Of Leopards and Other Lovely Frightful Things

The Environmental Ethics of Indigenous Rajasthani Shamans


  • Jeffrey Snodgrass Colorado State University
  • Satish Kumar Sharma Rajasthan Forest Department
  • Yuvraj Singh Jhala B. N. Nobles' College
  • Michael G. Lacy Colorado State University
  • Mohan Advani Mohanlal Sukhadia University
  • N. K. Bhargava Mohanlal Sukhadia University
  • Chakrapani Upadhyay B. N. Nobles' College




shamans, animism, environmental thought, Adivasis


In this paper, we argue that shamans as compared to non-shamans demonstrate a deeper connection to wildlife. Shamans display particularly powerful love and reverence for leopards. That shamans more deeply revere, even worship, nature suggests that indigenous Animism does impact the environmental thought and practice of our informants. However, our indigenous informants’ pro-environmental thinking is most strongly linked to only particular classes of people (like shamans) and to particular animals (like leopards). Likewise, shamans do not demonstrate significant differences with non-shamans on all survey items related to wildlife. Finally, the differences between the conservation sentiments of shamans and non-shamans are less striking than other pro-environmental feelings. We thus argue for a complex, and in some instances opposed, relationship between indigenous Rajasthani religion and pro-environmental thought and practice.

Author Biography

Jeffrey Snodgrass, Colorado State University

Correspondence should be directed to the lead author: Jeffrey Snodgrass, Department of Anthropology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1787, USA


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How to Cite

Snodgrass, J., Sharma, S. K., Jhala, Y. S., Lacy, M. G., Advani, M., Bhargava, N. K., & Upadhyay, C. (2008). Of Leopards and Other Lovely Frightful Things: The Environmental Ethics of Indigenous Rajasthani Shamans. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 2(1), 30–54. https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.v2i1.30