The present inquiry aims at tentatively examining the combination of the noun brahman with the verb bhū-, involved both in the Vedic sources and in the Theravāda Pāli Canon, in order to try to understand its meaning and to verify if there is some possibility of linking it with the supposed Vrātya-culture. With the so-called axial break-through of Sacrifice and the consequent consolidation of varṇa-, jāti- and āśrama-divisions as the fundamental ordering system of society, the elevation of the brahmin to the highest position became indisputable in the Śrauta context (cfr. Heesterman 1993; 1995) and the legitimation of being a brāhmaṇa switched from individual abilities, such as poetical and ritual prowess, to the lineage of birth (Falk 2001: 133). As a consequence, the crucial “distinction [...] between ascribed and prescribed status” (Bailey 2011: 4) might seem to have been exclusively raised by the Buddhist thinkers, in some well-known passages such as in Sn 23 v.136 = 24 v.142. Nonetheless, some renowned Upaniṣad-passages such as BĀU 4.4.5-6; 23 are self-evidently comparable. Analogously in the ancient Vrātya socio-economic framework, reconstructed by Heesterman, no role was self-evidently gained once and for all. This is in the context of a cyclical exchange of roles between the patrons of sacrifice and priests, where the consecrated warrior is interpreted as the antecedent of the Śrauta sacrificer’. Thus, an ancient competitive pattern of obtaining access to the title of brahmán (we are proposing to interpret the term as an oxyton taddhita-noun derived from bráhman), probably shared by Upaniṣadic, Buddhist and Epic sources, is presumed to be common to both the achievement of the highest levels of wisdom and to the arrangement of social roles (e.g. in the context of sacrifice). In particular, some interesting cues might come from the survey of occurrences of the compound brahmabhūta in the Pāli canon. On the basis of the several (AV, Up, Pāli Canon) usages of the concept denoted by the phrase brahmā bhū, we shall try to advance the hypothesis that it corresponded, at least partly, to the most important ideal target of ascetics and, in particular, to the achievement of the highest social and sapiential status for the consecrated warrior who was called vrātya.

The meaning of the phrase 'to become brahman-' in Vedic and Sutta Piṭaka sources

NERI, CHIARA;Pontillo Tiziana
2016

Abstract

The present inquiry aims at tentatively examining the combination of the noun brahman with the verb bhū-, involved both in the Vedic sources and in the Theravāda Pāli Canon, in order to try to understand its meaning and to verify if there is some possibility of linking it with the supposed Vrātya-culture. With the so-called axial break-through of Sacrifice and the consequent consolidation of varṇa-, jāti- and āśrama-divisions as the fundamental ordering system of society, the elevation of the brahmin to the highest position became indisputable in the Śrauta context (cfr. Heesterman 1993; 1995) and the legitimation of being a brāhmaṇa switched from individual abilities, such as poetical and ritual prowess, to the lineage of birth (Falk 2001: 133). As a consequence, the crucial “distinction [...] between ascribed and prescribed status” (Bailey 2011: 4) might seem to have been exclusively raised by the Buddhist thinkers, in some well-known passages such as in Sn 23 v.136 = 24 v.142. Nonetheless, some renowned Upaniṣad-passages such as BĀU 4.4.5-6; 23 are self-evidently comparable. Analogously in the ancient Vrātya socio-economic framework, reconstructed by Heesterman, no role was self-evidently gained once and for all. This is in the context of a cyclical exchange of roles between the patrons of sacrifice and priests, where the consecrated warrior is interpreted as the antecedent of the Śrauta sacrificer’. Thus, an ancient competitive pattern of obtaining access to the title of brahmán (we are proposing to interpret the term as an oxyton taddhita-noun derived from bráhman), probably shared by Upaniṣadic, Buddhist and Epic sources, is presumed to be common to both the achievement of the highest levels of wisdom and to the arrangement of social roles (e.g. in the context of sacrifice). In particular, some interesting cues might come from the survey of occurrences of the compound brahmabhūta in the Pāli canon. On the basis of the several (AV, Up, Pāli Canon) usages of the concept denoted by the phrase brahmā bhū, we shall try to advance the hypothesis that it corresponded, at least partly, to the most important ideal target of ascetics and, in particular, to the achievement of the highest social and sapiential status for the consecrated warrior who was called vrātya.
9788193231937
Indo-Aryan culture; Vedic Sources; Pāli canon; brahmabhūta; Competitive patterns of access to power
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11584/121045
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