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 assets on hand, the Vedas, as much as the descriptions present in the Dharmshastra culture. such a lot previous works on ancestor worship have performed little to deal with the query of the way shraddha, the paradigmatic ritual of ancestor worship as much as the current day, got here to be. Matthew R. Sayers argues that the improvement of shraddha is critical to knowing the shift from Vedic to Classical Hindu modes of non secular habit. imperative to this transition is the discursive development of the position 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 non secular specialist 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 historical past of ancestor worship in India, this e-book addressing the intense query approximately how and why faith in India replaced so greatly within the final half the 1st millennium Bce. The redefinition of the position of non secular specialist is highly major for knowing that fluctuate. 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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Extra info for Feeding the Dead: Ancestor Worship in Ancient India

Sample text

They bestow beneficial gifts, heroes, and wealth and ensure the success of those among the living who venerate them. They are both the deified dead and the earliest and ancient Ancestors of the human race, but the distinction between the two is not always clear. Nor is the distinction between Ancestor and god. 4), and, as in Vedic mythology. 3). 6). 9). 8). There is a strong association between the Ancestors and light. 11). Similarly, the Ancestors are understood to be connected with Truth (rʍtá).

It describes the ritual storehouse that one establishes in heaven through sacrifice (see Malamoud 1983, 31) with the term svadhā. 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.

The poets increasingly employ this word in a technical sense in the younger Rʍg Veda and Atharva Veda. This suggests at least an increasing importance of the ancestral rites and this terminology in the textual tradition, but, more importantly, it demonstrates the coalescence of a technical terminology around the ancestral rites. This indicates the gradual incorporation of ancestor worship into the Vedic textual tradition. The term svadhā has a rich semantic range in the Vedic literature. Its oldest and broadest meaning is independence, the power of self-determination.

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