Send the link below via email or IMCopy
Present to your audienceStart remote presentation
- Invited audience members will follow you as you navigate and present
- People invited to a presentation do not need a Prezi account
- This link expires 10 minutes after you close the presentation
- A maximum of 30 users can follow your presentation
- Learn more about this feature in our knowledge base article
Do you really want to delete this prezi?
Neither you, nor the coeditors you shared it with will be able to recover it again.
Make your likes visible on Facebook?
Connect your Facebook account to Prezi and let your likes appear on your timeline.
You can change this under Settings & Account at any time.
Frits Staal - Meaninglessness of Rituals
Transcript of Frits Staal - Meaninglessness of Rituals
SAI-Department of Anthropology
Seminar: Ritual Theories
Lecturer: Prof. Anand Mishra
Referent: Poonam Kamath
07.02.2013 -was Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and South & Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
- Staal specialized in the study of Vedic ritual and mantras, and the scientific exploration of ritual and mysticism.
- He was also a scholar of Greek and Indian logic and philosophy and Sanskrit grammar. - Focus on Agnicayana:a 3000 year old Vedic Ritual
- A performance was funded by Staal in 1975
-Performed by Namboodiri Brahmins of Kerala
-Means " Piling of Agni"-Altar shaped like a bird - Staal is more concerned with theoretical rather than empirical description of Vedic ritual
-His definition of Ritual is that it is primarily activity, governed by explicit rules.
-Grouping of Rituals into two kinds:
1. Grhya or Domestic Rites
2. Srauta or Traditional Rites Traditional rites
offer several definitions of rituals
one is that ritual consists of 3 things: Dravya,Devata and Tyaaga - Ritualistic philosophy of Mimamsa
-the concept of tyaaga is contradictory to the reason for performing a specific ritual
-Agnicayana is an optional rite: to be done by those who deserve heaven
-However, it is a prescribed duty yet an optional rite
-Mimamsa concludes that the fruit of ritual activity is temporarily unseen.
-It will become apparent later (after death) Staal outlines some ideas of modern scholars on ritual theories:
Rites re-enact myth
Rituals reflect social structure
Rituals are used in pre-literate societies to transmit cultural and social values to a younger generation
Ritual effects a transition from the realm of profane to that of sacred Focal Question: Why is it so difficult to define the meaning , goals and aims of ritual?
Staal's Hypothesis : Because Ritual has no meaning, goal or aim
- Ritual is pure activity
- Ritual exists for its own sake and hence, meaningless and without function
-In ritual activity , rules count but not the result Ritual Activity Vs. Ordinary Activity Staal's Formulation of Ritual Rules Modifications and Embeddings ..Modification and Embeddings (Contd.) 1. In rituals , Rules count not result
In Ordinary activity, it is the other way around
2.Ritual Activity has no risks,
Ordinary activity runs risks Srauta Rituals constitute a hierarchy.Four of them are listed as an example:
D: Full and new moon ceremonies (darshapoornamaasa)
A: Animal Sacrifice (Pashubandha)
A: Praise of Agni (Agnistoma)
C: Piling of Agni (Agnicayana)
Each later ritual presupposes the former
Each incorporates one or more occurrences of one or more of the former rituals -In general, each ritual phase undergoes modifications and embeddings
For eg., In P , performances of D are embedded when a cake of 8 potsherds is offered to Agni and a cake of 11 potsherds to Agni-Vishnu
In A, are embedded 2 performances of P (for Agni-Soma and for pressing Soma) and several performances of D(like consecration, final bath etc)
In C,embedded are: a performance of A,14 of P and numerous performances of D, some already embedded in A and P Rituals undergo modification when they are embedded and in different contexts.
For eg., Within Ritual D itself, one of the main oblations is for Agni-Soma at full moon but for Agni-Indra at new moon.
Yet , each particular ritual need not have a unique description
For eg., C may be analysed differently as Atiraatra with the only difference being -modification of A Staal's Structure of Rituals Syntax and Ritual Conclusion Rituals consist of smaller units-Rites
For eg., D 's rites will be 'd' and so on
These rules do not correspond to any actual rule
They are a feature of ritual- Modification Similarity between syntax and ritual
Single arrow rules- ritual embedding and phase structure
Double arrow rules- ritual modification and transformational rules
Very basic rules of Vedic Ritual
Syntax originates in ritual
Rituals replete with meaningless language
Absence of language (pre-linguistic state)
Eg., of Fights and Creation by Vedic Gods Idea of a Theory of Ritual
Eg., Complex rules involved in construction of New Altar in Agnicayana
theory of ritual- complex , myriad rules
Rituals , language and religion are meaningless and complex Thank You! References for images: 1.Sai logo:http://www.sai.uni-heidelberg.de/