Alfred Collins acollins at GCI.NET
Tue Mar 23 17:44:47 UTC 2010

Dear Prof. Fitzgerald,

If beatitude and release are originally from different semantic fields, perhaps we could see many developments in post 100 BCE "Hinduism" as efforts to put them together. For example, the unity of the two goals of life (puruSArthas) in Samkhya-Yoga, bhuj- and muc-. And surely tantra combines the two thoroughly. 

Release, however, I would argue has a long Brahmanical history, in the old Vedic theme of opening the closed world, slaying the vRtra serpent, breaking open the cow stall, and the mountain, propping apart heaven and earth, etc. Gonda's old study on aMhas as "constriction" and the need to overcome it in the process of cosmogenesis/sacrifice seems relevant (I realize his argument is not completely accepted).

Finally, I have tried to see old Vedic cosmogonies (models for sacrifice) as falling into two sorts, which broadly parallel the release and absorption models. One is the opening/release scenario I just sketched, which tends to be associated with Varuna and Indra, the other is a flow model associated with Agni and Soma, in which substance--light, fire, rain,etc.-- flows from highest heaven to earth via the cow, poetic speech, etc.  The two models come together sometimes, as in the puruSasUkta where release (sacrifice) of the cosmic Man is half (or more accurately one-fourth) of the story and three-fourths remains amRta in heaven.  I discussed this in my dissertation in 1976, The Origin of the Brahman King Relationship in Indian Social Thought, University of Texas (with Polome and Lehman).

Al Collins

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