Chapter

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520240872.003.0003
Poetry, Ritual, and Associational Thought In Early India

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This chapter uses recent works on the theory of metonymy to show how metonymy might be viewed as a specific kind of intellectual practice that provides cognitive linkages between ritual image and the Vedic ritual act. It begins by focusing more specifically on the question of the mental image, bringing recent studies by Lee Siegel and Ariel Glucklich on the nature of religious imagery to bear on the mental operations that are involved in each new interpretive setting for each performed mantra. Performance theory, especially the work of Dennis Tedlock and Charles Briggs, helps to show the basic value of what it means to imagine something within a ritual situation, and how the relationship between the mental image and the ritual act is constituted. The basic properties of metonymy including framing, referential capacities, linguistic pragmatism, and its use of prototypes are described to develop a theory of metonymy, or association, to understand the use of Rig Vedic imagery in ritual.

Keywords: metonymy; mantras; mental image; Vedic rituals; Rig Veda; performance theory

Chapter.  9174 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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