Homo Ritualis: Hindu Ritual and Its Significance to Ritual Theory

Paperback | December 16, 2015

byAxel Michaels

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Are the richness and diversity of rituals and celebrations in South Asia unique? Can we speak of a homo ritualis when it comes to India or Hinduism? Are Indians or Hindus more involved in rituals than other people? If so, what makes them special? Homo Ritualis is the first book to present aHindu theory of rituals. Based on extensive textual studies and field-work in Nepal and India, Axel Michaels argues that ritual is a distinctive way of acting, which, as in the theater, can be distinguished from other forms of action. The book analyzes ritual in these cultural-specific and religiouscontexts, 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 alsoexamines conceptual components of (Hindu) rituals such as framing, formality, modality, and theories of meaning.

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Are the richness and diversity of rituals and celebrations in South Asia unique? Can we speak of a homo ritualis when it comes to India or Hinduism? Are Indians or Hindus more involved in rituals than other people? If so, what makes them special? Homo Ritualis is the first book to present aHindu theory of rituals. Based on extensive te...

Axel Michaels is Professor of Classical Indology in the South Asia Institute at the University of Heidelberg.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:December 16, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019026263X

ISBN - 13:9780190262631

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Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgementsAbbreviationsPlates and FiguresPronunciation of Indian WordsIntroductionPart I: Framing1. The Beginning of Rituals1.1 The Solemn Intention (samkalpa)1.2 Greeting and Ritualized Greeting (namaskara)ConclusionPart II: Formality2. Repetitive Rules (vidhi)2.1 The Grammar of Rituals2.2 A Preliminary "Grammar" of Newar Life-cycle Rituals2.3 Rituals in Handbooks (paddhati)3. Agency in Ritual3.1 Ritual Competency (adhikara)3.2 Atonements for Ritual Mishaps (prayascitta)3.3 The Comic Side of Ritual Formality4. Performed and Played Rituals (lila)4.1 Music and Ritual Music4.2 Dance and Ritual Dance4.3 Emotions and Ritual EmotionsConclusionPart III: Modality5. Individualized and Domestic Rituals (samskara)5.1 The Boy's Initiation5.2 The Girl's Initiation5.3 The Marriage5.4 Death Rituals and Redemption6. Collective and Public Rituals6.1 Temple Festivals (utsava)6.2 Vows (vrata)6.3 Pilgrimages and Processions (yatra)7. Transcendence in Rituals7.1 The Vedic Sacrifice (yaja)7.2 The Fire Sacrifice (homa)7.3 Worship and Prayer (puja)7.4 E-darshan and Cyber-pujaConclusionPart IV: Meaning8. Meaning and Function8.1 The Cultural Studies Approach8.2 The Cognitive Sciences approach9. The Purvamimamsa Theory of Ritual EfficacyConclusionPart V: The Hindu Path of Ritual-SummaryAppendix: Automatic Detection of Ritual StructuresGlossaryReferences