• Ritual, Self and Yoga: On the Ways and Goals of Salvation in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad

    Author(s):
    Dominik A. Haas (see profile)
    Date:
    2019
    Subject(s):
    Yoga, Mysticism, Self-perception, Mahābhārata, Salvation, Vedas, Agnicayana (Hindu rite)
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    Agnicayana Ritual, Atman, heaven, History of yoga, immortality, liberation, Mahabharata, mysticism, salvation, The Self, upaniṣad, Vedas, Yoga
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/7nh6-0969
    Abstract:
    Throughout its history, the renowned Kaṭha Upaniṣad has often been described as being both incoherent and contradictory. The aim of this paper is to show to what purpose the text was created. To this end, it discusses the connection of the three paths to salvation depicted in the text, viz. the Agnicayana (a powerful Vedic fire-ritual), the Upaniṣadic method of self-knowledge, and yoga. The first part retraces how in the Upaniṣads, the Agnicayana was transformed into a non-material or mental ritual and linked with self-knowledge. The second part analyses how the various salvation goals (heaven, the World of Brahman, liberation from rebirth) could be related to each other. First, the authors redefined the Agnicayana's salvation goal, heaven, to make it identical with liberation. Secondly, they introduced self-knowledge and yoga as alternative and equally powerful means to the same end. In practice, however, the new and world-negating methods were implied to be superior to the costly ritual from which they had drawn their authority. Thus, the authors of the Upaniṣad were more concerned with showing continuity between different religious approaches than upholding consistency of content.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 months ago
    License:
    Attribution
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