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Signs Of Transition: On Interpreting Some Predictors Of Sprul sku Rebirth

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Chapter Summary

This chapter shows how local agency is constructed when portents precipitate or inspire social practices, which, in turn, may serve as signs of legitimation within the popular, if not the official, Tibetan purview. Using excerpts from narrative accounts of the birth and early childhood of sprul skus and sprul sku candidates the author collected in India and Nepal, the chapter deals with an overview of the nature of these portents and then turn to social practices associated with the reception of these portents. At the outset, the chapter notes that portents establish local, if not official, certainties that a particular child is or may be a sprul sku. Search parties may invite reports of such signs and may utilise them to narrow the field of sprul sku candidates, but such signs rarely, if at all, secure official recognition of a particular candidate.

Keywords: portents; sprul sku; Tibetan purview



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