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Reflections on Resemblance, Ritual and Religion
The classical Vedic texts that deal with large-scale sacrificial ritual and those writings that deal with domestic ritual have traditionally been treated as unrelated. The former are devoted to the explication of rituals that are dominated by wealthy male elites; the latter concern humble private ceremonies more open to female participation. Reflections on Resemblance, Ritual, and Religion argues that there is, in fact, a fundamental connection between these two large and important bodies of Indic religious literature.
Smith shows that Vedic conceptions of the cosmos, the nature of the human being, visions of the afterlife, and representations of ritual theory and practice can all be understood in similar terms. He explains the connection in terms of the category of hierarchical resemblance which forges interconnections and analogies between seemingly disparate things and beings. Such a classification system of superior prototypes and inferior but resembling counterparts links together the divine and the human the social elite and the common householder, and male and female into a hierarchical whole.
Demonstrating how the domestic ritual and most of later Hinduism has successfully appropriated and creatively reworked the principles and authority of the older sacrificial rituals and texts, Smith addresses issues that significantly extend beyond the Indological context, such as continuity and change within a complex tradition, the social grounding of ritual practice, and the mediation that connects seemingly disparate genres.
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