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The Snake and the MongooseThe Emergence of Identity in Early Indian Religion$
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Nathan McGovern

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190640798

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190640798.001.0001

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The Brahman as the Head of a Household

The Brahman as the Head of a Household

(p.133) 5 The Brahman as the Head of a Household
The Snake and the Mongoose

Nathan McGovern

Oxford University Press

This chapter, complementing the previous one, examines the articulation of Brahman identity that understood the Brahman to be a non-celibate householder, namely, that found in the Dharma Sūtras. It shows that the Dharma Sūtras were not simply intra-Brahmanical texts, but rather polemical texts articulating a particular, non-celibate vision of Brahmanical identity. They did so first by using for the first time a fully explicit statement of the varṇa system to divorce brahmacarya (celibacy) from Brahmanhood and restrict it to their own group. Then, they used the āśrama system to taxonomize all forms of religious practice in their day, so as to reject all those that did not produce children.

Keywords:   Brahman, Brahmanism, Dharma Sūtras, householder, varṇa, āśrama system, brahmacarya

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