Download Feeding the Dead: Ancestor Worship in Ancient India by Matthew R. Sayers PDF

By Matthew R. Sayers

Feeding the Dead outlines the early background of ancestor worship in South Asia, from the earliest resources on hand, the Vedas, as much as the descriptions present in the Dharmshastra culture. so much past works on ancestor worship have performed little to handle the query of ways shraddha, the paradigmatic ritual of ancestor worship as much as the current day, got here to be. Matthew R. Sayers argues that the advance of shraddha is primary to realizing the shift from Vedic to Classical Hindu modes of non secular habit. valuable to this transition is the discursive development of the function of the non secular specialist in mediating among the divine and the human actor. either Hindu and Buddhist traditions draw upon renowned non secular practices to build a brand new culture. Sayers argues that the definition of a spiritual professional that informs religiosity within the universal period is grounded within the redefinition of ancestral rites within the Grhyasutras. past making extra transparent the a lot misunderstood heritage of ancestor worship in India, this publication addressing the intense query approximately how and why faith in India replaced so significantly within the final half the 1st millennium Bce. The redefinition of the function of spiritual professional is highly major for knowing that adjust. This booklet ties jointly the oldest ritual texts with the customs of ancestor worship that underlie and tell medieval and modern perform.

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Additional resources for Feeding the Dead: Ancestor Worship in Ancient India

Example text

Within the priestly traditions that correspond to each Veda there arose theological schools (śākhā, literally “branch”) that composed the subsequent literature that describes, interprets, and comments upon the Vedic ritual cycle. 1 outlines the theological schools that developed around the four Vedas. Each theological school composed several genres of literature reflecting on the ritual. The earliest works in these traditions were called Brāhmaṇas and include extensive commentary related to the Veda of that theological school.

34 What is significant for my argument here is that the svadhā is described as flowing with honey. This could work as svadhā vat does, the oblation is flowing with honey and is accompanied by the call, but it seems likely that the term is here meant to imply the call and the oblation together, that is, the ritual as a whole. Finally, in another verse from a non-funerary context svadhā more clearly refers to the oblation itself. It occurs in a hymn that praises Agni in two of his aspects: Kravyād, Flesh-Eating Agni, and the householder’s fire (gā rhapatya).

Two technical terms will serve as a lens for understanding the traditions of ancestor worship referred ʍ , the Sacrifice to the Ancestors. to in the Vedas. I begin with the pitryajñá Sacrifice to the Ancestors in the Rʍ g Veda I will show that the term pitrʍyajñá refers to the initial offering to a deceased man as a part of the funeral ceremony. While this term comes to have a different referent and a broader semantic range in the later literature, the evidence in the Saṃhitā literature does not support this.

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