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Additional resources for Original Tao: Inward Training (Nei-yeh) and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism (Translations from the Asian Classics)
In their place are reminders of brahmanical importance and superiority. Ram is still divine but ﬁrmly under the constraints of orthodox religious values. Those major events in Valmiki’s last book that help assure Ram’s position as the upholder of orthodox dharma are also found in this ﬁnal section of the Adhy¯atma R¯am¯ayaÓna. Moreover, several of its episodes are nearly identical to the last book in Valmiki in their language as well as in their message. 34 The earlier books of the Adhy¯atma R¯am¯ayaÓna elaborate on a theme found in the Bh¯agavata Pur¯aÓna with respect to Krishna, and the motif is later picked up by Tulsidas: Ram is he whom the Vedic scriptures praise as Absolute Brahman.
I was occasionally warned to avoid anything more than superﬁcial contact with harijans, for, I was told, they are dirty, ignorant, immoral, untrustworthy, and/or unevolved beings whose religious beliefs and practices have little if any relationship to “true” Hinduism. I was also cautioned by many of my high-caste Hindu friends that it was not “proper” or “karmically” prudent for a sadhu to have a personal association with harijans. Hearing such viewpoints so often, I regrettably made little effort during my ﬁrst years in India to associate with anyone I knew to be Untouchable.
The only caste restrictions that seem to have remained largely intact in urban areas are those involving marriage, yet even these are no longer completely sacrosanct. In looking at the Ramnamis and at contemporary low-caste religion, I have employed the work of a variety of early and contemporary Western Indologists, ethnographers, and anthropologists. Among these Edward Shils, McKim Marriott, Clifford Geertz, and Victor Turner have been especially helpful. However, using prevailing academic concepts, theories, and methodologies in interpreting and presenting my understanding of the Ramnamis has often proved frustrating for, while these tools inspire a great deal of insight, they can also mislead.