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“Retrofitting a Vedic Origin for a Classical Hindu Goddess”

Abstract : Many Hindu deities as known from classical sources (i.e., from the epics, Purāṇas, and later religious literature and iconography) have a very slender profile in the Vedic texts, appearing in only a few passages and often represented in ways that seem peripheral to their full, classical personae. Ritualists and devotees steeped in that older literature took pains to connect those deities to Vedic mantras and rites, in order to validate them with the prestige of venerable orthodoxy as well as to provide a basis for Brahmin priestly roles in their worship. The case of the goddess Durgā is particularly striking in this respect, since her Vedic "footprint" is so small. This study provides a close textual analysis of the "Panca Durgāḥ" also known as the "Durgā Sūkta" (Taittirīya Āraṇyaka 10.1.16 ~ Mahānārāyaṇa Upaniṣad 164-177 ~ Ṛgveda Khila 4.2 supplementing the "Rātri Sūkta," Ṛgveda 10.127), and its application in the durgākalpa rite according to the Baudhāyana Gṛhya Śeṣasūtra 3.3, to show how Taittirīya and Ṛgveda Brahmins went about supplying a Vedic liturgy for Durgā worship and invoking her protection. This account complements the one recently proposed to show how Atharvan priests in the service of rulers drew on Atharvavedic traditions to present Durgā as a patron goddess of arms and military strength.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-03024668
Contributor : Timothy Lubin <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - 10:45:33 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 2:37:38 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, February 26, 2021 - 8:33:49 PM

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Timothy Lubin. “Retrofitting a Vedic Origin for a Classical Hindu Goddess”. Journal of the American Oriental Society, University of Michigan, 2020, 140 (1), pp.37-46. ⟨halshs-03024668⟩

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