In The Image of Fire- The Vedic Experiences of Heat

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Item Code: UAC687
Author: David M. Knipe
Language: English
Edition: 1975
ISBN: 9788120826069
Pages: 186
Other Details 10.00 X 7.50 Inches
Weight 520 gm
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Book Description
About the Author
In the Image of Fire is a penetrating study of Vedic man's religious experience of fire and heat. It is a portrayal of the profound and complex system of religious expressions that developed in ancient India from man's intimate relationship with the element fire, from his speculations upon the cosmogonic sacrifice and his intense desire to identify himself as a new being of cosmic heat and life. Utilizing the full corpus of Vedic literature, the author ranges from the mysteries of the great Vedic sacrifices through the brahmanical doctrine of correspondences to upanishadic identities and yogic techniques, demonstrating that ritualized control of cosmic heat (tapas) which eventually became the hallmark of asceticism and the radical transition point to heterodox religious movements. This readable and richly documented work provides a model application of new developments and methods in the history of religions. To illuminate the religious expressions of ancient India, related expressions of fire and heat are drawn from ancient Iran and Scandinavia, from the mystics of European Christianity, and from the contemporary Bemba and Ndembu of Zambia.

DAVID M. KNIPE is Professor of South Asia Religions in the Department of South Asian Studies of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, U.S.A. He is also Chairman of the Ph.D. Program in South Asian Religions. Dr. Knipe holds degrees from Cornell University (B.A.), Union Theological Seminary (M.A.), and the University of Chicago (M.A., Ph.D.). In 1971-72 he was a Senior Research Fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies and studied life-cycle rites (samskaras) in the Varanasi area, Currently, in addition to his teaching and research, Dr. Knipe is producing a series of 15 educational television programs titled "Exploring the Religions of South Asia."

The work that follows is an attempt on the part of an historian of religions to enter the heart of Vedic India's religious expressions by exploring the significance of the phenomenon "heat" (tapas, qharma, etc.) in myths, rites and symbols. Although the brahmanas are the critical area of textual investigation, the immodest but methodologically essential aim has been to encompass the entire corpus of Vedic literature from the Rgveda through the upanisads and ritual sutras. At the same time, a number of comparative illustrations has been drawn upon, both within the Indo-Iranian and Indo-European historical borders and from wholly other cultural areas. In view of this multi-millennial and multi-cultural range the final writing has been severely condensed (in one case a chapter being reduced to a lengthy footnote) in the hope that the reader may discover and follow the central observations of the study in closer, less prolix compass.

The reading of Mircea Eliade's Patterns in Comparative Religion was a memorable and consequential event in my life. My response was to become engaged energetically in the direction of Eliade's work and to move with greater insight into the sources upon which he fed, the records of man's being in the universe. From that point I recognized that my orientation as an historian of religions could become more than professional and intellectual intrigue. The reading of Patterns also provoked me to begin this study of fire and heat in Vedic religious expression.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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