Sacrificed Wife Revisited: A Debate about Women's Religious Roles in Ancient India
Department of Asian Cultures and Literatures
University of California, Los Angeles
Thursday, April 1
In her 1996 book, Sacrificed Wife / Sacrificer’s Wife: Women, Ritual, and Hospitality in Ancient India, Professor Jamison investigates at length the ritual role of the “Sacrificer’s Wife,” the chief wife of the man who arranges and funds the elaborate solemn sacrifices of the Middle Vedic period in ancient India. The sacrificer must be married, and his wife must be in attendance at the sacrifices and perform certain crucial tasks. In this paper Professor Jamison examines the scanty evidence for the Sacrificer’s Wife in the earlier Vedic period, especially in the Rig Veda, our earliest Sanskrit text and speculates about the mechanisms of the introduction of the role of Sacrificer’s Wife’s and about the conservative resistance to this introduction among ritualists, on the basis of some enigmatic passages in the text.
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