About the Book:
The classical Vedic texts that deal with large-scale sacrificial ritual and those writings that deal with domestic ritual have traditionally been treated as unrelated. The former are devoted to the explication of rituals that are dominated by wealthy male elites; the latter concern humble private ceremonies more open to female participation. Reflections on Resemblance, Ritual and Religion argues that there is, in fact, a fundamental connection between these two large and important bodies of Indian religious literature.
Smith shows that Vedic conceptions of the cosmos, the nature of the human being, visions of the afterlife, and representation of ritual theory and practice can all be understood in similar terms. He explains the connection in terms of the category of hierarchical resemblance which forges interconnections and analogies between seemingly disparate things and beings. Such a classification system of superior prototypes and inferior but resembling counterparts links together the divine and the human, the social elite and the common house-holder, and male and female into a hierarchical whole.
Demonstrating how the domestic ritual and most of later Hinduism has successfully appropriated and creatively reworked the principles and authority of the older sacrificial rituals and texts, Smith addresses issues that significantly extend beyond the Indological context, such as continuity and change within a complex tradition, the social grounding of ritual practice, and the mediation that connects seemingly disparate genres.
One of the very first works to link Vedism and later Hinduism, and to provide an overview of the Vedic religion and its broader theoretical and comparative issues, Reflections on Resemblance, Ritual, and Religion will be an invaluable study for specialists in Vedic religion, Hinduism, Indian history and culture, and for those interested in comparative religion.
About the Author:
Brian K. Smith is also the author of Classifying the Universe: The Varna System and the Origins of Caste and the co-translator of the Laws of Manu. He has taught the religions of India at Barnard College (Columbia University) and the University of California, Riverside.
Making Connections: Hinduism and Vedism
Ritual and Reality
The Ritual Construction of Being
The Organization of Ritual Knowledge
The Organization of Ritual Practice
Ritual Hierarchy, Substitution, and Equivalency
The Destiny of Vedism
Index and Glossary
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