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"Kill one, he becomes one hundred"

Martyrdom as Generative Sacrifice in the Nepal People's War

Marie Lecomte-Tilouine

In Nepal, war is a sacrifice. The warrior maintains a direct and unique relationship with the divine, since in warfare he makes a sacrificial gift of his own person, the bali dân—a gift that results in a 'noble death'. The warrior can offer the sacrifice or be offered in sacrifice. In Maoist ideology, death loses its character of reciprocity since the inter-changeability of victims who die honorably on either side of the battle has been eliminated. The asymmetry of death, the one-sided sacrificial nature of the war, is one of the features that distinguishes the People's War from those that preceded it. Through Maoist poetry and Maoist warriors' diaries, this article explores the shift introduced by the People's War from the figure of the 'hero', traditionally attached to the warlike realm, to the new figure of the 'martyr', and shows the apocalyptic nature of the Maoist cultural production.