NEH logo
[Return to Query]

Products for Grant FB-38819-03

Ritual Functions and Authority of Brahmins in Early Historic India: The Creation of a Trans-Regional Cultural Elite
Timothy Lubin, Washington and Lee University

Grant details:

“The Transmission, Patronage, and Prestige of Brahmanical Piety from the Mauryas to the Guptas” (Book Section)
Title: “The Transmission, Patronage, and Prestige of Brahmanical Piety from the Mauryas to the Guptas”
Author: Timothy Lubin
Editor: Federico Squarcini
Abstract: This essay examines the mechanisms by which Brahmanical tradition reproduced itself, especially the regimens of discipline (vratas) undertaken in tandem with text-study, and their role in establishing the knowledge of Sanskrit religious texts (and the use of Sanskrit more broadly) as an important criterion of piety and high social status. I argue that such regimens functioned as markers of belonging to the Brahmanical religion and ‘pure’ Årya society, while also offering the ordinary householder a form of personal piety that promised all the rewards of the old priestly ‘high cult. At the same time, disciplinary regimens provided a traditionally recognized framework for mendicant movements and new deity cults, which helped carry Brahmanical texts, ideals, and practices, via royal patronage, into new regions in India beyond the Ganges Valley and on into Southeast Asia. The second part of this essay will consider what early inscriptions can show us about how Brahmanical doctrine and practice were projected in the public sphere, noting instances in which particular subjects, texts, and especially disciplinary practices are cited, and observing that the grants and foundations recorded in these inscriptions helped spread the tradition and enhance its prestige. My remarks, intended only as a point of departure, will focus mainly on early grants from Orissa.
Year: 2005
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Firenze University Press webpage for the volume.
Publisher: Firenze University Press
Book Title: Boundaries, Dynamics and Construction of Traditions in South Asia
ISBN: 88-8453-261-2

"The Nilarudropanisad and the Paippaladasamhita: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Upanisad and Narayana's Dipika" (Book Section)
Title: "The Nilarudropanisad and the Paippaladasamhita: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Upanisad and Narayana's Dipika"
Author: Timothy Lubin
Editor: Arlo Griffiths
Editor: Annette Schmiedchen
Abstract: An edition, translation, and historical study of an early Shaiva scripture with a medieval commentary thereon. The central historical issue is the reception of Vedic religious heritage in later phases of India's religious history.
Year: 2007
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Publisher's webpage for this volume.
Publisher: Aachen: Shaker Verlag
Book Title: The Atharvaveda and its Paippalada Sakha: Historical and Philological Papers on a Vedic Tradition, edited by Arlo Griffiths and Annette Schmiedchen (Geisteskultur Indiens. Texte und Studien 11 = Studia Indologica Universitatis Halensis)
ISBN: 978-3-8322-62

“Punishment and Expiation: Overlapping Domains in Brahmanical Law” (Article)
Title: “Punishment and Expiation: Overlapping Domains in Brahmanical Law”
Author: Timothy Lubin
Abstract: It has long been debated whether it is possible to distinguish between secular and religious elements in 'Hindu law'. At present, the general view is that law cannot be separated from religion in the Indic context, not least because, according to the Shastras, Veda is the chief source of Dharma. Nevertheless, it is recognized that the Dharmashastra incorporates diverse elements: (a) explicitly stated norms of two types: (1) rules derived from priestly ritual codes, and (2) precepts drawn from the Arthashastra (political science) tradition; as well as (b) recognition of the authority of customs specific to region, caste, or profession. Although all these are subsumed within the Brahmanical system, we can discern different conceptions of the relative authority of brahmins and the ruler. This distinction of overlapping spheres of authority is reflected in the treatment of misconduct: the same act may entail punishment by the king as well as distant but automatic consequences due to the operation of karma, consequences that can be averted only by expiatory ritual performances. The ritual impurity of a sin also can have social consequences such as stigma or ostracism, which is likewise removed though expiation. Despite the interlinking of these spheres, their fundamental distinctness is acknowledged in the legal process prescribed in the codes as well as in the glimpses we have of actual legal practice in pre-modern India. Although the Dharmashastra overall represents a system of natural law based on the Brahmanical religious cosmology, it contains within it elements derived from a seemingly positive legal system based on the supreme authority of the king in settling disputes. Further, the distinction between brahmin and royal authority corresponds to a distinction, not between religion and law, but between two parallel and complementary legal subsystems, each with its own set of standards, procedures, and sanctions.
Year: 2007
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Indologica Taurinensia, vol. 33, pp. 93-122.
Publisher: Torino: Edizioni A.L.T.

"The Elusive Snataka" (Book Section)
Title: "The Elusive Snataka"
Author: Timothy Lubin
Editor: Steven Lindquist
Abstract: Nearly two decades ago, Patrick Olivelle drew attention to the fact that, with the emergence and general acceptance of the classical 'asrama system’, the status of the snataka (one who has taken the ritual bath that concludes studentship), was eclipsed. Although in Vedic times he was held up as an object of reverence, he ran the risk in later times of being condemned as an anasramin (one without an asrama; hence, a sinner) (Olivelle 1993: 220-221). This paper will examine the ritual and social roles of the snataka, with special attention to later works of the Grhya ritual literature, including the Baudhayanagrhyaparibhasasutra.
Year: 2011
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Press webpage for the volume.
Publisher: Anthem Press
Book Title: Religion and Identity in South Asia and Beyond: Essays in Honor of Patrick Olivelle
ISBN: 9780857287908