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New Book "Homo Ritualis"

Feb 03, 2016

Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels has published a new book with the title "Homo Ritualis. Hindu Ritual and Its Significance for Ritual Theory". This first book to present a Hindu theory of rituals has been published by Oxford University Press in 2015. It analyses ritual through cultural-specific and religious contexts, taking into account how indigenous terms and theories affect and contribute to current ritual theory.

Drawing on extensive textual studies and fieldwork in Nepal and India, Axel Michaels demonstrates how the characteristic structure of Hindu rituals employs the Brahmanic-Sanskritic sacrifice as a model, and how this structure is one of the distinguishing features of Hinduism more generally. Many religions tend over time to develop less ritualized or more open forms of belief, but Brahmanical Hinduism has internalized ritual behavior to the extent that it has become its most important and distinctive feature, permeating social and personal life alike. The religion can thus be seen as a particular case in the history of religions in which ritual form dominates belief and develops a sweeping autonomy of ritual behavior.

The book describes and investigates various forms of Hindu rituals and festivals, such as life-cycle rituals, the Vedic sacrifice, vows processions, and the worship of deities (puja). It also examines various conceptual components of (Hindu) rituals such as framing, formality, modality, and theories of meaning.

The book "Homo Ritualis. Hindu Ritual and Its Significance for Ritual Theory" - 400 pages - has been published by Oxford University Press.

Axel Michaels is Director of the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe" and Professor of Classical Indology at the South Asia Institute at the University of Heidelberg.


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