Vows and Observances

Donald R. Davis

in The Oxford History of Hinduism: Hindu Law

Published in print December 2017 | ISBN: 9780198702603
Published online January 2018 | e-ISBN: 9780191772276 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History Of Hinduism

Vows and Observances

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This chapter traces the semantic and practical evolution of Hindu religious vows and observances called vrata. The general historical trajectory moves from vratas as the ascetic regimens in Vedic texts (especially observed by students), to vratas as the devotional vows of women in favor of a deity. The standard elements of a classical vow in medieval Dharmaśāstra are described, with a focus on the correct intention, procedures, times, and rewards for taking vows. The topic of vows reveals a common interplay within Dharmaśāstra among customary religious and legal practices, external textual traditions (Purāṇas in this case), and existing Dharmaśāstra norms. The history of vows thus provides helpful insight into intellectual, theological, and historical changes within Hindu law, and Hinduism, more generally.

Keywords: vows; women; Purāṇas; temples; ritual; fasting; family; reputation

Chapter.  4537 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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