The Mystique of Shamanism
J.S. Bhandari
SPIRIT POSSESSION IN THE NEPAL HIMALAYAS by John T. Hitchcock and Rex L. Jones Vikas, New Delhi, 1977, 401 pp., 95.00
Jan-Feb 1977, volume 2, No 1/2

Man throughout his existence has striven towards an adjustment with the forces of nature. Some problems were easily resolved by his scientific, matter-­of-fact attitude but there were others which were beyond empirical explana­tion. To harmonize with the forces beyond his comprehension, man evolved various assumptions and activities. These assumptions ultimately became the beliefs and the activities took the shape of rituals. Shamanism or spirit possession, the theme of this volume, is one such manifestation of man’s quest to deal with t-hose exigencies of daily life which pertain to the realm of the super­natural. Shamanism is an aspect of reli­gious behaviour of a large number of societies around the world. It is, how­ever, pragmatic and functional, which means that shaman, the practitioner of this art, is capable of divining the future, diagnosing diseases and misfortunes and otherwise bringing aid and solace to his clients. Shamanism has been perhaps one of the central experiences of man­kind to cope with the uncertainties of the unknown.

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