Chapter

A Short History of Heaven

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/9780520240872.003.0009
A Short History of Heaven

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This chapter examines the interpretive history of Rig Vedic mantras for attaining heaven, including mantras 1.154.1–3, 9.112–15, 10.82.7, and 10.129 during the Vedic period. These hymns contain images of creating and making, whether it is the recapitulation of the deeds of Viśvákarman, the diverse ways in which the poet likens his activity to that of carpenters and physicians, or the creative acts of Viśvákarman and Prajāpati. In the Śrauta material, these hymns are used at moments of ritual intensification. In the Grhya material, the hymns are sung at the upakarana ceremony, which begins the Vedic study. In the Vidhana text, these hymns of creation and beginning are used to represent the highest attainment or the abode of immortality, and afterlife. Thus the interpretive history of heaven can be discerned as one that begins by simply depicting the creation of the world by the deity in both Śrauta and Grhya materials, and then switches in the Vidhana material to the end of a properly lived life, the highest abode.

Keywords: viniyoga; Rig Veda; Grhya Sutras; Śrauta Sutras; Viśvákarman; Prajāpati; Vedic period; afterlife

Chapter.  5846 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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