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Bringing the Gods to Mind: Mantra and Ritual in Early Indian by Laurie L. Patton

By Laurie L. Patton

This elegantly written booklet introduces a brand new point of view on Indic spiritual historical past by means of rethinking the position of mantra in Vedic ritual. In Bringing the Gods to brain, Laurie Patton takes a brand new examine mantra as "performed poetry" and in 5 case reviews attracts a portrait of early Indian sacrifice that strikes past the well-worn different types of "magic" and "magico-religious" concept in Vedic sacrifice. Treating Vedic mantra as a cosmopolitan type of inventive composition, she develops the belief of metonymy, or associational proposal, as a tremendous motivator for using mantra in sacrificial functionality. Filling a long-standing hole in our figuring out, her booklet offers a heritage of the Indian interpretive mind's eye and a examine of the psychological creativity and hermeneutic sophistication of Vedic faith.

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Additional resources for Bringing the Gods to Mind: Mantra and Ritual in Early Indian Sacrifice

Sample text

Veda means knowledge; historically, this knowledge took the form of word and chant. Four kinds of knowledge are specified as the property of brahmin priests, the hereditary keepers of tradition: the Rg Veda, or knowledge of the verses; the Sama Veda, or knowledge of the chants; the Yajur Veda, or knowledge of the ritual directions; and the Atharva Veda, or knowledge of the Atharvans, the procedures for everyday life (also called “magical” formulae). These four divisions reflect a division of labor among the priestly elite, and it meant that knowledge itself was organized around the performance of yajña, or sacrifice.

Both texts begin with a discussion of the istis, the new- and full-moon sacrifices, and the animal sacrifices. Šañkhayana Šrauta Sutra embarks on a new arrangement of the sacrifices that is not in his source, the Kausitaki Brahmana. In addition, the author of the Ašvalayana also adds a great deal of material not in its Aitareya Brahmana, especially with regard to the ahinas and the sattras (9–12), as well as the special sacrifices, such as the vajapeya, rajasuya, the ašvamedha, and the purusamedha.

The Šrauta Sutra World The Šrauta Sutras acted as manuals or ritual handbooks, compiled to give directions to those performing public rites in Vedic times. They are ritual manuals for ritual actors. 5 Their performance signified competence in the ways of the “three worlds”—this world, the intermediate world, and heaven. The Šrauta Sutras are based on the earlier, Brahmana literature, which they follow in style and phraseology. They contain knowledge essential for the cosmic recipe of the sacrifice to turn out correctly: (1) detailed descriptions of the ceremony’s procedures; (2) different kinds of ceremonies to be performed at different times; (3) ritual actors to be involved in the ceremony; and (4) utensils involved in the ceremony; and, most importantly for our purposes, (5) mantras to be spoken during the ritual procedures.

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