Power, Prestige and Possession: Interwoven Legacies of Ida Pedanda Istris ‘Priestesses’ in Balinese Hinduism
This chapter is a spin-off from my constructive engagement with an ongoing research project on life and religious roles of Ida Pedanda Istris, ‘Priestesses’ in Balinese Hinduism. It is based partly on historical continuities of Hindu culture in Bali, complemented by ethnographic and field explorations that I conducted on the living culture of Ida Pedanda Istris, their power and prestige, and the interwoven legacies in a variety of ritualistic religious practices that are traceable to the Hindu tradition in India.
The author is grateful to several people, especially scholars and Pedanda Istris in Bali, who were willing to share their knowledge and experiences during my research tours in 2009 and 2015. I am obliged to Luh Ketut Suryani for her useful advice. Ida Pedanda Istri Kania, Kajeng, at Badung; Ida Ayu Agung Mas at Sua Bali; and Mutwan at Denpasar shared their knowledge and experience with me with the utmost intimacy. I am also indebted to Cok Sawitri, the eminent writer and theatre personality, for her insightful comments. Ida Pedanda Gede Made Gunung, the Śaiwa master, ritual specialist, shared his rich understanding of the tradition. Ms Malini Saran in Delhi inspired me to take up the challenge of this study. I am grateful to Prof. Tom Hunter, who raised critical questions and clarified many complex issues. I am also grateful to Prof. Andrea Acri for providing influential contacts in Bali and Windhu Sancaya for his timely support during my last visit.
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