Poetry, Ritual, and Associational Thought in Early India

Laurie L. Patton

in Bringing the Gods to Mind

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780520240872
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930889 | DOI:
Poetry, Ritual, and Associational Thought in Early India

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This chapter provides an overview of the general genres of early Vedic India, including Śrauta, or formal ritual texts; Grhya, or domestic ritual texts; and Vidhana, or “magical” ritual texts. The Śrauta Sutras acted as manuals or ritual handbooks, compiled to give directions to those performing public rites in Vedic times. The manuals for the rituals in different stages of domestic life are contained in texts called the Grhya Sutras. The Vidhana literature consists entirely of viniyogas, or the applications of Vedic mantras, outside the sacrificial situation entirely. The Vidhana literature is characterized by its emphasis on the personal ambition or desire of the reciter; its emphasis on japa, or soft recitation of the mantra; its belief that the mantra can be efficacious without necessarily being accompanied by a rite; and the attendant emphasis on visualization—through both mental and physical imagery. The chapter further discusses the śakha, or institutional branch of Vedic interpretation.

Keywords: viniyoga; Vedic ritual; mantras; Vedic India; Vedic literature; Grhya Sutras; Śrauta Sutras; Vidhana

Chapter.  9627 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Hinduism

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