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Homo Ritualis

Hindu Ritual and Its Significance for Ritual Theory
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Axel Michaels
eBook Typ:
Adobe Digital Editions
eBook Format:
2 - DRM Adobe
Plates and Figures
Pronunciation of Indian Words


Part I: Framing
1. The Beginning of Rituals
1.1 The Solemn Intention (samkalpa)
1.2 Greeting and Ritualized Greeting (namaskara)

Part II: Formality
2. Repetitive Rules (vidhi)
2.1 The Grammar of Rituals
2.2 A Preliminary "Grammar" of Newar Life-cycle Rituals
2.3 Rituals in Handbooks (paddhati)
3. Agency in Ritual
3.1 Ritual Competency (adhikara)
3.2 Atonements for Ritual Mishaps (prayascitta)
3.3 The Comic Side of Ritual Formality
4. Performed and Played Rituals (lila)
4.1 Music and Ritual Music
4.2 Dance and Ritual Dance
4.3 Emotions and Ritual Emotions

Part III: Modality
5. Individualized and Domestic Rituals (samskara)
5.1 The Boy's Initiation
5.2 The Girl's Initiation
5.3 The Marriage
5.4 Death Rituals and Redemption
6. Collective and Public Rituals
6.1 Temple Festivals (utsava)
6.2 Vows (vrata)
6.3 Pilgrimages and Processions (yatra)
7. Transcendence in Rituals
7.1 The Vedic Sacrifice (yajña)
7.2 The Fire Sacrifice (homa)
7.3 Worship and Prayer (puja)
7.4 E-darshan and Cyber-puja

Part IV: Meaning
8. Meaning and Function
8.1 The Cultural Studies Approach
8.2 The Cognitive Sciences approach
9. The Purvamimamsa Theory of Ritual Efficacy

Part V: The Hindu Path of Ritual-Summary

Appendix: Automatic Detection of Ritual Structures
Is the richness and diversity of rituals and celebrations in South Asia unique? Are Indians or Hindus more involved in rituals than people of other faiths and other places? If so, what makes them special? Can we speak of a homo ritualis when it comes to India or Hinduism?
Drawing on extensive textual studies and fieldwork in Nepal and India, Axel Michaels demonstrates how the characteristic structure of Hindu rituals employs the Brahmanic-Sanskritic sacrifice as a model, and how this structure is one of the distinguishing features of Hinduism more generally. Many religions tend over time to develop less ritualized or more open forms of belief, but Brahmanical Hinduism has internalized ritual behavior to the extent that it has become its most important and distinctive feature, permeating social and personal life alike. The religion can thus be seen as a particular case in the history of religions in which ritual form dominates belief and develops a sweeping autonomy of ritual behavior.

Homo Ritualis analyzes ritual through these cultural-specific and religious contexts, taking into account how indigenous terms and theories affect and contribute to current ritual theory. It describes and investigates various forms of Hindu rituals and festivals, such as life-cycle rituals, the Vedic sacrifice, vows processions, and the worship of deities (puja). It also examines various conceptual components of (Hindu) rituals such as framing, formality, modality, and theories of meaning.

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