Old Tool for New Times

The Discovery of an Ancient Holy Site in Contemporary India

  • Daniela Bevilacqua SOAS


This paper aims to show how different typologies of narration can be involved in the place-making process of a religious centre in India based on the claim of a yogi to have discovered in a jungle an ancient holy place, Garh DhÄm, through his powers. As recorded by a devotee-run website, it was claimed to be the same place where King Surath met the sage Medha – as narrated in theDevÄ«MÄhÄtmya, a famous section of the Markaṇá¸eya PurÄṇa – and where the first ever DurgÄ PÅ«jÄ (worship) was ‘historically’ celebrated. The ‘discoverer’ is a yogi, BrahmÄnand GirÄ«, who living in jungle was able to find hidden temples thanks to his austerity (tapasyÄ) and yogic powers (siddhis). The narration of his life story and of his powers recalls those appearing in Indian hagiographies and texts that describe siddhis. The discovery of a holy place by a yogi does not represent an isolated case since similar discoveries dot the history of Hindu religious orders. As in these latter cases, the place-making process of Garh DhÄm aims to give authority and legitimacy to the foundation of a new religious centre and so to further spread the DurgÄ cult in the area and to attract pilgrims.

How to Cite
BEVILACQUA, Daniela. Old Tool for New Times. Journal of the British Association for the Study of Religion (JBASR), [S.l.], v. 20, p. 45-66, sep. 2018. ISSN 2516-6379. Available at: <https://jbasr.com/ojs/index.php/jbasr/article/view/27>. Date accessed: 19 june 2024. doi: https://doi.org/10.18792/jbasr.v20i0.27.