Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-1

Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 2-7

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xii

This book has its beginnings in the long sunny hours I spent reading Ṛg Vidhāna and Āśvalāyana Śrauta Sūtra with H. G. Ranade at Deccan College in 1992, and Śabara with Venugopalam on his porch on the hill. That year, while I read many other texts not included in this book, I was afforded the opportunity to begin to think systematically ...

Abbreviations

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xiii-xvi

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-12

It is early morning in a small village in western Maharashtra, India. The pravargya rite is being performed—an introductory Vedic ritual with an obscure and intriguing history. During the ceremony the doors of the sacrificial arena are closed. Everyone knows that the sacrificer’s wife is present, but she is hidden from view. ...

Part One: The Theories

read more

1. Poetry, Ritual, and Associational Thought in Early India: The Sources

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 15-37

Every Tuesday night, a businessman in Varanasi, India, chants a chapter from the Gītā as part of his regular bhajan, or chanting group, at a Kṛṣṇa temple near the south side of the city. He says it puts him in a calmer mood. A middle-aged woman is taking care of her mother, who is dying of cancer. ...

read more

2. Poetry, Ritual, and Associational Thought in Early India: The Theories

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 38-58

If we were to ask the Catholic housewife and the Hindu businessman what their reasons were for their modern mantras, they would answer with some description of inner thought and outer action: in Varanasi one evening, the businessman said to me: “Whenever I think of Kṛṣṇa, or sing about Kṛṣṇa, my mind is settled.” ...

read more

3. Viniyoga: The Recovery of a Hermeneutic Principle

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 59-88

A discussion of Vedic ritual metonymy leads to a special form of associative thought—a particular form of mantric interpretation called viniyoga. Viniyoga is a kind of application of Vedic mantra through the creations of new sets of associations in new ritual situations and is a special form of a hermeneutic principle that involves metonymy. ...

Part Two: The Case Studies

read more

4. Fire, Light, and Ingesting over Time

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 91-116

In the Vedic world, Indra is asked to consume food and beverages, hungry for more; Soma is the consumable drink par excellence, which is drunk not only by the gods but also by the poets. The food imagery of the Rg Veda becomes used in the Upaniṣads as representative of the emerging idea of a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth; ...

read more

5. The Vedic “Other”: Spoilers of Success

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 117-141

Imagine for a moment a Vedic householder who has just built a new chariot. He has carefully blessed each part of the vehicle with mantras, circumambulated the local sacred pond, and drives it to the assembly hall. There, before entering the hall, he utters imprecations against his enemies, wishing that they be trampled underfoot “like frogs underwater.” ...

read more

6. A History of the Quest for Mental Power

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 142-151

One Vedic mantra (8.100.11) describes the creative power of speech, which gives powers of utterances even to the animals—animals of all different kinds. It longs for that goddess, the joy-bringing cow who yields meat and drink, to come to the arena, satisfied with her praise. ...

read more

7. The Poetics of Paths: Mantras of Journeys

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 152-167

What does it mean to lose one’s way? How can we think about the question of “pathhood” and traveling through space in early India? The image most frequently brought to mind is the one of the aśvamedha, where the horse’s wandering for a year is in fact the horse’s sponsor’s domination of the land. ...

read more

8. A Short History of Heaven: From Making to Gaining the Highest Abode

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 168-181

The idea of loka, or world, is as old as the Veda itself. Poets describe, in equally colorful terms, these imagined places, for humans, for ancestors, and for sacrificed animals alike. The Vedic hymns do not make a systematic doctrine of sacred geography, although they do speak of Yama’s realm frequently, ...

read more

Conclusions: Laughter and the Creeper Mantra

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 182-196

At one point in the sattra of 1999, the year-long somayajña in Gangakhed, Maharashtra, it was an appropriate moment to perform the creeper or serpent mantra, the verses to the serpent queen, Sarparājñī (RV 10.189). As they chanted the mantra, the priests tied their dhotis one to another in a long line and move around the sacrificial arena like a creeping vine or snake.1 ...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 197-236

Glossary

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 237-248

Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 249-274

Index Locorum

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 275-280

Index Nominum

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 281-282

General Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 283-289