Orality and the sixteen Vedic Sanskaras.
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In this dissertation an examination of oral style in the Sixteen Vedic Sanskaras with particular reference to the Naming, Marriage and Death ceremonies, has been made. Sanskaras, which originated in the Vedas, have been orally transmitted from teacher (Guru) to pupil from generation to generation. The Introduction outlines the role of Sanskaras in the life of a Hindu and its link with the ancient Vedas. The oral features that facilitate memorisation and transmission of the Mantras are mentioned. The three universal anthropological laws of Marcel Jousse are applied. The first chapter focuses on the theoretical framework of orality where important terms are defined. The contribution of Marcel Jousse and Ong are highlighted. The orality-literacy continuum is elaborated upon. The important role of memory skills as a facilitator of the transmission of knowledge is explained. The second chapter deals with the origin and the classification of Vedic literature. The role of the Sacred Fire (Yajna) in Sanskaras is emphasized. It is around this ritual fire that the ceremony and the oral traditions revolve. The fire is central to all the rites and ceremonies and the litanies constantly refer to the fire as the vehicle of transmitting the aspirations of the devotee to God. The third chapter states the reason for the choice of the topic and summarises each of the sixteen Vedic Sanskaras. This is followed by the identification of oral elements in the Naming ceremony. The evidence of orality in the marriage ceremony features in chapter four initially establishing the importance of the marriage ceremony and thereafter outlining the essential steps of a Hindu marriage. The death ceremony is described in chapter five with special reference to evidence of oral style expression therein. The conclusion emphasizes the role of orality in keeping alive the Hindu tradition and customs. It also augurs well for further research in Vedic literature.