• COMPLETE PhD Thesis | Gāyatrī: Mantra and Mother of the Vedas. A Philological-Historical Study

    Author(s):
    Dominik A. Haas (see profile)
    Date:
    2022
    Group(s):
    Hinduisms
    Subject(s):
    Hinduism, Vedic literature, Mantras, Goddesses, Sanskrit literature
    Item Type:
    Thesis
    Institution:
    University of Vienna
    Tag(s):
    deification, godddess, Hinduism, mantra, Sanskrit
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/m88t-3z84
    Abstract:
    The short mantra known as Gāyatrī or Sāvitrī (Ṛgveda III 62.10) is one of the most frequently recited texts of mankind. Over the course of time it has not only been personified as the “Mother of the Vedas,” but has even come to be venerated as a goddess. The present study reveals for the first time how the mantra gained prominence as a religious text and how it was deified. To reconstruct this history, passages from more than one hundred Vedic and Sanskrit texts from about 1000 BCE up to 1000 CE were subjected to philological-historical analysis. To explain the process of deification, the study also includes an interdisciplinary component that draws upon perspectives and insights from the religious studies. The first part demonstrates that the adaptive reuses of the mantra in the mid-Vedic Śrauta rituals were decisive for its selection as the primary initiation mantra, and further argues that this function was mainly responsible for its subsequent rise to becoming an emblem of Brahminical Hinduism. The second part traces the development of the mantra into and as a goddess up to the Tantric Age. It shows that several factors contributed to its deification, among them not only its personification, but also its identification with the goddess Sūryā (or Sūryā Sāvitrī). The results of the study will be of interest not only to classical South Asian and religious studies, but, since the mantra and its deification also enjoy great popularity in a number of modern religious and spiritual currents, to a wider readership as well.
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    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 months ago
    License:
    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives
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