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The Wrestler's BodyIdentity and Ideology in North India$
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Joseph Alter

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780520076976

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520076976.001.0001

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Search and Research

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(p.1) Chapter 1 Search and Research
The Wrestler's Body

Joseph S. Alter

University of California Press

This chapter explores wrestling in India as a way of life. The term Indian wrestling is translated directly from the Hindi phrase Bharatiya kushti. Kushti (generic wrestling) is regarded as having a uniquely Indian form. In North India, there are two other terms that are used interchangeably when referring to Indian wrestling. The most common of these is pahalwani, which the chapter has taken to signify two important conceptual domains within the larger framework of wrestling as a way of life. On the one hand, pahalwani defines a particular concept of self-structure in terms of somatic principles, and on the other articulates the values and ethics of a distinct ideology. To explore pahalwani, therefore, is to understand how wrestlers make sense of who they are through the medium of their bodies, while the second term is mallayuddha, which may be literally translated as “wrestling combat.”

Keywords:   wrestling, India, Bharatiya kushti, North India, pahalwani, somatic principles, ethics, wrestlers, mallayuddha, combat

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