Text as Saraswati

rajam rajam at EARTHLINK.NET
Wed Jul 28 03:46:51 UTC 2010

About "The feet being one of the most impure parts of the body should  
never touch
> sacred items."

In this context, it would be interesting also to learn why gold was  
never worn below waist,
at least in some traditional S. Indian environments that I'm familiar  
In my generation, some traditional ornaments such as toe rings or  
anklets were never made in gold.
The only big pomp that would adorn the waist was the "waist-belt" in  
gold with numerous gems embedded.


On Jul 27, 2010, at 1:05 AM, (Maitreya) Borayin Larios wrote:

> Dear Colleagues,
> This attitude of having respect for book is quite wide-spread in  
> India and
> can be found in several examples, even in bollywood films such as  
> "Swades"
> with Shahrukh Khan.
> The respect and even veneration of scriptures and books is of  
> course more
> intense if they are "holy" (manuscripts of the Vedas or the  
> Bhagavadgītā for
> example).
> In most of the Vedic schools I visited for my fieldwork the books or
> manuscripts were wrapped in silk and handled with great care. If  
> touched
> with the feet by mistake they would also touch the book with their  
> hands and
> then either their chest or their head in sign of respect. They also  
> do this
> when they accidentally touch a person by mistake with their feet.
> The explanation I received is also that the goddess Sarasvatī  
> abides in the
> books in the form of knowledge and therefore should be treated like  
> the
> goddess herself. The annual Sarasvatī Pūja in Vasant Pañcami in  
> which
> scriptures and books are worshiped along with the goddess also  
> attest of
> this bibliolatry.
> The feet being one of the most impure parts of the body should  
> never touch
> sacred items. Some people (particularly Brahmins) even recite a  
> śloka every
> morning asking for forgiveness to "mother earth" for stepping on her.
> There may be more scholarly work written specifically on this  
> subject, but I
> can recommend two articles. The first one addressing Speech as  
> Sarasvatī
> called "Vāg vai Sarasvatī" by Usha Choudhuri found in the book  
> "Veda as
> Word" edited by Shashiprabha Kumar; the second one is "Purāṇa as  
> Scripture:
> From Sound to Image of the Holy Word in the Hindu Tradition" by M.  
> Brown
> which deals with the veneration of scripture. This is the link to the
> article: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1062388
> Best regards,
> Maitreya
> On Tue, Jul 27, 2010 at 8:43 AM, Dipak Bhattacharya <
> dbhattacharya200498 at yahoo.com> wrote:
>> Dear Coleagues,
>> The practice existed in Bengal too. One may also see S.K.Chatterji's
>> account during his travel in Indonesia (I do not remember the page  
>> number)
>> in company with Tagore and a few Europeans too. Chatterji tenderly  
>> caressed
>> a book when it fell from a table. The care shown surprised the  
>> European.
>> Chatterji spoke to him of the general Indian attitude to small  
>> vulnerable
>> things. I remember having related this episode to some member of  
>> this forum
>> long time ago. The attitude will not be found to be universal in  
>> India.
>> Best
>> DB
>> --- On Mon, 26/7/10, Joseph Walser <joseph.walser at TUFTS.EDU> wrote:
>> From: Joseph Walser <joseph.walser at TUFTS.EDU>
>> Subject: [INDOLOGY] Text as Saraswati
>> To: INDOLOGY at liverpool.ac.uk
>> Date: Monday, 26 July, 2010, 4:11 PM
>> I have noticed that at least among Tamil Brahmins, if someone  
>> touches a
>> book with his or her feet, she quickly touches the book and  
>> touches her
>> eyes. The explanation I have heard is that this is to apologize to  
>> Saraswati
>> who resides in the print. Can anyone tell me how widespread this  
>> practice
>> is? Does anyone know of any early references to or scholarly  
>> discussion of
>> this practice?
>> Best,
>> Joseph
>> -- Joseph Walser
>> Associate Professor
>> Department of Religion
>> Tufts University
>> 314 Eaton Hall
>> Medford, MA 02155
>> Office: 617 627-2322
> -- 
> (Maitreya) Borayin Larios
> Jägerpfad 13
> 69118 Heidelberg
> Germany
> Mobile:(+49)1707366232
> http://www.sai.uni-heidelberg.de/abt/IND/mitarbeiter/larios/larios.php
> http://www.flickr.com/photos/shrimaitreya/
> http://www.vidyaksha.webs.com/

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