Moksa/Nirvana

Fitzgerald, James James_Fitzgerald at BROWN.EDU
Wed Mar 24 05:32:26 EDT 2010


Dear Dr. Collins,

Thank you for mentioning your dissertation which sounds very
interesting.

I was not in any way suggesting there is not a rich history of the word
/muc in pre-Buddhist Sanskrit texts, only that I think the conceptual
complex involving the realization of a transcendently good resolution of
life in terms of escaping a systemic miserable condition, getting free
of the systemic bondage of the soul, etc., is a distinct set of
intellectual and rhetorical themes that is not initially organic with
conceptions of (re-)attaining some kind of original plenum or bliss. And
it is the complex of ideas and verbal formulations that I refer to as
exogenous--not any individual idea or word (which, as Dominic Goodall's
recent examples nicely show, are very labile).

All the best, Jim 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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