Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 581–590 | Cite as

My Ishvara is Dead: Spiritual Care on the Fringes

  • Titus George
Original Paper


Human suffering speaks differently to different lived contexts. In this paper, I have taken a metaphoric representation of suffering, Ishvara, from the lived context of a Hindu immigrant woman to show that suffering is experienced and expressed within one’s lived context. Further, a dominant narrative from her world is presented to show that the same lived context can be a resource for spiritual care that could reconstruct her world that has fallen apart with a suffering experience. Having argued that suffering is experienced and expressed within one’s lived context, and that lived context could be a resource, in this paper I present that spiritual care is an intervention into the predicaments of human suffering and its mandate is to facilitate certain direction and a meaningful order through which experiences and expectations are rejoined. Finally, I observe that spiritual care is an engagement between the lived context where suffering is experienced and the spiritual experience and orientation of the caregiver.


Spiritual care Lived context Immigrant Hindu woman Meaning Suffering experience 


  1. Ahmed-Ghosh, H. (2009). Widows in India: Issues of masculinity and women’s sexuality. Asian Journal of Women’s Studies, 15(1), 26–29. Retrieved, May 13, 2009 from Prohost.Google Scholar
  2. Arora, K. (2006). The mythology of female sexuality: Alternative narratives of belonging. Women: A Cultural Review, 17(2), 220–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker, G. (1997). Disrupted lives: How people create meaning in a chaotic world. Berkeley: University of California press.Google Scholar
  4. Buhler, G. (1886). The laws of Manu: Translated, with extracts from seven commentaries (trans.). Oxford: The Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  5. Chari, S. S. M. (1988). Fundamentals of Visitadvaita: A study based on Vedanta Desika’s Tattva-Mukta-Kalpa. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.Google Scholar
  6. Davis, C. G., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2001). Loss and meaning: How do people make sense of loss? The American Behavioral Scientist, 44(5), 726–741.Google Scholar
  7. Dohman, C. (2003). The suffering servant and the passion of Jesus. Communio: International Catholic Review, 30(3), 452–462.Google Scholar
  8. Fernandez, J. (1974). The mission of metaphor in expressive culture. Current Anthropology, 15(2), 119–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Firth, S. (1997). Dying, death and bereavement in a British Hindu community. Leuven: Peeters.Google Scholar
  10. Framarin, C. G. (2006). The desire you are required to get rid of: A functionalist analysis of desire in the Bhagavadgita. Philosophy East & West, 56(4), 604–617. Retrieved, November 12, 2008 from Ebscohost.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gall, T. (2005). Understanding the nature and role of spirituality in relation to coping and health: A conceptual framework. Canadian Psychology, 26(2), 88–91.Google Scholar
  12. Good, B. J. (1990). Medicine, rationality and experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Gupta, B. (2006). Bhagavad Gita as duty and virtue ethics, some reflections. Journal of Religious Ethics, 34(3), 373–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hyden, L.-C. (1997). Illness and narrative. Sociology of Health & Illness, 19(1), 48–69.Google Scholar
  15. Janoff-Bulman, R., & Berg, M. (1998). Disillusionment and the creation of values: From traumatic loss to existential gains. In J. H. Harvey (Ed.), Perspectives on loss: A sourcebook. Philadelphia: Brunner Mazel.Google Scholar
  16. Kirmayer, L. J. (1992). The body’s insistence on meaning: Metaphor as presentation and representation in illness experience. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 6(4), 323–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kleinman, A. (1997). Everything that really matters: Social suffering, subjectivity, and the remaking of human experience in a disordering world. Harvard Theological Review, 90(3), 315–335.Google Scholar
  18. Lagerspetz, O. (2002). Experience and consciousness in the shadow of descartes. Philosophical Psychology, 15(1), 5–18. Retrieved, January 18, 2009 from Psycarticles.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lakshmi, A. (2003). The liminal body: The language of pain and symbolism around sati. Feminist Review, 74, 81–97. Retrieved, June 30, 2009 from Proquest.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. McLean, K. C. (2008). Stories of the young and the old: Personal continuity and narrative identity. Developmental Psychology, 44(1), 254–264.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Monks, J. A. (2000). Talk as social suffering: Narratives of talk in medical settings. Anthropology & Medicine, 7(1), 15–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mukherjee, T. (2008). Deepa Mehta’s film water: The power of the dialectical image. Canadian Journal of Film Studies, 17(2), 35–46. Retrieved, February.27, 2009 from Proquest.Google Scholar
  23. Nisson, U. S. (2003). Mira Bai. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi.Google Scholar
  24. Panoli, V. V. (2009). Retrieved, May 10, 2009 (Trans).
  25. Sankari, K., & Vaid, D. (1996). Institutions, belief, ideologies. Widow immolation in contemporary Rajasthan. In K. Jayawardena & M. de Alwis (Eds.), Embodied violence: Communalising women’s sexuality in South Asia. New Jersey: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  26. Sharma, A. (1999). The Purusarthas: An axiological exploration of Hinduism. Journal of Religious Ethics, 27(2), 223–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sharma, A. (2008). Karma and Dharma: New links in an old chain. Tikkun, 23(3), 14–15. Retrieved, December 28, 2008 from Ebscohost.Google Scholar
  28. Somers, M. R., & Gibson, G. D. (1994). Reclaiming the epistemological “other”: Narrative and the social construction of identity. In C. J. Calhoun (Ed.), Social theory and the politics of identity. Cambridge: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  29. Turner, V. W., & Bruner, E. M. (1986). The anthropology of experience. Urbana: University of Illinois press.Google Scholar
  30. Wadley, S. S. (1995). No longer a wife: Widows in rural India. In L. Harlan & P. B. Courtright (Eds.), From the margins of Hindu marriage; Essays on gender, religion and culture. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Weinberger-Thomas, C. (1999). Ashes of immortality: Widow burning in India. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chaplain, Spiritual Care ServicesKaiser PermanenteFremontUSA

Personalised recommendations