The Vedic “Other”

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:
The Vedic “Other”

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This chapter discusses the conception of the enemy and its history in particular usages of Rig Vedic mantras 1.32, 1.50, 1.83–84, 6.73, and 6.2.11. The Vedic enemy concept is rich in metonymic usages in the ritual schools, instead of being simple “black magic.” In each case of imprecations against the enemy, something is selected out of the ritual context of the speech utterance (the mantra) and placed in contiguity (metonymy) with it. In Rig Vedic imagery, verses about the enemy are directed at foes that need to be defeated repeatedly. In the Śrauta literature these same verses are used in rituals that are exceptions to regular sacrificial performances. In the Grhya material, these mantras describe some aspect of brahminical victory and vulnerability. In the Vidhana material, mantra recitations transform any potentially harmful agent or situation (enemies, illness, and so on) as it comments on it. The change in interpretive strategy from earlier texts to the Rig Vidhana is one of generalization from sacrificial situations to ones that include any and all possible circumstances in which the verses might be relevant.

Keywords: metonymy; Vedic mantras; Vedic rituals; enemy; Grhya Sutras; Rig Veda; Vidhana

Chapter.  10948 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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