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Strong Arms and Drinking StrengthMasculinity, Violence, and the Body in Ancient India$
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Jarrod L. Whitaker

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199755707

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199755707.001.0001

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Strong Arms and Drinking Strength

Strong Arms and Drinking Strength

(p.133) 4 Strong Arms and Drinking Strength
Strong Arms and Drinking Strength

Jarrod L. Whitaker (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter 4 focuses on the way that ritual practitioners strengthen the bodies of men, whether divine or human, through ritual praise (stóma) and drinking the sacred beverage sóma. A close study of the discursive representation of physical strength (ójas) not only reveals the circumscribed way that Āryan men were supposed to understand and use their bodies, but also the way they embodied social and political ideals. Ritual practitioners thus naturalize the androcentric martial ideology by encoding it within a man’s very sense of his physical self. The poetic construction of Indra’s body highlights then a ritual strategy whereby poet-priests negotiate and control individuals and political realities, while reproducing the importance and centrality of their ritual tradition. This chapter further suggests that a critical appreciation of the strengthening process raises theoretical issues about the nature of R̥gvedic sóma rituals and the reason for their very existence.

Keywords:   body, strength, kingship, birth, Purusasúkta, authority, power, sóma, stoma, ójas

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