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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index

The Hindu Religious Tradition.

Hopkins, Thomas J. (1971).
Encino, CA: Dickenson Publishing Co.

0822100223, Wadsworth edition
Description: Paperback, x + 156 pages.

Contents: Foreword by Frederick J. Streng, preface, introduction, 8 chapters, Outline of the Development of Vedic Writings, A Schematic Diagram of the Hindu tradition, selected readings, index.

Note: A later edition is published by Wadsworth Publishing, Belmont, CA.. Part of the "Religious Life of Man" series.

Excerpt(s): The consecration ceremony for the Soma sacrifice was essentially a ritually enacted birth, or rebirth. The sacrificer was bathed and had his hair cut, and was anointed with fresh butter to signify his embryonic state. He was then conducted to "the hut of the consecrated": "the hut of the consecrated is the womb of the consecrated" (Aitareya Brhmaa 1.3). In this symbolic womb, a hut near the sacred fire, he was covered with a garment which was "the caul of the consecrated"; over this was placed a black antelope skin representing the placenta. He had to keep his hands closed, for "verily closing its hands the embryo lies within; with closed hands the child is born." He was fed only cooked milk while in this condition and was required to stammer when he spoke. If he itched he was forbidden to scratch himself directly with his bare hands, but had to use an antelope horn with which he was provided.

These details from various Brahmanas and later ritual texts make clear the nature of this rite as a symbolic gestation period. Further details indicate that it was more than just that. The nearness of the fire, confinement in the hut, and the enclosing garment and skin all tended to produce heat in the sacrificer. It was expected that sweating would occur, but he was not to be given water or bathed for the duration of the ritual. Though other elements were present, the central concern was the increase of heat (tapas) which accompanied or brought about an increase in the ritual potency of the sacrificer. The body of the sacrificer was filled with special power. He should touch himself only with a non-conducting material, the antelope horn, and could not be bathed because water also would spoil or remove the special condition. (page 31-32)

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