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Perfection And Mishaps In Vedic Rituals

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Chapter Summary

The question for ritualists, thus, is: how can the ritual be protected against the imperfections of human beings? Looking at Vedic and Hindu material from various sources this chapter proposes the following answer: Vedic ritual has to be protected and it is finally protected by two rather non-ritualistic notions: knowledge and faith, vidyā and Śraddhā. It presents several examples of mishaps in Śrauta rituals, and then elaborates on ancient methods of healing the mistakes. The chapter shows how the rather technical methods of healing and means of rectifying mishaps in ritual lead to a certain notion of internalization and autonomy of the ritual that is, the author proposes, more or less necessary for any kind of ritual thinking. Rituals, the author argues with Don Handelman, are to be seen as dynamic events in their own right that cannot really fail on the doctrinal level.

Keywords: Śraddhā; Śrauta rituals; Don Handelman; Vedic rituals; vidyā



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