Hinduism, as is well known, has taken a multitude of shapes and forms. Some Hindu "little traditions" have remained obscure or understudied to this day due to their regional remoteness. One such offshoot is the influential cult of Mahasu, which has existed since medieval times in a part of the western Himalaya. The deity at the core of the cult takes the form of four primary Mahasus with territorial influence, installed in various far-flung temples. Their geographical center is the village of Hanol, and the larger territory is integrated into the Mahasu politico-religious system by a peripatetic deity with loyal followers across a considerable domain. Mahasu remains influential in the region, its ritual practices having remained quite distinct despite social change. An anthropological survey was conducted in its terrain during British times, but Till Kingdom Come: Medieval Hinduism in the Modern Himalaya (SUNY Press, 2021) is the first book to offer a detailed framework, a fine-grained history, and an analytically nuanced understanding of one of the rarest branches of Hindu worship.
Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.