Piers Vitebsky argues that “shamanism [in India and widely throughout South and East Asia] is often the religion of earlier, aboriginal tribes” but is never entirely separate from the now dominant regional religions of Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity. His fieldwork among the Sora, a jungle-dwelling “scheduled tribe” (a group recognized as indigenous under Indian constitutional law) on the borders of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, illustrates his argument here and in many other discussions. For example, in addition to male and female shamans (all called kuran but distinguished by gender), Sora villages have a “hereditary earth priest whose performance does not involve trance.” Additionally, kuran gain their shamanic powers by marrying high-caste Hindu spirits in the underworld, for example, “warriors and kings who for centuries have wielded political and economic power over the Sora.” It seems likely that the Sora are typical of the situation for many other scheduled tribes.

Historical dictionary of shamanism. . 2007.

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