About the Book
This book focuses on the evolution of Vedic sacrifice as reflected in the Epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as Mahapuranas, which have their own perception of this ritual. It maps and tracks the changes in the Vedic sacrifice and analyses different facets of the role played by the suta tradition. It discusses several images, concepts and beliefs linked to the institution Vedic sacrifice.
This book provides a lucid explanation on how Epics and Mahapuranas have developed tirthas and uratas as substitutions to the Vedic sacrifice and sheds light on how rituals have contributed to the change and continuity of Hinduism.
Dr. Madhavi R. Narsalay is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Sanskrit, University of Mumbai and has a teaching experience of more than 15 years. She specializes in Veda, Vedanta and Indian Mythology. An erudite scholar, Dr. Narsalay is widely published in national and international journals of academic repute. She has edited two books titled Facets of Femininity and Emerging Trends in Sanskrit Literature. A recipient of the performance based Incentive Award of the University of Mumbai, Award of the University of Mumbai, Dr, Narsalay has been felicitated by the Governor of Maharashtra.
Literary works reflect the ideals, customs and practices prevalent during their times. This evident in the case of Vedic sacrifices which was an integral part of Vedic religion in Ancient India. Rules and regulations of performing the Vedic sacrifice have been documented in the Samhita-s, Brahmana-s and the Srautasutra-s. But, it is interesting to observe and then analyse the references to the Vedic sacrifice in texts other than specialized text on Vedic sacrifice.
Ritual is a concrete expression of the principles of any religion. It is the institution of Vedic sacrifice through which the Vedic religion is expressed. In due course of time the sacrifice underwent modifications. Literary works can serve as tools in tracking the changes faced by this institution. Hinduism, which owes its roots to the Vedic religion, is also an outcome of various changes which the Vedic religion underwent. The reflections of Vedic sacrifice in Ancient India, observed in the Sanskrit texts, Viz. The Epics, Mahapurana-s, Classical Sanskrit Mahakavya,s and dramas, help in understanding the changes which have contributed to the development of Hinduism.
As a student of Sanskrit, I had studied some passages from the Brahmana-s which described some sacrificial procedures. I had wondered as to how Vedic religion has modified itself into Hinduism. To answer these questions the study of Vedic sacrifice was inevitable. Therefore, when this topic was suggested to me for the doctorate degree by Dr. S.A. Dange, it touched my heart and stimulated my intellect.
I express my indebtedness to Dr. S.A. Dange, the eminent Indologist (former R.G. Bhanadarkar Professor and Head, Department of Sanskrit, University of Mumbai), who took active interest in this topic and gave me an insight in handling this subject. I still cherish the memories of prolonged discussions on different aspects of this topic and the valuable points which he suggested for my work, before he left for the heavenly abode. He was always concerned about my work and had looked forward for its completion. This is a debt which can never be repaid! Had Dr. S.A. Dange not suggested the topic and given insights, I would not have indulged into this subject. Words fall short to express gratitude and indebtedness to Dr. S.A. Dange, I dedicate this book to him.
I acknowledge my deepest gratitude to Dr. (Smt.) S.S Dabge, reputed Indologist (former R.G. Bhandarkar Professor and Head, Department of Sanskrit, University of Mumbai), who has been my teacher and guiding light. She has been with me right from the inception of light. She has been with me right from the inception of this book. After the sad demise of Dr. S.A. Dange, she took keen interest in my research work and provided me different dimensions for this subject. This book is an outcome of her continuous encouragement and support in times of difficulty and anguish. She has several times gone through the chapters and given valuable suggestions. She spent her invaluable time and energy and also set aside her personal project for the book to be in proper form. I recall long hours of discussion at her place and on telephone on different issues pertaining to Vedic sacrificial rituals as well as Epics and Mahapuranas, which were like upa+ni+sad. I dedicate my book to her.
I take this opportunity to express my thanks to my guide Dr. (Smt.) A.B. Bakre (former R.G. Bhandarkar Professor and Head, Department of Sanskrit, University of Mumbai), who has encouraged me in this endeavour. Dr. (Smt.) A.B. Bakre initiated me in the field of research on 10th March 1990, when she introduced the library of Ramnarain Ruia 1990, when she introduced the library of Ramnarain Ruia College to me. This actually crafted the course of my academic career. As a guide, she stressed the importance of systematic reference work.
I express sincere thanks to the University of Mumbai for permitting me to publish the thesis titled "Reflections of Vedic Sacrifice in India (as seen from Epics, Mahapuranas, Classical Sanskrit Dramas and Mahakavyas)"in this book form.
I am thankful to Dr. (Smt.)Gauri Mahulikar (Head, Department of Sanskrit, University of Mumbai), who has been my teacher and is my senior colleague at present. She has always been very cooperative and motivating.
I thank the Library staff of the Jawaharlal Nehru Library and Rajabai Tower Library of the University of Mumbai as well as the library staff of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai.
I owe my thanks to Dr. Laurie Patton (professor, Emory University, Atlanta, U.S.A.), who promptly sent photocopies of books as well as Dr. Urmila Patil for sending me articles, which I required for my study.
I express gratitude to the scholastic works of Mm. P.V. Kane, Dr. S.A. Dange, Dr. (Smt.) S.S. Dange , Dr. T.N. Rev. Israel Selvanayagam and all those, whose names and titles have been incorporated by me in the bibliography. The photographs of the sacrificial implements from the book 'Yajnayudhani' ed. By Dr. Dharmadhikari has helped clear many concepts of Vedic sacrifice. I am indebted to the unknown seers of Vedic literature and the composers of the Srautasutra-s, who documented the rituals in a systematic way for a researcher of the 21st century to study.
I am thankful to my husband Raghav Narsalay for his continuous encouragement in this work and for acting like a task – master to correct errors in the work. I am also thankful to my parents and in laws for being extremely helpful to me. Last, but not the least, I am thankful to Maitreyi, my daughter, for being so patient.
Shri Vikas Arya of Aryan Books International agreed to publish this work. I am grateful to him. I am thankful to Shalaka Patil for designing the cover of this volume.
I will consider myself to be fortunate, if this study is a help in understanding the change and continuity of Hinduism, through the changes faced over a period of time by the Vedic Sacrifice.
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