Dušan Deák, born in Bratislava, Slovakia, in 1973. Ph.D. from Pune University, Maharashtra, India. Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Ethnology, University of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, Trnava.
Visiting Grant Scholar (1 September 2006 – 30 November 2006)
MEDIEVAL ORIGIN OF THE LIMINAL RELIGIOUS BELIEFS IN DECCAN AND THEIR PRESENT COMMUNAL UNDERSTANDING
Thrown into the deep-end with senior academicians, I found myself in an excellent environment to improve my skills. I spent most of the time investigating several aspects of Hindu-Muslim interface in Maharashtra. At the end of the three month period I can take home the first hundred pages arranged into two chapters. I focused in particular on aspects that could be revealed through the activities of the local saints. Since the saints represent popular religion in India, their influence on local interreligious modus vivendi is worth attention. I was interested in the contexts which allow present day devotees to maintain the scriptures written by their saints; I looked at the way texts and associated lore reflect local history and also the way texts and lore contribute to present understanding of saints and their teachings. My task thus consisted of studying the literary heritage of saints and exploring the surving oral traditions that preserve the memory of those saints who tried to cross the religious boundary of Hinduism and Islam. The whole process of mutual relation between Hindus and Muslims started in medieval times, therefore I tried to trace the boundaries of liminality up to the present. Apart from working on monograph I also worked on two research articles and edited the Department of Ethnology in Trnava’s annual journal. All is almost finished and the reason for it lies mostly in the working conditions I was offered. Thanks to NIAS’ library service! Hail to academic paradise of NIAS!