About the Book :
Combining historical analysis with his own fieldwork, Dr. Bhardwaj not only established the importance of the institution of pilgrimage in Indian history and the persistence of similar distribution patterns of sacred places over long periods, but also furnished the normative background for contemporary practices. He is concerned with the relationship of the rank-order of a shrine to its degree of sanctity, kind of deity, and caste and motivation of the pilgrim. Using both objective statistical surveys and the pilgrims' subjective perceptions (as reflected in a special questionnaire), he posits the existence of two models of religious circulation: a "general pattern" characteristic of the pilgrimages of the religiously-oriented upper castes to all India and supra-regional shrines in pursuit or religious merit, and a "specific pattern" more characteristic of lower caste visits to local and regional shrines for specific, practical purposes. Unlike earlier writers on the subject, Mr. Bhardwaj examines both the historical and the contemporary patterns of pilgrimage at various levels--pan-Hindu, supra-regional, sub-regional, and local.