Building on recent anthropological discussions on sovereignty and life, I examine the political theologies of Thakur baba, a minor sovereign deity in central India. How might we understand spirits and deities as cohabitants with the living? Following Gilles Deleuze, I set out the idea of “varying thresholds of life.” How do we conceptualize relations of power between these thresholds? Engaging Thakur baba's capacity to harm and to bless, I show how this sacred ambivalence may be understood as an expression of deified sovereignty. In contrast to Agamben and Schmitt's more absolutist political theology, I set out a “bipolar” concept of sovereignty as varying relations of force and contract, a tension I find best named by the Vedic mythological pair of Mitra-Varuna. Rather than a direct mirroring of social or historical sovereignty, I locate Thakur baba's vitality in a weave of kin and spirit relations, and in his status as a human sacrifice. In conclusion I analyze how these deified powers might wax and wane.
If you can't find a tool you're looking for, please click the link at the top of the page to "Go to old article view". Alternatively, view our Knowledge Base articles for additional help. Your feedback is important to us, so please let us know if you have comments or ideas for improvement.