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Lectures by Tristan Elby

Preliminary notes on the erotic and 'antinomian' elements of vratya participation in the mahavrata and vratyastomas

Graduate Seminars in Indic Religions
17 May 2013

I discuss the role of the vratyas in the Vedic rituals of the mahavrata and the vratyastomas. I argue that there are significant parallels between the religious practices of the vratyas in these rituals and the religious practices of earlier Saivite antinomian sects, such that, independently of any possible historical connection, the latter can be used as a heuristic device helpful for understanding these unusual Vedic rituals. Finally, I sustain the thesis that Vedic examples of ritual sexual intercourse had greater significance than as mere 'fertility' rites, as has often been believed.