9780226323015

The Broken World of Sacrifice: An Essay in Ancient Indian Ritual

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780226323015

  • ISBN10:

    0226323013

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 1993-06-01
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr

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Summary

In this book, J. C. Heesterman attempts to understand the origins and nature of Vedic sacrificethe complex compound of ritual practices that stood at the center of ancient Indian religion. Paying close attention to anomalous elements within both the Vedic ritual texts, thebrahmanas, and the ritual manuals, thesrautasutras, Heesterman reconstructs the ideal sacrifice as consisting of four moments: killing, destruction, feasting, and contest. He shows that Vedic sacrifice all but exclusively stressed the offering in the firethe element of destructionat the expense of the other elements. Notably, the contest was radically eliminated. At the same time sacrifice was withdrawn from society to become the sole concern of the individual sacrificer. The ritual turns in on the individual as "self-sacrificer" who realizes through the internalized knowledge of the ritual the immortal Self. At this point the sacrificial cult of the fire recedes behind doctrine of theatman'stranscendence and unity with the cosmic principle, thebrahman. Based on his intensive analysis Heesterman argues that Vedic sacrifice was primarily concerned with the broken world of the warrior and sacrificer. This world, already broken in itself by the violence of the sacrificial contest, was definitively broken up and replaced with the ritrualism of the single, unopposed sacrificer. However, the basic problem of sacrificethe riddle of life and deathkeeps breaking too surface in the form of incongruities, contradictions, tensions, and oppositions that have perplexed both the ancient ritual theorists and the modern scholar.

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction 1(6)
Sacrifice
7(38)
Ritual
45(41)
The Cult of the Fire
86(25)
The Periodicity and Mobility of the Fire
111(31)
Priest and Sacrificer
142(23)
The Consecrated
165(23)
The Sacrificial Meal
188(27)
Epilogue
215(8)
Abbreviations 223(4)
Notes 227(64)
Index 291

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