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Blood Donation in the Zone of Religious Spectacles 6. Utility Saints and Donor-Soldiers 7. The Nehruvian Gift 8. The guru would instruct his devotees to organize blood donation events known as camps, or in Hindi, shibir throughout the year at their different places of worship. Having toured the blood bank, the guru thus offered up his numerous devotees as a new and vital blood donor constituency.

In India as elsewhere, the transfusion and donation of blood are far from being purely technical processes restricted to medics con- cerned with practical medical matters. Rather, they are procedures that transcend their official purposes, and that, in so doing, shed light on multiple aspects of social life. This book tells the story of the complex intertwinings that have developed over recent years between reform-minded north Indian devotional orders and cam- paigns to foster voluntary blood donation among the Indian popula- tion.

Blood donation, I shall argue, has become a site not only of frenetic competition between devotional orders but also of intense spiritual creativity. This study also situates blood donation within the context of classic themes in the anthropology of giving and exchange, exploring in particular the complex relationship between blood donation, known in Hindi as rakt-dan, and Indic dan gift, donation concepts.

The backdrop to the study is recent legislation initiated by the Indian medical establishment that seeks to stop blood banks from accepting blood on the basis of payment to individual donors and also seeks to end the prevailing ad hoc family-based system of provision. The public policy orthodoxy that informs the legislation asserts that the safety of donated blood is far greater when deriving from voluntary, nonremunerated donors in an anonymous system of procurement. Most, though not all, Western countries practice centralized voluntary systems of provision.

Despite the assortment of campaigns, however, replace- ment donation still accounts for more than 50 percent of all donated blood in India. There are striking state-by-state variations: in West Bengal, 90 percent of donations are voluntary.

Social Anthropology: : Jacob Copeman

Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Chandigarh also possess healthy voluntary figures. In Delhi, however, less than 19 percent of the total collection comprises voluntary donation. In the north of the country, religious movements in the sant trad- ition are most prominent. The Sant Nirankari Mission and the Dera Sacha Sauda devotional orders, the subjects of chapters 4 and 5 respectively, are particularly high-profile contributors.

Also in the sant tradition, the Radhasoamis Beas branch are prolific collectors in Delhi, as are devotees attached to one of its offshoots, the Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission. But religious blood donation activities are also pursued by a wide range of other spiritual organizations: I attended scores of camps organized by Hindu temples, churches, gurdwaras Sikh places of worship , and devotees of Sathya Sai Baba and the Maharashtrian guru Aniruddha Bapu.

The devotees of another Maharashtrian guru, Narendra Maharaj, are reported to give blood in large numbers. Devotees of Kerala guru Mata Amritanandamayi also arrange blood donation events Warrier a: In Mumbai, the Limbdi Ajramar Jains collect huge quantities, and according to Rajasthani blood banking personnel I met at a Kolkata blood dona- tion conference, Jain seva service groups in the state collect more blood than any other social service organization.

Religious organizations are by no means the only contributors to the drive to increase levels of voluntary donation—donation camps are also staged in educational, political, and business settings. The primary focus of this study, however, is on the hitherto unrecognized role of religious organizations in the voluntary donation of blood in India. This is the case for adherents of a very wide range of faiths in India, though is particularly important for movements and devo- tional networks professing modernist and social reformist aims and values.

Following from this, a key aim of this study is to challenge char- acterizations of utility as something opposed to culture, ethics, and qualitative value. This kind of dichotomy is particularly evident in the medical anthropology literature on corporeal donation. The concept is particularly helpful, I think, in focusing attention on the practical nature of the operational processes involved when different systems may come to interlock and work through each other.

The Nirankari Mission first began to collect the blood of its devotees in the s, the other movements more recently since Of the three, only the Radhasoami tradition, with its greater number of devotees, has been the object of scholarly study see Juergensmeyer , ; Babb This movement, though distinct and separate, shares many values and beliefs with the Dera Sacha Sauda and Nirankari Mission. The sant tradition is not exclusively Hindu or Sikh but venerates the teachings of sants who have been important and influential in each religion.

The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries saw an efflorescence of sant poets such as Kabir, Nanak, Ravi Das, and Nam Dev. Gold Though this is borne out to some extent in present-day sant movements, with initiates deriving from a very wide stratum of Indian caste and class groups see Juergensmeyer , the majority of Nirankari and Dera Sacha Sauda devotees, in my experience at least, remain fairly economically disadvantaged.

The implications of this deprivation, as it relates to Nirankari blood donation, are a focus of chapter 4. Schaller emphasizes the non-Brahmanical tone of much sant poetry.

Copeman, Jacob

Ravi Das, for example, portrayed Brahmins as proud and hypocritical lovers of empty ritual Schaller — Many sants were themselves from low-status and generally lower-caste backgrounds, and taught that all human births are rare and valuable— not only those of Brahmins Lorenzen 18, This kind of social criticism persists in present-day sant movements, which uni- formly criticize elaborate ritual, idol worship, and virtuoso displays of asceticism see chapters 3—5.

The Beas Punjab branch of the Radhasoami movement is an important provider of voluntarily donated blood in Delhi. Other Indians were idol worshipers, they said, as if that explained their reluctance to donate blood. Not all sant movements are based around revered living gurus, but the Radhasoami, Nirankari, and Dera Sacha Sauda are, and this has created tensions between them and mainstream Sikhs, for whom the guru is an abstract, transhistorical entity, meant to reside within and not outside the devotee.

The final living Sikh guru, Gobind Singh, proclaimed in that the spiritual energies of the guru had been transferred into the Sikh sacred book, the Adi Granth, thus effectively proscribing the emergence of future human gurus. Juergensmeyer 85—86 notes that this issue causes Radhasoami—Sikh relations to become fraught from time to time. As chapter 4 illustrates, violent clashes between Nirankaris and main- stream Sikhs over this and other matters played a significant role in the institutionalization of blood donation as an important feature of Nirankari religious life. Though gurus say blood donation is manav-seva service of humanity , devotees view it just as much as guru-seva, since it is their gurus who ask them to do it and who, in effect, their donation activities serve to glorify. Juergensmeyer — has demonstrated the central role of seva activ- ities in the Radhasoami movement, and this is equally true of the Dera Sacha Sauda and Nirankari Mission discussed in chapters 3 and 4.

As this would suggest, these sant movements form part of a much wider landscape of gurus, and it is in relation to them as much as each other that they define themselves.

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In addressing what she calls the political economy of spirituality, McKean draws attention to a spiritual logistics of power and domi- nation that any study of guru movements must take into account. But the choice, I think, is an artificial one: the specifics of devotional prac- tice and experience and those of wider systems of authority need not be in some kind of analytical zero-sum relationship. I thus aim to shed light on both the mechanisms of control through which gurus are able seemingly at whim to establish their devotee bases as blood donor constituencies and the experiential basis on the level of the devotee of being thus mobilized.

There was rarely any sense in these studies of corporeal donations arising from active, reflective choice on the part of donors.

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The problem is that such moral commentaries frequently exceed the specificity of the examples discussed, with all biological exchange consequently being cast into the realm of the piratical. What, for instance, of ethical self-fashioning? I do not argue that attentiveness to emergent forms of ethicoreligious life should replace the existing focus on political economy but rather that it be insinuated into this focus as a bulwark against existing tendencies toward analytical delimitation.

Part 1: are indian perceptions of blood an obstacle to blood testing?

Anonymity has been recognized as a key aspect of dan categories of Indian gift A. Gold 9; Laidlaw ; Parry 75, The most virtuous kind of gift is that made anonymously to strangers. As I noted earlier, the voluntary gift of blood travels to unknown recipients. I return later in the discussion to the implica- tions of this convergence between classical features of dan and rakt- dan. In particular, this study demonstrates that anonymity is subject to numerous usages and deployments that possess striking spiritual, nationalist, and familial implications.

What is particularly important is the way anonymity makes it possible for blood donation to almost mechanically trans- gress caste and community boundaries, and then for those involved in the donation to make any number of possible meanings linked to this transgression. Chapter 4 on devotional blood giving examines the importance for the Sant Nirankaris of this mechanical transgres- sion, while chapter 7 explores its nationalist implications.

But what this study underscores are the ways in which Indian donor recruiters seek to extend existing cultural forms into new territories of signification in order that they may be made to accord with the project of foster- ing voluntary blood donation. Donor recruiters, indeed, are at the vanguard of social change in the subcontinent. Broken Processes Returning home after attending a blood donation camp in Noida, outskirts of Delhi, we were stuck in a traffic jam, the car windows wide open due to the torrid heat.

A desperate-looking woman approached, holding up what looked like a bloodied rag. In most Western countries, such a situation would make no sense. In India, on the other hand, where only two or three people in every thousand regularly donate their blood, the families of patients in need of transfusions are required by hospitals to donate their own blood in order to preemptively replace the blood withdrawn from blood banks for their relatives. Government hospitals may waive this fee for the poorest patients, while still demanding replacement donations. Transfusions typically comprise several units of donated blood; six are often required for major surgery.

The families of patients must therefore almost always organize donations from not one but several persons. Friends often help out, but the primary obligation of provision lies with the family. The NACO and National and State Blood Transfusion Councils were established in the s to promote voluntary donation and govern the operations of blood banks, of which there are three main types: government, NGO, and commercial.

At the time of my fieldwork, only the vanguard Rotary institution collected solely voluntarily donated blood, and did not demand replacement donations from the families of patients; the new Lions blood bank reportedly operates according to very similar principles. One of the reasons that the level of voluntary donation in Delhi has remained static over recent years is the tendency of blood banks to compete to collect from existing locations instead of directing their attention to finding new sources of collection. The proliferation of blood banks in the city—there were 41 at the time of my fieldwork—has not resulted in more blood donations.

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This work involves both logistical and cultural effort. The result is a practical system of procurement and distribu- tion, but also a moral order of exchange. This stems from an apparent variance between the aforementioned logistical and cultural imperatives. These are given to voluntary donors post-donation, and are meant to guarantee free blood, equivalent to the sum of that donated, for the donor and his or her immediate family for the duration of a year.

In Delhi, however, there is no such coordination. Thus, if an individual donates to a particular Delhi blood bank and is later admitted to a hospital affiliated to a different blood bank, they may find that the hospital will refuse to recognize their entitlement to receive the blood they need, even though they have a valid donor card. Therefore, while the cards are meant to be uniform, they are not necessarily treated as such.

Such treatment at the hands of blood banks and hospitals understandably creates the feeling among donors that their efforts are not appreciated, and is almost certainly detrimental to efforts to increase voluntary donation. A recent episode in Delhi, related to me by Dr.

The purpose was to prevent relatives journeying fruitlessly from blood bank to blood bank trying to locate the correct match for a hospitalized family member. The council, however, does not have the power to enforce compliance, and only a handful of government blood banks chose to participate in the scheme. The Rotary already had its own computer system and declined to coordinate it with the new network. Collaborative Communities Indian blood donation activity does not offer up an obviously bounded or discrete community.

I realized I would have to spend time following and tracking Marcus those whose views I sought and whose activities I wished to observe. But that is not to say I did not work with identifiable communities. Of the 1, blood banks in India Ray , 41 were situated in Delhi at the time of my fieldwork. Sirios Cruz 1 edition published in in English and held by 1 WorldCat member library worldwide.

The life and landscape of dreams : personhood, reversibility and resistance among the Nagas in Northeast India by Michael Timothy Heneise 1 edition published in in English and held by 1 WorldCat member library worldwide. Audience Level. Related Identities. Associated Subjects. Jacob Copeman. English Academic theses. Author , Editor , Other. BL, Project Page Feedback Known Problems. Lock Ed.