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Spots of Wilderness. 'Nature' in the Hindu Temples of Kerala

Abstract : Many Hindu temples in Kerala are called 'groves' (kāvu), and encapsulate an effective grove – a small spot where shrubs and trees are said to grow 'wildly'. There live numerous divine entities, serpent gods and other ambivalent deities or ghosts, subordinated to the presiding god/goddess of the temple installed in the main shrine. The paper discusses this situation along two main lines. One is to trace the presence of these groves and of their dangerous inhabitants to religious ideas found in Kerala about land and deities, and about forests as a major source of divine (wild) power. The other is to point out recent discourses ascribing an antique ecological purpose and consciousness at the origin of temple groves, thus equating ecology with a strictly contained – and tiny – 'wilderness'.
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Gilles Tarabout. Spots of Wilderness. 'Nature' in the Hindu Temples of Kerala. Rivista degli Studi Orientali, Fabrizio Serra editore, 2015, The Human Person and Nature in Classical and Modern India, eds. R. Torella & G. Milanetti, Supplemento n°2 alla Rivista Degli Studi Orientali, n.s., vol. LXXXVIII, pp.23-43. ⟨hal-01306640⟩

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