIA: Witchcraft in pre-modern India, a Maharashtra case
To: Multiple recipients of list H-ASIA <H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU>

Witchcraft in pre-modern India, a Maharashtra case

Part of a dialog from the H-Asia list, 24 jan 1998

I have been following the postings on this issue with much interest. I feel that what was subsequently isolated as witchcraft constituted in pre-modern societies, a part of the range of effects that people could produce given appropriate techniques. Of course, some sorts of persons - especially old women - had greater ability in this area than others, but almost everyone could produce the effect, or pay someone else to do it. Liminal persons - such as members of forest tribes - who routinely transgressed the boundaries of agrarian society - of course possessed much knowledge/power in this regard. There is a great deal of material on these issues in the Marathi records of western India - quite enough for a good Ph.d. if somebody is willing to put in the archival and field-work. I offer a stray document as a specimen of the sources available; it is a solemmn affirmation made by Naras Mali, Sonji Tambdekar and Ramji Dolar - all three males - on 15 November 1732

At the Lord's order we write a confession and undertaking that :

We sent spirits (_bhuta_) into the house Harji Nhavi resident of village Pedhe, where they wreaked havoc, and his son died. Now we have come and taken up the spirits from the house of Harji aforesaid and will not let them come there again. If they do come again then each of us undertakes to pay a fine of one hundred rupees. This is agreed.

Signed on 6 Jamadilaval


By the hand of Ganesh Ballal, clerk at the shrine of Shri Bhargava

Dad Gurav resident of Pedhe
Appa Joshi Chiplonkar
Mahadevbhat Ganpule

Trans. mine; from Vishvanath Kashinath Rajvade comp. and ed. _Marathyanchya Itihasachi Sadhanen vol.6_ pp.44-45

Sumit Guha

Message-Id: <199801261607.LAA93092@h-net.msu.edu> Date: Mon, 26 Jan 1998 07:17:49 -0800 Reply-To: Frank Conlon <conlon@u.washington.edu> Sender: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture <H-ASIA@h-net.msu.edu> From: Frank Conlon <conlon@u.washington.edu> Subject: H-ASIA: Witchcraft in early-modern India, a case from Mathura To: Multiple recipients of list H-ASIA <H-ASIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU>

Ed. note:
Some, but perhaps not all, H-ASIA readers will discover some odd formatting symbols in the post below. This problem is increasingly with us as H-ASIA members send us messages that are not in ASCII. Even after I carefully spent time deleting these marks as I edited the message on my PINE system, the formatting symbols remained on the outbound post. The H-ASIA editors are experiencing increasing difficulty in editing posts from members simply in trying to produce a better looking product. (or maybe someone has cast a spell? My spell-checker does not seem to cover this!)

From: William Pinch <wpinch@wesleyan.edu>

A follow up to Sumit Guha's Maharasthrian case, concerning Mahadji Shinde (aka Scindia) and Anupgiri Gosain, two important warlord/commander/kings of late 18th-century north and west India:

Shinde fell ill with boils and fever in the summer of 1789. His physicians determined that the cause of the disease was diabolical. Suspicion fell on Anupgiri after a woman of Vrindaban was overheard to boast to her friends that "Sindhia''s illness was the triumph of her witchcraft, and that she had practised it at the instigation of Himmat Bahadur Gosain's agents" The woman was brought to Shinde's court, admitted her guilt, and performed "the magical rites for counteracting the mischief already done, and lo! it had immediate effect in decreasing Sindhia''s ain"=96 thus confirming the charg against Anupgiri and his agents. Shinde, enraged at the gosain's diabolical act, immediately dispatched officers to bring Anupgiri to the darbar. [he would escape and go off to future exploits in Bundelkhand; quotes are from Jadunath Sarkar, _Fall of the Mughal Empire_].

Vijay Pinch
Wesleyan University

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