Since old times, man has made different types of efforts to win Peace of mind, whenever he thought it disturbed by various internal and external factors. These efforts of him find an expression in the ancient-most institution of sacrifices or offerings for pacification. These ritualistic practices for Santi or peace find clear expression in the ancient literature of the Atharvaveda as one of its salient features, which was later on accepted by the other three ritualistic traditions.
In this work, an effort is attempted to trace out the development of the concept of Santi through ages, focussing on its different asects. With a view to getting a clear notion of it, the author has traced it through the actual hymns of the Atharvaveda which put in words the element aimed at. Also she has highlighted the expected goal which is later on named as the aspect of peace.
A résumé also is offered here, which notes the changes in the aspect of 8anti through ages, and also in the ritual, as a consequence thereof.
About The Author
Author of this book, Dr. (Mrs.) Vinaya Madhav Kshirsagar (earlier Neelima Mone) had submitted this work as her thesis for Ph.D. degree to University of PUNE. Ranking First in Sanskrit since her schoo-leaving exam till M.A., she had also won many prestigeous prizes for research-papers at various conferences. Vedas are her field of research and specialisation; yet. She has interest in Pali and Buddhism, along with poetics, literature, drama and music.
Presently she is working as an Assistant Editor in Sanskrit Dictionary Project, at PUNE.
In the voluminous Vedic Literature, the Av occupies a peculiar place. We clearly notice two divisions of the Vedic literature, the Rv, Yv and Sv form one group, i.e. the traditionally known as trayi; and as tradition keeps the Av separate from other three Vedas, the Av is in a class by itself. Tradition apart, we can see a clear difference between the three Vedas on the one hand and the Av on the other. The three Samhitas are liturgical in character and compiled for the convenience of the institution of Vedic Sacrifice, whereas the Av does not pertain to that institution. Many worldly and common things occupy, in the Av, a larger place than in the other three Samhitas.
The religion of the Veda is, as a whole, concerned with the worship of gods, largely representing personifications of the powers of nature. The hymns are addressed to various gods and in them are praised the greatness and deeds of the gods. The object of the Vedic religion is to evoke the good-will of gods by means of the hymns as well as by sacrifice to them and therewith to induce them to bestow the benefits which man desires. In Vedic literature, the sphere of cult and ritual has two aspects : (i) hieratic religion and (ii) magic. The former represents the relation of man to gods and lesser divine beings. Its object is to win their favour by means of hymns and by means of sacrifice as well. The essential character of the hieratic religion is, therefore, propitiatory. Magic, on the other hand, endeavours to secure its ends by influencing the course of events by means of spells and charms. Its essential character is, therefore, coercive. Thus, both aim at the same result, but in different ways. Religion achieves its purpose indirectly by inclining the will of a powerful deity through prayer and gifts, (for instance) to destroy an enemy; magic does so directly by operating with impersonal and imaginary causal connection between the means which it employs and the effect to be attained, as between burning the effigy of an enemy and the actual burning of the enemy himself. Its practice was, in part, auspicious and beneficient; e.g. the performance of the ritual for obtaining offspring and luck, as also for the cure of diseases, but it was largely maleficent to individuals.
By the term 'religion' is understood a propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to direct and control the course of nature and of human life. Religion involves a belief in super-human beings who rule the world and an attempt to win their favour. It assumes the world to be directed by conscious agents who may be turned from their purpose by persuasion. Magic, on the contrary, takes for granted that the course of nature is determined by the operation of immutable law acting mechanically. Magic often deals with spirits, it constrains or coerces instead of conciliating or propitiating them. Thus it assumes that all personal beings, whether human or divine, are subject to those impersonal forces which control all things. In ancient Egypt, the magicians claimed the power of compelling even the highest gods to do their bidding and actually threatened them with destruction in case of their disobedience.
Magic seems to be a mistaken application of the very simplest and most elementary process of mind, namely the association of ideas by virtue of resemblance and contiguity. Magic believes in the laws of uniformity and causation in the nature. The magician believes that by means of the spells, which he recites, the desired effect is brought about, owing to the fact that the like causes produce like effects. A spell can cause either good or evil; the purpose, for which a certain spell is used, decides whether it is Black or White Magic. The difference between the two is of the degree to which actual evil is encouraged. White Magic is propitiatory magic used for averting the evil spirits and for achieving worldly pleasures. Black Magic is coercive magic hurled against the hateful enemy to destroy him completely. Magic consists of rites intended to compel supernatural forces, whatever they may be, to render the sorcerer's command true.
Both magic and religon believe in the super-natural, they make an appeal to a force greater than man. But religion tries to please it by good manners. While magic tries to rule over it, considering it controllable. Religious practices aim at winning the favour of gods.
We can see that, from the beginning of the history of mankind, rites were performed in all ancient civilizations of man, for propitiation or averting of the evil powers and for bringing in peace, harmony and weal. Man of any province, belonging to any civilization, has felt the need of appeasement of something inexplicable or someone divine or super-natural, who is in wrath and so he has spelt out many pacifactory practices. Such is the nature of ancient religion.
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