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Bringing the Gods to MindMantra and Ritual in Early Indian Sacrifice$
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Laurie Patton

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520240872

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520240872.001.0001

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A Short History of Heaven

A Short History of Heaven

From Making to Gaining the Highest Abode

(p.168) Chapter 8 A Short History of Heaven
Bringing the Gods to Mind

Laurie L. Patton

University of California Press

This chapter examines the interpretive history of Rig Vedic mantras for attaining heaven, including mantras 1.154.1–3, 9.112–15, 10.82.7, and 10.129 during the Vedic period. These hymns contain images of creating and making, whether it is the recapitulation of the deeds of Viśvákarman, the diverse ways in which the poet likens his activity to that of carpenters and physicians, or the creative acts of Viśvákarman and Prajāpati. In the Śrauta material, these hymns are used at moments of ritual intensification. In the Grhya material, the hymns are sung at the upakarana ceremony, which begins the Vedic study. In the Vidhana text, these hymns of creation and beginning are used to represent the highest attainment or the abode of immortality, and afterlife. Thus the interpretive history of heaven can be discerned as one that begins by simply depicting the creation of the world by the deity in both Śrauta and Grhya materials, and then switches in the Vidhana material to the end of a properly lived life, the highest abode.

Keywords:   viniyoga, Rig Veda, Grhya Sutras, Śrauta Sutras, Viśvákarman, Prajāpati, Vedic period, afterlife

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