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The Meaningfulness of the ‘Meaninglessness of Ritual’: Vedic Ritual (yajña) as Renunciation (tyāga)

Shivdasani Lecture
OCHS Library
Prof. Dilip Loundo
Thursday, 5 February 2015 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm

Though debatable in textual interpretation, Staal’s provocative idea of the ‘meaninglessness of ritual’ points to intrinsic self-justifying dimensions of Vedic ritual.  Perhaps the most important of these dimensions is the ritual’s intrinsic component of renunciation (tyāga) that co-exists, in a complex form, with other external goals. Renunciation forms the structural basis for the continuity between yajña and pūjā and for the organic link that binds together the karmakāṇḍa and the jñānakāṇḍa of the Vedas.  

Prof. Dilip Loundo is Coordinator of the Centre for the Study of Religions and Philosophies of India (NERFI). NERFI is an integral part of the Postgraduate Program of Religious Studies (PPCIR) of the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF), Minas Gerais, Brazil. Prof. Loundo is a Ph.D. in Indian Philosophy from Mumbai University, an M.A. and M.Phil. in Philosophy from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Sanskrit from Mumbai University. His recent publications include: Comments on Nāgārjuna’s Two Truth Doctrine (São Paulo, 2014); Buddhavacana e Śabda Pramāṇa in Mahāyāna Buddhism and Advaita Vedānta (Campinas, 2014); Ritual in Vedic Tradition: Openness, Plurality and Teleology (João Pessoa, 2012); What´s Philosophy After All? The Intertwined Destinies of Greek Philosophy and Indian Upaniṣadic Thinking (Barcelona, 2011); The Seashore of Endless Worlds: Rabindranath Tagore’s Encounters with Latin America (Belo Horizonte, 2011); The Apophatic Mystagogy of the Upaniṣads in Satchidanandendra Saraswati’s Advaita Vedānta (Juiz de Fora, 2011); Poetry and Soteriology in India: The Devotional Lyricism of Jayadeva’s Gītā-Govinda (Campinas: 2011); Bhartṛhari’s Nondual Linguistic Ontology and the Semantics of ātmanepada (Bangalore, 2010); An Anthology of Hindi Poetry (Rio de Janeiro, 2010); Tropical Dialogues: Brazil and India (Rio de Janeiro:2009). He is presently engaged in preparing the first direct translation into Portuguese of the main Sanskrit Upaniṣads.