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Vedic Sarasvatī In Retrospective

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Chapter Summary

In the Ṛg Veda, composed sometime after 1750 B.C.E. and compiled around the twelfth century B.C.E., Sarasvatī appears as a powerful river and a mighty goddess, invoked to grant all things and to destroy enemies. In the liturgical Yajur Veda of the twelfth to the ninth century B.C.E., coinciding in composition with the period of the establishment of the Kuru realm, Sarasvatī plays a significant part in the Sautrāmaṇī ritual, where she functions as healer and life-giver to Indra through speech. In terms of ritual, Vedic texts reflect a dramatic increase in the complexity and organization of ceremonial life, as instituted by the Kurus in the establishment of their realm in the twelfth to the ninth century B.C.E. Speech was central to ritual, both in performance and result.

Keywords: Sarasvatī; Sautrāmaṇī ritual; speech; Vedic texts



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