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Strong Arms and Drinking Strength

Jarrod L. Whitaker

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199755707
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895274 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199755707.001.0001
Strong Arms and Drinking Strength

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This book considers the ritualized poetic construction of male identity in the R̥gveda, India’s oldest Sanskrit text, and argues that an important aspect of early Vedic life involves the sustained promotion and embodiment of what it means to be a true man. The R̥gveda contains over a thousand hymns to primarily three gods: the deified ritual Fire, Agni, the war-god Indra, and the sacred beverage sóma. The hymns were sung in daylong fire rituals in which poet-priests prepared the sacred drink in order to empower Indra. The dominant image of Indra is that of a highly glamorized, violent, and powerful Āryan male and the three gods represents the ideals of manhood. R̥gvedic poet-priests employ various poetic and performative strategies, some explicit, others less so, in order to construct their masculine ideology as normative, while justfymg it as the most valid way for men to live. For example, Poet-priests naturalize this ideology by encoding it within a man’s sense of his body and physical self. R̥gvedic ritual rhetoric and practices thus encode specific male roles, especially the role of man as warrior, while embedding these roles in a complex network of social, economic, and political relationships.

Keywords: ritual; mythology; body; masculinity; martial ideology; warrior culture; Agni; Indra; physical strength; political authority; sóma

Book.  240 pages. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Strong Arms and Drinking Strength

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Manhood and Masculinity in Strong Arms and Drinking Strength

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Brave Men and Manliness in Strong Arms and Drinking Strength

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Mighty Champions and Slaying the Dragon in Strong Arms and Drinking Strength

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Strong Arms and Drinking Strength in Strong Arms and Drinking Strength

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Conclusion in Strong Arms and Drinking Strength

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